Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Story to Wear: A Documentary about Jewelry History

Welcome to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Elyse Karlin who is working on a wonderful project entitled “A Story to Wear: A Documentary about Jewelry History.”  Thank you for Joining us today Elyse.  

Thank you for having me James. 


With such a fun and interesting topic why are you coming to Kickstarter to fund it?  Why not just go to PBS, or Discovery Channel or some other traditional production method?

Well, we do hope that eventually there is a possibility we might land on one of these channels. But we felt that we needed to get out film in shape to be shown to media as well as use it to further the study of jewelry history at institutes of higher learning and for the general public. We will need further sponsorship beyond kickstarter but we thought it was important to have raised some of the money on our own before we go to other potential sponsors.


Can you give us a quick rundown of the documentary?  How did you ever get involved?  

The documentary will explain to the layperson how fascinating the study of jewelry is. It is connected to world history and current events, discoveries of materials and techniques (aluminum was considered a precious material in jewelry for example), fashion, hair styles, art movements, the decorative arts, social mores and much more. We think of jewelry as a “window” into history.

I started collecting antique jewelry as a pre-teen and I have been studying jewelry history for a very long time. This led to founding my association (Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts), our magazine, newsletter and running our annual conference...trying to spread the word about this fascinating subject. I happen to meet Nicolas (the film’s director) and he was amazed to learn how much there was to discover about studying jewelry and suggested we make a documentary.

Seriously humans have been wearing jewelry for over 100,000 years?!


Yes, this is only a recent discovery. Previously the earliest date appeared to be 80,000 years old. Man adorned himself as protection from evil, to indicate wealth or power and many other reasons early on.

How long a documentary are we talking about here.  I mean 100,000 years of history sounds more like a series than a single documentary.  

Yes, it could be a long series. For now we are looking at 35-45 minutes as an overview...we obviously can’t cover all of jewelry history. A series might be down the line someplace.

Jewelry is so universal you’ve even managed to find enough that has been out of this world to do a show about it for the Forbes Galleries?

Actually, next spring I will be curating my third exhibition at The Forbes Galleries...and they are very well-received. The show opening in March 2013 is entitled “Out of this World! Jewelry in the Space Age”...I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Okay don’t think of me as a complete lout but there are really applied jewelry students and decorative arts majors?  Jewelry is so important that we have entire college curriculums about it?  

Oh my, yes. There are some very prestigious metals programs in this country. At Rhode Island School of Design, State University of New York New Paltz, Savannah College of Arts, Pratt Institute and many others. Decorative arts majors are usually at the graduate level.


Photo by: Linda Caristo

Well I’m sold!  When and where can I watch this documentary?

Let’s hope by next year it will be on www.storytowear.com for anyone who wants to view it.

So if you're planning on releasing it to any school with an art program or even online why should I back your Kickstarter?  Can’t I just wait until it’s done to watch it then?

We can't make it without the backing...!

My wife really likes jewelry and is trying to teach herself how to make some.  Do you offer training or tips in that field?  Any suggestions on how she can become a jewelry maker?

It depends on what type of jewelry she would like to make. I would begin with looking for local courses at the Y or a craft school. You can spend your whole life learning new techniques.

How hard is it to “sell” a documentary through Kickstarter?  It’s not an pure entertainment like a work of fiction is, nor is it interactive like a video game, or even produces a tangible object like a technology Kickstarter so how do you get your project across to prospective backers?

This is our first shot, but we’re halfway to our goal! We are trying to spread the word to people who already have an interest in jewelry as they want to know more...but I think almost anyone will find it interesting if they look at our 3 minute version on kickstarter.

What are you doing to get the word out about your project?  Twitter?  Facebook?  Google+?  Youtube? Are you using Kicktraq?  Are you buying any outside advertising?  
How hard has it been to gain any media interest in your project? I’m not sure what Kicktraq is?

We've been using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin primarily and spreading the word to the members of our association as well. We've had several blogs pick us up too!

An evolving and backer responsive campaign tends to do the best, what are you planning to do to keep the enthusiasm level up for your campaign?  Do you have a plan for more updates?  Production photos?  

I have been sending out frequent updates.

How can folks who are interested get involved or support your project besides just donating funds?

They could contact me directly at elyse@jewelryandrelatedarts.com.

What tips and words of advice/warning can you give others who are thinking of using Kickstarter for their film projects?  

Think about how you are going to contact potential backers before  you start. And search the internet for tips on how to make the most of kickstarter. Be prepared to stay on top of the campaign every day!

It has been a pleasure speaking with you today Elyse, I thank you for your time and hard work.   Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers?

Please support us! We promise to make a great film.

Thanks again for your time, I look forward to seeing the final product.