NOV 12: ANSWERS TO 5 BIG QUESTIONS • Exactly how Joel will use the Kickstarter funds.. • Why the old cast and writers haven't signed on... yet. • Why a new cast is so important for the next season!
Hello, People of Earth.
Welcome! I'm Joel Hodgson.
Once upon a time, a television series called MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 was born. We debuted on Minneapolis' KTMA, local television, on Thanksgiving Day 1988, as the world was in the final throes of Teddy Ruxpin-mania. That was almost thirty years ago, but for some reason, people still seem to like the show – it’s a mitzvah!
Our show has had a long, strange run. Across a UHF channel, a cable network, cancellation, a feature film, then another cable network, the show lasted for 12 years, two generations of hosts and puppeteers, 2 Emmy nominations and a total of 197 episodes before we got canceled again for good in 1999. Sadly, it was just as Prince predicted.
But maybe that's not where it all ends.
Starting today, we finally get a chance to bring back MST3K.
With your help, we can create a new season of MST3K, prove there's still an audience, and maybe even convince a network to bring us back for more.
The simplest answer is that there are a lot of cheesy movies left to riff, and a lot of people who would still enjoy watching them with us.
Plus, I think there's a place for us. Nowadays, riffing is everywhere! Many people claim that MST3K created a shift in the way people watch TV shows, and that now, as a result, the fields of entertainment have been plowed and readied for a riffing renaissance.
I mean, look at the influence it’s had... Everyone riffs on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Hell, there are ten to twelve people who are still, unironically, riffing on MySpace and Friendster.
In a world where riffing has become as common as our national pastime, baseball, it makes sense: like baseball, everyone knows how to play, but sometimes it feels good to just sit back and watch the original movie riffing team take a whack at it. And if we came back, imagine all the riffs we could make about things like Uber or Cards Against Humanity!
Also, there’s a pile of scriptural evidence in whichever sacred text that you hold dear to prove that we need more seasons of MST3K… so when you share on social media, you know you’re not going to offend anybody.
You know, I just read that last sentence... and actually, I’m pretty sure you’re going to offend everybody. But at least you can rest assured that you’ll offend everyone equally.
We do, and here's why: I think it's because MST3K is more than just movie riffing. It's a stranger and denser recipe than just saying smart aleck things to a forgotten movie, but I think this is the secret ingredient: we believed that it's easiest to survive the cheesy movie that we're living in with friends who keep us from taking it all too seriously.
Now, I don’t want to get too maudlin about it, because being too serious is the enemy of comedy. We weren't trying to send a message: job #1 was always to make a funny show. But while we were doing that, I hope we also helped show the kids that society, and the stupid things we say and do to each other, are "just a show, and you should really just relax.”
Yeah, this is what I was afraid of. Now I’m starting to sound like the Dr. Bronner's label. Next question?
The simplest answer is: until now, we couldn't bring MST3K back.
I've been thinking about ways to re-animate MST3K for over a decade... and over the last 15 years, I've met thousands of you who said that you wanted MST3K back too. But two things have finally changed that make this the right time. And I'm not talking about the legalization of marijuana or the proliferation of water jet pack use.
1. Crowdfunding gives fans the power to get what they want.
In less than two years, I've watched fans use crowdfunding to bring back Veronica Mars, Reading Rainbow and Super Troopers – all cult favorites, like us – and it made me wonder how MSTies would respond if we had the chance to return. Now we're going to find out… and then maybe LeVar Burton can finally stop acting like he’s so much better than us.
2. We had to work through some complicated legal issues.
Even though we've always wanted to bring MST3K back, it wasn't that easy. Thanks to the Last Will and Testament of one eccentric old heiress, the rights were tied up for years. It took time to work those issues out, but with the help of my friends at Shout Factory, a special chokehold I perfected in WuDang that I like to call “The Persuader,” and a night I had to spend in a haunted house as a term of the the old lady’s will, we succeeded.
This summer, we finally got all of the rights cleared up… and now, like Orpheus, we can now descend into hell to hang out with a couple of wisecracking robots.
Now we're talking!
Our Kickstarter campaign has two really important goals.
As soon as we reach our minimum goal of $2,000,000, we'll be able to make three new feature length episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But then, for each additional $1.1 million we raise, we can make three more... up to a full season of 12 episodes!
(If you're wondering why new episodes cost so much – especially the first three – keep going down the page to "HOW WE'LL USE YOUR MONEY," or take a look at the Backer Update where I explained the budget in detail.)
Here's a simple diagram to help you remember our goals:
If we can raise even more than that, I'd love to shoot some (or all) of the new season LIVE in front of an audience – and maybe even stream the show live on the internet! (Oh yeah: I just saw your eyes light up.)
Finally, if we raise $1 BILLION – stay with me on this one – we’re going to adopt a real live teenage boy and “Truman Show” him into believing he is the Pumaman!
Hear us out, because this goal is just as important: we're not just crowdfunding because we need funding.
We're also doing it because we need the crowd!
If we want a lot more MST3K, we need to work together to prove that there's still an audience out there that wantsMST3K – and that this isn't all some pitiable delusion – so that we can find a network or online platform who will agree to pick up the show and keep it going… hopefully for another 200+ episodes.
Even if you can only spare $5 or $10, every extra backer helps us send a message to the networks: it's time to #BringBackMST3K.
Okay. It's time for me to put away the grease gun and give you your marching orders.
If any of this rings true to you, we need your help now to spread the word. Back in the day, every episode of MST3K ended with a message that encouraged fans to “Keep Circulating the Tapes.” And you guys did.
Those grassroots efforts helped MST3K find friends and fans at a time when the rest of show business didn’t quite know what to make of us. It was social media in its most primitive form... and because of you, it worked.
Today's, it's time to update that phrase for the internet age. If you're with us, this is your call to action, MSTies.
And while you're at it, you can help out even more by taking a minute to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Apparently those matter more than Nielsen ratings, now!)
Listen, I know this Kickstarter idea isn’t for everyone. Neither was Mystery Science Theater 3000. But just like MST3K itself, I know the right people will get it.
Thanks for reading. I hope you'll join us.
Dear People of the Internet,
Welcome to my first-ever Official Crow-Funding Campaign. Tee Hee!
As #1 Golden Shiny Boy Champion, I need a place to shine bright and inspire. I want to be a part of your life again, serving in both a wind-beneath-your-wings and an ASRM capacity. You know you still want me, baby, but allow me to tell you why.
First, I like POP! Figures. I intend to roll most of the money into Funko stock. Plus a few hat parties.
Also, I’d like to open up a long-overdue public dialogue on Cee-Lo Green and his fashion choices.
Then, I plan on turning at least a thousand dollars’ worth of funds into pennies, which I will press into elongated souvenir coins at theme parks and fairs.
Finally, if you are still undecided, I ask you to consider this: after years of waiting, I will finally get to decide who lives and who dies. You don’t want to be on the wrong list, do you?
I look forward to your loyal service in the many years of the New Golden Age to come.
Your Future Supreme Being, Crow T. Robot
I'm pleased to be with you again. It's been too long. Now that we're about to be a huge crowdfunding hit, I've got a few things I'd like to discuss with you.
It turns out that the last 15 years have been kind to our legacy: we're famous now. And not internet famous, either. Real famous. I have lots of female fans.
Angelina, Scarlett, and many women named Madison: I've got parts in the new show with your names on them. You can come over and we can run lines in my bungalow, and I’ll make us a curry. Then if things get “consensual,” so be it.
I’ll also pretty much be the “troubleshooter” on this Kickstarter campaign, because I understand how you think and I’m a master of social media. My god: you do realize that I’m the uncredited creator of both memes and avatars?
I’M ALSO THE FIRST SENTIENT BEING TO TYPE A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS.
What are you waiting for? Get out to the Kickstarter polls and start voting.
Yours, Tom Servo
Hey everyone. It's Joel again.
Look, I know what you're wondering, so go ahead… just say it.
Believe me, man. I get it. If it cost $2 million just to make three episodes, we'd be spending almost $700K per show! And you're right: by itself, an episode of MST3K doesn't cost nearly that much.
The real explanation is pretty simple.
1. We don't get to keep all of the money we raise on Kickstarter!
CAMPAIGN FEES: Out of the first $2,000,000, we have to pay about 8% – that's $160,000 – in fees to Kickstarter and the credit card processor.
REWARD & SHIPPING COSTS: Then, we have to design, produce, print, sort and ship all of the rewards we're offering in exchange for your pledge. (Those t-shirts aren't free, you know!) That costs about 27%, so that's another $540,000.
(We're not charging you twice for shipping, I promise. Even though Kickstarter asks you to add more for shipping, they count that money toward the total we've raised, even though we still have to spend it on, you know… shipping!)
So, out of the first $2,000,000 we raise, we have to spend $700,000 just on the costs of this Kickstarter campaign!
2. Then, we have to spend a lot on startup costs just to get the show going.
To shoot new episodes, there's a lot we'll need to do: creating concept art and designs, building sets, making models, creating costumes, adding new features to upgrade the robots, and all sorts of other things. All of that work costs money, which is why our first $2,000,000 includes $550,000 for startup costs. The good part is that every penny of that ends up on screen where you can see it.
3. But... the more episodes we make, the less each episode costs!
We have to spend the same amount up front, no matter how many episodes we make. If we only make 3 episodes, these costs increase the budget for each episode by $183K… but if we make a full 12, they only increase it by $46K each!
Anyway, once you take out the CAMPAIGN, REWARD and STARTUP COSTS, there's a lot less than $2,000,000 left. In fact, that leaves just $750K for three episodes, which – I hope – sounds a lot more reasonable than $2,000,000!
At the end of the day, our goal is to make each episode for around $250K.
To put that in perspective, that means we're spending less to create 90 minutes of MST3K than even the low-end reality shows spend to make 22 minutes! (Really makes ya think, don't it?)
Now, if you're as tired of reading as I am of writing, here are some wicked cool graphics that explain all of this:
I know not everyone will want this much explanation, but if I'm asking you to trust me with your money, I think it's important to be crystal clear about how we're using it.
Plus, $750K for each set of three episodes feels a lot better than $2,000,000.
(But man, I'd hate to try to sell a car to you people. Tough crowd!)
Hopefully by now, you're already on board. Maybe you're not even reading this. Maybe you've already made your contribution, selected your rewards, and are now rushing around the internet helping spread the good word to all of your MST3K-deprived friends!
But if you're still on the fence, maybe I can make it easier for you.
Personally, I think the most compelling reason to help out is that you want to see new episodes of MST3K… and not just for you. Think of the friends and family who you can finally introduce to the newMST3K: the one with a fresh new cast, fresh new riffs, and zesty new cheesy movies!
On the other hand, let’s not any of us forget: this is Kickstarter. I know that you know that that’s gonna mean some cool rewards for helping us out. And for a show that’s never really been about cool merch...I think we’ve finally got some!
UPDATE! We've gotten a lot of questions asking exactly what's included with each package, so we've put together another helpful little chart:
You can see all of the rewards on the right side of the page, but here are a few highlights:
Become... Part of MYSTERY SCIENCE HISTORY!
All backers – no matter what you pledge – will be invited to join the new MST3K Information Club. (It's like the old MST3K Info Club, only better. And modern. And more exclusive. And wider in the hips.) Over the next year, we'll invite you to help us rediscover MST3K and get it oiled up and running smoothly. You'll be part of the process!
Read... Our Page-Turning Insider Updates We don't just want to take your cash and walk away: we want to take your cash and talk away!
Most Kickstarter projects promise "exclusive behind-the-scenes updates," but this time, I mean it: I've already started planning things I want to share with you. It'll be like getting email from me, Crow and Servo for at least a year.
Possess... Amazing, Terrifying, Heart-Warming New MST3K Swag Before the end of the campaign, we'll start sharing the designs we're planning for some of the #BringBackMST3K swag you can get, including the OFFICIAL T-SHIRT ($50+), OFFICIAL MUG ($75+), OFFICIAL KEYCHAIN ($100+), OFFICIAL POSTER ($150), and many more. We've got several amazing artists working on this stuff. I can't wait for you to see it.
Take Control.... of the New Episodes!Bringing back MST3K isn't enough power for you? Great! For real high-rollers, we're offering all sorts of ways to be part of the episodes themselves. You can…
Steal the hearts of millions when you... APPEAR IN AN EPISODE!
Throw your weight around and… BECOME A PRODUCER!
Kickstart your new riffing career and… HELP WRITE AN EPISODE!
Immortalize your favorite inside joke with… A PERSONAL RIFF!
Own and Command... Your OWN Robot Friend!
This one is difficult for me, but I want to make sure this Kickstarter succeeds, so I'm willing to make the sacrifice: a very limited number of you can KEEP THE ACTUAL CROW and/or SERVO FEATURED IN A NEW EPISODE! They'll record a personalized video for you, and then we'll ship them off to your doorstep. When we're done shooting.
1. FOLLOW "@MST3K" ON ALL OF OUR SOCIAL CHANNELS.Be sure to follow our official accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Ask your fellow MSTies to follow them too! Tell them that those numbers have a really big impact when we start asking networks to #BringBackMST3K for more new seasons.
2. CIRCULATE THE MESSAGES AT THE END OF EACH UPDATE. At the end of each Backer Update, Crow or Servo will share a message or image that you can copy and paste to share with your friends, to help spread the word.
3. KEEP CIRCULATING THE FACTS… NICELY! I know there are still some fans out there who are skeptical about this Kickstarter, about why MST3K costs so much money and how we'll spend it, about bringing in a third cast, about who is and isn't going to be involved… So, like they say on the subway, "If you see something, say something!" If you hear fans insisting that $2MM is more than we need to make three episodes, or that the old team isn't invited back, I hope you'll share the facts with them. (Please be nice, though! The internet needs a lot more of that.)
4. JOIN (OR START) A LOCAL MST3K MEETUP GROUP. The internet is great, but sometimes riffing is even better when you can meet old (and new) friends in person! There are already a lot of MST3K groups on meetup.com, but if there's not one near you, start one now and invite your friends! We've got some events planned for this month, and we'll be calling on all the local groups to be part of them.
As long as we have the funds we need, we'll be able to produce new episodes. That part is easy! But over the last month, I've had lots of time to think about all the possible risks and challenges MST3K could face...
MAYBE THE WORLD HAS CHANGED!
MST3K has been away for a long time. YouTube didn't even exist when we shot the last episode of MST3K. (Yes, Virginia, there was a world before YouTube. People laughed more back then. Colors were brighter. There were concerts in the park.)
I've imagined many hypothetical risks:
What if no one enjoys watching B-movies anymore?
What if you don't want us talking while you do?
What if there is an unknown virus that has killed mankind's ability to enjoy a good solid ironic viewing?
What if kids playing in “Garry’s Mod” on Twitch have made the whole thing meaningless?
What if robot-shaped puppets don’t have the overwhelming cultural significance they once did?
What if our collective consciousness can’t take the excitement, and the entire world becomes a flash mob, and we all steal our own TVs?
What if all eight billion people on the planet become a single “Improv Everywhere” troupe, but don’t have anyone left to surprise?!?
As you can see, this whole endeavor is fraught with risks.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
MST3K LIVE: The "Watch Out for Snakes!" Tour UPDATE
13 days ago
– Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 12:00:32 AM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
Hello Kickstarter Brethren!
It is actually I, Lesley Kinzel, delivering a message from Joel, who is out there helping sling fresh hot riffage to all the lucky folks attending a show on the live tour. He wanted me to pass along this missive! I also have some links for you if you’ll be attending San Diego Comic-Con. Read on!
Greetings from the road!
Thank you for helping make it possible to bring MST3K live to cities across the country. It’s been an amazing two weeks since the cast and vision team first met up at Alternaversal headquarters to start rehearsing the MST3K Live: Watch Out for Snakes! touring show.
Also, special thanks to the backers who joined us in Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington DC, Columbus, and St. Louis and received us so enthusiastically on the first leg of the tour.
Your response to the new shows has been truly amazing. It’s been great talking with so many of you at the VIP meet and greets.
I know a lot of you have been wondering what the live show is like. Experiencing MST3K “in the room,” hanging out inside the Satellite of Love with Jonah and the bots for two hours, enjoying world class movie riffing with fellow MSTies… it’s “MST3K immersion” like you’ve never experienced it before.
For me the greatest impact is seeing Jonah and the bots live and in person! When they first appear after the MST3K theme song, it is truly a thrilling moment. Jonah, Hampton, and Tim are at the top of their game as movie riffers, and I’m impressed that they’re only getting better as the tour unfolds…
Three things to WATCH OUT FOR during this summer's MST3K LIVE TOUR… and only one of them is SNAKES!
30 days ago
– Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 09:09:00 PM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
First, thanks so much to all of you who took some time to share your thoughts about the new season after the last update. There were some really thoughtful suggestions and comments, and there's a lot there to unpack and respond to. I don't want to rush through all of it, or ignore it, so I probably won't be able to really dig in and respond until we finish the live tour later this summer, but once that's done, we'll get at it.
Also, speaking of the live tour, I also promised that in this update, I'd introduce you to the wonderful comedian who will be stepping into the voice of Tom Servo while we're on the road, since Baron will be staying in Los Angeles to prepare for his first child.
Finding a Replacement Servo
One important thing for you to know is that I didn't actually find the actor who will be filling in as Tom Servo myself. Just like I did when we were casting the roles of Crow and Servo for the new episodes, I put the question to the cast, because there needs to be easy, natural chemistry between the people who will be performing together.
So, when we realized Baron wouldn't be able to join us this summer, I immediately thought it would be a good idea to put the question to the group that would actually be on the road: not just me, but Jonah, Hampton and Rebecca (who will be on the tour as both Gypsy and Synthia). We started talking amongst ourselves, and honestly, a perfect candidate came up almost immediately:
It didn’t take long before everyone agreed that TIM RYDER should perform Servo with us out on the road!
Now, if Tim's name looks familiar to you, it's probably because he was already in every episode of Season 11, as one of Kinga's main Boneheads. Like the rest of our cast, he also contributed to the new season as a writer, and was one of the writers who worked on the scripts for the two new "episodes" that we'll be performing on the live tour – so he already knew the material!
And you know, even though Tim didn't get a chance to speak out loud in the new episodes (the Boneheads don't do a lot of talking), he's a really funny guy. In fact, he's a long-time alumnus of Chicago's famous "Second City" comedy troupe and a veteran of two well-known Second City ETC shows, and still appears regularly on the mainstage and in the casts of their wildly popular touring shows. So, he's already an old hand at the touring life, and as a performer and improviser, I believe Tim is simply at the top of his game.
But the most important thing, really, is that the rest of our cast feels so strongly that Tim is the right fit. When the idea first came up for Tim to step in for Baron, I pulled Jonah aside to make sure he felt it was the right fit, and he didn't hesitate. In fact, he said, "More than anything, it needs to be friends up there riffing, which makes Tim the perfect choice!" And as you probably know, Jonah was the guy who picked Baron and Hampton to begin with, so I'm happy to defer to him -- and I'm very excited about what this means for our Watch Out for Snakes team!
So yeah, if you're able to join us for the live show this summer, you'll want to watch out for Tim. And as long as you're watching out...
Did someone mention snakes?
You'll probably want to start watching out for them, too, because they're a really important (and fun!) part of the show we've been planning.
About six months ago, once we started thinking about re-riffing Eegah and using “Watch Out for Snakes” as a tour concept, I started wondering about some splashy visual applications using snakes. And, for some reason, I began to fixate on the idea of spring snakes.
If you've never heard of them, spring snakes were a novelty item from the turn of the last century, built around a coiled spring and packed tight in a can of fake peanut brittle or nuts. After all, who can resist the pleasure of opening peanuts or peanut brittle that come out of a suspicious metal can! And when they do, would they really be all that surprised when a giant snake jumped out of the can instead?
Anyway, whether they're surprising or not, spring snakes are the kind of whimsical idea that just felt right for our first Mystery Science Theater Live tour.
(They also pack small and play BIG, so they’re perfect for the road!)
So, Seth Robinson, one of my creative managers and an Associate Producer on the show, who also designed many of the props for Season 11, started to do some research, both to find out where we could get a lot of spring snakes, and also to answer the timeless question, "What exactly is the 'state of the art' when it comes to spring snakes in 2017?”
I should tell you that, to fulfill the idea I was thinking about for the show, we need close to 300 spring snakes, with at least two different lengths and diameters. I called everyone I knew in the novelty business, and then the magic business, and also ordered just about every spring snake we could still find on the web, and I'm sad to tell you: spring snakes are not what they used to be. It turns out that 2017 is not a good time to be a spring snake, my friends.
But, since we couldn't find what we were looking for "out of the can," we had to get creative! During our research, we found a very nice builder of custom magic props in Ohio who was willing to consider our request, but could only make snakes in the "traditional size", which is about 3" across and 4' long. The problem is, I also wanted a jumbo snake that would be about 8" across and 10' long -- almost 250% of the normal size. But, our friend in Ohio wouldn't have been able to make the snakes we needed in time for the tour, so we had only one choice left:
We decided to commission our own 100% custom spring snakes, manufactured to our precise and demanding specifications!
Each of the new MST3K "Watch Out for Spring Snakes" is custom-wound, in two sizes, and has a custom designed and printed "skin" on the finest quality cotton, with an unusually high thread count. Ordinary spring snakes are usually covered in cheap plastic, that feels similar to the material used to make garbage bags. So, I guess what I'm saying is, these will be some of the finest spring snakes anywhere in the world, which feels like the right thing for MST3K.
When we started designing the snake skins, we tried to base them around the iconic Japanese Koinobori Carp Streamer Kites. You might have seen them before, even if you didn't know that's what they were called, but just so you know, the kites look like this:
It's a pretty neat look, and it works well for snakeskin. But also, if you look closely at the pattern below, you’ll see Kinga had her way with them, dropping in the MST3K logo along the spine as well as her Kinga brand, the unique bonehead skull:
I'm really pleased with how they look, and I guess Kinga is too, because she let us move forward with making them. And now, our offices are warehousing over 300 of these snakes:
Some of our new spring snakes will be used for the live shows, but some are also being reserved for a very innovative (and Kinga-approved) novelty product we'll be offering at the official merch table during intermission and after each show.
So, you know, watch out for those too!
Some big news about Eegah!
Finally, one other "big" development for our live shows that you'll want to watch out for: with the help of our friends at the Cinema Preservation Alliance and The Film Detective, we have successfully located the original camera negative of the film that gave our "Watch Out for Snakes" tour its name, the infamous 1962 caveman epic, Eegah, which came from the late Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video.
If you love cheesy old movies as much as I do, this news will electrify you just as much as the improved, pristine image of Arch Hall Jr. does in the comparison below:
I'm told an original camera negative is the "holy grail" of classic film finds, so we are really just so grateful to have a fresh high definition scan from the best possible source. Simply put, our Eegah show will be the finest-looking and clearest-sounding Eegah experience available in almost 50 years!
As you can see from the shots above, this Eegah looks nothing like the version you probably remember from the original Mystery Science Theater 3000. The image is crisper, the color pops like a classic restored film and naturally, we’re hoping the vintage cheese is just that much more aromatic.
And, if you're also getting tickets for our other show, don't worry: our “Super Secret Surprise” movie is a bright and colorful film that has also been digitally scanned from a gorgeous 35mm print. So, both movies will be a polychromatic sight to behold.
Anyway, there you go: between Tim Ryder, our custom spring snakes, and a fresh new print of Eegah, you've got three more big reasons that I'm so excited about how our MST3K LIVE: WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES tour is coming together.
If you haven't already gotten tickets to come join us at your nearest show, I hope you'll still consider it, and maybe get yours right now. I'd love to have you there.
Cheers and Thanks!
Hello friends! Renowned society bot Tom Servo here with a request that you help spread the word about the live tour on Twitter and Facebook.
Here’s a suggestion you can copy-and-paste, but by all means, get creative:
I’m excited and apprehensive to #watchoutforsnakes on the #mst3klive tour this summer! Get your tickets now: http://mst3k.com/tour
A Deeper Look at MST3K LIVE! Your LAST CHANCE to Grab Add-On Rewards! PLUS: Rewards Update!
about 1 month ago
– Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 11:38:32 PM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
Joel here. I hope your summers are off to a good start, and that you've been staying out of the heat and enjoying all of the new episodes of Mystery Science Theater.
Now, I know some of you are pacing yourselves and haven't watched all of the new season yet, but I also know that some of you have already watched all of the new episodes at least a few times each… so, it seems like a good time to finally ask: what do you think, sirs?
I'd love to know what your favorite new episodes, riffs and host segments are from the new season, so I hope you'll take a moment to let me know in the comments.
(And don't forget, if you're able to watch the episodes on Netflix, please do! We're still waiting to hear whether we'll be renewed for another season, so it's important to keep reminding our partners at Netflix that you want to see more episodes – and the best way to do that is to keep watching, leave reviews on Netflix, and remind your friends to do the same.)
Anyway, I thought I'd check in and say hello. Things have been pretty busy for our whole team, as we put together all of the details and fun surprises we've got planned for this summer's MST3K LIVE tour, and Ivan's team has been hard at work preparing the last parts of your Kickstarter rewards – so, how's about some updates?
Countdown to the MST3K LIVE Tour!
Part of the reason we've been so busy is because the first shows in our "MST3K LIVE: Watch Out For Snakes!" tour are coming up fast. In just a couple weeks, we'll start our full tech and dress rehearsals, so that we have a chance to run through the show with our sets and props and costumes. And then, on July 6, we'll have our first show in Boston!
That’s right, I said it: we open in Boston! That’s about as show business as it gets.
Now, I know a lot of you are already planning to come out and join us, because the ticket sales have been really strong so far. If you've already got your tickets, I really can't thank you enough, and I can't wait to thank you in person at the show. Or, if you don't have your tickets and we'll be coming to a theater near you, I hope you'll grab some now, while you still can!
And remember, we actually have two completely different shows for the tour, and in most cities, we're doing one performance of each. Like I said last time, one of the shows will feature Eegah! – but with 100% new riffs! – and the other is a "Secret Surprise Film", which I think I'll probably end up revealing just after our first performance, since I'm sure word will get around fast. Anyway, if you have the chance to see both shows, I recommend it.
Now, before we get into the new stuff, there's one other thing I want to tell you about MST3K LIVE, just so you know exactly what's happening. If you've already watched the "teaser video" we released for the tour, you might have noticed a line that said "Robot voices subject to change without warning or notice." That's because, while we always knew this was a possibility, we didn't get "official" confirmation until this week.
But, now that we have, here's what you should know:
Baron Vaughn, our third and latest Tom Servo, will not be able to join us for the upcoming tour. But, you should also know that Baron isn't able to come on the tour for the very best possible reason: he's becoming a father!
That's right: Baron is expecting his first baby this fall. And, as you know, our live tour is six solid weeks on the road without a break. So, we all agreed that it's important for Baron to stay in LA in order to prepare for the baby's arrival. It would have been really fun to have him on the road with us, but I think this is the right thing to do, and the best way for us all to proceed.
The good news is, we also have a wonderful stand-in that our whole cast agreed was a perfect fit to voice Servo on the road, and who was actually already a writer and performer on the show in the newest season. I'll introduce you to him in the next update, but we're very excited about it, because he's a very funny – and talented – guy.
(And no, it's not Kevin Murphy.)
And don't worry: Baron will be back in his spot, riffing as Tom Servo when Season 12 starts up, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise. But for now, I hope you'll join me in congratulating him on his big news, and agree that this was the right decision for him and for MST3K LIVE.
A Sneak Peek at MST3K LIVE!
Anyway, whether you're able to join us for this summer's tour or not, I thought I could share a little "sneak peek" to help you see why I'm so excited about live tour.
The first thing to tell you is that MST3K LIVE is more than just riffing. See, the really interesting creative challenge this time around has been figuring out how we can bring the entire MST3K experience to life on stage, and to take advantage of the live format to do things we can't do in our regular episodes. So yeah, the touring show is more than just riffing a movie: it's 100% new material and riffs with a giant screen, but we'll also have brand-new sets and props, host segments and invention exchanges, and a lot of other neat surprises that I don't want to give away in advance.
But yeah, I promised a sneak peek at what we're working on, so today, I thought I'd show you the direction we're working on for the traveling set for this first edition of MST3K LIVE!
Setting the Stage
Now, in my mind there are four locations or “settings” that I feel are essential to the full "MST3K experience." So, that naturally meant we needed to translate those four settings to the stage show. One location is the Mads' base on Moon 13, but the other three – the Bridge, the Doorways and the Theater – are all parts of the Satellite of Love.
Working with my vision team at Alternaversal, we spent weeks trying to imagine just how we could accomplish this in a practical, portable form. We burned through quite a few brain cells – and quite a few dry-erase markers – in the process. (Come to think of it, maybe there's a connection between losing brain cells and dry-erase boards?)
Anyway, I’m proud to tell you, what we figured out is so elegant, I can’t quite believe it:
. If you look closely at this whiteboard sketch, it’s a hybrid design that includes a movie screen, a rear projection screen that behaves like a green screen, and a puppet stage. It also allows for video visits from Kinga and Max via “jet-screen.” That means that it can cover all of our locations in a single stage piece!
Then, after we figured out a lot of the physical mechanics of a road-worthy SOL, we created a composite mock-up to give us a better idea of the scale I was talking about:
. And, while I can't show you photos of the finished set just yet, this is a pretty neat cardboard prototype model of the set, which our set designer – Aaron Somers – built in his studio in Brooklyn:
. If you look, you'll see that Jonah and the bots actually move through the doorways on the left and right to sit on the other side of the rear projection screen, so that their silhouettes are projected live during the movies. Also, during the movie, the lights go down on the rest of the set. As you can imagine, the effect will be really cool.
Anyway, that's a little peek at the main set we're working on.
In the next update, I'll also give you an "inside look" at one of the more crazy and innovative props we've been designing, and of course, introduce you to the next guy to voice Tom Servo. And if you've got other questions about the tour – or anything – you'd like me to talk about in future updates, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Now, I've got to get back to work, but before you go, I've asked Ivan to give everyone an overdue update on how your remaining Kickstarter backer rewards are coming along. So, I'll turn the rest of this update over to him.
And remember, I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of you at the live show – so if you already got tickets, I hope you're excited… and if you've been holding out, be sure to get your tickets soon, before we run out of seats!
Cheers & Thanks,
While Joel and his team have been getting ready for the live tour, my team has also been finishing up work on your final Kickstarter rewards.
We've been in touch with a lot of you directly to answer questions and to check in about the higher-level rewards, but now we've also put together a comprehensive "Reward Status Update," telling you what else you can expect, when, and what to do if you run into problems.
If you have ANY Kickstarter reward questions, please read the rest of this update first!
2. Here's a list of what has already been sent out:
JULY 2016 - Digital Membership Card & Certificate - Digital Wallpapers & Ringtones
- Classic Bonus Episodes
- Rifftrax Bonus Rewards
- Set Visits and Set Tours
- Appear in an Episode
- Be A Producer / Be A Writer
DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017 - Official T-Shirts - Official Hoodies - Collector's Postcard Set
- Physical Membership Card & Seal
- Thank You Postcards from Set
- Advance Screening Events
APRIL 2017 - Thanks on MST3K.com - Livestream "Preview" Screening
- The First New Episode (DOWNLOAD via VHX)
- The Entire New Season (DOWNLOAD via VHX)
- Personalized Voicemail Messages
- Personalized Video Greetings
- Your Name in the End Credits - IMDB Credits
MAY 2017 - Official Sticker Sheets
- Coffee/Tiki Mugs
- Official Keychains
- MST3K Mission Patches
- Official Posters (signed + unsigned)
- "Satellite of Love" Art Prints
- Group Dinner with Joel & the Cast
- Group Dinner with Joel and Rick & Morty
JUNE 2017 - Original Crow & Servo Robot puppets - Original Invention Exchange props
If you didn't receive rewards from the list above... and you're sure that they were included with your reward level... and you're sure that you filled out your BackerKit reward survey last year... please email our Backer Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll get back to you ASAP!
3. Here's a list of what has not been sent out yet:
The Collector's Box Set: Season 11 (DVD / Blu-ray)
The Collector's VHS: Episode 1101
MST3K MIMOBOT® USB drives
Art of MST3K Wall Calendars
Bring Back MST3K: The Coffee Table Book
If you're still waiting on any of these rewards, please don't worry: we're still working on finishing up the final bonus materials for the DVD set, and designing the coffee table book. We're also still waiting for a few of the items to arrive from China, which takes awhile. Our current estimate is that all remaining rewards will be shipped out in OCTOBER 2017, but we'll let you know if there's any change in the timing.
(No matter what, we guarantee you'll have everything before the holidays, in case you're giving anything as gifts.)
4. If you have problems, let us know!
When you send out rewards to 35,000+ people, there are always going to be a few hiccups. So, if your mug broke in the mail, or one of your rewards was missing or wrong, don't worry: our Backer Support team is here to help get everything fixed up for you! Just email email@example.com, let us know what happened, and we'll get back to you ASAP.
And finally, for those of you who have been asking for a chance to order more t-shirts and posters, good news…
. While we can't make more of all of the Kickstarter rewards, we are going to do one more production round for T-SHIRTS, HOODIES, POSTERS and MIMOBOTS, and there's still time to order the CALENDAR and the COFFEE TABLE BOOK before we send them to press – but this is the absolute last chance to grab these Kickstarter exclusives:
So, if you want to get the second t-shirt design, or need to order a larger size, or wish you had gotten the #WeBroughtBackMST3K hoodie, now's your chance – but it won't last much longer, so be sure to grab your final Kickstarter rewards now!
That should cover everything, but if you've got other questions, you know how to reach us -- just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!
Til next time,
NEXT UP: The MST3K LIVE TOUR starts in July... and backers can get exclusive tickets TOMORROW at 10AM!
2 months ago
– Mon, May 15, 2017 at 11:49:04 PM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
Last week, I hinted that we had something in the works that I was hoping to tell you about soon. And now that we've got all the details worked out, I wanted you to be the first to know.
This summer, we'll hit the road and visit 29 cities as part of the official Mystery Science Theater 3000 LIVE TOUR!
See, we don't know how long it will be until we hear if Netflix wants us to make another season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but now that we're back, we want to keep things moving. In fact, we've actually been back in "the writer's room" for the last few weeks, working on the scripts for our live shows, which is one reason things haven't slowed down.
But listen, since you're the ones who brought back MST3K, I also wanted to make sure you have the chance to get tickets for the live tour before anyone else. So...
Tomorrow at 10am, I'll send a private update that will let backers get exclusive ticket access until 10pm.
Today, though, I want to tell you a little bit more about what we've got planned for the tour, and also give you a little background on why this is so important to me.
MST3K LIVE: The Watch Out for Snakes! Tour 2017
First of all, you should know that the tour actually features two separately ticketed, completely unique shows, with Jonah and the Bots riffing a different feature film for each – so if there's more than one show near you, you can actually get tickets to both and see two completely different shows!
For SHOW #1, we're revisiting (and re-riffing) one of our favorite classic MST3K films – Eegah – starring Arch Hall Jr., and Richard Kiel. But, like I said, we'll have all new riffs and sketches!
For SHOW #2, we don't want to spoil the surprise and tell you what it is, so let's just say that it's a Secret Surprise Film! All I'll tell you is that it's a truly weird sci-fi thriller, and it's never been featured on MST3K.
Got all that? Good!
Also, while these new shows will feature Jonah and the Bots, I'm happy to report that I'll be joining them on the road as emcee, producer and director – so you'll get to see me too, and I'll have a chance to tell you a little bit more about where I think MST3K might go next.
Right now, these are the shows we've got scheduled:
AUG 12 - Atlanta, GA (Eegah @ 7pm / Secret Surprise @ 10pm)
And you know, so far we've made plans to stop in just these 29 cities… but if there's enough interest, maybe we'll be able to add some more, and come to a town near you!
Don't forget: tomorrow at 10am, you'll be able to get tickets to all of these shows, exclusive to backers for 12 hours.
And, now that you know what we've got planned, I want to tell you a little bit about how we got here, and why it's so important to me.
The Benefits of an MST3K LIVE Tour
As I think I've told you before, when we launched our #BringBackMST3K Kickstarter, I had been thinking about how to bring back MST3K for quite a while. What I might not have told you yet is that I had a few different ideas about how to bring it back, and Season 11 wasn't the only one.
Actually, the idea of "Mystery Science Theater LIVE" has been on my mind for a long time, because I think that getting MST out into the "real world" actually has a lot of benefits.
Obviously, it's a great way to develop and test new ideas in real time: we can find out right away what you think, and tinker around with anything that isn't working, even experimenting with small changes from show to show. It's a little bit like "rapid prototyping" the entire show to find out what works, and what still needs more love!
It also helps our cast "fine tune" their performances, because they can get reactions in real time. This was one of the neat surprises about having a lot of backers visit us on set during production, too. I think I told you how much it helped Jonah get into his new role, to have an excited and supportive crowd on set enjoying his performance. Also, keep in mind that most of our new cast have spent a lot of time doing stand-up, so they get that whole "give-and-take" thing that happens with a live audience.
But also, on a more tribal level, doing a live show gives us all a chance to gather together in a huge theater, with hundreds of other people who are also intensely interested in hearing what a robot puppet will say while watching a cheesy old movie. That was really one of the best parts of our "Revival League Pre-Screening Tour" – getting the chance to meet so many of you in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – because there's something that's just so different and special about sharing the MST experience in "real time" with a thousand people who love it just as much as you do. I'm excited to do more of that, and for more of you to be part of it.
In a lot of ways, I also think there's something really fitting about bringing MST3K to a live stage. As many of you know, when I was a kid, I performed magic and ventriloquism, and in college, I started performing live stand-up. All of these experiences really informed the creation and vision of MST3K, so the chance to come full circle and bring it to the stage is really satisfying. And, it will also give us some amazing opportunities to have the show do things it's never done before.
Now, I know that some of you might rather we just get started on Season 12, but the truth is, there's nothing we can do to get started on more episodes yet. We don't have an official order for Season 12 yet, though we're very hopeful that it will come – especially if we all keep watching the new episodes on Netflix. But I promise, as soon as we hear anything about the next season, I'll be sure to tell you right away.
Until that happens, though, the live tour is a really wonderful way to keep expanding the world of Mystery Science Theater. So, don't think of this as a distraction from Season 12, but more like "spring training": during the off-season, the live tour will give our team a chance to keep writing and riffing, and will give our new cast more time to discover and grow into their parts. And, while it'll still be a lot of work, it'll also be – you know – FUN!
So, long story short, we think MST3K LIVE: The “Watch Out for Snakes" Tour, is going to be the movie riff jam of the year.
And remember: Tomorrow morning at 10am, you'll get first dibs on tickets, so I hope to see a lot of you later this summer!
Cheers and Thanks!
We Got Love from Lin-Manuel *and* Rotten Tomatoes! PLUS: Riffing STRANGER THINGS!
3 months ago
– Tue, May 09, 2017 at 11:42:29 PM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
Let’s try to savor this. Thanks to each of you, the re-jiggered MST3K has been in the world for almost a month, and now everyone knows what we’ve been working on for the last 18 months. I do hope you’re enjoying having it out and about on Netflix for all the world to see!
On a personal level, I’m really thrilled with how folks have responded. Also, thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement here on Kickstarter, and on Facebook and Twitter.
We’ve gotten some wonderful messages over the last few weeks, but you know, I think this might be one of the most exciting: a week after our Netflix debut, Lin-Manuel Miranda – Broadway luminary, and author of the smash hit musical Hamilton – tweeted this:
Also, I'm really happy that the press has been so kind and enthusiastic. Mostly, they seem pleased that we stayed funny, smart, didn’t go too dark or dirty and didn’t derail the brand along the way. Whew! Here's the most measurable scale, if you pay attention to this kind of thing:
Anyway, I'm not telling you all of this to brag, but because I want you to understand how important it was that we made the new season the way we did – together. Like I said from the beginning, it was really important to me that we bring the show to all of you first. And because we did, we had the freedom and the time to really do things right, and to find our way back into the world of Mystery Science Theater. So yeah:
The important thing to remember, when you see all of these good reviews and fun feedback, is that you made this possible.
I know I've said it before, but I'll never forget that, and I really can't thank you enough.
MST3K + Stranger Things
If you didn't see it yet, we teamed up with Netflix to shoot a fun little clip to celebrate the launch of the new season. As you know, we don't usually riff on great movies, but we made an exception just this once to let Jonah and the bots spend a few minutes riffing another great Netflix show, Stranger Things:
This came together pretty quickly, but I think it's a lot of fun, and I hope it'll help some new folks discover what we do on Mystery Science Theater.
Thanks, David – we're really big fans! You know, Mitchell never got that kind of response from Joe Don Baker. Maybe this means our time has finally come!
The last couple years have been an incredible (and sometimes) scary adventure. And now, thanks to you believing in the next MST3K, even more interesting things starting to happen. I’m excited to start revealing some of those developments as we go, because we've actually been busier than ever this month, getting to work on the next big chapter in the return of MST3K.
That's something I can only hint at right now, which could be a live MST3K tour. (Hint, Hint.) But listen, if everything goes according to plan, I'll be able to tell you more about that next week.
Also, there are a lot of updates to share about your Kickstarter rewards, our plan to set up a "weekly viewing schedule" for the new season, and your last chance to buy some more Add-On Rewards. So. I've asked Ivan to write a separate update, and send that to you tomorrow, so you don't miss something important.