Thursday, 25 November 2010

Crowdfunding evolution

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Rapper Baba Brinkman, who returns to Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People for a second year running next month, is currently working on a series of videos for his peer-reviewed hip-hop album The Rap Guide to Evolution, which he performed snippets from at last year's Godless shows. Recognising the Rap Guide's potential for bringing science to a new audience, the Wellcome Trust provided a grant for the video project but, in order to bring it to completion, Baba is looking for your help. I'll let him explain:
The challenge we face now is finding additional funding to support this project. The Wellcome Trust grant is enough (barely) to film and edit the videos, but we want to take them to the next level by weaving in original animation, digital effects, and high-quality nature footage licensed from sources like the BBC. Imagine a four-minute short film, part Eminem-style rap music video, part David Attenborough-style nature documentary, illustrating themes such as the common descent of all human beings from African ancestors and the processes of natural and sexual selection that shaped our bodies and minds and the rest of nature. We are making twelve such videos, one for each song on the CD. My hope is that these videos will be used by Biology teachers the world over to make evolution accessible to their students, as well as offering an entertaining entry point into Darwin's theories for non-Scientists in general.

The solution? A new concept called "crowdfunding", which allows you to pre-buy the DVD we are making before we are finished making it, contributing to the production value and ultimately the potential impact of the finished product. Together with SPL Productions, I have partnered with a website called "Crowdfunder" to run a campaign to raise an additional £10,000 to increase the production value of these videos. If we can hit our target in 60 days, the end result will be something amazing. If we fail to hit the target, the money is all returned to the funders and we fall back on the Wellcome Trust grant, which will still be enough to complete a good finished product, just one with a lot less mojo.

If you like the project and want to support it, there are various rewards attached to different levels of funding. £10 gets you a download of the finished videos, £20 gets you a DVD, and £30 buys you immortality: we will put your photo in one of the videos, representing a branch on the human family tree.  You can also book me for a performance if you contribute enough (click the above link to find out my going rate, slightly discounted).
You can find out more on Baba's crowdfunding site, where he explains how it will all work. Here's a preview video of the project - looks like it's shaping up nicely. If you're a fan, it'd be great if you could get involved.

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