Interview with Ken Whitman of D20 Entertainment.

One month ago I wrote a blog about d20 Entertainment’s deletion of the Kickstarter Here. As well as  the opinions of not just myself, but many others regarding  poor communication with their backers. Within hours of the blogs post I was contacted by d20 entertainment Creator Ken Whitman, he confirmed Jolly Blackburn’s comment that it was an accidental deletion. After clearing up the issue he stated that he would be happy to answer any questions I or anyone had about his project. He also mentioned that he would be open to an interview with my blog when asked.
(From my comments section of that blog post.)

    • Thank you for the update Ken, Maybe we can sit down and have an interview and touch on the trials and such of running kickstarters. Allowing you some time to get the word out for your backers and giving them some added reasurance. If you would be interested in sitting down for a chat.

With that comment I set into motion the resulting interview. It took me about a week to research and come up with a question that I wanted to ask. I thought long about how I wanted to conduct this interview. I chose this format because at its heart text-based response and Q&A between Ken and his backers has been his largest weakness. I did not choose this to exploit that very nature. But to see first hand if I would have results similar to his backers in communication back and forth between us. I then approached Ken and asked him if he was ready to work on the on the interview.

When I contacted Ken and at first he did not recall the blog or that he had agreed to the interview. After reminding him of the blog and his comments Ken was very agreeable from then on. Late Monday I set the interview up as a Google Doc. This would make much of the work much more fluid and easier hopefully speeding things along. He told me that he would finish his answers later that day. So I sent him an email of the interview so that he could access it through Google Drive and we could get things underway.

That was three weeks ago. I chose to reach out one last time in an effort to get the interview done. I informed him that I fully intended to do a blog anyway. Ken responded to me in moments . Stating that he did not see it when I sent it before, but would be glad to  do it the same day. A short time the answers were filled out, success!

The interview was done. It is worth noting that I did not ask Ken any questions about his projects or Kickstarters Pre D20E projects. Mostly because like Ken or not the key subject of issue surrounding Ken at this moment is the six current projects he is running.

NOTE: From Here My questions will be in Bold Black and noted as R.P.G. And Ken’s Responses will be in blue and noted as D20E

R.P.G.
For the benefit of those that do not know  much about you other than you are the guy that has run a bunch of  Kickstarters. Would you like to tell everyone a little about yourself and what brought you into the world of Kickstarter?

D20E
I have helped various people run kickstarters successfully over the past 4 years.   I started running my own because I am a game designer at heart.

R.P.G.
Would you share with us some of your involvement in the RPG industry outside of Kickstater? 

D20E
I started creating games in 1989. Mostly Role-playing worlds,  I produced the WWF RPG, Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards RPG, ran GEN CON for TSR, Produce Games Unplugged Magazine,  Created GROO the game.  Worked on Dark Conspiracy 2nd edition, Traveller 4th edition, Did a card game for the Three Stooges, and so-on and so-on.

R.P.G
You started Kickstarter as Ken Whitmen games. What prompted the move to become D20 Entertainment?

D20E
I have create over 50 gaming products, and to be honest I feel like I have gone as far as i can go in-game design.  I got into gaming because i love make game worlds, always thought Hollywood would discover our industry.  But they wanted characters, not game worlds. So I said, if no one cares, then i am going to care. And D20E was born.

R.P.G
In  your opinion what is the best part of utilizing kickstarter for projects ?

D20E
Freedom to create what you see in your head with very little influence from a boss, or corporation parent.  What i like best was trying to make Jolly’s vision come true.  Writing with Marc Miller. Great times!

R.P.G.
Who all makes up the D20 Entertainment Team? Is D20E  your full-time day-to-day Job or is this a project that you do on the side and work a normal 9-5 job ?

D20E
I am d20 Entertainment.  At one time there were 4 of us, but editing takes time, and funds run out.  So right now it’s me working 16 hour days 7 days a week

R.P.G.
Many of your backers including myself have criticized your level of communication across your projects. How do you feel about this ? 
Have you put much thoughts on how to improve this?

D20E
I have a set schedule now a days.   Email in the morning, shipping in the afternoon.  Editing in the evening.  Sleep, wake up and repeat.

R.P.G
What are some of the challenges in running six simultaneous projects? Why take on Six kickstaters all at once?

D20E
The challenge is juggling six projects.  When there was 4 of us, it was easier.  Now I work diligently to get each projects done.  

R.P.G.
Many Kicstaters biggest difficulty comes from Shipping. Do you feel that the staged shipping has been where most of the problems have come from ?

D20E
Absolutely, because we did not think about that during the process of the Kickstarter, and shipping rates when t up over the 18 months of production.  All of a sudden a $3,500 expense has become a $9,000.  That money had to come from somewhere.

R.P.G.
Some have said that your latest three projects were created to bankroll more funds into your other projects like KODT, Spinward Traveler and C&C. So would you tell us are the funds for each D20 project maintained separately?

D20E
Making Tv pilots and movies is my dream.   So I have funneled in extra monies from pencil dice to keep editing & producing.  I want these three projects to be the best I can do.  I want people to see what I see in my head.  So, I spend very little money on myself.  Every product I sell, every kickstarter I run, a majority goes into new and future projects.  I have my monthly expenses down to $1200, so i can keep doing this!

R.P.G.
Can you tell us about producing and Editing three short films at once. The nuances of locations and the shoots were you able to at any use one location for more than one shoot?

D20E
The pre-production and actually shooting the videos are the most fun and easiest for me to do.  I have always been good at logistics.  Editing, sound, scoring, foly… these are the things that are new to me.  I take my time to do quality, that’s why I’m running late.  Quality wins out over time, well at least in my case

R.P.G.
With Editing, Sound, Score and Folly being new to you and taking extra time. Do you fear anything like the bloopers section being left on the cutting room floor?

D20E
The Bloopers real is coming along.  There will be plenty of that stuff.  At least 20 minutes.

R.P.G. 
On that note There has been much concern over the Larry Elmore Print. Can you to clarify if it will still be a movie poster or a DVD Slipcover? I think the issue is that you have stated the Elmore print will be on the DVD.

D20E
Because we did not hit certain goals, we are reusing the 200 issue cover with a few actors involved.  Not exactly like we planned but...

R.P.G.
There was some questions by backers as to why they bought tickets to get into the show that is free. Weeks ago I had intended to ask for clarification. We now know that Ticket holders will be allowed to sit in the front two rows and will get to ask questions as well as go to an after party.  This is correct ? 

D20E
Yes Correct.

R.P.G.
To follow that up I think the question that was meant to be asked was can you give us any details on the After party. How it will be handled and such? As I know this is still a question being asked?

D20E
The after party will have an open bar and all the cast and crew are invited to attend.  It’s actually a chance to hobnob with the actors.  There will be soft drinks and finger food.

R.P.G.
We have seen as of today you now are producing Spinward Traveler in-house. What motivated this decision?

D20E
I tried to have the ships made in china, only to be disappointed in the product being shipped.  Almost 50% of the first shippers broke.  No saying anything about the Chinese shipping, but the distance does not help matters when shipping

R.P.G.
The cuthulu dice tower Kickstarter, Its video says it is in association with D20 Entertainment. And it is marked as a Coming soon item on your website. What is the level of involvement that D20 Entertainment will have in this Kickstarter? And why not just kick it as a D20 product ?

D20E
I make videos and consult with other companies.   At one time we thought that we might fund Fried Feild’s Kickstarter for him.  Fred decided to go with me just helping because i became so busy with my projects.  So other than helping him Launch and shoot the video, i have little involvement.

R.P.G.
What if any other projects might we expect to see from D20 Entertainment down the road?

D20E
My only concern is the 6 projects I am working on now.  I can barely think about  this weeks work, let alone and new projects.  I will be offering my services behind the scene of a few big Kickstarter projects, because, I have to eat.  LOL

R.P.G
With Gen Con fast approaching can you give us a status on your projects at the time of this interview. (6/2/15)

D20E
KODT, Spinward Traveller and C&C will premier at GEN CON 2015.  After the show we will be shipping out all DVDs and such.   Pencil Dice have just shipped from China and should start shipping stateside in the next 30 days

As of May 21 there had been some changes over at D20E and their kickstarter page(‘s). First Ken implemented a  website to so that he could get faster response times to issues. Stating that he would be able to reply within 72 hour to any questions with this system. Added also in the above interview Ken’s New routine. None the less there are still some very vocal backers on Kens KODT comments section. So I asked Ken

R.P.G.
Do you feel that the majority of your backers are satisfied and that it is more of an issue with a vocal few that have caused so much stir on your project? Also do you think after delivery that you will win back some of that vocal opposition ?

D20E
I am producing a quality product.  I hope it wins people over.  What i learn from the Kickstarters is don’t over promise AND do all your shipping at once!

Only a few days ago came the shocker.  After months of going to bat for Ken and offering what help he could to the many unsatisfied backers of the project. Jolly Blackburn the IP owner and creator of the very KNIGHTS of the DINNER table comic was asked by Ken to stop posting on the forum …

Jolly Blackburnon May 24

Ken Whitman has asked me to “be quiet’ here.

I’m going to try and give him some space.

It was my hope I could encourage him to come here and respond to backer complaints (which have been piling up for months with no direct response). I’m exposed to the growing frustration building here daily through emails, PM’s and by coming here and reading your comments.

I come here each day and read your comments because this project is important to me. But the backers, who turned out to fund this project are even more important to me. I don’t understand why Ken Whitman can’t spend 15 minutes a week just answering a few questions, posting real details and reassuring folks that this project is still happening.

But, as Mr. Whitman has told me many times, this is HIS project and HIS responsibility.

Fair enough. I will be at GenCon sitting in the audience with those of you who are attending eager to see the final three episodes. I’m actually optimistic about he final episodes. I was there when they were filmed. I’ve seen peeks and glimpses since. Cast and crew did an awesome job.

My issue with Mr. Whitman/d20 Entertainment has been his lack of communication and failure to address issues of missing product or product that may or may not have even shipped. A little communication would go such a long way in that regard.

That said, I will grant Ken the ‘space’ he feels he needs to prepare the episodes for the premiere. Meanwhile, I encourage anyone with a concern, question or complaint to post them HERE. As part of the permanent record for this project it just makes good sense.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — I am ROOTING for Ken Whitman. I want him to succeed. I want backers to be treated to a wonderful film known their dollars helped support the effort.

If I’ve shown disappointment here over the past year – it’s because I hate seeing questions go unanswered or complaints ignored week after week and month after month.

Ken’s a talented guy. I wouldn’t have given my nod of approval to this project if I hadn’t had faith in his talents. But I think backers deserve a little more respect and communication. If you can take their dollars you can give them a few moments of your time once a week. Would love to see you turn the mood around Ken and do just that.

Peace

How ? how do  you tell the creator of the very thing you are working on to hush.. ? My mind is simply blown away at the thought. When I asked in the interview, This was Ken’s reply.

R.P.G.
Lastly I have to ask because everyone would like to know. Can you shed any light on the reasons why you would ask Jolly Blackburn to please be quiet on the comments section of KODT kickstater 

D20E
Jolly Blackburn is a wonderful creative artist.  I appreciate him and  his wife Barbara very much.  Jolly and I don’t really speak much, so he really had no direct information to provide from me.  He was more like a lone police officer holding back a mob, so I said that he should not place himself in the position.   Once again, nice of him to offer but not that helpful.

So where does that leave us ? after the interview I looked back to D20E kickstarter page and looked over their comments section in search of any last impressions to take away from this.
I think I found it in Kens own words to one of his backers.

Thank you for your comment. When you committed to this Kickstarter you knew that the finished product was not due until August 2015. We have done our best to ship early. We have spent almost three times our original shipping budget to make Backers happy.

I will be happy to answer your questions, IF we happen to miss our AUG ’15 deadline. Until Then, I need to concentrate on work. Thank you for your understanding.

Afterthoughts. 
Well I think at this point in the game Ken is under a tremendous amount of deadline pressure. That said, I personally fear that once you get too far behind a deadline, quality is the first thing that begins to suffer. Ken has put himself in a hard position. If the quality of his projects suffers it will be said he took too much on and should have communicated better with his backers. If the project comes in on time and still is a quality product. Many will ask how much better could the project have been if it had been managed better? At this stage it is unlikely that everyone will be pleased sadly. Let’s just hope that the majority satisfied given that this was a project of love that the backers funded.

15 thoughts

    1. I focused on the current issues that are going on with D20E and their projects. I do not know enough about his past outside of Kickstarter. So I chose to touch on topics that are here and now. Thank you for reading the blog James.

      Like

  1. James thanks so much for that facebook post. It really was a lot of information that most folks don’t know. I should have trusted my gut instinct and not backed this project, but I have been a long time fan of the comics.

    Like

  2. well – as a backer from Australia i’m really pissed I backed to a level that included the Larry Elmore poster. the shipping cost of that poster was an extra $50 or so (from memory) but the idea of a print by my fav artist to go with a movie of my fav comic was amazing. Turns out I should have saved my cash and instead backed to a lower level then bought tickets to the premier & after party – would have worked out cheaper. Really don’t understand how something that was promised in the original goals is now not being delivered because ‘goals werent’ met’. I am considering reporting this to Kickstarter.

    Like

  3. Is this the same person/company running the d20collective website? I’ve been trying to contact someone about an order problem for a week, with bounced emails & no response to questions through their website.

    Like

  4. Ken Whitman (aka Whit Whitman) is a thief and a conman. He has stolen several thousand dollars from Kickstarter backers and not delivered projects.

    Some of those Kickstarters were for film projects that were never released. He has even gone so far as to cut all communications with the IP owner of one of his projects.

    http://www.barbwryter.kodtweb.com/?p=753

    Comments on his failed and abandoned Kickstarter projects:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/kodt-live-action-series/comments
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/spinward-traveller-tv-pilot/comments
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/castles-and-crusades-blacktooth-ridge-tv-pilot/comments
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/pencil-dice/comments
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kenwhitman/knights-quest-family-card-game/comments
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/rpg-pencil-dice/comments

    More documentation of his business practices:
    http://notanotherdime.blogspot.com/
    http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2015/07/on-principled-profit-con-man-and-fraud.html

    Whatever you do, do not trust Ken Whitman with any of your money, ideas, or IP. His promises are worthless.

    Like

    1. Now Disgruntled Customer I wish you would have logged in with your real ID and made the same comment. There is no need post under a pseudonym as everything you linked is absolutely 100% true. Now as you have not commented in the past I imagine you only recently found my blog. But if you look at the date of my posting my interview is part of what got the ball rolling on all of this. Feel free to ask Jolly Blackburn as we are friends and have spoke about this topic regularly.
      The goal of the interview when it was written was to get ken to come out and begin explaining what was going on and maybe get him and the community talk again. It is also clear that Ken openly admits in this interview that he was funneling cash from pencil dice to KotDT KS when asked. These were things I was trying to bring to light in the interview and It worked.
      None the less thank you for your links.

      Like

  5. Ken Whitman is really doing a number on people, and now he moved to the Atlanta area trying to rope in new aspiring Atlanta actors with yet a new scheme, publicly stating acting is his new career (and not fulfilling gaming-related projects).

    You can get more HIGHLY INTERESTING INFORMATION about Ken at

    http://notanotherdime.blogspot.ca/

    Like

  6. Indeed the large number of Kickstarter projects is staggering. Recently he has claimed that the hard drive with the raw footage for the KoDT videos is “damaged”. Maybe he wants to lay down a line that it was damaged, an Act of God, he’s not responsible and is not cooperating on any disk recovery. (“Money? What money? Why are you talking about money in this unfortunate time?”)

    I predict Ken will be involuntarily involved in the great new live-action role-playing game: LAGGARDS AND [CLASS-ACTION] LAWSUITS…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s