How to get Josie Long to come to your house
TIME for a quick popular culture quiz. What do Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian, Doctor Who star Karen Gillan, theatre performer Jenna Watt, and comedian Josie Long all have in common?
The answer is crowd funding. At time of writing, Josie Long, pictured, has raised just over £3,000 of the £9,500 she needs to make a new Glasgow-set film, Romance and Adventure (also the title of the live show she brought to the Edinburgh Fringe this year). She’s done this not by applying to Creative Scotland or another public funding body, but by appealing directly to her audience via the website sponsume.com.
If you donate £4, Josie will send you a handmade badge (“they aren’t twee,” as she says on the site, “they are excellent.”) If you donate £5 or more you get a handmade postcard with messages of thanks from cast and crew. Donate more than £5 you’ll get your name in the credits and an invitation to a screening.
The more you give, the more you get – if you can afford £750, the maximum donation, then Long and some fellow comedians will come and perform a gig in your house, “much more convenient than having to go to a poxy theatre or club”.
Crowd funding is not a new idea. The rock band Marillion were among its early pioneers, funding a US tour and a series of albums over a decade ago via donations from fans. What is new is the sheer extent of it, thanks to websites such as Kickstarter, which launched in 2009, Sponsume, which began the following year, and dozens of similar operations across the world.
In the past year, crowd funding has helped finance everything from a movie about Nazis living on the moon (Iron Sky) to Flaneurs, a show by Glasgow-based theatre performer Jenna Watt at the Edinburgh Fringe last month. Stuart Murdoch used Kickstarter to fund his God Help The Girl film project. The Karen Gillan connection is a film called Not Another Happy Ending, a romantic comedy set in Glasgow, which used the website Indiegogo.
In the end, Not Another Happy Ending’s online campaign raised less than half of its $50,000 (£30,810) target, but the film’s producers, Synchronicity, plan to make the film anyway. God Help The Girl – thanks, no doubt, to Belle and Sebastian’s international army of loyal fans – raised more than $20,000 over its target of $100,000 (with one fan paying $5,000 for Murdoch’s personal, signed white label copy of the band’s debut album, Tigermilk)
The downside – if it is a downside – is that every artist who uses this method then has to spend substantial amounts of time making personal, handmade flyers, posters, badges etc instead of actually finishing the thing they set out to make in the first place.
Josie Long does this anyway, though, so it’s unlikely to feel like much of a chore. And it’s easy to see why crowd funding appeals to someone like Stuart Murdoch – a man whose wariness of the media has often been mistaken for social awkwardness, when it seems as much to do with a preference for interacting directly with fans rather than via middlemen who have a tendency to misrepresent him.
Crowd funding is, of course, substantially easier if you’ve already built up an audience by other means. And there’s a danger that it will come to be seen as a substitute for government funding of the arts (as is now, ominously, happening with the National Lottery). But, as Jenna Watt proved this summer, it can actually work as well for someone making leftfield, live art performances as it can for a major TV star – Watt, like Not Another Happy Ending, raised less than half of the sum she was aiming for, but was still able to go ahead with her show. Result? Flaneurs got great reviews, won a Scotsman Fringe First award, and will now tour the UK.
BLUE IN THE FACE.
A Mr B Tristesse writes: Dear Diary, while perusing the Symbolist Landscapes exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland the other day, I was suddenly overcome by a great wave of melancholia.
Generally speaking, I am a pretty up-beat kind of person, but within 15 minutes of entering the gallery I felt so profoundly depressed that I started sobbing uncontrollably.
After a few minutes of this, I pulled myself together and tried to work out what had made me feel so sad. It certainly wasn’t the art: one or two of the paintings in the exhibition are somewhat sombre in tone, it’s true, but there’s nothing with the emotional impact of, say, Picasso’s Guernica, and seeing that never makes me cry. For a moment I wondered if the extremely low lighting might have had an adverse effect on my mood, but a lack of light has never made me well up in the past. It was only when I was doing my second lap of the exhibition that the reason for my sudden bout of unhappiness became clear: the overuse of the word “melancholy” on the printed labels beside the paintings.
According to the curators of this exhibition, it would seem that every landscape painter working in Europe from 1880 to 1910 was seeking to “symbolise” melancholy in some way. Anything with snow in it, it would appear, is supposed to represent melancholy; ditto anything that features the colour blue.
If I painted a picture of a group of blue nymphs dancing and skipping contentedly on a little patch of snow and showed it to the curators of this exhibition, I suspect they would find it the most melancholic thing they had seen in their lives.
I feel it only right and proper to warn readers of your newspaper that, by going to see this exhibition, they will be exposing themselves to frequent uses of the word “melancholy” (and derivatives thereof) and as a consequence there is every possibility that they – like me – could be reduced to blubbering wrecks by the sheer down-beatness of the experience.
Having said all that, I did at least manage to glean one fascinating fact from the printed labels in this show: the sun, apparently, can be used to symbolise light. How very ingenious.
Yours, etc etc
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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