Route 66 News

Fundraiser launched for proposed Route 66 television series

Steve Brown, host of PBS-TV’s “The Real Desert, with Steve Brown” and longtime Route 66 enthusiast Jim Conkle in recent days launched an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign for a 13-part documentary about Route 66 for the network.

Here’s the video for the campaign:

Brown and Conkle hope to raise $66,000 by June 6. The price tag sounds steep, but Brown explained why:

We need to produce it to broadcast standards in HD or better quality, with closed captioning (that alone will run $8,000) in order to meet national PBS requirements. On our recent shoot of an episode of The Real Desert, with Steve Brown, the insurance alone ran $655 – for the weekend, and that’s just for general liability.

It costs a lot to take a small crew out for two weeks or more on the road, and post production and editing, and then there’s distribution and promotion. But the end result is regional distribution with a strong likelihood of national distribution on PBS, as well as international distribution through a host of other channels, with additional content available online and on mobile platforms.

This funding, while it will not cover all of the expenses, covers the bare bones basics on the road, and allows us to recruit sponsors over the next six months to fully cover production costs. Neither Jim nor I will get paid from this support. We do hope to eventually get paid through production and distribution of the show, as well as a little from the tour accompanying it.

If we do not reach our full goal, the funding still provides us with the resources necessary to get the project underway, recruit sponsors both from the eight states along the route, as well as other corporations, foundations, and organizations.

The campaign launched Wednesday. As of noon Friday, it had raised about $430.

I’m skeptical whether Route 66 needs 13 episodes. That’s a lot of time commitment for television viewers. “Billy Connolly’s Route 66” was fewer than four hours long, for example, and I thought that was about the upper limit for that sort of project.

And in the YouTube age, short and tightly edited videos can reach millions of viewers — even more, if it goes viral — for not a lot of money.

Brown’s original plan was six episodes. If the campaign doesn’t reach its goal, many he can go back to that for a leaner look at the Mother Road.