"Crowdfunding" Meets The Arts
March 1, 2012

The current rush towards "Crowdfunding" for start-up enterprises is being adopted by the arts community, as a way of getting funding for artistic productions. Those interested in the uses of social media and the new incarnation of Crowdfunding could check into an independent project called Prison Dancer, a fictionalized story of the Youtube viral phenomenon the "dancing Inmates of cebu" -- the Filipino prisoners who took the Internet by storm in the mid 2000s when they danced in synch to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Ana Serrano, (who in her other life is the Director of Toronto-based Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre), says that the combination of "Glocal" Audiences plus Web Series plus Transmedia Strategy plus Crowdfunding are a potent mix of ingredients powering her independent Prison Dancer project: "This is an Interactive Web Musical whose core audience targets are niche communities dispersed globally (Filipino diaspora and the LGBT communities). It is a web series, stage play and original musical soundtrack. It is getting a LOT of traction".

Not only have the Prison Dancer teaser videos gone viral with over 200,000 video views on their channel in less than 2 months ( http://www.youtube.com/user/prisondancer?feature=watch ), but they have also been:
  1. Chosen as the Closing Night Gala for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival premiering March 15. This is the first time a WEB SERIES, let alone a musical, interactive web series has ever closed a FILM festival. -- http://caamedia.org/blog/featured/2012/02/21/closing-night-gala-presentation-prison-dancer/ ; and
  2. Accepted into the New York Musical Theatre Festival — the premiere scouting place for folks to find the next big Broadway Productions! This means this JULY for six nights Prison Dancer will be mounting its stage version in a theatre either off or on Broadway in Manhattan! -- http://www.nymf.org/Story-615.html

Having received financing from Canada’s Independent Production Fund, Serrano and the other Prison Dancer co-founders (Romeo Candido and Carmen de Jesus) are now taking on crowd-funding. They have started a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the remainder of their post-production monies. "The Kickstarter campaign had to be done as much for fundraising as for credibility-building," said Ana "It seems any "innovative" indie project these days is associated with Kickstarter. And to be featured as a Kickstarter project of the day has become part of most people’s promotional strategies. Happy to say, we’ve been discovered and are featured as a Kickstarter "Staff Pick," says Serrano.

Now they have just introduced a new reward! For pledging $400, Serrano and the creative team of Prison Dancer will walk the donor through their transmedia strategy and provide advice on how to approach the development, production and packaging for this new form of "engaged entertainment." Now given the success of Prison Dancer to date, that may be the most value-laden $400 one can spend if one is interested in the "future of entertainment." Here’s the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/prisondancer/prison-dancer-the-interactive-web-musical