Sub-Sub-Genres: Kickstarter and the Evolution of Cinema

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While theorists often note there is no such thing as a "pure genre," we at Kickstarter have noticed countless filmmakers moving far beyond traditional genres and sub-genres, propagating their own micro-genres, each with their own set of signifiers, expectations, built-in audiences, and auteurs. From countless Zombie Apocalypse films (just do a search) to lesbian stripper documentaries, to avant-psyche short films, to cult masters like Terry Pratchett, Kickstarter has become a home to thousands of off-the-wall films, videos and series too unique and uncompromising for traditional studio-development, even by Troma standards.

The one thing this vast array of indescribable projects have in common? An audience. However large or small it may be, there are audiences in the world who love these films, in large part because there isn't anything else like them. We're excited to see these films and their fans finding each other on Kickstarter, a platform we believe is as much about building a community as it is about raising funds.

Going as far back as the late-1890s, when the Lumiere brothers patented the cinématographe, technology has continuously aided and expanded the breadth of film. The Lumiere's "films" were never longer than 50 seconds. They were often known as "actualities," primitive insights into the normal world, and they were precursors for documentaries and news reels. In many ways these were not only the first films, but the first genre films, setting a precedent for future directors working within the confines of stylistic criteria and ever-evolving conventions.

Over a century later, the evolution of film technologies has not only birthed more films, but also given rise to countless sub-genres, each as indebted to the medium as much as the time period. In the '50s and '60s, 8mm and 16mm were the first formats to allow everyday people to make their own films — giving rise to travelogues, home movies, government public service announcements, and educational films. Perhaps most importantly, these new tools gave amateur filmmakers the opportunity to experiment with the medium, something that had previously been restricted to technical experts lucky enough to have access to equipment.

Twenty years later, VHS made cinema truly accessible for all, allowing budding auteurs to not only learn the craft, but also duplicate and distribute their work outside of the traditional theatrical release. What evolved out of the DIY medium was a plethora of sub-genre films — from slasher-core and campy romp comedies to bizarro experimental slapstick and public access talk shows. The new medium allowed artists to not only produce and distribute content as quickly as they'd like, but to also easily follow it up with sequels. In turn, this made sequels a quasi-genre all their own. 

Flash forward to 2011, The Digital Age 2.0, where a combination of democratized production tools and distribution channels have shifted the creator-viewer paradigm again. The result is a boundless array of creativity that's living, breathing, sustaining, and continually evolving on the Internet, an infinite multiplex right on your desk. This shift plays off the DIY ethos of VHS and jacks it up on steroids, giving creators the ability to share work in real time.

The Internet plays host to an inconceivable amount of films and videos so unique to their core audiences that anyone outside a highly specific social sphere may have absolutely no idea what they are watching. These micro-niche films are meant for specific individuals, with highly-tuned expectations and a keen understanding of the work they seek. They are the hardcore fans who would never contemplate going to see the next X-Men, but are anxiously awaiting the next comedic Zombie apocalypse serial to be uploaded to Vimeo.

We are delighted that Kickstarter is a 21st century medium allowing these films to be created, shared, and cherished! We just hope to be around for the next shift in genre dynamics.

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      deleted on

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      evamix on

      The success of Kickstarter Film/Video projects is more than inspiring.
      Next, a ratings and recommendations engine to link filmmakers and audiences regardless of distribution venue. Kickstarter project for evamix lands mid-July!

    4. Jesse Farley on

      Thanks to the Kickstarter community for elevating the art form.

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      Doa Ibu Tersayang on

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