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By Mark Bell | May 11, 2011

Film Threat was founded over 25 years ago. From the beginning, Film Threat magazine dominated the print landscape as the source for conversation about independent and underground cinema. In 1997, the print era ended and Film Threat magazine focused its sights on the world wide web; was born. Since then, the website has continued the tradition set forth by the magazine; a lone voice shouting into the void of mainstream media, reminding the world that there is more to film than summer blockbusters and celebrity gossip. Alone… until now…

With your support, Film Threat will be returning as a magazine in 2011!

Why a magazine? Why not just stick with a website? Because there is an erratic collection of transient, ever-fluctuating, film websites requiring short attention spans to digest spliced information that is easily forgotten mere seconds after consuming. A magazine is a measured, engaged, focus on a topic of importance; a snapshot in time and a document of history that can be viewed and appreciated within its own historical context. Just as the old Film Threat magazine serves as a record of the careers of Richard Linklater, Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith as they occurred and were contextually framed, so too will the Film Threat magazine of today. It will provide a reference and history of our current filmmaking climate to the filmmakers and film aficionados of the future. There is value in our past; sometimes you need to use new technology to rediscover, enhance, and improve upon that which came before. We can provide meaningful content for those who appreciate independent and underground film; we will extend what and how we cover this world beyond the website.

Starting September 2011, in addition to the daily content available on, the new Film Threat magazine will be released as a quarterly, publishing each Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer, in both digital and print editions, and will include even more in-depth coverage on independent film, film festivals and the art of filmmaking. The digital edition will be available online at and as part of the new Film Threat app, optimized for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Kindle, Nook and whatever technology comes along. The print edition will be available as print-on-demand, home delivery subscription and in very select retail outlets.

Film Threat Magazine returns this year, but we need your help:

In order to design, create and develop a year’s worth of magazines (four issues) for both digital and print editions, as well as finish development on the
Film Threat app, we need to raise $30,000 (or more). The money will cover all aspects of magazine creation, including payment to our team of writers for the magazine’s content. Many other business are doing their best to stop paying their writers; we’re trying our best to pay them more.

Please support the Return of Film Threat Magazine (in its various forms) today by pledging money to our campaign, and spread the word to anyone you know who loves movies, makes movies or even just wants something a little different than what is already out there.

Be Different, Be a Rebel, BE A…



  • “Detroit-Bred Movie Magazine Seeks a Return to Print”


    • – Interview with 101.9 FM WDET in Detroit about the return of

Film Threat


  • Film Threat was the mag I was reading when I became a filmmaker…” – Quote from filmmaker Kevin Smith during Plus One Per Diem on Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Film Threat is going back to its roots and returning to a magazine format! The new Film Threat Magazine will be a quarterly edition, launching in September 2011. In addition to the print version, Film Threat Magazine will also be available in a digital friendly format, for your Kindle, iPad or other device. There will also be a mobile app that will allow access to the digital magazine and website… but we need your help!

When everyone is going away from magazines, let alone print ones, and not paying their writers, we’re heading the other way. Since we’ve been following the crowdfunding phenomenon here on Film Threat for a while, we decided to go that route to raise funds for the above projects. But we wanted to give you more value than a finished project, so we’re also using this opportunity to answer the question, “Which crowdfunding platform would you use? IndieGoGo or Kickstarter?”, by crowdfunding on both platforms at the same time, for the same amount, and seeing which is more successful, user-friendly and the like. As the crowdfunding goes on, I’ll be writing a column about every little aspect of it, from setting up the campaign to why I decided to tweet about the campaign at a certain time of day. In the end, successful or not, you’ll all have a very high profile crowdfunding case study from which to learn, or not learn.

In order to create and print the first 4 issues of the new quarterly magazine, create the mobile app and digital friendly editions and pay everyone involved, it’ll cost $60,000 (some of you are going, “That’s high! He’s crazy!” and others are going, “That’s Not Nearly Enough! He’s Crazy!”). To reach that goal, there are two campaigns with $30,000 goals, both ending on June 30, 2011, on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter respectively. That’s a 50 day campaign, but it’ll be a fun one, and we’ve got some cool perks to offer.

Depending on your donation level, you can get your name in the first issue on the “Thank You” page, get a hold of a limited edition Film Threat workshirt (a style previously unavailable to all but owner Mark Bell), a print/digital subscription to the magazine for life and/or, and this is the big one, a limited edition, created solely for this campaign and never available again, drive collecting the original Film Threat magazine and Film Threat Video Guide from 1985 until its end in 1997 in digital format.

I’ll go one bigger. If both campaigns succeed, the entire digital archive mentioned above will be released to all, online, FREE. It won’t come in a once-in-a-lifetime collectible drive (and I assure you, if you’re keen enough to want the magazine archive, you’ll want this collectible), but all the old magazines will exist for the first time, in their entirety, online. This way, even if you don’t have money, if you spread the news and help get the campaigns funded, you will be rewarded in the end. To prove I’m not kidding, for every $1,000 we raise, I’ll put an issue online in reverse order from the end of Film Threat‘s original print run. Here’s the first:

Project Background
If there is one question I’ve gotten about Film Threat since I first started working for the company, it’s been, “When is Film Threat going back to print?” to which I usually answered with something like, “Not anytime soon, but you never know.” As the years have gone on, and newspapers and magazines have made the push to digital that Film Threat made a long time ago, I started to think more about a new print edition of Film Threat. Part nostalgia, sure, but also something that could be accomplished far easier than in the past. Just as digital had streamlined the tools and seemingly made print entirely obsolete, it also created and streamlined the tools that would make going to print easier and more cost efficient. Death and rebirth at the same time. So I decided, if I had the choice, I’d return Film Threat to print.

Since purchasing Film Threat from founder Chris Gore, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go back to print. At the same time, I got intrigued by the crowdfunding phenomenon in filmmaking and started the Certified Film Threat in Progress column to feature projects that interested me. Over the last year, we’ve featured 21 projects. Of those 21 projects, 17 successfully reached their crowdfunding goals. Of the 4 that didn’t reach their goals, 3 of them were crowdfunding through IndieGoGo and, per IndieGoGo’s “keep what you raise” model, still raised funds for their projects. Not counting the “unsuccessful” campaigns, crowdfunding projects featured on raised over $240,000. This showed: the interest in quality projects is out there, and the folks interested in seeing projects succeed are also interested in making it happen. So I thought, what if I started a crowdfunding campaign to return Film Threat to print?

This brought up the question about which crowdfunding platform to use, IndieGoGo or Kickstarter? I’d seen success on both, and both have very different brand reputation/personalities right now, so which would be best? I decided to answer the question by doing both, and then sharing my answer, at the end, with everyone on

What is your goal?
I have a couple goals:

  • Raise the money to create and print four issues of a new volume Film Threat. This includes magazine layout, artwork, original content and paying the writers for that content, in both its print and digital forms.
  • Raise the money to finish the mobile and digital magazine app.
  • Build a framework/case study that others can use to help succeed in their own crowdfunding campaigns through transparent analysis of the crowdfunding platforms and explanations behind every decision I make during the course of the campaigns.
  • Answer definitively the question, “Which crowdfunding platform would you use? IndieGoGo or Kickstarter?”

Why Crowdfund?
The simple reasons are:

  • I know it works.
  • Film Threat could use the money.
  • I believe that you can’t truly talk definitevely about something until you’ve gone through it.

Why IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, and not just one or the other?
Mainly because, after a year of studying crowdfunding on the two platforms, interviewing different filmmakers and promoting other campaigns, I still don’t have a definitive answer to the question, “Which crowdfunding platform would you use?” And while there are other options out there, IndieGoGo and Kickstarter are the two touchstones, and those are the two I wanted to work with to find an answer to that question.

Plus, it’ll offer more practical answers, such as which has the better behind-the-scenes interface, which has better promotional tools or education opportunities to help campaigns succeed. I intend to talk about every little bit of the process, so that folks can learn from it. And maybe the platforms will get something out of it too.

Is this going to be an annual fundraising tool? How often will this happen?
This is a one-off. We’ll either succeed on one platform, both or neither. At the end, I expect to have the answers to all the questions I’ve posed, and at worst, be an example for others to learn from in their crowdfunding endeavors.

Why did you set $30,000 as your per platform goal ($60,000 goal total)?
Made a budget for how much would be necessary to cover to acheive the goals, and worked back from that number.

If you only succeed on one platform, raising $30,000, can you still achieve your goals?
Yes, I think so. As an indie filmmaker knows, shoot for what you need, finish with what you have. It would just take a bit longer and require more creative ways to do more with less.

How do you plan on being an example for others?
As the campaigns go on, I will be blogging on about what’s happening behind-the-scenes. More than just updates for success, I’ll be talking about the different platforms, what tools they’ve got and what I’ve liked/disliked about them. Additionally, I’ll be honest about what I’m doing to promote the campaigns, the reactions I’ve gotten and give explanations for the thinking behind everything from when I tweet about the project to why certain incentives were offered. At the end of this campaign, you’ll have a framework and case study for crowdfunding success or failure, and since you can learn from a successful example as well as an unsuccessful one, you’ll have that example.

What are your honest concerns?
This isn’t like the other projects that I’ve written about or studied; this is a business that has existed for 26 years and hopes to exist for at least that many more. The concern, or more appropriately fear, is that these campaigns, through their failure, point out that people really don’t care that much about Film Threat, let alone the company returning to print. That what we do, and offer, to the film ecosystem just isn’t that important anymore. We’re not owned by a big corporation; we’ve been doing this because we love it, and despite the fear expressed, will continue to do it because we love it, but a lot of feelings, ideas and projects could be negatively impacted. That is a major risk.

Personal ego would say that I need to find a line between asking for help and assuring everyone that, even if we don’t get that help, everything will be fine. A more accurate statement would be that getting or not getting the help is the difference between thriving and just surviving. One allows us to offer more, the other keeps us right where we are.

What comforts me overall, however, is that this will be a learning tool for others, and even if we don’t succeed, if someone else can see the campaigns and learn something that helps them achieve their goals, then it’s worth the risk.

Why go back to print at all?
Why should Film Threat being heading back to print at all? Is it nostalgia? Rebellion without a point? Why, man, WHY!?!

Because I want to! But seriously…

It’s a combination of a lot of reasons. We’ve still got our Entertainment Weeklys and our Rolling Stones for the mainstream, and Filmmaker Magazine and Moviemaker Magazine do keep the more independent film conversation going in print, but Film Threat’s perspective, and voice, is not represented anymore. The magazine that I would read, either in print, on a Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Nook or the like just isn’t there. My values about film and filmmaking are not represented, and I don’t think I’m alone. Rather than whine about the lack of the magazine, I want to create that which I wish existed. That’s why Chris Gore created the original zine in the first place; his thoughts and feelings about filmmaking weren’t being addressed or represented anywhere. It was just commerce, blockbusters and gossip; it was like underground and independent film wasn’t there at all. Except it was, and Film Threat started a broader conversation.

Print magazines are an endangered species, I know, but the concept of a magazine should not be forgotten. I think we’ve gotten comfortable with thinking of websites and blogs as magazines, but they are not the same, regardless of the staff or talent associated. A magazine is a definitive snapshot of a moment in time. Websites are ever-changing, ever-evolving and everywhere. Film Threat’s sense of humor and love of movies is all over the web, but, again… not in print, and not as a magazine.

WNYC’s “On the Media” brought up a scary idea recently, while talking about news cycles and how they pertained, for example, to news about Libya or Japan. The idea was that, if The New York Times (and they are used as an example of a reputable print entity, not as a comparison to anything we’ve done) or other rare newspapers or news organizations weren’t still paying attention to stories long after public interest had moved on, no one would know much about what was going on, except for the juicy, sensationalistic bits. This is already obvious in film news, when big stories revolve around casting decisions and title changes for mainstream films, and most news is just repeated and re-purposed in a cinematic echo chamber, while the indie and underground are overlooked (unless they have some sort of mass crossover appeal somewhere). But just because very few write about something, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening or isn’t important or interesting. The movies and filmmakers I want to hear about aren’t represented in many places, and while I love that we can focus on that world on this site, I also want to bring word of those filmmakers beyond the website.

The website world is inundated anyway. Seems like every time you load your browser, there’s a new movie website or blog talking this or talking that… usually talking the same this or that as the next guy. You try to stand up and out in the noise, but the loudest voices usually win (and they’re usually being repeated), so the perspective is lost. A print magazine gives us something new, and something different, to help the world of filmmaking we’re talking about get more eyes outside of the crowd than if we stayed stuck within.

Finally, there’s the question of “Why not return to print?” Nowadays, the process necessary to prep and build a magazine layout for digital use on a reading device is the exact same process to prep and build a magazine layout for print. If you’re doing the work anyway, why not take that extra step and just do print as well. Sure, we’re raising funds because there is a cost associated, but those costs are more strongly tied with content payment and magazine design than they are in the printing of the magazine, and those costs would exist period. Film Threat began in print, and there’s no reason we can’t return to print. I own many books, I own a Kindle. I read both. It’s not an “either/or” scenario I’m proposing here. Folks who want the print issues, can read the print issues. Folks who want the digital editions, can use those. If people don’t respond, or read it, in the end… well, I can’t predict that. But I know I would, and, again, I don’t think I’m alone.

Film Threat magazine is coming back, one way or another, and you can be a part of that. It’s not a matter of “why” or “if” anymore, it’s happening, and I hope you come along for the ride!

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  1. Muswell says:

    I still have many of the original Film Threat and Film Threat Video Guides which I treasure for their attitude and attention to the areas of film that the conventional mags overlooked. So I will be looking for this on the stands!
    Good Luck

  2. Thomas Edward Seymour says:

    Some of my friends have had success with indiegogo. This is such exciting news!
    Filmthreat gave me my first real start in the Indie film world and I will always be thankful for that. To be counted among filmmakers like Kevin Smith or Ed Burns was such a big deal to me. I’m so glad you guys are back with a vengeance!

  3. Doug Brunell says:

    Let the games begin!

  4. Phil Holbrook says:

    This is going to be a fun one to watch! Go get ’em!

  5. Mike Shields says:

    The real question is, will you be hiring anymore writers?

  6. Mark Bell says:

    I’m sure at some point, as in the past, we’ll need to find more writers, but as this moment, we’re good.

  7. Mike Chinea says:

    I’m in.

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