February 17th, 2011 started off just like any other day for ‘Firefly’ fans around the world; little did they know what was about to transpire. That day Entertainment Weekly interviewed our favorite Captain. During that interview EW asked Mr. Fillion, “If Castle had its series finale tomorrow, and Fox said to you and Joss, ‘We screwed up; let’s try doing Firefly again’ would you do it?” His response is what started it all!
“Yes. Yes. I would examine very closely Fox’s reasoning — I’m a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.”
A fan thought, “Hey, why take the chances with the lottery; I’d be willing to put a few bucks in support of Nathan buying the rights.” The next day, with the help of a good friend, HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com was born:
Phase 1) Generate momentum. We’re going to setup a way people can pledge funding towards the mission of putting the rights to Firefly back into the hands of people who care about it. Since Nathan said he’d be game to be those hands, we’re going to watch for …
Phase 2) Nathan chimes in towards us and approves the effort. At that point, it’s a real mission and we’ll switch into….
Phase 3) We’ll setup a way for the funding to be collected into a Non-Profit Organization. We’ll then want everyone to make good on their pledge and contribute.”
The founders were not alone. Support started flowing in from all corners of the web; the initial Word press site crashed with all the traffic and the Facebook wall moved so fast it was almost impossible to keep up with.
In the week that followed, everyone waited with eager anticipation for the pledge system to be set up, all the while ideas of how to get our beloved show back on the air were suggested one after another. Mr. Fillion and the rest of the cast were bombarded with tweets asking their thoughts on HNBF. Jane Espensen, Jose Molina, and Jewel Staite all tweeted support towards Nathan Fillion, saying they’d all be on board if Serenity flew once more.
On day seven, which seemed like weeks for the 70K+ fans that were refreshing the page every couple seconds, in hopes of some news on the plan. Soon, an update was posted. This update made it clear that Nathan was most likely joking. The concept being that when a dollar amount of what fans are ready to spend in support of ‘Firefly’, HNBF would become serious and hopefully attract Mr. Whedon and Mr. Fillion to re think fan-funded projects. The final part of the update was that with the pledge system, there would be an option to give a percentage of your pledge to charity, should the project fail to bring ‘Firefly’ back. This did not go over well with a few vocal fans. To make matters worse, Mr. Fillion’s comment on the campaign came.
“It’s beautiful to dream of more Firefly, but PLEASE DON’T SEND ANY MONEY. Just keep being great Browncoats, which you are!”
Some fans took that as a direct message to stop the plan all together, others took it as a coded message to “misbehave”, citing the episode ‘Out of Gas’.
Two days later came the next update, to let every one know that the Big Damn Plan was being worked on by the new team and the pledge system would soon be up. Along with that update was the info for Browncoats:Redemption (BC:R) and the suggestion that while everyone waits, they should check them out and support another fan run ‘Firefly’ project. Overnight. over 340 fans donated towards the project and raised $10,000+ in a single day (total, as of this writing, has expanded to over $17,000). Many fans felt they were being scammed at this point, as if they were being given the ‘ole switcher-woo’. An update to address these concerns and those about the anonymity was posted a few days later, albeit a tad to late; the comment battles had already waged.
Amidst the waging war over BC:R in the previous post the pledge system was finally up, in line with Day 10 and 100,000 fans on the Facebook page. The pledge numbers rose like clockwork, with the occasional phony pledge that was quickly removed.
Two weeks into the campaign, another interview with Nathan Fillion is done. He clearly states to the fans do not send money to a website and that ‘Firefly’ was a very expensive show costing over a million dollars an episode. Soon after an update was posted to acknowledge Mr. Fillion’s comments, and stating that it is understood that this is a massive undertaking that will take determination, perseverance, and faith to accomplish.
On March 6th, The Big Damn plan was revealed!
“1. The idea here is to create a limited partnership to be owned by the fans. Anyone who invests in the company has a voice.
2. The purpose of this partnership will be to enable what everyone has been hoping for all these years: the production and distribution of more of our favorite show. Obviously, there are a lot of things to figure out before we actually get to that point.
3. We’re going to create a system through which anyone can invest in the organization. If we can’t raise enough money, or if we can’t acquire the rights we’re after, we return the remaining funds. No hassle, no questions, no worries. There might be expenses like hiring a veteran negotiator, but we’re going to keep expenses minimal. We’re fans and will be investing too, so we will make it as safe an investment as we can for all involved. “
The Plan was well received by most of the Fans and the pledge numbers continued to rise. Then late March 7th, over 100,000 hearts sank with one tweet. Through Joss Whedon’s sister in-law, the Whedon team expressed that they did not support HNBF (later clarified to express uninvolvement).
As promised since the start, the plan would not move ahead without support from Mr. Fillion or Mr. Whedon, the Big Damn Plan was shutdown. HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com was locked down and all continued communication was directed over to the Facebook page. Once the Pledge hit over $1,000,000 dollars at an average of just over $85 per pledge it was also locked down.
In an amazing show of selflessness many fans donated all or a portion of what they would have pledged to Kids Need to Read in honor of Nathan Fillion. In the next few weeks over $3000 was raised! The days following at the Facebook page made it clear that the fans were not ready to give up on their dream. Many pleasant conversations arose, and the Facebook page came to be a peaceful place for ‘Firefly’ to gather and discuss ways to show their support.
The final act of HNBF (as a page) was to create a design contest for Unstoppable Signals. The winning designs have been placed on various “Signal Gear”. The proceeds of all merchandise sold is donated to Kids Need to Read and can be ordered right here through the new home of Unstoppable Signals.