Kickstarter campaigns we like: Video Watchdog

Video Watchdog Kickstarter OpenLogo

If you’re a true movie buff, you should be familiar with ‘Video Watchdog’ magazine. But did you know they are planning to launch a digital archive of every issue? Read on to find out how you can help make this dream a reality.


I have been a movie buff for pretty much my entire life and growing up in the 70s, especially after the success of Star Wars, I started collecting such film magazines as Cinefantastique, Cinefex, Starlog and many more (I still have boxes of mags in my attic from that period). Sometime in the 90s, I ran across a compact-in-size magazine called Video Watchdog. I was intrigued by the cover art and the lengthy film articles and reviews contained within. I liked the longer pieces about a specific film, director or actor and the plethora of reviews covering a wide range of films, from the familiar to the totally alien (to me) titles. I’ve been reading the magazine ever since. With the advent of the mobile tablet, many magazines have launched digital editions that you can enjoy anywhere without having to carry around the actual magazine. I had contacted Video Watchdog publisher Tim Lucas a few months ago about a possible digital edition, and not long after that email, low and behold there it was ready to be downloaded to my iPad.

That was a first step for the digital edition of Video Watchdog. Now, Tim and his wife Donna have launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand the app that is currently available to include not only new issues of the magazine, but a digital archive of every single issue across multiple platforms! Needless to say, this is a massive undertaking so Tim and Donna are asking fans of the magazine to help them make this dream a reality. I contacted Tim and Donna to ask them a few questions about the magazine for the newcomers out there, and what they hope to accomplish with the Kickstarter campaign.

Chuck: Tim, give our readers a little background about yourselves.

Tim: Before Video Watchdog, Donna worked as a computer software instructor in the early years of our marriage, while I was freelancing as a writer. We were married in 1974 on December 23 — the day when our Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to wrap. Hard as it is for me to believe, I’m now in my 5th decade as a professional writer; I first saw my work in print in 1972 — 41 years ago! In that time, my film reviews have appeared in dozens of magazines all over the world, including Sight & Sound, Film Comment, Cahiers du Cinema, Fangoria, Gorezone, American Cinematographer and also Cinefantastique, where I spent my first 11 years as a writer. I’m also a published novelist (Throat Sprockets, The Book of Renfield) and my fiction has appeared in other languages around the world.

CD: Where did the idea for Video Watchdog come from?

TL: In the mid-1980s, I was working for a Chicago-based magazine called Video Movies when I discovered that some of the films I was being sent on VHS for review were different to the versions of the same films I’d seen on television. I mentioned this to my editor, Matthew White, and suggested I do a column that would track these differences. Matt said, “I see … kind of a video watchdog,” and I said “No — THE Video Watchdog,” and the column was born. Video Movies became Video Times and my “Video Watchdog” column ran there for a year, at which time they folded. The column subsequently appeared as a feature in Overview (a video magazine launched by Michael Nesmith of The Monkees) and then after that in Gorezone, Fangoria‘s sister publication. They were a quarterly, and I was accumulating more information than they could use, so Donna proposed that we launch Video Watchdog as an independent newsletter. It developed quickly into a magazine and the rest is history.

CD: When did you publish the first issue?

TL: June of 1990, 60 pages in black-and-white. We later expanded to 80 pages and we’ve been full color since our 100th issue.

CD: For those unfamiliar with the magazine, describe exactly what the readers can expect.

TL: We offer intelligent coverage of movies that aren’t usually covered at any length in other film magazines, and we reflect our obsession with them. Our feature articles average 18-pages, illustrated but mostly text, whereas other magazines might give you four heavily illustrated pages. I’ve even written feature articles that were so detailed, they ran over a series of issues — for example, my overview of Andy Milligan’s career, or my early coverage of a Yugoslavian movie that Roger Corman and his crew turned into a total of five other movies, including Track of the Vampire! Each issue usually contains 10 short reviews and maybe 15 in-depth ones, attentive not only to how the film was made but how the film has been presented on video. We also feature critical coverage of book and soundtrack releases pertinent to genre cinema. We’re also not just serious; we have a sense of humor too.

CD: You’ve recently launched a digital version, so how is this new project different or what else does it offer that the current digital version doesn’t?

Donna: The Video Watchdog Digital Archive will contain digitized versions of 176 back issues — 174 regular issues as well as our two double-sized Special Editions. It will also include enhancements, such as video clips, trailers, music, slide shows, and perhaps some advertisements as they become available. Currently, the editions going forward just play on computers that support Flash, and iOS (iPad/iPhone). If we are able to fund the Digital Archive, all the editions will be playable across all platforms: computers, tablets and smartphones, on iOS, Android, Flash and Windows platforms.

CD: Give us some information about the Kickstarter campaign, when you launched, what is the end date, and your goal.

DL: The campaign runs from November 25 – December 23 at 11:00pm EST. Our goal is to raise the necessary funding to create the 176-issue Digital Archive, and make it available on all platforms and devices.

CD: You have some pretty famous faces in your video supporting your efforts. How did you get all of those people on board?

DL: We asked them!

TL: That’s right. I’d actually not had direct contact with John Landis before, but I heard he was a fan of the magazine, so I asked him to assist our campaign and he said, “Of course!” We’ve been pretty fortunate, in that we’ve had a large number of movie business luminaries as subscribers since the very beginning. We don’t have the largest circulation in the world — it’s not always easy to find us on newsstands — but people like Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino and Ernest Dickerson — who just directed that kick-ass “mid-season finale” of The Walking Dead — they know about us and never miss an issue. Joe Dante had a letter in our very first issue!

Photo Credit: Tim and Donna Lucas

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