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ZOE March UpdateIn this update:1.A new path for Matt Vancil2.JourneyQuest RPG Update3.A JourneyQuest discussion4.The Future of ZOEA new path for Matt VancilIn his own words, here’s Matt:For me, it started in two places: a coffee shop at the end of the Burke Gilman Trail, and on a train ride back from ComicCon in 2009. A production company funded entirely by fans, where the creators retained control over their work and worlds. I thought it was crazy, and I told Ben as much. It could never happen, not in this industry. And then it did, in our little corner of the Pacific Northwest, with JourneyQuest: ZOE, the fan funded network, where no one but the fans could cancel us. Thank you for five amazing years with Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. The time has come for me to move on and pursue new projects. I remain a steadfast fan, and I’ll be involved as much as I’m able, but my path’s down a different trail. Thank you fans, thank you friends, thank you cast and crew family. It’s been a blast. I love you all.
What does this mean for JourneyQuest?– The script for JourneyQuest: Season 3 has been completed and Matt is still attached to direct. We’re currently assessing options for bringing the new season to life. (see below)What does this mean for Gamers 4?– Gamers 4 is not currently in development, but should it become an active project or receive a green light, Matt will certainly be involved.What does this mean for the larger Hopjockey story?– Matt’s plan has always been to tell the Hopjockey meta story across a number of platforms and in different forms of media. His departure from ZOE won’t complicate the rollout or development of future installments in the story.Where can people view the projects that Matt is working on currently?– The best way to track Matt’s projects would be to follow him on Twitter (@mattvancil) or on Facebook. He has a website (www.invancible.com) that by his own admission he never updates, so that’s a roll of the dice. Best to go with Twitter, wethinks.
Quick UpdatesHi, everyone.I know, I know, it’s been awhile. Several whiles, if we’re being honest. Ever since my son got mobile and chatty, it’s been hard to keep this website up to date. I even forgot to post news about my own Kickstarter, if you can believe that. Also, I hate wordpress. So much, in fact, that I made my wife type this post for me. What? She offered.And on that front, she’s taking over managing this website for me, and will help me keep things updated as best she can. She promises me she’ll avoid posting kid pictures via her instagram account. We’ll see how long that lasts. Content is content. Anyway, she’s ideally suited for this job because a) she’s used to reminding me to do things I forget, and b) she knows how to knock information out of me — with a stick in her hands, I am an information pinata — so the site shouldn’t lack for new material, even if it’s just a transcription of me moaning over my stick bruises.Some quick updates:1. Perhaps the biggest news — I have left Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. This was a difficult decision, but ultimately the right one. I left amicably and am excited about future projects, both mine and ZOE’s.2. JourneyQuest: Season Three — The script is done! And it’s awesome. The best one yet. The end of the season is basically the turning point for the series.3. Another reason I haven’t been posting, aside from the ever-moving toddler and my general laziness, is that I got a full time job at a video game studio. I’m writing dialogue and missions and playing the game all day. Though it’s mainly the writing part. The game hasn’t been announced yet, but when it has been, I’ll let you know more. I or my wife will. I can tell you that we just finished closed beta, and will be launching our test market release in May.4. Oh, that Kickstarter? Right. The novel! The first draft is back from my editor with notes. In a nutshell, she said “It’s great. Now fix these parts that aren’t great.” That’s what I’m doing.5. My wife. She’s incredible. But you don’t get to know her name (I mean, unless you already DO. I can’t much do anything about that.) And you can’t call her Mrs. Vancil. She’s not my mother.6. Last, but certainly not least — I am also teaching a screenwriting class at the Seattle Film Institute.And that’s the first update in nearly two years. More to come as it happens. I promise the next one won’t be in 24 months. My aim’s to have a new update in at least HALF that time.
Zombie Orpheus Entertainment Fan feedback time —If you like ZOE, JourneyQuest, and Gamers, we want to hear from you in the comments about two important issues.ONE: We're preparing a massive Phase II campaign, with a completely revised tech platform, to get us sustainable. This is the top priority for ZOE, as it will allow us to continue producing. This will be a do-or-die kind of deal—if we aren't able to hit our subscription target we won't be able to continue producing anything and will probably have to shut the company down. If you have feedback or questions about this crucial upcoming campaign, please let us know in the comments! We'll use your feedback to help us craft the best possible campaign, video, and reward revisions.TWO: We've budgeted JourneyQuest Season Three. As written, it's going to require a $500,000 Kickstarter campaign. We're worried that this may be too big an ask, especially directly following the Phase II campaign we're getting ready to launch. Our preference would be to get Phase II to our subscription target, focus on creating awesome weekly content from a combination of Phase II revenue and a series of smaller, faster turnaround Kickstarters, then launch JQ3 when we're confident we can do it right (and without sending Ben back to the hospital). BUT… we're willing to be convinced to launch the JQ3 Kickstarter sooner, if you can convince us that there's enough support out there to grow Phase II and a fund $500k campaign for the JQ3 production budget. Our primary goal is long term sustainability, which means that we don't want to ask too much of you—the power of the ZOE is in the collective ability of you, the fans, to fund us directly and we're very wary of "solutions" that would put pressure on individual pocketbooks. We know that times are tough. We know that jobs are scarce, rents are going up, student loans are growing, and many people are fighting hard to keep their finances together. Our long term goal is for Phase II alone to fund our studio and productions, as that would eliminate the need for separate (and checkbook-busting) Kickstarter campaigns. And we know that Phase II + a large Kickstarter would be a double whammy. SO… how important to you is ZOE and our shared mission? When we launch the new Phase II campaign, can you commit to helping us reach a funding level that will let us hire the help we need to keep the doors open and focus our efforts on more content, rather than management and programming? And if you want JQ3 moving forward now, rather than later, can you help us find 4,999 other people willing to pledge an average of $100 apiece to make it happen? YOU are our funders, not the networks, not the studios, not advertisers. And that means, when we have big decisions to make, that your voices are the most important ones in the room. We're here and we're listening. Let's have a conversation! (P.S. We know you'll have tons of questions and we're excited to answer them in the comments, rather than making this wall-of-text post even longer.)
The Future of ZOE, JourneyQuest, Gamers, and YouCable networks? Game of Thrones budgets? Net neutrality? Mostly, these sound like concerns for big players in the media landscape, not a tiny fan supported company like ZOE. But the linked Salon article identifies several issues that are extremely relevant to all media creators.First, net neutrality, about which much has been written. Yes, it will threaten everything, no, we’re too small to do anything about it other than join larger lobbying groups and educate the public where we can.Second, the question of how television budgets have been subsidized at a level that can support massive shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. See, ZOE’s work receives zero subsidies, only fan support. And quality TV is not cheap to produce. And if it is cheap, that means that somewhere in the pipeline, somebody wasn’t being compensated for their time and labor. This is (mostly) fine if you’re a hobbyist working on a weekend project. But if you’re a professional producer? It’s not okay!The final question raised by this article is key: would you rather, given the choice, reduce quality or the scope of the story? We have had countless internal discussions about this issue. Quality shows professionalism. It looks good. It sounds good. It’s creatively fulfilling! And without budgets that would make you, the fan funders, shudder in fear, it’s almost impossible to maintain unless you’re telling stories about a couple of characters in a room, talking and maybe drinking tea. Why? Because somewhere in the pipeline, somebody worked for less than a reasonable wage to close the gap between the budget and the dream.In some ways, it sounds like a Catch-22. Without cable-level technical quality, what if people don’t take us seriously? What if the fans stop watching? What if our shows never win any awards? But on the other hand, how feasibly could we raise a half-million dollars minimum for each new season of a show like JourneyQuest, Gamers, or anything else that we have in development? So we’re faced with the same choices on every new project: raise more money, cut the story, or cut the quality.Who here remembers The Gamers? Technically, the quality was beyond amateur. It’s a visual nightmare for film professionals. But do you want to know a secret? It’s one of the two top-selling films in the DG/ZOE catalog? People love it. And do they love it for the story, for the humor, and for the heart. Here’s another secret: JourneyQuest Season Two, the most visually accomplished show we’ve produced to date (we had to sacrifice quality to the Story Gods on Gamers 3—and we’re okay with that!) is our biggest financial flop. Don’t get us wrong, we’re completely proud of that season. But as a benchmark for what we can achieve visually, it would cost us easily over half a million to do again. Why? Because everybody involved in that show made major personal sacrifices to bridge that budget/dream gap. We did it because we believed in the show. And we still do. But that kind of sacrifice burns people out, no matter how passionate they are about a project. To shoot a show like JourneyQuest on an ongoing, sustainable basis requires boatloads of cash. (Or reducing quality to levels that would cause deep embarrassment to our entire team.)So what does all of this mean for ZOE, both for the creators and for the fans who fund us?Keeping a show like JQ going at the level we’ve been producing it means getting tons of new fans on board with funding a third season. At least 5000 people willing to put in $100 apiece, or 10,000 at $50, or 20,000 at $25. That’s a lot of new viewers hitting the “back this project” button. And that’s a lot of money to put into the kind of show that you could view on Netflix as part of an $8 a month subscription. But we’re not receiving cable subsidies. We don’t have enough viewers to attract large corporate sponsors or significant advertising revenue. And if you read the article, you know that those shows and their quality are at risk too!That’s where we come back to the core ZOE motto: No Studio, No Network, No Cancellation. Being fan supported—and being a fan supporting our shows—means embracing the fact that we’re different. On the producing end, we retain creative control because we’re not relying on fickle networks and studios. On the fan end, you retain the freedom to fund content directly, in direct collaboration with the producers. We empower each other in a way that is totally unlike the Hollywood model. But that comes with costs and choices: without (at risk) cable subsidies and other traditional funding sources, we have to maintain the best balance we can between visual quality and storytelling choices. And you have to decide whether the experience and shows we offer are worth the premium cost of supporting our work.So what does this mean for all of us moving forward?First, for JourneyQuest to continue, viewership and fan funding have to quadruple. We’ll be setting up a special web page where you can share the show with friends, nurture their latent fandom, and encourage them to sign up for the “Fund JQ3” mailing list. When that list has 5000 people who have committed to $100 in funding apiece, we’ll launch a Season Three Kickstarter campaign.Second, while you’re rallying the troops to increase the JQ fan base, we’re going to keep working hard at a more sustainable funding model than Kickstarter. We’ll be launching a new show, Strowlers, that can be affordably produced on a monthly basis in between massive tentpoles like JQ and Gamers. And most importantly, we’ll be working on a massive transition from Kickstarter funding to a revamped Phase II campaign.Phase II will be moving to Patreon. This will allow us to spend 100% less of our time hand-coding fixes to our current (broken) subscription system. You’ll be able to choose a funding level that fits your budget. And we’ll be able to fund a new episode of content every month: no more year-long gaps between releases.For long term sustainability and ongoing production, monthly subscriptions will allow us to predict revenue, hire full time help, and dramatically close the gap between funding and releasing new projects. You’ll be able to join and leave when it works for you. If you don’t want to subscribe, you’ll be able to pay what you want for episodes when we release them, from $0 to… well, whatever you choose to put in. With predictable revenue, we’ll be able to be MUCH more efficient with your dollars.And if we all commit to this together, we’ll be producing awesome, independent, Creative Commons licensed, fan funded content while the studios and networks are looking back at the golden age of television and wondering what went wrong.
ZOECON Livestreaming Begins Hey ZOE Fans & Supporters –Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Amanda and Brian Cook, we are thrilled to announce that ZOECON 2014 will be streaming events from the main stage all weekend.You can view the entire convention online at http://fansupported.net/ While it's streaming for free, there's a convenient tip jar available if you want to help support the show.STREAMING SCHEDULE All times are Pacific StandardSET UP and TROUBLESHOOTING Kentucky Blue Clay Radio Play Fri, 6:00 PM 30 m PG-13 “Lunch” Screening Fri, 6:30 PM 30 m R Celebrity Artemis Fri, 7:00 PM 30 m PG The Gamers Live Fri, 8:00 PM 120 m PG-13 DG MST3K Fri, 10:00 PM 120 m R JourneyQuest season 1 Sat, 10:00 AM 60 m PG Gamers: Humans & Households + Gamers: Natural 1 Sat, 11:00 AM 60 m PG JourneyQuest Season 3 script reading Sat, 12:00 PM 60 m PG-13 Writing Workshop with Matt Vancil Sat, 1:00 PM 60 m PG The DG Report: Dead by Don Sat, 2:00 PM 60 m PG ZOE State of the Union Sat, 3:00 PM 60 m PG Reveal: Strowlers Sat, 4:00 PM 60 m PG Geek Trivia Sat, 5:00 PM 90 m PG Dark Dungeons Sat, 7:00 PM 60 m PG-13 Reveal: Attacking the Darkness Sat, 8:00 PM 60 m PG-13 The Gamers Sat, 9:00 PM 60 m R The Gamers: Dorkness Rising Sat, 10:00 PM 90 m PG-13 The Gamers: Hands of Fate Sat, 11:30 PM 150 m R JourneyQuest Season 2 Sun, 9:30 AM 90 m PG-13 Women in Film Sun, 11:00 AM 60 m PG-13 GamerChick Sun, 12:00 PM 60 m PG-13 Standard Action Sun, 1:00 PM 60 m PG-13 Chop Socky Boom Sun, 2:00 PM 60 m PG-13 Goodbye Party/Hangout & Feedback Session Sun, 3:00 PM 60 m PG
Renew JourneyQuest Campaign Begins If you love JourneyQuest, this is your chance to prepare for our Season Three campaign. We need at least 4200 people to add their names to the list before we launch the Kickstarter.JourneyQuest Season Three is the biggest show we've ever attempted and it will only be possible with your help: pledging for the campaign, spreading the word, and introducing more people to the incredible, fan-funded show that you made possible!Want more adventures of Perf, Nara, Glorion, and Carrow? Here's what to do:1. Sign up at http://www.renewjourneyquest.com (it's like a pre-Kickstarter) 2. Share this web page on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google +, etc. 3. Screen Seasons One and Two for your friends and explain how ZOE works: we are creator distributed and fan funded, which means that only you can cancel or renew a show that you love. 4. Make your own awesome JourneyQuest fan art, fan fiction, or whatever else inspires you. The show is released under a Creative Commons license that allows your creativity to go wild. 5. Talk with other fans and come up with your own awesome ideas for promoting the show and the upcoming campaign. Collaborate. Have fun. Do brilliant things that we never could have imagined.Thanks to your support and encouragement, we've made some incredible shows since launching in 2010: JourneyQuest, The Gamers: Hands of Fate, Dark Dungeons, Natural One, and Humans & Households. Together, let's keep turning the Hollywood model upside down, with shows that could only be made thanks to direct fan support.What You Get When You Sign UpWe’ll add you to the JourneyQuest Season Three email newsletter. We’ll count you as a likely future supporter of the JQ3 Kickstarter campaign. And when enough people have signed up, we’ll launch the campaign and let you know that it’s time to Renew JQ.As a special thank you, when you join the list we’ll email you an exclusive wallpaper of a Rob Carlos sketch featuring Death, Silver Tom, and Glorion. We’ll also send you a link to the first ten pages of the Season Three script as a small preview of what Matt Vancil has in store for you!Please make sure you whitelist @zombieorpheus.com in your email client. If you decide that you no longer wish to be on this list, you can easily unsubscribe from any future mailings. We will remove your name from the list and reduce the subscriber counter by one.Our Fans Say it Best"Two words; character development. These ZOE buggers suck you in with humour and characters you invest in, care about, then make you wait to see what's going to happen to them. BRING ON SEASON THREE!"–Rob MacLennan"One of the most original series with a cast and story that the auidience connects to immediately. We need season 3 in order to connect more to the characters that were left with all the cliffhangers!"–Aaron Auerbach"I love the show because it allows me to explore the theme that runs most deeply through our work: namely, Christian Doyle naked."–Matt Vancil, Writer/Director"Characters the audience can truly invest in: I have laughed, cheered, and cried alongside these characters every step of the way. I cannot wait for the journey to continue!"–Anastasia Bender"The perfect blend of serious fantasy and laugh inducing geek comedy. It is a world building series you can't help but get invested in."–Avi Goltz"The perfect blend of fantasy and comedy that is not only entertaining but captivating, too. There's something for everyone: romance, intrigue, adventure, tongue-in-cheek humor, and SO many loveable characters. With wonderful storylines, multifaceted characters, and superb acting, what's not to love?"–Andi Smith"Dynamic, well-written female characters who are so much more than cardboard romantic interest props."–Anna-Brit Schlaepfer"This show is far too brave for quotes."–Joshua RaymondMore Reasons to Sign UpYour Story is Written!Season 3 script is DONE and just waiting to be produced and delivered to you. After that, we have 4 more seasons completely planned.The Actors & Characters You Know & LoveOur actors have all been busy, upping their game and growing in their craft, and they’re just itching to get back to their JQ alter egos. There’s so much for them to do and say and learn and utterly fail at learning and still somehow grow.Solid Funding = Increased Production ValueYou saw a major step forward last season — let’s keep the momentum! We have amazing artisans and experts who can give you a beautiful fantasy world with great costumes, makeup, special effects, cinematography, and music.Quality StorytellingYou tell us you love the smart, funny, epic adventure tale with complex, layered characters for all the genders and species. JourneyQuest is unique in today’s entertainment landscape, and we are determined to make the kind of show you — and we! — want to watch.Bring Back JourneyQuest!The story is ready (and it’s so good!). The actors and crew are ready. But we can’t do it without you, and we can’t do it on a shoe-string anymore.Like Gamers 3, JourneyQuest has become an amazing showcase for talent in front of and behind the camera. We have returning (big name) guest stars, we have professional actors and crew who need to be fairly compensated for their expertise and their dedication to you and to us. And, directly because of YOUR support and encouragement, we have a story that we believe with all our collective being deserves to be infused with all the magic and heart you expect from this production company. Help us make the show you want. We can’t wait to give it to you. THANK YOU!
Hey, fans and backers! Thanks so much for visiting our Patreon page. We've had a great first five years—making shows like JourneyQuest, The Gamers: Hands of Fate, Dark Dungeons, Natural One, Humans & Households, Rude Mechanical, and our upcoming feature film Attacking the Darkness—and now we have big plans for the future, in partnership with Dead Gentlemen Productions!We want to fund ongoing, independent series, with new episodes every month. We want to greenlight new seasons of shows like JourneyQuest (see our JQ-FAQ) and The Gamers and we want to introduce awesome new shows like Strowlers, Demon Hunters: The Iota Initiative, and many more. And we want to do it without compromising quality, vision, or storytelling.As a fan supported company, we've given YOU the power to renew or cancel the shows that you love: not advertisers, not sponsors, neither studios nor networks. And we believe in you so much that we release many of our shows under a Creative Commons license that lets you share, remix, and create new inspirations based on what YOU funded.Now, with your support and encouragement, we're continuing a journey toward true, independent, sustainable production.Please consider joining us as a monthly subscriber. We're offering some awesome rewards to thank you for your support! All Patrons will also receive bonus periodic and exclusive downloads, including digital content from our old Phase II campaign, soundtracks, wallpapers, and more!UPDATE: We've unlocked Milestone #1. Thanks, everyone!