August 25, 2010

How to crowdsource the production of a feature length film

There’s no trick to it — just a lot of hard work

David SparkWhat Hollywood has discovered is that people can be really passionate about stories and characters. Fans are so emphatic they just want more. Hollywood appeases them with additional content such as t-shirts, extras on a DVD, and maybe a podcast.

But what if the entire production is fully shut down, yet the fans want the story to continue? This was the question Steve Fisher and Mike Dougherty asked about the TV series “Firefly” and its subsequent movie “Serenity.” They were avid fans who wouldn’t be satisfied with just another piece of fan fiction. They set their sites on creating a movie. They first asked for permission from the series producer, Josh Whedon, made a call out to fans to help, and spent two years organizing and producing the film “Browncoats: Redemption.”

It took 160 volunteers, a lot of work, a ton of favors, and only $27,000 to produce the film. In the end, all the proceeds from the film will go to five different charities connected with Firefly’s original creator and cast members.

When Fisher and Dougherty are asked, “What’s the secret to pulling off a crowdsourced film?” the two of them simply said, “We just did it.” There is no trick. It really is that hard to do. Above is my interview with the two filmmakers at Gnomedex 10 in Seattle. I was shooting a series of interviews for Dice and Dice News at the event. I asked Fisher and Dougherty about the project and some of the hurdles they had to overcome.

For more on Gnomedex, read my piece, “The cool and not-so-cool from Gnomedex” and check out other videos from the event on Dice TV and Dice Out Loud.

Here’s the trailer for “Browncoats: Redemption.”

David Spark, a partner in, helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events. Contact David by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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