“Kickstarting” a Passion Project

For anyone who has been reading my blog, you know a few things about me – I love to dialog and share with others, my work and my pleasure are one in the same and I always have a passion project that I’m working on.

I can’t say that I’ve always been like this.  In the beginning of my career it was a lot harder to dialog and share with people – pre-social media and email.  And as my career took hold and I became busier with work, I didn’t have time for sharing or personal projects.  But for someone like me who is a dreamer, I was starting to burn out.

When I started exploring the video medium in the late 90’s, it triggered a spark in me.  I started thinking and dreaming about all the stories that I wanted to tell – that would be possible for me to tell – through this medium.  One of my first attempts at telling a story with video was a short documentary I did on my daughter’s youth symphony.  I couldn’t have picked a harder subject if I tried because it was all about sound, which I knew nothing about.  And anyone who has ever shot a musical concert knows that it’s almost impossible to do with only one camera.  But I naively pursued with this project and learned a lot in the process.

My next passion project was The Delta Blues Musicians that I envisioned as a multimedia project combining still environmental portraits of these musicians along with video interviews, capturing their life’s stories.  It was a lot of work and for the most part, I went it alone – doing everything myself.  For anyone who has ever tried to shoot both stills and video on the same job, you know it’s not an easy thing to do.  That project will always be near and dear to my heart and continues to reward me in ways that I never knew were possible.

There have been other passion projects since these first two and my head is usually full of ideas that are rumbling around, just waiting for the right time to surface. I am in the midst of a project now, Opening Our Eyes that is perhaps the most ambitious one I’ve ever dreamed up. This past weekend I launched the project on Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is a website that posts creative projects for the purposes of finding funds. It’s a perfect example of crowd funding where one can donate anywhere from $1 to $10,000 to the project of their choice, and in the process make someone’s idea come to life.

I launched Opening Our Eyes on Thursday and within 3 days we reached 30 % of our goal. We still have a long way to go and have another 71 days to get fully funded.  The way Kickstarter works is that if you don’t get funded 100%, then all bets are off and you don’t receive anything.  So, I’m doing my best to do what I like the least and that is make a pitch for pledges.  My intent is to secure enough funds so that I can collaborate with a professional editor and raise the bar on the film that my daughter and I shot this past summer on our 99-day adventure around the world, about people who are making a positive difference in the world.

It’s really a win/win for anyone who chooses to give – even a pledge of $25 will get us closer to our goal and you’ll receive a DVD of our film when it’s finished.  So please check out our project on Kickstarter and pass this link along to others.  Ultimately our goal is to inspire and motivate other change-makers through the power of our film. We know we can do it with everyone’s help and it will make you feel good to give – it always does.

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Funding A Personal Project

I have learned from past experience with other personal projects that getting funding for an idea is no easy task.  But I have also found that with a lot of careful planning, saving and budgeting I have been able to self fund my projects and have been compensated on many levels later on – after the projects are underway or near completion. As I continue to blog and to talk to people about Opening Our Eyes, the documentary my daughter and I are creating which involves us traveling around the world, I get asked a lot of questions.  One question that is asked quite frequently is “who is funding your project?”  The short answer is – we are self-funding our trip and our documentary.

I had managed to save up about 330,000 miles with Continental Airlines and another 329,000 points with American Express over the years.  I was saving them for something, just didn’t know what until a few months ago when I decided to cash all my points and miles in to subsidize our journey around the world.

So far, I have exhausted all but 4,000 Continental miles in ticketing my Round The World plane ticket as well as getting my daughter and I to, from and around South America.  My husband Tom donated his Continental miles to my daughter Erin for her Round The World fare.  I will still need to pay for airplane tickets to Iquitos, Peru from Lima as well as for flights to Nepal from Delhi, India. That still leaves picking up the costs of air or train tickets from Istanbul to Warsaw and Moscow. I will use about a third of my Amex points to pay for the flights from Lima to Iquitos, Peru because those tickets are costly.

I’ll use the rest of my American Express points to fund some of our accommodations, along with any hotel points that I have.  We’ll be staying at guesthouses, people’s homes and budget hotels whenever possible.  We’ll use public transportation for getting us around once we get to our destinations because renting a car isn’t in our budget.

Of course there’s food and miscellaneous expenses on the road like Internet and admission fees.  The vaccinations for the two of us have cost more than $1500 and the visa costs may reach $1000.  And we’ll both need backpacks and other personal needs for the trip.

My biggest expense will be for photo/video gear but that is the purpose of the trip.  I have pretty much figured out the gear that I’ll need: read my blog entry Putting Together a DSLR Video Kit.  When all is said and done, including buying an additional laptop as a backup, I’ll have spent about $12,000 on equipment needs.

So, how will I pay for it?  When my mother died about six years ago she left me a little money.  I never really wanted to spend it and was fortunate that I never had to – so I will use it for this project and this trip.  Somehow, I think she would love the idea of what her daughter and granddaughter were doing.  And if she were still here she might very well have wanted to join us.

I’ll be reaching out to Canon, Apple and others as potential sponsors.  I’m also reaching out to my friends and connections that I have made over the years for donations in kind. If you have any hotel points that you may not be using and would like to donate those points to our trip it would be greatly appreciated.  Or any other type of “in kind” donations you may provide.

Please email: gail@kellymooney.com or call 973-543-6868

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