Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I won't give Zach Braff one dime

Zach Braff is trying to raise money on Kickstarter to fund a movie he wants to make. Zach Braff is a good actor and a fine filmmaker. GARDEN STATE was a terrific movie. But I wouldn’t give him a dime.

Why?

Because it defeats the whole purpose of Kickstarter.

The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies. Zach Braff has contacts. Zach Braff has a name. Zach Braff has a track record. Zach Braff has residuals.  He can get in a room with money people. He is represented by a major talent agency. But the poor schmoe in Mobile, Alabama or Walla Walla, Washington has none of those advantages.

So someone who otherwise might have funded the Mobile kid instead will toss his coins to Zach Braff because he figures it’s a better bet and he gets to rub shoulders with show business.

Yes, it might take Zach Braff a year of knocking on doors to get his money, so now he figures, hey, just show up, sit back, and let the cash come to me. This is not an option Walla Walla kid has. I’m throwing my support to those who really NEED it.

Recently, Kickstarter was used to fund a new VERONICA MARS movie. This is obscene to me. It’s a known television series distributed by a major studio. Are you a big fan of VERONICA MARS? Want to support it? Great. Buy ten tickets and see the movie ten times.

This is what Hollywood does, dear reader. It sees an opportunity for exploitation and takes it. The Sundance Film Festival is another prime example. At one time it showcased modest little movies by unknown filmmakers. Kevin Smith made CLERKS – a grimy black and white film starring all unknowns. The result was discovered talent. Now look at the festival. Every entry features major Hollywood stars. During the festival they all descend upon Park City, along with Harvey Weinstein, reps from every major studio, and a thousand CAA and William Morris agents. Any hint of the original purpose of the film festival has long since vanished.

If Will Ferrell or Brad Pitt – just to name two random examples – are in an independent film, do they really need a film festival to get Harvey Weinstein to screen their film? The chubby nerd from New Jersey who maxed out his credit cards to make a film about a local convenience store couldn’t. He needed a film festival. He needed an audience to appreciate his effort before he could be recognized. And now today’s equivalent of a young Kevin Smith can’t even get his movie into a festival much less Harvey Weinstein’s screening room.

Sundance is a lost cause. But Kickstarter isn’t. Not if we put a stop to this now. If you only have so much money to give to charity, give it to cancer research and not to help redecorate Beyonce’s plane. Support young hungry filmmakers. The next Kevin Smith is out there… somewhere. He (or she) just needs a break, which is what Kickstarter is supposed to provide. Zach Braff can find his money elsewhere. He did once before. He’ll make his movie. And if it’s half as good as GARDEN STATE I will praise it to the heavens in this blog and urge you to go spend your money to check it out.

When I used to broadcast for the Orioles one of my partners was the legendary Chuck Thompson. Most of our games were at night. Chuck was an avid golfer. He played the public courses and only on weekdays. He used to say the weekends were for the “working man.” Chuck could play any day he wanted, they could only play on Saturday and Sunday so he didn’t want to take one of their starting times. It’s a great way to live by.

Kickstarter is for the “working man,” Zach. And VERONICA. And (soon) Harvey.

Hello to all the new readers as this post has apparently gone viral.  Please feel free to look around and come back.  I'm usually funnier than this. 

And further update -- thanks for all the great comments, even those that disagree with me. Here  is my response to all your thoughts.

263 comments:

1 – 200 of 263   Newer›   Newest»
Dana King said...

agree completely about Kickstarter. I've sent them money a few times, but only for the kinds of things you mentioned: a friend was trying to get a book published, and the Washington Trombone Choir wanted to make a CD.

Thanks for the Chuck Thompson. I remember your tenure with the orioles, with Chuck and Jon Miller, as a time when I'd rather listen to the games on the radio than watch them on TV.

John Paxton said...

Ken,

You've moved me to write! I see what you're saying, and I believe in it. But I'm here to present another way of looking at things. What if Kickstarter is a way to demonstrate the viability of a concept or a vision?

One of the things your blog has been _terrific_ about demonstrating is how any number of harebrained stories make it onto televisions and movie screens. Doesn't this sometimes happen at the cost of someone else's work of art?

Maybe Kickstarter isn't the proper venue for Braff's crowdsourcing. Maybe there should be a separate exchange for known artists to put their visions and properties in front of people, who are not necessarily in the industry, and those people can vote (with their dollars) for what they like and want. That's the best of both worlds: Kickstarter for the indies and something else for the establisheds.

Roger Owen Green said...

I've supported nearly a dozen Kickstarter projects. But not this one.

Stephen said...

I agree that Kickstarter should be for those with no other financial means of supporting a project, but that is why I don't think the Veronica Mars Kickstarter should be criticised in this piece. Unlike Mr. Braff, the people behind the VM movie have spent six years trying to get studio funding for this project. I think if after six years they couldn't get the studio funding they needed, then it made perfect sense to go straight to the fans.

At the end of the day, fans complain about whatever they watch anyway - they might as well have a stake in the product to warrant such complaining.

RJ Hope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RJ Hope said...

I was going to write about this very subject on my blog, but you wrote much better everything I could say.

You and I and everyone else are in the minority in our way of thinking on this.

Majority of people will say that they will support only those things they like. But it seems to me that most of this support is toward people with some kind of cache. Veronica Mars and Zach Braff are clear examples.

If great filmmakers like Spielberg, Scorsese, or Allen decided to do this very thing, people would throw their money at a project that they would still have to buy a ticket to view.

Michael said...

Agree with you about Braff - especially since he mentioned in his Kickstarter campaign that he had been close to signing deal for money but was not happy about giving up control of final casting decisions and final edit so decided to go Kickstarter route instead.

Anonymous said...

Without the Kickstarter campaign I wouldn't even have the option to buy ten tickets to see Veronica Mars ten times. Warner Brothers wasn't going to make it. They tried. And then they tried again. And then they tried again. And *then* they considered the Kickstarter option and spent another year working with Warner Brothers to even get them to allow them to go in that direction. Warner Brothers wasn't making this movie, period. So, Rob Thomas went to the audience that wanted it made. Warner Brothers agreed to license it, distribute it and promote it in a very, very small release. And I'm happy to have given them a small amount of money which results in me getting getting exactly what I would have paid money for with a traditional release plus bonuses. I bought my ten tickets up front as one tends to do with films they pay to see. You okay with that?

st4rdog said...

It's particularly bad with video games on Kickstarter. The only games that can get more than $300k are from known developers. They also play on nostalgia by remaking old franchises.

Here are some examples:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doublefine/double-fine-adventure

There are maybe 10+ more.

The issue with Kickstarter is that there's risk involved. Can the project creators actually come up with the goods? The safe money is betting on those with previous experience, so that's where the money goes.

Matt said...

Supporting projects such as the VM or Braff movies doesn't automatically mean you can't support a lesser known film either. They aren't mutually exclusive in any way.

If anything, these projects bring attention to a site that many people may have never heard of.

I loved VM and I pledged some money to support that film. I loved Garden State but I didn't support the Braff film. I've also backed a number of independent game makers and musicians. I've never done it because I thought it would get me to rub shoulders with anyone; I'm not an idiot. I'm simply buying something I like.

Let's let people use their money in whatever way they see fit. If they want to support a name actor or franchise, fine. If they stumble on an independent artist and want to give them their money, great.

ZipItKen said...

From the Kickstarter site: "Kickstarter’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life."

Kickstarter's (main two) guidelines:
1. Everything on Kickstarter must be a project.
2. Every project on Kickstarter must fit into one of our categories.

Seems like Mr. Braff's film fits these criteria.

Furthermore, I can find nothing on the Kickstarter site about being only for the "little guy". But, I can also not find the part about Ken Levine being the one who decides what Kickstarter can and cannot be used for.

Don't worry, Ken. I have upped my pledge for Zach's movie by one dime to cover your cheap ass.

Aaron Hazouri said...

Thank you! I was a total nobody in the world of cartooning, and Kickstarter was the only way for me to raise the paltry bit of money I needed to self-publish my comic book. Meanwhile, guys who are already big are locking up money more of us little guys would like access to, to try to break into areas that otherwise wouldn't let us in.

Zach Braff and well-known, successful guys like him are welcome to run a Kickstarter, of course, and people are free to donate to it. But I feel like it's antithetical to the purpose of Kickstarter and sites like it.

Matty D said...

There is a difference between Veronica Mars and this Zach Braff venture. Rob THomas tried for 7 years to get WB to make the movie. They refused to believe there was a market. Now, the fans have done as you suggested Ken - they have over paid for a movie ticket (and in many cases, they will get a digital copy of the movie as well).

Zach Braff, by his own admission, had funding in place for Garden State 2 (or whatever). Even if he weren't a clearly wealthy man unwilliing to match the personal sacrifices of the next Kevin Smith, he still had investors in place. His beef is they wanted a say with their money.

This makes it hard to beat the suspicion that he found a way to gobble up all the profits for himself.

Veronica Mars wasn't going to happen without kickstarter, Braff's could have.

LittlestWinslow said...

Everything you write makes sense, but as an uber Veronica fan, I have to mirror what many have already said - they tried other options. I was glad to cough up $35 for some schwag and a promise that a VM movie WILL happen. I'm going to be ecstatic to see that cast back together again.

But on the Zach Braff bit - I'm with you. Perhaps it's unfair of me to think of the VM/Braff scenarios differently...but Braff could've done what Thomas did and hustled his ass off before heading straight to Kickstarter on the heels of a sassy blonde sleuth.

Tom said...

Aside from the whole principle of the thing, these projects aren't just donation drives. The people who pledge get stuff out of it. They may pay slightly over the odds for said stuff, but they know that the difference is going into the production they want to see instead of getting lost in the supply chain.

I don't see how it's "locking up money" for other projects. These larger scale projects are getting new people signed up to Kickstarter - getting people into the habit of pledging small donations for these projects where they wouldn't have considered doing this kind of thing before. And when they see how it works and the kind of success this model can achieve, they would surely be more inclined to participate in the next one of these things they come across. There's a case to be made that these projects might actually be driving attention and money toward the smaller ones.

MattMan2012 said...

Ken, I must echo several of the above commenters and respectfully disagree with the VERONICA MARS comparison. Zach Braff is looking to produce a film that right now has a guaranteed audience of one -- Zach Braff. The VM movie meanwhile stands to appeal to about 2.5 million people aka its final season's audience. Plus, as noted by others, Rob Thomas et al tried to get the VM movie done via traditional means, and it simply was not happening, so there would be not one ticket let alone 10 to buy. By throwing a few dollars to the VM movie, I'm helping get done -- and in essence pre-ordering my ticket to -- a project that interests not just myself but assuredly millions of others.

Damon said...

Ken, normally I agree with things you post... but not this time.

"The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies."

This was never the idea behind Kickstarter for films. Or anything. It was created as an alternate means of funding that would keep creators in 100% control (and you know perfectly well a studio funded film would never allow that). What you're doing here is taking your assumption as to what Kickstarter should be and judging Zach Braff against it. Just checking the "What is Kickstarter" page will give you an idea of the focus... and that's of a funding platform that'll give users full control over their product, not to make a product that would otherwise not get made.

Is it a little unfair that Zach Braff's taking money and attention away from smaller, arguably more deserving projects? Yep. But let's be honest, Veronica Mars would never have been made without Kickstarter. The third largest film project on Kickstarter is Video Game High School (from prolific YouTuber Freddie Wong). It's still primarily being used to fund projects that would not have happened.

Sarah said...

I said something very similar to this over the weekend.

I did support the Veronica Mars kickstarter. I supported it because I really believe that Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell would have made the movie on their own if they owned the rights. Also, fans of the show know what to expect of a movie. We have a general sense what it will be about and who will be in it. Yes, it could be a disappointment but it is something the fans have wanted for years.

But the Zachary Braff kickstarter is different to me. It's a script he wrote with his brother. All we know is that he will be in it. It feels like he should be able to make it without asking his fans for money. He won't have the budget that he would like, but it would be possible to make. Get some friends together and film it in your backyard like Joss Whedon did with Much Ado (which I am super excited about and will buy 10 tickets to see). When I went on this rant over the weekend, I thought maybe it was because I am naive about how Hollywood works. I'm glad that this is an opinion other people share.

Chris_FB said...

A while ago, Kickstarter jumped the shark (or nuked the fridge or whatever the latest version of that is). It's already mainstream. You're only going to see more of these sorts of things at Kickstarter, not less. To use your analogy about movie festivals - don't mourn Sundance, try to find the current great indie festivals instead. The idea shouldn't be to shun the Braff sorts of projects to make Kickstarter be something else; if you feel the way you do about how crowdsourced funding should work, find the next Kickstarter.
BTW, the new radio guy for the M's is working out great, but it'd still be lovely to hear you do a couple games this season. Here's hoping someone needs a day off for benign reasons and you have the time and interest.

Michael Ferrell said...

Interesting stuff! It makes me wonder where the line is drawn. I mean, Zach Braff is a millionaire, a TV star/movie star, so he's obviously way on the other side of the line (the acceptable crowdfunding line). Veronica Mars may be more polarizing, but according to this blog, on the other side of the line as well. So makes me wonder where is the line (if we're starting with the premise that crowdfunding should be reserved for the working men)?

For instance, I try to be as vegan as possible, more and more the last few years. I still eat cheese. But I don't eat eggs. But I eat stuff that's made with eggs, like muffins. So my line is drawn at French Toast. I don't eat eggy stuff, including French Toast, and anything more eggy than French Toast. I know this is ridiculous, but there has to be a line. So what's the crowdfunding French Toast?

Last year I raised $13,500 on indiegogo to make my first feature film, shot in New Jersey, called "Twenty Million People" (http://www.twentymillionpeople.com). I had no access to make a film otherwise and it has been doing well in festivals so far this year (not Sundance, of course, but to be fair, we haven't submitted to Sundance yet). I suppose I am the younger Kevin Smith (though not so younger). If I were starting my campaign now, I'm not sure that I would feel threatened by Zach Braff and all his Braffiness. I mean, I don't think he would be literally taking any potential donors away from me. I don't know anyone in Walla Walla. What's important for people like me is the actual fundraising campaign that I would be running. It has to be treated like a full-time job. It takes hard work and a lot of creativity. If I were doing my campaign now, I might somehow work the Zach Braff thing into my pitch, maybe capitalizing on some of the Brafflash.

But of course, no one's really arguing against Braffy's RIGHT to do a crowdfunding campaign, but rather whether or not we should give money to it. In that I'm in total agreement, not a chance. BUT, take for example a personal indie film hero of mine, Ed Burns. Ed Burns wasn't on Scrubs, but he definitely is not the kid from Omaha trying to make his first feature. Ed Burns has done groundbreaking work as an indie filmmaker using social media, crowd sourcing ideas, getting his fan base involved. If Ed Burns decided to try his hand at a crowdfunding campaign to do his next feature, would that be French Toast? And if so, would we eat it?

Michael said...

Enough of Zach Braff, who could just ask his Scrubs co-stars to give him what they were paid for one episode of the series and the movie would be financed. I'd like to say that it's nice to see the reference to and reminder of Chuck Thompson, not only a terrific sportscaster but, from all I have read, one of the finest human beings it would have been a privilege to know.

Kiki said...

Maybe there is a third option needed, for guys like Braff who certainly have the clout to raise money elsewhere but apparently not enough clout to get the project financed and produced on their terms. I don’t really have any issues with him using the kickstarter platform, because saying he takes the spotlight away from the unknown guy is baloney — it’s like the music industry crying about people buying less CDs and LPs than they used to. People only have that much available money to spend on entertainment purposes and nowadays they not only get to choose between dinner, a movie, a baseball game and a CD but in addition a download, a computer game … well, yes, of course they spent less on CDs and LPs! And of course they will spend it on what they think sounds like the best deal.

I won’t give Braff one dime either, but that’s because I didn’t think Garn State was that great to begin with. In fact I’d barely remember the movie but for its killer soundtrack, go figure.

Zo√ęB said...

Crowdsourcing isn't a zero-sum game. You can not fund anything for months, then fund several projects at once.

Brand recognition is an issue, but it goes beyond crowdsourcing. It's the reason why it's safer to make sequels than to make something entirely new. It's also the reason why it's so hard for a newcomer to break into any industry.

Personally, I'm looking forward to a future film industry in which everyone can read treatments and screenplays, and pay for whichever ones they'd like to be made. That sounds much more sensible and democratic to me than the current system of far fewer people funding films which they speculate other people might be interesting in, and the general public watching trailers and going by word of mouth. Sure, it would be harder to avoid spoilers, but we might see a lot more interesting films getting made.

But even in such a future, you'd still have the issue of the already familiar getting more attention in a positive feedback loop. Things like keywords and browsing by subject matter are probably already helping, but it doesn't help with things you don't know to look out for, because you don't realise you'd like it until you've already seen it. It's an interesting problem, but certainly no reason to deny people the chance to help others make something they'd like to see.

I think the answer isn't to say "don't fund spinoffs of famous projects" or even "don't fund projects by already established, successful people," but rather to focus on the positive: "work out a better way to discover things you haven't yet heard of but would love to help bring to fruition."

Once the general public is paying people to create things, not paying them for the right to consume already existing things, and once piracy is accepted as the way things are, a more interesting ecosystem of projects should emerge. You won't buy the same film on multiple formats. You'll pay for the film to be made, and two others you also like the sound of, and everyone will take it as given that they should be allowed to watch them all. That's where things seem to be headed, anyway. You won't pay for the right to watch anything. You'll pay to feel proud that you played your part in bringing it into existence in the first place, for everyone to enjoy.

Lornle said...

Nice post. I completely agree! :)

MikeAdamson said...

Damon above said what I was thinking about Braff but I'll add that if I contribute to his Kickstarter then I'm investing in him and his idea rather than a project that includes him and maybe his script. He could get the money elsewhere but could he still do the film his way? That's what my contribution is supporting.

Anonymous said...

Braff tried to use his name and contacts but the only backers wanted to control the final cut. What director wants no control on the finished product.

johntrigonis.com said...

Great read! It reiterates many of the points we've heard before.

The fact is that the idea of Kickstarter and crowdfunding is changing, for better or for worse. Where will the true indies who initially looked to Kickstarter as a means by which to make their filmmaking dreams come to pass? Well, they can go to Indiegogo, naturally, where the indie spirit lives and thrives; but even so, they're going to have to learn how to crowdfund using all the tools they've got in their tool belt, mainly creativity, something that the Hollywood campaigns just don't utilize (i.e. Melissa Joan Hart's campaign).

Y'know, I might've given Zach $1, just 'cause he's a fellow Jersey boy, but only if his pitch video and rewards were as creative as those from the many campaigns I've successfully funded over the past five years. That's the problem with Hollywood players –– the majority of them look to Kickstarter as a business, not as a community.

I put out my opinions in this episode of HuffPostLive, in case you want some further food for thought, and again, thanks for sharing this post, Kevin, and everyone's comments.

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/zach-braff-raises-over-2-million-on-kickstarter/517ee9d902a7603fcb0005e6

Jacob said...

Ken, go listen to the interview on KCRW's The Business and tell me if your opinion changes. Even just a little.

The situation is not as us-vs.-them as you think.

JakeTB said...

Kickstarter isn't only 'for the working man'- what makes it so successful is that no one defines what it "should" be.

I funded Zach's movie because GS is one of my favorite films and I want badly to see this one get made. And Zach seems to have legitimate reasons for wanting to avoid money people. Of course I would fund Zach over the Mobile kid. Zach will probably make a better movie. I guess I'm just putting some trust in a director I think is very talented.

At the end of the day, it's my money, I'll do what I want with it.

Jackhalfaprayer said...

Thank you for writing this. As someone who is hand-crafting an indie short, I took one look at Zack Braff's kickstarter and got nauseous. Not just at the clear hollywood-style exploitation of crowdfunding, but at the droves and droves of people who lined up to be a part of it. Zack Braff is worth fucking 22 million dollars. If he really wanted to bypass Hollywood showrooms to get final cut, he could use his enormous bankroll. Meanwhile the Walla Walla kid, or to use a personal example, the Greenville, South Carolina kid whose family spent an obscene amount of money to send him to a prestigious film school, can't get a meeting anywhere close to the Hollywood money. And raising less than half of what he needs for the film from kickstarter is, for an "unknown," still absurdly difficult. This is what kickstarter is for- the little guy. And while I see people on here defending Veronica Mars- if you think for a second the studio that owns the rights to VM isn't going to see some percentage points of returns from the film, you're mistaken. They gave the go-ahead to do the kickstarter, which means they still own the rights. I guarantee you they are seeing profits from the film. And since it's crowdfunded, this is a *dangerous* precedent. The crowd funds it, but the rights holders still get returns. It takes the risk of investment out of their ballgame- and they are the ones with the studio cash. It's not a good thing. Plus- how hard is it to raise funds with a cast that includes Kristen Bell? Yeah, its for the fans- but it benefits the Studios. Dangerous. Precedent.

Thanks for writing this, man. I've been filled with ambivalence about it. all the best.

So inevitably- Greenville kid says: yo have a look at my kickstarter for my animated movie: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeffmartell/mutwale-an-epic-animated-short-film

It's by a small team and it's pretty unique so no studio is going to take a risk on it. But screw that, it's going to be a damn amazing film. Cheers

I went there said...

"major taent agency"

You forgot an l.

Anonymous said...

I disagree.

I'm not supporting Zach because I don't care that much to see his movie... but he has just as much right as anyone to crowdsource a project.

And while you can "don't support his movie," I find it very elitist and prejudice to say "Zach can't use kickstarter."

Who the heck are you to say who is and isn't allowed to use kickstarter?

Katie said...

I don't know much about Braff's project so I don't know how I feel about that. I do know I heard about it and thought it was silly.

But when I heard about Veronica Mars? I flipped out! I was so excited and donated immediately. As a lot of people have said already, VM was not going to get made. Rob and Kristen had tried for years to have the movie made. And they told us this over the years - they didn't just say it when they started the Kickstarter campaign. In every interview I've read over the years with KB or RT, if they were asked about they movie, they always said they were trying and would give whatever info they had "we have a script/ we're talking to WB/ WB said no but we're not giving up/ They own the rights, there isn't much we can do but we're trying/ etc."
To me this is a great way for the fans to get the movie they've always wanted made. Kickstarter had the system in place and RT worked with Warner Brothers to make it happen and it's happening!
Maybe they could have come up with something after another 6 years, but maybe not. So right now, without Kickstarter (or some other way of fan funding) the movie was not going to be made.

Peter Herz said...

Zach strikes me as one of those actors who would rather be indie than well-connected in Hollywood. Do you really blame or fault him for trying this route? I say if you despise the 'well-connected' world you should boycott it not the actors which have risen in it yet still prefer DIY.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't know Zach Braff had a kickstarter. I'll take a look.

Katie said...

I forgot to add - I know I won't be seeing any profits from VM and that others might/probably will. They made that VERY clear in the campaign.

Jason DaCruz said...

Though I mostly agree, there must be exceptions -- though it isn't clear of Braff meets the criteria:

Big money often comes with the strings of smart people worried about risk management. While many people can afford losing $200, few that can afford to lose $500k risk that happening. Braff's crowdsourcing intention may be to buck the Hollywood trend of actors/directors giving up creative right to moneymen.

Benjamin Graner said...

Completely disagree.

I think you are confusing 'indie' with alternative/low budget because for a long time if you weren't with a studio you simply didn't have the tools to raise a lot of money easily. I think what the internet and tools like Kickstarter do is raise the bar for what 'independent' means. That was the promise of the net back in '96 and it's only really recently starting to really come into effect.

I don't believe for a second that Zach Braff or other creatives got into the movie business for the 'business' side of things. I believe they did it to tell stories and to do something they love.

The fact is movies take lots of money and so studios exists to fund projects and handle the business side. Over time power consolidates so you get the situation where execs can be 'gatekeepers' and where there's a big tension between art and practicality.

Kickstarter is just another example of decentralization - in some things big studios will still reign but now there's another option for people to fund their movies and one which gives them much greater personal control - for good or bad.

Just because Braff rose through the traditional ranks doesn't mean he's not allowed to utilize this new tool. And, of course, part of the charm is that we get to discuss whether we should fund him or not and for what reasons. You give a very good argument and I see where you're coming from but I think you're also just stuck in 'Kickstarter is for indies' and you conflate indie with low-budget/amateur/alternative because for so long that's what it's been.

Kickstarter is a tool for raising money, end of story. It may or may not be a better tool than what traditional sources of funding provide (e.g. Hollywood also vet projects, handle marketing, distribution, etc) but the decentralization is something we only recently had the technology to support and it's fascinating to watch it evolve.

I may be totally off but I think it's true - Indie means independent, not 'alternative' or amateur. You are upset that Sundance is now too mainstream/exploited? Start a kickstarter to do a new non-mainstream film festival. :) If Braff wants to test the waters of what it means to be independent more power to him. And if you

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Mr. Braff has a vision for making this movie and taking cash from studios waters down his vision. He loses rights. Kickstarter is no different for him than for anyone else because, ultimately, you have the decision to support or not support his passion project.

Ian Gerritsen said...

Bollocks. Kickstarter is simply a way to allow developers to allow end users to fund the content themselves. If Braff door knocks he'll be beholden to whomever coughs up the money. I'd *much* rather that was us, the people going to watch it than someone simply wanting to make money from it which is a great way to destroy the artists vision.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, Zach Braff is an insufferable wiener. I hate his stupid face.

Moving on, maybe he wants to make the kind of movie Hollywood is afraid to finance? If his contacts help him otherwise that's good for him, maybe that will help him bring some real acting talent to an otherwise shitty bland indie movie.

I don't buy that he's stealing sunshine from all the precious kickstarter flowers, either. If they have a project the crowd really wants to see, the crowd will see it. He gets a boost, sure, life ain't fair.

Kaveh.Kanada said...

Man oh MAN do I agree with you! Great article!

Joshua Seymour said...

I have to disagree with a lot of you here.

Zach gave up with trying to make deals to get this movie started as he was losing control of what the movie would become. He wanted that control to be over to the fans of the first movie so he used Kickstarter to do so.

Why beat him up about it? he has as much of a right as anyone to use Kickstarter if its the best thing to use and the best way to get all his fans involved why not?

Anonymous said...

You make important points and you write forcefully (of course) but you still need an editor. Like most of us.

Anonymous said...

Lost cause. If there's room for people to advance in the system, it will always happen. Using your notoriety as a marketing ploy with kickstarter is nothing new and it's only going to get worse and worse over time.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Damn right! 100% with you.

Jared Caldwell said...

Completely agree! I got a lot of press (hate) when I tweeted something similar @zachbraff. He didn't agree with me.

Here is the open letter I sent him: http://jaredcaldwell.tumblr.com/post/48858312805/an-open-letter-to-zach-braff

James said...

Because of this rant, I'm donating to Zach Braff. I hadn't realized that he was using kickstarted to make a sequel. Thanks for the info.

Chris Hill said...

Your metaphor about Chuck's weekday tee times is flawed. If Chuck decided to take a weekend tee time, he would replace a "working man" because there is a finite amount of tee times.

When a large project enters the realm of crowd sourcing on the web, it doesn't replace a small project. It's just another project.

This hurts no one.

Matt celia said...

All of you haters are missing the point of kickstarter. Having run a kickstarter I will say that the notion that it is the charity of the Internet is exactly the mentality that will cause your project to fail. Kickstarter isn't about giving money to the small guy out of the goodness of your heart (although I, sure many people give like that), its about wanting a project to come to life. You want something, you are paying for that project. That is why there are rewards. It's not charity, it's a capitalist exchange of money for a product. Veronica Mars, Zack Braff, they are simply using the tool to provide fans what they want. And instead of the cash flooding some rich studio's pocket after their execs destroy the artistic vision of the project in order to hit as many demos and have the biggest opening weekend possible, the artist actually gets to make what he thinks his fans want to see. I think it's fantastic. And also, this isn't a zero sum game. Just because I donate to Zach Braff doesn't mean I wouldn't donate to your project or another project. I'm buying a piece of things that interest me. Large projects like this only serve to bolster kickstarter as a community and drive more people to the site, which I guarantee if you ask Kickstarter they'll say other project experienced a bump in funds around the time these projects were active. So to all those people who are bashing celebs raising money, put a sock in it. If you had the same fan base and wanted to make a project, you'd be doing the exact same thing. Kickstarter isn't designed for people without access to get money, it's designed for people (all people) to have an easy platform to connect directly with their fans.

John said...

Anything that gets popular tends to get corrupted in some way, whether it's Kickstarter, Sundance or that mountain road with the beautiful view only you and a few other people knew about 20 years ago, but is now a four-lane divided highway with traffic lights and houses on both sides of the road.

People with money and/or access to begin with see something that's popular, and see an opportunity to make more money for themselves off of it and jump at the chance. And then it becomes their vision, not the one that you and they both saw just a few years earlier.

Zach said...

I'll leave a couple comments from a redditor who says it better than I could.

supercore23
"Isn't the definition of "indie" a movie that receives independent funding? Just because Braff is a well known actor doesn't make his movie any less "indie" than some guy right out of film school trying to finance his first movie.
Regardless of whether Braff could have gotten traditional funding, isn't an artist's choice in the manner in which he funds his projects an important statement about the sort of art he wishes to produce?"

"I just don't see how anyone can hail Kickstarter as this wonderful way for artists to break free of the corporate/studio system and then react negatively when one of those artists, who has repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with the studio system, uses Kickstarter to sidestep the studios."

This argument is one huge, bumbling fallacy that fails to recognize the word 'art' in a proper context.
Also, the way you didn't mention Double Fine was such wonderful misdirection on your part. Your logic is so tight, I don't think anything could escape is disingenuous grasp.

Christopher said...

Your point is a good one, but not entirely true about Sundance. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was made by a small collective of filmmakers with no major stars and no Hollywood funding. It went on to make loads of money and was nominated for an Academy Award. It premiered at Sundance 2012.

Anonymous said...

I think your post misses the point. Firstly, the idea that those who fund a ZB movie are would-be funders of films from unknown filmmakers doesn't make sense. People who fund ZB want to see a ZB movie, people who fund an up-and-coming filmmaker want to support up-and-coming filmakers. So...the real point of kickstarter is to connect people who need money with those who have money and interest in supporting. I don't think a ZB flick is notably more competitive with an small indie film on Kickstarter than is a project to create a new ipad case. Different audiences.

Further, if an artist (and let's just go and say that ZB is an artist...some may argue!) is always beholden to someone, isn't it better to beholden to your viewing audience than to a movie studio? In addition to the marketing value of the Kickstarter funding approach, it also changes the politics behind the creative process significantly. I think that can be valuable.

MEEfO said...

You're far too late here. The movie's reached its funding goal. It's a done deal. Where was your outrage when the project launched?

Danny G said...

Support a real kickstarter project! Seriously. Please. Help us. Please. We need it. Thanks. We're broke. http://kck.st/YX7dS9

Benny Boy said...

This whole post seems to be laboring under the presumption that people like me who support kickstarter projects have a certain amount budgetted away that we'll be spending on the site regardless of what's being worked on. Money going to Braff's movie isn't taking away from some film project I would be supporting otherwise. By the same token, if Braff opted NOT to take his project to kickstarter, I wouldn't automatically take that money I spent supporting him and plug it into something else.

Kickstarter is an incredibly democratic system with almost no parallels to the Sundance festival. You're little guy gets to set his stuff up right next to the big guy and market completely different projects to the same audience ... not present his project to a board of industry experts for approval before he can even get in the door. Regualr guys like me and industry people like yourself both vote with our dollars. You may want to se more small projects; in this particular case I'm interested in supporting a Zach Braff movie. Let's each spend our money the way we want and see how things pan out.

Anonymous said...

The whole point of Kickstarter from a "backer's" point of view is to support the projects and ideas that you are interested about.

If no one wants to give a dime to the "Mobile" kid then it is their choice.

Same as it is your choice to not give a dime to Zach Braff...

So, while I do understand your point of view, I don't see why this is such a big deal.

Anonymous said...

I think this has been beaten to death. However, I ask what good your statement makes. Yes it would be great if everyone supported the "little guy" however there are faults to your logic. IF bigger names did not drop into Kickstarter then many people would never even go to kickstarter. The people you want to be funded might miss a little money that is actually brought in by those with an already existing audience. I see it like going to a huge concert with twenty bands. You go to see three or four but you overhear awesome small bands that haven't made it as big.

GregStolze said...

Hi. My name's Greg Stolze and I've used Kickstarter to successfully fund twenty-two different projects, for a total of $28,915 so far. (Here's me on KS: http://kickstarter.com/profile/gregstolze/created - with another project ongoing.) I think I have a fair claim to be one of those little guy outsider artists using KS 'correctly' by your lights, and I don't feel threatened by Zach Braff even one tiny bit.

I don't think there are a lot of people out there thinking "I have only $5 budgeted to funding creativity, and it's down to this horror short story by this yutz in Illinois, or Zach Braff's quirky daddy movie." Saying I'm competing with Braff on KS is like saying my books are competing with candy bars because they can both be purchased using twenty dollar bills. KS is not a nature preserve for fragile artists who can't hack it in the big leagues - or, if it becomes that, I believe it will be to the detriment of KS and ultimately of all those of us who use it. Here's why.

My experience with crowdsourcing is that it's ultimately all about trust. When people ask Spike Trotman the 'secret' to breaking wide on KS (as she did here http://kickstarter.com/projects/ironspike/poorcraft-a-comic-book-guide-to-frugal-urban-and ) she says, "Step one is to spend ten years building a reputation by giving away comics online." Any dingdong with iMovie can put together a pitch video - I'M living proof! People want a reason to believe they're going to get what they're promised. Why did Veronica Mars do so well? Because for three years people could watch this great show for free. They trust the creators and the actors, so of COURSE they fund heavily.

I'll come clean: I didn't like Garden State, I thought it was piffle. But people who support it are not being lied to, misled or tricked. They have an excellent idea of what they're going to get, which is (pretty much by definition) not the case with supporting a struggling garret-dweller who hasn't gotten any exposure. Or, in the best case, deserves exposure but has not yet earned it.

I think KS is a big tent with room for me and Zach Braff and, moreover, the more people trust it the more reliable the system becomes. In Braff's case, they're trusting something that's not to my taste, but if they trust it with a big Hollywood movie, and that works, they're more likely to trust it on something riskier. Like that undiscovered genius in Ohio at the beginning of the creative journey. Or me, in the middle. Or, sure, Rob Thomas at the top.

-G.

Sean C said...

Film festivals used to be the first step to a deal with the big six, but now that the internet has become the first step, it's natural for sundance to be the final step. Do hungry filmakers even need kickstarter when the cost to create a story is so low these days? Do hungry musicians need kickstarter to record a song? Maybe kickstarter isn't for the hungry, but rather for those that haven proven they can follow through.

Ben Hennesy said...

If Kickstarter had a discreet number of funding dollars, I'd agree, but it doesn't. You're assuming Braff's film is taking money from other projects, but that's a pretty big assumption to be making.

In fact, I think at this stage your argument actually hurts the little guy more than it helps. Big names like Doublefine or Braff draw new users to the KIckstarter community and Kickstarter's available funds are only as big as the audience the website can attract. More users means more dollars. If not for Doublefine, I would probably never have gone to website mtself, or funded any subsequent projects after that initial investment.

Ashley Nichols said...

You make a valid point. When you take something small and independent and make it main stream, it loses the original purpose.
However, you didn't completely do your research before talking about Veronica Mars. Had you done this, you would have found out that the studios don't want to make a Veronica Mars movie. There was one in the works a few years ago, but Warner Brothers shelved it. There was absolutely NO interest in finishing the story left open by the tv show when it ended. The only "Hollywood people" interested were Kristen Bell and the creator/director Rob Thomas. Those two lobbied to have the first movie greenlit, only to have it cancelled. Kristen Bell has been ridiculed numerous times in many different articles about "keeping the Veronica Mars dream alive". They did everything they possibly could to have the movie made and the studio execs denied it. Finally, they came up with the KickStarter idea and went back to the studio and it was then that the execs said if and ONLY IF you get this funded by the fans, will we give you the rights to make the movie. The studio truly believed there wasn't enough interest in this project to make any money off it.
I donated to the Veronica Mars movie, because I was a fan of the show, and just like my FireFly compatriots, I wanted a conclusion. Thanks to Kickstarter, now I'm finally getting that.

Shivan (Shy-Vin) said...

You don't have a good point at all. You have a stubborn whiny baby reason for not wanting to support him. Just because someone has their foot in in the door doesn't mean they have people wanting to pay for projects. Look at Veronica Mars. It has Kristen Bell's name on it and studios still didn't want to back it.

And Kristen Bell IS a bigger name than Zach Braff. Do you think Garden State was a big source of income for the bigheads? It probably wasn't and thus a lot of people shut the door on Zach. How is that fair?

Because of your post I am going to donate to Zach even more than the donation I already sent.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with most of what you said, but I don't see a reason to limit who asks for funds on Kickstarter. I like the idea that Braff can maintain his creative control via Kickstarter, after all, every project he starts faces the same threat of corruption that occurred to the Sundance Festival. It just happens on a smaller scale; casting, directing, rewrites, etc. until the vision Braff wanted to bring to the screen is altered.

To that end, fans who want to see what Braff can pull of with complete control and independence should be able to fund his project if they choose. The return on their investment is art purged of the influence of the lowest common denominator.

Mike Barer said...

I wish there was a "like" button on your comments as some of them really catch my imagination.

LaNeshe M.W. said...

This post is SPOT ON. I felt the same way about Veronica Mars, and I was even a fan of the series. These big names are abusing something that is supposed to be used for those who don't have the connections they do.

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog post! I agree completely

Anonymous said...

I very much used to agree with the sentiment of this article: People who have alternative options for getting their projects funded should use them so that they don't steal funding from projects that have no other options.

Then I saw some really interesting data: high-profile Kickstarter projects actually result in an INCREASE in funding for unrelated projects. What it comes down to is this: crowdfunding isn't a zero-sum game. There isn't a fixed population of people with a fixed amount of money to contribute to a fixed number of projects. Instead, someone hears about a big project, checks it out, makes a pledge, and then while they're on the site, they start browsing around, and suddenly they're contributing to several other projects, where before today they'd never even been to the site before.

I'm not going to be contributing to Braff's project because I think Garden State was overhyped schlock. But I think he's perfectly welcome to use KS to fund it, because doing so will bring more attention to projects that I DO care about.

Aaron Coats said...

You know you are hurting the little guy with you nonsense right?

Kickstarter themselves say that project like this bring more exposure to the smaller projects.

http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/blockbuster-effects

you might consider informing yourself before you go spouting bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that your stance is really fair in that, just because someone has had successful projects at some point in their career doesn't mean that they automatically get into some elitist Hollywood club, where they have access to infinite money and can do anything they want. The Veronica Mars movie was on the shelf for three years, and was rejected over and over again in that time. I don't see how it is any different from any other project on their - Kickstarter is enabling people to directly bring a project they believe in to fruition. It's not like most of the people funding that project were just browsing kickstarter and saw that it was a "hollywood" project and decided to give it money that they would have otherwise given to a different project - they were there specifically for that project.
Also the three million dollars Veronica Mars raised is very small compared to what most "Hollywood" production companies would put up as a minimum (around 60 milllion) So the Kickstarter route is not just a convenient alternative, it would be a last ditch effort for most of the people with Hollywood contacts.

Anonymous said...

*talent

Shaun Hutchinson said...

I'm sorry, I just don't agree. I don't care for Braff so I have no intention of supporting him, but I did support the VMars project and I'll continue to support projects I believe in whether they come from famous people or nobodies.

My main issue with your argument is that Kickstarter should be for little guy. Why? What makes them more deserving? Because they haven't hit it big yet? It's not as if there is a seriously finite amount of resources to go around and that funding VMars means dozens of little films won't get funded. Yes, resources are finite, but not so much that we're sacrificing a hundred indie films to get another Zach Braff movie.

Is it because Braff (and other Hollywood bigshots) could get funding? I mean, sure, okay, they probably could. But we've all seen the results of too much meddling by corporate stooges who care about balance sheets over film integrity. Kickstarter offers a way for artists to produce their art THEIR way, without interference. Just because an artist is well known doesn't mean they should be excluded. In fact, I'd argue that people like Zach Braff—people who are famous but aren't megastars who can do anything they want—are more vulnerable to meddling. They can get the money from studios, but will likely be subject to major interference.

The bottom line is that if you don't want to support a project, don't support it. But don't act like anyone who does is supporting The Man at the expense of the little guy. Crowdfunding isn't a zero sum game.

... said...

when people are complaining about shit like this in a long post you know the world has gone soft...

Saib said...

Nice sentiments, Mr. Levine. Except, you know, that you're completely wrong.

Kickstarter ISN'T a charity. It's not about giving money to poor, Bambi-eyed filmmakers out of the goodness of your heart. Kickstarter LETS you do that, but that's not what it's about. See, on Kickstarter, people get rewards for donating. It's not a charity, it's a business. You give the money before it's produced, and you get a something in return. Kickstarter is about financing projects that you want to see, usually projects that aren't marketable enough for the conglomerates.

In fact, you can usually tell which Kickstarters are "good" by seeing if one of the rewards is THE THING YOU'RE SUPPORTING. A few examples:
(1) FTL. It's the ultimate Star Trek simulator, and it was financed on Kickstarter. The kind of game that no studio would've even given two glances at (The recent studio made Star Trek was a shooter, somehow) was put on Kickstarter asking for $10,000, but made $100,000. It's gone on to gross much, much more, BECAUSE PEOPLE WANTED TO PLAY IT!!! And they got to: the $10 reward was a copy of the game. And you can now buy the game on Steam for $10. And it's GLORIOUS.
(2) The Veronica Mars movie. You don't seem to know this, but Veronica Mars is a CANCELED TV show. No studio was willing to touch it. But the fans wanted it. And now, thanks to Kickstarter, they'll get it: The $35 reward was a digital copy of the film, a bit pricey, but the fans still get what they want. But I guess you don't keep up with TV enough to know any of that. (...wait, you're a TV writer?! Ouch.)

Zach Braff is keeping up with these ideals. For $30, you get to sit in on an online screening of the film, followed by a Q+A with Braff himself. Again, the fans get what they want.

Please, please, PLEASE!!! EVERYONE!!!! Stop thinking about Kickstarters from the perspective of the content creators! Think about the Fans, Contributors, Donors, or whatever you want to call them. They're the ones who matter, not Braff or anyone else. And, like it or not, $2.4 million says that people want to watch Braff's movie. Let's respect those people.

(Also, you can't donate less than a dollar to Kickstarter campaigns. So you COULDN'T donate one dime. At least he's right about one thing.)

Andrew said...

I'm not sure why you, a professional, published author, are writing a blog. Blogs are supposed to be for people who haven't made the connections to get published yet, or whose views are too outrageous or controversial. How dare you take up valuable cyberspace on Blagger that could be going to unknowns?

Of course that's ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as what you are saying. If people don't want to support a kickstarter, they won't. If they do, they will. It won't stop them from contributing to a project just because there isn't a "name" celebrity attached (or whatever your objection really is- I have to say I'm still not sure).

Oh, and to commenter RJ Hope- "You and I and everyone else are in the minority in our way of thinking on this" may be the silliest sentence I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the read, and agreed with most if not all your points, but when I read:

"The next Kevin Smith is out there…"

you kind of lost me. The late 80s early 90s indie business model was exactly that -- a business model; and it created other pseudo-underground forms of funding. Think of all the wonderful filmmakers who were left out of the mix precisely because of a film like "Clerks" being venerated to high holy heaven like it was the second coming. Part of it's appeal was this backstory of maxing out his credit cards, indie aesthetic, us v them indie mentality, etc... and Kevin Smith is a canny salesman and used those points to his advantage.

Kirby said...

I doubt you'll get to all these comments but I wanted to reply.

I think you are missing the point and don't understand the natural lifecycle of things like Sundance, or Kickstarter or artist.

Things start small...get popular and then decline.

Things change. Sundance got successful. It has evolved into something you don't like, thats fine. I'm sure the Sundance folks don't care and love that their tiny festival has become something huge.

If you don't like it...don't attend. Don't submit. There are TONS of of festivals you can apply to.

Braff or Veronica Mars runs a Kickstarter. A completely viable way to raise funds.

If you don't support his project...don't. Your call.

If you think Kickstarter has evolved into what Sundance is... don't support Kickstarter...there are TONS of other Crowd Funding resources.

Complaining that its unfair that someone who has had some success shouldn't do it is dangerous. You are now censoring who can and can't try to get funding. Can only people NO film credits. No hollywood types...only people with Canon cameras? Only one legged hermaphradites...because that makes it "fair'?

Braff's success has nothing to do with yours and doesn't invalidate your attempts to succeed. Shitting on what hes doing is wasting time not creating what you could create.

You can be great. Go do it.

Anonymous said...

This sidesteps another issue - Zach Braff is a multimillionaire. One paycheque from Scrubs would be enough to fund a modestly budgeted film like the one he proposes. Why not fund it himself?

gbmatty said...

Right on mark buddy! Last year, a group of us did a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to do a short film. We met our goal (exceeded it by $1000) thanks to some very generous people. But, we had to *beat the bushes* to get that money. The time and effort we spent was exhausting as we busted our @sses doing the work to raise money. Some guy like Braff comes along and people show up with money falling out their @sses just to be a part of it. Where were those people when we needed a few bucks?

This isn't the example and I don't think that Hollywood *rogues* like Braff have the credibility to do this. Sure, they've got the balls but in the end, does it make sense to fund this guy? Absolutely not!

Anonymous said...

About the Veronica Mars kickstarter, I take issue that the studio didn't want to pay for the film, but was more than willing to pay for the marketing if they were able to get the money from Kickstarter. I don't know how they'll profit off the film, but overall I think that goes completely against the purpose of Kickstarter. I'd rather pay to see a move 10 times that was made either on the studio dollar, then to have it use their fans to pay for it out of pocket two-fold, (kickstarter/then admission).

Anonymous said...


I totally agree with Ken Levine, however the people who really exposed the use of social media by one percenters to fund their art projects are AMANDA PALMER and COUNTESS CYNTHIA VON BUHLER. Palmer wouldn't even pay her musicians though she raised $1.2 million, which is very Scientological.

Epicurus Rex said...

To some of the commenters:

Feel free to donate your money to an established Hollywood entity, rather than to struggling independents. You can shovel over money to fund a sequel to a film that has no business having one, to a guy who already has plenty of contacts and access to funding and turn around to pay again to see it. Then you can mistake Ken's post as some kind of mandate you have to follow and indignantly fund Braff's KS even more. You could do all of this, but I don't know how you could without missing the point in such epic fashion and being so fractally wrong.

But hey, keep on fighting the good fight! I'm sure someone is proud of you, somewhere.

I happen to like Zach Braff, but this is akin to Richard Branson opening up a gofundme account. So please, save your comical righteous indignation.

Unknown said...

Kickstarter is useful for those that have no contacts in Hollywood/Bay area, but it is also useful for projects where the originators might have credentials/money/contacts, but that the project is something that is not popular enough to have a publisher/studio want to invest money into it.

This is where the fans can come in and where Kickstarter shines. Like one person posted about Veronica Mars, the series creator tried for years to have a major studio take this and run. But the Studio for some reason (They did not think they would get the return on investment?) decided to just hold onto the rights and the project sits in development hell.

Was this a project by Zach Braff that was stuck in Development Hell because no studio wanted to touch it? If so, why shouldn't Mr Braff go to the fans?

However, if this movie had not been development hell and Braff just went the route of Kickstarter because he thinks it is easy money, then I agree.

Bottom Line, how long has this project been tied up Development and not moving forward?

Rob said...

Some of y'all young uns are too young to remember this, but the premise here reminds me of the early days of the www. Back then there was a lot of outcry over the commercialization of the internet. Lots of people thought it should only be used for personal communication, education, self-publishing. Not for business, especially not the big corporate kind. So laughable in hindsight...

bassbone said...

You miss the point of the Veronica Mars campaign. The studio would not have made the movie. The fans wanted it made, thus Kickstarter. As for Braff, true he could get the money from studios, but he'd have to give up creative control of film. He could have funded it all himself, I suppose, but that is extremely dangerous and who knows if he even has those kind of liquid assets?

Eric J said...

I completely agree. I had no idea what kickstarter was until someone sent me a clip about the Landfillharmonic, an orchestra of kids from Paraguay who play instruments made from the trash they comb through for a living. They are soliciting funds for a movie and world tour to introduce the idea to other countries. I plan to give regularly to other projects like that, but I wouldn't give a Hollywood project 10 cents. They're swimming in money already, and can afford to say they are crowdsourcing for "creative control".

Anonymous said...

Hello good sir,

I agree will nearly everything you said other than this one tiny thing. I am a big fan of the Veronica Mars series...and the directors of the show have been trying to get SOMEONE to back a movie for years now...no one would touch it because they did not think the fan base was big enough to turn a profit...once these guys went out and got the money themselves though, of course the distributors of the T.V show jumped on board, so I feel like it is unfair to knock them for using kick-starter once they ran out of doors to knock on.

John Manning said...

Very well said, I really hate how studios are exploiting this stuff. I can see this as a trend for studios to see how much public funding they can drum.

Dave Chan said...

Disagree. Kickstarter is another option for funding. It's not just for the "working man" as you put it. Giving content creators options for funding will help kick money people in the ass when they realize there are alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Kickstarter is for everyone. People should be able to spend their money any way they wish. Why can't fans support a project they love?

The only part of your blog that I support is your title "I won't give Zach Braff one dime" (and neither shall I). That should be the start and finish of your protest. If you do not like the project leave your money in your wallet. Don't poison someone else's well; it is just common courtesy.

Efrat Weisman said...

Even though many people have commented on this already, still feel I need to add as well.
I agree with just everything other than Veronica Mars.
As an avid fan, I've been following them for years and they're talking about making a movie for years, and Warner won't give them the money. If funding was no issue they would have done this 5 years ago.
I actually think the Veronica Mars campaign is a very positive one, because it gave power to the fans regardless of the studio that just didn't want to fund it.

Brendan said...

Ken Levine is showing his age here, methinks. It is an old guard, old tech view of thinking on the movie biz nowadays.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can make content today and if they are actually talented, make it still look good, and easily unleash it to an online audience, where it WILL be found if it is good enough.

The crux of it is, there is a 95% chance that kid in Mobile sucks at film making. I know Zach Braff is a good film maker because he has proved it. I loved Garden State. So my money will go to where logic dictates it goes to: the guy who's movie I loved and I want to see more of.

It doesn't matter how well connected or rich Zach Braff is. The difference is Braff IS talented, and has proven it, the Mobile kid still needs to show me something first before he gets my money. And there is no excuse not to with the easily accessible tech and audience in 2013.

Tanner said...

Hi Mr. Levine, FIRST thank you so much for Cheers. SECOND, thank you so much for expressing in a very intelligent way what my friend I and I expressed in a joking manner at my url. We talked about the exact same thing in our fake kickstarter where we tried to raise money from the Braff's to pay us to watch their movies. Please check out the link! We've been on NPR, the front page of Mashable, and have been doing great on FunnyOrDie: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1398823362/1304285563?token=f6139d13

shaun said...

I disagree on Sundance. I've been a volunteer for 11 years now, and there still is a vibrant indie spirit to it. They have premiers, which are not in competition, and those are the ones with the most star power. Last years wonderful, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" had not one hollywood name. This years "Fruitvalle" has virtually no star power, "Winter's Bone", "Frozen River" "One Too Many Mornings" I can keep naming them. The festival has grown so there is more sound and fury, but it still is a place for unknowns.

Jest Jake said...

You've been stealing my thoughts again, haven't you Ken? Obscene is being kind., but these guys have the right idea:

http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2013/05/02/31600/is-it-wrong-for-wealthy-celebrities-to-use-kicksta/

Dave Fox said...

Yea...support the little guys...like me. If you like movies and new trailers, please check out the site Cinemacho.com

Revan Adler said...

I completely disagree with the article. I think that the power of Kickstarter is that it puts everyone at the same height: the Warner Bros has potentially the same visibilty as a random filmmaker; in this way we (we = their costumers) have to option to decide what will be produced and what won't be produced. Kickstarter imposes to those who use it the necessity of going trough the judgment of the costumer, and I think it's fantastic that also major producers now must do this. So I think that even a major guy like Zach Braff should have the possibility to use kickstarter too as everyone else.

Brent said...

Totally agree with Ken Levine, why should people fund a project from a well known celebrity? It's obvious that if Zach's creation is a failure he will not 100% ruin his reputation in the industry.

There is no risk of repercussion for a mediocre final product. Everyone who donated to the kickstarter may be upset, but Zach's agent can still find him something a few months later. Investing in someone unknown gives someone a chance to prove themselves, investing in this is just gambling.

Anonymous said...

Thats not true at all. Faster than Light? Star Citizen? Star Command? All pulled in over a million dollars and they were made by indie dev teams.

michael somnes said...

You have to consider the point of Kickstarter is to kill the industry in itself, which doesn't discriminate if you're already in the industry or just want free hands.

When you go industry, the problem is getting sponsored, you need a failsafe idea. On kickstarter you can dare take a chance with something completely new, something that doesn't have the hollywood's theme of success template. So you're missing the whole point with your logic, and I feel that you're simply disagreeing to have an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Zach Braff is worth 22 million dollars...at least.

22 million dollars.

I'll bet the net worth of every commentor posting here combined isn't even a fraction of that.

Anyone that gives this arrogant guy a penny to pay for something the damn well EASILY could have paid for himself, and thus absorbed the risk rather than pawning it off on sucker "investors" that won't see a dime on the back end, is out of their mind.

Polseas said...

While you make many valid points, I have no regrets for prepaying for Veronica Mars merchandise that I would have bought anyway, that would never have come to fruition because corporate filmmakers felt that the movie would not be profitable or popular. I actually feel *better* that the studio is contributing some of the financing (and accepting some of the risk) of the movie. You have had many posts decrying the absurdity of decision making by executives: I think these funding methods are just a prelude to the development of prepaid business models for entertainment, a natural progression from "Dr. Horrible" and webisodes, etc. I'm sick of paying huge cable bills that subsidize team sports and detestable reality shows because I want to watch a few quality shows and have access to local news broadcasts in case of an emergency. The truth is that large corporations have virtual monopolies, in entertainment, news, healthcare, etc., etc., and people are getting sick of it. Save your outrage for the current US Supreme Court case on the patenting of human genes, to the detriment of all of our health.

Victor Velasco said...

I did feel a little schmuckish for sending Colin Hanks 20 bucks for the Tower Records doc but I did it anyway...it was a mistake; the T-shirt I received is thin enough to read through

Anonymous said...

I think Ken was also saying that itll be a slippery slope, leading to a Kickstarter that is flooded with big name studios and brands, pushing out the little guy. If you have $10 to donate, 99% of people would choose Iron Man 4 over an indie-made comedy short.

ohio_guy said...

This discussion i think brings up an eternal question about art-making: should we give 'em what they want, or make something new and throw it out there and see if they like it?

years ago, a large FM station in Chicago famously went out and did a very extensive man-on-the-street interview project in order to see what music people said they wanted to hear. and of course, the results were: 1) Stairway to heaven, 2) Hotel California, 3) .... you get the idea. now, does that mean that nobody interviewed would prefer to hear something cool and new? no, it just means that there's no way to ask people what they want that they've never seen before. by definition.

Gary said...

Sorry, you don't get to decide who can and can't use Kickstarter.

"Need" is relative, and you are not the judge of mankind.

You shouldn't tell people what to buy or how to spend their money. It's none of your business. Have a nice day.

Greg said...

I agree, but it goes even beyond celebrity. There are many companies with quite a few successful products already on the market, who simply refuse to pay for their own R&D, just dumping it on Kickstarters. In the same way, remember when Ebay was a place for individuals to sell single items? Now you can't find anything that's not sold by a company that exists entirely on that site, and it took all the fun out of Ebay for me.

Eric L said...

My problem is that he doesn't need to share the profits with people like he would is regular producers funded it. Plus, the creative control that producers have, like naming characters, forcing them to cast certain people, having him add lines to the script, are rewards for funding the project.

He's worth $22 million. He's a successful TV star, and made a respected debut as an actor/director. He can either fund it himself through his own money or loans, or find a producer who will stay out of the way (mostly). I knew he was a major douche (mostly thanks to Punk'd), but this really shows it.

Anonymous said...

Disagree with most of what you've said. I agree that kickstarter is to give people an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have and that Zach would eventually find the funding elsewhere but the fact is: The Joe Blows of the world can now say they've done something like this, or meet one of their favorite writer/actor/directors or whatever.

I didn't donate money myself, but considered since I'm likely to spend the same amount of money to see the move in theatres as I could to see the move prior to its release.

EOM

Ayn R. Key said...

I'm one of those aspiring film makers, but I'm only using GoFundMe. Should I also investigate KickStarter?

Koen Dijns said...

he should totally be allowed to use kickstarter...
as soon as investers and producers come in play you get the weird shit like wild wild west with the fucking huge spider! that producer tried to put that monstrosity in 3 movies because he payed for the damn thing...

yes he might suck the oxygen out of the room for smaller film makers but the chance of them being an actual success is zero to one anyway... this way he can totally do the movie the way he envisioned it and the perks are also nice...

Koen Dijns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

This is merely your interpretation of kickstarter. In my opinion kickstarter is a way that individuals can give money to people who will make content that they want to see. If that is Garden State 2 so be it. Welcome to a free market economy homey

Great Big Radio Guy said...

(standing ovation)

Little guys who really need a shot don't stand a chance when people with real connections pander to the starf*cker in everyone. I always wanted my name in a film credit, but not because I decided to throw money at an already wealthy insider instead of a real diamond in the rough.

Johnny Walker said...

You make a very interesting point, Ken. I'm intrigued!

One thing though, you say:

"The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies."

This actually ISN'T the idea behind Kickstarter. The idea (if indeed there is one grand idea) is that it removes the need for a middle-man - i.e. the studio, the network, or whoever - and puts artists directly in touch with their audience. The way nature intended.

(You can see this for yourself on their "What is Kickstarter?" page.)

This is the most exciting aspect of Kickstarter, and the one that has made me giddy ever since I learned about it.

I backed the Veronica Mars movie. Why? Because I want the artists to be able to make the project THEY want to make... something they couldn't do if they went down the "regular" channels.

Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell have been trying to get a Veronica Mars movie off the ground since the show finished in 2007. It just wasn't going to happen.

And it's not going to suddenly boost their careers (they're doing just fine -- and this little low-budget movie isn't going to do anything for them) and it's not going to net them a huge payday. These guys really want to make this movie because they're passionate about it.

I understand your point Ken, but another way to look at it is this: The studios no longer dictate what gets produced. WE do.

William Gallagher said...

I see your point about Veronica Mars but I don't agree. To me, this is a project whose creator has spent many years trying to get off the ground and who appears to have exhausted every option. You can well argue that Warners should make it, certainly that they could, but your ten-ticket point doesn't work for me because there is as yet no movie to support through ticket sales. There is no avenue for showing support that hasn't tried and failed so it seems that there is only this Kickstarter. I'm sure Zach Braff is a fine guy but his campaign is to make a new movie and that seems a blind investment to me. I'm sure it'll be good, I'm sure I might well enjoy it, but right now it is just a Kickstarter piece of funding where Veronica Mars is a drama that I care about enough to spend money on. You'll notice I say spend rather than invest: I am choosing to spend my ten-ticket equivalent here where it made a difference.

Funding and Kickstarter issues aside, I think it is wonderful that a drama can command my attention like this. I look at the fund total and I don't think wow, that's a lot of money, I imagine how Rob Thomas feels seeing such vivid proof that something he has created has raised so much passion in so many of us strangers. And I imagine how he feels about that after so many years of pressing on despite being told nobody wanted to see this movie.

William Gallagher

sanford said...

Like almost anything involving music, tv, radio, movies, no one is holding a gun to your head to listen, watch, or donate. It would be interesting to see who donated to the Veronica Mars kick starter. After all they have raised 5 million dollars. I doubt that it all came from small donors. I think kick starter is a pretty democratic way of doing something like this whether you have the money to do it or not.

Johnny Walker said...

Wow. This is some big response, too. If this had been Roseanne's Kickstarter, I think you would have broken the internet.

Stephen said...

First of all, Garden State is trash. Second of all, you know nothing about Sundance. Go look at the entire Sundance lineup. Do you see a lot of Brad Pitt and Will Ferrell vehicles on there? Here's a link for you: http://filmguide.sundance.org/event/films

Kickstarter is a great way to get "money people" out of the picture, whether you're Zach Braff or Tom Cruise or my next door neighbor. There's no reason to think that Kickstarter is a zero-sum game. A pledge to an established professional's project is not one fewer pledge to a smaller project. If you don't want to contribute to Zach Braff's project — and I don't, because he's awful — then don't. You can vote with your wallet.

Pascual said...

Speaking as a former film/tv producer, Ken is making some poor assumptions about the nature of the business. Just because you're an actor/indie director does not mean that a studio gives a crap about your passion piece. 99 percent of scripts never see the light of day, and some of those are by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. It's not an easy task, so the best bet is to try and fund the film yourself. Instead of banging his head against the wall of every studio in Hollywood, he's reaching out to the people who want to see the movie get made. I see nothing wrong with this approach because there's a very, very high probability that this film wouldn't see the light of day otherwise.
Maybe if he were writing the next big teen vampire movie he'd be able to knock on some doors, but this is not the case.

Baylink said...

For my part (aren't I always the contrarian here, even if you're already being one, Ken? :-), I'm into both of them, and you know why?

Cause these people want to make films *as fans*. Just like I am. A fan. They want to be able to make the decisions that a fan would make, rather than the decisions an Executive Producer, who had to answer to Foreign Distribution People would have to make.

I entirely buy that argument as they make it, and I do have some -- admittedly outsider -- knowledge of the industry.

What bothers me worse, though, Ken, is that your phrasing seems to suggest that in their using KS for this sort of funding, they will somehow *break* it for the guy from Peoria. History seems to suggest the opposite: Kickstarter loves Really High Profile projects, cause they're an *attention aggregator* -- if I'm there to throw Rob Thomas and Zach Braff some money I might (and I did) look around for other interesting projects and toss them a sawbuck as well, *since Kickstarter can aggregate all the work I have to do to do so*.

Perhaps I misunderstood you, but if not, could you expand on how this is bad for Peoria-guy?

Sarah E. said...

Someone I know brought up a good point. Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Zach Braff were coming at it from two different angles. Thomas has been trying to get the movie made and had no support from Warner Bros AT ALL. After years he decided the only way to get the movie made was go to the fans. That when Thomas started looking at Kickstarter and then it took him convincing the WB it would work. Braff has been reported saying that he did not want to go the studio route because he wanted to maintain control and that is why he used Kickstarter. It's not that he couldn't go the studio route, but he decided not to. Just thought I would throw that out there. Two different sides of the same coin. (Full disclosure: I did donate to the Veronica Mars Kickstarter)

Shanna Germain said...

This is an interesting take on Kickstarter and its purpose. While I absolutely agree with the right to not give a project money based on your beliefs, I don't agree with the reasoning of "he's too big, he has other avenues, so he shouldn't use kickstarter because that's only for the little guys."

After all, Kickstarter calls itself "a new way to fund creative projects." It doesn't say you have to be an unknown. It doesn't say you're supposed to be poor. It doesn't say that you must have no other way of making money for your project.

Kickstarter also says: "We believe that creative projects make for a better world, and we’re thrilled to help support new ones."

Essentially, crowdfunding a democratic way of raising the funds to create something new. If you don't like someone's project, don't back it. However, I think it's one of the fallacies of crowdfunding that you can't use it if you're already successful. Kickstarting is designed to be a system where people fail or succeed based on whether they can drum up enough support. It's what we've all been waiting for, as creators. Creative control. The ability to know early on whether our project will be supported by our fans. Removing the gatekeepers from the system.

Isn't saying, "He's too big. He can't do that" just another form of the gatekeeper we've worked so hard to get rid of? Only now WE want to be the gatekeepers? No thank you.

The system is designed to cut the gatekeepers out of the system and let the backers choose what's worth their time and money. That's the brilliance of it. It doesn't work any other way.

As a side note, I really struggle with the concept that when you're small and starting out, you're full of creative goodness that everyone should support. But when you actually succeed (because of all that creative goodness) you're suddenly a sell-out who doesn't deserve to be supported anymore? I just can't buy into that.

Ranna Kas Hanna said...

Well said Mr. Levine, well said.

2-U-Neek said...

This is interesting, we have just launched a KICKSTARTER..trying to raise money for a cd project

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2-u-neek/2-u-neek-2-r-1-the-music-the-mission
I see more and more people of all levels using this.I hope you can take a moment to write about 2 young people with no funds or name to help push their project.Thanks and yes they work with charities on a regular basis and part of cd sell will go to charity

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Kickstarter, indie film festivals, ComiCons...all of them have been or are about to be overrun by major studios or major players. While it's usually beneficial to get seed money for these events from the big guys, the days of their doing it for the common good are over. They now want their name and projects plastered all over it. The majors now never make a contribution to anything without demanding something in return. Bigger buys bigger and smaller gets tossed to the dust bin.

It's a metaphor for the country.

Kiko Jones said...

If I were worth $22m and wanted to make a movie for $2m with no interference, I'd write myself a check. Unless I didn't believe in myself...

Anonymous said...

How about the funders on kickstarter who get awesome packages and "prizes" for funding an artists vision? You forget, while kickstarter is for launching projects independently, it also serves the public with great incentives! Or would you rather let Sony suck up all the good stuff. . .

Tristan Murphy said...

As he explains in his kickstarter campaign video, it's not that he doesn't have the means to make this movie, but rather that the movie will be very different if he goes through the regular hollywood channels. Projects like kickstarter are the only certain way for an artist to maintain their vision, regardless of privilege.

Benedikto Smith said...

Thank you for setting me straight.

Anonymous said...

Hey hey whoa. Don't go bringing in factual quotes from the website in question. This is about PRINCIPLES and MORALS and keeping the big guys like Zach Braff from breaking out of the corporate mold. Because without keeping the production companies in charge of big money projects, keeping that messed up system firmly in place, we couldn't get up on our high horses for the little guys and ride that sweet, sweet rush of self-righteousness.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

I wanted to add two things:

1. Just because Braff is worth 22 million dollars doesn't mean he's got $2 mil laying around in his couch cushions to fund a movie out of his own pocket.

2. People who are complaining that projects like this are making it impossible for their small, indie projects to get funded need to understand that if you fail or struggle to get funded then it's because people didn't see it, they didn't care, or they didn't believe you could get it done. It wasn't because Zach Braff also had a Kickstarter. Lots of Kickstarter projects failed to find finding prior to these big names throwing in their hats, and lots of no name projects were wildly successful.

Anonymous said...

Him wanting to have complete creative control over his own work is less believable than him wanting to make more money? Methinks you do project, good sir.

Unknown said...

Both reasons of doing a kickstarter are legitimate. Trying to make one reason (They tried and tried and no studios wanted to make it) compared to another (Studio wanted to make it, but they wanted to have control over the vision/content) better is just a matter of opinion.

To me, both reasons to go to a crowd source route is legitimate. The end result is the same. The creators get to create the content the way it was meant to be created.

Ken Robinson said...

http://celebritynewsie.com/kenneth-robinson-will-robert-kouba-and-kickstarter-kick-ass/

Ken Robinson (see my by line)

Ken Robinson said...

http://celebritynewsie.com/kenneth-robinson-will-robert-kouba-and-kickstarter-kick-ass/

See my by-line (attached)

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marconi Bologna said...

Perhaps this movie idea was shopped around for years now and no one wanted to fund it? Maybe he tried everything and this is where he ended up. Also, I think the idea is to NOT have suits telling him how to make his movie. I support anyone that wants to make pure art. The fact that he has a name means that he CAN generate more but it also draws attention to Kickstarter and makes us think about other artists as well. Veronica Mars is a show that was cancelled and they have been trying to make it into a movie for years with zero success. Getting the fans behind something from the ground up is a great idea in my opinion and I feel that Kickstarter can evolve just like anything else. It can work for both and why not support things you believe in and NOT corporations who make the movies. Buying 10 tickets to a movie is only lining the pockets of the executives and gives them more power to keep making the same bland basic movies that are cranked out every year for the masses. I say support talented people period.

Michael said...

I think Kickstarter has made everyone lazy in general. A lot of people automatically jump to it without looking for other funding options. I mean, in a lot of cases it's basically begging for money. Some of the projects have become ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Ken! And so interesting to see this post a mere 3 days after my film (I'm the co-writer and producer) launched a Kickstarter project:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1596892900/stella-maeve-michael-madsen-flipped-post-productio?ref=live

The director's story proves Ken's point tremendously. He left a stable career and self-funded the entire production of the film himself. And he doesn't even get to make out with Natalie Portman for all his troubles!

Please watch this director's video, and listen to the VERY personal reasons he took such an enormous risk. For better or worse, he truly is no Zach Braff.



Anonymous said...

Yes and No.

Your point, which has been echoed by Kevin Smith is a good one however even Kevin Smith gave crowdfunding a shot until he was shamed for "begging for money"

But, beyond the obvious exploitation by dirty industry folk and selling out, there is a broader commentary here.

Creatives, even the famous, are tired of desk minder interference and bean counter logic. Yes Zach Braff could raise $2mil in the blink of an eye unfortunately taking money from the kingdom means you surrender your creative rights for the most part.

I have a movie opening this week which was hijacked, recut and is unrecognizable to me. I'll never take that kind of money again.

As Zach so humorously notes in his KS vid, desk minders want to load up films with "bankable cast" or a studios vision rather than that of the filmmaker they are hiring in the first place.

Fact is, stars don't open films or guarantee any level of success. More star driven films have gone straight to DVD in the past 10 years than ever before.

What works is the "right" cast for the right material. Indie film proves this everyday.

So, no we don't want KS to become Sundance however if stars can help broaden the democracy of film for young filmmakers by taking the power away from studios maybe we can breathe life back into indie film so desperate for capital.

Johnny Walker said...

Ok, last comment on this, but I just had to:

I took the time to actually watch Zach Braff's proposal video on his Kickstarter page... and he's very clear that he DOES have the offer of traditional financing. (The problem is that they're insisting on final cut.)

He's very upfront about his options, and says he'd rather make it with private money and retain control if he could, but if he doesn't get that, it's implied he'll go the traditional route.

Lastly, I cannot fathom what Ken is hinting at by saying that Harvey Weinstein could make a Kickstarter soon. What could he offer that the artist behind the film couldn't offer themselves? Indeed, isn't that the whole point of Kickstarter?

We've seen films created through institutions. Compromised by studio meetings and marketing concerns. Shaped into something for mass consumption to appeal to the lowest common denominator. How many stories can you recount just off the top of your head about compromised visions and Hollywood?

It's Bambi vs Godzilla, and Bambi is finally winning. I want more big name Kickstarters, not less.

Sam said...

This misses the point of what Kickstarter is. It's not a charity; it's an attempt to democratize the capitalization process. You pay into a Kickstarter fund with the assumption that you'll not only get to participate in unprecedented fan choice about what kind of content or product you get, but you'll also get something out of that's worth what you put in in terms of monetary value, with the added psychological satisfaction of seeing something you really want to see (like a Veronica Mars movie project, or a sequel to a cult film) come into being where the studio system would never give a green light. I don't see anything wrong with Zach Braff fans being about to vote and fund their way into something that probably would never get released otherwise.

Tom said...

Even those with recognized names and track records get bypassed or overridden in today's studio system. When you have a large fan base dying to see something produced, but the folks with the money to produce it won't make it happen, it's excruciating because a known (and loved) quantity is stymied DESPITE the known appeal of the project.

For production companies, the purpose of producing entertainment is to drive profit. It doesn't matter how artful or how acclaimed or beloved the produced content might be; if its cost and sales ratios don't align with profit goals, it will be passed up for other projects that WILL. End of story.

Take commercial television. There is a cost associated with producing content, and that cost is funded by advertising. The advertising displayed on the program has a certain value to the advertisers, measured in impressions--how many people will see the ad. If a show costs X to produce and there are Y people watching it (and the ads), X/Y needs to exceed the value the advertiser places on the cost per impression. If it doesn't, then the advertiser isn't getting their money's worth and will no longer pay to advertise on that show.

It doesn't matter how good the show might be or how many rabid fans adore the show, if the sum total of those fans doesn't generate enough ad views to make it worthwhile to continue producing the content. If a show needs to generate 5 million impressions per show to warrant the advertisers' backing and the rabid fans who watch the show only generate 1 million impressions, no amount of campaigning the studios is going change the financial situation because in the end, it's the advertisers' money and it's no worth it to them if they don't get more for their money. so, if your campaign won't quintuple the viewership for the show, IT IS A LOST CAUSE: even if your name is Joss Whedon or Stephen Spielberg.

So, crowd-sourcing can change that. The 1 million rabid fans can short circuit the whole thing by making advertising not matter. And the only way of doing that is by funding it themselves. Instead of paying for the show with their eyeballs on ads (because no matter what they do, their individual eyeballs will only ever be worth a limited amount), they pay directly with their own pocket books.

This democratizes the artistic process and allows efforts that don't have the mass appeal necessary to be financially viable in the commercial world to flourish based not on how MANY people want to see it, but how MUCH the people who DO want to see it actually want to see it. Through crowd-sourcing, a project will be produced not on the value of the ad impressions it generates, but based on the value the audience directly places on it.

With films, the models are different, but still driven by profit models and ticket prices. If a movie needs to bring in $10 million to be profitable but there's only an audience of 50,000 people, no studio would EVER bank on the idea that they can make $200 per ticket. But if those 50,000 people all put their $200 up front, then it's instantaneously profitable, no matter how many tickets are sold, and those 50,000 people get the movie they want to see. Or, if the purpose here is to produce what people want to see, and NOT to be profitable, then those 50,000 only need to raise, say $7 million; the cost is less and the goal then is not to make profitable content, but rather simply to produce content those people want to see.

I don't care if the name behind a project is already a known quantity. It's not about chances or big breaks so much as it is about funding. If those with the purse strings don't see it as worth their while, but the audience sees it as worth THEIR while and THEIR money, then the project gets funded. Crowd sourcing democratizes the process of production by transforming financial ventures into artistic projects, creating a direct dialogue between the content creators and the consumers.

Megan said...

Agreed, Ken. Kickstarter is not strictly about funding projects made by the underdogs, but also for the people to support projects they want to see get made. Some are going to be on the Zach Braff level, others will be the newbie Kevin Smith's. Fund it or don't, but Kickstarter puts the choice in the hands of the fans and supporters and that is cool.

Anonymous said...

You lost me at "the next Kevin Smith is out there."

Anonymous said...

Garden State sucked.

Megan said...

Ha, of course I typed Ken and meant John.

Anonymous said...

Love this save for one thing: Rob Thomas and the Veronica Mars gang were turned down repeatedly for SIX YEARS trying to get something made for the show in the form of a movie. They decided, after seeing the results on Kickstarter, to have a fan-funded film. I agree with one commenter that says that this one example should be looked at differently than Zach Braff's situation. Was he turned down that many times? He's still a sought-after actor - he can get it funded on his own. The studios told Rob Thomas no, that no one was interested, they wouldn't fund it and he should find another project to pursue. It was a passion project. Anyway, those are my two cents.

Troy D'Hondt said...

From what I understand the Veronica Mars project was an attempt to show to the production companies that there were enough people who were interested in a Veronica Mars movie. Their 2 million dollars goal was not going to be enough to make the movie. I think it is a legitimate way of gauging interest and giving fans the ability to visibly show their support.

This issue of "known producers/designers etc." has popped up in the tabletop/board game section of Kickstarter. Well known companies have been using it to collect money so they do not have to risk their own money. The board game industry has paper (or cardboard) thin profit margins so I can completely understand why the industry would want to collect capital instead of shelling all the money out of their own pockets.

One thing I have learned through all the debates about Kickstarter is that people who love it will always love it. People who hate it will always hate it.

Anonymous said...

That's probably true, but by the time that happens there'll be ten more projects Just Like It To Take Its Place.

Anonymous said...

I am from Walla Walla and been working in Hollywood for over 25 years and could not agree more. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say Ken, you sound awfully bitter in this post. Perhaps you've surrendered control over major aspects of the commercial art you've produced in the past? That's a sad thing, but Kickstarter is providing an alternative model of funding where artists don't have to surrender control. Maybe you should look into it if you want to change the way your games get made in future.

In the end, all's vanity... Jesus, Ghandi, and Bill Gates will all be forgotten to the mists of time, as the continents continue to drift and eventually our sun goes nova. To have any hope of true happiness in the face of eventual annihilation, focus less on the achievements of others, and concentrate on internal metrics.

Anon said...

"It’s a known television series distributed by a major studio. Are you a big fan of VERONICA MARS? Want to support it? Great. Buy ten tickets and see the movie ten times."

Tell that to all of the Firefly fans that have been buying the series and the firefly movie each year since show was cancelled more than ten years ago.
http://www.fireflyday.com/

Casey Smyth said...

You know who else isn't, Ken? Most other people. And that's fine. Don't donate. No one is being compelled, no one is being subpoenaed, there's no Zach Braff Sales Tax being enacted.

Who are you to try and decide, oh mighty arbiter of the creative and ingenious, who has a moral right and who doesn't have a moral right to use Kickstarter? I think I must've missed that in the Terms of Service.

He put it out there. People responded, great. Look at Jonathan Coulton's recent Kickstarter, which I also donated to. Coulton has financial options--he could've financed it on his own. But this gave him a built-in audience.

No one cares if you do or don't donate. This doesn't harm anyone or anything, it doesn't detract from the userbase. No one's forced to do anything.

All of this fuss is childish and idiotic.

Anonymous said...

Being successful and well-known shouldn't be the argument against him seeking donations from his fans that have money to give. You don't want or care to see him make his movie his way, you won't donate. Easy enough. Now this sour grapes article is all over my new feed.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

After reading this blog and the comments, here's a summary:

-Kickstarter isn't just for the "little guy"
-The crowd funds GS2, ZB keeps the royalties? Huge problem, better option would be donating to charity or dividends back to the crowd
-The entertainment industry is moving toward crowdfunded, free-to-view content.

I'm not donating either! :D

Ben Rock said...

I could not disagree more (respectfully). If you think Zach Braff is taking money from people who otherwise would have gotten money, you might consider how many new people Braff brought to Kickstarter.

And honestly, I'm no fan of his previous work, but I like seeing indie films come back into the spotlight.

Here's a blog I wrote with the polar opposite point of view.

http://neptunesalad.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/a-swift-kick-to-the-head/

PGR said...

Many have raised similar points, yet Braff-like examples on Kickstarter are increasing in numbers on a daily basis.

Although I agree completely and am personally not funding anything of the sorts, trying to stop Hollywood is a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest. Garden state sucked.

Meg said...

What surprises me most is people still have money to contribute to anything, much less "projects" on Kickstarter.

I think that's great (Braff is perhaps the exception; never watched Scrubs; Garden State, meh; still fail to see his appeal), but I'm lucky if I have an extra quarter these days. In fact, I don't.

So it's nice to know random people still have extra cash to fund random projects which then, therefore, ostensibly keep people alive with their dreams.

Now. All I need is a "project." :)

Rebecca G said...

I gotta say... the Veronica Mars kickstarter only asked for 2 mil. You guys are really telling me that they worked for six years to get two mil and failed? there's no way. Two mil, while it is a sizeable amount of money for say, you in me, in the hollywood world is almost nothing. You know who has 2 mil? Probably Kristen Bell & that Rob Thomas guy (and probably tons of other people associated with the show). They didn't even have to fund all of it, maybe if they put in 1 mil between the two of them alone, (or ANY amount really, which they could make back with the success of the movie) and been like "Hey, we're so passionate about this we're willing to stick out necks out here, please come help us out!" I'd respect it.

Rasputin1981 said...

UGH... I hear you. I'm currently trying to get a project funded on Kickstarter and it's pretty difficult trying to get any visibility when so many of the featured projects are by people with plenty of other avenues at their disposal.

Thaniel Manuel said...

well said. :_

Alex said...

Absolutely agree with John. I think you're thrusting what you, Ken, THINK Kickstarter should be for. Why is it supposed to be only for people who have no connections?

The way I view it is to help get thigns made that couldn't make it through the gatekeepers of the film/TV/music/comic/whatever-else industries or that couldn't make it through unmolested. I fully believe Braff probably couldn't get this movie made within the studios the way he wanted, so why shouldn't he turn to his fans for it? (also, for the record... I'm not a Braff fan. That kinda smugness goes a LONG way...)

There have been a LOT of people talking about what Kickstarter should or shouldn't be for, and frankly, I think the only people that actually can make that distinction are the people who run Kickstarter.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Shmoe from Walla Walla does, in fact, have the option to track down investors and approach studios, it just might take more time. And just because Zach Braff has a famous name and a film already under his belt doesn't mean that any industry people are going to produce his film. The Veronica Mars film is actually a good example of this: were it not for the kickstarter campaign, it was not looking like it was going to happen. Donations via the Kickstarter not only provided the funding, but also proved that people want to see it. Furthermore, if you want to make a film, and attempt to approach "money people" to fund it, there's no guarantee that they are going to let you make it the way you want. They are, after all, controlling the lifeblood of a film production. If they get it in their head to screw with your idea, they can hold it for ransom until you use their ideas. Kickstarter does not have that problem. So, maybe he could have funded it himself. Maybe. Maybe not. The budget for even an independent film could be several million dollars. He might not have the liquid assets to pour into a film. Personally, I think any time you can take "money people" out of the equation, it's a positive thing.

Jon said...

I'm an indie filmmaker and plan to use crowdfunding to do a film that I'll have a hard time to get funds for as well. But I like Zack Braff's campaign and his movies. Unlike Veronica Mars he is doing it as an independent filmmaker for the express purpose of working outside the studio system that would require him to use certain names to be funded. I like the perks he offers and I think his campaign is one we can learn from.

Even unknown filmmakers can work within the studio system. They just have to learn the ropes of having the right script and attracting the right name talent. But indie filmmakers generally prefer to work outside the system without those limitations just like Zack. So it is by choice that they (we) turn to crowdfunding. It's not true that crowdfunding is one of the few or only ways they can get funded.

If Zack can do it (and he already has done it) then we indie unknowns can do it too. People like Zack just might bring more attention to crowdfunding where we too will be found.

Tom said...

Braff isn't taking away money from another project any more than Ken is taking away a sportscasting job from someone else who wants to do it. They're both doing what they do, not because they need to go that route, but because they want to, they're working hard for it, and they both deserve to succeed or fail on their own merits.

eternaly relyneat said...

I can guarantee you this movie on kickstarter -to be filmed in Mobile, AL- will be a much more interesting movie than anything Zach Braff is about to do. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1587941208/infinity-girls-a-sci-fi-thriller-by-burning-mirror

Zach Braff quit stealing from our tip jar said...

It's a nice departure from the frightened Hollywood a** kissing to read an insider who understand Braff's punka** move.

PolyWogg said...

I love how everyone has said WB wouldn't do the film and therefore KS was the only way to do Veronica Mars. No, that's not accurate...it's the way it was pitched, but it's not even remotely close. It was that WB et al couldn't come to a DEAL that made sense for WB. And look again at the reality, WB et al ARE involved, they just used KS to take the edge of some of the price risk. So WB used KS to leverage venture capital...cuz WB needs it? No, cuz it was there. They had a 1000 other ways to do it, and they did it through KS because it was easy and different and they could "sell" it upfront as "this is the only way". It wasn't the only way, it was their cheapest way. Same with Braff -- he wasn't willing to give up some control point to do it another way so he went this way.

The movies COULD have been made, just not with the same terms they get now. That's a far cry from what Ken is talking about where he's focused on Joe Schmoe who can't get into a room with anyone closer to the film industry than the usher at the local cineplex.

And all the commenters can rewrite history as much as they want -- Kickstarter from the beginning, all their press releases, interviews, etc. have been about "helping the little inventor" who doesn't have access to venture capital.

Finally, anyone who argues that all the $$ came from NEW investors and that doesn't hurt anyone else is basically a naive waif -- investing $$ is finite, it's not unlimited. Yep, it increased slightly, but if you put Joe Schmoe's film idea against Veronica Mars, which one would get funded by EVERYONE, not just VM fans? Which means Joe's film didn't. Simple economics, and more than backed by the evidence on the site that a significant portion of VM investors were NOT first timers only. If you want to sling mud, try getting your facts straight first before you jump on Ken's back.

P.

Blake said...

I'm curious about your feelings regarding Paul Schrader's upcoming film "The Canyon's". That was a kickstarter venture, was rejected by Sundance, and has big name talent associated with it. I feel like that film would fall under your "shouldn't be allowed on kickstarter" reasoning, but having worked on the film myself, I would have to disagree. Kickstarter is a place where anyone can put an idea up for sale, and usually incentives are offered (example: tickets to the film's premier) so how is funding Zach Braff's film bad? No one is forcing anyone to contribute...

Gavinne said...

What you guys are failing to see here is not that he doesn't have access to finances which would allow him to film the movie, it's that he doesn't have access to finances which would allow him the film the movie while retaining creative control.
To put it another way, imagine you write a song. The record companies are willing to back your song and record it for you, advertise it, put it out on the market for all to hear but want to possibly change a few things in it. Sometimes more than a few things. Now you have two options, you can give creative control up and allow the record companies to record, publish and advertise your song, knowing they can and likely will change it in ways you may not like or you can seek outside financial support from other sources, such as kickstarter.
Sure, he could get it filmed right now if he gave up creative control of the film but he, like most of us, does not like the idea of allowing others to change his movie in ways that he may not like and not being able to do anything about it if he does not like the changes.

wiseguyrudy said...

So in his interview with KCRW he said he had gone the long route,even started making movies,to just have the rug pulled out from under him, so many times infact that he went to kick starter,i get what you're saying,but crucifying zach braff and not veronica mars,get out of dodge. Its sad that people have great ideas for movies,but Hollywood rapes them,then sells whats left, or ends up owning all the rights to the movie,and never makes it,the real villain is Hollywood,not some actor pursuing his dream. in the end it's people's money,whether they choose to not get involved or do and donate, its not like hes holding a gun to their heads,if people all agreed with you then he wouldnt receive a dime,and that'd be the end of it,but he has received all of the 2 million that he needed,with 16 days left,so yeah,i guess people want more zach braff,and less Hollywood inference.

Anonymous said...

Zach Braff can easily make the movie in hollywood but then it wouldn't be HIS movie, it wouldn't be his movie in the sense that hollywood would change it. With him using kickstarter he doesn't have to sell out

Oliver said...

"The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies. "

That's not the idea of Kickstarter, that's the idea you've projected onto it.

When it first launched, the founders wanted to use Kickstarter to fund the continuation Arrested Development and even pitched it to David Cross who invested in the company.

I wouldn't give Zach Braff the money, but that's because I don't want to give money to fund a multi-millionaire's vanity project. I don't think it's against the ethos of Kickstarter, though.

I think Veronica Mars is different. Warner refused to fund it because they didn't think there was a market. It wasn't going to be made any other way.

Imagine you wanted to make an Almost Perfect movie and you were convinced there was a fanbase. Could you get off the ground with all your connections and industry experience? I doubt it. How is Veronica Mars any different? Especially since Almost Perfect's ratings were far better than Veronica Mars'.

Saxon said...

I See the point you are making, but I don't agree.

Firstly I believe you and others like you who are saying, 'this was not the point of kickstarter' have nothing to back that up with. I can see no references anywhere that kickstarter was only ever intended for the little guy. Just because that's how it's been used up till now does not mean that it is the only way it can or should be used.

Secondly who gets to decide who is 'Too big' to use this service. If I completed Film school odd's are I have SOME contacts already, does that disqualify me? What if I'd already made a short or a Film before but no one will fund my next one? What if I'm Kevin Smith after Clerks, trying to make Mallrats but no one will fund me?

Is it, "To bad Mr. Smith you have already made a hit underground film and have met the Weinsteins, you have enough contacts to make it on your own."

Zack was clear about his reasons for using Crowd-sourcing. He wanted to make the film unhindered by the demands of Producers and Financial backers. How many films have we seen ruined by Market-testing and 3rd party interference? Maybe this is the beginning of a new way for people to make films they way they want to.

You absolutely don't have to back him. That your prerogative. But I think this idea that 'These people' can use Kickstarter and 'Those people' can't is elitist. Any system put into place to weed out certain users would most likely end up preventing numberous deserving projects from getting made. So I hope no such system is ever put into place.

Personally I've Already backed the Project, and I very much look forward to seeing it in the movies.

AntiBall said...

There is also SEIS (UK) for raising capital. We are about to launch a funding appeal for a sports/football game app. Our first venture.

Lindsey said...

I definitely disagree with this point, Ken - "So someone who otherwise might have funded the Mobile kid instead will toss his coins to Zach Braff because he figures it’s a better bet and he gets to rub shoulders with show business. "

You're assuming that people who donated to Zach Braff's kickstarter or even the VM kickstarter have some type of finite 'kickstarter budget', and this month these two big projects took the money away from the little guys? That's not how it works. There isn't a sum total of kickstarter cash to go around.

Just because someone donated to a project they want to see -- like Veronica Mars -- doesn't mean they would have donated to the Mobile kid otherwise. That's not how entertainment purchases work. Sure, I could donate to cancer research instead of kicking in to see a VM movie. I could also donate to cancer research instead of going to see Iron Man 3 this weekend. But it's not like I have a philanthropy budget that must be balanced because of how much I spend on entertainment. One purchase does not affect another. If I want to see a movie, I'll pay for it. If I have to pay extra to see something I really, really love and believe in, well, then, it's my money.

Erika said...

THANK YOU, KEN! I love this. I started contributing to Kickstarter projects two years ago when a local Baltimore-based filmmaker was in need of funds to produce a small indie film. He was asking for $40K. Not $2M! If you need millions of dollars, you should not be on Kickstarter. I really feel this is a disservice not only to truly small-time independent filmmakers but to established filmmakers as well. If this trend continues, how long is it going to be before Hollywood expects every indie to have a successful Kickstarter campaign before it gets funding, even those by filmmakers more famous than Braff with a better track record?

Kate McLean said...

I just want to point out that Zach Braff is FUNDING projects on Kickstarter. In fact, he not only gave to a project that I am producing, he also encouraged his huge fan base on twitter to check out our film... Twice. Many of the folks that gave to us at his recommendation never would have found us otherwise. To me, his success is not a story of a Hollywood filmmaker eating indie filmmakers' lunch. It's about ALL filmmakers, big and small, finding and connecting with their audiences.

Zach Braff has certainly done that (the man has one million twitter followers!). He leveraged that connection to fund his project, bringing a lot of new people into the Kickstarter community in the process, and then he turned around and shared that community with our indie doc. I think that's pretty cool, and I respect him for it.

Not sure if anyone has posted this here yet, but I think it is relevant to this conversation. It's an analysis that shows blockbuster KS projects do have a spillover effect into increased funding for more projects: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/blockbuster-effects

Anonymous said...

The people who hand over their discretionary income to wealthy entrepreneurs, film or otherwise, with no remuneration of any kind in any financial sense, even a tax donation, do not have all the facts. The public is already funding Hollywood productions throughout the country and the world through their local, state or national governments competing with each other to have Hollywood shoot their next production in their location. These rebates are not always fully used, and many states give the unused rebate to the producers IN CASH when production is completed. All of this funding and CASH is allocated from taxpayer dollars to make your state a social and economic entity that provides basic services for the well being of all who live there. There are many reports of states sacrificing funds that would be allocated for police, fireman, first responders, and other public services, to create Hollywood jobs. The sad fact is Hollywood packs up and leaves, fielding offers and proposals from many locations and selling to the highest bidder. Wherever Zach shoots this movie, he will apply for whatever rebates, incentives, or support that location has to offer, funded from that location's budget, paid for by taxpayers. He did not mention the specifics of additional funding he would have access to, and most of the public are not up to speed on how they are already funding Hollywood. Kickstarter will become another "loophole" for the already rich and famous thanks to fans who have not looked at and processed the bigger financial picture of budgeting films these days.

Producers who are millionaires with access to all kinds of funding should not be pandering to people whose average income is $50,000 or less, even for $10 or $20 - you will pay that for movie tickets, and movie tickets are continually on the rise. It is much like not raising taxes for the top income 1 or 2% in this country, but because many want to be Zach, or anyone like him, the majority choose to overlook the underlying lack of social principle in his actions. Zach will write-off a large portion of whatever money he contributes to the start-up of this production as soon as he starts generating revenue from the project. You will never know what his actual profits are - Hollywood is famous for "creative" bookkeeping and he is not accountable to small donors, because they allow him not to be.

Art Sotelo said...

I have a kickstarter campaign going right now. I'm hopeful that people will listen to you and give to those that really needed it. If I had the contacts I wouldn't need kickstarter. I will always try to help the working man. That the way to go.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1214623796/hold-the-line-0

Patricia Steffy said...

Thank you! I'm one of the poor schmoes you mention. I'm doing an IndieGoGo campaign right now, but unless I change my name to Zach Braff, I won't get tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising to get the word out about the campaign. No one is asking me to come onto KROQ and Deadline certainly isn't writing articles about it. Still, we're hoping that somehow we get enough to at least film the pilot: http://igg.me/at/KateDating/x/2815271

Bazlord said...

I really like the discussion that's going on here. And Kate's reply above, about Zach referring his followers on to her project. There's so much stuff on KS now that you quickly lose interest in trawling through project after project, and so they need to stand out in some way to merit attention. If people like Zach Braff get on there and then can direct some attention back onto other projects, I'd find that a more positive experience. Maybe I'd be considered lazy for not happily investigating each and every project, but tbh I've got other stuff to do in my day, and I would imagine that most backers are somewhat like me. KS is still a forum for independent projects, but they've also got to front with the marketing to get themselves noticed, and have the goods somehow to instill confidence in the backers that it's worthwhile. Right? Couldn't this system install people like Zach Braff as "populist" producers, who tacitly back select independent campaigns and get them funded, whereas they might never otherwise have succeeded? And isn't that a baby-step in the right direction?
Baz

Joe Olive said...

Spot on Ken, you said it perfectly. I was furious when I heard about the Veronica Mars thing, and when Braff decided to take the same route, I knew Kickstarter was going to be changed for the worse. Before these 2 movies, there have even been major game studios and successful developers using this to raise money. It's ridiculous, it defeats the purpose, and it's greedy.

vectoron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vectoron said...

Who made you the police of how kickstarter is "supposed" to be used? Kickstarter is a platform that can be used by anyone and the fact that the same platform can be used by professionals and independents just gives the platform more credibility.

It wouldn't be easy for Zack Braff to raise money because as good as Garden State was, it was not a major box office success which is exactly what investors look for when investing money.

The type of movie Zack Braff probably wants to make wouldn't get funded traditionally.

You're totally wrong on this one.

Nate said...

189 comments? Jesus, I know 189 people who need to get a life

Pseudonym said...

Full disclosure: I gave money to John Kricfalusi. There are several reasons for this.

First off, I get a DVD and an original John K drawing. The amount I gave him is the amount I would happily spend on that anyway.

Secondly, the cartoon business is even more dysfunctional than the live action business.

Nobody in Hollywood wants to greenlight an actual cartoon. Everyone wants either a Seth McFarlane show (a guaranteed ratings success, since you don't need to write any actual jokes and it production can mostly be outsourced to Korea) or big-budget 3D IMAX animated features which look like every other 3D IMAX animated feature. The only outlet for people who like funny jokes and funny visual gags told with funny voice work and funny drawings is SpongeBob.

I gave money to a professional on Kickstarter because I want something that Hollywood won't give me, name or no name.

fathamburger said...

Kickstarter is now for presales and "kickenders" as Brenda Braithwaite/Romero put it, but yes we
need a diversification of crowdfunding venues.

This is starting to happen with GoFundMe and also IndieGoGo which has since cleaned up its dollar store image a bit. Let Sundance be Sundance.. there can be other fests to take its place

jenniferstavros said...

I guess it really depends on the name and the value you put behind it. Amanda Palmer was a little/lesser known artist in my world (which I loved throughout my teen years) and I was amazed by the outpour of support she received when she resurfaced. Yes it bugged me about how she was married to Neil Gaiman and probably could have had his help with getting her projects off the ground... easily. But, at least for that first project she did, I thought it was great. And the album was fantastic. And her performances reminded me how much is lacking when it comes to real artists nowadays.

It seems that so many "artists" neglect their craft and fans when they get too big. Their heads expand and they float away. And, to an extent, perhaps that has happened a bit to Amanda Palmer.

Awhile back she wrote a blog about how Bjork was ripped apart for making a Kickstarter. I'm a huge fan of Bjork but would not have supported that project. She's too big of an internationally reknown artist even if her presence is relatively indie.

AFP talked about Morrissey being unable to find someone to sign him and she told him to go to Kickstarter. Morrissey fans everywhere were exclaiming their love and how happy they would be to get new music from him- particularly exclusive content. And that, my dears, is where I think Kickstarter would flourish for a major artist who wants to use the platform.

With regards to Mr. Braff, I never really saw him as a major player in the space. I know he did Scrubs. I know that he had Garden State... I loved Garden State and didn't watch a speck of Scrubs. I don't exactly see him as being the "just made the front of the tabloids because so many people care about him" kind of star power.

And yeah he could have got the funding elsewhere, but as someone said too if you watched the video he was talking about the Final Cut rights. If what little money he raised was much more than that, well um... that's a pretty low budget film anyway and he probably deserved to get help making it by fans.

I will also say this in the opposite: for the most part, especially the upper tiered rewards, they frankly SUCKED... and NONE of them offered a copy of the finished movie... only appointments to watch a screener of it online (which I'm sure someone will likely rip). The whole "omg I could be an extra in a movie if I pay x ridiculous amount" is pure ludicrousness. It's obviously aimed at those who have no clue about how much effort and pay actually goes into becoming an extra in a movie if you really wanted to. (And for those who don't know just call Central Casting and they can help accommodate you to stand around for 8-12/hrs while you make at best $10/hr for the entire day. It ain't a glamorous job and honestly no one gives a shit about you. You're below the PA which is essentially one step above the intern)

That said, if his rewards at been better at higher levels I would have happily supported the project. I still think getting a copy of the script would be bad ass.

This kind of goes back to a completely different medium that arguably "sold out". Does anyone remember how much comic book writers used to get paid before they started making movies? SHIT. And us comic readers at first gave them so much flack for selling out.. but in reality, they were just trying to make their ideas known to the world. If someone wants to make magic and it's someone I believe in, then sure, if I have it, I'll help fund it. If I don't, I'll support it on social media. And if I think you have your head up your ass, I'll totally talk about that too. It's all up to you if you want to help or not. Apparently there are enough people that believe that they really don't have to give a shit what you think at the end of the day... and that's just... reality.

Anonymous said...

I think you've somehow missed a rather important element in your argument, especially when you sight Veronica Mars in your post. Veronica Mars was 100% a different situation then Mister Braff. They had tried to get it made, and it wasn't happening, so Kickstater was the only means to make it happen, AND it gave the fans the opportunity to help make it happen.

You also are incorrect in assuming that Veronica Mars or someone like Zach Braff robs the everyman who's on Kickstarter. I'd never given Kickstarter a second thought in the past. Then the Veronica Mars thing came about, and I donated for the first time. This was a project I was passionate about, and wanted to do whatever I could to help make sure it got made. And now that Veronica Mars has brought me there, I've funded 3 other projects since then. Without Veronica Mars I would never have founded these "everyman" projects. So, Veronica or Zach aren't necessarily stealing money from the everyman, they've actually helped bring more money to the everyman.

Scott Stambler said...

Ken

I don't know why you're getting so much grief about your opinion on the Braff / kickstarter bullshit. Can't people, like me, think it's morally reprehensible for someone so well connected to be so outlandishly full of hubris? He got funding, but turned it down so he could have HIS cut? Are you fucking kidding me?

Chutzpah is admirable, but I think this deal is shameful.

Kickstarter should NOT be so open source in their mission statement. I can't BELIEVE they started the company with the idea that the spoiled rich should have access. or unspoiled rich if you'd prefer.

There was another Kickstarter project started by some well off writers. It was a year or so ago. I offered my FREE time to help them with music. My time, before I recently retired, was around 8500 a week.

There are a lot of people in this business who like my work a lot. I sent the producer team a link to my IMDB, which is no-bs impressive. They turned me down with such an attitude I felt like an idiot. (My own fault, I realize)

You know, you get what you pay for. How can anyone offering free service be any good? IDK. One of their perks, if you donated 10k --you got a genuine pitch meeting with their agents who would read three of your scripts. That was all I wanted.

I know, the sour grapes are coming out of my ears, but the point was—these people said they were making the film if they failed the Kickstarter goal. They said it in their mission statement. they fell short by about 45k. what was the point?

I think that attitude is/was outrageous.

Kickstarter should revise their venue rules. It WAS a place for a hardworking, talented unknown to find their lucky niche in a very, very competitive world.

I don't like the hubris. I don't like the disparity between the haves and have nots that are using Kickstarter.

Some people are lucky enough to be born into families where they will get an education at Stanford, Yale, or Harvard. These students have high paying prestigious jobs where they can choose the companies they wish to work for.

When it comes to handicapped placards and Ivy league educations there's an attitude of ownership, that most kids in the US are not privy to.

Kickstarter for upper income brackets is plain wrong. If someone has the talent, fund it themselves.





XJill said...

Big difference (to me at least) between Mars and Braff. As others have mentioned, they tried many, many years to get the VMars movie made and were told no. Braff just wanted his specific way with the yes he was given, a yes that Rob Thomas would have LOVED to have.

In short - VMars got my money and Braff got on my shitlist, when I was formerly a big fan.

Reverend Anaglyph said...

I'm not really sure I see much difference between what Zach Braff is doing here and what Amanda Palmer is lovingly lauded for by the digerati. Arguably, Palmer traded on her reputation and the strength of her following to get her Kickstarter funded. Arguably, she had the resources to make her record through more conventional means but chose not to. Using Ken's logic (as I understand it) the inference is that by doing what Braff is doing, she diverted money away from the careers of other possible 'stars' to the detriment of the musical world.

But rather than being pilloried, she gets applauded for being 'net savvy' and 'in touch with her fan base' and is frequently wheeled out as an example of crowd-sourcing success here at the start of the 21st Century.

I like Braff's work, and if he says crowd funding will allow him to make a better film - and his fans believe that's worth investing in - then more power to him. None of them care one way or another if he gets richer off it. They just want something else that's the calibre of Garden State (it's a trite argument anyway - if I'm paying my ten bucks to see a movie, *someone's* getting richer off it - how is it even important to a customer who exactly that is?).

Personally I'm happy that there's a potential for the power of money in Hollywood to get a right old ass-kicking. Maybe with some Kickstarter competition in the picture, the moguls might pull their heads in a bit and we can start to see a re-emergence of movies that aren't made by conservative money-obsessed committees.

Kate Bennett said...

Maybe you could give a shout out to a film that is trying to raise $30k on kickstarter. It is a film by Richard Dutcher that was created by students he was teaching on how to become a producer. A very unique project. You can see the campaign here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2076544505/the-boys-at-the-bar-a-richard-dutcher-film?ref=live

Kate Bennett said...

Maybe you could give a shout out to a film that is trying to raise $30k on kickstarter. It is a film by Richard Dutcher that was created by students he was teaching on how to become a producer. A very unique project. You can see the campaign here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2076544505/the-boys-at-the-bar-a-richard-dutcher-film?ref=live

Andrew Reyes said...

This is exactly the mentality I hate. Zach Braff or anyone with a name has all the right to try and access money for his film...every bit as much as "joe smo from mobile alabama" who, lets face it, will probably make a shitty film like the thousands of horrible "indie" films out there. All of the big money players on kickstart have been people who built up a brand through youtube or video games first and thats why people were willing to give them money...they are a proven commodity. The reason film festivals, or kickstarter donators or for that matter movie goers don't take chances on indie films is because 90% of them suck; trust me I've been on crews of plenty of them! The advent of digital technology has flooded the market with so many half baked and crummy films that even the few that are good are lost in the shuffle. Every indie artist thinks his master piece is entitled to money. Why are they entitled when they haven't done anything yet? At the end of the day, the only real argument I've been reading is by people who think they are entitled to KS money because they are "indie"; whatever that means. What they fail to realize is that why they are sitting on their backsides online, the Zach Braff's of the world are out their busting their asses, building their brands getting their work out there in the world and that is why they have more money,connections, influence to make their KS campaigns successful. The same argument keeps coming down to ..."well they are rich why don't they just pay out of pocket"....well mobile alabama, why are you asking for donations on KS...why aren't you maxing out your credit cards, taking a second mortgage on your house, selling your car ect? Entitlement that's all. You want your film to get noticed in the worlds of Veronica Mars/Zach Braffs? Make it special, make it noticeable. Earn it....cause these big names started out just like you and they busted their ass to get where they are....just cause you are "indie" doesn't make you a special snowflake.

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