Paul Hildebrandt needs your help. For over two years the director and his crew have been conducting dozens of interviews, sifting through countless hours of archival footage, knocking at closed D.C. backrooms, stumping for truth, analyzing the facts, looking for root causes, and working hard to bring you Fight for Space, an ambitious documentary about the sorry state of America’s position in the international space race, where things went wrong, why they’re still off track today, and what barriers still stand between humanity and our return to the stars.
I previously wrote about Hildebrandt’s project in July 2012 when I signed on as a backer to his official Kickstarter campaign. His quest succeeded and exceeded his formidable funding goal of $65,000.00, with pledges totaling over $105,000.00. For the next year-plus, Hildebrandt pursued more interviews, hit roadblocks in several areas (including any and all inquiries into Elon Musk’s SpaceX program, which availed him naught), wrapped filming, began post-production, and updated us once every few months when properly badgered.
Then the money ran out. Hildebrandt was taken aback and humbled by the process, but he means to finish what he started. To that end, he’s just launched a second Kickstarter campaign to raise more funds so he can afford to complete his work as he envisions it.
Hildebrandt needs your help, and so do I. You can make a difference and help this important project finish happening, in hopes that it could shed new light on a touchy subject and change minds nationwide. Also, if there aren’t enough backers in this second round of donations, I’m guessing the whole thing collapses and I’ll never see the rewards I’m still owed from his first Kickstarter campaign. I was kind of hoping to have those in hand before I die.
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Hi. My name is Randy. It’s been twenty-five months since I last gave a single dime to a Kickstarter project.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
At first, [my Kickstarter moratorium] was mere exercise of selective self-control, consciously deciding to prioritize other responsibilities vying for my attention, and favoring other areas in which I’d rather splurge my monthly fun money. In recent months, I’ve amended my stance and my game plan. The short version: I’m not backing anything else on their website until and unless I receive the rewards I’m owed from all other projects I’ve previously backed first. And I mean all of them.
Reading guide to the preceding chapters in this series of indeterminate and potentially never-ending length:
* 3/24/2013: “My Former Life as a Kickstarter Junkie”
* 10/4/2013: “Former Kickstarter Junkie II: Even Formerer”
* 6/22/2014: “Former Kickstarter Junkie III: the Former and the Furious”
…and that’ll catch you up to speed, as those entries explain why it may be years or even decades before I back another Kickstarter project, up to and including “Re-Fight for Space II: the Pledgening”.
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If you’re a fan of space travel or documentaries or David-vs.-Goliath stories, and if Hildebrandt’s gambit pays off and results in an award-winning film, you may someday be sorry you missed out on the first fundraising round, so now here’s your chance to make amends, hop on the bandwagon, feel included, share the dream, and become an integral part of Team Space-Fighting! I didn’t read the rewards list on this new campaign, but if it succeeds, I assume backers may or may not receive any or all of the following tantalizing freebies:
* Secret high-fives from other backers the next time you see them at conventions
* Fight for Space lunchboxes, mousepads, and bowler hats
* Coupons for half-off freeze-dried ice cream at the Kennedy Space Center gift shop
* Actual flowers swiped from Buzz Aldrin’s lawn
* All three seasons of Enterprise on Blu-ray
* Your name etched on the side of a decommissioned Space Shuttle
* A Skype chat with a guy who thinks he can justify all the bad science in Michael Bay’s Armageddon
* A 30-minute satellite remote-piloting lesson from a bitter, laid-off NASA engineer
* One moon of your choice anywhere outside the Milky Way
…or maybe it’s more of the same rewards as last time. Don’t know, didn’t look, not going for it. But you can look, because American freedom! For all I know, the reality may be even cooler.
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Crowdfunding can work. I’ve watched it function as it should. I’ve participated in several campaigns, on Indiegogo as well as Kickstarter, that were well handled, stayed reasonably close to their original schedules, and delivered on their promises. Hildebrandt has made no secret about the challenges he’s faced and the delays they’ve necessitated, but I’m only willing and able to buffer so many artists up to a certain point. If Hildebrandt’s campaign had been the only one to vex me, I probably wouldn’t give it much thought. Over time, though, the accounts-receivable side of my Kickstarter ledger began tilting so precipitously beyond my comfort level that I had to draw a line for all its users across the board. No exceptions, until and unless those previous Kickstarter users meet their obligations in full.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still looking forward to the film. I’d love to see it someday. I kind of understand why Hildebrandt is coming back to us with hat in hand. I’m a little concerned about the additional expenses he dreams of incurring before he thinks the film will be releasable. (How much for a musical score? Really?) And yet, I’m not angry at him about my money in and of itself. But this is me explaining my disinclination to become a two-time backer and toss even more chips into the pot. Thanks but no. Not while I’m trapped in a Catch-22: I won’t give to this new campaign until I receive the rewards from the first one, but I won’t receive the rewards from the first campaign until and unless this one succeeds.
I’m much less sanguine about the fact that my son was also a separate backer of the first campaign, using his own meager funds, because the subject means a lot to him. Back when we each signed on, he was a high school senior. Today he’s a college sophomore who could be using those funds for many other, more useful and life-sustaining purposes.
It’s for my son’s sake that my disappointment has an edge to it.
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In all, I’m still waiting on returns from four Kickstarters, all of which were listed in “FKJ3”. Status updates are as follows:
Kickstarter projects that have yet to deliver:
Project: the spaceflight documentary Fight for Space
Launch date: July 2012
Estimated delivery date: December 2013
Last update to backers: January 12, 2015
Status as far as we’ve been told: See above. Quoth Hildebrandt in today’s update:
Please donate if you can, but more importantly, please share the Kickstarter with everyone. If you run a blog, please write about it, if you are on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, whatever — please share! We have set a deadline of 20 days so we can get this funded, get the movie made, and get it into your hands! We are so close, we just need your help to get there!
The man said blog, so I blogged. Wish granted!
Project: Dan Harmon and Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion short film Anomalisa
Launch date: July 2012
Estimated delivery date: May 2013
Last update to backers: December 10, 2014
Status as far as we’ve been told: Principal photography officially completed on the now feature-length film. No word on what post-production will entail or whether additional puppet-mastering technology needs to be invented first.
Project: The animated short Atomic Robo: Last Stop, based on the excellent all-ages comic series
Launch date: February 2012
Estimated delivery date: January 2013
Last update to backers: November 12, 2014
Status as far as we’ve been told: Rewards have begun shipping for certain pledge levels, but not all of them. A few weeks later I received a package containing half the objects promised at my level — an Atomic Robo: Last Stop T-shirt and some buttons for my convention backpack. I’m still waiting on two more, larger, pricier items. I’ve also stopped collecting Atomic Robo comics because they remind me of this project and all their joy has consequently vanished in my eyes. The short itself has since been made available online, but I still refuse to watch it until and unless.
Project: folk-rocker Mary Lou Lord’s next album
Launch date: September 2011
Estimated delivery date: December 2011
Last update to backers: September 26, 2014 (after yet another three-month silence)
Status as far as we’ve been told: Backers were given a long list of apologies and personal crises that have created the series of unfortunate delays, which would be 200% more excusable if the past few years’ worth of backer updates hadn’t also provided numerous other, less sympathetic reasons why she kept pushing it back and pushing it back and pushing it back.
Updates as they occur. If the FKJ series keeps going into my 50s and 60s, someday I’ll be able to print and staple them together into the book equivalent of Boyhood. That’ll be keen.
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For those who’ve been following along since episode one, here’s a new list of still more Kickstarter campaigns I’ve viewed and considered but declined specifically and solely because of my moratorium:
* Dave Cockrum’s Futurians Return
* “Temple of Art” documentary
* “Watson and Holmes Vol. 2” comics anthology
* Amazing Heroes action figures
* Girls on Games: A Look at the Fairer Side of the Industry
* “Impossibilities: Magic, Mindreading, and Mayhem” (friend of a friend)
* Ghostwoods Books — new publisher promising books from Warren Ellis, Richard Kadrey, John Reppion, et al.
Those are all Kickstarter campaigns I heard about over the past seven months, but for which my primary reason for skipping them was specifically because of the delinquencies of the other four. Fortunately they all succeeded without me. I haven’t checked to see if any of them have begun shipping rewards.
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In conclusion: FIGHT FOR SPACE! A young filmmaker needs your help to educate the world and save the day. The newest trailer is enclosed below for your approval. I have no idea how it was funded.
Won’t you please give? Remember, we’re all counting on you!