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How 'Second Class Citizens' Raised Its $50,000 Kickstarter Goal in 24 Hours

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire January 18, 2012 at 12:36PM

Yesterday while sitting at his desk as an executive assistant at MTV, Ryan James Yezek was tracking the progress of the Kickstarter campaign for his new LGBT rights documentary film project, "Second Class Citizens." Less than a day after posting the video, before he left work, Yezek had attained the $50,000 goal he had set up on Kickstarter. Indiewire spoke to Yezek last night about how he was able to launch such a successful Kickstarter campaign.
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Ryan James Yezek.
Ryan James Yezek.

Yesterday while sitting at his desk as an executive assistant at MTV, Ryan James Yezek was tracking the progress of the Kickstarter campaign for his new LGBT rights documentary film project, "Second Class Citizens."  Less than a day after posting the video, before he left work, Yezek had attained the $50,000 goal he had set up on Kickstarter.  Indiewire spoke to Yezek last night about how he was able to launch such a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Lets take a few minutes to figure out how Yezek got there:

1. He wanted to make videos, and so he picked up a camera and made something.

A campy parody of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" to be exact.  With tons of svelte boys in bathing suits and frolicking beachside choreography, "California Gays" was a huge viral hit when it made its debut on YouTube.  

"I wanted to start my career as a music video director," Yezek said. "As I was doing my music videos on YouTube, I realized I was touching on what were really political topics. There were subtle statements about equality and about discrimination."

2. He came up with an idea for a documentary project.

After a while, Yezek realized he wanted to do something more than make fun, often silly, music videos. He realized, "The only thing now I'm left to do is to do something about [the discrimination leveled against gays]. It's a focus of my every day. There are blogs that exist that each day have a new story about the inequalities we face. I've gotten to the point where i can't stand by and do something about it."

3. He did major archival research to make a trailer that could also serve as a stand-alone viral video.

"I've been doing this video for eight mohths total," Yezek said. "I started compiling footage.  I was following the news daily.  I knew I wanted to include the song in this video.  I stayed up all night Sunday to make sure it could be released on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day."

4. He posted a video to Kickstarter -- and the separate  YouTube (with a link back to Kickstarter).

His Kickstarter video follows the Kickstarter conventions of the director explaining his project. Hoping he had a viral hit on his hands, Yezek released the trailer, titled "The Gay Rights Movement," on YouTube. It alone has already reached one million views.

5. He used the connections he made with his earlier videos to spread this one.

Between the fans of his blog and the fans of his music video remakes, Yezek has a sizable following on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  He also made sure the influencers and the publications who have previously supported his work got a chance to see the video as soon as it was finished.

6. He waited and watched it all come together.

In twenty-four hours, Yezek's goal was reached.  During the time of our interview, the total amount donated to Kickstarter climbed another few thousand dollars. 

7. Now, he can make the thing!

Yezek told Indiewire, "I am still in shock.  The whole idea was to create a few videos to drive traffic to the fundraiser.  I knew I would need to make videos like these so I could go to investors and get money -- maybe not easily -- but I could easily pursue this in a conventional, professional way and some of the funding should come from the public. 

"I thought I should give an opportunity for everyone to become involved with this project.  I would set a fundraising goal, I would make videos that would support the fundraiser.  This is unreal."

Yezek told Indiewire that the feature-length film will include some archival material, but that the major thrust will be from original content with subjects he finds.

"I still want to make those other promotional videos.  Some of the other videos have the potential to get a wide distribution online.  This was just really fast."

This article is related to: Kickstarter