For the past few weeks or so there’s been a debate raging on and on about whether or not bigger, more well-known names and titles should be using the crowd funding website Kickstarter to try and find help with financing their next project.
It began when Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas took to the site for help in making a movie based on his cancelled show, a movie that had been attempted numerous times and failed all of them. Kickstarter was the last resort, and it came through overwhelmingly as fans of the show chipped in and helped the project reach its $2 million goal easily. By the time the campaign was said and done, $5.7 million had been raised for the movie, and a new doorway was opened wide for filmmakers and others.
Not many gave a second thought to the Veronica Mars movie turning to Kickstarter for help; it wasn’t until recently that the debate truly ignited when Zach Braff, the star of the hit sitcom Scrubs and writer/director/producer/star of Garden State, decided to see if Kickstarter could help him make his follow-up to Garden State, Wish I Was Here. Not only did the movie also quickly achieve its $2 million goal, but it ignited quite the firestorm as many argued the merits of the successful or wealthy asking regular folks to pay for their projects to happen.
Obviously the primary argument against someone like Braff or Thomas taking their well-established names and titles to a website initially set up for independent artists to find help funding their indie projects that never would have seen the light of day otherwise, is that they have money and industry connections and likely some other options not involving crowd funding.
On the other hand, plenty of filmmakers who have some of their own money and some industry connections still have no luck in getting someone to back their projects fully, which is when Kickstarter becomes an option, as it did for these two parties.
These debates became so heated that Kickstarter themselves had to step in and clarify some things. And as it turns out, big names like these taking to Kickstarter are not nearly as damaging as they may initially seem.
According to Kickstarter, projects like Braff’s Wish I Was Here and Veronica Mars have created some kind of ripple effect—the “Blockbuster Effect,” they call it, which began with video game Double Fine Adventure (now titled Broken Age)—spreading over and nurturing other smaller projects. Because of them, tens of thousands of people have been introduced to the website, 63% of which had never donated to another project before. Since then, thousands of those people have in fact gone on to back other smaller campaigns, spending around $400,000 on 2,200 other projects (and this was a week and a half or so ago. so these numbers have more than likely increased since then).
Braff himself also decided to take some time to defend his decision after a Hollywood Reporter story claiming the movie had been financed outside of Kickstarter as well. Braff explained:
The movie trade publication “The Hollywood Reporter” released an article today with a lot of wrong information about our project and I need to clear up some of what they said. I seem to get called a “douchebag” quite often these days. And that’s fine; not everyone’s gonna root for my success… but I can’t sit by while my fans get wrong facts.
This is a whole new way of making a movie. There is lots of discourse on Earth about it. Some of it is very misinformed. Let’s clear it up so you have it from my mouth. I will tell you the truth. As David Mamet’s writes in his masterpiece, “Glengarry Glen Ross”: The truth is the easiest thing to remember:
“” The story out there about the movie being fully funded by some financier is wrong.
I have said on here and in every interview I’ve done on this project that the film would be fully financed from 3 sources:
My Kickstarter Backers
My own money
Pre-Selling foreign theatrical distribution.
Those three amounts will bring us to a budget of around 5 to 6 million dollars.
“” Nothing about the making of this movie has changed. This movie is happening because backers funded it.
This film would not be happening without my backers. The traditional way is to have a financier put up the money and then sell the foreign rights. What I did, was to say to my fans, “If you and I provide the capital, we don’t need some rich dude dictating how we make the movie; we can then go sell foreign distibution and we’ll be all the way to our goal. Are you interested in that? So far 38,455 people have said yes.
“” What happened today is that a financial company agreed to fill in the gap between what Kickstarter backers have funded and what I have put in, and what the movie will actually cost. Shooting could not happen without this.
When you pre-sell foreign distribution, you don’t get that money for some time. So you need to go to a company to provide something called “Gap Financing”. They are essentially a bank. Loaning us the “gap” between what we’ve raised together and what we need to actually make the movie. I have no idea where a 10 million dollar number came from but it is wrong and a lie.
“” This loan is secured against proceeds generated by selling the foreign rights to the movie. That’s been the plan all along.
This loan, helps us start! We’re opening an office and casting and we’re fully under way. We couldn’t be doing that without “Gap Financing” to cover our… (wait for it) gap. As these foreign sales are occurring as we speak at the Cannes Film Festival, you will likely be hearing more and more about them. It is good for us! More eyes on our movie.
“” The film business is weird and complicated, and this is a great example of how that’s the case. Consider this our first lesson in The Biz.
Let’s be frank. There are people out there who don’t want this to work. There are people out there rooting for me and you (if you’re a backer) to fail. There are bloggers writing hateful things about me. I can take it. I’m kind of used to it. I hope you can. But if you feel misinformed or you no longer like this, you can cancel your support anytime in the next 8 days.
“” This whole process has been amazing and is happening because of you. We repeat: because of YOU!
No matter what the haters write, this would not be happening without your support. If I failed at the end of the time allotment, this film would be put on a shelf, like others I’ve tried to make since “Garden State”. But it didn’t fail. It’s making the whole Earth talk about the future of financing movies no studios want to make.
“” Sorry for the momentary distraction. Let’s get back to making a great fucking movie.
I’m sorry for the hoopla. I’m sorry if your friends think you’ve been duped. But you haven’t been. This is real. Crowd-sourcing films is here to stay. Love me, hate me. We’re gonna make a killer fucking movie. And I love you for it.
To my detractors, I shall continue to seek your approval in the most mentally unhealthy ways possible, much to my loved ones’ chagrin.
To my BACKERS, A giant casting announcement is coming in a few hours.
I love each and everyone of you. And that… is the truth.
For me personally, it doesn’t matter who’s taking to Kickstarter to make something happen…big or small. The most important thing is that you like the project being presented. No one is forced into paying their money to anything. You and only you can choose whether or not you want to donate to a campaign, and if something feels like a scam, there’s a good chance people will be skeptical of it and it will fail. On top of that, Kickstarter is not just about giving money to people for nothing; it’s about being a part of something. It’s about feeling like a mini-producer, even if you’re one of thousands to chip in only $20. If you were a big fan of Braff’s Garden State, for example, it could be very cool to be a small part of his follow-up to that movie, and that, too, is what Kickstarter is about. Especially looking at the cast that’s been announced so far, which includes Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), and Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon).
Then there’s the rewards as well. Most people who pledge will get a copy of the movie or whatever is being made, or maybe their name will end up in the end credits, and that alone can be worth a donation.
But that’s just me. This is more about what YOU think.
How do you feel about all of this madness? Are you okay with big names and titles being put on Kickstarter, or do you feel it should only be unknown talents and titles presented to potential backers?