Ben Dobyns was viral before viral was a thing.
In 2000 he made videos for fun with friends from Pacific Lutheran University. Not long after, “The Gamers” was a cult sensation in the online fantasy gaming world.
“It was a viral internet hit long before YouTube,” said Dobyns from his studio in Seattle’s International District.
He and his friends were swamped with requests for a sequel. They had spent $500 of their own money and a big budget wasn’t in their future.
Twelve years later, the moviemaking landscape has changed, thanks, in great part, to Kickstarter.com, a web site where fans fund business ventures they believe in. Call it “Capitalism meets democracy in action.”
“If you like it, you can keep us going. If not, you can cancel us,” said Dobyns.
Dobyns put out a request for donations. This week, those contributions topped $400,000 - sending his cult fantasy film to legendary status. Although internet fame is fleeting.
“We were the most funded video project ever on Kickstarter…for almost 36 hours,” Dobyns said. Academy Award winner Charlie Kaufman beat them by just $300.
Dobyns believes that’s good news.
“It raises the bar for everyone out there,” he said. “There are people out there who will support people like us, and that’s important.”
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