A Journey Into European Puppetry

So Close… So Far!


I know EXACTLY how this poor puppet in Lyon, France feels as I have been trying to raise money for GRAVITY FROM ABOVE.

Well there are just a few days left to try to get to my revised $5,000 goal. I fluctuate between moments of joy, when, as a couple of days ago, some anonymous soul donated $500 to Gravity From Above, and digit nibbling concern, when I realize I still have $700 dollars to raise in a 4 more days, by midnight January 14th Alaska Time.

This whole crowdfunding campaign (I still can’t stand the sound of the word “crowdfunding”.) has been a lot tougher than the first time I did this back in 2012. And longer! Nearly a full three months. I doubt I will ever do this again, unless my personal support base grows by huge leaps and bounds.

Some statistics… This time so far I have had 48 giving donors to Gravity From Above. Back in 2012 I had 78 official supporters and many more who gave to me in small increments on the streets of Haines. I sometimes wonder if some of the folks who gave back then simply wonder why I didn’t finish the first time, as if a complex documentary film could be finished with a mere $10,000. The truth is in 2012 I put in $5,000 more of my own money to get what I did get done, which is precisely why I originally tried to get $15,000 this time around. But that unfortunately wasn’t coming this time. I sent many, many emails to people who might give more. None did. Too many apologies. I was allowed to revise my goal down to $5,000 after stretching the time out to the 90 day max. More about that anon.

94 Groteska3

Bystanders at the Teatr Groteska in Krakow wondering if they’ll ever get to watch the puppet documentary GRAVITY FROM ABOVE.

More interesting statistics… I evidently have had, to date, over 2,500 (!) viewers of my Hatchfund site. Out of those only 48 chose to give. Likewise on Facebook I have had 150 ‘Likers’ on my Gravity From Above page. I have over 300 ‘Friends’ connected through Facebook. I am connected to a couple of puppet pages on Facebook with easily 3,000 people connected to them. Then I have loads of viewers and followers on this Gravity From Above page and on my much larger site The Anadromous Life.And then there are the people on the Hatchfund site itself. That’s a fair number of folks to connect to. Still out of all those folks… 48 supporters. (Thus far.) And of all of those people; many, many puppet folks became ‘friends’, left good comments, were quite enthusiastic about the project, this documentary investigating puppetry in Europe. Well that’s wonderful. When I count up the number of folks who had a serious relationship to puppetry who gave thus far… generously, I’d say 8 puppet folks.

Why so few? Well theories can abound. But ultimately the reason boils down to this. You don’t really know people online. They receive too many updates, photos, memes, news stories, notices, invitations, solicitations, beggings, marketing and spam to really notice the depth of a heartfelt plea. The majority of the folks who gave knew me fairly well already, many gave last time, though even there I lost several serious contributors from last time. What I also missed from last time were the two substantial matching grants from nonprofit corporations which together totaled up to over $3,500. So the reason I probably won’t do this again is because unless I become successful at what I do I won’t have the tens of thousands of supporters as the foundation I would need to raise the funds I really need. (I’m still hoping for the phantom Swiss money someday.)

Here’s a little film I made for my darker friends who don’t believe puppets can do more than make you laugh.

Seeing the stark impossibility of getting to my original, and much needed, 15 to 20 thousand dollar goal I had to seriously ask myself what I could do with a substantially lesser amount. The answer getting better editing and filming tools to make something that might attract real cash. So I brought my minimum goal, that’s the amount I need to raise before I can keep the cash, down to a worthy, but not nearly as useful, $5,000. And I still don’t have that yet. But I’m within spitting distance. I think I’m going to make it I’m well over $4,200. But $700 plus dollars in 4 days is enough to cause more sleeplessness.

And finally if I don’t get it what happens. Well in the nonprofit world of Hatchfund, the money is then divvied up as a fund for other artists’ projects. (I missed getting some of that money myself because I didn’t get to a certain percentage in time.) So now it’s down to you friends, puppet folks, bystanders long lost acquaintances, internet surfers. It’s either you who read this or no one. I am so grateful for even the smallest amounts. And each one helps others decide to give.

113 Chrudim5 Bagged

This mysterious little puppet in the Czech Puppet Museum in Chrudim is wondering whether anyone will ever unwrap his story in GRAVITY FROM ABOVE.

Please give something today. Ease your conscience. And help validate the last three months of my labor trying to get something of value done. Something that you don’t fully understand because I haven’t made this documentary yet! And you haven’t seen what I’ve seen.

Click this… Give here.

And to those who have worked with me on this and followed it carefully you have my undying thanks.

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska


4 responses

  1. rsnow113

    hi, I’m one of those people that have been following you, but haven’t donated yet. To be honest, part of that has to do a little with a bit of negativity that I read in your posts in regards to crowd-sourcing along with the process that you’re going through. I think if you look at some of the more successful campaigns, they too experience difficulties, but keep their heads up, their posts positive, their sales pitches shorter and more concise as to what the goals + final product will be, and keep on pushing. I know people also need help seeing a tangible product. Maybe change it up a bit and see how your response rates change… just some thoughts to help!

    January 11, 2015 at 9:05 AM

  2. Thanks for the comment. I guess I look at this site as being a place for honest essays, never sales pitches. So this isn’t the place to keep things short and up. I do that more through social networking.

    I distrust the notion of remaining positive all of the time. I understand what you are saying with regards to fundraising. And from doing fundraising for radio stations I know that there eventually comes a time for honest description at the end. I’ve met and communicated with many people who simply do not understand that if I don’t get my minimum amount then I won’t get the funds I’ve raised. That is a negative which must be told. The truth is these things are difficult. We need to find a better way of doing this.

    As far as letting people know what the project’s goals are. I think anyone who has looked around this particular site has a good idea that it is a documentary about puppets in Europe telling a story that has not been told before.

    Finally there’s something a little off with encouraging someone to be more positive at five minutes to midnight and explaining what I’m doing that’s wrong and basically saying to me “I’m withholding my support because you are imperfect in your pitching.” What would have been encouraging is a donation instead and then afterwards making a few suggestions for next time. Overall yours was, sadly, a fairly negative comment disguised in the language of positivity.

    The essence of the documentary is to point to a means of communication which might, through it’s humility, allow us to speak honestly again.

    January 11, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    • rsnow113

      I WANT to support what you’re doing because I believe that this project needs to happen… and as of this morning, I AM. However, like most people, I do need a little positive persuasion for choosing to donate to your cause above any other causes that I may be considering.

      You have a wealth of information that needs to be shared with the world… use it to your advantage and tell us what you’d like to share with us. Rather then reading an entire paragraph about who’s not funding you anymore, please share your excitement, desires, passions and secrets with us! I’d love to hear about that!

      January 12, 2015 at 6:15 AM

  3. Thanks again for replying. AND for contributing! And thanks for the compliments.

    A couple of things that might be helpful to understand about the nature of this particular site. These essays follow the journey to get Gravity From Above made, the ups and the downs. I have in past entries discussed many problematic aspects of the trip for more than a paragraph. I assume, because I assume intelligence on the part of my readers, that they will have seen acres of passion by now. Also passion is a word used originally to refer to the suffering of Christ which eventually led to the Resurrection. So I am dedicated in this specific site to giving the whole process warts and all. And that includes the real discomforts. And anyone who suggests that crowdfunding is not without it’s pains has probably never done it.

    Now I know very well that I must maintain a strong hopeful note in pitching my ideas. (See my Facebook page for Gravity From Above.) But that’s my pitching site. If you go back a few entries here you will notice an essay called ‘Why Make A Documentary About Puppets?’ check that out for the passion side. I write these essays (not blogs) to stand together and to last as writing. Therefore they are not repetitious. (Maybe I’ll make a book out of them one day.)

    Someone once said to me that people should mostly say what they were in favor of and not what they were opposed to. That things should be presented positively when presenting ideas. Not to say what you disagree with but what you you support. I thought about that for a long time and ultimately decided it was a highly faulty line of thinking. It also struck me that the purely positive approached had a frightening underbelly. If you look at my other site, The Anadromous Life (listed here on the right), you’ll see a series entitled ‘Sacred Cows’. I am, in that series, moving towards the societal Sacred Cow of Positive Thinking. So this is a subject I have been giving much thought to for years. We might disagree but I actually relish the discussions where folks disagree. For me that’s where I really see the passion, and that’s also where the humanity lies.

    Thanks for disagreeing.

    By the way did you notice that I’ve passed my minimum goal? A little serious lamenting seems to have not effected that outcome too badly. But now I can legitimately be joyful!

    (For further reading on the perils of Positive Thinking I suggest Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.)

    January 12, 2015 at 7:18 AM

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