Words by Keith Nelson, Jr.
The Internet is an increasingly volatile space, a democratized playground where every thought and opinion is given a platform. But it also allows for creativity to flourish without traditional obstacles. After nine months and over 20 million YouTube views, the amateur producers of “Money and Violence” on Cloud9TV went from relative obscurity to the main stage at Hot 97’s Summer Jam as Meek Mill showered them in adulation.
The “Money and Violence” crew put up $40,000 of their own money to shoot season one and now are ready to let the fans directly affect the quality of season two with a Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign to raise $250,000 in 31 days. However, as of the publication of this interview they have only raise 9% of that goal.
With weeks to go before the end of the Seed&Seek campaign, series creator, director and writer Moise Vernau (Rafe) along with actors Du-Dollaz (Shane), Ace (Kane) Ray (Miz) sat down with WatchLoud at the Brooklyn Tap House to discuss why fans should want to pay them for season two, frustrations with crowdfunding and Jay Z binge watching the first season and more.
WatchLOUD: Money and Violence’s season one is a huge success by any metric. People were clamoring for season two before season one even ended. Now you’re doing crowdfunding on MoneyandViolence.nyc for season 2. What made you want to do this?
Moise: As what we’ve been doing from the beginning, we’ve been trying to cater to our audience, a lot. That came from reading comments and seeing what they thought and really taking consideration to the things they’ve been asking for as far as how we were doing things. We look all over social media [and] one of the main things we see over and over again is for us to keep creative control and for us not to allow the project to be watered down. So, in order for us to do that, the one major way is for us to remain independent. Now, what a lot of people don’t realize, because of the fact we gave the first season out for free, when something’s done for free, you never really think about what the cost is to put it together or to even make it. The first season we did it totally out of pocket. What people don’t realize is, it WAS very costly for us. They’re like ‘but you guys used one camera, one mic.’ But, there is nothing you can do every day for seven months that is NOT going to be very costly when you total up all those expenses. So, due to the fact that everyone is asking for creative control and for us not to let the project get watered down and for us to keep its essence, and since their foots are on our necks for season 2, we decided the only way we can keep our creative control is for us to stay independent and allow the people the opportunity to be a great part of this movement.
So how did you guys figure out what prizes you wanted to give to those who donated money?
Kane: That decision came through the backend through management. We had our ideas as well. They basically controlled the incentives that people would receive.
Du-Dollaz: Almost everything is covered. As far down as a high-five to a repost to a cameo on the show. It goes all the way to actually spending a day with your favorite character.
So how does that Executive Producer prize work?
Moise: A lot of people are asking, ‘Does that come with a royalty credit? Does that mean I make some type of compensation?’ But, what they don’t understand is with crowdfunding, that’s a legal issue. That’s not even legal for us to give someone compensation after donating a certain amount. It’s sort of like bribery. Sort of like we’re coercing. The executive producer credit is just something to let the world know that you supported this great project.
Ray, on your Instagram you mentioned how you, Mo and DuDollaz have all these followers on social media but not as many supporting the crowdfunding. Why do you think that is?
Ray: Because a lot of times people aren’t really your supporters, they just want to be nosey. That’s just with anything. You could have a bunch of people willing to watch it for free but when it’s time to put their money where their mouth is, everybody folds.
Has it changed your view of your fanbase?
Ray: No. To be honest, I never got excited over the hype. I always knew it was just likes and followers. That’s all Instagram is to us. We don’t get caught up in the followers.
Mo: But also what I think it is too is the fact that those that we have that support us, especially when you look on the comments with the post, you see the negative comments because they stand out. But I think those that support us are very quiet and those that just want to be negative are more boisterous and more loud so they stand out more. So whereas you may have 10 positive comments and you may have two negative ones, but the negative ones are just so loud they stand out. Some may not even say that they supported. They just may give a high-five emoji or may put “100” or they may say they enjoyed the show and keep it moving. Your true supporters aren’t looking for the credit, they’re just looking for the next season and they’re like ‘I believe what these guys are doing and because of that, I’m going to support.
Will this be the final attempt trying to fund season 2 or will there be something after if you do not reach your goal?
Mo: With me, I’ll be honest with you, I either believe in faith or I believe in worry. I don’t do both. I don’t believe in Plan B’s. When I’m running with my Plan A, I concentrate on my Plan A. So, at the moment in time I couldn’t really tell you, because I’m not really entertaining the idea of this campaign not working out.
Instagram has been big for you promotion wise and I think you guys do a good job of extending the show characters on Instagram. If Ray and Shay are hanging together in real life, you’ll caption the picture with something referring to their characters, as if the show is living and breathing at all time. But with that people see that you guys are at parties and living pretty good. How do you answer to people who see this and ask ‘Why do you want money from me?’
Mo: Well –
Ray: I don’t mean to cut you off Mo, but we don’t answer them. In all reality, we gave 26 episodes, which is actually two seasons in one, we did it ourselves, so all of the hard work is paying off. We don’t pay to get in these clubs. We don’t pay for these bottles. That’s our hard work paying off. You can feel how you feel, you’re just mad it’s not you.
Mo: At the end of the day, I don’t think I need to give anyone an explanation of what I do with my life. How I see it is this. When we were paying out of our pockets to give them an episode for those seven months [on] days that the episode was 20 minutes late, there were 100 comments under my post. ‘Where’s this episode?’ You didn’t pay for it then, so that gives me the right to ask you now, ‘Where’s the payment?’ You have to understand that the sad thing with the majority of the people on the Internet and social media are very much followers and they’re bandwagon people. I saw a forum on a blog just the other day and they were saying ‘These guys are asking for money’ this and that and one of the guys said ‘Yeah, I was in the club with these guys a couple of weeks ago and one of them bought 15 bottles right in front of me.’ That’s a straight up lie. [Laughs] You understand what I’m saying? That’s why I don’t take it very seriously. This isn’t the first challenge that we’ve met. This ‘Money and Violence’ thing has never been easy. When we started from the first episode, we received the same non-positive feedback to some degree from certain people and we received hate from some people. But guess what? We stuck to the vision and kept it moving. So way before the love came, was this. Until we showed them that that doesn’t matter to us. If people think because they say this or they say that that’s going to stop us, that’s B.S. Come on, man. Looking at our track record, y’all should know that. We the ones to bet on. Trust me, we don’t lose.
I was speaking with Kane earlier about his own things he’s working on to bring in extra money to season two. Can you speak more on that Kane?
Kane: What I’m doing on my end is there’s these drinks, this guy, Drink Cup Celebrity, he’s pretty much pitching me these drinks to sell throughout the neighborhoods, the barbecues. Every box I sell, I donate X amount to the campaign. I’m trying to sell as many boxes as I can. From there we’re going to do events. We’re going to do fund raisers, maybe even a barbecue. What ever makes sense.
Mo: More than that. I want to say is that, we paid for the entire first season out of pocket so what we’re asking them to do is something we did ten-fold.
Du-Dollaz: It’s crazy, I find it funny that if you go to the movies you paying $12. You don’t go by yourself. You bring somebody with you. So you end up paying $24 for ONE movie. We not even asking you for that. We asking you for something as low as a dollar and that’s not even for the show.
Ray: You have to look at it like this. If you like the show, you pay for it. You pay for everything else. People say oh we did it for free, but you have to think about it. You want Internet service, you pay for Internet. You pay for cable. Even if you on Instagram you still have to pay for Internet. Your phone bill. You need Wi-Fi to watch the show on YouTube. You paying regardless. Stop the hate and talking negative towards [us] and we appreciate the support, because that’s what matters.