Since 2009, Kickstarter has been innovatively allowing creative projects to gain funding where they would otherwise struggle to find a professional backing. As well as the financial aspect of raising the money in the first place, the creative minds behind the ideas can maintain full control and responsibility throughout with no interference, and fans can sign up for a plethora of perks for their money. For some, this is irresistible, and Kickstarter has now had over $587 million pledged by more than 3.9 million people for over 400,000 creative projects, showing that an outstanding number of people are inspired by and committed to this innovative approach to original ideas, from publishing books to creating a new type of bicycle light.
It wasn’t until March, however, that Kickstarter’s full potential was realised- especially by established filmmakers with a readymade fanbase. When Veronica Mars’ creator Rob Thomas set up a Kickstarter project to fund a Veronica Mars movie after Warner Bros. could not be convinced that there was enough interest around it, he definitely proved them wrong. Luckily, the studio agreed that if Rob and Kristen [Bell, star of Veronica Mars] could show that there was a big enough fanbase, then they were on board, and so the biggest goal in Kickstarter history was set:
“The average pledge on Kickstarter is $71. Hell, if we could get 30,000 people to give the average donation, we could finance the movie, particularly if the cast and I were willing to work cheap. The most common donation amount on Kickstarter is $25. Surely, 80,000 of our three million viewers would find that price-point viable!” – Rob Thomas.
By the time the project finished on April 13, four Kickstarter records had been broken, including fastest project to reach both $1 million and $2 million, most project backers and most funded film project, as well as being the third most funded project ever. It is understandable that other filmmakers are now seeing the website’s full potential!
After being aware of the website for two years, including backing the aforementioned bicycle light and following its development phases, Zach Braff has now followed in Veronica Mars’ footsteps. After attempting to make films after his debut Garden State in 2004 but constantly seeing the projects fall through due to a mixture of studio and star problems, Braff finally decided to put the power into the hands of his fans and himself, especially since he has been constantly asked when he’s making another film for years. Kickstarter is understandably appealing for such a project, since Braff considers it a labour of love and the communication with fans can add a special something to such an event. After five days, the $2 million goal has already been exceeded, so let’s hope that Wish I Was Here lives up to the expectations of its 30,000+ backers.
On a smaller scale, a fanbase of any size has the ability to fund an idea that has been stuck in a gestation period before it found Kickstarter. So far, I have only backed one project, and it was for the band Electric Six’s live DVD Absolute Treasure. After plans for them to record a DVD at their London gig in December fell through, the ten year old band with a fairly small but dedicated fanbase across the US, UK and some of Europe have finally facilitated video evidence of how great they are, with a show to be filmed in Detroit in September. Despite a comparably small 554 backers to the above projects, the $25,000 goal was well exceeded at $62,760, showing that people appreciate this chance to be included in such a personal project.
Unfortunately, over 60% of the 25,000+ film and video projects launched on Kickstarter have failed, but there is clearly potential there and as Kristen Bell and Zach Braff, two huge celebrities, are creating so much publicity for it, so who knows what could be done with it in the future. This could open up many more opportunities for those without the financial wherewithal for their creative passion projects, although just because celebrities have more money doesn’t mean that they should be chastised for raising funds for such an expensive project as a movie, especially when all the perks that fans can sign up for are often as exciting as the project itself.