“Just when you thought he was safe—he’s done it again! Billy’s been kidnapped by a host of unsavory characters,” declares the description on the front page of the Kickstarter project started by Sam ’15. Sam’s project, which she started over the summer, is an animated series entitled Billy the Kidnap Kid about a young boy who is abandoned by his parents and then kidnapped over and over again. Sam hopes to use funds that she raised through Kickstarter to help pay for the project.
Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding website intended to financially support creative endeavors. Anyone can become a user and create projects that vary from making scarves printed with pictures of cabbage to creating a Bluetooth-controlled padlock.
“Kickstarter was a really good platform for me to use because people are relying on me, so I actually have to come up with a final product,” Sam said.
Anyone can support Kickstarter projects, some of which have raised startling amounts of money. According to CBS News, Columbus, Ohio native Zach Brown, for example, raised $55,492 to make potato salad. Sam’s goal to raise $600 was more modest, but it motivated her to complete her project.
“I have a problem that when I start projects, a lot of the time I don’t finish them, and so [visual arts instructor Josh] Deu thought that if there were people giving me money, it would make me be more accountable,” Sam said.
Deu believed that having some kind of financial reward also justified the huge time commitment needed to create an animation like Lane’s.
“If [Sam] didn’t do a Kickstarter, she would have had to get a job this summer and wouldn’t have had enough time to animate, but the Kickstarter allowed her to work as though she had a real job, but on artwork,” Deu said.
Sam raised $630 altogether, some of which will go toward hiring people to help her with aspects of the project that are beyond her skill set, like sound design.
Sam feels that an important part of creating a successful Kickstarter is not setting fundraising and creative goals that are too ambitious.
Though Deu considers Sam one of the most promising students he has ever taught, animation has not always been one of her artistic pursuits.
“I actually signed up for Drawing and Painting in 8th grade, but it was full, so I was put in Visual Arts with Mr. Deu. I’m so happy that I was,” she said.
Kara ’15, one of Sam’s close friends, said that although Sam was always talented, she seemed to become more serious about her drawings and animation around 9th grade.
“We all knew she was a good drawer before, even in elementary school, but then I think doing it on the computer with Mr. Deu, she was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool. This is what I want to do,’ [and] she did it,” Kara recounted.
Sam now sees herself pursuing animation after her time at Marlborough. Over the summer, she met with Emmy Award winner Ian Worrel, the head art director on the Disney show Gravity Falls and a friend of Deu’s, who critiqued and helped her with her work.
“It was really helpful to meet with [Worrel], since he’s someone who critiques animations professionally. He has helped take my work to a higher level,” Sam said.
As Deu and many others in the business would agree, animation is notoriously difficult, but Deu believes that Sam has the skill set necessary to put her drawings to life.
“[Sam] is very talented. I don’t think I’ve ever taught someone who is as good at animation as Sam,” Deu said.