It's Film Week on the Kickstarter Blog! All week we’ll be examining Kickstarter’s relationship to film through a variety of perspectives, including a number of the most successful films in Kickstarter history. There will be essays, interviews, surveys, videos, and much more. Check back throughout the week!
Over Kickstarter's first two years, film has been the dominant category on the site, accounting for more than $25 million of the $70 million pledged. More than 250,000 people have backed a film on Kickstarter, and there have been nearly 3,000 successfully funded film projects so far. There have already been more than 1,000 funded this year alone.
In Hollywood $25 million may not be a lot of money (that's low budget in some corners) but for filmmakers using Kickstarter it's been life-changing. Even before Kickstarter, to be a filmmaker meant to be a perpetual fundraiser, whether it was applying for grants or wining and dining some acquaintance's rich uncle for a big check (and hoping that he didn't ask that his lovely, non-acting daughter get the lead role in return).
Kickstarter has not replaced that experience, but it has made it public. This is important. While a similar level of energy is going into the fundraising process, with Kickstarter that experience simultaneously builds an audience, seeds an idea into the public consciousness, and markets a project from its inception. This can shift fundraising from a necessary evil to a tremendous opportunity.
We've seen a number of projects take advantage of that in a very big way. Five Kickstarter-funded films premiered at this past year's Sundance Film Festival (Pariah, Resurrect Dead, The Strange Ones, The Woods, and The Catechism Cataclysm), a dozen have seen theatrical release (more on that later), and one (Sun Come Up) was nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject at this past year's Oscars.
It was the quality of the work itself that earned those plaudits, of course, but the Kickstarter process provided each with a unique narrative element. We got to know who was making these films, how they got there, and what was driving them. These are the things that we as audiences want to know, and that studios normally try to answer with expensive marketing campaigns and hype barrages that have little to say about the work itself.
The 250,000 people who have backed a film project on Kickstarter now have deep relationships with those films, and it wasn't because a studio executive gave a green light. Instead, they saw and responded to all the things that made us fall in love with film in the first place: good stories, honestly told, and with a happy ending for the filmmaker and their backers. Those are the sequels we're happy to see.