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Mind Your Business: Raise Money for Your Animation

Mark Simon talks to Joe Murray about Kickstarter.com.

Joe Murray is raising money for Kaboing TV. All images of courtesy of Joe Murray.

Have you ever wanted to create your own show and have a major network fund it and air it? Sure you have.

So has Joe Murray. He created Rocko's Modern Life for Nickelodeon and Camp Lazlo for Cartoon Network. Life has been good for Joe.

"I've had two shows so far that I really enjoyed doing," says Murray. "The network says when they're done and I really wanted to do more. Although I'm grateful to the networks for picking them up and funding them, I still wanted to try and find a way to do a show that can live on."

Murray continues, "I looked into syndication, but I realized instead of one boss at a network, I'd have 50 in the syndication world."

"Then I wrote a book for Random House, Created Animated Cartoons with Character, which comes out this summer. I wrote a section on how to be independent on the web. In my research, I figured if this is doable, why don't I give it a try?

"I produced one episode of my new series, Frog In a Suit, and took it to a lot of meetings with money people. In order to do what I want to do in the bigger picture, I wanted to have the least amount of strings attached from big business."

One of Joe's bloggers suggested he try a website, Kickstarter.com.

Kickstarter is an easy-to-use online tool for raising funds for creative projects. Creative on their site can mean art, music, design, fashion, games, apps, video, film, journalism and more. They allow you, the creator, to keep 100% ownership of what you create. Kickstarter simply collects 5% from the funds you raise, if your project is successfully funded.

Joe Murray

The way this works is pretty cool. Funding is all or nothing. You start a fund-raising project, set a goal for the amount you want to raise and set a time the funds must be raised by. If the goal is not met by the due date, no money changes hands.

Kickstarter is not an investment tool. Those who give to a creative project are supporting artists much the way we give money during a PBS drive. When you give to PBS, you don't own the programming and on Kickstarter you won't own a part of the projects either.

If you want to give to a project, you pledge an amount with your credit card but your card isn't charged until the project is fully funded. This way you don't get stuck offering money to something that won't happen.

In order to entice pledges, you should offer something to people like products, benefits or experiences.

In Joe's case, he has a variety of offerings for people who pledge different amounts. Pledges can start as low as $5 each. For $5, you will have access to a special web page with behind the scenes info, art and a video on the making of his new series. The more you pledge, the more you get like DVDs, credits on the project, online mentor classes, lunch with Joe and more.

Murray animating Frog In a Suit.

Joe wants to complete two more episodes of Frog In a Suit. To do that, he needs to raise $16,800. If his pledge is fully funded, the money raised will go to outside sources to help him finish the animation. Joe will not keep any of the money for his own labor or expenses, which include writing, storyboarding, animatic, voice directing and post-production work.

On Joe's site, www.joemurraystudio.com, he has a video explaining his series and fund-raising efforts. You can also see a clip from the first Frog episode.

At the time I wrote this article, Joe had 194 backers (The coolest backers on the planet according to Joe) and had raised more than 75% of his goal. But, he needs your support to reach his goal. The deadline for pledging to support Joe's newest animation series is Saturday, June 5, at 3:00pm EST.

And pledging doesn't have to stop at his stated goal. Pledges can continue until the stated end date.

I think we should help Joe and Frog In a Blender and see where this goes. Who knows, maybe Kickstarter can help all of us raise money for our own projects.

And, yes, I did make a pledge.

If you would like to eavesdrop on our entire conversation, go to http://www.SellYourTvConceptNow.com/special-joe-jurray.html to listen to the streaming audio.

Mark Simon is an award-winning animation director/producer. His animation is online at www.FunnyToons.tv. He is also the co-founder of www.SellYourTvConceptNow.com.  He has pitched and landed more than 25 deals for his own projects.

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