Kickstarter Movies Kick Up a Storm of Controversy
There have been some high profile movie projects on Kickstarter lately that have managed to kick up some controversy in the blogosphere. It’s that delightful kind of controversy, replete with fan backlashes and everything! It’s been fun to follow, but I thought I’d toss my two cents out there.
Peek below the fold for more.
First of all, disclosure time. I’m a big Zach Braff fan. I loved Scrubs and Garden State. Hell, his monkey was the best part of Oz the Great and Powerful… Still, when humorist and pop culture blogger Ken Levine (not be confused with game designer of my heart, Ken Levine) posted this piece critical of Braff’s on-going attempt to crowdfund a sequel to his acclaimed film Garden State, I found myself nodding in agreement. I won’t rehash Ken’s arguments, but I avow my support to them. Braff’s campaign and the similarly epic campaign to support the production of a Veronica Mars film strike me as flying in the face of Kickstarter’s best intentions–to support independent content producers who are unable to fund themselves. Neither of these projects fit the bill, in my opinion, and their use of Kickstarter is unnecessary–and, in my admittedly cynical view, abusive of their fans generosity and passion.
While it is Kickstarter’s position that projects should stand on their own merits, I can’t help but feel that these kinds of projects fly against the independent spirit that Kickstarter represents. Big movie projects, like big games, have a gravity well. Promising projects could find other money if they looked. In the case of Veronica Mars, fans just gave Warner Bros. five million bucks to make a movie that Warners is going to charge them to see. This is NOT a precedent I want crowdfunding to be responsible for. Not in the least.
Now that isn’t to say that I’m against established producers leveraging the crowd. But I prefer when that content actually NEEDS us to see the light of day. A good example of such a project is Chug. Chug is the brainchild of comedian Zane Lamprey, whose past programs Three Sheets and Have Fork, Will Travel took viewers around the world to learn about food, drink and culture. As a fan of strong drink, Three Sheets is especially close to my heart (incidentally, you can watch the entire series on Hulu).
Despite being a veteran of TV, Zane’s project stands apart from these others because it can’t be made without the crowd. Booze is anathema to TV networks these days, and even outlets like Food Network and The Travel Channel won’t touch it. In return for support, Lamprey is giving backers the entire show at a very reasonable price (starting at only $25 for the whole season). So while I agree with Levine that film projects like Braff’s and Veronica’s are inappropriate to the medium, I stop short of agreeing with his idea that we should only be funding the next Kevin Smith… Not when there are drinking shows to fund…
So, in light of all the publicity this hullabaloo is kicking up, what are your thoughts? Are Braff and the Veronica Mars team indicative of Hollywood’s future? And if so, is that a future you want to live in? Let us know in the comments.