Noah J Nelson on Wednesday, Apr. 24th
Here we go again.
Another famous person has taken to the world's favorite crowdfunding site in order to raise money for a film and twitter is a-flutter with people whining about it.
This time it's former Scrubs star and Garden State writer-director-star Zach Braff who has fired up a campaign for a new movie he's offering up to his fans.
Why Kickstarter? Here's the reason, straight from the Braff:
I was about to sign a typical financing deal in order to get the money to make "Wish I Was Here," my follow up to "Garden State." It would have involved making a lot of sacrifices I think would have ultimately hurt the film. I've been a backer for several projects on Kickstarter and thought the concept was fascinating and revolutionary for artists and innovators of all kinds. But I didn't imagine it could work on larger-scale projects. I was wrong.
After I saw the incredible way "Veronica Mars" fans rallied around Kristen Bell and her show's creator Rob Thomas, I couldn't help but think (like I'm sure so many other independent filmmakers did) maybe there is a new way to finance smaller, personal films that didn't involve signing away all your artistic control.
The "rich and famous people shouldn't be allowed to use Kickstarter" argument is summed up by Valleywag's Sam Biddle:
I just think it runs contrary to the entire point of Kickstarter. It's ostensibly a platform for people without means (but great ideas) to make something real. Zach Braff is the opposite of that.
I take umbrage with this point of view.
There's an assumption underscoring this point of view that crowdfunding is a zero sum game. That big projects will crowd out the little ones. It is a point of view that I held once, until the video game vertical underwent a "big name" cycle.
The side effect of that cycle: gamers now look to site for novel work from unknowns.
"But that's correlation, not causation!"
I hear you. There's no way to force a backer of Braff's new project or Veronica Mars to pledge money to another project. If history is any indicator some modest percentage of them will. Case in point, the backers of the wildly successful Double Fine Adventure game went on to become angels to a lot of different projects.
To date, new Double Fine backers have pledged an additional $875,000 to 1,200 projects.
"Past performance is no indicator of…"
Oh, zip it.
There are people who are Scrubs fans who are just today learning that Kickstarter exists. Just because we're a bunch of tech-savvy indie hipsters doesn't mean that people from Gainesville have heard of crowdfunding.
Big name projects like this are the equivalent of Kickstarter's marketing program.
So you don't like Braff's previous work–I don't. I think Garden State is one giant waste of potential, torpedoed by a supremely weak lead female character who could have been redeemed through a simple character beat adjustment. That doesn't mean that Braff doesn't have a right to use the platform to pursue his muse.
He's not "ripping people off" by offering up production diaries and custom playlists. He's taking a page from the video game crowdfunding devlopment world and opening up his process to his backers.
Besides: the one thing Garden State had going for it was its soundtrack. The man has excellent taste in music. A summer worth of Zach Braff curated playlists–that's the second tier reward–actually would be worth $20 to me.
tl;dr Get used to the idea that crowdfunding is going to be used for all kinds of projects. By all kinds of people. If you're really worried about the little folks getting sqeezed out, hit me up on Twitter. I've got a plan.
Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)