[UPDATE] - Challenge videos in the Updates section!
For the month of April, I am making a feature length documentary about giving up my time for whatever people are willing to bid for it. Auctioning days of my life to the highest bidders. I will undertake whatever (legal) task, work or challenge set to me. This campaign is to fund the creation of the documentary, to allow you all to see what happens.
Firstly, a bit of information about myself; I went to a good school, good university and feel very lucky in the grand scheme of things. I spent a decent period of time as a salesman, longer as a croupier, and even longer pursuing my ambition of becoming a professional actor and comedian. I currently appear in an improvisational comedy group called Chuckle Duster, have starred in various short and feature films, and spent three years working for Disney as a voice actor. The whole time I've been making films and theatrical productions; some of them have featured on television, and others at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
As a performer, the financial remuneration seems wildly varied. A 'well known' actor could earn hundreds of times the amount that an unknown, like myself, could earn for the same work, ignoring whether or not they could perform better or be more appropriate for a role or performance. Even my own skills are hotly up for debate. Some days I'm expected to work for free, perhaps funding my own travel to set, and other days I'm paid what seems to me to be a ridiculous figure for an hour in a recording studio. This got me thinking, why not experiment with what people are willing to pay for a day of my life; the most raw experience I can give? Here's where you come in.
You will be able to bid on me for a day. Maybe you have a stack of homework that you want completed and are willing to throw a pound at me for the task. Perhaps you want me to mow your lawns, or walk your dogs, or give a talk to your establishment on what I'm doing. Well here's your chance. This Indiegogo campaign is to fund a documentary where anyone can 'bid' for my time. As soon as the minimum budget to make the documentary is raised, I will set up an online auction where the top 22 bidders each win a day of my life in which they can ask or challenge me to do anything (within reason – I'm not going to rob a bank for you), and the whole thing will be filmed and turned into a documentary for your viewing pleasure. To clarify, this campaign covers the following costs for myself and the crew:
- Additional equipment hire
- IndieGoGo's cut
- Your rewards
No-one is being paid for the project.
How Does It Work?
This campaign is simply to fund the actual creation of the documentary. The amount we are asking for is the remainder of the budget; the bare minimum to be able to make it. This includes an estimation (since I won't know exactly what I will be asked to do) for the expenses of accommodation, food, transport and expendables (i.e. batteries to run the equipment, much of which I already own) for myself and a camera operator. Insurance, location fees, depending on where we are asked to go. Then there's the cost of production of DVD copies of the documentary, and further rewards. Ultimately, this venture is not intended to make a profit, just minimise the loss I inevitably make on undertaking it. Surely making a documentary is cheap? Yes, in some ways, but I can't expect my crew to work and travel around for a month without paying for their expenses. Any money we make over the minimum will go towards making the documentary at a higher quality. Hiring better kit, or having an extra camera operator can only do the project good.
The beauty is that by bidding, you are becoming part of the documentary. Winning will make you a part of the experience, either directly or indirectly. Do you have a business you'd like to get a bit of brand recognition? Bid for me to help out there for a day. Making an independent film that no-one knows about? Hire me as a runner, or even put me in the thing and leapfrog off of the publicity of this project. Want a cheap wedding video? Bid for me to be there in the stocks for the guests to throw fruit at! Actually, I'd prefer you didn't do that. But if you win... I would do it! (I may negotiate for toilet breaks!) Hell, if you want a professional voice actor on the cheap, this would be a good way to get one! Let's be honest, I'm expecting a tenner for a day of heavy manual labour, but hopefully we'll all learn something from the experience, and get a few laughs (probably at my expense).
A Few Rules
- 1. I have final say over whether or not what bidders are expecting of me is reasonable, and legal. i.e. If you bid for me to drink 100 pints of beer in an hour, I'm happy to attempt it, but realistically I may fall a few pints short. You are bidding for me to attempt what you are asking, not for me to achieve it, though of course I will do my absolute best. The documentary would be pretty terrible if I didn't.
- 2. Travel expenses must be factored into bids. If you are expecting me to go overseas to climb a mountain, I will refuse the task if it's going to cost me more to get there than your bid, unless of course there is money left over from the original funding goal. Like I said, I'm not trying to make a profit, just pay for the project.
- 3. The sooner you can tell me what you want me to do, even if the Indiegogo campaign hasn't finished yet, the better. If you're bidding for me to drive you to the airport at 4am, the sooner you can let me know which day your flight is, the quicker I can ensure that no two tasks clash.
Q. Why 22 days? Why not the full 30?
A. I figure 22 business days in the month, 22 days to bid for me. Realistically, I'm happy to 'work' on any day of the week, but just in case any of the tasks are located a large distance from my base, near London, I have to allow for potential travelling time.
Q. What if I just want to buy you for a day?
A. Why not grab one of these rewards to assist in funding the thing, then, when we hit our target, I'll set up the auction page, inform all of our backers, and you can bid on me. That'll give you time to think up something for me to do.
Q. What can you do?
A. I'm pretty adaptable, actually. That's why I figured this would be a good thing for me to do. Professionally, I've been a croupier (that's casino dealer), salesman, actor and comedian. I also have experience with editing books, level design for video games, French speaking, and I'm pretty good at Guitar Hero. That said, I'm willing to give pretty much anything a go, especially if it'll make the documentary more entertaining.
Q. What EXACTLY do I get for bidding for your time?
A. If you win me, you'll get control of me for a day, to do pretty much whatever you want me to do, either in person or remotely if you choose. Once the campaign is over, I'll be in touch to confirm exactly what you'd like, and we can come to an agreement over the day, but barring an act of God, or a three day trek to your location, you should get at least eight hours of James. My priority is to give you what you want, but I need to be able to give ALL winners their own day.
Q. What will you do?
A. Good question. Not that the rest of the questions aren't. Sorry questions above! I'll do pretty much anything, as long as it's both legal and realistic. On discussing this idea with friends and family about the potential things I might be asked to do, there wasn't anything that I wouldn't do for the documentary. Of course if you have any doubts as to whether I'll do something, just ask.
Q. Why am I talking in Italic?
A. Because I control this whole page! Just be glad I can't put you into Comic Sans.
Any more questions, or just to get in touch, feel free to send a message or tweet at me! @Volvi
The first challenge is to find a website that will actually let me sell my time. I have a couple of sites that have agreed to the idea, so I know it is possible, but I am now choosing which will be the best option.
This campaign is set up as a Fixed Funded campaign, so if it doesn't make its minimum costs, your pledge will be refunded to you.
Due to the nature of the project, the vast majority of the filming takes place over the month of April, with some coverage of the process leading up to the month, and a reflective denouement shortly afterwards.
Having been a filmmaker myself for over 15 years with many completed projects behind me, I am confident in my ability to complete this documentary, with the assistance of the many professionals in various sections of the film industry with whom I am in contact. In fact, even the edit will be primarily completed by myself. This also gives me a better 'eye for the edit' when shooting.
Expenses surrounding delivering perks have been researched and are factored into the amount we are asking for.
Losing footage due to memory card problems is a nightmare that no filmmaker likes to consider. To minimise the chance of this happening, at every reasonable opportunity, the footage and audio recordings will be backed up on two separate storage devices.
The concept itself is unpredictable, but still reliable. Even if someone bids £1 for a day of my life and wins, this won't ruin anything. By its nature, the film is an exploration into value and worth of our time, and if this occurs, it may even provide a more interesting look at what paying for someone's time entails. This is why travel is built into the expenses of the documentary rather than the bids themselves. Once it is shot, the cost of completion practically disappears, since I will not be 'paying myself' for my time during the shoot or for the edit.
In terms of time scale, I can only estimate when the film will be complete, but knowing the rigid structure of the shoot, I believe that Summer 2013 is a fair estimate. I intend to keep all backers up to date with all stages of the project however, in case of any delay.
Ultimately I am hoping to learn something from the experience, and create an insightful and touching feature.
Team on This Campaign: