Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rifftrax Twilight

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be welcoming Mike, Kevin and Bill from Rifftrax to talk about one of the worst movies of all time Twilight!  More specifically their MST3K brand of live Riffing of the movie, thank you for joining us today guys.  

(K) Happy to virtually be here.  Or there. Where am I?

(B) I am happier than Kevin to be here.  OR there, or wherever.  Sorry, I’m very competitive.

This Kickstarter project isn’t for a Rifftrax of Twilight since you’ve already done that, but to come up with enough dough to shove it in the face of Hollywood and pay for the rights to a do a live show of Twilight?  

(K) Close.  Yes we’d love to do a live riff of Twilight in theaters nationwide.  We’ve been doing these shows for a few years now, they’re a blast to do and people love to see live riffing, but we’ve never been able to get our mitts on a big juicy Hollywood movie.  And since Twilight topped our own poll as the Worst Movie Franchise Ever, well it seems perfect.

Well there seems to be plenty of support for you to do it!  With 21 days to go in your campaign you’ve already quadrupled your goal of $55,000 with over 4,000 backers!  Did you think you were this popular or the idea was this popular?

(K) I don’t think we really had a clue.  We tend to be modest guys overall, and we thought we’d try a modest goal.  

(B) I thought we’d probably meet our goal in a month’s time, but I had no idea it would skyrocket like that.

With all that money are you concerned the studio is just going to look at your Kickstarter total and go: “Plus $10,000 more and sure, but not for that.”  Or even just take it all no matter how high it goes?  

(K) It’s possible that that’s what will happen, we really don’t know.  We’re hoping that those in charge will see the fun involved with it. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt the franchise, I mean suddenly all these boyfriends are showing up to watch Twilight with their girlfriends.

Assuming there’s money left over you mention spending the extra on “production values” and/or go after an “awesome celebrity guest or two.”  What kind of extra production value do you have in mind?  Have you already approached some celebrities to possibly join you?

(K) We’ve talked about getting getting Whiplash the Taco Johns monkey who rides on a dog, but I’ve been warned against working with monkeys under any circumstances.  

(B) MICKEY ROURKE.  Who also rides a dog.  

Do you think bad horror movies are the best to Riff or are just bad movies in general all you need?  

(M) Not only bad movies, good movies or any movie in-between (within reason -- we’re not going to riff on “The Sweet Hereafter.”) The Twilights just happen to work because they are deathly earnest and intensely silly.

(B) I think we’ve successfully riffed all sorts of movies, old and new, terrible (TRANSFORMERS 3) and great (CASABLANCA).  I think the only things that we really avoid are 1) out-and-out comedies; 2) very tragic, super-serious stuff like Mike said above (e.g. HOTEL RWANDA; SHINDLER’S LIST); and super-violent or porn-y films.  Beyond that, it’s a judgment call about whether it’s a good movie for us for all sorts of other reasons -- some are just too boring, some too talky, some are just so godawful in technical terms like sound or picture that we don’t want to inflict it on anyone, including ourselves!  Also, we have to think that it can sell enough in the form we’re able to offer it (MP3, Video on Demand) to keep our ship afloat.

Most folks don’t understand the licensing process, what do you have to do to have the “right” to do one of these commentaries with the film?  I understand Rifftrax came about so that you could make fun of mainstream movies without having to pay any licensing fee since yours is a separate file you “play along” with the movie?

(M) Having the rights to exhibit a film is much different than an Mp3 that is meant to be played along with the user’s DVD, yea. You obviously don’t need to secure any rights for an individual to do that in his/her own home.

I think that a lot of studio people will understand what we’re doing and play along. Provided we give them a large novelty check for the honor.

How hard is it to keep coming up with commentary after all these years?  Do you ever think about quitting or do they keep pulling you back in with bad movies?  

(M) All writing is very very hard and I try to avoid it with all my energy. Unfortunately, it’s what I’ve chosen as my profession so I’m stuck with it.

Seriously, though, there is great reward in the kind of very specific unique writing we do. It’s probably the equivalent in mechanic’s terms of working on, say, archaic motorcycles that haven’t had production parts made for them in years and you have to work out a way to get them up and running. Not a gigantic demand for what we do, is very difficult and specialized, but also very rewarding when we get it up and running. (Did my metaphor just run off the road, crash into a telegraph pole and explode? I thought so.)

How did you discover Kickstarter?

(B)  It was impossible to avoid the stories about it in the last few years for anyone whose business is online, especially if you’re a creative person of some sort. Plus I (Bill) did a Kickstarter last year to fund a comic book I’m writing.  It was successfully funded, but I did learn a lot about the necessity of planning as well as you can before you launch one of these.  I made some strategic errors in mine which I ultimately don’t think will be a huge problem, but the potential to create a huge problem is there.  Still, it’s a very exciting possibility for any creative person or group who already has a sort-of crowd somewhat willing to fund your work.  It can eliminate the standard industry gatekeepers who might get in the way, make it more difficult, not financially feasible, etc.  

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

(B)  We got media attention in some unlikely places (e.g. gossipmonger Perez Hilton) because of the odd nature of the proposal, but also because it was funded so quickly -- within an hour and 20 minutes after launching, as I clocked it.  We are spreading word on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and with our mailing list.  I think that’s it?   No, not using Kicktraq, though now I’m intrigued.

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

(B) Try to be realistic, I guess. It’s a platform where a lot of splashy successes have been touted, and we’ve been lucky so far.  But set a goal that seems reflective of your base of support, try to really do the math on your project numbers, and be willing to answer questions of your backers / potential backers.  And prepare to spend more time than you thought tending to it!    

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
(B) Nope, think I said everything up above!

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

(B)  Thanks back!  (And again, I am more thankful than Kevin, just so you know.)

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