Wednesday, May 08, 2013

My response to your Zach Braff comments


First off, wow! I’ve never gone really viral before. Yesterday I got 622,000 hits. I’m going to be real pissed if today it goes back down to 12.

Thanks to all of you who commented, even those who disagreed with me. Your arguments were thoughtful, well stated, and you made some great points. See Roseanne? People can take issue with me without calling me an asshat.

And you all are welcome to keep commenting.

But let me respond.

A lot of you contend that Zach Braff has actually brought increased visibility to Kickstarter, which is good for the site and good for the little guy seeking backing for his/her small film. If that is so, then great! My underlining concern is that the unknown filmmaker gets hosed. If in fact, he doesn’t, then I’m thrilled. Will this be the case? I don’t know. I think we’ll have to see in a couple of years. In the meantime, more actors and known quantities will jump on this gravy train. That’s a given. Will unknowns still reap the benefit when there are twenty former sitcom stars asking for your money?

Sidebar #1: Did you see where Melissa Joan Hart is trying to get a project funded on Kickstarter? And here’s her big incentive: She’ll follow you on Twitter for a year.  Oh, be still my heart! You and Melissa will be BFF’s! Every day she’ll go on Twitter to see how you’re coming on that dress you’re making for the prom. OR… she agrees to follow 20,000 people and never once looks at her Twitter page. Which do you think is more likely?

Others said my point that investors have a finite amount they will spend and will put their money into Zach’s project instead of others is a fallacy. It’s not a zero-sum proposition. Okay, you may be right. I have no hard evidence either way.

One reader, Andrew wrote: 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?   Uh, the difference is there's more than enough space for all blogs, and I'm not asking for money.  I provide the content of this blog for free. And occasionally you get your money's worth. 

Angry people asked what right I had to determine who should qualify for Kickstarter and who shouldn’t? I never said Zach Braff should be banned. I just said I didn’t support him.

If you choose to support Zach Braff, fine. Or VERONICA MARS (more on that later).

But know this about Zach Braff – he made $400,000 an episode the last year of SCRUBS. His estimated worth is $22 million.  He raised $2.4 million.  Couldn't he front that himself?  Especially since he'd get a lot or all of it back when he gets a distributor.  A Twitter follower, Julieta Colas tweeted: “I think Zach Braff, in particular, is at a point where he should be giving back to the community, rather than asking.” I’m just sayin’… (well, actually she’s just sayin’…).

In Zach’s promotional video (where he was able to get Jim Parson to join him – another advantage he has over the peons) he claims that there were investors willing to back his movie but they wanted some control. They wanted casting approval and final cut. It’s their money, you can’t really blame ‘em for that. And I appreciate his standing up for his vision. But you know what? If he gets his film made, exactly to his satisfaction – he’s still going to have to go to Hollywood for distribution. And it’s not impossible that a buyer might say “We’ll distribute it but we want you to cut this scene or take ten minutes out of the movie or change the music.  Now depending on whether he has other offers he might have a big decision to make at that point.  He still might end up editing his film to someone else’s specifications.

And if his movie does get distributed, some "evil" studio will share in the profits.  

Sidebar #2: When Billy Wilder was faced was this same “final cut” issue on the first movie he directed he shot only the angles he would use. There was no other way to cut the film. There were no alternative angles anywhere.  So there are ways…

And finally, a lot of you agreed with me about Zach Braff but not VERONICA MARS. You pointed out that creator Rob Thomas did try for years to get Warner Brothers to make it and they flatly refused. This was a viable alternative. There would be no VERONICA MARS movie had it not been for Kickstarter. Fair enough and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I also give Rob Thomas points for ingenuity. He was the first to use Kickstarter in this regard.

One great distinction a lot of you made is that for Rob Thomas and VERONICA MARS, this was an absolute last resort.  Zach Braff had backers but chose not to use them.  Kickstarter was a luxury for Braff, a necessity for Thomas. 

But keep this in mind re VERONICA: Warner Brothers had to approve Rob Thomas’ plan to take the project to Kickstarter. This means Warner Brothers does still own it (or part of it). If it’s a hit they still make a nice profit. Look at it from their perspective. They get a possible hit movie, they didn’t have to lay out a cent for production, and they don't have to share the profits with the investors.  They give them T-shirts and souvenirs and they're off the hook.  How sweet a deal is that? On a project they didn’t even believe in.  What a win/win.

I understand the passion of VERONICA MARS fans and wish there were enough ALMOST PERFECT fans so I could do the same thing. But again, I worry that studios now view this as a viable way to get movies made at no cost to them.  Warner Brothers is probably saying, "If only we knew about this before we greenlit JACK THE GIANT SLAYER."

And I’ll just leave you with this – I love Kickstarter because it offers an alternative to the studio system. Hollywood continues to consolidate. Conglomerates get bigger and bigger. And choices become fewer and fewer. The result is a new GI JOE every summer. Through websites like Kickstarter we have the chance to see different, more personal, less commercial fare. We also have the chance to see amateurish shit but that’s beside the point. I just want to make sure those young filmmakers have a shot. That’s all.

And I want my Twitter feed to be so dazzling that Melissa Joan Hart will follow me

UPDATE: I understand that Zach's fans have been asked to rally to his defense so I'm getting a lot of comments supporting him, which is fine.  Please continue (although I'm sure I'll now get a bunch saying that's not true -- whatever).  I just want everyone to know why the sentiment seems so skewed.  Okay.  Get back to bashing. 

68 comments:

Carol said...

One 'sort of famous people using Kickstarter' thing I'm actually supporting is Rifftrax. All the people involved with MST3K are 'cult famous', but I don't think any of them are swimming in money. And Rifftrax wants to do a live riffing of the Twilight movie. To do that they need to buy the rights, and they turned to their (let's face it, rather rabid) fans to help raise the money to buy those rights. And they succeeded. Yay!

Sarah said...

I'm glad you brought up Melissa Joan Hart's kickstarter. I've been aware of it since it started but have not donated. It's only 2% funded. Veronica Mars may have started a trend but not all tv actors are going to be successful on kickstarter.

Johnny Walker said...

It's possibly worth pointing out that Melissa Joan Heart's film Kickstarter is definitely not going to make its goal. Just because you're famous, or you're selling something famous, doesn't mean you're going to get people's money!

Bamboo Harvester said...

I might give Melissa Joan Hart some money if she learns to act first.

JT Anthony said...

Let the market decide quality. While I understand your arguments about Braff's net worth and his ability to fund it personally, I disagree with your underlying bias. It seems small-minded and petty. This is not a zero-sum game. So much so, people are free to support it or not. No one loses.
However it gets funded, industry people will get employed--starving actors, set builders, sound people etc., so a greater good is served in the process.

The Curmudgeon said...

There are good arguments on both sides here, but your analogy to Sundance and how it was taken over rather tilts the argument in your favor, I think. But did a 'new Sundance' appear when the original Sundance was co-opted? (I'm not hip enough to know.) If so, might not a new Kickstarter emerge when the current one gets completely taken over by Mr. Braff and other corporate stalking horses? (And, if so, can you post about it here, so I can get my project in and funded before the corporate lackeys take over the watering hole?)

Jim Beam said...

I'm planning to make a documentary of myself traveling around the world having affairs then retiring to live in Tahiti. please give me money, I'll send you a postcard, thanks.

Aaron Hazouri said...

I hadn't thought about studios looking at this as a viable alternative to them having to put their own money into a project, but you're absolutely right. Why pay for something when you can get fans to finance it for you? I can see a world where Warner Bros turns to crowd-funding to pay for the next Batman movie being made, or something.

One of my other problems with Kickstarter is how many projects never come to fruition. There are no safeguards in place to keep that from happening. Still, backers know that going in, so I guess that's a case of "buyer beware."

Charlie O'Brien said...

Ken , the comments on your blog always have value - whether I'm paying or not.

John said...

It really comes down to 'needed' money vs. 'free' money. From billionaires using loopholes to pay almost no taxes and then collecting Social Security benefits, to food stamp recipients driving $50,000 cars and hiding their sources of income, you have people looking for 'free' money, versus people who actually need the tax breaks or federal benefits to get them or their businesses by.

That's where I think the annoyance with Braff comes from. Unlike the above cases, he's not doing anything that's cheating taxpayers out of money -- anyone's free to donate to Kickstarter if the want to, and I'm pretty sure Zach's not going to take whatever funds he's raised and fly off for a vacation in Tahiti. But it's clear if the net worth numbers are accurate, he doesn't fall under the 'need' category here.

Zach could fund the project if he wanted to, but like many people he doesn't want to use his own money if other people are willing to offer up their cash. Whether or not that's taking cash away from other more need projects is debatable (there may actually be some people out there who are such hardcore Braffites they would only donate to the MDA Telethon if Zach were hosting, but I doubt he's reached cult status). But in terms of eyeballs and webpage space, having big celebs on Kickstarter does suck up some of the web oxygen of the site that could be going to projects done by less-known or unknown people.

Knuckles Buchanan said...

I'll tell you what, if I'm going to shell out what little disposable income I have to share with someone on Kickstarter, it's going to go for a project like this one, rather than Zach Braff.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/antonyevans/glowing-plants-natural-lighting-with-no-electricit?ref=search

lucifervandross said...

I didn't post my long diatribe i typed out yesterday (actually my browser committed suicide stopping me), but In a little reiterated defense of the Vernoica mars movie: I've been told but didn't bother to do the math, if you boil it down, it comes out to $12 a supporter, with a lot of the supporters getting copies of the movie from the campaign, so if you chipped in at the lowest level that got you a copy of the movie ($35) you get the movie and a shirt, WB would easily charge $20-25 for the shirt and a movie ticket is another $12, and with most of the target audience owning a copy of the movie on release day, the chances of it being a smash theatrical success (or even selling outside of the group that has pretty much already bought the film) seems pretty slim. If it does, more power to it, but I doubt it. Braff's movie will play at least Sundance.

My indiegogo project failed miserably. I even asked a pretty well known blogger to promote it, but he politely declined (and I completely understood). But i stuck to it, just wrapped the pilot i was trying to make. Without the money it took over a year, but i managed to get Craig Shoemaker for a scene, which was amazing. Of course now i am completely holding the bag on what feels like an expensive lottery ticket, but isn't that the point of indie film? Succeed or die under a pile of debt.

Anonymous said...

JT Anthony wrote: "Let the market decide quality. . . . No one loses."

What a truly vapid, asinine, and worthless philosophy. Popular films, music, and art are, to a very great extent, crap of the first order. The voice of the people is definitely not, the voice of God.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

Mac said...

Holy crap! 622,000 hits!! As long as you don't start telling us that as you write this, you're enjoying the great refreshing taste of Duff beer...

Good article. Seconds out, round two - no biting, no punching below the belt - I'm looking at you Roseanne...

Ed said...

An ALMOST PERFECT movie??!!

My wife loved that show. I started watching it and quickly became a fan. And normally I HATE most shows my wife likes (we've managed to make our relationship work despite our television differences).

So there's two fans you can count.

Lew said...

My post on why, with all due respect, Ken Levine is wrong: http://tiny.cc/gmwrww

Tony said...

I don't have any interest in backing most Kickstarter projects, let alone those by major Hollywood talent, but I do have one small quibble. Braff and his ilk aren't crowding out the little guy on Kickstarter because the little guy has never had a place on Kickstarter. Successful projects, even ones an order of magnitude smaller than Braff's or Thomas's, are almost all launched on the back of an existing audience of some kind or a friendship or other connection to a major blogger.

Jason said...

You have to donate $300 for the twitter following, and there are only 100 available. And one's already sold!

However, for only $100, you can have some of the other cast members follow you, whoever they may be. Or for $10k, you can be in the movie!

Mike said...

Excellent point Ken about the possibility of the studios starting to try to use Kickstarter as a way to finance and further subsidize films. As an industry worker in Canada I am all too well familiar with the ongoing attempts of the studios to try to get others to subsidize the costs of their projects while keeping the lion's share of the profits for themselves.

The industry already searches out the highest tax credits they can find, which has seen a race to the bottom with various states and provinces trying to out do the others with higher and higher incentives to attract film production to their area. And sure who wouldn't, but essentially the general population subsidizes film production while getting none of the back end profits.

Further the crew ends up subsidizing the productions increasingly with concessionary rates that are below scale and increasingly having to provide expensive computers and software with little compensation in return for a job where we have to work more and earn less, all the while watching hundreds of thousands of dollars being wasted through poor and last minute decision making by those above the line.

Sadly it really would not surprise me if the major studios started to see Kickstarter as a means to reduce costs and increase profits.

Starry*Gordon said...

I don't see the problem. If Kickstarter comes to be dominated by the rich and famous, we'll just find or create another crowdfunding mechanism. Regardless, the important effect of crowdfunding is to reduce or eliminate the power of the present gatekeepers and their prejudices. That will happen whether the participants are famous, infamous, or just folks.

Nevin ":-)" said...

Not all studios are buying into using Kickstarter: http://www.blastr.com/2013-5-3/warner-bros-kills-kickstarter-plan-revive-canceled-dc-animated-series

MizTiz said...

Oh, aren't the angry people fun?

Love your blog, you who takes up so much room in cyberspace.

Yes, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I'm a part of a well-reviewed and viewed web series @ wallflowers.tv. We have no huge names, just a delicious product and we are going into fundraising very soon.

Blerg.

Thanks again for the fab posts.

chuckcd said...

Let me know when someone puts a "Briscoe County Jr" movie on kickstarteer.....then I'm in!

But only if Zach Braff will follow me on twitter for a year.

Victor Velasco said...

This is an issue that will get worse before it gets better; see todays SF Weekly and read how columnist Katy St. Clair attempts to interview the collective spawn of several rock stars who are asking for over 100k to pay for recording costs [sfweekly.com]

Wombat Sanders said...

Movies are a couple of years behind Board and Video games on the Kickstarter track, but talking to the guys at Kicktraq, the data suggests that a couple of high-profile successes does more to drive funding to the small projects than literally anything else. That said, I'd rather see everybody making things I like without the absurd creative disruption of having to secure funding. Some of it'll be terrible, but I'd rather have the people I like be responsible for it.
http://blog.kicktraq.com/board-games-kickstarter-a-gen-con-prequel/

Tim said...

According to my niece, a coworker of hers who follows a Zach Braff internet group said the group was all in a tizzy about yesterday's Kickstarter post, Ken, and everybody was being urged to come over here and defend their Zachy. That probably motivated at least some of those posts from people who have never been anywhere near this blog before and probably never will be again.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken, I tweeted a link to your blog post (yesterday's) because I've thought for a long time that Hollywood in particular and the entertainment industry in general would come to see the Internet as the equivalent of spring tryouts: a cheap test market where the artists and developers bear all the risks and the business guys can come in and scoop up and finance the stuff that's already proved it has an audience. Kickstarter is, I think, just one piece in a much larger picture.

I have actually never understood why some of the very rich people in Hollywood who lament they can't get this or that project made don't seem willing to put up their own money. Especially now, when the cost of production is dropping so much: at Ebertfest 2012, there were several movies shown that were made by a couple of people in their own homes for six figures. If someone like Zach Braff doesn't have enough confidence in the project to put up some of his own money for it, why should we?

Kickstarter isn't *for* those lacking other options; it's hardly likely to drop high-visibility projects that get it attention. But I think it does matter when those with other options use it. Most people have a finite amount of money to put into projects, and contributing to finance Zach Braff definitely means those same people can't put up money for something else. The problem is where do you draw the line? The worthy garage band trying to cut a demo...or the even worthier clean water project in Africa?

wg

FrozenSolid said...

I won't be giving Zach Braff money either, but it's not because he's "ruining kickstarter" or whatever it is you seem to be claiming he's doing.

Here's the thing that you still seem to be missing even after this response. Sure, Zach Braff is rich and has more money than I will probably ever see in my lifetime, but people with that much money don't have that much liquid money. They can't necessarily just pull all of that out at once and invest it, and even if they could there's no way of knowing if $2.5 million is an investment worth doing. Lots of famous people have made kickstarters that didn't make their goal.

Your argument about creative control is also invalid. By funding the movie himself, one way or another, HIS vision and HIS movie will be made. Whether it's distributed like that or not is another story, but the kickstarter is clearly not about getting it distributed. He's going to show it himself in select destinations using the kickstarter money. Good for him.

The entire concept that kickstarter should "only" before indie developers/artists/projects is ridiculous. One of the first extremely successful kickstarters was by Double Fine games. Everyone involved in that game has a lot of money, and could probably have kickstarted it out of their own pocket if they really wanted, but there's an inherent risk to that especially when every publisher told them "this game will not sell." Kickstarter was able to convince them to make the game and then some, and gave them the money to make a living on for the length of the development time. Good for them.

The entire point of kickstarter is to kickstart PROJECTS. It's not to kickstart indie projects by no names who wouldn't be able to make it otherwise. It doesn't matter what that project is, or who's making it.

Me giving money to Double Fine, or Zach Braff, or Veronica Mars, or whatever I want to give money to for a project, doesn't stop me from donating to indie projects. Just like going to see Iron Man 3 in theaters doesn't stop me from going to opening night of the next Darren Aronofsky movie, or seeing Moon, or watching the next Kevin Smith make an outrageously offensive comedy. I've donated to more tiny indie kickstarters than I have big ones, but neither indie nor big name projects stop me from donating to others. My giving money to a project like Zach Braff's doesn't take money out of my wallet that I would have otherwise given to some no name nobody. It takes money out of my wallet that I would have otherwise given to McDonald's or Starbucks. Or are you going to tell me that I'm killing poor starving five star restaurants because I want to get a quick cup of coffee and a donut, or a greasy breakfast sandwich on my way to work next?

It's people like you, the stuck up hipsters obsessed with their indie culture and no-name actors, directors, artists, and developers that are ruining kickstarter. Not the rest of us.

Erika said...

I'm sure many people can't wait to contribute to the Iron Man 4 Kickstarter... http://video.vulture.com/video/Robert-Downey-Jr-Announced-His

perlhaqr said...

Look at it from their perspective. They get a possible hit movie, they didn’t have to lay out a cent for production, and they don't have to share the profits with the investors. They give them T-shirts and souvenirs and they're off the hook. How sweet a deal is that? On a project they didn’t even believe in. What a win/win.

Except it's not "win/win", it's "win/win/win". There is value for the fans in getting to see what they want to see. Yes, WB owns the VERONICA MARS intellectual property, and yes, they're getting a movie made with no up front costs that they then might make a killing on. But there's consumer entertainment value in getting movies made that people actually want to see, as opposed to, well, utter flops.

So, I totally see your point that Zach could have fronted the 2.4 mil himself. (And as an independent filmmaker who has 2 full length films under my belt for under $50k, the thought of a tenth of that money makes my tongue hurt from drooling so hard.) On the other hand, He's got a proven entertainment track record that I don't. So, not only are those folks who fund him on Kickstarter getting to "rub shoulders", but they have a better chance of getting more of something they know they like, as opposed to taking a chance on a slacker zombie comedy. ;)

Charles Wilkinson said...

From Zach himself: http://mashable.com/2013/05/08/zach-braff-interview/

Amanda Kokenge said...

While I still disagree with you on most points, I appreciate the well thought out argument.

However, in case you weren't aware Zach Braff WILL contribute his own money, as well. He's promised to contribute 2-3 million. So he's at least matching what he asked for on Kickstarter.

Jane said...

Did you see this awesome interview with Zach Braff?

http://mashable.com/2013/05/08/zach-braff-interview/

Anonymous said...

I wasn't originally interested enough in the project to pledge. But I'm sending him ten bucks right now because your opinion is so wrong.

-bee said...

I pretty much agree with all your points, Ken. Irksome especially about WB being the one to reap in all the profits if the movie does well - what a racket.

RareWaves said...

After reading your blog, I decided to look into Zach's project, which I wasn't aware of until your post. I read the information on the project and watched the interview and to be honest, I am impressed with it.

If you're familiar with Roy Williams and Michael Drew's book, "Pendulum," Zach's project is very much a "we" endeavor and engages his fans. I hope he does well with it.

By the way, I would totally support an "Almost Perfect" project, even if just getting the old episodes on to DVD.

Robert Clemens said...

With you all the way on this one, Ken. People want to feel like they're part of show business. They deceive themselves into thinking that they are now part of the project or a helper to the celebrity or entity.

I don't know. Maybe a film maker or star will take a personal interest in everyone who donates a small amount. But it's more likely that you will become a faceless pawn that allowed someone to take a major gamble with limited or no risk.

I'll bet if you went to Vegas you could find tons of people who would love to take your money and play the tables. In my opinion, this is precisely what Kickstarter is. "Back my gamble so I can live my dream." Doesn't sound like something I'd be interested in doing.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Annette Funicello is gone, but she created The Annette Funicello Foundation for Neurological Research to find cures so that others might survive this horrible disease.

I don't have a vested interest in saying this except that I have always admired Annette. If you're going to invest in a celebrity name while saving lives and taking a tax deduction, it's worth thinking about. annetteconnection.com.

Surely even Zach Braff would not mind.

Paul Chapman said...

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

Basically, KS has data that supports the idea that high profile projects -- like Veronica Mars, Zack Braff, and Penny Arcade -- makes it easier for lower profile projects to succeed.

Paul Zagoridis said...

Ultimately the use of Kickstarter for Zach's project and for Veronica Mars currently is as a validation that the project can get an audience and presell enough stuff to reduce the risk (in VM's case).

I agree with most of you points, and totally get that studios will see this as a way of shifting risk.

JaC said...

The combined net worth of the people that appear in his Kickstarter video is almost 45 million dollars. I think they could pull if off, especially since the lead role is cast as well as a few supporting parts by the look of it.

Hell, Hardwick is the poorest (sitting on half a million) but using Nerdist, I'm sure he could make their first movie. Nerdist Pictures Presents...

Either way. As it stand, it's like a church. Cult. Whatever you want to call someone who takes donations for profit.

Maestro said...

>"[Warner Bros.] don't have to share the profits with the investors. They give them T-shirts and souvenirs and they're off the hook."

VM KS backers are not investors because they don't assume any of the risk if the project fails. As John Rogers wrote in his blog entry on the subject:

http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2013/03/veronica-mars-kickstarter-thoughts.html

"Is there a chance that the movie might not actually get made? Sure. Shit happens. Is there any chance if that happens that the WB, who's holding that money in a production account, would want to be on the other end of a super-high publicity giant goddam class-action suit if they keep the money? You're adorable."

And since they don't assume any risk, they should not be entitled to any of the profits.

Adam said...

I feel like massively successful widely popular and publicized kickstarter only bring more money to kickstarter, his success gives chance for future success.

You may not disagree but I don't really understand where either of us could ever make a stand on it without fact.

Also cute little note at the end. Hillarious.

DBenson said...

I recall something called Silver Screen Partners, essentially a big investment fund that backed specific films made by Disney. In some ways it was a rich man's version of Kickstarter. They backed their share of bombs, but they got in on some hits too -- with at least some protection from Hollywood accounting.

I can't help but feel Kickstarter money for big studio projects is a bit like dotcom stock after the IPO guys have cashed out. You're allowed the privilege of helping a little cash trickle upwards in exchange for something they didn't feel was worth their own money.

Bob Hawk said...

There's more than enough words about Zach Braff and KS -- enough to choke a herd of horses. I just can't believe that you would say, in regard to Sundance, "Every entry features major Hollywood stars." Do you pay any attention to their lineup each year? There are MANY films shown each year by directors you've never heard of, with casts you've never heard of. And it's always been thus (I've been attending for 27 years). Some films with people you have heard of, other films with unknowns. When there are names -- take the excellent MARGIN CALL, for instance -- they aren't from any studio, and the actors worked for peanuts (usually for scale, or even for nothing upfront -- ever heard of SAGIndie). It's your responsibility to research these things. Otherwise you come off as if you're not really paying attention but just regurgitating erroneous generalities. (P.S. i'm the guy who's credited with discovering CLERKS and Kevin Smith.)

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Maybe 'Hollywood' should start their own kickstarter site, call it The prefunder or something. Or Greenlit Central. Try and see if people really want to decide beforehand which film they wil like.

Mark P said...

Saw on the news yesterday that Donald Trump is cofounding a Kickstarter clone, and he will personally be donating money to projects that seem worthy. I'm sure he wouldn't ask for any kind of control...

Anonymous said...

you're retarded ken!

Jeremiah Avery said...

I agree with your stance on people with celebrity using Kickstarter. They should put their own money up or use their connections and celebrity friends to fund and distribute their project.

Funny thing, when I was reading the paper on the train this morning to work, there was an exerpt from your blog regarding this issue. Certainly getting a lot of traction.

Susan said...

To be honest, your stance really just reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Kickstarter.

People with money are not randomly poking around Kickstarter just waiting to find projects to give money to. You absolutely WILL NOT be able to fund your project without some kind of fan base or following. Those are the cold, hard facts.

I ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2500 (approximately) to produce a mini comic book of an audio show that we previously produced.

From the people who donated, I can count the number of people I didn't know or who weren't already involved with our audio production company on one hand.

So no, funding a big project like this doesn't take money away from anyone else, nor does it cheapen Kickstarter in anyway. Kickstarter has always been about using your existing fan base to make things happen.

More famous people obviously make a bigger splash, yes, but it's still market driven in the end for everyone on Kickstarter.

Johnny Walker said...

Well, after giving it much thought, I've decided to back Braff. It was this interview that finally swayed me.

For $10, being able to follow the production of a movie for 18 months is totally worth it to me. I liked Garden State, but I never watched it again (and it felt a little pretentious at the end), but I'm interested in seeing the behind the scenes. That interview convinced me that Braff's motivated by the right reasons, and I'm now very glad to consider myself a backer.

PatGLex said...

I'm curious to find out how many true "anonmyous" comments you've received over this. I'm finding the dialogue interesting.

[In fairness: I did put a miniscule amount of money on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign; not because I've ever seen the show (I haven't) but because I am a huge fan of Rob Thomas the writer/producer. I have never watched Scrubs or seen Garden State so I wouldn't have put money with Braff anyway.]

Terry said...

I totally agree with you, Ken. As much as I love "Chuck" and hope Zac Levi can get a movie or something going, I won't contribute to make it happen. I will gladly pay to see it, though! These people who already have TV shows and movies out there already have enough money and connections to get things going. ( I kind of resent them for asking for money. We already support them by watching their shows, paying to see their movies, and buying their DVDs.)And I am not in favor of de facto donations to corporations AND paying to see the product. That idea is just infuriating to me!

Anonymous said...

Some nerve when he recently spent a load to build his "dream apt."http://nymag.com/homedesign/spring2012/zach-braff-2012-5/

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

Re:
" Look at it from their perspective. They get a possible hit movie, they didn’t have to lay out a cent for production, and they don't have to share the profits with the investors. They give them T-shirts and souvenirs and they're off the hook. How sweet a deal is that?"

I see your point,it is like the bank bailouts in a way,if they win it's their money and if they lose they can just stick the begging bowl out and ask, "MORE PLEASE,SIR?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZrgxHvNNUc

It's a win/win bet.
Kick-starter is a double edged sword for sure,but I think it is big enough for everyone's tastes.
The bandwagon jumpers who got on Zach's campaign (and I think it is a good one BTW,not that I donated)
would probably never get on a project like Rae Dawn Chong's
"The Celebrant" project,

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-celebrant

"A television pilot about a woman who serves her community in the Seacoast as a "Celebrant" a spiritual witness to life and everything in between"

Her project is struggling to raise a measly 25g.But I'll bet that the same backers of Zach's project probably wouldn't have thrown their spare change at Rae Dawn's project,they just would of put their money back in their pocket.

So it's not like people are going to say I have X dollars,who should I give it to ?
Zach or Rae Dawn ?
A lot of the backers of Zach's project probably haven't even used Kick-starter before,and may not again.
But I guess in the end it's up for the fans to decide with their own dollar where it should go.
It's going to be interesting to see how Kick-starter morphs,and into what sort of beast in the future.
I just hope the force is still with the little guy.

"Back off Kick-starter,George!
That's not your que to raise a Kick-starter campaign for your much dreamed about "Indy on Ice" spectacular that
Disney won't fund" .-)



Anonymous said...

At least now you know what it takes to get people to read your blog...sadly it takes bashing someone who is trying to raise money to make a movie the way he wants it made and not be told how to make it. How would you feel if someone told you what to write?

Cantara Christopher said...

I wrote about Jason Biggs's pathetic failure on Kickstarter back in September on Open Salon--Biggs was asking for only $5000! http://bit.ly/UuFmVO

Maestro said...

FYI the KickStarter folks just posted this:

http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/who-is-kickstarter-for

"If someone is winning, someone else must be losing, right? But that’s not what we see happening on Kickstarter.

"Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter. ... Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far."

Johnny Walker said...

@Maestro, I think that's about the final word in this interesting debate.

I look forward to seeing Ken's Kickstarter! :)

Bill said...

Be glad you don't work in technology where dudes worth hundreds of millions or billions still take funding from other people for their subsequent projects. And 100% guaranteed, some of that money came at the expense of two guys and a dog working in their garage.

Your jealous head would explode.

The question to ask you is "why do you care"? Are you really that insecure for your industry that a former sitcom star asking for a small amount of funding (relative to your industry's norm) is a threat?

How about looking at this another way - that ZB has done a pretty tremendous job maintaining a fan base online with (to my knowledge) 0 vampire or zombie-based roles. And he has to my knowledge done this via his embracing of social media: Twitter, FB, Reddit in particular. He gives a lot of time and visibility to his fan base.

So his "success" at getting 2.4mm from fans is a direct result of his personal efforts to maintain contact with his base. Sounds pretty astute and valid, in my opinion. Ultimately he is relying on the mutual trust with his fans that they like him and will receive a product they expect. The burden is 100% on him, so why not wait and see if the money was squandered (regardless of source) in a bad project, or if the money + his fan base was squandered, which will cost him a lot more than $2.4mm in the long run. One of you will be correct.

Meanwhile you don't need to wear your jealousy on your sleeve.

Rowan77 said...

Hi Ken,

I agree with you about your concerns. It certainly is a slippery slope now that the Veronica Mars campaign turned out to be such a hit. Warner Bros. didn't believe there were enough fans to warrant a feature film and while they will make a profit eventually (the marketing campaign will cost more than the movie), they did see that Nielsen ratings from a defunct network aimed at 16 year olds - that only half of the country could watch in the first place - was not a valid measure of how large or supportive the actual fanbase is. Fox thought the show Firefly had no fans - Universal made a movie that continues to make money. It wasn't a big hit, but it made a profit. And it was a very good movie.

If Zach Braff did turn down traditional funding for Kickstarter, then I think that's very uncool. It IS for the little guy. JT Anthony's response to you a few days ago was if the film gets funded through Kickstarter more industry people will have work - which is good - but if he used the traditional funding already available to him those people would still be working and getting paid and the money from the KS backers could go toward ANOTHER project that would employ even more people. I like Zach, but not what he's doing here.


Eric said...

On a vaguely related note, have you seen the Tumblr blog Your Kickstarter Sucks?

The blogger writes, "I’m ambivalent about the Zach Braff movie Kickstarter. On one hand it’s another millionaire celebrity asking for money even though they could easily fund their project themselves or take advantage of their many industry connections. On the other hand, at least it’s not steampunk"

NYPRBLUE said...

I'm with blogger.
My penny and a half's worth: http://celluloidblue.blogspot.com/2013/05/scrub.html

JT Anthony said...

Disagree with your last point that contributing to Braff's project precludes those people from contributing to someone else's. It's very unlikely that people "budget" a certain amount of money and then are forced to spend it on one project or another by a certain date.
Some projects--good and bad--will get funded based on whether they resonate with the donor pool. At this point, the goal is to increase the number of potential donors that look at each project. Zach and his project accomplish this goal.
People have choices about how they spend their money. Success begets success, and it seems Braff has a better chance of succeeding. If he succeeds, the donor pie--theoretically--expands through positive PR. More people visit the site and review a sampling of other projects they might want to support. If the quality is there, the small unknown gets more visibility, not less. If the project sucks, then the market--Kickstarter donors--will pass on it.

Jeff said...

I understand Ken's concern on the matter. Whether you agree with his opinion's on kickstarters doesn't change the fact that we are seeing the beginning of a slippery slope.

The Veronica Mars kickstarter is a unique animal in the sense that it was pitched through the appropriate channels without receiving financial support. As a last ditch effort they reached out to fans. In Braff's case this clearly isn't the case.

Here's why that is a slippery slope. I can understand Braff's fans standpoint to a certain extent. In terms of main stream stars, Braff is still fairly indie. It's not like Braff can walk into a producers office ala Will Smith and demand funding for a project.

But the catch is that if you start with making an exception for Braff, where does it end? I think that's what Ken is speaking about.

In the future studios could begin to use kickstarters almost as ransom against fans. "Oh you want a GhostBusters sequel do you? Well fund it and we'll see".

His point is that a kickstarter should be used by those that don't have the traditional means to get a project off the ground. Braff clearly has those means. And if he is applauded for doing a kickstarter, how long will it be before Will Ferrell is asking for money for his latest comedy, or you're paying Eli Roth for his latest gore fest.

Sure it's your free will to donate as much as you like, but being taken advantage of is a very fine line.

Maestro said...

Since they quoted you (from your original post, not this response), they probably already notified you, but just in case:

http://creativelyindependent.net/crowdfunding/

And as long as I'm posting, re: your Melissa Joan Hart sidebar:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/melissa-joan-hart-kickstarter-campaign_n_3275475.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment

buy wow gold said...

Keep this going please, great job!

Ryan said...

I'm a little late to the Kickstarter debate although I suppose it's an ongoing forum.

Having witnessed the birth of kickstarter while making my thesis film at USC, I have on a day-to-day basis seen crowd-funding explode in an unexpected (albeit naturally opportunistic) fashion. I remember when my classmates were asking for five hundred dollars because they simply ran out of money during post-production. And while I guess this plea for donations was some form of fund-raising, it definitely wasn't devious. In fact, it felt somewhat like pan-handling, in that I pitied the person I was helping. I guess that's the problem nowadays with people accepting and setting a precedent to raise money when it most likely isn't needed. How in the world could I pity Zach Braff without being a major director myself. I'd have significantly more respect for Zach if his kickstarter video consisted of him out on the corner with nothing but a brown bag and a hoodie asking for dough. At least then I'd realize that he appreciated the irony of his request.

Anyway, my problem with Kickstarter actually has less to do with celebrity opportunism and more to do on a day to day annoyance level. Because I'm in (or on the outskirts of) the entertainment industry, I literally get bombarded with Kickstarter requests, invites, reminders everyday. Even if I actually feel compelled to donate (usually out of obligation), I still receive a constant thread of emails and facebook messages letting me know that with 5,4,3,2,1 days left, more money is needed. I must do more! I don't mind the presence of panhandlers in LA. What I mean is, I've accepted them as a part of life that will not change (even if I wished it so) and I can be quite generous with the peeps lingering outside 7-11, especially after a long night of writing. But even within panhandling, there is a certain ethical boundary that I hold the bums to. I draw the line when they approach me or my vehicle. And that's how I feel on a day-to-day basis because of kickstarter. I'm accosted by begging bums bombarding me.

So, as a filmmaker on the fringe of the business, I thought I stumbled onto a universal truth to explore/exploit. I directed this video chronicling the annoyances of Kickstarter in musical fashion. The terrible irony is that in my effort to gain exposure, I too am forced to bombard people with emails and messages asking them to watch and share my video. Hence, my self-loathing

Anyway, please watch!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6AQLzp2IZE