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> "The Encyclopedia Game", An honest and humorous film on Wikipedia
DiotimaPhil
post Thu 8th March 2012, 5:54am
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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/172554...-on-wikipedia-v

The link above is to a kickstarter.com campaign for a film I have been working on with the cooperation of many here at Wikipedia Review, entitled "The Encyclopedia Game."

I have been researching this film for over a year, in an attempt to construct a humorous but intelligent look at the hidden side of Wikipedia (the obsessive editors and admins, the edit wars and extended conflicts, and the culture generally) by way of exploring the phenomenon of Wikipedia vandalism.

"The Encyclopedia Game" is not an informational documentary or a film essay, as earlier films on Wikipedia have been. Instead, this is a quirky, character-driven documentary that raises important issues while at the same time dealing with some extremely humorous stories and personalities. The tone of the film will be very light, but the subject matter will penetrate deeper into fundamental questions about truth, authority, community, and identity.

Although I believe that this is a film with potentially wide appeal, there aren't many who understand Wikipedia well enough to see that potential. After all, everyone uses Wikipedia, but few know what Wikipedia really is like, which can make fundraising quite difficult.

And that is why I am asking for your help. Already this film would have been impossible without the contacts I have made through Wikipedia Review, but I am hoping you can assist further by helping to promote our fundraising effort.

We must raise $60,000 by 11:59pm eastern on the 5th of April in order to move forward with this project. To accomplish this goal, the project will likely have to go viral, and establish an appeal beyond the inner-circle of Wikipedia and its critics. So, in addition to making a pledge yourself (as little as $5 will get you a download of the finished film), you could really help out by spreading the word to anyone you know who might be interested, particularly journalists or bloggers who can bring our project to a wider audience.

Thanks again to everyone at Wikipedia Review for being so helpful and taking this project as far as it has come. With your help, this fundraising campaign will be a success, and there will finally be an accessible and entertaining film that takes an honest look at the hidden world of Wikipedia.

Here are some relevant links:
Kickstarter (most important!): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/172554...-on-wikipedia-v
Film Website: http://www.encyclopediagame.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EncyclopediaGame
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/EncycloGameFilm or @EncycloGameFilm
Google+: https://plus.google.com/105391706559835687866/posts
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Wikifan
post Thu 8th March 2012, 9:46am
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e begging seriously?

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DiotimaPhil
post Thu 8th March 2012, 6:00pm
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QUOTE(Wikifan @ Thu 8th March 2012, 4:46am) *

e begging seriously?


Begging is certainly not below me (I care about this project, have given a year of my life to it already, want to see it completed, and lack the means to do so without support) but "begging" is not how I would characterize my appeal.

The reason I wouldn't call it begging is because my request is really an offer.

I am saying that if you want:

an honest film about Wikipedia to be available to the world;
a film that is humorous and accessible, not a boring info-doc or film essay that would only appeal to people already deeply interested in Wikipedia;
a film that has a chance actually to get people thinking about Wikipedia differently;
a film that will lead to constructive discourse about the Wikipedia, not just sweeping generalizations of unreliability, etc.;
a film with the potential to make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia and community;

then help me to raise the required funds and my partners and I will give you that film.

We have a mixture of characters and stories (thanks largely to cooperation from folks at Wikipedia Review) that shed light on the behind-the-scenes reality of Wikipedia. But these stories are not simple. They are complicated, multi-faceted stories that expose the subtleties not only of how Wikipedia functions, but of how truth and authority function.

I come to this project as a Wikipedia outsider. I admit, when I began this project, my point of view was pretty limited. I had known a devoted Wikipedia vandal in college (Cognition), and the impression I got from my interactions with him left me with the feeling that Wikipedia was just short of worthless.

But in researching this film my perspective has shifted. I have been exposed to more sophisticated and compelling criticisms of Wikipedia than I ever had encountered previously. Still, as I started understanding Wikipedia's flaws more clearly, an increased astonishment developed for what Wikipedia has been able to accomplish, in spite of its flaws.

My perspective now is that Wikipedia is a very valuable project with a lot of potential, but with concerns that need to be addressed. My perspective is also that those concerns are often not addressed very well by the community, or even acknowledged. People seem to get defensive right away, and all hope for communication is lost.

My hope is that by making a quirky and humorous film, I will be able to raise substantial concerns about Wikipedia without anyone feeling attacked or made to be defensive. My goal as a filmmaker is to tell the truth, and to tell it in a way that people will be able to relate to. And that is what we are offering with this project.

Sorry for the long rant, but I am passionate about this, and it would be a shame for this project to be ignored simply because it can only be completed by means of what you might call "e begging."
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carbuncle
post Thu 8th March 2012, 6:14pm
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QUOTE(DiotimaPhil @ Thu 8th March 2012, 6:00pm) *

Sorry for the long rant, but I am passionate about this, and it would be a shame for this project to be ignored simply because it can only be completed by means of what you might call "e begging."

Phil, I had my doubts when you first showed up here, but now I am sold. There's no shame in using Kickstarter to ask for money - I tend to think of it as a litmus test of public support for a project.
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Wikifan
post Thu 8th March 2012, 6:40pm
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QUOTE
The reason I wouldn't call it begging is because my request is really an offer.


how did you come to 60,000 budget?

This post has been edited by Wikifan: Thu 8th March 2012, 6:41pm
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DiotimaPhil
post Thu 8th March 2012, 7:00pm
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QUOTE(Wikifan @ Thu 8th March 2012, 1:40pm) *

QUOTE
The reason I wouldn't call it begging is because my request is really an offer.


how did you come to 60,000 budget?


The actual budget is higher, but we decided we didn't want to go higher for the Kickstarter, since it is all-or-nothing. Total costs, if we do the scaled-down version of the film, will range between $75-80k. This amounts to roughly $15K for equipment, $10K for incidental pre-production expenses (I have had to do some travelling over the past year to track down leads, etc.) and $50-55k for travel and logistics for production itself. We are a three man road crew, enabling us to have two cameras at all times, while I go back and forth between running discrete audio and being in front of the camera to tell the story. We have 3-5 core contributors whose stories will make up the bulk of the film, and 12-15 secondary contributors are needed to offer context/perspective on the stories of the core contributors. These folks are located all over the globe. Three continents so far, and we are still considering others, so there is going to be a lot of travel associated with this film. And sending three people with a bunch of equipment all over the world gets costly pretty quickly.

$60,000 is actually our low-end target. We have identified 53 contributors whose input is desired, and to be able to film them all will cost approximately $200,000. We obviously would not be able to include all 53 contributors in the final film (which we hope to keep to an accessible 90 minutes or less), but the idea is to use the best footage for the film, then edit and release the rest as bonus material.

So, that is the basic break-down of our budget. You may notice that we haven't included anything for crew pay. That is because the whole team is committed to making this project a reality, and we are willing to give our time up for it. We just need a little help covering the additional costs.
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DiotimaPhil
post Thu 8th March 2012, 7:11pm
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QUOTE(carbuncle @ Thu 8th March 2012, 1:14pm) *

QUOTE(DiotimaPhil @ Thu 8th March 2012, 6:00pm) *

Sorry for the long rant, but I am passionate about this, and it would be a shame for this project to be ignored simply because it can only be completed by means of what you might call "e begging."

Phil, I had my doubts when you first showed up here, but now I am sold. There's no shame in using Kickstarter to ask for money - I tend to think of it as a litmus test of public support for a project.

Thanks carbuncle. I tend to agree about Kickstarter as a litmus test. I just wish it didn't come down to my ability to relate the appeal of the film for that purpose. My feeling is that everyone uses Wikipedia, so most have something at stake in this film. But, because most people don't realize how Wikipedia really operates, they don't realize that they have a stake in the film. This is why our trailers are of such divergent styles. "How can this be" is sort of the "duh" trailer, simply raising the possibility of vandalism on Wikipedia for those who really are clueless. "Wikipedia War Zone" is trying to appeal more directly to folks who know how crazy Wikipedia can be, folks who have bothered to look behind the curtain, and who don;t want to see another boring and safe info-doc. "Cognition" is intended to drive home our emphasis on interesting characters, and to give context to the title of the film, for those who might not be so interested in Wikipedia itself, but love a good character documentary. I hope we haven't diluted our appeal by going this route, but we wanted to cover all of our bases.
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Peter Damian
post Thu 8th March 2012, 7:18pm
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What is the financial basis of the film? Does one invest like in a normal film then receive distributed profits if any (usually none). Or is it a donation? In which case what happens if it makes a lot of money?

Have you thought of approaching Don Murphy? He hates and loathes Wikipedia and I am sure he could write you a cheque for the whole amount after Transformers III http://www.vitydaily.com/13622/transformers-3-revenue.html

I have an address for him somewhere. I gave him strong support in a Wikipedia 'incident' two years ago and he likes us here.
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DiotimaPhil
post Thu 8th March 2012, 7:40pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Thu 8th March 2012, 2:18pm) *

What is the financial basis of the film? Does one invest like in a normal film then receive distributed profits if any (usually none). Or is it a donation? In which case what happens if it makes a lot of money?

Have you thought of approaching Don Murphy? He hates and loathes Wikipedia and I am sure he could write you a cheque for the whole amount after Transformers III http://www.vitydaily.com/13622/transformers-3-revenue.html

I have an address for him somewhere. I gave him strong support in a Wikipedia 'incident' two years ago and he likes us here.


Good question. The documentray film market is pretty much non-existent. A really successful film is one that gets made by any means. A hugely successful film is one that gets made and doesn't lose money. Actually making money on a documentary film is an extreme long-shot, and films like Michael Moore's are simply impossible.

So, we chose Kickstarter because we aren't too comfortable taking standard "investment" knowing very well that there will likely not be a return, and very possibly a loss. Kickstarter is a donation based mechanism, but it involves rewards that can be satisfied merely by means of the completion of the project. So, on the low end, we offer a digital download of the film for $5, and on the high end, you can be in the film (we will fly out to you and film your Wikipedia story) for $10,000 (plus you get all of our other rewards at this level).

But, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, so if we don't reach our $60,000 goal, we won't get a penny.

If the Kickstarter campaign fails, then we would likely be willing to resort to more standard investment mechanisms, but without being able to guarantee any sort of return for investors.

If the film makes a lot of money... Any profits are to be distributed among the production team (as well as any investors that may be required) according to prior agreements. The most likely scenario in which profit becomes relevant, however, is one in which we finish the film, take it around to film festivals, and someone buys it up for a distribution deal. In that case we would get whatever we agree to with the distributor, and they would get the rest.

Of course, distribution media are changing every day, so who knows how this will all really pan out?

I would be very interested in approaching Don Murphy. If you think you might be in a better position to make that appeal, I am in your capable hands. If not, I would be happy to do what I can with his contact info if you have it.

This post has been edited by DiotimaPhil: Thu 8th March 2012, 7:43pm
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EricBarbour
post Thu 8th March 2012, 9:43pm
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Okay, I gave some. I'd give more but it's been a slow quarter.

Phil, please ignore that "Wikifan" guy. He's a troll, I have him on ignore. He's off-base about the
profits from this project--as I (and you) know, documentaries like this get made for reasons other
than making money, because even if they win film-festival awards, they rarely make any kind
of profits. Michael Moore is a very unusual filmmaker, he uses his films as platforms for social
change, AND makes them entertaining and funny. Absolutely the correct approach, especially
with a madhouse like Wikipedia.

I happen to know someone who is making a similar documentary, with similar funding. It's a much
less entertaining subject, as it is about an utterly arcane subculture, which very few people have any
contact with (unlike Wikipedia). He is obsessed with the subject and is foregoing any possible profits,
just to get it made.
http://idreamofwires.org/

Yes Phil, you should talk to Don Murphy. I will try to get you some other attention.
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melloden
post Thu 8th March 2012, 11:20pm
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Phil, I don't know if you can change it or not, but I don't know how appealing the rewards for $500 and $1000 are to most people. If a novelty or hoax article about someone is going to be speedily deleted in ten minutes, there's not much worth to it, unless they want to hang a screenshot of it on their fridge.

Good luck to you and your team, I hope you raise enough dough to make this film a reality. It looks amazing from the trailers. (Although the speech in the "Cognition" trailer is a little... choppy and informal, in my opinion.)
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DiotimaPhil
post Mon 12th March 2012, 6:59pm
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QUOTE(melloden @ Thu 8th March 2012, 7:20pm) *

Phil, I don't know if you can change it or not, but I don't know how appealing the rewards for $500 and $1000 are to most people. If a novelty or hoax article about someone is going to be speedily deleted in ten minutes, there's not much worth to it, unless they want to hang a screenshot of it on their fridge.

Good luck to you and your team, I hope you raise enough dough to make this film a reality. It looks amazing from the trailers. (Although the speech in the "Cognition" trailer is a little... choppy and informal, in my opinion.)


Thanks melloden. I can change it, but we struggled to come up with cost-effective and compelling rewards in this range. Maybe I could spruce up the language at least? I guess I was imagining that a screenshot would be worth it because the article would be so interesting. That probably doesn't come across as the language is, however.

I'll try to make those options seem more appealing, but if you have suggestions for rewards please let me know. The only things that cannot be changed are the deadline and the goal.
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A Horse With No Name
post Mon 12th March 2012, 8:03pm
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QUOTE(DiotimaPhil @ Thu 8th March 2012, 3:40pm) *
The documentary film market is pretty much non-existent. A really successful film is one that gets made by any means. A hugely successful film is one that gets made and doesn't lose money. Actually making money on a documentary film is an extreme long-shot, and films like Michael Moore's are simply impossible.


That is not correct. The documentary film market is larger than ever and you can make money in documentary filmmaking - I know a lot of people who are doing it. Contact me via PM for more details.
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