Within the entertainment industry, Kickstarter has been in the news quite often recently. First there was Rob Thomas securing enough financing to make a “Veronica Mars” movie. Then we witnessed “Scrubs” star and “Garden State” scribe Zach Braff launching a Kickstarter to raise some funds for his latest screenplay (though he didn’t receive the fanfare and positive press for using Kickstarter that Mr. Thomas did). Then again, this is nothing new; crowd-funding has become a legitimate way for independent filmmakers to raise funds for their projects, whether they be full-length features, or documentaries, or short films.
Now, My Damn Channel, the independent comedy studio behind shows like “Wainy Days” and “Daily Grace,” is jumping into the crowd-funding game with a new Kickstarter project for a puppet talk show MDC is co-developing with Eric Kaplan, a veteran TV scribe and the co-executive producer of “The Big Bang Theory.”
The show will be called “Love Me Cat,” and it will be hosted by a hairless cat (to be voiced by Kaplan) and his trusty, wisecracking owl sidekick. The two will interview celebrity guests about “love, sex, what it’s like to be a human (and a cat) in a lonely society where we must be loved to survive.” Developed and produced by MDC in partnership with Kaplan and his studio Mirari Films, the weekly show’s cast/crew includes writer Andy Bobrow (“Community”), animator Matt Danner, director Matt Chapman, puppet-maker Sam Koji Hale and music composer Parry Gripp.
The producers are looking to raise $20,000 over the next month. This money will go toward building a permanent studio for “Love Me Cat,” as well as doing other important things like getting more celebrity guests, creating more puppets and filming more episodes. Ultimately, MDC says it hopes to build out the “Love Me Cat” universe to include adventures in the real world and in CGI environments.
In exchange, those who help fund “Love Me Cat” will be offered a variety of ways to actually get involved with the production of the show, along with the usual merch-related prizes you see on Kickstarter projects. This audience participation angle is a major element “Love Me Cat” (and not just because it makes sense for a show made for web audiences):
Eric and My Damn Channel co-founder Warren Chao met in college and have spent many breakfasts in Burbank brainstorming a way to bring more original, interactive content directly to fans outside of the usual system of Hollywood gatekeepers and its pressures towards homogenization. ‘Love Me Cat’ is the first fruit of this collaboration. It’s a new approach to talk shows and comedy: fresh, irreverent, funny, poignant, weird, surreal and deeply immersed in audience participation.
It begins with the Kickstarter project. The first prize, for pledging $5, is the ability to join the “Co-Creators Club,” which will essentially be an amateur writers’ room that allows fans to pitch ideas, suggestions for future guests and questions for scheduled guests, as well as receive feedback from show writers. Live chats and Google Hangouts will also be a part of the offering. At the other end of the donation spectrum (at $2,500 a pop) is “The Council of Grand Puppeteer Viziers,” which will give up to five backers the chance to puppeteer their own puppet on an episode of the show. In between, there are several other opportunities to get involved with or engage in some way with the show.
MDC says it has already created some screen tests for “Love Me Cat,” featuring TV actors like Johnny Galecki and Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Emma Caulfield (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”); YouTuber KevJumba; and MDC talent like Beth Hoyt and Mark Malkoff. So the project is already underway, and it looks to be targeting a launch for sometime in the fall. We’ll be following the progress of “Love Me Cat”, as the project and production kicks into gear.