Wednesday, September 12, 2012

D&D Documentary Kickstarter - Why I'm Not Kicking

Gareth Skarka had a very good point abou the D&D Documentary on G+ earlier this week - their funding and stretch goals raise some flags.

Before I get to the nitty gritty, I'll admit to being extremely interested in this documentary. This is my hobby, the root of my hobby, my High School and College preoccupation. In many ways, it changed the world of games as we know it, because without D&D, there is no PRPG hobby, no CRPGs, no MMORPGs - no gaming as we know it and enjoy it. So yes, I'm emotionally invested in the D&D Documentary I'm just not monetarily investing myself in it.


Let me quote some stuff from their kickstart page (oh, and please go to the kickstarter page for some really great clips from the documentary -  as I said, it's damn interesting stuff).

Making a movie isn't cheap, but we've managed to cobble together some figures that might help explain what we need and why need it.
If we get our goal of $150,000, we get to shoot the film. This is the minimum we need for actual production, crew, equipment, flights and lodging. (Grumpy the Dwarf here - as of the posting of this blog post, they are just over 2K away from goal - they will fund - yippee!)
If we get $250,000, we get to edit, add music, mix the sound, add some graphics and do the Mastering. (wait a fucking minute! if they fund, they dont have the money to edit this fucker unless they hit a stretch goal?!? So, they get to film it, but they will never finish it unless it funds at $250k?) We get to pay for the archive footage, which, we are learning, is expensive. This pays for all the finishing costs. The $250K level brings everyone to the first of our FIRST STRETCH GOAL, a beta version of our smartphone app: GAMER FINDER. Find gamers around you using your smartphone's geo-tagging features. Now, if you want to play a game and your friends are too busy, just use your app to find gamers near you. (uhm, that app is called G+)
At the $500,000 level (which there is now way in heaven or hell they are going to reach), we get to market the film. Yes, marketing is expensive. Even the extra $250K is never enough. (trust me, if they complete this and somehow miraculously find the funds to edit it, they are going to find a way to market it) This helps us send it out to film festivals (Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, to name a few) and eventually, cross our fingers, sell the film to a distributor so they can get it to theaters.
The $500K level brings everyone to our SECOND STRETCH GOAL (and this one, we are very excited about). Everyone who donated $100 or more will automatically receive the Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Companion Book. This beautifully bound, illustrated book, published by Green Ronin and edited by James Lowder (all this means is the book is a done deal and will be available separately - wait, if the book is a done deal, the documentary must also be a done deal - I mean, they have a publisher and an editor already) will chronicle the creation of the documentary and will include essays from interviewees and other special guest contributors. Those who payed less than the $100, will be given the opportunity to increase their pledge to the $100 (or more) level and we will send the book along with your other rewards.
Alright, let me understand this. The documentary appears to be mostly filmed already (at least the interviews). So, is the basic goal there for the filmmakers to recoup their current out of pocket expenses?

If the first stretch goal isn't hit, will there be nothing more to this than the clips already on the kickstarter site?

I hate to be like this, because I really like the idea behind the documentary and the clips look damn interesting, but I can no longer treat kickstarter as a black hole to toss money into and hope for the best.


  1. Without D&D, "MMO's" would consist of moving little virtual French infantry or little virtual Confederate cavalry on a big virtual battlefield using virtual 6-sided dice to determine virtual casualties to be removed from the field.

    And with all that, we'd still argue about the rules so much that we'd never even get to finish a game. ;-)

  2. It could be they broke it down into $250,000 & $150,000 because Kickstarter has become all about the stretch goals (thank you, Reaper). So if you don't break a project into stretch goals, you aren't marketing as effectively as you could. There's no stick, so you have to offer plenty of carrots.

  3. This is going to sound a bit douchy, but I'm actually happy to see someone with the same apprehensions I had when I started scrolling down the page. I'm a big fan of what they're trying to do, but you only need to look at what other people have managed on a smaller budget, and done totally in house that has gone on to huge things. I know that this is a different market, but The Evil Dead and Clerks were labours of love made by maxing out credit cards, taking out loans and sleeping in some god awful places whilst they were being made.

    And these films have led the people who made them to some very lofty heights indeed!

  4. I was going to expound a bit, but I'll just say I agree with Paul 100% and leave it at that. It doesn't cost $250,000 to enter a film into Sundance that I'm aware of...

  5. @Paul, douche away ;)

    If they broke the project into stretch goals "because that's how kickstarter works best" and the regular goal isn't actually funding a completed project, they either:

    a - have no idea how kickstarter works

    b - have no idea the danger of thousands of D&D nerds out of money for "no completed documentary project"

    c - enjoy living life on the edge

    d - are trying to pay themselves a salary up front

    there are things that "don't ring right" to my ears, that's all I'm saying.


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