Soviets, swords, comics and booze: Some crowdfunded projects to check out

As Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding platforms become popular ways for creators to raise money directly from their audiences, the myth that’s resulted is that anyone can successfully fund anything — which is not always the case.
While it might be the future of content for those who already have the community to back it up, lower-profile projects seeking cash for their work are also managing to make an impact. Here are some samples of the sort of projects currently seeking funds on the Kickstarter scene, including a video game/fiction hybrid, a documentary about Calvin & Hobbes and a Soviet satire.

Sierra Zulu
The pitch: Austrian “art tech philosophy group” Monochrom seeks funds for a black sci-fi action comedy with political overtones — it’s a bit hard to explain, but here’s the plot summary:

A ragtag UN peacekeeping force operates a small camp guarding the no-man’s-land between Austria and the tiny agrarian microstate Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, the last existing bastion of the defunct Soviet Union. When an explosion occurs deep inside Soviet territory, the team is dragged into a bizarre conspiracy of industrial espionage, media madness and political intrigue. The knowledge economy? It’s about to get blown sky high…

The talent: Attached to appear in the film are Star Trek alumni Robert Picardo and Max Grodénchick, Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Amber Benson, Steve Wozniak and The Yes Men.
Perk of note: For a pledge of $23, you can adopt one frame of the film — only 2,980,770 are still available as of writing, though.
Current funding status: Over $5,400 of the $50,000 goal has been pledged. Deadline is July 30th.
A Drink With Dave: Season 2
The pitch: The production team behind the second season of Dave Holmes‘s low-key talk show seeks $30,000 to produce 80 more episodes. (Which breaks down as $375 an episode — good value for your dollar.)
The talent: In the first season of A Drink With Dave, Holmes interviewed comedians and web personalities including Rob Delaney, Michael Ian Black and Molly McAleer. For the second season of Dave Holmes’s informal talk show, folks like Paul F. Tompkins have been approached, but it “all depends on scheduling, so we can’t book anyone until the project is funded,” according to the project FAQ.
Perk of note: For a $100 pledge, “You introduce an episode AND tease the next episode. We’ll help you record a fun video or audio intro & tease, so that you’re a part of the show!”
Current funding status: About $7,800 of the $30,000 goal has been pledged. Deadline is July 11th.
Dear Mr. Watterson: A Calvin & Hobbes Documentary
The pitch: What began in 2007 as director Joel Schroeder’s documentary exploration of the iconic comic strip Calvin & Hobbes became a much bigger film after a 2010 Kickstarter campaign, which enabled the team to conduct interviews with some of the biggest names in the comics industry. Now, This campaign, according to the project listing, is “our KickFINISH Campaign, as that’s what we hope this’ll help us do: finish the film so that we can share it with all of you.” The funds raised will go towards scoring, music licensing, sound mixing and legal fees, hopefully leading to the film’s completion.
The talent: Those interviewed for the final film include Seth Green, FoxTrot creator Bill Amend, Bloom Country creator Berkeley Breathed, Rhymes With Orange creator Hilary Price and Knight Life creator Keith Knight.
Perk of note: For a $500 pledge, Schroeder writes, “I, Joel, the director of Dear Mr. Watterson, will write you a personal thank you note using a Calvin & Hobbes pad of paper I made in junior high school. And I’ll send it in an awesome homemade Calvin & Hobbes envelope.”
Current funding status: Over $72,000 has been raised, exceeding the $50,000 goal. Pledges are still being accepted, though; deadline is July 14th.
The Inn
The pitch: Steve Silverman, the creator of the award-winning web series Pretty, has teamed up with Buffy alum and Bandwagon creator Emma Caulfield for a new original thriller series.
The talent: Caulfield’s co-stars will include The Bannen Way‘s Mark Gantt, soap opera icon Denise Alexander, and others.
Perk of note: The person who makes the largest pledge will receive a personal phone call from Caulfield.
Current funding status: $880 of the $10,000 goal has been raised. Deadline is August 7th, though as the campaign is being run through Indiegogo, the project will receive all pledged funds, whether or not it meets that goal.

Neal Stephenson’s Clang
The pitch: Author Neal Stephenson has turned his attention from prose to video game development, and is spearheading a campaign to raise funds for a new sword-fighting simulator — one that accurately reflects the reality of swinging around steel. Clang will not only evolve into an open-source toolkit for others to develop their own sword-oriented games, but will also be the basis for a new fiction series, published through Amazon’s 47North imprint.
The talent: Stephenson’s the big name, but game companies Bungie and Valve are included in the project’s thanks. According to the project FAQ, Clang will be released on Valve’s Steam platform.
Perk of note: For a $10,000 pledge, not only do you get perks like multiple copies of Clang and your face on your own exclusive in-game character, but a “Gotlandic war knife based on a design by bladesmith Jeff Pringle (a wootz and pattern welding specialist). These are replicas of 8th century weapons… In those days, ‘war knife’ meant something akin to ‘short sword’ rather than ‘pocket knife.'”
Current funding status: Nearly $466,000 of the $500,000 goal has been pledged. Deadline is July 9th.
Any interesting projects you’re following? Tell us in the comments!