These days, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion. If you’ve got a popular web series and want to do something more ambitious (i.e., costly), but you’re probably not going to get funding from the Hollywood studios, where do you turn? Kickstarter, of course.
The series in question is Dick Figures, which has received a total of 125 million views across 40 episodes since launching in November 2010. Dick Figures and its stick-figure stars Red and Blue are the creation of Ed Skudder and Zack Keller, and the show is produced by Los Angeles animation studio Six Point Harness, with distribution by Mondo Media.
Here are the first five minutes of the proposed movie, which should give you a taste of its sense of humor:
Skudder and Keller tell me that one of the most common requests from the fans has been, “What about a movie?” Personally, I wouldn’t think that a feature-length film is the obvious next step for a show that has consisted of funny segments lasting only a few minutes. However, Skudder says they had “always wanted to make a film” — the pair both attended film school at the University of Southern California, and Keller also worked at Pixar for several years, where he was as a story editor on Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up (which are, objectively, the best Pixar movies).
The pair was also aware that a movie called Dick Figures, with stick-figure characters, wasn’t likely to attract Hollywood backing, at least not without some serious compromises, so (inspired by successful efforts like game studio Double Fine’s) they turned to Kickstarter instead. If Dick Figures fans contribute enough money for a full movie, Skudder says this will probably be the first time Kickstarter has funded a feature-length animated film. (And I couldn’t find any examples to contradict him.)
The pair has laid out several fundraising milestones that will determine what they actually make. If they raise the bare minimum of $250,000, they’ll make a 30-minute special. If they raise $500,000, they’ll make a 60-minute movie. And if they get $700,000, they’ll go for a full-length feature film.
So far, Dick Figures has raised about $183,000, and the fundraiser still has nearly two weeks to go. Skudder says raising that money has involved a much more serious effort on Facebook and Twitter — the show had accounts on both services before, but “we never really put our backs into them.” He also says that they had to convince some skepticals fans (who probably thought the show was “just made by Zack and I in a basement”) that the movie, like the show, requires real animators and real money, as explained in the video below.