Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MATH WARRIORS Season 3

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by the talented Kristina Harris the woman behind the MATH WARRIORS Season 3 Kickstarter.  Thank you for joining us today Kristina!

Thank you so much for chatting with me about Math Warriors. I’m excited to be here.

MATH WARRIORS is a pretty bold title (in all caps yet!) can you give us a bit of a description?  Your tagline “The Big Bang Theory” meets “The Office” is very evocative.  

MATH WARRIORS is a webseries about a team of math nerds who take their math very seriously....Like warriors going into battle.  In Season 3, the “Funky Functions” math team is striving to win an International Math Olympiad gold medal; they encounter obstacles in the process - and have to deal with the many dramatic situations that arise. Love, betrayal.... and calculus. Could you ask for more?


You already have two completed seasons, why come to Kickstarter now? Why not just keep doing what you were doing?

Given the enthusiastic response from Seasons 1 and 2, we could see that the story was carrying the production along and helping us gather fans, but we wanted to make our show even better visually. We hope to be able to do much more now that we are asking for some help using the Kickstarter platform.


So what is the “target audience” of your show?  Is it just edutainment or are you trying to reach a wider audience than that?

We have been fortunate to attract fans from ages 8-75, but the majority of our fans are in the 18-35 age range. Although MATH WARRIORS has an educational bent to it, we have been reaching a much broader audience. The feedback has been that our show makes math much “cooler”, and brings together pop culture with the world of math and science. Math for America has screened it to some of their teachers, and many teachers throughout the country have started showing it in their classrooms. However, we also have a growing audience of people who are not interested in the math aspect, but enjoy the comedy part of the show.
About how long does it take to film an episode?  How many people are involved?  

We typically film one entire season in about 6-8 days. Each episode is between 5-10 minutes, so that’s about 60 minutes of content. We have a fantastic crew of about 8-10 people, as well as a cast that varies from day-to-day. The day we filmed the pageant scenes in Season 2 was when we had the most actors on set -- about 30 actors. The math-a-thon scenes are also on the big side, but many of our other scenes only involve the main characters, so we may have as few as 5 people on set on a given day.

What made you create this series?  What was your inspiration?  

Several years ago, I created the character of Felicia, wrote a scene about her (that scene appears in Season 1, Episode 5), and filmed it. The feedback I got from people who saw it was overwhelming. As people told me how hilarious they thought it was, I decided to create a world around Felicia and turn it into a webseries. At the time, I had just finished my PhD in Biochemistry (although I also have a BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts) so I had a unique perspective into the world of the nerd. Coincidentally, about a year after I wrote the original scene about Felicia, I met a young mathematician who I married in 2010. He consults on the script, along with a few others.

Are there really math competitions like this?  The only thing similar I can think of was the Academic Olympics when I was back in High School.  

Not.... exactly. The competitions depicted in our series are fictional, but somewhat similar competitions do actually exist for high school students. For example, the International Mathematical Olympiad (http://www.imo-official.org/) really does exist. Professor Terence Tao is a real professor and famous mathematician (http://www.math.ucla.edu/~tao/) who has won the Fields Medal and MacArthur fellowship, among other awards.

Why a webseries?  The concept seems right up the alley of channels like PBS, TLC, and Discovery?   Have you submitted it to any sort of distribution channels?

The internet is a unique way to reach many different types of people globally. Although we would love to talk about pitching the idea to a network, my main hope is to make people laugh -- while also perhaps getting some math or science concepts across to the masses. It seemed easiest to reach people by starting a webseries to get our show out there, and also to provide it free to anyone who would like to watch it.

An often repeated comment from successful Kickstarters was using an established base and then building upon it.  Have you brought this Kickstarter to your fanbase first, and then reached out to the Kickstarter community?  How are you spreading the word? Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  

We have a wonderful group of fans and supporters, and an awesome Facebook page where we have been able to advertise our series and Kickstarter campaign. We are grateful to many of our fans for donating within the first several days of the campaign! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share our series and campaign with the Kickstarter community.... We were fortunate to have the NPR station WNYC visit us on set. A story will be airing soon. We are also on Twitter and Tumblr!

One of the keys of a successful Kickstarter project is backer participation.  How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

We just finished our Season 3 shoot yesterday (Friday, Jan 12) and posted still photos taken on set throughout the week. We also will add videos of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, as well as a trailer for Season 3.


Do you have any tips/advice you would give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a great way to get the word out about your project and also get financial support to make your dream a reality. If you’re thinking about doing a project, get the people together you need to do it, put a campaign together -- and go for it!

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Thank you again so much for your interest in MATH WARRIORS! Please check out our Kickstarter campaign and our show (www.mathwarriorswebseries.com). It’s a lot of fun! Radical -- and thank you to the infinite power for your support!

You’re quite welcome and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!