24th October 2012

Crowd funding site ‘Kickstarting’ the movie bizz

Introducing the new way of getting movies funded

Move aside Harvey Weinstein. Mr Redford, you can keep your Sundance festival. There’s a new indie movement in town and this one is controlled by you.

Kickstarter is a site that you may already be familiar with, but for those out of the loop, I’ll explain. It’s sort of like an online Dragons Den, but instead of inventors/entrepreneurs/artists asking a few millionaires for money, they are asking the entire World Wide Web.

Basically, say you want to make a film and need, for example, £500,000 to it get off the ground, you can create a ‘project’ on Kickstarter to get it funded. On the projects page you must write an appeal or make a video to pitch why it’s worth supporting, and if people want to see this project made they ‘pledge’ their money. Once the project starts it has 30 days to make its pre-set goal and if it fails it goes unfunded. If the project makes its goal, the money is taken, and any money over the pre-set goal earned in that 30 days is kept also. It doesn’t have to be a film however, the Pebble E-Paper Watch holds the record for the most funds raised with $10,266,845. The games industry has flourished on this platform as well such as with funding the Ouya games console with $8,596,475.

Where it truly separates from Dragon’s Den is that the ‘backers’ get no stake in the projects they fund. They are not investors. They can however get unique perks depending on how much money they give. For instance you might get a ‘special thanks’ credit if you donate £100.

This site, launched in 2009, is beginning to make waves in Hollywood, as it is fast becoming a real source of alternate funding for filmmakers struggling to get Hollywood support for projects. A few months ago Academy Award Winning screenwriter Charlie Kauffman got his stop-motion animated feature Anonmalisa funded reaching $406,237 with a goal of $200,000. The David Fincher backed, animated adult comic book adaption The Goon, at this time of writing, is also well on its way to being funded with $137,467 of $400,000 pledged with 24 days to go.

These are two above-the-title filmmakers with a dedicated following. They’re turning to Kickstarter to get their films made not only legitimises Kickstarter as a genuine player in the film business, but also shows filmmakers there is real alternative to Hollywood.

However, it remains to be seen whether Kickstarter will prove to be a viable option for filmmakers without the recognition or following of Kauffman or Fincher. Without the hard-core fans and press attention a ‘name’ filmmaker brings, many Kickstarter projects have failed, suggesting the site could just be an option for established acts, and sadly, not for struggling new artists.

Though it has not yet proven to be an option for the average, struggling filmmaker, Kickstarter is definitely an option for established filmmakers to greenlight their original and risky passion projects which Hollywood is rejecting more and more these days. Just like Sundance and Miramax in the 90s, this platform has the potential to push original and alternative films back into the mainstream and into our cinemas, which is a project I would certainly back.

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