Thank You for Making the Indiegogo Campaign a Success!


These generous folks supported A Life’s Work during the recent Indiegogo campaign and are now part of Team Awesome.  They each deserve a post of their own, but I’m afraid this will have to do. For now!

awesome_004If you missed the crowdFUNding extravaganza, you can still become part of Team Awesome by going to the A Life’s Work project profile on the  New York Foundation for the Arts website page. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible and since NYFA controls how the money is disbursed, you can be sure it  will be spent on the film. (Read about NYFA and ALW’s relationship.)

Donate Now!

Okay, thank you to:

Bill Gonzalez, Forrest Wynne, Anne Stephenson, Karen O’Reilly, dfalk37, Cecelia Specht, Gayatri Martin, Dana Eugene Creasy, Ray Magee, Sherri Paris, Kathy Leichter, David Hartman, ecooney, cwood329, Robin Stratton, Anonymous, Manuel Olmedo, Aimee Madsen, Anonymous, James McNutt, Roberta Kowald, Gretchen Knudsen, Rob Elder, David Mayne, Ron Erickson, Will Georgantas, Jen Jorczak, Barbara Frank, ejewett, Kathy McGuire, AT Audio, Pola Rapaport, Greg Lichtenberg, Susan Robinson, Tony Tadey, Daria Price, Andrew Moore, Tara L. Masih, Anonymous, Anonymous, Rita Flores, Roberto Westbrook, thewrightcaroline, Dorothy Robinson, Danielle Futselaar, Julia Ridley Smith, Sarah Verasco, Randon Billings Noble, Niall David, Mary Toepfer Dolce, Lori DeFuso, selbe, Maura McEvoy, Wayne Olsen, Alison Victor, whatisart, Robert Featherstone, Jeff Jackson, Cornelius Sailer, Anonymous, David Licata (not me, the glass artist), Jessica Cowan, Amma Appiah, Kristine McInvaille, Louis Dallara, John Copenhaver, Kimberly Wendell, Laini Nemett, William Bailey, atk2, Beverly Sky, Cliff Garstang, David Cerchio, josiahmail, Laine Valentino, Lisa Heslop, Meredith Miller, corolla150, Charles Graeber, arcodesign, Diane Martin, jplhaupt, Renee Ashley, Laura Powers, Lora Vatalaro, Jeanne Larsen, Rob Venusti, Diane Kelly, Harth, Adriana Gatto, Steven Petrow, Rachel Cantor, Paulette Livers, John Metzdorf, Anonymous, Barbara Campisi, Alison Gibson, Alison Gibson, Marianne Yoshioka, Pola Rapaport, Lauren Taylor, Anonymous, Lisa Carey, Frances Bartkowski, Y.W. Chung, Robert and Mary Darden, aliceag, Stacey Derasmo, Scot Siegel, themehope, Jessica Lipps, Kyu Nakama, Jayne Marek, Brendan Hay, sciencewomansociety , Lucinda Bliss, James Carnahan, Paul Outlaw, Kimberly Johnson, Anonymous, J. Walter Hawkes, Kristin Licata, James McNutt, jahamad88, clof101, Charles Smith, Doug DeFeo, Evan Losow, Steve & Martha Oates, Cassandra Malatak, Rosario Strano, Bob Marovich, Linda Carlson, Faye C, Ed Kelle, Anonymous, Duane Kelly, Karen Bell, Mike Guarino, Judy Fox, David Lewis, Pedro Ponce, Anonymous, Kathryne Leak, Kate McGraw, Indrani Nayar-Gall, Megan McNamer, Joshua Zeman, John Egan, Edwin Stepp, Irene Westcott, Robert Gatto, Paul Lucas, Thomas Bachman, thedavidmiller, crackiecat, Anonymous, Laurie Marsden, Harry Goldstein, Leah Dimond, CM Burroughs, Jill Tarter, Kathryn Schwille, Louis Dallara, leamcox, William Heffner, Paula Whyman, Tina Schumann, Anonymous, Marcie Lenke, Jessica Rosner, Anna Licata, D.W. Young,  bb2316, John Martin, Meryl Meisler, George Kosmides, Daria Price, Judith Pratt, Judith Jones, Jack & Helen Axcelson, Jamie & Jennifer Newton, Marianne Petit, Wolfgang Held, Pete Pazmino, Benna Golubtchik, sgrace1122, Carmen Cormier, Jane W. Deschner, Charles Williamson, Jr., Jennifer Chen, Rob Licht, Ahmad Jarara, Roland Tec, Larry Dark, Heather Kabel, Anonymous, William Swearson, Corey Todaro, Stone Harbor Films – Judith Vogelsang, John R Yearley, danicanov, Audrey Ward.

I may (or may not) write something about my crowdfunding experience. If I do, you’ll see it here first.

And here are the video thank yous wherein I probably mispronounce your name. I’m sorry.

Thank You!

Bride of Thank You!

Son of Thank You!

Return of the Son of Thank You!

Thank You: The Final Countdown!

Biggest Hits of 2012 — on the Blog, That Is

So, what were the most popular posts written in 2012? I’m glad you asked.

Happy New Year

Crowdfunding and A Life’s Work: Advice from a Consultant

Six Questions for Jeff Stein, President of Cosanti

Get Thee to an Artist Residency! Advice from an “Expert”

Designing SETI Institute Graphics: Guest Blogger Danielle Futselaar

Using the Accident

Her Life’s Work – By Kate Hill Cantrill, Guest Blogger

Crowdfunding and A Life’s Work: Advice from a Consultant

Back in the summer of 2010, when the A Life’s Work blog was just a mere baby blog, a reader took advantage of the Ask the Filmmaker feature to ask about crowdfunding:

Dear Filmmaker,

Have you considered using Kickstarter for A Life’s Work?


I get asked this about once a month, and the answer I gave then and the answer I’ll give now, even after working as a “crowdfunding consultant” on two films, Out on a Limb and Humble Beauty: Skid Row Artists (happening now!  campaign ends 11:59pm, Sept 15, 2012!) are pretty much the same.

Yes, but…

I still believe people are more willing to help out when the film is closer to completion. Or perhaps even completed and marketing and distribution funds are needed. That stuff costs a bundle and filmmakers are notorious for not budgeting for them. And the amount I need to get the film near completion is well above what I can raise via crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding Lessons Learned
David Licata, crowdfunding consultant
David Licata (right), crowdfunding consultant.

When I tell friends about my crowdfunding consultant hat (I’m available, email me), they often comment that I must be learning a lot that will come in handy when  I’m ready to fire up A Life’s Work’s campaign. And they’re right, I have. Here’s the short list.

  1. Start early. Like, yesterday. The one good thing about the pace of A Life’s Work is that it has allowed me to build an audience. (You, dear reader!) It’s also given me time to collect materials and jot down ideas that I might use during the campaign.
  2. Don’t even think of doing it alone. Enlist three, four, or more people to help, and those people should have skills that fill certain needs. Get a person who’s good on the phones to make calls to foundations and corporations. They sometimes have discretionary funds and if your project fits nicely with their mission, you might get lucky. Get a social media wizard, or two. These people know how to spread the word. Get a writer who can produce updates and eblasts (this is usually my role). All of these people  should be social media savvy and have large networks they can appeal to. And please pay these people. Well.
  3. Give away good perks. Every filmmaker gives away DVDs and posters. Try to think beyond that. A sci-fi graphic novel I recently gave to offered to name characters after donors of a certain level. A friend of mine who crowdfunded an upcoming artist residency to the Arctic Circle offered to send postcards from exotic stops on her way to the top of the world.
  4. Use a lot of images. On your fundraising page and in your pitches on Facebook, etc. A captivating image is more likely to be shared on FB than any text. The writer part of me dislikes this. The filmmaker part of me thinks this is just fine.
  5.  Make a great pitch video. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Don’t go over five minutes. Do tell the viewer why your project is different and awesome and what the world needs now!

This is my starter list. More to come in a future post.

And Remember

Even though A Life’s Work is not crowfunding at the moment, you can still support the film monetarily. You can contribute as little as $5 and as much as $15,000 online, and since A Life’s Work is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, whatever amount you contribute is tax-deductible. To donate, click here. It’s super easy. Any amount is greatly appreciated and helps in many ways. And I’ll send you something nifty in return.





Art Films and Documentaries

1. Art Films

Many years ago I gave a screenplay to a producer, a friend of a friend who had then just partnered with another producer known for making some pretty fantastic, critically acclaimed, NYC-based independent feature films. His response to the script was, “It’s good, but it’s an art film. I don’t want to make an art film.”

Art film wannabe?
Art film wannabe?

What he meant was he wanted to make a film that would make a lot of money, like Titanic-money.

This was disheartening for two reasons.

A: I never thought Wigs by Coco could make Titanic-money — nothing I do will make Titanic-money. But this script is entertaining and, I believe, could be made cheaply, could find an audience, and could turn a profit. The problem is the Titanic-profit some producer types want to make.

B: Art Film. Like “art” was some kind of dirty word. And like  “art film” and profit were mutually exclusive. Again, the disconnect between me and the producer who rolls his eyes and tsks at the mention of “art film” is based on our perceptions of monetary success.

2. Documentaries

I recently took a gig as a crowdfunding consultant for a wonderful documentary called Humble Beauty: Skid Row Artists. I’m getting paid for my time and effort, but I’m not going to get rich. It’s a film whose message I believe in — the curative powers of art, the hidden lives of marginalized people, the ubiquity of art — and I’m honored that the filmmakers believe in my abilities.

No sane person thinks a documentary is going to make them rich. Some manage to make a paycheck from their work, others, like me, most of the time, don’t. Generally, people get involved with documentaries because they believe the stories are important and because they believe film is the way to tell these stories.

And this is probably why I no longer write screenplays.


Humble Beauty is a documentary about how art can help homeless and mentally ill people recover and renew their lives. It’s the powerful true story about how painting transformed the lives of talented, mentally ill homeless men and women in the worst area of LA, the homeless capital of America. Humble Beauty is an inspiring, empowering, and illuminating film that has aired on KCET, public TV in LA, and has been offered national distribution on PBS stations. The film is going the crowdfunding route to raise money for re-editing for time requirements, broadcast insurance, music rights, promotional materials, and other  necessary expenses.    

Click to visit the Indiegogo page.

SETIstars: SETI Institute Using Crowdfunding

Yesterday’s post about SETI was in the works since last week. Soon after it went live, I found out about SETIstars, the SETI Institute’s effort to raise $200,000 so they can get the Allen Telescope Array out of hibernation and back online. And soon after that I was contacted by SETI’s PR firm, who requested some of A Life’s Work footage of the ATA in case some press outlet is looking for moving images. I was happy to provide it, for the folks at SETI who have been so generous to me.

I like the crowdfunding idea, and I think this could be a good way for SETI to get the ATA up and running again. But I think what really needs to happen is something bigger. What needs to happen is a shift from, you guessed it, short-term to long-term thinking. SETI is engaged in an activity that is pushing the limits of today’s technology.

Think of the 1960s space program. The space race, whatever its sinister basis, resulted in an innovation explosion (it had nothing to do with that weather balloon that crashed in Roswell, really). People who are in the position to fund endeavors like SETI (governments, corporations, the SuperRich) would do well, by their constituents, shareholders and legacy, to think not in terms of quarters or fiscal years, but in terms of decades and centuries.

It’s simple: not supporting ventures like SETI, the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, Arcosanti, and Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is detrimental to our future.

Okay, stepping off the soapbox now.

Here’s an article in Wired about SETIstars.