Sunday, August 11, 2019

Legend Of The Cash Grab Dragon - NO BUYS

It's been a while since I've touched on anything related to our old buddy JDF, but I felt somewhat compelled to chime in on this one occasion.

Full disclosure: I am not the biggest fan of Jason David Frank. I'm sure in real life, he is a genuinely nice guy and I have nothing but the utmost respect for his accomplishments in his martial arts endeavors and at one point, his place as a positive role model for kids. And however you feel about the character he portrayed on that one show he's often associated with, I honestly felt the guy did a good job with the role he was given in his prime years. However, when it comes to his public persona and his overbearing ego, he just rubs me the wrong way and I try to avoid anything involving him whatsoever.

On this occasion, however, I felt like chiming in because it does touch on two particular topics that I don't care for. I won't provide links because first off, I don't want to give it too much attention beyond this one lengthy post and secondly, it's a Kickstarter campaign that had just expired and you can probably catch the online trailer on Youtube or something.

So recently, JDF and a number of former actors from that one franchise along with his buds at Bat In The Sun (makers of those short Beatdown videos pitting other people's intellectual properties against each other, much like glorified fanfiction on an unofficial level) have shot a short film and sales pitch for their potential film called Legend Of The White Dragon. It is, for all intents and purposes, their attempt at the ever so popular "grim and gritty" Power Rangers knock-off, but with the serial number filed off and without any of the elements that makes Power Rangers... well, Power Rangers.

They launched a Kickstarter for the project, asking for $500,000. They released a couple short storyboard clips to provide backstory. They got a bit of heat from folks. They got a bit of ridicule on teh Rangerborad. And at the end of the day, they failed to achieve even half their goal.

So let's talk about the short itself; it opens at the same warehouse district setting that Bat In The Sun used for most of their fight videos. I know this because I've seen this set in one or two of their other videos; coincidentally also featuring our old buddy JDF... but I digress.

So... a ship comes in, a guy in armor finds JDF in rags... and you know it's JDF because of course it is. And then JDF starts fighting the guys in space marine armor and then cooler heads prevail and look, it's other PR actors like Johnny Bosch and Jason Faunt and Ciara Hanna and they want to give JDF a magic crystal that turns him into a superhero because he's the chosen one and JDF doesn't want to do it because he lost everything and then Johnny Bosch says that JDF's kid (played by JDF's actual kid, no doubt) is still alive and so JDF takes the crystal and morphs into the White Ranger... but OH WAIT, we can't call it the White Ranger because that's infringement so let's call it THE WHITE DRAGON and he goes away and you've lost me.

So basically, it's another edition of Tommy and friends. Except I've already seen it; it's called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and it recently came out on Blu-Ray. See also: Dimensions In Danger, the most recent Power Rangers team-up anniversary episode starring JDF.

Their sales pitch offers some more backstory... such as it is; about a war having been lost some time ago and the city in ruins now being called Angel Graves (you know, like Angel Grove, but...) and the heroes are no longer heroes and... again, we need JASON DOUCHEBAG FRANK to save the day and maybe give his daughter a starring role and make her the next big action star and... SHUT UP AND GIVE US YOUR MONEY! WHY AREN'T YOU GIVING US YOUR MONEY, YOU FUCKING HATERZ?! ARRGHH!!!

Anyway, I apologize for the run-on paragraphs... but I wanted to properly convey how all of this was presented to me and how I accurately interpreted it.

Now, if I can be honest, I had expected this to meet its goal. Despite the general negativity that he has garnered from a sizable number of fans in the franchise, there is also a sizable contingent of JDF fans who would follow him to the ends of the Earth and ensure that anything he does is the greatest thing on Earth. And based on that, if this had been a success, I would not have been surprised because he has that kind of fanbase that would support him on any vanity project and this would just fuel his ego even further.

One could look to the crowdfunding campaign of the Angry Video Game Nerd movie from earlier this decade as an example of a fanbase not only driving that campaign to meet its rather modest $75,000 goal, but obliterating it to garner close to 325 grand and making that movie a reality. Bare this in mind because we'll get back to it soon enough.

So when this White Ranger... excuse me, when this White Dragon campaign failed to meet its goal - let alone be the breakaway success everyone thought it was going to be - I couldn't help but smile. Now I don't wish failure on anyone. If I don't care for something, I'll just move on to something else, but otherwise offer best wishes and all that... but seeing what was going to be a JDF wankfest from the masters of JDF wankfest (with former MMPR comic writer Kyle Higgins on reserve wankfest duties) and people NOT running up to give them cash was something that made me smile, knowing that the fragile and insecure egomaniac that is JDF had suffered a rather nasty bruise.

Oh, don't worry. He'll recover soon enough. He has his loyal fans, after all. And Bat In The Sun won't be any worse for wear, either. They'll just continue to do what they usually do and this will be a thing that is forgotten... though, to be fair, there isn't any rule saying they can't try this again in the future. Perhaps tweaked into something that would get people interested - something that isn't just a glorified JDF wankfest. And if that ever happens, I will wish them nothing but the best of luck that their next attempt fares better than this did.

With that having been said... 

The Power Rangers fandom have had to endure some rather questionable crowdfunding campaigns over the past several years. Perhaps the most infamous of these being a bunch of guys getting money for a "grim and gritty" MMPR reboot fan film that got its money, took forever to produce even a couple short films, and basically the whole thing was wiped off the face of the Earth and nobody heard from these guys again as far as this project was concerned. A lot of people who invested in this project and got nothing in return were naturally angered.

And then there was The Order... a crowdfunding campaign spearheaded by former Yellow Ranger actress Karan Ashley and starring a cavalcade of former Ranger actors (and a few others) in another grim-and-gritty action project where everything is fallen into chaos and two sides are fighting for their goals and whatever... an otherwise uninteresting project that somehow got funded. And all people have gotten out of that was a graphic novel and promises that a movie is coming... eventually... one day... you'll see, kids... it'll be big... assuming anyone even mentions it these days...

And what about that one Michael Copon project where he was asking funding for a Time Force reunion film of sorts? Don't have all the details on that piece of business, but apparently, that one got its money too and yet... where's the movie? Has that even been mentioned?

People have egged on Amy Jo Johnson when she was doing the crowdfunding for her various shorts and feature length film, using the lure of a public busk in a Pink Ranger costume as incentive for getting the extra funds and even enlisting support from her fellow MMPR buddies such as David Yost and JDF. Never mind the fact that she had done a couple crowdfunders for her short films and they were also successful campaigns that released product... and the closest thing to Ranger influence was for her second short where she offered autographed scripts from her private collection. And had that project not gotten anyway, I would've participated in the egging.

But she not only achieved her crowdfunding goals, but she actually made the movie that she wanted to make and it got released. And do you know what that movie was about? In the simplest of terms possible, it was about a guy who finds out his baby girl isn't really his baby girl because his wife got herself pregnant with some college kid and so he goes off to find this college kid and punch him out. That's it.

It didn't have former Power Ranger actors doing Power Ranger things with the Power Ranger name filed off nor was it promising some "grim and gritty" bullshit pseudo-epic with shitty special effects to take away from some decent fight bits. It was a pretty low-key dramedy that touched on some rather sensitive subject matter... and it was a successful campaign that delivered the product it aimed to create. And for what it's worth, I thought it was a damn fine film, despite being something that is outside my comfort zone in regard to cinematic entertainment.

So maybe if these other projects that people have donated to - The Order, the fanfilm, or whatever else comes to mind - actually went ahead and delivered the product they promised, people wouldn't be so sour on this crowdfunding campaign, which is an investment with tremendous risk involved. It's not a pre-order system; you're sending money to aid in its creation. And there is a good chance the product you're sending money to might not come to fruition or even worse, might not be the product you were initially sold on due to being different from what was pitched or due to not being able to live up to the hype that it had generated.

The Mighty No. 9 campaign is a prime example of something that gained a lot of funds, made a lot of promises, and the end result did not quite meet expectations and in some cases, some folks are still waiting rewards that they'll probably never get. So crowdfunding, as a whole, is a tremendous risk because you're asking people to invest in a project that may or may not be made even if it gets the money... because there have been campaigns that got their money and never delivered product. The aforementioned MMPR Fan Film is the best relevant example.

This project might have overestimated what people actually want and figured that a high demand might yield big bucks. They didn't reach their half-a-million dollar goal, but they did churn a couple hundred thousand at least and had the goal been a little more modest, they probably would've achieved that goal and things would be rolling. If they had aimed for maybe half that amount, they might've made it and whatever extra funds they need, they could secure elsewhere. AVGN didn't have a high goal; they had a modest goal. And they achieved that goal and more. Blowaway campaigns where they ask for thousands of dollars and end up with a million or so are rare instances, not the commonality.

The Bat people might've believed otherwise.

Probably because they bought into the JDF hype train. Because they figured people would want the "grim-and-gritty" Power Rangers-esque story with JDF as the star vehicle and people would go crazy over it... and while there is indeed an interest among the core contingent on JDF fanboys, it wasn't an overwhelming interest. And among the larger PR fanbase, it's clear that there wasn't an interest in fueling yet another JDF sausage fest after two anniversary episodes that were pretty much that.

Hell, you needn't have seen the trailer to know what this was about; it's from Bat In The Sun, an outfit known for their JDF sausage fests. And JDF is the starring role with whatever former PR actors we could sucker into this thing. And the premise is that the world is in disarray and JDF is the one who has to save it because he's the chosen one and all the other PR alumni are total fucking losers who can't get this done, and so he saves the day and his daugter, who gets the torch to be the next big action star or whatever.

See, I already figured this whole thing out long before I even clicked Play. Why the fuck would I want or need a 90-minute movie to see this play out?

Regardless, if things like The Order or the MMPR fan film hadn't taken place, Legend Of The White Ranger (fuck, why bother?) would've been a success. But PR fans were burned by broken promises that they weren't willing to feed another project. And even so, after getting two JDF wankfests in the former of anniversary episodes and the first thirty-ish issues of MMPR written by Kyle Higgins, nobody seemed willing to feed into another blatant JDF wankfest.

Part of me feels sad that this didn't get its money and part of me is glad that that egotistical douchebag is eating a bit of that sweet humble pie.

I've said more than my fair share of this project. If they try again, I wish them all the best... but right now, I'm more than happy to put this behind me and move on to something else.

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