Category: Film




Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing John August to help encourage others who are thinking about starting a Kickstarter. There are many aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking of crowdfunding their projects but may feel they lack certain resources. This blog is the perfect article to help those individuals gain more perspective on how to properly prepare themselves for a very intimidating platform. Keep reading to find out how John August was able to launch his own successful Kickstarter.


1. Tell us about yourself and how you arrived at where you are today.

I’m a screenwriter and novelist. I’m lucky to have had twelve movies produced, from GO to BIG FISH to ALADDIN, along with three novels (the ARLO FINCH trilogy). I also host a popular weekly podcast about film and television called Scriptnotes.

On the side, I run a small company that makes software and other things for writers, including the screenwriting app Highland and Writer Emergency Pack.


2. What inspired you to take action on creating the Writer Emergency Pack XL?



We launched the original Writer Emergency Pack in 2014. It became a phenomenon, one of the bigger Kickstarter projects of its time. In the years since we’ve shipped nearly 100,000 decks around the world. 


As much as we love the original, we felt there were aspects we could improve upon. With a bigger card we could consolidate text that was split among multiple cards. That gave us room to double our illustrations and tips. 


We also took a serious look at our box. The original Writer Emergency Pack comes in a standard tuck box, which can wear out from heavy use. Our new two-part box is made of heavy chipboard, designed to last for years. 


Ryan Nelson designed the original Writer Emergency Pack, drawing inspiration from typography. Dustin Bocks refined the design for Writer Emergency Pack XL, bringing in our space theme.


3. Why did you choose & trust Kickstarter as a good platform? Why did you think it would be the right fit?


We had a great experience with our initial foray in Kickstarter back in 2014, but a lot has changed since then. We did our research and considered alternatives, including just launching XL on our own store. 

What brought us back to Kickstarter was the chance to repeat our “get one, give one” campaign. For every deck we send to backers, we’ll be sending one to classrooms. Launching on Kickstarter allows us to scale up to a place where that’s affordable


4. Did you run into any problems that made you question whether to keep pursuing this card deck? 



We printed early prototypes of Writer Emergency Pack XL back in 2018. We knew we had the right basic idea, but as a company we got busy with other things. 

The pandemic got us thinking more about our supply chain and the environmental costs of worldwide shipping. We were already printing in the US, but we researched better packaging and processes to minimize our carbon footprint. We committed to using certified and recycled paper for everything we can.

We ultimately made the tough decision to launch Writer Emergency Pack XL exclusively for the US and Canada. We’ll be shipping directly from the printing facility in Florida.


5. What are your thoughts on the outcome of not only reaching your goal, but passing it?



We’re really happy how the campaign turned out. We set our goal at $10,000, and achieved that the first day. Our final tally of $121,000 is just about what we expected.

Most importantly, we’re excited that this means we’ll be able to get Writer Emergency Packs into even more classrooms through our “get one, give one” model, and help inspire the next generation of creative writers. We are particularly excited because we think the larger pack will be even more accessible to younger writers. 


6. What are your tips for setting a goal right for you?



Do your research and ask hard questions. We wanted to push ourselves with our goal but also make sure we were staying realistic. Our first campaign exceeded all of our expectations, but we knew we couldn’t expect the same performance. In the years since our initial launch, the landscape of Kickstarter campaigns has changed. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t create a goal modeled off the metrics of our first campaign, but instead we chose a goal that would meet our needs in the current moment in order to make this new pack feasible. We spoke with other creators, got quotes from printing facilities, and mapped out all of our costs before we set a target. 


7. How has being a professional writer benefited your campaign?



I wrote weekly blog posts and updates on Kickstarter to let our backers know how we were doing. I’ve had a blog for decades so it’s normal for me to write to a large group of people on the internet. I think because we were communicating regularly with our supporters we were able to reach our stretch mode, like offering a dark mode version of the pack.   

And in terms of our product, as a writer I can speak directly to the problems we’re solving with our packs. I’ve written a trilogy of novels and countless screenplays, but even I sometimes get stuck. I wish I had something like this growing up, but learning these lessons on my own allowed me to translate my writing experience into the prompts for these cards. The motivating principle behind this deck is to rescue writers from that feeling by giving them tools to approach their story problems.


8.What are some tips to share with aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about using Kickstarter?

One of the biggest draws to working with Kickstarter is the community. I’d recommend folks interested in launching their own Kickstarters, to first research, study, and support other campaigns. I became friends with Elan Lee through Kickstarter and have learned so much through watching his campaigns take off on the platform. We got great practical tips from other creators, like Aaron Reed who launched 50 Years of Text Games. Learning from other entrepreneurs helped us prepare for the launch but also set us up for success when it came time to actually make our product. 

Also, your backers are a huge part of your community and your success depends on their support. My advice is to stay engaged and authentic with them. They’ll appreciate honesty over plans you’re unable to deliver.


9. What is the most effective way to get a Kickstarter out to the public? What networking efforts helped you promote the campaign?

Our company makes a lot of products aimed at helping writers. Luckily we had a loyal base of customers who championed the new XL version of the pack. 

We’re also lucky that the original Writer Emergency Pack was beloved by schools and writing organizations. Through our get one, give one, model we’ve become a fixture in many classrooms and creative writing workshops so word of mouth also helped promote our campaign. 


10. What is the most challenging growth phase for you?

After we came up with the idea for the Writer Emergency Pack XL, our team brainstormed ways to improve the original pack. We wanted to add more cards, tools, illustrations, basically more fun to the original. Once we had mock-ups of our designs it was challenging to figure out (and wait until) the best moment to launch because we were eager to bring our packs to the public ASAP. But I’m glad we waited because we found great partnerships in the US and had more time to create the perfect box for our new deck.


11. How has working with Shuffled Ink helped throughout the Kickstarter campaign process?

Shuffled Ink has produced our standard Writer Emergency Packs for the past few years, so we felt confident they could do this bigger deck. We’ve enjoyed the process of working with Matt and his team to figure out what’s possible, from sizes to finishes to little esoteric details. For example, we want to avoid any plastic while still protecting the decks during shipping. We’ve come up with some good solutions together.


We thank John August for taking the time to share his personal experience with Kickstarter along with his amazing tips on how to properly prepare for a successful launch.  Hopefully this article has helped share some insight and give readers the motivation they need to take action on their next project with Kickstarter!


Important Tips For The Readers To Consider When Launching A Kickstarter:

  1. Are you setting a realistic goal?
  2. When do you feel is the right time to launch your Kickstarter? 
  3. Do you plan on networking with others who use the platform?
  4. Will you promote your campaign? Will you keep your audience updated? Do you know what socials will work best for promoting your product on Kickstarter? 



Vulture Tarot Tarot and oracle cards, regardless of how they are presented, add to a film’s narrative in many forms.  While we now use these cards for fortune-telling and other mystical services, they were once played as a card game. The Trionfi game rules came from the four tarot suits (Swords, Batons, Coins and Cups) as well as card motifs and themes.  But this card game was short-lived once it grew into its magical essence.  Tarot decks have reigned in popularity for about six centuries, so it’s not surprising that Hollywood producers would want to weave the Major and Minor Arcana into the storyline. Here are some tarot card readings in movies.

Touch of Evil (1958)

When a card is drawn, the tarot reader connects the card’s meaning to the recipient.  This practice, whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, creates a riveting cinematic moment. “Your future’s all used up,” the fortune-teller (Marlene Dietrich) says to the anti-hero in Touch of Evil.  There are a few important moments in this scene that must be analyzed.  The reading is brief but nonetheless daunting, and the ambiance is shadowed.  Every detail, from the psychic’s eerie dialogue to the way the man sloppily disassembles the deck, leaves a pit in the audience’s stomach.

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

Every tarot reader has his/her personal signature.  Perhaps it’s the manner that they lay out the cards or how they explain a card’s meaning.  In this case, Dr. Terror asks the recipients to tap the cards three times prior to the reading. He uses his tarot cards, which he calls the House of Horrors, to predict the death of five men aboard the train. Upon explaining that the first four tarot cards chosen will predict their destiny, the men are clearly skeptical.  While they crack jokes about past experiences with gypsies, Dr. Terror interjects.  “The tarot deck is a serious matter.  The cards predict the truth, the supernatural truth.  Always.” (Reading begins at 5:27. Full movie available below).

Dead Alive (1992)

It’s unsurprising that horror films and thrillers often feature tarot.  The unsettling feeling before a reading does add a nice touch on the big screen. Discussions about one’s future, particularly when it relates to death and misfortune, is anything but delightful. In the film Dead Alive, a young woman is seeking clarity on her love life.  An interesting bit to mention is that once the cards are drawn, they take the form of both the woman herself as the Queen of Swords and her future love as the Knight of Swords.  But this is nowhere near a fairytale story.

“The One with the Hypnosis Tape” (1994 to 2004)

To ease the terrifying tarot tension portrayed in the previous films, here’s an episode of Friends that shows Phoebe shuffling and placing tarot cards on the table.  Now, she doesn’t actually give a reading during this episode but simply having the cards in the background while Rachel is discussing hypnosis methods for Chandler to stop smoking is enough to draw accurate conclusions.  This adds to Phoebe’s spiritual personality and pushes along the narrative that with the presence of tarot cards and the use of a hypnosis tape, Chandler’s bad habit will end.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

This action and fantasy film, which is based on the first book in the series The Mortal Instruments, uses tarot cards in both a comedic and dramatic way to drive the plot. This reading unlocks the protagonist’s past, which was stolen from her memories.  Clearly a non-believer, she reminds the tarot reader that she doesn’t believe in psychic readings.  But this wariness soon dissipates.  The scene uses tarot as a tool for self-discovery and even implements magic as well, showing the tarot card lift into the woman’s palm without any manipulation. (Reading begins at 18:49. Full movie available below).

In the Palm of Your Hand

The art of tarot is specific to its creator. No deck is entirely the same, which is why we offer complete customization options. From custom card sizes to your personal artwork, we produce quality tarot cards and related accessories that reflect all of your individual styles and desired preferences. Here’s a look into our process.
  • Select your own artwork or photography, or use pre-existing images.
  • Choose from top-quality paper, PVC or plastic card stocks with smooth, linen or matte finishes.
  • Use your unique card size or shape.
  • Apply your design to both sides of every card.
  • Pick the custom-printed packaging (tuck or setup boxes, cases, tins, etc.) that’s right for you.
To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on the custom request a quote form.
Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business specializing in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging, and more for businesses and individuals worldwide. To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Tarot Cards at: ShuffledInk


royal flush Poker is often called the national card game of the United States. You’ll find that this household game is played nearly anywhere — in casinos, at home and on the internet. Even Hollywood producers have tried to manifest this popular game of deceit and tension into entertaining blockbuster films. Here are some scenes from movies and tv shows that use poker to drive essential elements like the plot, characters, dialogue and more.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Paul Newman has acted in numerous films that feature America’s favorite card game. This scene in the movie Cool Hand Luke is known as one of the most accurate portrayals of poker. Newman’s aloof character, Luke, starts off by betting a mere dollar. This gives off a lack of confidence, insinuating that he does not have a good hand. But that is only the beginning of his bluffing skills.

The Sting (1973)

Set in Chicago during the 1930s, two con men played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford scam mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) and acquire a generous amount of money. The showdown between Newman’s and Lonnegan’s character is filled with suspense, tension, and above all, deceit. While poker players lead their opponent astray with his/her stature and expression, Redford actually cheats to win. The deceptive switch occurs between 0:59 and 1:15.

Casino Royale (2006)

If produced effectively, audiences often praise films that incorporate poker into the narrative. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the game, the scene’s atmosphere is often still captivating. Many viewers end up holding their breath in anticipation of how the scene will unfold. Casino Royale stars Daniel Craig as James Bond. The setting takes place at a high-stakes Texas Hold’em tournament. In this scene, 007’s convincing poker face leads his opponent off course.

Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)

This comedy film sheds light on the times when poker games end poorly for the players. Nicholas Cage’s character, Jack Singer, ends up losing $65,000 to a professional gambler and con man (James Caan). Singer’s does, in fact, have a good hand but his fatal downfall is that he bets more money than he actually has. Nonetheless, this is the catalyst for the plot of the movie. To pay off his debt, he allows the con man to take his fiancée on a vacation to Hawaii.

Friends: Season 1 Episode 18 (1994 – 2004)

“The One With all the Poker” Poker and its many variants are played quite seriously, which is why Hollywood likes to portray it as such. But there are shows and movies that add comedic relief to the game. In this episode of Friends, the gang sits down to play poker. The game starts with Phoebe hilariously revealing the cards she needs and Rachel offering up her own.

Play Your Cards Right

Whether it’s just for fun or, as Monica Gellar calls it, “serious poker”, our 54-card poker-sized decks are suited for any poker setting. Here are a few features that put us ahead of the game in the custom playing card arena.
  • Print custom backs and/or faces – same price
  • Choose standard bridge or poker size – same price
  • Print 1 or 1 million decks
  • Pricing starts at $17.60 for a deck of standard cards
  • Pricing at 5,000 decks starts at $1.61 each
  • Print 1-4 CMYK colors – same price
  • Premium and casino cards stock available
  • Custom sizes are available
To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form.   ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk