Jeff Schimmel relaunches Kickstarter tribute to Robert Schimmel, this time as an eBook

Not all Kickstarters are created equal.

While “The Veronica Mars Movie Project” by the TV show’s creator, Rob Thomas, and Hollywood studio Warner Bros. roped in its $2 million goal from eager private citizens within a day — and more than $3.7 million in its first week on Kickstarter from 56,777 backers and counting — other potential films from smaller and independent filmmakers weren’t so fortunate.

Hitting closest to home for the comedy community: A planned documentary about the late Robert Schimmel. “Leave ‘Em Laughing” didn’t, earning only $13,133 toward its target of $350,000 by March 15.

Jeff Schimmel relaunched a Kickstarter tribute for his brother, Robert, last night — this time, making “Leave ‘Em Laughing” an interactive eBook. The new goal is $14,250. Target date: April 18.

Schimmel told friends and fans last night: “IF you are a fan or friend of my brother, Bob, or someone who was inspired by him, or a fellow comic who liked him – PLEASE help with our tribute AND share your personal story.”

He told The Comic’s Comic that “big backers” from cable TV and elsewhere who had worked with Robert Schimmel during his life and career had backed away from the documentary. “We had backers who bailed out, but no one can stop this version,” Jeff Schimmel told me.

Steven Feinartz, who directed The Bitter Buddha documentary on comedian Eddie Pepitone, used his own money and maxed out his credit cards in the process. “We thought about doing a Kickstarter, but in the end, I thought I could raise the money through other means,” Feinartz told The Comic’s Comic. His other means eventually meant family, friends, a fund-raising stand-up comedy show with other comedians lending their stage time to attract donations and “a lot of favors.” That documentary cost $150,000, and eventually found a distribution deal to help put the film in theaters across the country.

That said, Feinartz added: “I would definitely consider using Kickstarter in the future. It’s such an incredible tool for filmmakers and all artists.”

And Jeff Schimmel didn’t leave Kickstarter when his documentary failed to reach its funding level, which he said had to be $350,000. “We didn’t want to do a lame doc with one guy following us with one camera. Our project was going to be a theatrical release, which is why it was a real budget and not some silly number,” he told The Comic’s Comic.

The costs are sizably scaled back for an eBook, and cover the making of the book plus the handling of prizes awarded to his Kickstarter contributors. A portion of the profits, moreover, will go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Roll the clip.

And here, in Jeff Schimmel’s own words, is the accompanying sales pitch:

With your help, I will be creating an interactive eBook tribute to Robert Schimmel, one that will include all that technology makes possible.  It will contain many of my own short stories, both wild and poignant, that will highlight the real Bobby Schimmel, the man his fans never had a chance to know.  This interactive eBook will also feature embedded clips from private video and audio tapes that will introduce you to events in my brother’s life that were the foundation for his career in comedy.  Video and audio clips that few outside the family have ever seen – or could even imagine.  The interactive eBook will also include photos from Robert’s life, again unseen by most.  There will even be a fun Robert Schimmel Trivia Game that even members of our family couldn’t win!

The interactive eBook will be available as a download, plus there will be a limited edition hardcover version of the project, in addition to a permanent website that will serve as a public memorial to my brother.

 A very exciting aspect of this interactive eBook is that Robert Schimmel’s friends, fans, family, and fellow comics will be able to share their own stories about their relationships and/or encounters with Robert.  For years, I have met people all over the country who have told me about their fun adventures and sincere, private talks with my brother.  He made a difference in their lives, either through comedy or camaraderie, and now they have a rare opportunity to tell those stories to the world.  Robert received countless emails from fans, and many times he shared them with me.  My goal is to have as many friends, fans, and fellow comics submit stories and photographs for others to read and see.  What better way to pay tribute to Robert than to share personal memories of the man we all adored, and what he meant to us.  (Of course, stories will be subject to editing and final approval by the author, but in keeping with Robert’s sensibilities, strict censorship standards for language will not necessarily be applied!)  Sometimes, it’s impossible to tell a Robert Schimmel story without telling it the way it was.

So. Go! Donate! Leave ‘Em Laughing Interactive eBook Tribute to Robert Schimmel

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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