Assume no one at Film Threat has heard of you: who are you, how long have you been making films, comics, radio shows, whatever?
My name’s Tyler, and I’ve been a filmmaker/storyteller/writer/whatever for as long as I can remember. I was a music composition major who wanted to do film scoring, who then found what he really wanted to do was make films. My film school was “learn by doing,” making historical documentaries for a non-profit, then running the non-profit, then moving on to filmmaking/producing full time. The comic book itch I’m currently scratching has been nagging at me for over 20 years, as I fell in love with the form at a young age, and I’m finally getting the chance to let loose with it.
What is Whiz!Bam!Pow!? Not the “what is this about” question so much as, “no, really, how do you classify something like this?”
Good question. It’s one I’ve been wrestling with for awhile. I use the “transmedia” term loosely, though it really is the best term to define it – a large-scale story populating two distinct (yet really one) worlds told across multiple media forms. Right now, I’ve got it defined as a “story project,” though I also view it as a tech start-up that happens to be all about creativity.
A trans-tech-story-media-startup with capes and tights?
Okay, now what is Whiz!Bam!Pow! about?
Whiz!Bam!Pow! is, at its heart, about a love of storytelling and, of course, a love of comic books. It’s split into two distinct worlds – the comic book/radio show world of “The Sentinel,” the hero of the Whiz!Bam!Pow!-iverse, and the filmic, character-driven “real world” of the people who read the Sentinel’s adventures.
The comic book that has now been funded acts as the catalyst that moves all of the story pieces forward – be it in a period short film in 1943, or in the modern-day stories that will show up in Volume 2 (the feature, short films, etc.)
The tagline for Whiz!Bam!Pow! is “Everyone’s Got a Secret (Identity). So, it deals with the parts of us we hide, and uses the comic book notion of “secret identities” to explore that – both in the Sentinel’s comic book world, and in the character-driven world of the films.
Where did the idea for Whiz!Bam!Pow! come from?
I had wrapped up one of my historical documentaries that dealt with the ugly side of history, and I was tired of being mired in “bad stuff happens all the time.” I wanted to do something different, and I had recently rekindled my love of comics as an escape from that.
I was reading one comic out of my Wednesday “buy pile,” and the question hit me – “what would I do if my mom threw out my comic books?”
Two and a half years later, here we are.
Why not go a more traditional short or feature film route? Why so many elements?
I initially conceived Whiz!Bam!Pow! as a feature film (which is still at the heart of the entire project), but I found that because I would have to create my own superhero (unless I wanted DC Comics to sue me, which wouldn’t be bad publicity come to think of it), it would be a waste for me to not explore all of these other forms I had grown up loving – comics, radio, etc.
Having been entrenched in the business side of things for awhile, I also found the multiple elements a wonderful opportunity to bring more people into the Whiz!Bam!Pow! storyworld by giving them multiple points of entry. I did the same thing with the non-profit I worked with, using web video (made with archival footage and actual recorded historical conversations) to bring history to life, then bringing the viewers back to the source material to enrich their own understanding of the history shown to them.
It was really just a logical extension of my crazed and varied background, and the opportunity to work with so many forms excited the creative in me more than any other project.
If short films are a gamble financially, and feature films more expensive ones, where does a transmedia project like this fall? Does this sort of thing make its money back, or is it such a new idea there is no real precedent either way?
Any entertainment venture is a gamble because you have to gamble on the changing tastes of your audience, which now change sometimes with a single mouse click.
From a business standpoint, however, by utilizing all forms of media that best tell a story, I greatly increase the visibility and engagement of an audience with the project by offering them choice – which is at the heart of transmedia. How does my audience want to experience the story? Do they want all the pieces? Do they just want the Sentinel’s adventures? The “real world” film stories? None?
Not only does this provide multiple gateways into the story for an audience, it increases the longevity of the project – Whiz!Bam!Pow! is designed as a four-”volume” project that will eventually utilize audience participation and creation to keep the story alive for however long the audience wants it to be around.
Also, self-distribution is “Plan A” here, so I’m adding even more to the “no precedent.” Every project is different, so we’ll see what happens.
Have you tried crowdfunding projects before?
This is my first.
Why did you decide to crowdfund?
Three reasons – one, I wanted to try it and see how it works. It’s very much in line with my experience with a non-profit, and working with micro-donations, so I’m fairly used to it.
Secondly, I wanted the chance to make the audience part of the process as early as humanly possible, to engage them with the story that’s being told, but also to be a part of the journey to make this thing a reality. It’s the best “Behind the Scenes” featurette I could ask for.
That second part has been a remarkable thing – I’ve met total strangers who are really excited about the project, and want to give whatever they can. It’s an incredibly humbling experience, and one that I’ll always treasure, regardless of the outcome.
Lastly, crowdfunding enforces creative accountability. With your audience watching you every step of the way, and giving their hard-earned dollars to your project, it keeps us pushing forward with every fiber of ourselves to be worth their donation. Ideas are worthless – execution is everything.
Do you have other financial resources or investors in place beyond the crowdfunding?
I’m looking at a variety of other means to make this project happen, though for the remaining days of the campaign, crowdfunding is my primary focus.
Why did you choose IndieGoGo over other options?
After looking into Kickstarter and Rockethub, my writing and producing partner Paul Klein and I decided that because of the transmedia nature of the project, the IndieGoGo “keep what you raise” model worked. In the event that we don’t hit our goal, we can still produce pieces of the project and get things out there.
With the money we’ve already raised, we’re in production on the comic book, Whiz!Bam!Pow! Comics #7, which is the catalyst for this whole story – both in the comics and radio show worlds, and in the real world of the films.
Where is all the crowdfunded money going?
Like I said, we’re already putting the comic into production. The costs there are going to cover hiring our artist, Blair Campbell, as well as the printing and distribution (both physical and digital) costs for the comic. As more funds come in, it will go to cover the production costs of the short film (talent, crew, location) as well as letting us hire an web/app developer to create the website/mobile application that will make Whiz!Bam!Pow! a virtual spinner rack.
I’m a big believer in the 50/50 split between production and marketing/distribution costs, so we’re sticking to that here, especially with self-distribution being plan A. There’s no point in making something if you can’t get it in front of the eyes of the audience.
If you do not hit your financial crowdfunding goal, what then?
I’ve been with this project from its inception, and I’m not going to abandon it. The most important lesson any creative learns is to learn to lose. I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and go again with a different approach.
But like I said earlier, crowdfunding is my main focus, and I can’t allow doubt to creep in. It’s contagious, even in the virtual world.
I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
In a perfect scenario, where are you and your project a year from today?
In a year from now, we’re in production on the feature film of Whiz!Bam!Pow!, as well as continuing to work with the amazing team we’re assembling right now. We continue to build upon the excitement generated right now, seeing the project grow in directions we never thought imaginable before, thanks to the wonderful collaborators we brought on.
I’d also like it if Team Whiz!Bam!Pow still liked each other because I really love the people I’m working with. That’d be wonderful.
Why should someone give your project money?
The project is big, it’s ambitious, and there’s a lot of “what if’s.” I get it.
But, like filmmaker David Baker said in his video supporting this project, “it’s all about the team behind it.” I’m fortunate to have a wonderful team in place (and growing) to make this project a reality, as well as grow it into areas I never dreamt possible. With this team, and as it continues to grow, I have supreme confidence that we’ll deliver.
At its heart, Whiz!Bam!Pow! is all about a love of storytelling and of story. It’s a different form of entertainment. It’s all about choice, and about possibility. It carries – in spite of some of the darker areas it will go into – a positive message of hope and fun, and at the end of the day, it provides everything that the comic book spinner rack in the grocery store provided the 8-year-old me: escape, fun, and possibility.
And if we hit the goal, I promise I won’t wear tights and try to fly. Or maybe I will, if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you’d like to know more about Whiz!Bam!Pow!, or we didn’t ask all the questions you’ve got, go ahead and comment below or head over to the Whiz!Bam!Pow! IndieGoGo page and comment there. Next week we’ll be back with a new project for you to check out but, until then, we hope you enjoyed this closer look at Tyler Weaver’s Whiz!Bam!Pow!
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