FIREFLY AND SERENITY GUERILLA MARKETING

Pledge to Fan-Finance a Sequel

POSTED BY: LINDSAY
UPDATED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 06:05
SHORT URL:
VIEWED: 4205
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Thursday, October 1, 2009 8:26 AM

LINDSAY


Today I am launching an experiment to test the power of the Firefly/Serenity fan base. Through my website, www.myserenitysequel.com, I hope to bring fans together for the first-ever fan financed movie. I believe that there are enough Firefly/Serenity fans to produce a chunk of funding large enough to convince Universal Pictures to finance the remainder of the film. Here is the concept:

The Firefly/Serenity fan base is significant, but poor box office sales of the first Serenity film put hope of a sequel on hold. The film reportedly cost $39 million to produce, with another estimated $20 million in marketing, but grossed just under $39 million in worldwide ticket sales. With DVD sales, however, Serenity was officially “in the black” – meaning there are enough fans to make the movie profitable in the long-term.

The problem is, production companies don’t like long-term profit – they want to see returns right away. That is where the fan financing comes in. I don’t want fans to just throw their money away hoping something will get done. I want fans to pay $50 for a contract that Universal Pictures will begin pre-production on a sequel and finance the remainder of the film. In return for each payment the fan gets the guarantee of a movie, and a copy of the DVD when it is released. Essentially, this is DVD pre-sales plus a little funding to convince production executives that making the movie is worth it. Of course, fans would be encouraged to make multiple payments – and get multiple DVDs to give away as gifts.

The first step is to determine interest in financing a sequel to the first Serenity movie. This is done through a simple pledge process, where I hope 400,000 fans will pledge to participate in the financing stage. I hope those that choose to pledge are genuinely willing to put their money down toward producing this movie.

If 400,000 pledges are made by Jan 1, 2010, representing financing of $20 million, I believe this will show Universal that the Firefly/Serenity fan base is dedicated and motivated to see a sequel come to fruition. With the promise of this funding, I hope to partner with Universal to begin the second phase: a collection campaign that will only charge fans if movie production is guaranteed.

This is an amazing opportunity to show the power of a group of fans with a little motivation. The fans have nothing to lose and a Serenity sequel to gain. And I don’t know about you, but “there’s no place I can be, since I found Serenity.”

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 8:29 AM

BYTEMITE


Hmm. Well, the idea of a pledge isn't a terrible one, but, listen, you may want to edit your thread title to reflect that it's a pledge.

Unfortunately, just saying "Fan-finance a sequel!" sounds kind of like a scam, and makes people approach the thread skeptically... Or skip it.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 8:30 AM

LINDSAY


Thanks for the suggestion. The title has been updated.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 8:34 AM

BYTEMITE


Now, I personally would pledge, so guess I'll be checking out your site.

Is there anyone who can get involved with this that might lend you some credibility? Well known firefly fan groups, for example? Or people who may have some connections with the studios?

Also, you may need a plan B if Universal vetos a theatrical release. There's always direct to DVD.

And another thing that needs to be considered is the possibility of Fox/Universal friction, since they both have rights to the franchise.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 8:39 AM

ZEEK


I believe that this has been explained in the past as a bad idea. Something about the way Hollywood works. They would take a fan funding drive as offensive or something. I'm sure someone can explain it better.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 8:44 AM

LINDSAY


I would hope they would take it as a source of financing - after all, production companies HOPE to make money back from fans after a movie is made ... why not before?

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 9:09 AM

MANGOLO


Who is your contact at Universal?

BTW unless you are working specifically with Universal, you might want to offer pledgers options at different price points.

Ideas:

Would you pledge to pre-buy a Firefly mini-series of 9 episodes for $50? [FYI this would be significantly less than another movie to produce]

Would you buy a season of animated Firefly of 22 episodes for $50? [again FYI this would be significantly less than another movie to produce]

Other ideas?

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 9:21 AM

LINDSAY


To be realistic, I think the best way to get the original actors and Joss Whedon involved again is to create another feature film - otherwise they have better things to do with their time. And the point it to show how much interest there is in something like this, if Universal wants to try to offer some lesser option to the fans and see how well that works out, that could be done too. At this point, I am trying to get enough fans together to demonstrate that the fan base is strong and to show Universal that SOMETHING should be done. Also, FYI, Universal owns the rights to Serenity, Fox owns the rights to Firefly.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009 9:52 AM

MANGOLO


I'm sure both Fox and Universal are continuing to look at the real numbers of DVD sales, syndication, and VOD.

I work in this business. I'm in negotiations with Gina and Jewel's agents for my current project (Gina is almost a done deal). I've worked with Universal's development people on previous projects.

If you are interested in getting some real results, you need to find some one in development at Universal that is willing to work on a plan with you. A real plan. Pre-orders of DVDs would be a real plan. Many indie films are being financed that way now. Their are many ways to do this.

I'm not here to take the wind out of your sails, but I'd hate you to spend a lot of energy and see no results in this endeavor.



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Thursday, October 1, 2009 12:27 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Quote:

Originally posted by Lindsay:
Today I am launching an experiment to test the power of the Firefly/Serenity fan base.


Your name wouldn't happen to be Ace Underhill by any chance?

This has been proposed quite a few times already, at least twice it got as far as a website set up to take donations. Those never went anywhere and unfortunately I don't think this one will either.



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Thursday, October 1, 2009 7:37 PM

SIGMANUNKI


I don't have the time to go over the details. Search the archives for the many reasons why this is a bad idea and won't work:

http://fireflyfans.orthogonalspace.ca/

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Friday, October 2, 2009 2:51 AM

LINDSAY


The idea is not to take donations until there is a guaranteed number of people who would participate. This stage is just to guage interest - obviously, if there is none or not enough, it would never move any further. But if there is enough demonstrated interest, there is a way to set it up so that people only get charged if there are enough people - like if I wanted 100 people to participate, no one would be charged until 100 people signed up (though we need much more than 100). Plus, people aren't just "donating" - they would actually be buying a DVD.

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Friday, October 2, 2009 1:27 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


That's fine, and I think it would work for an original idea that someone has but no real experience to present to a studio for financing. But for Firefly/Serenity you still have to deal with Universal and/or FOX for rights to the intellectual property, and this is just not the way they do business. Most importantly, if you can't get Joss interested in doing it this way then count me out.

I would think that the continued sales of the dvds and other products, plus the popularity of this and other sites devoted to the show is already a clear indication of how much interest there is. There have been countless petitions and letter writing drives already and they haven't produced the needed response.

I am not saying for you not to pursue this effort, just that you need to be aware of the difficulties others have encountered with similar proposals in the past.






wo men ren ran zai fei xing.

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Friday, October 2, 2009 4:14 PM

SIGMANUNKI


What you don't understand is that what you're proposing is essentially the same thing as donations. It's just delayed a bit. But, it is also hampered by the fact that only a fraction of what people will pledge will materialize... a small fraction. That being because of loss of interest, personal financial changes, etc, etc, etc.

In other words, all previous reasons why this won't work stand, plus some new ones.

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Sunday, October 4, 2009 3:13 AM

LINDSAY


I think that DVD sales are important, but the fact that revenue trickles in so slowly means that it is less likely to motivate a production company to make another movie. What I am proposing would give Universal money NOW, which means a lot more than the same amount of money earned in the future from DVD sales.
The people who demonstrate interest now won't necessarily be the same people to show interest if a sales-phase, but the idea is to demonstrate that a certain level of interest exists. I would hope that even those being skeptical now would be willing to pay up $50 if Universal announced that they would definitely make another movie if a certain number of people bought the pre-sold DVDs. And, as far as the rights to make a movie are concerned, obviously Universal retains the rights to the Serenity franchise - they made the first movie.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009 4:21 AM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Good luck, but don't say we didn't warn you.

BTW, you do intend to retain the services of a lawyer and accountant to make sure everyone who may consider donating won't think they are getting ripped off, right?



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Sunday, October 4, 2009 4:22 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


There is a fan film with a new crew and a new adventure that is in the editing and SFX process right now and will be released next Labor Day at Dragon Con on DVD called Browncoats: Redemption ( www.browncoatsmovie.com).

It has the blessing of Joss and Universal and Fox both know about it and are likely not raising objections because any profits made go to charities supported by Joss and the cast members.

A sequel is already being talked about and I think if this DVD is very successful and has enough interest and sales to spawn a sequel it would give Universal reason to look at Serenity again..

If we get behind this fan film effort, we can prove to Universal and Joss (like we did with the effort to initially get our BigDammMovie) that another major release would be profitable. And if a major release wouldn't be profitable maybe direct to DVD.

This is the way to do it. Drips and drabbles of amateur money just don't do it. I would suggest that you see "Done the Impossible" and see that it was Joss's (a Hollywood insider) persistance, supported by the fans, that got the original movie made.



http://fireflyfaninnc.livejournal.com/








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Sunday, October 4, 2009 11:35 AM

MANGOLO


Definitely, 'Done the Impossible' is a must see for people wanting to get more Firefly/Serenity.



http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=86085840444

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Sunday, October 4, 2009 3:19 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by ecgordon:

BTW, you do intend to retain the services of a lawyer and accountant to make sure everyone who may consider donating won't think they are getting ripped off, right?




This was the sort of thing that I pointed out before that makes this sort of thing intractable. Namely, keeping track of everyone that has donated is problematic. There's also the bigger problem of when someone invests in something (as is being done here), they will have some rights to profits, etc of the final product. Now, that could be waved with paperwork, but just imagine trying to keep that in order. Especially, when the target number is around 400,000 donations which will translate into just about as many people (assuming it works).

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Sunday, October 4, 2009 3:25 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by ncbrowncoat:

If we get behind this fan film effort, we can prove to Universal and Joss (like we did with the effort to initially get our BigDammMovie) that another major release would be profitable.




In principle, I have a problem with this sort of thing. What if the movie sucks? I mean, I'm not going to get behind something to get more of it if it sucks.

This also smells of the "we can do the impossible" thing again. I mean, we really didn't have that much to do with why the movie got made. Sure, we played a role. But, a small one. And I think that it should be pointed out that then, we were an active community, whereas now... not so much. Plus our numbers have fallen drastically.

In other words, that mountain that we'd have to climb to get something official done... well, that's a mighty big mountain. And I don't think that we should ignore nor underestimate the size of that long term goal.

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Monday, October 5, 2009 3:15 AM

LINDSAY


The thing is, I'm not asking anyone to donate any money right now. The website doesn't ask you to put up a dime. I'm just looking to prove that there is interest in financing a sequel. If there is proven interest, then Universal can take up the task of collecting the money. And it would be just like buying any other product. If you buy a DVD off Amazon and never get your DVD, then you get your money back. Here, you are paying for both the movie and the DVD - so if you don't get a movie and DVD, you don't pay. While I am a lawyer, I would count on the infrastructure that Universal already has to work out those details - the biggest hurdle being a computer program to charge people money without losing a huge percentage to the makers of the program you are using. In the meantime, all I want to do is guage people's interest. If the Firefly community really doesn't want this, then there's no point in going further.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 12:22 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by Lindsay:

the biggest hurdle being a computer program to charge people money without losing a huge percentage to the makers of the program you are using.




Yah, let's ignore that whole investment rights/profits/etc thing. That'll work out really well.

Seriously, if you don't get that even if it is just about pre-orders and nothing else, that there's more to it than just a computer program, then I don't know what to tell you. And there's a lot more to "your" idea than that. A lot more.

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Monday, October 5, 2009 2:49 PM

MIKEDINMD


NCBROWNCOAT Thank you for mentioning the film.


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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 3:19 AM

LINDSAY


I think there's a lot of opposition because people are misinterpreting my proposal. First, I am not asking anyone to donate money now. All I want to do is guage interest - interest that I believe really exists. There are more than 175,000 Firefly fans on Facebook alone. Serenity DVD sales in its first week of release have been estimated between 1.104 and 1.605 million copies. If just a third of those people are willing to pay $50, then that represents fan-financing of $20 million toward the production of a sequel - not enough to pay for the entire thing, but definitely enough to make the studio think HARD about turning down the money. And $20 million before production even begins is worth a lot more than $20 million once everything is done. This would be sales of a product before the product is produced - maybe a stretch for some who question the quality of the movie, but if Joss Whedon is involved, I am willing to put my faith in him to create a worthy movie. And because all fans are buying is a product, they do not have any rights to profits - like I don't get anything from Nike other than the sneakers I buy.

Again, the most important thing to note here is that all we are doing is trying to find out if people are INTERESTED. And feedback to improve the plan is much appreciated.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 6:16 AM

MAIII


I think this is do able. I invested in a film called Natalie Queen of Scots. they sold shares via Paypal and with a legal contract that the share was used for production and if the movie got sold we got investment back and then some. you might want to check out how he set things up legally, paypal etc. granted he was only looking for $250,000. though word of mouth he raised $25,000+ in just the first 24 hrs.

http://www.wehavetofindaway.com/

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 6:19 AM

LINDSAY


The problem with using paypal is that they take such a big percentage of what you bring in. That's why the first stage is to guage interest. There is no point in even trying something like this if not enough people would be willing to do it. I really thought more people would be interested - especially when all I am looking for now is interest, not an investment.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 6:31 AM

MAIII


I am not sure what sort of deal NQoS worked out with paypal, I think they were cool with not taking a big fee(isn't there no fee if it is friend to friend?). they did raise the necessary $100k to cover all their production/filming. I agree first step is to gauge the interest and then go from there with whatever legal and financial collection system that works.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 7:46 AM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Lindsay, all I can tell you now is that if you set up a website and have a way for people to log on and say they would contribute X amount of dollars, then I will do just that. What the majority of us have been saying is that things like this have been tried before and they didn't get very far, so we were trying to soften the blow for you in case you have to abandon the idea.

I very much want to see either a new theatrical feature and/or more episodes of a revived Firefly, even if it is just direct-to-dvd or online only. I don't think this is the way to get them, but I'll eat those words if you prove me wrong.




wo men ren ran zai fei xing.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 9:49 AM

ZEEK


$50 for a DVD? I really doubt you'll get 40,000 people to do that. I doubt you'll get word of mouth to 40,000 people. I doubt even 10% of them will take the time to visit your site.

You'd need backing from Joss to get any real attention. Just some website somewhere is not going to get the word out. Don't get your hopes up.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 5:30 PM

SIGMANUNKI


To answer your question that you PM'd me regarding why I think that this is a bad idea I'll quote my first post in this thread:

"""
I don't have the time to go over the details. Search the archives for the many reasons why this is a bad idea and won't work:

http://fireflyfans.orthogonalspace.ca/
"""


I other words, stop being lazy and go find why it won't work yourself. Btw, this should have been done BEFORE you posted this idea in the first place. Or do you think it's that original?

EDIT: If you don't get just how little support this idea has by just the response in this thread, then I don't know what to tell you.

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 6:16 AM

LINDSAY


I will grant you that there have been several threads on this topic in the past - I did actually look into this before I began. The problem is that none of the previous threads have had a coherent idea of how to accomplish it. A few years ago there was an extensive thread in which many fans talked about the amount of money they would put towards a second season of the show or a movie sequel - based on the poll that is still up on this site. But there was no concrete way to track those people or take the next step to get the money to the right place. A second season is unfortunately never going to be a possibility. The actors are largely otherwise committed (Nathan Fillion is on Castle; Adam Baldwin on Chuck; etc.). But they may be willing to do a movie.
As far as the legality, Universal has the legal rights to produce a movie sequel. While people have said that they would do it if DVD sales showed enough interest, a fan investment PRIOR to production would mean a lot more than the possibility of the same return post-production. I believe it would mean the difference between making a sequel and letting it sit. For Universal to even launch a pre-sale, however, there needs to be demonstrated interest, which is where my website comes in. I know other people have batted similar ideas around, but nothing has been flushed out.
Now we just need enough fans to show that a sequel is something they want and would be willing to participate in making.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:17 AM

CHARLIEPEPPER


Hi Lindsay, Just wanted to say I appreciate your effort in continuing something that is so dear to everyone here regardless of what comes of it. I'm not exactly optimistic about the idea but since you've taken the time to set up the page I certainly didn't mind taking a couple seconds to sign up expressing my interest. if this goes as far as actually collecting money, which from your quota of pledges will be quite a while coming if ever, I will worry about making sure my money is going to see a return (or return itself) etc then, before I ever consider sending it. I wish you luck with your endeavor and will encourage my local Browncoats to sign up their interest as well.
Also, if you haven't already, you should set up a link on facebook and seriously check out Browncoats: Redemption. They've got a pretty healthy following already, I mean the trailer screening room at Dragoncon filled to over capacity 10 minutes before the screening. I had to watch the first run of it through a peephole outside the door, and even in a tiny, tiny, format it looked pretty darn awesome.

-Mal, your dead army buddy's on the bridge!
-He ain't dead.
-Oh.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:24 AM

LINDSAY


Thanks so much for your support. I have set up a facebook group that is linked from the main page of the website. It is "I would pay $50 for a Serenity sequel."
I definitely understand your concerns about not wanting to throw money away on a scam or something that never materializes. That's why the most important aspect of what I am doing now is to generate enough interest to get Universal to take up the cause of collecting money. I don't even want to use the term "collecting" because the way I think this would work best is to sell DVDs. It would work just like any other DVD sale - if you never get your DVD, you get a refund - and Universal is a big enough company to be trustworthy and accountable. The difference is that the DVD would be a long time coming. And you would have to put a bit of faith in the Serenity powers that be that you are buying a DVD of an un-made movie. The whole point is to shift the risk from the production company to the fans. The production companies are the ones who usually front the money to make a movie, taking on the risk that it won't be popular enough to make their money back. I want Serenity fans to take on the risk and show that they will front the money because they know it is worth it.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 1:33 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


It's probably too late now, but a fourth option should have been in the poll, a pledge for more than $50.

Also, do you have it set up to accept only one vote per unique IP address? If not it could be flooded with duplicate votes. I think that is one thing Universal would be suspicious of.




wo men ren ran zai fei xing.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 9:45 PM

SIGMANUNKI


You didn't search very well. It's been mentioned on this very site that this, not only has been tried before, but money exchanged hands. Barriers were found and listed and the money was returned to those that donated it. Similarly for ideas similar to yours.

I'm starting to think that there is a logic barrier for you resisting that this is a bad idea. There's reasons why investment like this doesn't happen (at least in those circles)... very good reason. This has been talked about before.

Please stop beating a dead horse.

----
I am on The Original List (twice). We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Thursday, October 15, 2009 3:25 AM

LINDSAY


I do have the poll set up to only accept votes from one IP address - and I tested it to make sure it wouldn't let me vote twice. I thought about a more than $50 option, but I didn't want things to get too complicated right now. I thought the best way to really measure interest would be one vote per person.
And to Signanuki, I get that you're not on board with the idea. That's fine. But there's nothing wrong with other people still believing in it. As far as money changing hands in other cases - that's not what I'm doing. You don't seem to be reading what I've posted. I don't want ANYONE to give me money - EVER. I want to see if there is enough interest for people to give UNIVERSAL money. And if any plan is ever launched to give money, NO ONE would ever be charged unless enough people sign up to make it actually happen. So if Universal wants 400,000 people or 1,000,000 people or whatever, not a single person is charged until that many people sign up to do it. No one's money should ever need to be refunded, because it's never taken until this is a reality.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009 7:23 PM

DAMOVISION


Lindsay- Keep the hope alive! I'm in! I think the ultimate trick is getting Joss involved. He is doing well with Dollhouse now and FINALLY got an Emmy for Dr. Horrible (growing his name/brand). He sees that there is a new way of doing things (ie: financing and distributing DrH outside of traditional Hollywood channels). Maybe if Joss called someone at Amazon and said he wanted to sell pre-orders of the BDM2, they'd bite and it'd be SO on. Then he could take the numbers from the pre-sales to Universal and financiers to jump into production (assuming the story's there). In fact, I would pay Universal $50 TODAY for just a straight-to-DVD pre-order on Amazon of Serenity 2: 电动 Boogaloo. Regardless, Joss has got to be in.

Signanuki- Shaddup. Your stupid link is dead. Stop posting it as the definitive answer. And who, exactly, is beating a dead horse? Why are you even responding to this thread if you don't think it's possible? Move on, know-it-all, let the rest of us dream. 該死的響亮口.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:30 AM

TARIM


As many other people have said, you need to start networking like crazy!
This is a good start, but your plan still needs a LOT more work. Right now, your website looks goodhearted but, a bit naive. If you want to convince people this could actually work, and thus fueling their desired interest, you'll have to start doing research on how to set up a credible fund and find a way to guage Universal's initial position towards your plan.

And yes, getting blessings from Joss or other Verse big-uns wouldn't hurt either!

If I see this thing evolving into something real, I'd throw in a lot more than 50 bucks, I promise. ;)

Cheers,

Tarim

PS, I voted on your poll.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009 6:05 AM

LINDSAY


Thanks so much for the positive posts! I know the biggest issue is networking, so I hope all of you are spreading the word. I thought about going straight to Joss when I came up with this and started researching the numbers a few months ago, but it seemed like the best thing to do was to demonstrate interest before going to anyone - obviously, my interest alone isn't enough. I am hoping that showing that the fan base is there will get things going. As far as knowing how to collect funds, as I've said above, I frankly don't have the know-how or the funds to do it myself. But I know Universal would be able to collect the funds if they think there is interest enough to make it worth their while. There is a fan-owned soccer team in England that did a similar project to get fans to chip in to buy an actual soccer team - they pay annual dues in ownership.

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