So VERONICA MARS fans cheered when they raised $5.7 million for their movie, and Zach Braff using Kickstarter to raise $2.5 million (and counting) for his film project WISH I WAS HERE – not because his movie project is in jeopardy, but because he wants full creative control.
Crowdsourcing – the concept – started off as a way to raise funds for poor and starving independent artists to get support for their endeavors. Ask anyone at a film festival, and they’ll tell you how hard it is to make a film. But the use of crowdsourcing for celebrities to fund their pet projects is a warped way of essentially getting the fans to pre-buy their tickets.
Most fans will buy a movie ticket and then buy the movie on DVD/Blu Ray if they really enjoyed it. Now imagine the fan that pre-funds a movie – sight unseen – just because they’d like to see a movie made? So this fan is paying for the movie 3x?
Here’s the problem. Even at the indie film level, financiers and producers INVEST in a movie with the expectation to make money back or to have tax write-off’s. Since crowdsourcing doesn’t offer that, it’s essentially charity to help a celebrity actor, writer or producer get a project made to demonstrate that they have a large enough fan base willing to put up dollars.
By comparison, a couple years ago, Glenn Close made her pet project a reality – ALBERT NOBBS. She and her production company chased after the funding, casting and creative. Emma Watson was instrumental in getting PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER made. There are ways for a film to get financed when they have the backing of a star. No guarantees, but there are ways!
Zach Braff, who, according to Celebrity Net Worth, was worth $25 million in 2010 could have crowdsourced with a dollar-matching campaign. His pet project is the sequel to GARDEN STATE, a film that only cost $2.5 million and grossed $25 million. So does that mean Braff can guarantee his fans a 10x return on their money? Will Braff take a pay cut to invest in the film? What do you think?
How about VERONICA MARS? Kristin Bell was reported to be worth $8 million. With the recent announcement of the return of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (also thanks to a loyal fan base but WITHOUT crowdsourcing), I know its a shame when your favorite TV show is cancelled before its time.
Fan power has always been key to a movie, music or TV career, but crowdsourcing seems to me like a cynical way of holding fans hostage: If you want a project made, pay for it yourself. Imagine if George Lucas or Spielberg asked people to crowdsource the next STAR WARS movie? And why not? Doesn’t sound too far fetched – big fan base, highly anticipated sequel. Why not get the fans to pre-pay for a ticket? No risk to the actors. Less risk for the producers/financiers.
Let’s save crowdsourcing for indie artists. Just don’t ask me for a hand-out – I donated to disaster relief for West, Texas.