Crowd-funding isn’t necessarily the solution for every creator looking to make content on their own terms. But if you have serious production experience and a fan base that wants to see what you’re putting out, then you want to take a few cues from Freddie Wong, Matt Arnold and the team behind the record-breaking Video Game High School.
VGHS is currently raising money from its fans for a third season of the series, which takes place in an alternate universe where “professional video gaming becomes the biggest spectator sport in the world,” and students train for ultimate domination.
It’s a premise that’s proven to have serious legs — the first season running approximately 140 minutes in total, and the second season totaling at approximately three hours — and in the video promoting the campaign, Wong and Arnold (who co-direct the series) hint that while this will be the final season for the show, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of VGHS as a franchise.
It’s the third time that the folks at Rocket Jump, Wong et al’s production company/video platform have turned to crowd-funding to fund VGHS, but this time, there are a few notable elements of the VGHS crowd-funding campaign for Season 3 that represent a change from seasons past.
One is an increase in the campaign goal — $750,000 — though that’s less than what the second season earned through Kickstarter last year.
But the biggest change is a switch from Kickstarter to Indiegogo — which according to Wong was motivated by the fact that Indiegogo supports Paypal, while Kickstarter does not.
It’s also a flexible funding campaign, which means that if the goal isn’t met, Wong, Arnold and their team will still receive the funds pledged. Currently, with 10 days left to go, they’ve received over $410,000 — which is more than half of the amount they’re looking for.
Dodge, which was a primary sponsor of Season 2, will not be returning. But Wong isn’t worried: “We’re flexible filmmakers,” he said in a video posted to YouTube. “We’ll make this no matter what.”
Wong then clarified that the Indiegogo campaign will largely end up supporting their post-production needs, including special effects, “a full orchestral score” and 4K resolution.
Because, in an interview with The Wrap, Wong said that “this is not a brand new movie. We are not saying we need this money to make it happen. Season 1 and 2 are on Netflix. They have been successful.”
It’s thus extremely unlikely that $750,000 will be the total budget for the third season, but that’s the norm for VGHS. As Rocket Jump has documented thoroughly in the past, their total budgets have well-exceeded the money raised via crowd-funding: $636,010 was spent to make Season 1 (which raised nearly $275,000 via Kickstarter), while $1.33 million was spent on Season 2 (after raising $808,000).
But every little bit helps. VGHS Season 2 set records in February 2013 by raising the most money ever for a Kickstarter film/television project; and while that record was then broken by the Veronica Mars feature film a month later, that’s still quite a feat.
If the third season campaign is as successful as the first two, then it could serve as confirmation of a paradigm that is letting Rocket Jump make its own content on its own terms.