Sasha Friedlander, a current student in the MFA Social Documentary Film Department, needed to get to Indonesia to shoot her thesis project Where Heaven Meets Hell, a documentary about sulfur miners in Java. The expenses she would incur while traveling around the world, maintaining her equipment and bringing classmate Bao Nguyen along as her cinematographer were substantial, so she turned to the innovative funding site Kickstarter for help.
Kickstarter is a Web-based service that lets people solicit funds for a project in small increments using an “all-or-nothing” model. Users of the site can set up a page with details of their project, a fixed dollar goal and a time limit for raising the funds; money only changes hands if the total amount of money is pledged before the time is up. Friedlander posted a $6,000 budget for her project, a list of incentives for potential investors (including DVDs of the finished project, photographs from the shoot and tickets to the premiere screening) and an end date of June 22.
With a $5 minimum pledge, a detailed description of the project and a video by Friedlander, the Kickstarter page attracted more than 80 backers who put Friedlander well past the $6,000 goal with a week to go. She is now getting ready to depart for Indonesia on July 7, and is planning on using the additional funds raised to get better equipment and purchase gas masks to give to the Javanese sulfur miners. For more information about Friedlander and her documentary project, visit her Kickstarter page.
Image: Screen shot of Sasha Friedlander’s Kickstarter page, June 16, 2010, 1:45pm.