If you're a Patreon or Kickstarter backer you've been getting regular insights, but not everyone is - so I figured it was worth opening this up to everyone.
Here's a vague timeline for (some of) what I have on my plate - aside from the need to also earn a living - and the order I intend to get it done in:
Continue daily Digitiser2000 updates.
Finish sending out the Found Footage backer rewards, and upload the missing footage, bringing that project to a long-overdue end.
Get Digitiser The Show Episode 1 re-uploaded.
Edit the backer exclusive episode.
Continue with ongoing Digitiser mini episodes - including filming some videos with my co-hosts.
Fulfil Digitiser The Show backer rewards.
Digitiser The Show Series 2...
And it's on that final point that I would like your input.
First things first... I know you want to be in Digitiser Series 2. I know this, because it feels like most of you have sent us messages asking if you can be in Digitiser Series 2.
It's great that you all thought the first series looked so fun that you want to be involved, but the reality is... we've been inundated, and we've barely even reached the foothills of planning for future series. We already have a great team that I'd want to bring back. If we do need extra help on series 2 then we'll put out a specific request for help, as I did a couple of times on Digi and Found Footage.
I'm really hating having to reply to people saying "Thanks... but no", but chances are... it's going to have to be a "Thanks... but no", if only not to make hollow promises.
Many of you have also suggested filming in front of an audience, to help with the atmosphere. For assorted reasons, this is really impractical.
The nature of it means that we shoot more footage than we need - we're not scripted, we're a magazine show - so they're long days. The more people we have on set, who don't have a specific role to play, the more complicated the whole thing becomes, and it's already a complicated show with technology and the like to have to deal with. It also adds an additional pressure on the hosts and crew.
Plus, just personally, sometimes during the editing the shouted interactions from the audience were a bit of a headache to edit around. However, there is going to be a live show (possibly more than one), which I've just started planning... and I do acknowledge that an audience does help to bring the show to life a bit, so we'll be looking at a sort of compromise solution. More in due course.
One of the things I want to change next time around is hiring an outside editor who can put together assembly cuts - and then hand it over to me for fine-tuning/Digi-fying. This is going to be costly. Firstly, because hiring an editor is costly, and it's a big job... but also because I want to shoot more episodes next time.
That said, I've sketched out a provisional budget, by planning through the benefit of experience, and having already splashed the first series budget on some big costs - such as the desk - I reckon we can, potentially, bring the next series in for slightly cheaper than we did the first time around.
The biggest expense, frankly, was my time; I spent almost four months editing (aside from the other planning which went into the shoot, and the pressures of running the campaign), for which I wasn't paid a penny. I can't afford to do that again, unless we somehow raise enough that I can afford to take the time off of my day job to do it. Which would be lovely... but seems unlikely. Not least because the crew need to be paid as well, and being at the top of the tree, I'm the one who will generally take the hit.
Ultimately, even if we do attempt to do more of the same for cheaper... this still comes down to money (a lot of people worked for nothing on series 1).
I'm wary - but not completely averse - of doing crowd-funding again, for a number of reasons. In part, it was evident that at least a few of the backers didn't get the show they expected or wanted, which disappoints me because I want to please the backers first and foremost. It would be a relief to lift that pressure off myself entirely, and be beholden to nobody.
Furthermore, backer rewards are... a pain. I've said this elsewhere, but the thing I want to be doing is creating stuff. I don't want to have to be a retailer alongside that.
Aside from the cost of fulfilling rewards giving a false impression of a project's final budget - these things still have to be paid for and shipped - then there's the issue of dealing with those whose addresses have change, or because the item they received is faulty in some way, or... whatever. It's an enormous amount of admin, and even though I have my wife helping... it's still just the two of us doing this.
So what are the options? The way I see it, there are four main ones:
We were approached by a producer during the funding of series 1. However, he wanted a share of the format, an input creatively, and was pushing to spend the entirety of what we raised on a single pilot episode which would then be shown to broadcasters. Given that this route would've meant no guarantee of the series, it would've been a betrayal of what the backers had been promised, and I wasn't prepared to do that.
Admittedly, even with small backing from a broadcaster or production company we'd likely be looking at a significant investment over what we raised to pay for series 1. However, that would also bring with it the influence of producers - and would dilute our vision for the show. There would be all sorts of boxes that would need to be ticked, and I fear losing what makes the show what it is. We get it because we're gamers, and we know what we want to see.
I've considered approaching somebody like Netflix, but that would still require approaching a production company first. Suddenly, when that happens, it potentially starts becoming a bit too much like a job.
This, I think, would be my preferred option. The backing of a company which could provide the entirety of the budget in return for nothing more than some not-too-intrusive branding. I'm terrible at business, so I'd probably need somebody - like a business manager - who could do all this.
PAYING FOR IT MYSELF
In a certain respect, this is ideal. I get to do it on my terms, as an ongoing endeavour, and the only risk is to myself.
Obviously, though, I'm not rich. Even with what we raised on series 1, I ended up ploughing a lot of my own money into Digitiser The Show - and consequently, as I always seem to be at this time of year, I'm broke. I could work harder in the day job of course, but that leaves less time and energy to make the show. Though I'll still probably ending up spending my own money, you can scratch that probably.
I've a real love/hate relationship with crowd-funding. I'm deeply, deeply indebted to everyone who has backed me on Patreon all these years, and those who've invested so generously into Digitiser The Show and Found Footage, but as stated above... it brings all manner of headaches with it.
Nonetheless, it still seems like the easiest and most logical route forwards... but I think I have to dig my heels in against conventional wisdom, and eschew physical rewards. The reward - for any future crowdfunding - would be the show itself (though we might offer non-physical rewards, such as behind-the-scenes footage, credits, and the chance to be involved somehow - basically, no DVDs and t-shirts).
Now... all of this is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness ramble, a way of me trying to figure this all out, but I'd really like to hear whether you'd back the show if we didn't offer physical rewards, so I can get a sense of whether it's worth doing. If you can help out with any of the other options... then even better.
So, feedback welcome in the comments, or at email@example.com - as to whether you'd back the show without physical rewards. I don't need to hear that you don't want to, as that's not helpful. I don't want to hear what you'd change, and what you didn't like, or what we "should" do. We don't even know exactly what we're doing yet, beyond it building on what we did for series 1 (between us, we've got a pretty good sense of what aspects worked better than others).
But I would like to get some idea of the support that's out there, so if you can spare a moment to help - that'd be great.