Focus Group: Where Should We Go From Here?

Yeah. The little bit I’ve done to try and boost the campaign is precisely because the main breadwinner here, at least, is being paid what he’s actually worth. lol I’ve mentioned before how frustrating it was to me that we couldn’t support projects like Cinematic Titanic until after they’d shut down. Because we didn’t have the resources or time to do that back then. No money was coming in and everything sucked. There was a time I berated myself for days because an apple had rolled to the back of the fridge and gone bad, and I had to throw it away. :confused:


You accuse MST3K of having bloat when you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. No one should volunteer or let themselves be exploited for your benefit.
MST3K IS NOT A STARTUP. I’ve known a couple of people who worked in startups that were given stock options for long hours and less pay than they could have gotten elsewhere. They did it because there was a huge payoff in the end. One paid his way through law school and the other traveled the world for 5 years. There will be no huge payoff here.
No one should work without proper compensation.


I need to respectfully clarify. It isn’t an accusation so much as an ask for an accounting. It doesn’t even mean direct employees, necessarily. It could be a supplier, subcontractor, or a process that needs tweaking (reward shipping, anyone?). You’re absolutely right, I don’t know specifics and don’t have to. Maybe things are perfect, and if so, great!

I’d rather not have a show at all than worker exploitation. That said, what “proper compensation” means and when a person chooses to volunteer are subjective personal decisions. Fans have graciously volunteered throughout the whole history of the show, and especially post-reboot. I doubt staff in the early days, or even in more recent seasons, made top entertainment dollar. Broadly speaking, I’m referring to a “hometown discount” a player on the Packers might take to be a part of something special. And even in that instance, nobody should ever be expected to be away from their family absorbing crazy hours for a pittance that doesn’t put food on the table.

I’d very much like to put to rest the idea that I’d like to ship the team to Southeast Asia for anything other than a well-deserved vacation. Pretty please?

Then stop advocating for people to be underpaid!

You can ‘clarify’ all you want, but you’re still advocating ‘underpayment’ as part of a business plan. We’re nice people. We’re never going to agree with you on that.


So with all your talking it boils down to, “Do what you have been doing”

Have they been? Hopefully! But sure, let’s throw that bullet point out if it is giving everyone heartburn. Same approach as S13 because it was perfect, raises for everyone in S14. I still pledged and they can spend that money how they see fit - it has always been that way.

But this show isn’t Star Trek. It’s Svengoolie with more talking over the movie. It’s Joe Bobb with more talking. Those have physical sets. Those have movie rights. Those do NOT have these budgets. Period. They also don’t have to go hat-in-hand to fans. They are run ning lean enough to make it on a niche streaming service, and a barely-there cable channel Take the Svengoolie budget, triple it, and that’s at most what this show should cost.

And when we talk about people being "underpaid… Let’s say there was a doctor working as a school nurse. We wouldn’t expect that doctor to be making what they could be making as a doctor.

The SAG-AFTRA union and it’s minimums are there to protect working actors, largely in Hollywood, from being exploited by the studios. Bill, Frank, Trace, etc., weren’t actors, but they were acting. They were helping with props, writing, and performing, much in the same way a school nurse might have to juggle multiple duties.

It isn’t fair to ask, say, Jonah, to do all of that because he is an actor. He may be very talented at other things too, but as an actor, he is entitled to the protections afforded to him. The main issue with staff bloat, and the budget, is that at some point Joel decided this needed to be a Hollywood-level production, which does require specialized actors, specialized writers, etc. In short, it is a square peg in a round hole. The show we love, can’t support that level of production.

1 Like



Looking this thread over… is there anyone in this thread that’s in a position of power to do anything about this? The Serenity Prayer comes to mind.


I think it’s fair to have a conversation about these things. After all, the show doesn’t get made without fans. I also always think of the backer feedback that put a quick end to the Twisted Bone SOL redesign.

Huh, I didn’t know that he kept the “old” design based on fan feedback. Do you have any links to where he said just that?

You do understand those are fundamentally different and incompatible business models, yes?

this got long, sorry

Joe Bob licenses movies for VERY brief periods. If you have Shudder (I don’t right now) scroll through the older seasons of his show and look at how many movies are missing. Frequently, they’re gone a year after their initial release, and last I had Shudder it was close to half of the episodes of his revived show were now available in “host segments only” format.

Svengoolie doesn’t even attempt to license movies for any kind of home sale or longevity, and also (I’m assuming, but let’s call it an informed assumption) has to pay less in the first place because Weigel Broadcasting has existing relationships with syndicators for the rest of their broadcast schedule.

MST3K, on the other hand, is asking for permission to edit movies, to distribute DRM free downloads of them, and sell them as DVDs, all for years to come. That’s going to cost more, a LOT more, than Joe Bob or Svengoolie broadcasting an episode once or a few times.

In addition…

Both Joe Bob and Svengoolie can take advantage of corporate resources in ways MST3K can’t. Last Drive-In is filming on old Walking Dead sets now; even if they’re hand-me-downs getting your physical sets from (at one time, at least) the most popular show on cable is a huge cost savings. And in both cases the shows aren’t anyone’s only gig - the cast and (mostly) crew of Joe Bob work on other Shudder and AMC productions, and Svengoolie’s cast and crew are also on Toon In With Me and Sventoonie. In both cases the extra work means they can keep people employed full-time or a lot closer to it than MST3K can, and that matters too. Fact of the matter is, MST3K is a lot closer to Star Trek, or at least the modern day streaming version of Trek with smaller episode orders and starts and stops in production.

Oh, and there’s the not insignificant factor that Joe Bob and Svengoolie don’t really do the same thing MST3K does either - the writers and logistics needed for riffing movies are more substantial than what the other two need for mostly host segments that can rely on interviews or discussing the movie to fill time. It costs a lot less to send Svengoolie to a convention to get a month’s worth of content or let him improvise a segment with Nostalgiaferatoo, and when either does need comedy writing it’s substantially different in both nature and volume - and, again, they can call in the writers from their other shows.

And even then, both Joe Bob and Svengoolie have (until recently in Sven’s case) entire episodes where a whopping two people appear on camera, something MST3K has never done. So who are you dropping from the show to get that lean?

Sorry, that post got long because I’m getting angry with the ways people are trying to justify screwing over the cast and crew, but a TL;DR version - you can’t make MST3K like Joe Bob or Svengoolie and if you tried, it’d mean jettisoning a lot of what makes MST3K unique. And if they do that, I (and I assume most of us) are out as fans.


You betcha!

Nice, I like the “human anatomy” comment.

1 Like

I really like this comment because there is definitely a lot about the potential business model details that I haven’t considered. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Please don’t be angry. Nobody wants to willfully “screw over” the cast and crew.

Consider this hypothetical, but plausible situation: The crowdfunding ends with $4.3-4.5m. The team shakes the couch cushions and says “We still can make six episodes! Several cast members have agreed to work at scale, but for it to work we need to switch to a cheaper foamboard supplier, shave a week from the production schedule, and the crew needs to keep their pay rates flat to S13 instead of get the raises we were aiming for. We are very sorry, but this is how the accounting works out.”

That’s unfortunate for everyone. People have to choose between Something (my poor word choice of being “underpaid”) and Nothing. No malevolent CEO or McKinsey consultant is saying it is “my way or the highway”. It is a choice based on the resources available and how the team feels about the return on their own investment, monetary and otherwise, in the project.

I’d support whatever they choose, because it is their choice, not mine.

You can make the show in that way. It certainly wouldn’t be the show now, but rather how it managed to be around for the first ten years.
I can guarantee you, in those first Comedy Central seasons, no one was concerned with trying to sell the show on DVD (well, VHS, then) so the rights for movies were just for broadcast episodes. Later, they were able to secure the rights for many, but not all VHS/DVD releases. They DO have a deal like Weigel, because so far, two of the movies they’re riffing are owned by Shout Factory, which also owns MST3K, and the 3rd is public domain. I think Jonah, Emily and the rest of the new cast does a great job, but the fundamental business math means the show can’t keep going like this. That might mean just one cast (like in the past), just a few writers (like in the past), and not securing worldwide perpetual rights to movies, but rather mining the Shout library (Just like they mined other libraries in the past) or using public domain movies.

If the campaign ends with $4.3-4.5 million, then it ends with $0. That’s how the crowdfunding model works. It’s all or nothing. They would have to start a whole new budget from scratch and launch a new campaign at a (much) later date.

And a redo for s14 would have them considering a lot of factors, not just cost (and costs could very well go UP by the time they try again).

And “Several cast members have agreed to work at scale” is a hypothetical situation, not a business plan. They can’t budget on “what ifs,” they have to budget on what the actors are worth. If actors volunteer for a pay cut, the showrunners can’t plan for that. Sure they could ASK if they would be willing to work for less, but that seems inappropriate and tone deaf off the heels of an actors strike that was asking for better pay.


Okay, I hear you. What if it just made it at the last second because the couch cushion shaking was done with leftover funds from S13 or a personal donation from someone close to the show? We’d never know. Regardless, we’re splitting hairs.

Crowdfunding is similarly a hypothetical situation based on what ifs, not a business plan. And the circumstances around this one amplify that fact.

No offense but Svengoolie is unwatchable and is just a poor man’s copy of MST3K. I’ve seen live improv shows at sci-fi cons that are 100 times better than Svengoolie. If they spend $1 on it, it is too much.

I love all these “suggestions” that imply Joel is shopping at Tiffany’s and the catering is by Emeril Lagasse.