The Kickstarter Blog

12 Kickstarter-Funded Films to Premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

Apr 16 2018
Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

For the eighth year in a row, Kickstarter creators will debut a diverse slate of film projects at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 18–29. Twelve Kickstarter-funded films will screen at the festival, including including six documentaries, three shorts, two virtual-reality films, and one major restoration of an award-winning indie classic from the 1990s.

The filmmakers in this year’s lineup work in a range of cinematic disciplines, and have made use of Kickstarter in different ways. With the support of their backers, Anthony Jannelli and Robert Pietri were able to animate their short film about The Velvet Underground’s disastrous first public performance; Asad J. Malik developed the technology to make his augmented-reality documentary about the experiences of Muslims living in the United States possible; and Charlie Schwan and Adrian Siordia designed the apocalyptic 1970s/1980s setting of their darkly funny short film.

Join us in congratulating all of the Kickstarter creators whose films are premiering at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, and read on to learn more about them.

All film descriptions courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Documentary Competition

United Skates

Directors/producers: Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown

Credited with incubating East Coast hip-hop and West Coast rap, America’s roller rinks have long been bastions of regional African-American culture, music, and dance. As rinks shutter across the country, a few activists mount a last stand.

428 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

When Lambs Become Lions

Director: Jon Kasbe

In the Kenyan bush, a crackdown on ivory poaching forces a silver-tongued second-generation poacher to seek out an unlikely ally in this fly-on-the-wall look at both sides of the conservation divide.

418 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Spotlight Documentary

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Director: Aaron Lieber

One of the most fearless and accomplished athletes of her generation, Bethany Hamilton became a surfing wunderkind when she returned to the sport following a devastating shark attack at age 13. Now she faces her biggest challenge yet: motherhood.

1,453 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.


The Feeling of Being Watched

Director/writer: Assia Boundaoui

Journalist Assia Boundaoui sets out to investigate long-brewing rumors that her quiet, predominantly Arab-American neighborhood was being monitored by the FBI — and in the process, she exposes a surveillance program on a scale no one could have imagined.

187 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Special Screenings

Every Act of Life

Director/writer: Jeff Kaufman

Every Act of Life presents a revealing portrait of four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally’s groundbreaking six-decade career in the theatre, the fight for LGBTQ rights, and his triumph over addiction.

207 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.


Director/writer/producer: Cynthia Lowen

In the midst of a watershed moment for gender equality, three very different women whose lives were torn apart by online harassment devote themselves to fighting back against the internet’s Wild West of unpoliced misogyny, cyberstalking, and nonconsensual pornography.

736 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.


In the Soup: Restoration and 25th Anniversary

Director: Alexandre Rockwell

In the Soup tells the story of Adolpho (Steve Buscemi), who is writing a screenplay from his crumbling NYC apartment and falling for the girl next door. In a desperate attempt to get his screenplay funded, he connects with Joe (Seymour Cassel), a shady high-roller willing to play dirty. After winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1992, the film all but disappeared and only one damaged archival print remained. Through the efforts of Factory 25 and a Kickstarter campaign, the film has been restored in time for its 25th anniversary.

796 backers helped bring this restoration project to life on Kickstarter.

Storyscapes: AR & VR

Queerskins: A Love Story

Directors: Illya Szilak, Cyril Tsiboulski

In Missouri in the early ’90s, a diary and a box of belongings offers a devoutly Catholic mother — and participants of this haptic virtual-reality experience — a chance to know Sebastian, the estranged son she has lost to AIDS. Sitting in the back seat of a car behind Sebastian's parents, you’ll take an emotionally charged journey down a country road, a memory lane populated with scrapbook artifacts that present an archive of Sebastian’s life.

159 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Terminal 3

Director: Asad J. Malik

Terminal 3 is an interactive augmented-reality documentary that explores contemporary Muslim identities in the U.S. through the lens of an airport interrogation. As viewers put on the Hololens, they step into the uncanny to directly interrogate, and determine the fate of, the hologram passenger before them. These interrogations become strikingly personal encounters that only end when the participant decides whether the hologram should be let into the country or not — but there is a twist.

198 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.


The Goodnight Show

Director: Charlie Schwan

Being a virgin isn't the end of the world, but when the world is actually ending, the stakes are higher. Tragic hero Samuel embarks on a quest to lose his virginity before it's too late.

35 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

So You Like the Neighborhood

Director: Jean Pesce

After Wendy gets dumped and then evicted from her Brooklyn apartment, she befriends some locals, who offer to help her with the eviction. The thing is, they’re mafia members, and by “help,” they mean something more nefarious.

65 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School

Directors: Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli

This animated short recounts the Velvet Underground's first gig — in 1965, in front of a crowd of shocked kids at a suburban New Jersey high school.

115 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Support the next Tribeca Film Festival premiere — explore live Film projects on Kickstarter.

Take a Seat, Play Some Games: Come to Kickstarter’s Couchland at PAX East

Apr 4 2018
Kickstarter's Couchland
Kickstarter's Couchland

A couch is much more than a piece of furniture. Each couch has a personality, a heart, and a soul. Many of the most pleasant moments of our lives are spent in the warm embrace of a couch. 

And so, at PAX East this year, April 5–8, we wish to welcome you to Kickstarter's Couchland. We will have not one but four couches for you to settle into and play some excellent games — couches from different lands and different times, each with their own personality, all waiting to guide you gently through Couchland.

Here are the games you can expect to encounter at Couchland:

But there will be more than just games and couches in Couchland. We've also scheduled a series of small talks by excellent people who wish to inform and enlighten. Rob Daviau of Restoration Games wants to make you scones; game developer Swery wants to make you coffee; and Indie MEGABOOTH’s Kelly Wallick wants to make you sane. Each talk is set for an audience of just twelve folks, so they’ll be warm and informative.

Gaze deeply into the eyes of this incredible list of speakers:
(click to enlarge)

Come to Couchland: imbibe some wisdom, play some games, sink into some couches.

See you there!
Luke Crane, Anya Combs, and Alex Hudson

Find the Kickstarter Games team in Room 103, Concourse Level, BCEC. 

Can’t make it to PAX East? Follow along on Kickstarter’s Instagram Stories.

Granby Workshop: Rebuilding a Neighborhood Through Creative Projects

Apr 2 2018

[Our] products need to invite chance and accident in the way that they’re made — an element where you lose control and you don’t quite know how the product will end up when you start making it.

Granby Workshop is an architectural ceramics studio founded by the Turner Prize-winning design collective Assemble. The workshop grew out of a larger effort to revitalize Liverpool’s Granby neighborhood, producing distinctive architectural materials to renovate local homes and creating new manufacturing jobs within the community.

In the video above, Assemble designer Lewis Jones and Sumuyya Khader of Granby Workshop discuss their design process and offer a look at how they prepared to launch their first Kickstarter project, for a line of ceramics called Splatware.

“[Kickstarter] felt very appropriate for the work that we’re doing here, which is really community-driven, based around not any single person’s idea or interest, but around what comes when lots of people get together,” Jones says.

The project was successfully funded in October 2017 with the help of 808 backers.

Discover more Kickstarter creator stories here.

Ready to launch your own Kickstarter project? Get started here.

Product Upgrades: Creator Dashboard on Android, and More

Mar 28 2018

We’ve got a few nice product improvements to talk about today, including the debut of the Creator Dashboard in the Kickstarter Android app.

In case you haven’t seen it on our site or iOS app, the Creator Dashboard gives creators a bird’s-eye view of the latest activity on a live or completed project. In the latest update to our Android app, the dashboard offers:

  • An overview of funding progress. 
  • A breakdown of the most popular rewards. 
  • The top sources of pledges. 
  • Quick access to messages, as well as all the projects you’ve launched or collaborated on.

This upgrade to our Android app is available right now.

Here’s an upgrade that will make both creators and backers happy: On our site and in both of our apps, project videos now display in HD. That’s 216% more pixels than before. We’ve also added adaptive streaming, meaning we adjust the video quality based on the speed of your internet connection.

Project videos that were uploaded on or after Feb. 19 will automatically display in HD. Creators who uploaded videos before then are welcome to re-upload them to take advantage of the improved pixel count.

We’ve also improved the process of starting a new Kickstarter project on our site, giving more context to creators as they pick a category for their project, describe their idea, and select their location. And we’ve added a new project overview page that helps creators keep track of what’s left to do before they launch.

We’re always working to make Kickstarter better and easier to use. We hope you enjoy these upgrades!

Open Call: Apply to Become a Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence This Summer

Mar 27 2018
Designer, author, and artist Adam J. Kurtz
Designer, author, and artist Adam J. Kurtz

As part of our mission to help bring creative projects to life, we're always looking for ways to help artists and creators find the support and resources they need to make their ideas a reality.

Last year, we launched the Creators-in-Residence program at Brooklyn HQ. Over the course of three residencies, we welcomed more than thirty Kickstarter creators into the building. They accomplished a lot: they launched campaigns, created and produced new work, shipped thousands of rewards, and hosted performances, workshops, and events.

Here are some highlights:

  • Podcaster Sean J. Patrick Carney recorded thirty interviews with contemporary artists and comedians from Kickstarter’s recording studio. You can subscribe to him and support his podcast, Humor and the Abject, on Drip. 
  • Ani Taj of The Dance Cartel hosted a dance performance in our theater. 
  • It’s Showtime NYC hosted a dance workshop in our solarium.
  • Hans Reichstetter held a coffee taste test in our kitchen, and shared the results with staff. 
  • Filmmaker Dafina Roberts launched a Kickstarter project for her web series, Giving Me Life (in the Land of the Deadass)Once it successfully funded, she used the Kickstarter theater to color-correct the series and host a “first cut” screening party for the cast, crew, and certain backers. “I received this opportunity at a critical point in my life, and it helped springboard my work into the next phase,” Roberts told us.

Now, we’re excited to announce an open call for our spring/summer residency. If you’re an NYC-based creator who’s in the process of planning, launching, or about to fulfill a Kickstarter or Drip campaign, read more about the program and apply here.

Dafina Roberts, director of Giving Me Life (in the Land of the Deadass), with the cast
Dafina Roberts, director of Giving Me Life (in the Land of the Deadass), with the cast

Each resident is paired with a staff mentor who specializes in the creator’s area of interest, and offers guidance on how to manage a Kickstarter or Drip campaign. The residents have access to a dedicated workspace, fulfillment station, as well as our theater, recording studio, library, meeting rooms, and kitchen. They have opportunities to be featured in Kickstarter-produced editorial content, and are invited to attend regular workshops, talks, performances, and feedback sessions that put them in conversation with other creators and Kickstarter staff.

The residency starts in May and runs through the end of July. Applications are due by April 16, 2018. Creators will be notified by April 20th if they’ve been selected for the program. If you have any questions, please email us at

Apply here!

Sean J. Patrick Carney, host of the podcast Humor and the Abject
Sean J. Patrick Carney, host of the podcast Humor and the Abject

Zombies, Run! How Adrian Hon Turned a Daily Jog into a Zombie-Filled Adventure

Mar 26 2018

How do you get into running if you find it, well, boring? If you’re Adrian Hon, you turn it into a mobile game — with zombies.

In 2011, the CEO and founder of the independent games developer Six to Start partnered with writer Naomi Alderman to create Zombies, Run!, an audio-based game that transforms your run into an adrenaline-fueled adventure during the zombie apocalypse.

“Kickstarter seemed like an obvious idea for Zombies, Run! as a way to find out whether people even cared about [our] idea and whether they were willing to put money behind it,” Hon says.

As it turns out, people were downright ravenous for the game. Nearly 3,500 backers supported the project — and soon, fans were asking when the second season would be released. In addition to recording over 3,000 minutes of audio, the team released a Zombies, Run! book, hosted virtual races, and even funded a Zombies, Run! board game on Kickstarter in 2016 with the help of over 2,000 backers.

Zombies, Run! came from me wanting to scratch an itch,” Hon says. “I knew that if no one else cared about it, at least I would have bought Zombies, Run! [for myself] when it came out. I think that’s where the best ideas come from.”

Learn more about the Zombies, Run! journey in the video above.

Watch more Kickstarter creator videos here.

Ready to launch your own Kickstarter project? Get started here.

Julia Nunes on Building a Sustainable Career as an Independent Musician

Mar 19 2018

As a college student, songwriter Julia Nunes began sharing her music on YouTube. “I thought you just put your stuff there and you could send it to someone, but no one [else] is going to find it,” she says. So she was stunned when the videos began racking up views and reaching total strangers.

Suddenly, she found herself touring with her musical idols — she’s played with Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, and Weezer, among others — and thinking about releasing an album.

“I never thought I could have a sustainable career [as a musician],” Nunes says. “The world of the music-industry machine didn’t interest me.” But she did have a cache of songs she wanted to record with the help of a producer.

She launched a Kickstarter project to record her first album in June 2011, hoping to raise $15,000. She hit her goal within the first 24 hours, and wound up raising over $75,000 with the help of over 1,500 fans. “I was blown away,” she says. Since then, she’s launched two more projects, in January 2015 and January 2017.

“I think of [Kickstarter] like my record label,” Nunes says. “Instead of record executives, I have an audience that lets me know what my budget for the record is. You can make it as big or as small as your people want it to be.”

Learn more about her experience as an independent musician on Kickstarter in the video above.

Discover more Kickstarter creator stories here.

Ready to launch your own Kickstarter project? Get started here.

6 Kickstarter-Funded Films Win Awards at SXSW

Mar 15 2018
Jim Cummings’ Kickstarter-funded film ‘Thunder Road’ took home the Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature at SXSW. Photo: David Ninh
Jim Cummings’ Kickstarter-funded film ‘Thunder Road’ took home the Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature at SXSW. Photo: David Ninh

This year, eleven Kickstarter-funded films screened at the SXSW Film Festival. Today, we’re delighted to announce that six of those films went on to win a total of seven awards.

Jim Cummings took home the Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature for his Kickstarter-funded film, Thunder Road, while Kickstarter alum Hao Wu won the Grand Jury Award for Documentary Feature for his new film, People’s Republic of Desire.

“It’s always been Kickstarter’s aim to be the the home of exceptional, creatively ambitious film projects that explore the form to the fullest. We’re so proud of the Kickstarter-funded SXSW award winners, who all more than meet that aspiration,” says Elise McCave, Kickstarter’s Director of Narrative Film. “Congratulations, everyone — we can’t wait to see what you make next.”

Read on to learn more about these six films, and join us in giving a big round of applause to the filmmakers who received awards this year — and the backers who made these films possible.

Thunder Road by Jim Cummings
Thunder Road by Jim Cummings

Thunder Road 

Winner, Narrative Feature Competition 
Director: Jim Cummings

Jim Cummings came to Kickstarter in September 2017 to turn his short film, Thunder Road (which IndieWire called one of the best shorts ever made), into a full-length feature. The short serves as the opening scene of the film, which follows police officer Jim Arnaud as he struggles to improve his relationship with his daughter while coming to grips with the death of his mother.

248 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Jinn by Nijla Mu’min
Jinn by Nijla Mu’min


Special Jury Recognition for Writing
Director/Screenwriter: Nijla Mu’min

Seventeen-year-old Summer — a shape-shifting, pepperoni-loving Instagram celebrity — finds her world turned upside down when her mother converts to Islam. As she grapples with her identity, her faith, and her relationship with her mother, she becomes drawn to the teachings of Islam, particularly the mythology surrounding the supernatural beings known as the jinn.

"Kickstarter allowed us to build and engage with the audience of our film… in a way that may not have been possible if we had waited for someone to finance it,” says director and screenwriter Nijla Mu’min. “Each day, I received messages from people who related to the story on a personal level. This let me know that the film was necessary.”

398 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable by Sasha Waters Freyer
Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable by Sasha Waters Freyer

Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable

Special Jury Recognition for Best Feminist Reconsideration of a Male Artist 
Director: Sasha Waters Freyer

Through hundreds of thousands of photographs, Garry Winogrand created an encyclopedic portrait of American life from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. When he died unexpectedly in 1984, he left behind more than 10,000 rolls of film. Sasha Waters Freyer’s documentary excavates these images, along with hours of never-before-seen 8mm films, to create the first cinematic survey of Winogrand’s legacy.

285 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Short Film Grand Jury Awards

Krista by Ornana
Krista by Ornana


Special Jury Recognition for Acting, Shirley Chen
Vimeo Staff Picks Award
Director: Danny Madden
Screenwriters: Danny Madden, Will Madden

Shaken by a recent traumatic experience, high school student Krista uses a performance in her theater class to work through her feelings of paralyzing distress and unease. The team behind Krista just launched a new Kickstarter project to turn it into a feature film.

21 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Unlovable by Charlene deGuzman
Unlovable by Charlene deGuzman


SXSW LUNA® Gamechanger Award — Narrative, Special Jury Recognition 
Director: Suzi Yoonessi

Based on writer and actor Charlene deGuzman’s own experiences with sex and love addiction, Unlovable follows Joy, a sex and love-addicted woman who discovers true intimacy through a creative partnership with a reclusive musician. We recently spoke with deGuzman about the experience of making the film; read the interview here.

509 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

¡Las Sandinistas! by Jenny Murray
¡Las Sandinistas! by Jenny Murray

¡Las Sandinistas!

SXSW LUNA® Chicken & Egg Award — Documentary, Special Jury Recognition
Director: Jenny Murray

Jenny Murray’s documentary preserves the vanishing stories of the women who played a vital role in Nicaragua’s 1969 Sandinista Revolution, and chronicles their ongoing fight for social equality four decades later.

467 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter.

Support the next SXSW award-winner — explore live film projects on Kickstarter here.