It's a hard time to be an artist. Weeklies like The Boston Phoenix are folding, laying off writers, photographers, and editors. Arts funding is the first to be slashed when the economy is weak or when congress can't get their act together.
But instead of lamenting the dearth of jobs for creative types here in the Boston area, Brighton-based Kristen Mallia, a freelance graphic designer who created the logo for the Feed Brookline Drive and whose clients include Paris Creperie, 278 Harvard Street, is taking a, well, creative approach to job creation. Along with client and partner Christina Contardo, she is looking for backers on the grassroots fund-raising site Kickstarter for their new docuseries, LAUNCH. Their tagline: Have plane, need fuel.
LAUNCH is a reality series that follows four independent projects' progress over ten months, giving viewers an inside look at what it takes, soup to nuts, to bring a big idea to fruition. Think Project Runway, but without the rampant product placement and runway competition.
Mallia and Contardo are lining up interviews with both local and national celebrities to be talking heads in the series. Jennifer Glickman, a local interior designer with her own firm and Michael DePaulo, a local fashion designer with his own collection, have already signed on, with other notable names to be released soon.
The idea of a docuseries about launching a small business came to Mallia and Contardo during a typical brainstorming session. "It was around election time [in 2012] when we first started talking about this, about the economic climate and how there aren't any jobs," said Ms. Mallia, 32, by phone. "For creative types it's even harder. We thought, why not follow several projects being launched successfully by proactive citizens as an inspiration for others?"
Ms. Mallia said, "We hadn't seen anything on TV that focuses on regular Bostonians. Now there's Donnie Wahlberg's show Boston's Finest and [the new A&E series] Southie Rules. But it's cool to have something that's serious and about the small business culture here."
If the idea of a series about creating jobs that creates its own jobs sounds a little Meta, there's a reason. Ms. Mallia hopes that the project will generate multiple creative jobs—for DIYers, producers, promoters, musicians, etc. In particular they hope to help groups who have found the job market especially daunting, like veterans and recent college graduates.
Ms. Maliia knows a thing about creating her own opportunities in a tight market. She struggled to make a living as a freelance graphic designer while working at a coffee shop. It's only recently that she's been able to make her business her full-time job.
According to their Kickstarter page, one story thread will revolve around a budding recording artist leading up to their August performance at a music festival at the Lakes Region Casino in Belmont, NH. Scenes will be shot in Boston, NYC, Belmont and Laconia, NH, and Charlton, MA. The goal is to wrap up post-production in December. As for distribution, they have interest from three major networks, but as stated on their Kickstarter page, "It was important to maintain the integrity of the 'everyone can find a place to start' mantra by pursuing an independent launch."
For Ms. Mallia, using Kickstarter to raise funds to make the docuseries is just another facet of people in the community helping each other realize their dreams. "The series is a project that creates jobs in the community, funded by community members," she said.
Kickstarter helped recording artist Amanda Palmer break from her major record label and fund a new album, art book, and tour. They also enabled researchers from the MIT Media Lab to successfully design an "affordable, professional 3D printer."
LAUNCH's goal is to raise $150,000 by April 6th. The minimum contribution is $1. At this writing they had 39 backers.
"It's amazing how when you try to rally support—which is the hardest thing, asking people for money—how $10 here and $10 there gets us one step closer," said Mallia.
If you'd like to donate to fund the production of LAUNCH, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1378920625/have-plane-need-fuel
--By Jennifer Campaniolo