IndieCreator: Interviews Andy Coughlan

IndieCreator interviews Andy Coughlan

 

 

 

Crowdfunder/Web Shopping Czar Andy Coughlan and “Help Me Fund It”

All right, everyone who likes disturbing movies with buckets of blood, raise your hand. Good. That’s all the guys in the room. Now, everyone who likes shopping online … okay, that’s all the ladies. Everyone happy? Eureka! We may have found the best two complementary things since … gosh, peanut butter and chocolate!

Announcing “Help Me Fund It” − a nifty crowd sourcing site that lets you fund your favorite film or game while shopping at great stores online. In short, you help an indie project while you help yourself.  Which now makes it very easy to explain to your wife why you bought that $400 tailgater grill on Amazon (“Honey, I was doing it to support a documentary about children who have their baby teeth stolen.”). Suddenly, you’re not a self-serving bastard … you’re a sensitive metrosexual. Sound good? Hold it, Big Fella. Put down your wallet. Let’s get through the interview first …

1)    Who is Andy Coughlan? Tell us about your background.

(AC:)  My background is mainly in Web Design and Marketing.  Until a few months ago I was a Marketing Communications manager for a Medical Devices manufacturer. Now, I’m a freelancer drawing on my experience building web sites and doing MarCom.

I’m also a bit of a screenwriter and filmmaker, which is where the inspiration for Help Me Fund It (HMFI) came from. I’ve made a few short films, written various spec scripts and edited a couple of low budget feature films.

2)    Help Me Fund It sounds like a simple idea. How hard was it to implement?

(AC:)  The site wasn’t too hard to implement. I’d spent some time in the last few years tinkering with affiliate marketing to try to fund some short films. In the process I built up a large pool of merchants that I could work with. Once I’d had the idea for HMFI, it was quite straightforward to code the site, which I did mainly over the Christmas 2011 break.

3)    For those who are unfamiliar with Help Me Fund It, pitch it to us in a few short paragraphs.

(AC:)  It’s essentially a cashback web site with a twist. Most cashback web sites offer users special links to click through to various merchants and online stores; when the user clicks on these links, they get back the commission from anything they buy.

Help Me Fund It takes the idea one step further by allowing the user to choose a creative project to which their commission is donated.

4)    What are some of the retailers you have on board?

(AC:)  Amazon is the most popular retailer, but we have hundreds, with the likes of Waterstones, HMV, Dorothy Perkins and Currys in the UK and Skechers, Ticketmaster, Fathead and Mattel in the US.

5)    What other ones will you be adding soon?

(AC:)  We’re adding new merchants all the time, although it’s usually a case of “wait and see” who turns up. I’m hoping to get more US merchants on there in the next few weeks.

6)    What was your “Ah-Ha!” moment when you came up with the concept?

(AC:)  The concept came about more through frustration than anything else. As I say, I’d been tinkering with Affiliate Marketing for a couple of years and hadn’t had a lot of success. Various projects had fallen by the wayside because I just couldn’t get the traffic to the sites.

I’d also been looking at Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and saw quite a few of my friends try it and not get very far because they couldn’t find anyone willing to donate money, especially as, at the time, the recession was just really starting to bite.

At the same time, I was reading more and more about how Internet shopping was taking off big time. So it struck me that there might be a gap in the market for a Kickstarter type funding site that didn’t rely on people having to go out and find donors. If people are shopping online for things that they need – clothing, groceries etc. – why not get them to help as well?

7)    Explain how you came up with your icon — the lightbulb with “IT” against a purple backdrop.

(AC:)  The logo was designed by my friend, David Sturgeon, so I can’t claim any credit for it. We tried various ideas that were based around money, which made more sense as to the purpose of the site, but at the same time made it look like we were in the business of simply giving out money, which we are, but only after a bit of effort on the part of the project owners to sell the concept and got people to use the site.

So instead I decided to use the light-bulb idea to reinforce the creative aspects of the projects that the site was designed for.

8) What were your biggest obstacles in getting Help Me Fund It off the ground?

(AC:)  The biggest obstacle has been getting people to use the site. I was somewhat surprised with the apathy that the site met with when it was first launched. Apart from a few friends, no-one seemed particularly interested. It’s been quite a long, slow struggle to build up a following and get people to use the site.

I think a lot of people were scared of being seen to be the first, which is understandable. Also, because visitor numbers were relatively low, those brave enough to put their project on the site weren’t earning a lot of money. I think the most any project has earned so far is around £20 ($30), which doesn’t sound a lot, but when you consider that was done with only about fifteen people actually using the site before they shopped, the potential to earn more is definitely there.

9)    How are you using Social Media to create a buzz?

(AC:)  I’m using Twitter quite heavily to promote the projects on the site and remind people to use the site before they shop.

10) What are your immediate and long-term plans to enhance the site?

I’ve just added the Help Me Fund It widget that I hope people will embed into their web pages and blogs. This provides a quicker and easier way for people to click through to the merchants. I’m also looking to create an Android and iPhone app as well in the near future along with some other useful utilities for the project owners to use to help them promote their project on the site.

11) Help Me Fund It supports creative projects only whereas other popular crowd funding sites are all over the map. Why the focus on arts and creatives?

I just wanted to give the site a bit of focus, really. Also, knowing that it might not be generating as much money as people could get through Kickstarter and its ilk, I figured that smaller projects would be the main audience to start with: short films, community theatre, individual artists and photographers etc. As the site grows, so I’m hoping the scope of the projects on there will grow too.

12) Are you a creative yourself, or just a visionary?

Yeah, I’m definitely a creative type. Hopefully a bit of a visionary too! I spend most of my spare time creating stuff; writing, designing, coding and filming. I’m currently in the middle of rewriting a spec fantasy screenplay, and I’m hoping to take part in the Fifty Kisses project that’s going on at the moment.

13) Last question, what can our readers do to a) post a project or b) follow you on the web and support projects?

I’ve tried to make posting projects as easy as possible on the site. There’s no need even to create a new account as such, it’ll work with your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account.

If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest developments, you can follow us on Twitter (@Help Me Fund It) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Help Me Fund It).

There’s also the widget – even if you don’t have an active project on Help Me Fund It, you can still help promote projects by embedding the widget in your web site or blog.

And last of all, if you’re shopping online, don’t forget to check out the site to see if you can help out the projects. It’s simple to do, just support the project and then use our links to click through to your shopping destination.

Thanks Andy. What a great concept! I encourage everyone to check out the site and buy yourselves something really good. Cheers!

An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske wrote THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST. This graphic novel hit stores on July 5th at a price point of only $12.99. Order your copy at your local comic shop today – tell them the Diamond code is MAR121187! It can also be ordered on Kindle and on Amazon.

Bob has also published COLD BLOODED CHILLERS, the award-winning anthology BONE CHILLER and his end times tome 2012: FINAL PRAYER. BONE CHILLER and 2012: FINAL PRAYER are also available on Amazon Currently, Bob is making his family nervous by investing his time and money on an incredible micro-budget film called “Blessid”. “LIKE” it on Facebook. Support it on IndieGoGo. Bob’s website is www.blessidthemovie.com.

 

We’ve Got Some Merry Scary News this Holiday for Horror Comics Creators

 

We’ve Got Some Merry Scary News this Holiday for Horror Comics Creators 

Ho Ho Horror and a Very Scary Christmas to all our IndieCreator Fiends, err “Friends”.

As we wrap up 2011 and hitch up our pants for the Apocalypse in 2012 (not really, we hope!), there’s some good things ahead for horror comic fans who want to celebrate the best of 2011. But you need to make haste and put your vote (or votes, as the case may be) on the table for what favorite ghastly works made the hair stand on your head or turn prematurely grey.

Even if you are a closet TWILIGHT fan, it’s time to man up and let your voice be heard …

Decapitated Dan and his Headless Horror Men Launch the “Ghastly Awards”

We are pleased to tell you that the Ghastly Awards are coming!

Founded in 2011 by Decapitated Dan with the help of Steve Banes, Mike Howlett, Lonnie Nadler and Mykal Banta, The Ghastly Awards have been created for horror comic creators to nominate their peers for industry-wide recognition. But the only way for them to know how to vote is to get the word out there to them.

Nominating works like this:

  • Creators (Artists, Writers, Inkers, Colorists, Letterers, Editors and Web Comic Creators) have one year to nominate, and are allowed to nominate up to 5 times during that year. You cannot nominate yourself and you cannot nominate someone/something more than once.
  • At the end of the year nominations will be counted and the top 5 in each category will be the nominees.
  • That list of nominees will be voted on by a panel of 5 judges. These judges will be members of the horror comics’ community who do not have any part in making comics; Reviewers, Journalists and Historians.

The categories for the awards are:

– Best Ongoing Title

– Best Mini Series

– Best One-Shot

– Best New Series

– Best Anthology

– Best Original Graphic Novel

– Best Archival Collection

– Best Horror Comic Related Book

– Best Writer

– Best Artist

– Best Inker

– Best Letterer

– Best Colorist

– Best Web Comic

– Hall of Fame Candidates

Now we know that this is the end of the year, so we need your help in getting the word out there to creators so we can get nominations in for 2011.

Please visit http://www.ghastlyawards.com to nominate.

Nominating will be open for 2011 comic books until Feb. 29, 2012.

Thank you,

The Ghastly Award Judges

Decapitated Dan, Steve Banes, Mike Howlett, Lonnie Nadler & Mykal Banta

 

ComicMonsters 3rd Annual Horror Awards Voting Runs 12/21 thru 12/31

And this carved from the ComicMonsters.com website…

“The pioneers of horror comic news are back to celebrate the best Horror Comics for 2011! ComicMonsters.com presents the third annual Horror Comic Awards. Voting is open via the ComicMonsters.com site on December 21st, 2011 and ends on December 31st, 2011. Best of Luck to the Nominees……May the most brutal comic prevail!!!”

Cast your vote here …

http://www.comicmonsters.com/horror-comic-awards.html

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Fun-Filled Festivus

Whatever you may celebrate this time of year, may you enjoy a safe and happy holiday, and get everything you want under your trimmed tree (except for you really sick dudes). Thanks for reading IndieCreator for the past few years. We’ve got some pretty cool interviews queued up for 2012, and sincerely hope you keep coming back for more.

Yours cruelly,

RM Heske
12/24/2011

An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST. Bob wrote THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 in April 2012 (http://www.studio-407.com) with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle, Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series COLD BLOODED CHILLERS. Bob’s trade paperback BONE CHILLER (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: FINAL PRAYER  was also released in late 2009. Email him at info@coldbloodedchillers.com. Most recently, Bob was editor and contributor to InvestComic’s ONE AND DONE anthology to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

 

 

IndieCreator – The Making of the UNREST Movie Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of the UNREST Movie Poster

This column will be light on copy and heavy on images. The purpose? To show you the evolution of a movie poster for a micro-budget film  − namely, the concept poster for my “currently-seeking-funding” film called UNREST.

Several months ago I wrote a column about the first steps involved in undertaking a micro-budget film which included: 

  • Write your script, then re-write it and re-write it again.
  • Get an entertainment lawyer to help hone your business plan, Profit Participation Memorandum and Subscriber Agreement.
  • Hire a Casting Director to help secure Letters of Interest from 1-2 fairly notable actors who will help make your film more attractive to investors and to sales agents for domestic and foreign distribution
  • Determine what location (and hence state) you are filming in so you can establish your Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).
  • Work with your entertainment lawyer to set up your LLC and Operating Agreement (the rules governing your LLC). 

I also hired a Line Producer to do a budget (which turned out much higher than I expected), which forced me to re-write my script yet again. I’ve submitted my script to additional actors and directors for consideration and a few screenwriting contests (whose valid commentary will force my hand to do another polish to tighten the script and some loose story lines). 

All the while, it is important to look for investors and others who can make your project happen.

It takes a while to get the money (sometimes years − yes … “Y-E-A-R-S”!). But while waiting, it is important to keep the momentum going − establishing more contacts, learning more about indie filmmaking and distribution, and exploring ways to pre-market your film to build “buzz” and a fan base.

Which made me pose this question on a LinkedIn Film Group message board: 

“What comes first − the poster, the teaser trailer or the website?” 

The thread had nearly 100 comments but most weighed in on the side of creating the “one sheet” or concept poster that presented the big ticket concept of your film visually. 

The best comment I received was this one from a writer: “A director I once worked with told me: Show me the poster and I’ll show you the movie.” 

My poster was a bit tricky as it entailed two concepts: a brutal home invasion and a ghost story that were linked together.

Although I had Letters of Interest from great talent and interest from the builder of  a very filmic location to shoot (a desert boulder house), I couldn’t put these elements in the poster. Instead, I had to get creative and show a creepy concept like some of my favorite horror films from the 1970s/1980s:

After posting an ad on a few boards (such as www.nefilm.com), I got 30-ish replies and made my choice. I had the artist sign a deal memo and paid a fair price for the artwork (at least for a micro-budget film).

I provided several samples of movie posters that I liked and gave the artist my film’s synopsis and this tagline to work with:

Unrest
Murder comes back to haunt you

Here is the how the concepts evolved:

INITIAL CONCEPT

My feedback was that it looks good, but didn’t tie in the ghostly back story enough. I wanted the fog behind to be more “ghostly” and I wanted the figures – especially the center character – to be more intimidating.

REVISED CONCEPT

The artist came back with this concept which was closer − he pretty much nailed the silhouette figures in the front (representing the masked home intruders) but the apparition in the back looked like a “singing ghost”.

He also sent a few variations that explored different ghost and main title font nuances, but were also a bit off the mark:

The artist (who was a huge horror fan) and I talked about some other posters invoking ghostly heads and we both remembered this great film:

With the right inspiration, it was back to the drawing board …

THIRD REVISION

Eureka! The artist went with three shrieking ghost heads (there were three unjustified deaths at the outset of the film) and added some red to add dimension to the black and white artwork. The result was a very powerful image that made the poster multi-dimensional and attention getting.

I was happy. Almost. I still wanted a little more “depth” added around the front silhouettes so the artist tinkered a bit and came back with this:

Note the subtle shading and accents made to the three home invaders and the swirls of ghostly matter surrounding them rather than being in the background. To me, this implied that the ghosts were somehow connected to the intruders (which they were via a twist at the end).

I was finally happy! I shared the artwork with a few industry professionals and all gave it high marks. One comment from an assistant director and huge horror fan made me laugh out loud: “Dude, this poster is giving me a boner!”

As for the artist, his name is Chris Waters and you can find more of his work at his website here. He did a great job and was easy to work with, taking direction well and putting any extra time that was required. He just may be the next great horror artist who does a Rob Zombie CD cover or block buster film poster.

Thanks for checking out the making of the movie poster for UNREST. I hope you enjoyed this column and invite you to take the time to leave a comment about the concept art as I’d be interested in people’s reaction.

Would you want to see this film? I hope the answer is “Yes.”

I will continue to provide updates on the long, torturous yet exciting process to get a film made. I will also have a website in the weeks ahead. If you want to know more about the project, you can reach me at bobheske@gmail.com.

Yours Cruelly,

R.M. Heske
Managing Director
UNREST LLC

 

An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST (http://www.indiegogo.com/unrest). Bob wrote THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 (http://www.studio-407.com) with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle (http://www.coldbloodedchillers.com), Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series COLD BLOODED CHILLERS. Bob’s trade paperback BONE CHILLER (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: FINAL PRAYER  was also released in late 2009. Email him at info@coldbloodedchillers.com.

IndieCreator 4-22-11

Matthew MacLean Spins a Tale about the “Dead West” in Forgotten #1

Graphic novelist Matthew MacLean (Cthulhu Tales, Murder at Pine Lake) has just released the first in a four part series about the “Dead West” in Forgotten, a new spaghetti Western from Hades published by Studio 407. Saddling up to do the art is Italiano Indie artist Stefano Cardoselli whose credits include Heavy Metal, 2000 AD and the upcoming one shot “Good Boy” to appear in the Vincent Prices Presents series by Bluewater Productions.

Here’s the premise:

Meet Dakota Smith, a former soldier who wakes up dead from three bullets in his chest in Forgotten, a ghost town in a corner of Hell. Dakota makes a deal with the Devil to be the town’s Sheriff and get all the “rewards” that go with wearing the badge. Unfortunately the job ain’t so easy. Being the Devil’s minion never pays off – it always about “payback.”  This four-part series, which has received stellar reviews follows, the travels and travesties that Sheriff Dakota Smith must encounter and overcome as he tries to conquer the Dead West and his new hellish boss.

 
1. Matthew, welcome! First tell us a little bit about yourself and some of the other published works in your portfolio.

(MM:)  I’m an amateur who’s managed to convince people at a number of places, including BOOM!  and Bluewater Productions, that I have some talent. I’ve even convinced them to pay me from time to time. 

2. How did you come up with the idea for Forgotten, and how did you hook up with the artist?

(MM:) Forgotten 22 was written in the heat of the summer in an old mansion that was so dilapidated that it had been carved up into various apartments that I shared it with a crack house and an abusive, alcoholic couple.The walls were thin enough that what my neighbors did was no secret.So I needed something else to focus on.
Sitting over my computer, sweating in the Tennessee swelter, it seemed only natural that my mind turned to Hell. I was raised Catholic, but had always had my doubts. Overall, the Christian faith seemed like an inherently unfair, even rigged, system. At the heart of the dogma’s contradictions was one of its big stars, Lucifer. Lucifer, or Satan, or He of the Many Names (I went with Red), was portrayed as the source of all evil, the bane of mankind, the scourge of our Lord and Savior. But if God is all knowing and infallible, he knew that Red was going to go bad the moment he laid hand to create him. It doesn’t take a big leap of logic, then, to connect God as the source of all evil. He is, after all, the source of everything. So Red is just God’s whipping boy, a figure he created for humans to demonize while God horded all the love and glory.

 
Whether I believe any of that or not, I’m not going to bother with, but it’s that little thought exercise that led to Forgotten 22.

3. How did you pitch the idea to Studio 407? Did you have a treatment or did you have to show completed pages?

(MM:)  I did it over a lunch with the editor at New York Comiccon. Having a good treatment and completed pages are a must, but the simple truth is that you need to get out to conventions and meet these people, show them you aren’t a loon or a lazy-ass and that you’re real and they should look at your stuff.

 
4. Tell us about some of the reviews you’ve received, and how the book did in its release in the March Diamond Preview catalog (Order # MAR111247).

(MM:) I honestly try not to read the reviews. While the positive ones can make you feel great, the bad ones can tear out your soul. I can’t survive them, so I try to pretend they don’t exist.

5. Where else is issue one available – either online or in stores?

(MM:) It’ll be available in both. You can check out a preview at the Studio 407 site here.

 
6. What is the timetable for releasing issues 2 thru 4? And I presume a full-fledged graphic novel is in the works?

(MM:) All four issues are finished so there’s nothing stopping them from coming out back-to-back. But there will definitely be a graphic novel.
 

7. Your publisher, Studio 407, is pretty aggressive, or should I say successful – about getting properties in their library pitched for film. Are there plans to make this into a film as well?

(MM) I have no idea. If I wanted to be in films, I’d write screenplays. I want to make comic books.

8. Who did the letters for the book?

(MM:) Jaymes Reed did all of the lettering and logo design. The rest is Stefano. He’s the man.

9. Are you planning to be at any upcoming cons or other event to sign copies, meet and greet the fans, and pimp the book?

(MM:) Studio 407 usually has a presence at every major con. If they’ve got a booth there, that’s where you’ll find me.
 

10. What advice do you have for indie creators who’d like to follow you path – i.e., get a book made and into Diamond Previews?

(MM:) Finish the book. Is it a one shot? How about a 10 volume epic? Finish the book. And get advice to make it better along the way. Publishers love, love, love, finished works. Pitches and treatments are great, but if it’s your first time out nothing shows a publisher you’re serious like having the entire f#$king book ready to go.

11. Bonus question: What else are you working on, and please share any websites or social networking sites where we can follow the latest news with Forgotten.

(MM:) You can always find what I’m working on at http://madbastard.hypersites.com

Thanks Matthew. Keep up the Good Fight and best of luck with Forgotten.

 

An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST. Bob wrote The Night Projectionist, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle, Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series Cold Blooded Chillers. Bob’s trade paperback Bone Chiller (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: Final Prayer was also released in late 2009. Email him at info@coldbloodedchillers.com.