Last Sunday, Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa ended with $406,237, becoming the most funded film project on Kickstarter to date. His success followed closely on the heels of another: a fantasy comedy web series called The Gamers: Hands of Fate, which held the title of Most Funded film for a brief two days after ending with $405,917 on the Friday before.
The two projects broke the record back-to-back, one by building on an established history of industry acclaim, the other by tapping into a thriving, underground community of likeminded fans. Both deliberately chose to sidestep institutional methods — and the funding that comes with it — in order to go directly to their respective communities. And both succeeded wildly. Here's how:
A critically acclaimed filmmaker with an established reputation (not to mention massive fan following) for pushing the limits of narrative and form, Charlie Kaufman pitched Anomalisa as a true passion project, calling it "the film he had always wanted to make." He then approached Kickstarter as a deliberate alternative to an established Hollywood system that he felt would compromise his creative vision. Truly, both his subject matter and medium were somewhat unconventional — a middle-aged man crippled by the mundanity of his everyday life, rendered in stop-motion animation — but fans were thrilled to give the beloved auteur free artistic reign.
The team also doubled down in the project's final days, posting updates and offering a slew of limited new rewards that helped pull in over $23,000 in the last twenty four hours of funding time. (The tweet from Stephen Colbert didn't hurt, either.)
The Gamers didn't have a Hollywood pedigree. In fact, they had been turned down again and again by a television industry disinterested in their commercially unviable subject matter. When they came to Kickstarter, it was to tap directly into a loyal and highly active fan base that they knew existed (after all, they were part of it). Hands of Fate was their third successul Kickstarter project, but its exceptionally strong showing of support was built on more than just fan fervor — it was also the reputation for follow through, community, and consistently satisfying content that the team had established with their first two projects.