Kickstarter projects are popping up everywhere, the creators of Veronica Mars have got $5 million for a movie, Zack Braff has over $2 million for his next feature (and he still has 25 days to make more). This is great, movies are getting made without those annoying studios getting in the way; Hooray! There’s nothing worse than studio interference. Filmmakers are getting complete creative control, they get to make the movie they want to make, and they get their fans involved too. The fans get to give whatever amount they want and they get some cool merch and the satisfaction that they got an actual feature length film made in return. This is all really rather wonderful, but there is something that everyone needs to be wary of before they start a Kickstarter campaign for every cult TV show that got cancelled too soon. What if their grassroots movie turns out to be not very good?
Here’s the problem; Joe Bloggs puts anything from $1 to $10000 into a worthy Kickstarter project (I’m using dollars because… well because I can, so I’m going to keep using dollars for some consistency), that’s great they end up feeling like they’re in the movie business. Then after however many months the films comes out in the cinema, they then pay another $7 for a ticket. The film is rubbish; the filmmaker has been given money to make a pretentious passion project that so self-indulgent only they will enjoy it. Now Joe Bloggs is however many dollars poorer and they’ve spent their hard earned moolah on a bad film and a cheap T-shirt.
This is clearly a worst case scenario, I have faith that many good films could be made this way. And yet this should still be taken into account, and all it takes is one bad film for the Kickstarter fad to fall out of favour. Of course studios often create an environment that can consequentially make a bad film, but it could also be argued that when filmmakers (like any other artist) are left to their own devices they can often get bogged down in pretension and sometimes need another perspective so that their film can be enjoyed by a greater percentage of the movie viewing public. For every interview I’ve read about a studio ruining a film; I’ve read another article where a filmmaker has spoken of a note from the studio that has made a lot of sense.
Keep the Kickstarter projects coming; it’s a wonderful system that’s getting some great projects funded. But just consider whether there really needs to be a campaign for the sci-fi series you loved that only lasted 7 episodes and was never truly understood. Sometimes, the reason people love a TV show is because it didn’t have a chance to turn bad. Fawlty Towers lasted two series, not because it was bad, but because they didn’t think they could do any better with a third series. Remember when they brought Red Dwarf back? The less said about it the better…