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MakeMoreMST3K Kickstarter Rewards

Created by Joel Hodgson & Team MST3K

Looking for a
GIZMOPLEX SEASON PASS?
Get it here.

Want to grab any of our Kickstarter-exclusive rewards before they disappear forever? If it's listed below, you've still got time to pre-order now! PLEASE NOTE: The physical rewards below will not ship until at least July 2022. Digital rewards will be distributed as soon as they are ready.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

MST3K Weekly Update: Aug 16 - Sept 3, 2021
over 1 year ago – Sat, Sep 04, 2021 at 01:56:56 AM

In This Update

  •  Production News: Writing, costume creation and HURRICANES!
  •  Kickstarter News: REWARD SURVEYS HAVE BEEN SENT! More details this weekend.
  •  Reward Previews: Hoodie options, color coins + an army of snowglobes! 
  •  TONIGHT: Join us for Code Name: Diamond Head at 5pm PT/8pm ET!
  •  Tour News: Update on COVID requirements + regulations 
  •  Meet the Team: Sarah Morisano, Production Manager

 Callooh! Callay! Dear Friends! 

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for your weekly update. Lesley and Ivan here with the latest news, so let’s jump in and get started.

PRODUCTION NEWS

  •  EPISODE WRITING continues as scheduled. We're almost done with the riffs for Movie #11 and have one more week on Movie #12... and after that, we just have our triple-hosted HOLIDAY EPISODE to riff! Then, we'll work on some of the ongoing narrative sketches that span the season, add those into the individual episode scripts, and we'll be finished with writing!
  •  COSTUME CREATION is well underway, with Beez McKeever turning out some incredible new outfits for our human and robot cast members alike. We can't reveal anything about why these costumes will be needed during the new season, but we can give you a little sneak peek at the fall lineup our bots will be showcasing:
Crow, Servo and GPC dress for the [unspecified] occasion, with help from Beez!
  •  OFFICE RELOCATION: Elsewhere in production, the Alternaversal Team had a very exciting week. First, the team packed up and moved into our brand new production offices this week, where everyone has a lot more space to work with. (Photos of that coming soon.) 
  •  NATURE'S WRATH: Then, immediately after the last bin came off the moving truck on Wednesday, the remnants of Hurricane Ida set off an emergency shelter-in-place order which required the Alternaversal team to ride out dangerous winds and torrential rain in the new office. How bad was it, you ask? Well...Everybody is safe and sound, and we think power has been restored to the office... but we're told that it might be another week before the internet is working. Also...
Little bit of damage on the outer door to the new digs. Yikes!

KICKSTARTER NEWS

 1. The REWARD SURVEY has now been sent out to everyone!

That’s right, friends. As of this morning, we have now sent out email invitations to all of the #MakeMoreMST3K Reward Surveys, which will let you provide all of the information we need to prepare your rewards, including t-shirt sizes and shipping addresses. You’ll also be able to add additional Add-On Rewards to your order, if there’s something you still want.

2. Answers to ALL of your survey questions are coming in a separate update.

Stay tuned for a dedicated backer update in the next 24-48 hours, which will provide more details, as well as answers to some of the most common questions we’re getting, including:

  • What to do if you didn’t receive your reward survey
  • What to do if you think something in your survey is wrong
  • How to request an upgrade to a higher pledge level
  • How to let us know if your address changes before rewards are shipped
  • Where you can always find an up-to-date schedule for reward timing

3. We won’t start charging anyone’s credit card until NEXT FRIDAY.

If you’ve made a late pledge, increased your original pledge, upgraded specific items in your pledge rewards, or selected additional Add-On Rewards, you might have some additional balance due. If so, we are currently planning to process all of those new charges next Friday, September 10th. Until we do, you’ll be able to go back into your survey, adjust your answers, select additional add-ons, and make any other changes you need. After we collect those new charges, your survey will be “locked”, and you’ll only be able to update your shipping address.

4. The current deadline for completing your reward survey is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17.

As long as your survey is completed by Friday, September 17 at 11:59pm PT, we’ll make sure that your rewards are included in our first wave of orders and shipments. If you don’t complete your survey and settle any remaining balance by then, we’ll still do our best to accommodate you, but it’s possible that your rewards will be delayed, and that you’ll receive them in a later round of shipments. So… please try to complete your order in the next two weeks!

5. We can only help with your questions + problems if you EMAIL kickstarter@mst3k.com.

To make sure we get to everyone, we’re asking that you send all problems and requests for help through email to kickstarter@mst3k.com, so that we can track everything in one place. We’ve been doing our best to respond to comments on the MST3K forums, in Kickstarter comments and direct messages, and on social media, but it’s a lot trickier, and we don’t want your request to fall through the cracks. So, if you need ANY help with your reward survey – or you see someone else looking for help in all the wrong places – please remember:

  • Don’t panic. We’ll make sure we take care of you before the deadline!
  • Wait for the standalone update we’ll be sending about the surveys.
  • Check that email and our FAQ to make sure we haven’t answered your question.
  • If that doesn’t work, email kickstarter@mst3k.com, and be sure to let us know the email address tied to your pledge!

REWARD PREVIEWS: HOODIES, COINS + SNOWGLOBES!

1. We’ve added PULLOVER HOODIES in both shirt designs.

We weren’t planning to do this, but after last week’s update, we got a lot of requests to make the two t-shirt designs (3D MOON and GIZMOPLEX) available on hoodies as well… so, we spent the weekend pulling together the details, and you can now upgrade your shirt – or grab an Add-On Reward – to get any of three hoodie designs:

And just to prevent confusion: 

  • The GIZMOPLEX and 3D MOON hoodies are pullover and do not have anything printed on the back.
  • The MST3K COMIC hoodie is a zip-up, with designs on front and back.
  • Each hoodie is only available in a single color.

2. We have COLOR PREVIEWS of the CHALLENGE COINS!
  As we get closer to finalizing the challenge coins, they keep looking even better… so, we wanted to give you a preview of how we expect the designs to look in color on the final coins:

Please remember that challenge coins are only included with pledge levels EXPERIMENT 250 and above, and none of the reward packages include more than one challenge coin. If you want to add the individual challenge coins offered below your pledge level, you can do that in the survey for $40 each… or, if you want all of them, and don’t want to pledge at Experiment 400 or above to get them, you can add a COMPLETE SET of ALL 4 COINS as an Add-On Reward for $175.

Also, since we weren’t explicit about this: all challenge coins will come with protective plastic cases to keep them pristine. Plus, if you’ve pledged for ALL FOUR coins, you’ll also receive a collectible MST3K display box to keep them in!

3. The MUSICAL SNOWGLOBES have finished production!
  We already shared a final look at the musical snowglobe in a previous update, but we’re excited to report that production on all 4500 snowglobes is now complete, and they’re being packed up and loaded into containers for overseas shipping from China. And we’ve gotta say… seeing a ton of them lined up together is pretty exciting for us:

EVENT NEWS: MINDLESS SUMMER!

This is it... the final screening! Don’t miss out, because…

 The MINDLESS SUMMER FILM SERIES concludes TONIGHT at 5PM PT / 8PM ET, with Code Name: Diamond Head! 

For this final screening, join our stalwart host Matt McGinnis, along with cast members Emily Marsh, Tim Ryder, Baron Vaughn and Hampton Yount, for this Hawaii-based espionage TV movie, featuring actual talented actor Ian McShane!

Things kick off at 5pm PT / 8pm ET on our YouTube and Twitch channels, and as usual, if you can’t make it, we’ll leave the stream up for a week so you can watch it later.

Got questions for the cast? Drop them in our livestream open thread on the forums and they might get answered in tonight's stream!

COMMUNITY NEWS

Have you checked out the new official MST3K forums yet? Your invite is here if you’ve still not joined the party. Here are a few delicious threads from the past week:

  • Don’t miss the glittering gems in this fantastic MST3K Haiku Thread. An example, from user optiMSTie:  Troy and Rowsdower / Stealing the old codger’s food / Pondering beer sun 
  • We know what Arch Hall, Jr would do with a billion dollars, because he sang about it, but what would you do? 
  • And over in off topic, what’s your most niche fandom?
     

TIME BUBBLE TOUR NEWS

On a more somber note, we know that many of you are understandably concerned about COVID and the Delta variant and its impact on the MST3K Live tour. We are too. The entire live performance industry is working hard to figure out how to keep fans, guests, artists, crew, and venue staff as safe as possible while attending performances. Our tour will adhere to the same standards as touring Broadway shows in effect at the time of your performance.

As far as audience requirements are concerned, every theater on the tour will have its own policies. It is very likely this will mean audience members must provide proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test result taken shortly before the performance. Masks will probably be required. We want everyone to safely enjoy the show and we humbly ask that you comply with these rules, for the health and well-being of everyone around you.

If you have any questions about these requirements, we recommend that you contact your local venue directly. Thanks so much for your patience and continued enthusiasm for MST3K Live!

You can see all the currently-announced dates and theaters on our tour website at MST3KLive.com. More dates will be announced later this month — we mean it this time!

MEET THE TEAM

Each week, we’re introducing you to another member of the MST3K team. This week, it's...

Sarah Morisano, Production Manager 

1. In a sentence or two, what do you do on MST3K? As the Production Manager, I mainly function as the right hand to the Line Producer. Essentially the "numbers person," I oversee day to day operations and scheduling, pay the bills, run the payroll and track overall cost activity against our production budget.

2. What do you love most about your job? First and foremost, I love our production team — they're all such creative and kind people who make the job fun. I love math/numbers and love working alongside creatives and managing budgets. I also grew up watching MST3K from a young, formative age... It's one of the first shows I can remember watching by myself and laughing at the jokes on my own because I got them—not just because the adults around me were laughing. I was not prepared for how surreal it would be to work on the show and see how the space-sausage gets made. Pure magic.

3. Tell us a fun fact about you. Well, I'm from Staten Island, which means I was introduced to the Wu Tang Clan in elementary school by my grandmother who at the time was a coworker of Method Man's mother... She wasn't familiar with their work, but she loved Method Man's mother and suggested I check them out. Thanks, Nanny. I'm also a lifelong movie nerd and have a preternatural ability to recognize filming locations and, oddly enough, actors' voices. Years ago, I recognized Bill Paxton's voice from across a crowded restaurant and then spotted him a few tables away.  I was new to LA and still in tourist mode, so I stopped him to say hi when he was passing our table. We took a picture together which to this day I cannot find, but maybe it was supposed to be that way... I'll never forget his voice.

That’s all for this week, pals! As always, please share your feedback on the forum thread for this update, or in the comments below. Have a convivial weekend!

Your Proxies,

Lesley & Ivan

MST3K Weekly Update: August 23-27, 2021
over 1 year ago – Sat, Aug 28, 2021 at 10:41:07 PM

In This Update

  •  Production News: Writing, hiring + Virtual Set Visits!
  •  Kickstarter News: Reward surveys next week!
  •  Reward Previews: Updated T-SHIRT and HOODIE designs!
  •  TONIGHT: Catalina Caper livestream at 5pm PT / 8pm ET!
  •  Meet the Team: Jordan Fields, VP of Acquisitions

How goes it, friends?

Welcome to your Friday update. Lesley and Ivan here with the latest details and announcements, so let’s get cracking.

PRODUCTION NEWS

  •  Episode Writing: Movie 10 is finished, and Movie 11 is half-finished. And while we can’t reveal specifics this week, it sounds like Joel is getting closer to revealing the full Season 13 Lineup, so stay tuned for that.
  •  Production Hiring: While there's not a lot of interesting detail we can share yet, crew hiring is in process and several key set positions have been filled. We’ll share more about those details as things get firmed up.
  •  Virtual Set Visit Begins SEPT 10: Also, if your rewards include the VIRTUAL SET VISIT, we’ll be in touch soon about the first session, which we’re planning to hold on Friday, September 10. You’ll get a chance to observe the Writers’ Room in action as they riff one of the new shorts for Season 13, and then join a live Q&A about the MST3K writing process with several of this season’s writers.

KICKSTARTER NEWS

1. The REWARD SURVEY has not been sent out yet…
 We had a few final setbacks this week, including our main partner at BackerKit being out sick for a few days, so don’t worry: you haven’t missed anything, and no one has received their reward surveys yet. HOWEVER…

2. We’re going to START sending them next week. (For real this time.)
 As of now, it looks like we’re on track to START sending out the reward surveys next week. Again, since the system can only send about 8-10K survey invitations each day, please be patient a little bit longer: It will take us several days to send them to all 36,581 of you.

As we’ve said all along:

We will send out a SEPARATE BACKER UPDATE when all of the reward surveys have been emailed out. When we send that update, it will have instructions on how to get help if you haven't received your survey yet – so, for our sanity and yours, please wait for that update before sending any questions about your reward survey!

3. We’ve got updated APPAREL DESIGNS to share!

As promised, we want to give you a near-final look at the official #MakeMoreMST3K T-SHIRTS and HOODIES before you complete your reward surveys, so that you'll have a better idea of what your options are, and can get the threads that you'll be happiest with.

As it turns out, designing clothing is hard, because it involves so many personal preferences: some people hate wearing solid white or black clothing, and other people only like wearing black. Some people look good in colorful shirts, and others hate them. And with over 20,000 of you pledging for t-shirts, it was important to us to make sure there were enough options for you to find at least one that you'll be excited to wear. To that end, we're going to offer TWO COLOR OPTIONS for each shirt design.

Here's where we ended up:

The first design, 3D MOON, will be available in both DARK RED ("Heather Cardinal") and DARK GREY ("Dark Heather Grey") colors, and will feature an eye-popping 3D rendition of the MST3K moon that – combined with a pair of Kingavision 3D Glasses – will jump right off the shirt. This design also includes a small 3D version of the Gizmoplex logo on the back, designating you as a founding member of the Gizmoplex and a #MakeMoreMST3K backer. Also, when viewed with 3D glasses, the design will include a small additional surprise.

The second design, GIZMOPLEX, will be available in both BLACK and BLUE ("Heather Royal Blue") colors, and will feature a great vintage illustration of the First Cineplex on the Moon from production artist Mike Norton. We're still refining the artwork a little bit more, but this should give you a good sense of what to expect. And finally...

The #MakeMoreMST3K HOODIE will only be available in BLACK, and will be a zip-up design. The front features a subtle Gizmonic "G" logo, while the back features a striking black-and-white variant of the incredible comic book poster artwork that Todd Nauck created as our second Kickstarter poster, featuring all of your favorite MST3K faces. 

If your rewards already include a T-SHIRT, you can upgrade to the hoodie for an additional $40... or, if you want to get both, you can add additional t-shirts and hoodies as ADD-ON REWARDS when your reward survey arrives. So... what do you think, sirs?

EVENT NEWS: MINDLESS SUMMER!

Just two screenings left in our “Mindless Summer” film series, and one of them is today!

 The MINDLESS SUMMER FILM SERIES continues TONIGHT at 5PM PT / 8PM ET, with Catalina Caper! 

This week, join our perpetual host Matt McGinnis, along with Felicia Day, Rebecca Hanson, and Conor McGiffin, for this summertime frolic about really inept art thieves.

Things kick off at 5pm PT / 8pm ET on our YouTube and Twitch channels… and as usual, if you can’t make it, we’ll leave the stream up for a week so you can watch it later.

Got questions for the cast? Head over to the forum thread for the livestream and share them, and we might use them in tonight's event!

COMMUNITY NEWS

Have you checked out the new official MST3K forums yet? Join up here if you’re still not in the know. Here are a few delicious threads from the past week:

TIME BUBBLE TOUR NEWS

Hey, Salt Lake City: tickets are on sale

Also, the third wave of tour dates will be coming in September.

You can see all the tour updates on our tour website at MST3KLive.com. Due to the delta variant, each venue will make its own decisions about whether proof of vaccination and/or masks will be required, so check with your local theater directly if you have questions.

MEET THE TEAM

Each week, we’re introducing you to another member of the MST3K production team. This week, it's...

 JORDAN FIELDS, VP of Acquisitions at Shout! 

1. In a sentence or two, what do you do on MST3K? "For the last 16 years (even going back to when I worked at Rhino) I've been responsible for clearing the films featured in MST3K. Having produced nearly 40 DVD collections, I've been helping to identify films for the new seasons, track down rights holders and negotiate licenses."

2. What do you love most about your job? "I love the hunt. The more labyrinthine the path to the rights, the more fun. I also love helping give forgotten films a new life, thanks to MST3K."

3. Tell us a fun fact about you. "I love to play ping pong, and during Covid I've been playing on the Oculus Quest. I've gotten quite good and was hoping that my skills in the virtual space transferred to an actual table against an actual person. They did not."

That’s all, folks. But thanks as always for reading, and remember to leave your feedback and questions in the forums post for this update, or in comments below.  Have a magical weekend!

Your erstwhile correspondents,

Lesley & Ivan

MST3K Weekly Update: August 16-20, 2021
over 1 year ago – Sat, Aug 21, 2021 at 10:51:10 PM

In This Update

  • Production News: Movie rights, writing + production planning!
  • Kickstarter News: Important update on REWARD SURVEYS!
  • Reward Previews: Challenge Coin Designs! Deluxe 3D Glasses!
  • TONIGHT: Blood Waters of Dr. Z livestream at 5pm PT/8pm ET!
  • Meet the Team: Storm DiCostanzo, Writer & Musician
  • Plus: Limited time MINDLESS SUMMER MERCH!

Howdy, friends!

And welcome to this week’s Friday update. Ivan and Lesley here, with all the freshest info for the past week of progress.  Most of this week's effort was put into Lesley's in-depth update on film selection, but there are still a few new updates we can share, so... let’s get started!

PRODUCTION NEWS

  •  Movie Rights Redux: Remember how we shared that we had acquired and then lost the rights to one of the movies we had planned to feature in Season 13? Well, the roller coaster continued. On the one hand, we obtained and lost a replacement movie for the holiday special, and ran out of time to obtain a useable print of another movie we planned to riff this season... but on the other hand, we've found and locked replacements for both of those movies, and are really excited about our final selection for the holiday special. No spoilers yet, but it should be... special. 
  •  Episode Writing: We're still on schedule! Gamera vs Jiger finishes up in the Writers' Room today, and Movie #11 will go under the knife on Monday morning. And, as promised, we're still finalizing arrangements for backers whose rewards include a "Virtual Set Visit" to get a chance to watch some writing in action, and to sit down for a Q&A with some of our writers, before we wrap up all of the scripts for Season 13 in September.
  •  Production Scheduling: We're still finalizing travel plans and soundstage booking for our episode shoots in both Pennsylvania and Los Angeles. We've got time slated to shoot all of the episodes, so now we're working through all of the other stuff we'd like to shoot during production, including some surprise content for the Gizmoplex, as well as a lot of video-based rewards, like personalized videos from the cast.

KICKSTARTER NEWS

1. The REWARD SURVEY has not been sent out yet...

As Lesley mentioned last week, Ivan was under the weather for about a week, which set us back an extra week on sending the reward survey. (Sorry about that, friends. We hate to make you wait!)

That said, GOOD NEWS! Our reward survey is now undergoing final review and testing with BackerKit, and we're working to get updated previews of a few more rewards plugged in over the weekend. 

2. But we will START to send reward surveys NEXT WEEK!

As of now, we plan to start e-mailing your reward surveys out next week. HOWEVER, since the system can only send about 8-10K survey invitations each day, please be patient a little bit longer: 

It will take us several days to send them to all 36,581 of you.

So, even if you DON'T get your reward survey next week, please don't worry. It doesn't mean that you've missed it – and if you email to ask us whether you missed it, we won't be able to respond until all of the surveys have been sent out.

We will send out a SEPARATE BACKER UPDATE when all of the reward surveys have been emailed out. When we send that update, it will have instructions on how to get help if you haven't received your survey yet – so, for our sanity and yours, please wait for that update before sending any questions about your reward survey!

3. We've got an updated look at the CHALLENGE COIN DESIGNS!

Several weeks ago, we mentioned that we were working on the unique designs for each of our four CHALLENGE COIN rewards... and while we're still working on converting those designs to work within the limitations of metal and enamel coin production, we can give you a look at the general direction we've got planned!

On one side of each coin, we will be putting a shallow rendering of the MST3K MOON LOGO, which means that the moon will appear to curve up slightly and rise out of the coin:

(As you can see in this mockup, the MOON SIDE of each coin will also include a UNIQUE SERIAL NUMBER – the spot where it says "12345" – for each coin, marking each one as an original edition.)

 The PICTURE SIDE of each coin was a little trickier to figure out, because we want each coin to feel different – especially for those of you who decided to get multiple versions – but we also want each one to feel special, so that no one is disappointed with the specific design of their specific reward coin.

We spent a lot of time going through different options for this, but in the end, arrived at some enamel illustrations that we're pretty excited about, so we hope you are too:

4. Want to add the CHALLENGE COIN(S) to your pledge?

Didn't get the CHALLENGE COIN(S) but still want them? Don't worry: you'll be able to add them as Add-On Rewards in your Reward Survey when you fill it out!

In order to maintain the "collectible status" of the higher coins, all backers will have the option to add any coin below their current pledge level – so, if you're getting the "Deluxe" edition, you'll be able to add the "Backer" coin, but won't be able to add the "Set Watcher" or "VIP" editions. 

However, since we needed to cap Experiment 500 to limit the number of "Virtual Set Visit VIPs", and we know a lot of you just wanted the final challenge coin, backers in Experiment 400 will also be given the option to add the VIP EDITION coin as an Add-On Reward. 

And, no matter what level you pledged at, you'll also be able to grab the COMPLETE SET of CHALLENGE COINS as an Add-On Reward, which will get you all four coins and a custom MST3K case to keep them in. We're hoping that'll give everyone an option that feels fair, while ensuring that the VIP EDITION coin really is harder to get than the others.

5. Reward Preview: Kingavision DELUXE 3D Glasses!

Finally, one more reward preview for you. When we talked about the 3D glasses in a previous update, we asked whether you'd be interested in a new add-on reward to get a more "premium" pair of Kingavision 3D Glasses... and since the answer was an overwhelming "Yes, please!", we've made arrangements to offer them.

So, when you fill out your reward surveys, you'll now be able to add DELUXE KINGAVISION 3D GLASSES, which will look something like this:

And if you already added pairs of the BASIC 3D GLASSES as Add-On Rewards, don't worry!  You'll have a chance to upgrade to the deluxe version for a little bit more.

 EVENT NEWS: MINDLESS SUMMER! 

 We're now in the third week of our "Mindless Summer" film series, and if you haven't joined us yet, you still have a few more chances. In fact...

The MINDLESS SUMMER FILM SERIES continues TONIGHT AT 5PM PT / 8PM ET, with Blood Waters of Dr. Z! 

This week, join Matt McGinnis, along with Joel, Jonah Ray, Nate Begle and Tim Ryder for a live watch-along of science gone wrong, as a scientist turns himself into a fish monster to prove he's not dangerously unhinged. 

Catch the wave starting at 5pm PT / 8pm ET on our YouTube and Twitch channels, and – as before – we'll leave the stream up for at least a week in case you can't make it during the livestream. 

(In fact, if you missed out on the first two screenings, you can still catch up on our livestream viewings of The Horror of Party Beach and Tormented for a little longer!)

But wait: there's more! Because you demanded it...

For a very limited time, we're offering MINDLESS SUMMER MERCH

All items feature the fantastic poster artwork created by Mike Norton, emblazoned on posters, beach towels, t-shirts and hoodies, as well as water bottles, can coolers and other fun stuff

Check it out and show the world how you spent your Friday nights this August!

COMMUNITY NEWS

Have you checked out the new official MST3K forums yet? Get started here if you’re still not on board. Let us entice you with some threads from the past week:

 TIME BUBBLE TOUR NEWS 

Philadelphia tickets go on sale to the general public TODAY at 12pm ET; Pittsburgh tickets will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, August 24, at 10am ET (the backer presale continues until then).

ALSO! Salt Lake City tickets will go on backer-exclusive presale next Wednesday at 10am MT through Friday at 10am MT. The presale code is MVSGN. (No link for this one yet; keep an eye out for the public announcement next week.)

You can see all the tour updates on our tour website at MST3KLive.com. Due to the delta variant, each venue will make its own decisions about whether proof of vaccination and/or masks will be required, so check with your local theater directly if you have questions.

MEET THE TEAM

Each week, we’re introducing you to another member of the MST3K production team. This week, it's... 

Photo credit: Steve Petrucelli

Storm DiCostanzo, Writer & Musician

In a sentence or two, what do you do on MST3K?

With MST3K I'm versatile, much like the Swiss Army Cheese. But I'm probably best known for the music I write and produce along with my pal Paul Sabourin, as "Paul and Storm." Most famously (infamously?) the song "Every Country Has a Monster." I also do riff writing, riff producing, and other bits and bobs as they come up.

What do you love most about your job?

I love getting to contribute to the MST3K legacy, and working with so many other funny and talented weirdos. MST3K has been a steady presence in my life since my post-college years, and it still blows my mind that I get to be a part of it.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I once had a guitar of mine smashed to pieces by George R.R. Martin. To be fair I deserved it, even if the guitar did not.

And that’s it for this week! Thanks as always for reading. Feel free to join the discussion thread on the forums with your feedback or questions. Have an exquisite weekend, all!

Your correspondents,

Ivan & Lesley

HOW MST3K GETS MADE: Movie Selection
over 1 year ago – Sat, Aug 21, 2021 at 10:09:00 AM

Hello friends!

Welcome to the first of our in-depth explorations of the work involved in #MakingMoreMST3K.  This first update starts at the beginning, with the movie selection process. Future updates will look at the writing rooms, and various aspects of how production happens, from making costumes to filming host segments. Let’s get started, won’t we?

Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes together in layers, and at the center of every episode is the one thing that defines everything else we do: the movie itself. The first step in every new season is selecting the films to be riffed, and the process to do that has long been shrouded in mystery and speculation.

But no longer! Today we’re walking you through the first part of the selection process so you can learn how this part of production unfolds.

To get a thorough understanding, I talked to Matt McGinnis, a producer and writer on the show who wears many hats, including the first-line movie-vetting chapeau.

Where do the movies come from?

To start, Matt explains, “We get title lists of movies we think we can get the rights to. These usually come from our friends at Shout! Factory. Sometimes it’s a library of titles they already have, or titles they’re looking into acquiring. I’ll get lists and lists and lists to look through. There’s maybe three to five movies that are usable on every list. It’s slim pickings sometimes, but it always starts with us going through these lists and asking, ‘Is there anything here that can work for us?’

(For those who don’t already know, Shout! Factory are our partners in making MST3K; they helped us get the rights initially to reboot the series, and they currently distribute the show. So they’re a huge help in finding raw material.)

Matt continues, “These lists come to us without any notes or info. I look up every single movie on each list on IMDB, and read as much as I can about it. If it seems promising, I’ll try to find a screener online. Sometimes I may have to buy a DVD or Bluray; if it’s only on tape then we’re out of luck. But I look through every single title just to make sure I’m not letting any forgotten gems fall through my grasp.”

This lack of movie specificity might come as a surprise; it actually did to me as well. I guess I’d always assumed that picking each season’s movies starts with a pile of actual digital copies to watch and choose from. But that’s not what happens. The process begins with a literal written list, and all the other steps to secure an MST3K-appropriate movie — knowing that only a tiny fraction of these options will ultimately work — happen in-house, managed by Matt: “If I could tell you the number of credit card charges we have on Amazon Prime rentals alone… it’s really something, because a lot of these movies are owned by small distributors who are putting them online for like two bucks, or sometimes for free. When I know we need to evaluate possible movies, I’ll spend whole days on Amazon or YouTube just looking for stuff.”

Finding movies to watch is one step, but deciding what movies hold promise as MST3K episodes is another… and one that involves a few specific filtering passes.

Is it family-friendly? 


Because MST3K aims to be a show that whole families can enjoy together, the movies have to meet certain standards of kid-appropriateness. Matt explains, “First off, when I have my list, I look at two things: I check the keywords on IMDB, and I look for any parental advisory notes. Sometimes a movie sounds good, but then you realize, oh, this is full of nudity and horrible content that we can’t put on a TV-14 program. If I can get that sense from the IMDB page, then I know I don’t have to watch that movie, because we won’t be able to use it. But sometimes these movies are so unknown that this information isn’t out there, so I have to watch the movie anyway.”

This lack of details on long-forgotten films can be a bit of a challenge, both in terms of efficiency for sure, but also in the sense that having to watch a bunch of movies that wind up being truly irredeemably horrible is pretty exhausting: “An excellent example is when Shout Factory acquired a good portion of Roger Corman’s library. There were a lot of movies from the late 60s and early 70s, when censorship was more lax, and a lot of them I’d never heard of, and there was no information online. So you have to watch an awful, low-resolution 240p copy on YouTube and you think, ‘Holy cow, how did this get made, and why were actual people involved in it?’”

Longtime fans may be familiar with the story of how the original MST3K makers realized they needed someone to watch the movies through before buying the rights. Season two episode Sidehackers seemed like a typical biker movie until it took a shockingly violent turn, which, as the story goes, was seen for the first time by the writers in the room as they were riffing it. Sidehackers was edited to remove the traumatic scenes and still made it into the season, but this uncomfortable experience led to a system for more thorough vetting of movies before acquiring the rights to them.

This is not to say that one or two line-crossing scenes will necessarily sink a movie as a potential episode. According to Matt, “One of the movies we screened and signed for this season had a lot of nudity in it. It was nudity added after the fact — they filmed the movie and then added a bunch of nudity to it. Luckily we found a version that had only two nude scenes in it, which were completely removable, and now the movie is perfect to use on the show. So we do watch with an eye toward whether there is questionable content, and if so, can it be removed? Or, in the case of Avalanche, can it just be covered up?”

Modesty drones in Avalanche

How does the movie look and sound?

Once a movie’s appropriateness has been confirmed, there’s a whole other set of standards Matt uses to decide whether a film is a good fit for MST3K. And, counterintuitively, it’s not simply a matter of looking for a movie that’s really, really bad: “A lot of times I’m looking for a movie that has a good print. It’s one thing to watch an episode for the first time as a fan of the show. If you’re a writer and a producer on the show like we are, you have to live with this movie for several months. If it’s a hard movie to look at, you don’t want to live with it. You want it to move out and find its own place.”

“Sound is also really important; if it’s a good print but it doesn’t sound right, it’s going to be a lot harder to write. A lot of what we riff is off of dialogue, and if we can’t understand the movie, it’s not going to work. So two things I look for are clarity of sound and picture. But from there it’s kind of a free-for-all. It helps if the movie has really great — and by great I mean strange — acting. If it has a good cast, awesome; but if it doesn’t, we don’t care.”

Does the film have real riff potential?

Once we have a movie with a quality print, Matt looks at the content of the film itself. In the past, Joel has explained MST3K’s partnership with the movie with a metaphor: watching a movie on MST3K should feel like exploring a haunted house with your funniest friends. You’re walking through it, and you don’t know what you’re going to find there, so it’s a process of collaborating with the film to make a new adventure, and less a matter of simply punishing a movie for its failures. 

Matt says, “We wouldn’t want every movie to be a Manos or a Wild World of Batwoman or a Carnival Magic. Those are movies you just feel really uncomfortable about. It’s almost like the grittiness of the movie can obscure what we do. So we don’t always want that. We do want a movie that has a first, second, and third act that are easy to define and follow. Honestly, I think Reptilicus is a perfect example: It’s a decently made movie but it has enough flaws to be good for us.”

Ultimately, the goal of MST3K is to make the audience laugh. This is harder to do when the movie is mired in profound bleakness. Manos’ popularity is arguably due to its status as a superlative example of bad filmmaking; if we went looking only for films that met a similar degree of austere desolation, we could probably find them, but the show itself would certainly suffer. Manos and its ilk stand out as memorable because they are uniquely atrocious; they benefit by striking a balance with a more lighthearted Quest of the Delta Knights or a Catalina Caper or a Wizards of the Lost Kingdom. Variety is good.

Similarly, looking for movies with at least a basic three-act structure might not seem necessary, but it is. A movie without an identifiable story structure is just harder to riff. Things like running jokes rely on the viewer being able to follow the movie itself, along with the host and bots making comments on it; likewise, stuff like “Rowsdower!” is funny because we have a sense of the individual characters’ personalities, and their progress through the movie. So while we’re looking for movies that are not good, they need to be not-good within a certain matrix of watchability and comprehension.

I’ve heard from lots of MSTies over the years that sometimes their favorite episodes are ones where they actually enjoy the movie as much as what MST3K builds on top of it (there’s a thread on the forums right now about the most enjoyable MST3K movies). So movies that are simply terrible don’t always make a good fit for the show — they have to be bad in interesting ways. Matt says, “I actually really like the movie Beast of Hollow Mountain. I get invested in the story up until the giant stop-motion dinosaur shows up, and that’s when I’m like, ‘Come ON. Really??’ This season I feel like we do have a lot of really fun movies that don’t take themselves too seriously, and when they do, it’s pompous enough for us to deflate it a little.”

The anticlimactic Beast of Hollow Mountain

“There are also movies I’ve screened with Joel and been like, this might be too good. It’s cheesy, but I like what they’re doing and I can respect it. And then there are movies that are the complete opposite of that. Joel and I watched this movie called The Final Programme, which we talked about on The Flophouse podcast. It was by the same director who did The Abominable Dr Phibes, and it was very stylish, a 60s/70s modern pop art kind of aesthetic. But it was a very bleak, dreary movie at the same time, so we were like, ‘It’s bad, but it’s not our bad. It’s a bad that we can’t make work.’

“There is a thin line between a good-bad movie and a bad-bad movie. And sometimes the line is not thin, it’s a valley, in the case of some of these movies where you’ve seen the most depraved thing and you’re like ‘NO, we are NOT doing this movie, ever.’ Those were the dark days of screening movies.”

In the next in-depth update, we’ll get more information — way more information — on the process of acquiring film rights, and why it’s more complicated than you might think. Also, we'll talk more about whether fan recommendations for movies ever pan out! 

Until then, let me know if you have any other questions for Matt about movie selection in the forums thread for this update, or in comments below.

Until next time,

Lesley

MST3K Weekly Update: August 9-13, 2021
over 1 year ago – Sat, Aug 14, 2021 at 12:23:52 AM

G’Day, backers!

We’ve got a briefer-than-usual update today, as Ivan is feeling under the weather and we’re encouraging him to get some rest. So it’s just me, Lesley, as your correspondent this Friday. Let’s get to the news! 

PRODUCTION NEWS

  •  Episode Writing is Ongoing! We are still on schedule, finishing Script 7 today, and after a lot of roadblocks finding a good print of Gamera with English dubbed dialogue, riffing on that started this week. Fun fact: Our agreement doesn't allow us to make any edits to Gamera, so we need to show you ALL of the 83 minutes, which means that'll be an extra-long episode. To make up for it, the Gamera Writers' Room won't be riffing a short.
    (As an aside, I’m writing on this episode, and if I’m honest, the first couple days I was really goofily overwhelmed to be contributing to one of the jewels in the glittering MST3K Gamera crown. It’s also interesting to be working on an unedited movie; it definitely makes you appreciate the editing MST3K usually does to make certain movies less of a plod. But now you, the viewer, will get to see every fascinating minute of these rubber monster battles!)
  • Elsewhere, Joel has been on a much-needed family vacation this week, so the rest of us are holding things down and doing our best to stay on schedule.
     

KICKSTARTER NEWS

This is very much Ivan’s domain, but I wanted to let you all know that NO, the reward survey still hasn’t been sent out yet, but we are very close to launching. Watch these updates for more precise info next week.

 EVENT NEWS: SUMMER FILM SERIES 

Last Friday,  over five thousand of you joined us for the first screening in our "Mindless Summer" film series, as we watched The Horror of Party Beach. Ready for more?

The MINDLESS SUMMER FILM SERIES continues TONIGHT AT 5PM PT / 8PM ET, with Tormented! 

Join Matt McGinnis, along with Rebecca Hanson, Conor McGiffin, and Yvonne Freese for this seaside ghost story. The event begins at 5pm PT / 8pm ET on our YouTube and Twitch channels. If you can’t make it, we’ll leave the stream up for a week so you can watch it later. Hope to see you there. Tom Stewart killed me! 

ALSO! Our pals at RiffTrax — Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett — are heading back to the big screen, with an all-new LIVE performance of a MSTie favorite: Hobgoblins! They'll be broadcasting to over 700 theaters across the U.S. this Tuesday, August 17th. Visit Rifftrax.com to find a participating cinema near you!  

Join them, won't we? 

COMMUNITY NEWS

Over on the forums we’ve got some new guidelines to replace the boilerplate language that was there before. Please give them a read, and as always, we invite you to join us if you haven’t already done so. To entice you, check out these topics from the past week:

TIME BUBBLE TOUR NEWS

Special to Pennsylvania MSTies: tickets to the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh shows will go on special backer presale starting on Wednesday, August 18. The presale code remains the same: MVSGN.

As always, find all the current tour info at MST3KLive.com. A few more dates will be added in the coming weeks.

MEET THE TEAM

Each week, we’re introducing you to another member of the MST3K production team. This week, it's...

 MARY CHRISTEN, Writer 

  In a sentence or two, what do you do on MST3K? 

I’ve been a writer on the show since 2013, the pre-Season 11 days. I get to watch bad movies and write riffs (or as they should be pluralized, “rives“...have I made that joke before? I feel like I have...) and sometimes I get to write a sketch or help develop an invention exchange. In Season 11 I even got to make a couple props (spoiler: that Cubist Tom Servo self-portrait from The Beast of Hollow Mountain wasn’t actually painted by him).

What do you love most about your job? 

Getting to meet and work with the other writers since they’re all crazy geniuses (genii). We’re all life-long fans of the show, and since MST fans are always the nicest people, naturally MST writers are the nicest writers.

Tell us a fun fact about you. 

I make videos of insects and spiders and set them to 8-bit sounding music I compose. Is that fun? It’s definitely a fact.

That’s all for us this week. As always, please do join us on the dedicated forum thread to discuss this update, or leave your comments below. We hope to see you at tonight’s Mindless Summer screening, but otherwise, have a magnificent weekend.

Your pal,

Lesley