Kickstarter is a website for people to seek and donate sponsorship money, for a certain project or endeavour with donors obtaining rewards in response. It’s recently garnered headlines due to a number of high-profile filmmakers and actors seeking financial support to fund their passion projects, bypassing mainstream film studios in the process and ensuring they can create the work they really want.
The amount of money being requested can range from low thousands to several million. Zach Braff’s upcoming Garden State follow-up, Wish I Was Here, recently hit its funding goal of two million dollars. But what makes certain Kickstarter campaigns succeed and others fail? Take Melissa Joan Hart’s campaign to raise two million in financing for her own comedy vehicle, Darci’s Walk of Shame. With less than a month to go, she’s so far only raised $40,000.
It seems the appeal to potential donors rests in whether the project is at all groundbreaking, thus supporting it for its artistic potential, or if there are famous names behind it. Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis chose to bypass the traditional studio experience when seeking financiers for their upcoming Lindsay Lohan thriller, The Canyons, and ended up raising $50,000 more than the $100,000 they were asking for. But donors also seem to get a big kick out of not only giving money to a star, but by additionally having the star reward their generosity. Take Braff’s upcoming film, where for $10,000 you can have a line of dialogue, or for just $10 can be updated on the filmmaking process.
One question worth asking is where it leaves those who help fund a film? They may get a thank you in the credits or a walk on part, but if you donate $40 for a T-shirt; why not just go out shopping and get three for the same price? It appears that there is some immense satisfaction in the idea of helping out an A-list celebrity.
In a perfect world, Kickstarter would be put to better use helping those who have no way to raise funds or finance distribution themselves. And whilst it’s a shame that filmmakers like Braff can’t go down the traditional financing route and still maintain artistic control, it’s worth noting that he collected $350,000 an episode for Scrubs, whilst others struggle to even afford a video camera…