All it took was some last-hours communication from the former Mr. Sulu to light the campfire for Camp Abercorn, a web-based video series about gay scouts that was trying to raise $100,000 on Indiegogo. The fundraising campaign was falling short of its goal with a deadline just a few hours away on Friday when Takei weighed in:
“The filmmaker – a gay Eagle Scout – shines light on the Boy Scouts of America, both what it stands for, and the controversies it still faces,” Takei wrote on his Facebook page, which has 7.4 million likes. “As a former Boy Scout myself, it pains me deeply that the BSA still boots out gay scouts when they turn 18. This web series will help educate and inform, as well as entertain. That gets a big thumbs up from me. Let’s make this happen.”
And they did, pushing the campaign from about $90,000 with nine hours left to $427 past its goal of $100,000. The series from Gray Oak Productions is based on a fictional summer camp for a group modeled after the Boy Scouts called the Compass Guides of America. It is set to star Brad Leland (Friday Night Lights, Leftovers), who also is exec producer. Other cast include Declan Michael Laird, Morgan West, Tyler Cook and Zach Louis. The series has set a production start for September, in a camp either in Northern California or Colorado.
“(Takei’s post) really helped us get over the top,” said Matt Andrews, the show’s producer and a writer withMeg Grgurich and director Jeffrey Simon. Andrews said the show’s principals had been trying for months to get Takei’s attention, even dressing as Boy Scouts and attending the Sundance premiere of his documentary To Be Takei. They met briefly with Takei there and took photos, but hadn’t heard anything else until right before Takei posted his Facebook message.
“We didn’t know we were going to get the endorsement,” Andrews said. They haven’t yet figured out how much of their fundraising could be directly attributed to Takei’s support, but raising 10 percent of a campaign’s goal in last few hours is unusual. “It was a rewarding experience, regardless.”
The Indiegogo money will finance the pilot, which may be an hour-long, Andrews said. Current plans call for seven 30-minute episodes, on an online distributor still to be determined, possibly Vimeo’s On Demand service or Pivot TV.
Takei, who’s become a huge social-media star in recent years, also has 1.3 million followers on Twitter but his strongest presence is on Facebook, where he posts frequent and funny material on pop culture and Internet memes. When he weighs in on a more serious subject, his following tends to react quickly. The single post on Camp Abercorn was liked by more than 1,300 people and received more than 120 comments.