Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

TIME AND ATTENTION: Crowdfunding her album production costs will allow local singer/songwriter Searra Jade "to give full justice to what I believe to be my most powerful and relevant songs yet — by spending the time to make  them as good as they can possibly sound."
TIME AND ATTENTION: Crowdfunding her album production costs will allow local singer/songwriter Searra Jade "to give full justice to what I believe to be my most powerful and relevant songs yet — by spending the time to make them as good as they can possibly sound." Photo from Jade's website

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Searra Jade’s new album

Most people stick to their own species when citing professional influences, but local singer-songwriter Searra Jade says it’s birds — “the original songsters who are always singing when the sun comes up” — that have most inspired her forthcoming album. “Wave of Birdsong is a collection of songs that honor all the gifts and lessons nature bestows upon us, especially the birds … while exploring the shadows of being human, on an individual and societal level, that derail us from a state of harmonious equilibrium,” she writes online. Backing Jade on the album will be bandmates Mattick Frick (drums), Ryan Kijanka (upright bass), Drayton Aldridge (violin) and Franklin Keel (cello), who “have breathed such magic and depth into my songs,” she says. The singer has already begun the recording process with audio engineer Kevin Harvey of Griffyn Sound. She aims to raise $7,200 by Wednesday, May 17, to pay for a few more hours of studio time plus pressing 1,000 CDs and compensating musical contributors, a graphic designer and publicist.

Strangers by a Fire short film

Film director Mason McDonald began writing Strangers by a Fire to take a break from another film script. But “I had no idea how big this small and contained story was going to get,” he says. The young movie maker’s film takes place around a campfire in the Appalachian mountains after the Civil War. Two men, a hunter and a trapper, cross paths, and the remaining plot “revolves around their conversation in the woods — and what it eventually escalates into.” McDonald already has actors and a crew lined up for the project, and that team aims to raise $5,000 by mid-May to pay for wardrobes, set design, props, crew expenses, equipment and “whatever it takes to make this movie look and feel as real as it possibly can.”

Travel writer Gary Sizer’s success story

In the last few days of 2016, author Gary Sizer‘s Kickstarter campaign closed with $2,150 raised by 43 backers. Since then, he’s been working with an editor to complete his book Home is Forward — the follow up to his 2015 work Where’s the Next Shelter. Its expected launch date is in mid-May.

“What began as a simple collection of travel-related short stories has now grown into a thoughtful, semi-autobiographical account of how a person progresses from really enjoying camping to devoting his entire life to travel,” Sizer says. “It’s a sort of comedic decent into madness, peppered with inspirational anecdotes and magnificent mountaintops.”

Sizer’s funds were also used to commission Mark Calcagni of raptjournal.com to illustrate the cover. The resulting image, the author explains, “was inspired by a trek we made together in the tundra of Newfoundland, where there are no trails.”

Financing the book through crowdfunding, Sizer continues, “really adds a layer of accountability to a project. Whenever I feel like slacking or procrastinating, I have this image of all these supporters waiting patiently. It really put my feet to the fire.”

To those considering their own campaign, he recommends “not being spammy” during social media outreach (a strategy he supplemented with advertising on select podcasts and other outlets), setting modest goals and doing plenty of research. “Study successful campaigns, but also study failed campaigns,” he advises. “It’s good to learn from your mistakes, but better to learn from someone else’s.”

Image courtesy of the author
Image courtesy of the author

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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