I thought it would be fun to share a scene from "The Amazing Adventures of Victoria Clarke" feature script. This is a scene in which we meet the young Victoria and her father, Byron, at their home in London.
This week we had the pleasure of visiting music composer Tim Jones at his studio in the charming town of South Pasadena, CA. Tim is best known for his music on the television series Chuck, but he has also scored feature films and numerous other television shows.
Tim has graciously agreed to write music for Victoria Clarke, and we are really excited to have him on board helping with the development of the project.
Here is a short clip from the longer interview with Tim. The full interview will be posted when the Indiegogo campaign goes live.
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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the impact crowdsourcing is having on the world of art; for example by helping to make “The Adventures of Victoria Clarke” a reality. Continuing that theme, I’d like to share some exciting discoveries; all made possible by crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It’s a topic for another article, but crowdfunding is proliferating wildly. The variety of funding options is driving a creative surge, with artists (like me) who have ideas but need support to get them off the ground. I could probably come up with 100 different niches in which sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have sparked a revolution; but for today I’m going to focus on antique technology.
The World of Steampunk
Steampunk is a world built from roads not taken. It’s a universe filled with the things that didn’t catch on like dirigible airships for mass transportation. While video tapes are probably too recent to truly qualify as steampunk, the Batamax/VHS fight provides a perfect example of what I mean. In the early 1980s, either branch seemed to provide a plausible future. However, VHS ultimately won the battle; leaving Betamax as the path not taken (except for my grandfather, who stuck by them for another 10 years after they stopped making the tapes). In a steampunk universe describing the 1990s, Betamax might be the dominant videotape standard, complete with its 60 minute recording limit and funny shape. Combine the right selection of these alternate forks in the road, and you’ll arrive in the world of steampunk. Of course, the possibilities are endless. Ask any ten steampunk fans what the world looks like through the lenses of their imaginations and you’ll get ten different answers.
In Real Life
But while fantasy is one thing, actually living in an alternate world is another entirely. Due in part to the obvious appeal of experiencing a different world, and supported by modern crowdfunding options, some old-fashioned technologies are making a comeback; a few are even useful.
A recent article in Wired tipped me off to some cool examples. It turns out that there are a great many old inventions finding new life through Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others. The Wired article highlighted several examples; these are my three favorites:
A vintage computing device from the 1960s and early 1970s, this kit allows backers to build their own fully functional replica. The kit includes specially designed parts along with parts sourced from a variety of classic devices. The Kickstarter campaign is already finished but you may still be able to contact the designer though his website if interested.
A dressing table that converts into a writing desk at the turn of a key, this project is intended to preserve some of the art and technology of a bygone era. Fully hand-crafted, the table is available to the one lucky high-level backer.
A die-cut kit which allows backers to build their very own custom-designed pinhole medium-format camera. The device looks like something straight out of a steampunk fantasy – like Victoria Clarke might have owned one just like it! Check out the pictures on the site to see what I mean.
NeoLucida Takes the Cake
All of the above projects are fascinating, but the winner has to go to the Ludicia Camera project. According to the project founders and an article in Architect Magazine, the device dates back at least to the early 19th century, and was used to enable very lifelike drawings of real subjects. Apparently some art experts believe that the device may have been employed by some of the celebrated masters of the day. The Lucida fell out of use with the advent of modern photography and today only a few are still available; for several hundred dollars each. It’s a fascinating story, and the project is still taking backers.
Share Your Favorites
I’ve read critiques by some pundits complaining that crowdfunding has lost its novelty. While this might be true of crowdfunding as a business model, it’s hard to deny the novelty and excitement surrounding the many great projects that would never have a chance without crowdfunding support.
Share your own “finds” in the comments below.
As we gear up for our upcoming crowd-funding campaign (I’m still debating whether to run with the tried and true Kickstarter or give Indiegogo a chance to shine), I’m starting to flush out some of the great shared opportunities available to independent artists. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting regularly about the many exciting connections the Victoria Clarke project shares with the art, artists, and stories all around me; both from within the Steampunk/Deiselpunk and 1920s genres and the larger world of independent film.
With crowd-sourcing on my mind, I want to take just a moment to share some of the exciting ways in which public participation in the arts is helping to shepherd a whole generation of projects like mine; both in the physical world and the digital and to encourage you to get involved, not only in the exciting Adventures of Victoria Clark but in the larger world of public patronage for the arts.
Art and Society
An Ambiguous friendship Art and society have always shared an ambiguous relationship. The cliché of the starving artist rings as true for me as it did for Van Gogh and Edgar Allen Poe; both of whom join a long list of artists who died in extreme poverty despite producing some of the greatest artistic masterpieces in history. We all consume large quantities of artistic talent whether in the form of a favorite movie, stylish coffee mug, or decorative painting. Yet despite this widespread acknowledgement that artistic endeavors provide great value to our culture, support for the arts generally falls far behind other more “practical” pursuits.
However, I believe this trend is changing. Another cliché, this time contemporary, deals with the impact of new technology on old industries. The ability to connect with likeminded individuals from around the globe, as opposed to geographically limited regions, has begun to empower the starving artist. The secret lies in our emerging ability to share resources towards common goals. Programs like Kickstarter are making public participation in indie art a very real possibility, in some cases incubating projects which rival major studio productions. But while most people have heard of Kickstarter, there is much more going on behind the scenes of this resurgence of “local” art.
In communities everywhere, artists and consumers are working together to bring their shared interests to life. Such initiatives, which take a variety of forms which in addition to the obvious resources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, include: low cost live/work space for artists, shared arts space, free or low-cost art oriented classes, and support programs designed to help emerging artists engage with the public (follow the links for examples). Driven by ingenious business models or donations from patrons-at-large, sustainable programs enjoy a common feature; shared stewardship.
Often wedded with an environmental or social justice consciousness, these programs are successful largely because they drive individual investment in community outcomes. Motivated both by artistic sensibilities and a mutual understanding of the vital contribution the arts make to society, participants and project leaders work together to develop, fund, maintain, and promote these endeavors for public benefit.
By making creative use of social media tools such as crowd-funding opportunities, project founders are able to capitalize on their own artistic experience to develop resources aimed at incubating local talent while simultaneously entertaining the public. One such project provides an excellent case study in progress.
Themed event creators Gemini and Scorpio are tapping the power of Kickstater to raise both funding and community sweat-equity for an upgrade to their New York City venue. Concerned about the diminishing availability of affordable underground arts spaces in the city, Gemini and Scorpio are building their own. And, they’re using Kickstarter to raise the resources they need to pull off the project. Rather than attempt to replicate their story here, I’m simply recommending that you check out their project for yourself.
Start a conversation As I mentioned in my last blog update, one of the biggest challenges facing projects like this is starting the dialogue. Mutual responsibility for the arts only works if artists and consumers are willing to communicate their goals and experiences to each other. In this vein, I’d love to hear from other independent artists. Use the comments below to talk about your projects. Feel free to post a link to your arts website or crowd-funding campaign (stay on topic please). Everyone benefits from every additional member of the public who learns about independent projects like ours.
Consumers - Join in the Discussion
Stake your claim by participating in crowd-sourced projects like these, you, the art consumer, become a stake-holder in the art you want to see developed. Participation in the arts through resources such as local arts spaces or Kickstarter-funded productions gives you a personal stake in the future of entertainment. Rather than sit back as a passive viewer, you have an ever increasing range of options for personally engaging with and connecting to new projects. How have you been a patron of the arts this week?
Use the comments to tell us your story.
Kendrick Wallace has been working in feature films for over 20 years, most recently as the Visual Effects Producer for the upcoming feature film adaptation of Stephen King's "It" for New Line Studios.