Brendan Fraser “Kickstarter” campaign

June 20th, 2013 by

Via Indiewire.

And just so you know, it’s from The Onion, so… it’s a joke.

Seriously, I have gone over this in my mind multiple times and I just don’t get it. If you are an actor or director or whatever… and you believe in a project of yours… and your business manager is sitting on top of a zillion dollars in your personal accounts…

Put up your own damn money, don’t ask The People to fund the project for you!

Or maybe my failure to comprehend (A) why an actor would feel it’s a reasonable request to go this route and (B) why The People would actually give money to said project is a sign that (C) I have grown too old to understand the contemporary mindset…

Hey, I know! I could do a Kickstarter campaign to fund a battery of medical tests to check me for senility! At a facility in the Bahamas! With lots of rum!

Now I get it!

17 thoughts on “Brendan Fraser “Kickstarter” campaign

  1. I rather agree with your sentiments, but…

    Veronica Mars.

    It’s supposed to not only raise interest but awareness, right? So it seems sort of a calibration test more than anything else… right?

    1. Scott says:

      Actually that one is really complex. On the one hand, fans get to see a movie of their beloved TV series. So I see the motivation for The People to participate. OTOH Warner Bros. owns the property. So in effect, The People are providing funds that Warner Bros. doesn’t then have to fork over. Which just seems odd. People who will buy a ticket to see the VM movie in effect are PAYING some of the costs associated with PRODUCING the movie?

      Moreover I fear this may open the door to studios assessing potential pitches and spec scripts insisting that the writer and their team go to Kickstarter to see what kind of $$ interest they can generate, not only to feed into development costs, but also to assess the project’s commercial viability.

      It’s already damned hard to sell something, now THIS?!?!

      Lest you think it’s crazy to suspect the studios would do something like this… given Hollywood’s long history of problematic relations between Them [Studios] and Us [Writers], combined with the current mentality of fiscal restraint, I wouldn’t put it past them.

      1. It annoys me, but then I see the failure of other efforts (that were once Studio “things”) fall by the wayside, I can’t help but think Veronica Mars (because it’s current).

        Of course I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but I know via Twitter there was some laughing and pointing of fingers for efforts by genres or ex-TV shows trying in vain to achieve the same grandeur as Veronica Mars. To me, it just goes to show ppl wanted that show.

        If they want it, it will happen.

        I’m thinking of Firefly or Angel or Alias, etc… wonder what they’d raise. Hell, I’d donate!

        I see the benefit of Kickstarter, but I also see the discrepancy in representation and marketing that could bring an otherwise valuable concept down… peer pressure sucks in that respect.

        But, as a devil’s advocate, couldn’t it prove to be a huge tool for studios in deciding on concept and marketability?

        I say that with a giant grain of salt only because I have no merit in the industry so it may bite me in the balls, but if something were to fall down because of some bullshit I don’t even know about (Alias had a huge following! Firefly STILL does, same with Buffy et.al.) because of what the Studio said… the people could bring it back, whether in movie form or a revitalization of series (Arrested Development)…

        amiright or amianass?

        1. Scott says:

          Dress_Obsessed: What I hear you saying is could KS be a better version of those inevitable petition drives fans of shows that are getting the axe, that if a network or studio see that people are actually willing to put up $$, that suggests a REAL audience?

          Maybe. But it’s a super thin line to what I was describing above, them DEMANDING KS $$ for packages before moving on them.

      2. Lydia Mulvey says:

        In relation to Veronica Mars, I wonder how successful the movie will be when it’s released.

        By that I mean, how many people, apart from true fans of the series, will fork out their hard-earned cash to see it in a theater?

        I know I wouldn’t, simply because I watched one episode and it didn’t appeal to me. So ergo I would have no interest in seeing the movie. Now of course, that’s just me. Maybe it will be a massive hit that draws a completely new audience.

        Or perhaps only the people who funded it on Kickstarter will go to see it at the cinema. I don’t know.

        My point is that if entities like Warner Brothers are going to use Kickstarter as a proving ground for future productions, they’d do well to try original material too to see if they get the same response.

        However, I find the idea of big production companies using KS as an experiment pretty awful. There’s no way they can gauge the future mind-set of audiences. And it’s another obstacle for writers to get past. As if there weren’t enough already.

  2. CydM says:

    Have you cruised the site and guidelines for posting a project? They suggest you offer something to contributors, and most have been more generous than I anticipated. I’ve backed indie films, indie authors, and even Gary W. Goldstein. Yes, Goldstein, as if he doesn’t have the money to self-pub a book. He’s been very generous in what he offers, a community was created, and I and all the other small contributors were invited to his launch party. He requested 12K and got 25K.

    What’s wrong with testing? CBS does it extensively and stand as the top dog. They’re the only network that isn’t selling out to any of the streaming outlets. You test, I test, we all test. This could be a way of getting more support for women in film.

    Nix on requesting the extended testing for senility. It has to be a creative project. :-)

    1. Scott says:

      Okay, Cyd, explain this to me: Why would Goldstein think it was kosher to seek funds to self-publish a book he was going to turn around and profit from? I know they give away things for certain levels of support, but still what is doled out can not be equivalent to or more than the profits or else it makes no sense to do a KS campaign.

      I’ve got several books I’m going to self-publish, one I’m working on right now, but it wouldn’t occur to me to ask for funds to cover the costs associated with that, then turn around and ask you to buy my book. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

      I know this goes on, so I know lots of people are cool with the practice. I just don’t get it.

      If I believe in what I have to say as a writer or artist, I think I ought to put my own blood, guts, time and money into it, then put it out there and see what happens.

      Re my senility test: I thought that WAS being creative… at least in terms of gaming the system!

      That said, I have and do support KS campaigns for independent filmmakers. That I can see. That’s not only about supporting that individual film and filmmaker, but also a broader thing about creating more stories with more diverse perspectives. Plus without those funds, those movies don’t get made.

      But if someone HAS the money, I can’t wrap my head around any justification why they would seek $$ from The People when they can afford to self-fund the project.

      If someone can help me out here, I’m more than willing to listen. I’ve got a crapload of screenwriting books and novels in the pipeline. Make me feel good about taking your money to write my books, then turn around and ask you to pay more of your money for my books.

      The whole thing just gives me a headache!

      1. CydM says:

        I’m in the thick of the self-publishing revolution and have several books out there under a different name. Most of us do so we won’t embarrass family :-) That said, I can’t pretend to know exactly how it works because it’s changing by the minute. One thing I do know for sure is that self-pubbed does not = DIY. Not by a long shot. Cover art is huge and working with a good designer can be very expensive, at least for someone like me. Even editors go through at least two levels of editing by others, and that costs money for a good one. Then there’s formatting which is best done by someone who’s a wiz at InDesign, and marketing and give aways and paying for coverage (reputable coverage that doesn’t guarantee a good review). For most of us, we’re lucky if we break even on our first two books. You’d have a better shot at selling right out of the chute because you’re known and have a following built in. But if you’ve got a pot load of manuscripts that would obviously help others, do what you do best and hire out the rest to professionals who do what they do best. You’re wasting valuable time and withholding resources others need trying to do everything yourself.

        If you already have the bucks (about 15 – 20K) to shoot those puppies out, Kickstarter is still a good idea because it further builds community. During the funding period there are lots of great conversations going on with even more people drawing together as part of your tribe. If you’ve got the money, offer bigger gifts to your lower level contributors. That will cost you and the entire KS experience could end up being an adventure in community building, if that makes you more comfortable.

        There’s also the issue of asking. That’s a huge trend right now. Amanda Something-or-another (a big rock star) has a TED talk about it. When you ask and we respond, there’s a bond built that comes from no other source. It takes a lot to ask, to make yourself vulnerable, and people really admire it. There’s a sense of value you actually give to others by asking for their help. You’re inviting them in. I’m not explaining this well because it’s extremely difficult for me to do it, ask, but I love it when others do. I get a sense of being part of something bigger than myself and makes me, and others, feel we have value when our dirty little secret is that we don’t feel very valuable at all. Plus, you give us a free book and maybe a t-shirt or something else. We feel special and your tribe grows even bigger with a more loyal following. It’s part of our emerging culture. You more than anyone else should know how good it feels to give and the value of feeling we have some control over something. I double dog dare you to give others a chance to give something to you :-)

        Goldstein. Does he have the money to launch his project? Some falls can be mighty hard. I don’t know and wouldn’t speculate, I’m just being greedy. Again, I’m part of something bigger than me. Can he do anything for me, get me into Hollywood? Yeah, right. None of the people I work with would risk their reputations on work that isn’t better than the best out there. So when and how am I ever going to get weekly, friendly, sincerely warm and chatty emails from someone like him? How can I ever feel I’ve advanced his career? Me! Nobody! I can help him! That’s a rush! And I get his book before other people get it.

        We humans have a very deep need to be needed, but not all of us get a chance to be needed. I’m way tapped out on classes and books and software and entry fees for my own needs, but if you put something up there, you better believe I’d be the first to back you at one of the lower levels, then tweet and post to get others to join the party.

        But watch out for some of those indies. I’ve gotten some strange things from them that give me the creeps.

  3. Erica R Maier says:

    Mind you, I haven’t considered how studios might use/abuse it, but this is my humble take. …

    I look at it from the donor’s POV … It’s the emotional connection. The joy of knowing YOU had a hand in helping make something happen. When that product/book/film is sold/published/released, you get the warm fuzzies knowing it was partly because of you, no matter how big or small the donation.

    Yeah, Zach Braff surely had the cash to finance his film. But then those who chose to donate would not have been able to say, “I helped Zach Braff get his film off the ground.” Is that a form of self gratification? An excuse to name-drop (at least in this case)? Maybe. Probably. Perhaps some said, “I’ve loved/enjoyed/respected Zach’s work for years and I consider it an honor to back him.” Different people, different reasons, obviously, but again, that’s my humble take.

    Regardless, it’s kinda cool to think whatever XYZ project you choose to support is — at the end of day — a little bit yours.

    For the record, I would gladly throw money to a Kickstarter of yours, Scott (not a huge ton, mind you, I haven’t sold that spec yet ;) ). But some, sure! Why? Because you’re a mentor I respect (whether you know it or not), and how cool would it be to somehow give back to someone who has given so much? (I promise I’m not kissing ass, that’s the honest-to-God truth.) Plus, it’d feel pretty good to know that — when I saw that book on some store shelf — in a small way, it’s there because of me. …

    1. CydM says:

      What Erica said. With fewer words. LOL

    2. Erica R Maier says:

      And I was NOT one of Zach Braff’s backers, just to clarify. ;)

  4. Let me preface this by saying that I am biased because I am currently running a Kickstarter campaign for my short film. I’m restraining myself from posting the link (but it’s called Copy That, just saying! Erica is a backer!) I’m genuinely unable to afford to pay for the whole thing myself, I swear.

    I wouldn’t want a proof of poverty model for Kickstarter. I think anyone who wants to ask should be able to ask, and let the market dictate who succeeds.

    Personally, I thought Zach Braff’s campaign was in bad taste. Not the asking itself but the way it was done. The “poor me, I could have gotten millions of dollars the traditional way, but then I would have been accountable to those people! They might want me to change stuff! And maybe they won’t let me cast this Emmy winning star of a hugely popular TV show.” I didn’t buy it and I didn’t back it.

    But I’m currently backing a film called Kill Me Deadly, by Criminal Minds star Kirsten Vangsness. Her prodco, Opiate of the Masses, needs $200,000 to finish the film. She’s already invested a bunch of her own money and you can see that in the film clips that are part of the campaign. But even if she hadn’t invested a dime – the rewards are fun and desirable and Kirsten herself has been incredibly gracious to everyone who donated. She direct-messaged every single person on twitter who follows her and backed the campaign, regardless of the amount. She even noticed that I had increased my donation.

    When the campaign hit certain goals, she made videos, sang songs, and has just created such a fun community atmosphere about the project. I’d have supported it anyway, because the film looks amazing and I am a fan of her work, but what she’s done with the campaign is what makes me want to tell everyone I know to support it too.

    There’s also a downside to asking the public to fund your passion project. Audiences are demanding enough as it is, how much more intense will their ire be if they don’t like the film they paid for? If either of the big projects don’t come off well, it could quickly be the end of million dollar campaigns.

    btw, Scott – Veronica Mars backers do get a copy of the film, so they don’t have to pay for it twice unless they choose to see it in theaters. For my Kickstarter, a dvd or digital download is one of the reward options, too. For many of the campaigns the book, album, dvd, game – is given to the backers so they aren’t paying for it AND paying to make it.

  5. hobbs001 says:

    I’m with Scott on this : I just don’t get it. Fair enough for indie projects without established talent, but some of the higher level projects are setting a very dubious precedent. I think it’ll end in tears – hopefully there won’t be a backlash for all those talented indie people out there who could really use something like this.
    If you want to be ultra-cynical, it could be viewed as another way for studios to reduce a number of their costs with all the risk taken by others.
    Would we be in this situation if piracy on the internet wasn’t having a major effect on the incomes of the creative industries? Perhaps that should be another discussion…

  6. chrisoakes says:

    I think Erica said it best: “Plus, it’d feel pretty good to know that — when I saw that book on some store shelf — in a small way, it’s there because of me.”

    If the biggest movie or TV stars show up on Kickstarter, I think the avenue will be done. But for now, it seems to me the whole intrigue of KS is about community and the solidarity that comes with giving a little cash to support a larger effort which you want to see created. (The avg supporter for the Veronica Mars movie gave $62 – that’s chump change.)

    Ordinary people have always been willing to give small amounts of money to support something they are interested in. Now they have multiple avenues to help them do just that.

  7. What does an already rich write/actor/film-maker gain from Kickstartering funds to self-publish a book or fund a film? I think the answer is s/he gets to share the risk with his or her audience, and that’s an important benefit. It’s why we all buy insurance.

    Beyond that, I know folk who gave, say a twenty-five dollar contribution to the ‘Garden State’ sequel, and get the promise of a DvD/Blu-Ray when the film’s done. -They look at it in part as pre-ordering a DvD. Beyond that, though, I think what’s missing so far on this thread is that Kickstarter offers backers the chance to participate, in a small way, in beloved projects, to be a part of them in some way, rather than just being a passive audience. So many backers are getting something conceptual/emotional out of putting dollars behind their favorite projects or film-makers, even beyond the ability to ‘vote with your pocketbook’ in a way that’ll actually help a project get made rather than just ratifying that decision afterward; and I think all those things are positive developments.

    If Kickstarter had been available in 2004, it doesn’t seem implausible that a new season of, say, ‘Firefly,’ might’ve been funded and produced for a syndicated TV release, and that, too would have been a (very hypothetical) good thing.

    Barbara, Erica and others have implied some of these details, but I thought I’d make it more explicit. Apologies for any repetition.

    1. Scott says:

      Okay, this discussion helps. There is a participatory experience that is of value to someone who supports a Kickstarter campaign, I get that. To me it seems different in degree, if not substance to support an unknown filmmaker with a wonderful vision for a movie and limited funds compared to a well-known actor who has oodles of their own dollars, but it’s a free country, so if supporting those type of projects makes you happy, have at it. Especially if at the end you get a DVD, as someone said like pre-ordering content.

      So this has been helpful. Feels like a major paradigm shift and I’m slowly grasping its arc…

  8. CydM says:

    If you don’t like KS and don’t want to be part of a site that doesn’t have restrictions, there are new ones popping up daily that only allow specific people and groups to post. KS started this ball rolling and it’s not gathering any moss.

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