Focus Group: Where Should We Go From Here?

In terms of practical suggestions for another kickstarter attempt I would say:

1) Make your minimum 6-episode “funded” baseline as low as possible.

They massively overshot this year because they were expecting the same level of buy-in as the previous kickstarters and really wanted to make the best version of the show possible, and I can respect that.

But since we now know that funding isn’t guaranteed, if it’s possible to make an even cheaper bare bones version of the show that squeaks in at 3.5 million, but the trade-off is that it’s all remote-filmed green screen with no physical sets, public domain movies that have already been riffed by The Mads or Rifftrax, and possibly only one set of hosts and bots, then that should be your “funded” baseline, just to make sure you get something off the ground and keep the show alive and your cast and crew employed (but still fairly paid).

Making a better version of the show, the version you really want to make, should be built into the stretch goals. Keep those goalposts further away at 6.1 mil and 7.4 mil if necessary, and if you land somewhere in the middle, as you probably will, hopefully that gives you an extra million or so to help shore up the parts of the budget you had to strip down to keep that first hurdle as low to the ground as possible.

2) Don’t announce your movies before they’ve hatched… at least not until you’ve secured that bare bones funding.

Like any successful mob run business, the production team needs to keep two sets of books. Or in this case, two sets of terrible movies. On one hand, you’ve got all the movies you want to do, like Battle Beyond The Stars and Deathsport, on the other, you’ve got your emergency stash of boring plodding government cheese public domain stinkers like Walk the Dark Streets or Phantom from Space that you hope you don’t have to dip into, but know you can get for free or at least dirt cheap. Depending on how the fundraising goes, you may end up having to mix and match between them, and I suspect you may end up skewing more towards the Manos end of spectrum than Munchie, but that’s okay. No true MSTie has ever said “Hey, what are you trying to pull here?! That movie looks really bad!

3) Start the hype train rolling early.

With first the writers and then the SAG strike, this was largely out of their control this year, and probably what hurt them the most. Hopefully, if we try this again, it’ll go smoother and generate more press if you can have full actor buy-in and in-character promo videos playing on day 1 of the fundraising effort. But I would start the ball rolling at least a month ahead of that, sending out emails to previous backers letting them know that there will be another crowdfunding effort coming in November, and to start saving up now.

4) Consider returning to Kickstarter.

I don’t know how much they skim off the top compared to this new platform or how difficult they were to work with, but KickStarter is better known overall and does have the benefit of plugging your project on other people’s projects, so it might help spread the word a little better. It’s hard to say how much of a negative impact the platform switch actually had, but if the amount saved by not going through them was minimal, it might be worth switching back again on the next go-round.

5) Consider some low-cost ways of getting fans involved and invested in the Gizmoplex, and some additional lower tier digital rewards.

When asking fans to come up with truly staggering amounts of money, it helps if you can make them feel more like their fandom is appreciated or that they’re part of a super secret exclusive club.

Simply providing a URL where backers can submit letters, photos, and fan art, and saying that you will show off some of these during the pre-show on the gizmoplex is a great way to get fans invested, and more likely to buy a full season gizmopass. It’s a fandom lottery, but lots of fans would jump at the chance to potentially hear their letters read or see their drawings put up on still-store.

I shared a few other ideas in the Season 14 “preshow” ideas thread, but simple things like “Share a Good Thing/Bad Thing About the Previous Experiment”, or “vote on your top five hexfield visitor/musical numbers/invention exchanges” require little more than a thread on this forum, a tiny bit of admin to sort through the results, and killing a few minutes of screentime before or after the show reading results off a piece of paper that you were going to have to fill with something anyways.

Regarding the digital rewards, while the private in-person classes are fun and seem to be a big hit, it might be nice if you provided a few digital only options either as add-ons or midpoints between the $35/$85/$200 levels. Things like access to an exclusive backer AMA zoom meeting, watch Joel teach a magic trick, a short behind the scenes video tour of the production space, record 15 minutes of a writers room session, or something similar. If you make these add-ons say $10 a pop (or get them all when you buy the $200 deluxe package), it’d allow people to fine tune their pledges and maybe grab a few stretch bonuses that are easier on the pocket book.