The Truth About Spike Lee and Kickstarter

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Last week, “The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint” reached its funding goal thanks to more than 5,000 backers. While filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh cheered Spike Lee’s project, outlets like CNBC and Bloomberg accused him of abusing Kickstarter and taking money from other creators. As we’ve shown before here and here, arguments like these are not grounded in fact. Kickstarter is not a zero-sum game where projects compete for pledges. All projects benefit from the network effect of a growing Kickstarter ecosystem.

Artists like Spike Lee don’t hurt other projects. They help them!

Spike Lee brought three decades of fans to Kickstarter when he launched his project. He introduced many of them to this new way of funding creative works, and to the thousands of other projects that are funding on Kickstarter. Of Spike’s backers, 47% had never backed a Kickstarter project before.

The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff film projects were similarly criticized for hurting other projects, but in reality were a windfall for creators. Those projects brought thousands of new people to Kickstarter who have since pledged more than $1 million to 6,000 other projects (film projects have received most of those pledges).

In the past 90 days alone, more than $21 million has been pledged to filmmakers on Kickstarter not named Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, or Spike Lee. Even without counting these projects, it’s been the biggest three months for film ever on Kickstarter!

Almost five million people have backed a project on Kickstarter, and more than a million have backed two or more projects. These repeat backers are responsible for 59% of the total money pledged to Kickstarter projects — a whopping $444 million. On average, 2,130 people a day have become new repeat backers this year. This is huge! Future creators will benefit from more and more people using Kickstarter.

Kickstarter projects are not charity.

Others have accused creators of asking for a handout by using Kickstarter. This is silly. Every project offers a range of rewards to backers in exchange for their pledges. Spike’s backers get online screenings, tickets to the premiere, and access to the creative process of one of the most important voices in independent film. Just because an artist funds the creation of their work upfront rather than waiting until later to sell it doesn’t somehow make it charity.

The people launching and backing Kickstarter projects are participating in a new way of funding. In Spike’s case, an alternative to film’s traditional investment model. Backers are supporting Spike not to buy into the potential profits of the film, but because they connect with his body of work, they think the rewards he’s offering are great, and they want to be a part of bringing this film to life. This isn’t charity. It’s a direct exchange between an artist and a willing audience, similar to the model Mozart and others used to fund works centuries ago.

All creators should be allowed to invite the public to be a part of their work.

Kickstarter is a place where creators share their work directly with the public, and audiences show their support for the projects they love. The results are amazing: more creative work by a greater diversity of creators than ever before. This isn’t just a different way of doing things, it’s a better way — for creators and audiences alike.

    1. Larry Goodale on

      I believe that it is a bit of abuse when movie companies come to Kickstarter. In the real business the people backing the project would get a portion of the proceeds of the profit. In the case of a Kickstarter campaign, they may get a dvd. All profits from the movie are now kept by the creator, which is all fine and good, until the next project, that they could afford to make themselves, but choose to use Kickstarter, because there is no risk to them. They get all of the money to make the film and if it makes money, they keep the profit, but if it fails miserably, they have taken no risk. They lose nothing but everyone else's money.

      If this were some small movie company just starting out and Kickstarter is how they get their company going, that's fantastic and what I see as the good of Kickstarter. However, when the big companies and people use Kickstarter as a way to have no risk for themselves, I see it as a negative.

      Just my opinion.

    2. Andrew Eugene Mauney

      While I agree that it is a non-zero-sum game and that projects gain from the network that Kickstarter provides, it is quite naive to say that projects don't compete for pledges. Looking at reward tiers of similar projects and "early bird" specials clearly show that there is competition within the Kickstarter ecosphere. I'm not weighing in on whether or not the competition is good, just that there is competition and you can't wave a hand to make it disappear; there are a finite number of contributors and a finite amount of money a user can spend.

    3. Jon Marin on

      Thanks to Spike and this Kickstarter campaign, I've been open to investing in other films. Hurting them? NO. His awareness opened me up to the site and I will now start investing in the smaller man's personal projects.

    4. Yancey Strickler

      @Larry Thanks for your thoughts. The fact that backers are supporting a project to help it come to life — not for potential profit — is a good thing. It’s the investment model that keeps so many creative projects from finding funding in the first place. The key question behind investment is: “Will this make money?” The key question on Kickstarter is: “Do I like this and want to see it get made?” It's the latter question that creates opportunity for so many more ideas.

      And don't overlook how much backers benefit with rewards, and how much power backers have. They're the ones — not creators — who are deciding what gets funded. If they like a project, they'll back it. If they don't, they won't. The audience has the final say.

    5. Yann Gorriz on

      What about the 53% who have backed projects before? They've in theory pledged nearly $700k... How many emerging artists could this sum have helped and ''kickstarted''? About 140 $5000 short films? It is a joke.
      What are the stats of people who have never pledged before on an average campaign? It's probably not far from 50% - 60%? so what? one big project brings a lot of new people on Kickstarter but probably not more than an average project... Other point, out of the 53% who have already used Kickstarter, how many of them gave what they could afford to Spike's project and can not pledge any more until they've got some more money? Also in term of exposure, how can average projects be featured as popular or on top of intra-site pages when the first ranks are given to projects such as Spike's?
      An other point, is it decent to pay for a film to be made and then to pay again to watch it in cinemas? Isn't the point of theatre distribution to generate money a posteriori to pay for a film to be made and to eventually generate profit?
      Kickstarter is also a community, help other projects if you want yours to be helped. Lee has apparently funded his students... Decency would be to be a part of the community by backing other projects, it's good to take, but good to give too.
      But hey, it's America, the big ones with no manners always eat the small ones...

    6. Larry Goodale on

      @Yancy I understand what you're saying, however, in a case like Zach Braff's film, he had the backing for his film but didn't like what he would have to do for it. So he came to Kickstarter. If it was about getting the film made, that part was done. Please understand, this is more about my perception of what Kickstarter should be. It's not my company and I do not have a say in how this company operates. It's just my opinions. Kickstarter doesn't allow shares to be sold for the investment. In the case of large company movies, I'm not sure that should be the case. If you think that the large companies using Kickstarter aren't thinking "How can I make the largest profit out of this," you are mistaken. The small people are thinking "how can I get this made and get my company going?"

      Like I said, these are just my feelings. I just like the idea of Kickstarting a company not funding an existing one. (Not that I haven't in the case of some board games.) Unfortunately it also has the downside of removing some of the middlemen in the process. To make sure the game happens, I have to fund it through Kickstarter, which means my local game shop doesn't make money on it and may possibly no be able to stay in existence. I don't know that there is a good solution. I do think that a multi-million dollar company like Spike Lee's or Zach Braff's could afford their own movie and then the local theaters and DVD retailers could make a profit and keep going.

    7. Laura Kiernan on

      I get irritated when the argument becomes about sharing profits with the backers. I pledged $50 to the Veronica Mars movie because that's what I was willing to part with, simply to see it. This movie will not make a lot of money. And if it made 100 million dollars, more power to them. Frankly, I don't even care about the t-shirt I am getting at that pledge level. I think I speak for MANY when I say I don't expect any return on my investment, other than to see this movie.

    8. Lisa Vollrath on

      I created a project on Kickstarter this year, and my company has been in business for eight years. I needed help. I asked. A bunch of people gave me money that allows me to create something new.

      I pledged five bucks to Spike's project because I want to help him create something new.

      I don't see the problem.

    9. Drew Turner on

      SPIKE has never been fully embraced as a part of the Hollywood-studio system. In general, BLACK filmmakers get there projects passed on often just because they cover black subjects or have black leads. And before some of you call this victim thinking, it's not. It's a fact...just asked Lee Daniels why it took 5 years to make The Butler. NO HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS would tough it...and it was number one at the box office this past weekend. So, we NEED venues like Kickstarter to get projects funded.

    10. Noah Nelson on

      To all those who are still griping about how "big" projects "hurt" smaller ones:

      Guess what: if Spike Lee were to set up his own "white-label" crowdfunding campaign ala Chris Roberts with Star Citizen he'd probably do just fine. You know what wouldn't happen? His fans wouldn't even make it through the front door here.

      Ever see an ad for Kickstarter? I haven't. Ever see a TV news segment for a celebrity campaign? Yup.

      This is word-of-mouth marketing 101, folks.

    11. Raw420Films on

      Even though my Red Hot Chili Peppers "are you authorized" concert documentary only had four backers on Kickstarter, I found that I was actually testing their platform. There are millions of RHCP fans around the world. Out of the 900 friends on facebook I learned that some are jaded or don't get the concept. Asking the bands fans for donations I could have focused on a little more . I waited over a month before I launched my campaign . The production was shot over a three year period from 1988 thru 1991.

    12. Andrew Korell on

      Being able to get money to fund a film doesn't always mean getting money to make the film you and your fans want made. Kickstarter gives artists and creators the opportunity to go directly to their fans with their ideas. Fans buy in into the opportunity to enjoy that creation. Which is the same payback they normally get when they purchase a DVD or a movie ticket. Only now they're enjoying something that wasn't the to subject of approval for a third party.

    13. Amy Lahti on

      I me, it seems simple. If you think a project is worthy of backing, back it. If you don't think it's worthy of backing, move on, and back something else. Back all the tiny indie film projects you find. The "not a zero-sum game" statement is the BOOM moment here, to me. Spike's project hit its (pretty ambitious) goal. So obviously, quite a few folks (disclaimer: including myself) felt like his project was worthy of support.

    14. Mike Haakstad on

      There's no way a Spike Lee kickstarter is taking money that would otherwise go to a different project.

      My wife contributed to the Veronica Mars KS. She would NEVER consider contributing to a KS for some indie short film - she doesn't care at all about indie films. So that's 35 bucks (or whatever) that would have been spent outside of kickstarter, not somewhere else within kickstarter on a different project.

    15. Steven on

      Larry pretty much summed up my opinion on the matter. In general though, people backed it because they wanted to, and in the end that is what it is all about. Nobody forced anyone to back anything, so while I think it is abuse of the system, others didn't think so and that it their right.

      I am not surprised to see KS defending it though as they get a nice cut of that million (plus) dollar project.

    16. Christopher Morris on

      Some rewards may only have a certain number of backers that can pledge - but that doesn't mean it's a competition by any means. I've seen some bands feature a "Meet the band" thing with only a few people that can possibly pledge - and that seems pretty legit to me. Because I'm pretty sure the last thing a band wants (or can actually do) is give 200 people a personal 'Meet the band' meeting. You can pretty much consider the higher pledge rewards as collector's items, or experiences that can't be duplicated - this is one reason why they limit them (and I would also add they are limited BY THE PROJECT, not by Kickstarter - so the artists set the limit themselves). Even if a backer can't pay for the big pledges, they can still get many other rewards through one or more lower cost pledges; which is done daily I'm sure.

      The other thing about crowd funding, is that is eliminates the middle man. Musicians can finally get a wholesome salary from the music they've created because they don't have to use and pay for a distributor. Same with film, same with visual artists. - crowd funding eliminates the need for a record label or a film studio, or a publisher. The best part about it - is that people get EXACTLY what they want through rewards. Some people may not like it, or understand it - but it's changing art culture in this country.

    17. Andrew Korell on

      I think the big Kickstarters help people cross two important thresholds. The first one is they learn about the site and visit the site. The second one is they take the time to make an account. So while there are people who picked Spike Lee over a smaller venture, or only pledged to the Spike Lee project, everybody gains a little bit more of much more accessible audience.

    18. Missing avatar

      Karen Phillips on

      Here's the thing about Kickstarter, people - it doesn't operate on a scarcity mentality!

      I donated to my first Kickstarter a few years ago, and when it was successful I felt good about helping a new project happen. In fact, it felt so good, I started looking at more interesting projects on Kickstarter. Since then, I've backed a number of other projects - ranging from large (Amanda Palmer's "Theatre is Evil") to small (Blue Lyra Review's first print anthology). With each new project I support, I find I'm more inclined to support another one. I have backed more than one project at a time - not as a huge backer, but usually at around the $35 level. And I've never felt that backing one project has kept me from backing another - quite the opposite.

      Sure, there are folks who donated to Spike Lee (or Veronica Mars or Zach Braff) who may never donate to another Kickstarter in their lives - and that's cool. I sincerely doubt that ANYONE who backed those projects did so at the expense of a smaller project. And I suspect there are more than a few who will be back looking for another project to back - because Kickstarter opens a path for anyone who is interested to become a small-scale patron of the arts.

    19. Rebekah Diaz on

      Hahaha, I love it! Innovation is leverage for the little guys. Here's to staying small and nimble my friends!

    20. Trevor Gale on

      Reality time! Kickstarter is basically the ultimate expression of the free market. A person says they can make a thing they think is cool, but they don't have the money to do it. So they ask: Are there enough other people out there who think it is cool, with twenty bucks or so that they're willing to throw in the pot so that it can be made? The answer is a simple binary yes or no. So remember, if you think a project didn't deserve to get funded or kickstarted, a million dollars worth of people disagree with you and that's the only thing that actually matters.

    21. Hollywood_Tweet on

      We run a Twitter site completely devoted to indie artists from filmmakers to musicians to designers and everything in between. All the people we highlight are little know, yet extremely talented. Many of those people run Kickstarter campaigns and we tweet out at least once a day asking people to donate to those projects. Getting people to pay attention, getting them noticed and trying to get the general public to care can be next to impossible. We LOVE that Spike Lee has created this controversy so now when we tweet out someone's looking for donations to their Kickstarter campaign EVERYONE knows what we're asking people to check out. No free rides, no charity, no handout but instead a chance to become part of the creative process. We know FIRST HAND that Spike Lee's campaign is helping all other worthy campaigns. One has to ask of those who are complaining the loudest, have you contributed to a small indie artist's campaign today? We ask of people like Spike Lee that when that project of yours returns over 100%, don't forget the small indie projects needing your help and give back to the community that you once asked for help. That 1.2 million can go a long way. We believe Spike Lee will likely give more than almost all his naysayers combined because he will know first hand what any donation, no matter how small, can mean. CNBC and Bloomberg, how much have you given today?

    22. DJ Comatose on

      heh kickstarter word up. but watch out now you may be the next target of haters and trolls. agree to disagree peeps it's okay to have a difference of an opinion without trying to force everybody to share it. just like freedom of speech nobody is forcing you to back anybody or even to turn your computer (or television) on or off. take a lil more responsibility for the person you see in the mirror daily (hopefully you know which one i'm talking about). the world is a beautiful place if you choose to see it. how and whether anybody does is entirely dependent upon the individual. peace. :)

    23. VJzoo on

      I'm a regular crowdfunding supporter - over 70 projects backed - and backing one big project has NO bearing on whether I back another smaller one. It's like buying DVDs - I don't go to Amazon and say "I'm going to spend $200 on DVDs" - I find films I want to buy and get them. To say by backing a Spike Lee KS I'm not going to instead spend that money on some unknown director's film is ridiculous. I love being a small investor in projects of many, varied sizes, from Pebble to some local stage production that only their friends have heard of. The fact that someone as high profile as Lee is bringing so many first-time supporters to crowdfunding is brilliant.

    24. Okay By Me Productions on

      We launched a feature film Kickstarter campaign a day or two before Spike Lee launched his campaign. At one point our projects were side by side in the Staff Picks. Though we were extremely nervous about it at first, and a bit reactive, we don't think Spike's project had any real effect on ours in the end.

      But that doesn't mean that there is absolutely no competition effect on Kickstarter. While the numbers tell one story in the aggregate, they might tell a different story when really comparing apples to apples. For instance, if our film was a lot more like Spike's film and tapped into the same exact audience, the outcome might have been different for us (ie. we might not have funded). There is not a scarcity mentality on Kickstarter, but the audience for any particular project is finite, as are the funds this audience has available or are willing to donate. Celebrity projects increase pledges overall to categories and Kickstarter generally, and that's a great thing, but it doesn't mean it's impossible for a specific project to launch with the right idea at the wrong time and suffer because a celebrity launches a very similar project at the same time. Not sure if there is any data on that or if there haven't been enough celebrity projects at this point to have that happen. But it's bound to happen sooner or later as the influx of high profile celebrity projects increases.

      The material difference between a project like ours and a celebrity project was that we didn't have the money to make our movie without help. If we did, we wouldn't have done a Kickstarter campaign but would have just gone and made our film. But we don't begrudge a celebrity who chooses not to use their own money. Spike Lee, Zach Braff, Rob Thomas, these are talented folks, and we're excited for their films. Maybe by not using their own money, they'll take more chances, more risks, and make better films. Who knows?

      Everyone seems to think the question should be: should crowdfunding level the playing field for creators who don't have money or access, or should it simply provide everyone a new field in which to play, where fans have more direct access to creators? The answer is an opinion that has merits on both sides. But in the end, for us anyway, the question is irrelevant. Kickstarter is the latter. Griping about it isn't liable to change that fact. Having just gotten out of the trenches, we think the real question for independent (ie. broke) filmmakers like us going forward is a strategic question, not a moral one. Leave the morals for after you make your film. The question is this: how do you find out which celebrities are going to launch film campaigns, what film are they making, and when are they going to launch it? Not sure what the answer is, but as more and more celebrities find Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms, we think that's the question to ask.

    25. Ken Olson on

      Sad thing about this is, when I saw that Lee had a film on Kickstarter I immeadietly looked at how many he had backed. That's right ZERO backed, this self made millionaire that Im sure there are projects he would like, but it just tells me he is NOT REALLY a part of the community. I saw this months ago and sent him an email. I stted how I loved all of his movies and his process. I also mentioned that he a man that can afford to produce a film on his own should at the least donate to some other kickstarters and be a part of the community rather than just stealing from it. He never responded, but that again speaks volumes, and I would not doubt if he has never even been on kickstarter. It is probably some intern that he PAYS to do all of this for him. Sad when a whale comes into a community of guppies. Damn shame, lost all respect for him after he never responded to my email. Douche. Spike who?...

    26. Ken Olson on

      And to all of those schmoes that keep going on about the publicity is good. Seriously, kickstarter and it's community do just fine and sure as hell do not need guys like spike lee to make it known. It is guys like him in corporate America that have caused us the little guys to resort to a site like this. HE DOESNT NEED THIS MONEY. HE has friends with money that would back it in a second, but that would mean his greedy ass would have to split the pie, but he doesn't want to hear that noise. No, of corse not, why if he has FANS to take advantage of, that will pay to produce it and then go buy a ticket to see it. He is basicly charging people to only charge them again at the movies, seriously we are paying to go out and spend more money. Somethings very wrong here...

    27. Ken Olson on

      @ Larry "If you think that the large companies using Kickstarter aren't thinking "How can I make the largest profit out of this," you are mistaken. The small people are thinking "how can I get this made and get my company going?" Hit the nail on the head. Just as I said the big whales are looking for more fresh meat since they have taken damn near everything from the little guy as it is. What is the American dream any more. Use to be a father that worked bought a house and took vacations. Now because of corporate greed Mom and Dad go work there asses off for what, No HOUSE, No Savings, No vacations. The dream has been squelched by greedy men just like Spike. Sad to see as it just gets worse and they pass their disgusting greed onto the rest of us with all of their merchandising and media. Sick and Sad. Where did the family go?

    28. C. Millichamp on

      I was a kickstarter backer before the big projects started using it. But the choice is mine, and I will continue to back the small film projects and ignore the big budget, well known features. But I can see the less known producers migrating to a different platform if the big budget films crowd them out of Kickstarter, which would be a loss for everyone.

    29. Nic Wistreich on

      This row has puzzled me somewhat. As an indie film person I can understand why people would be angered if Disney came here to fund Iron Man 4. Likewise Universal Music's proposed Vinyl Project, where fans are asked to crowdfund the re-release of a back catalogue, seems a bit opportunistic.

      But indie film finance is a hard-to-tame beast. I can only assume the backlash against people like Lee is mostly down to people not understanding a) how hard it is, even for someone famous and talented, to raise money; and b) how rare it is for a film to show a profit, let alone for some of that to trickle back to the filmmaker.

      Indie film is a space where a filmmaker can spend five years struggling to get their second film funded, even if their first was a great success; where the likes of Oliver Stone have to top up their budgets with their savings; where test screenings force Oscar-winning directors to add terrible endings to their films; and where the 'Hollywood accounting' used by distributors means big hits like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Forrest Gump or Lord of the Rings never show a profit, so none of the cast or crew get their back-end.

      There's nothing odd about a Spike Lee fan buying a DVD or Box Set, or spending $20 to see his film at the cinema where 95% or more of that money will go to companies who've had little to do with making the film. So why a problem with that same fan giving the money directly to Lee's company at the start, with no big cut to executives and lawyers, and all of it giving him the freedom to make a film free from studio interference? How can that be anything but a good thing for lovers of his work, and the ever-rising status of crowd funding?

      Of course it might also bring new people to the platform (this was a big story in British news), and the likes of Bell, Braff, Franco and Lee may use their new crowdfunding clout to point followers to campaigns from unknown and upcoming talent - but the real win seems to be a shrinking in the gap between creator and fan, pushing us closer to that day where loving a filmmaker feels less like being a number in a spreadsheet on a business plan, and more like being in the front row at a concert.

    30. Ber on

      I'm astonished to see people in these comments who have (apparently) read the article and yet still try to argue that a big project like Spike's somehow hurts other films.

      Go and read the other two blog articles on the subject (linked in article, first paragraph) if you need to. The evidence could not be more compelling of how valuable a big project like this is for smaller / lesser known projects - there is a massive and sustained increase in backing levels across the entire rest of the category of the 'big project' during the time it runs, and onwards after that indefinitely.

    31. Yancey Strickler

      This has been a great discussion. I wanted to respond to a few things...

      @Larry Thanks for commenting. I don't fault you for suspecting ulterior motives when a company makes a statement like this. Companies are rarely the place for pure intentions. But I assure you that with everything we do, we are solely focused on Kickstarter's long-term health and honoring our mission to help people their bring creative projects to life. Our fee plays zero part in our thinking.

      Things like the "Kickstarter is not a store" post from last year and our decision not to do equity crowdfunding with the JOBS Act are places where we hope our character has come through. These are decisions that prioritized principles over profits. Our perspective on known artists using Kickstarter comes from the same place. Again, our mission is to help people bring their creative projects to life and that's exactly what Spike Lee is doing.

      @OkayByMeProductions Projects are competing for attention, but the primary competition isn't other projects, it's the rest of the internet and real life. It's the same for every cultural artifact these days.

      @Ken You raise a number of points I've seen others bring up, in particular the idea that he shouldn't be allowed to do this because he already has money. Why should that matter? He's an artist making a movie and he's taking a risk by seeing if others are interested. Backers are free to consider his own financial standing when deciding whether to support him, as you clearly have. But should rich people be banned from sharing their work with the public? Should Kickstarter as a tool be restricted to only starving artists? How do you determine what a starving artist is?

      Audiences are not sheep. They have way more power on Kickstarter than in any other system of funding. If they like something they'll support it. If they don't, they won't. They decide what happens. It may seem like a known creator is coming onto Kickstarter wielding all kinds of power, but they aren't. They're like every other creator using Kickstarter as a tool to share their idea with their audience and the world. A Kickstarter project is a very public question: are people into this? The answer might be no, as it has been for several prominent projects.

      As we said before in the post about Veronica Mars and Zach Braff, we understand the anxieties about these projects. The world we live in is hyper-competitive and often pits us against each other. If someone is winning, someone else must be losing, right? But that’s not what we see happening on Kickstarter.

      We see everyone getting to decide what projects they want to see come to life. We see more opportunity for creative freedom for everyone. We see more people participating in the creative process. We see more things getting made than ever before.

      That's the real story. More art from more people, and everyone having the opportunity to be a part of something they care about. Not everyone is going to like every project and that's perfectly fine. But we will always defend an artist's right to invite the public to be a part of their work.

    32. Kate Madison: Mythica Entertainment on

      I agree with what Kickstarter are saying. Personally I didn't give money to Spike Lee because I felt his reasons for using Kickstarter were not the best. The fact that he didn't tell us anything about the film, even the title, made it seem like he has no idea and just thought he'd try his luck getting some free money and he'll figure the film out later. Fine, good luck to him.
      What I have a slight issue with is that Kickstarter has decided to make Lee's project a staff pick. As of today the project is over 100% funded but when I looked earlier it was the first project I saw when i clicked on the film catagory cos it's the staff pick. I don't think this is right. This project is already funded and there are many other projects out there who need the help to reach their goal that a staff pick status would give them and who don't have the existing fan base that Lee has.
      But that's just my opinion.

    33. Missing avatar

      Borja Sordo on

      I agree it doesn't hurt them, but then again of course it also doesn't hurt that these typically high kickstarter goal projects with a lot of notoriety bring in A LOT of money (not to mention publicity). And hey, Kickstarter still takes their cut!

      That said I have nothing against big names posting on Kickstarter, just putting the obvious out there too.

    34. Piers Duruz | on

      The argument seems to really be about whether Kickstarter should only be for people who couldn't get money in any other way or not. This is crazy. The real issue should be about whether you, as someone who potentially may hand over money, want to support a system where you give the money directly to creatives making the project, or whether you want to support a publishing / distribution platform who then decide what they will make available to you, and give some of it to the creatives.

      Yes, the creators of Veronica Mars, Zach Branf and Spike Lee's new film, could probably have gotten money from the traditional distribution systems. If they did that though, they would have had to make the film that their publisher / distributors wanted, not the film their fans wanted.

      Either way, extra money is brought to other projects. The question is, is it money being brought to other projects, chosen by the fans on Kickstarter as they discover new things here, or is it profits being put into other artists chosen by a publishing / distribution system?

      My only gripe, is that beyond staff pick, that the current systems ("Most popular" "Most funded" etc.) encourage people to support the projects that are already huge, rather than the new, independent, smaller ones. How do you automate showing people smaller projects, without showing them garbage ones?

      Personally, I'd find projects in the same categories and keywords as what backers have already pledged on, then sort them by the conversion rate to visitor ratio. Conversion rate is the number of people who back a project, divided by the number who saw the project page. A high conversion rate suggests a project that appeals to people who see it. A low amount of visitors to the page though, often suggests the creators don't know much about business and marketing, making them more independent, and more vulnerable. This way, if a project is well matched to an audience who would love it (suggested by a large percentage of it's viewers choosing to back it), but just hasn't had many people see the page (as they don't have much money to promote, don't have well connected friends etc), it would get featured more prominently. Projects that already had huge traffic would be ranked lower.

      This way, when you had huge mega projects bring huge number of people, they would see more of the kind of projects that they already love, but still tend towards the more independent ones. This would also help bridge the "Kickstarter Divide" problem, where projects tend towards either massive overfunding, or barely getting any pledges at all.

    35. C on

      As a backer, I think I should have the say in where my entertainment dollars go. I don't believe Big Hollywood, CNBC, Bloomberg, or any celebrity has any right to tell me what I can and cannot watch.

    36. Peter Lyngso on

      Firstly, I love this discussion and have been keeping up with learning the ins and outs of the arguments being made to create a properly informed opinion. Secondly, after all the reading and clear statistics I think it is inarguable to say that celebrity crowd-sourcing is bad for the whole of kickstarter projects and that it negatively affects smaller projects by taking away would be backers and their money. Apparently it is the opposite, in that it brings a whole new awareness to the kickstarter community which in turn brings in new potential backers and thus more money.

      This I think is great, I totally support a growing market however when this point is made, the fact that the celebrity sought crowd-funding in the first place is dropped to the waist side. My qualm I have figured is with the ethics of the issue, I don't find it acceptable for those with adequate resources and means of starting a project such as Spike Lee's to tap fans as a source of funding. People argue their support of Spikes project in that they want to contribute so they can see the result, my thinking then questions "Does his motivation to create this film go only as far he can be carried by those eager to see his work, would he have still made the film out of pocket if his kickstarter had failed to reach its goal?" What does a filmmaker without stakes look like? I guess now since it succeeded in its goal his only stake in this movie is the pending satisfaction of his fans after the final product. I personally am excited to see what that looks like and I give my opinion and thoughts only to further discussion and propel our thinking on the matter, not tear down a wonderful director.

    37. Kurtis D. King (S.A.G.) on

      Granted this is a new medium, and a new way of doing things when it comes to developing art, and so I am not sure where I land on the whole subject. As expressed by one Larry G. (above), I also agree it is an abuse of power for a Corporate Studio to begin taking advantage of Kickstarter, because it would only embolden studios to become even more greedy with their profits, while continuing to put out junk movies at the expense of innocent donors. On the other hand, if people such as Laura K. don't care if a Studio that can afford to use it's own money, but takes hers instead to make even more profits, while parting with a T-shirt worth $2.00 in materials and most likely made in China, then I guess that is fine too.

      I am not sure if posting our comments here will change anything, but if my opinion were to be considered I would limit the making of films to Independent Artists (Not Multi-Billion Dollar Studios) who are interested in creating "Short Films" (60 mins. or less), 2-D Animation, and Documentaries only. Why? Because there is a very clear line between Creative Art and Blockbuster Garbage, and I would hate to see the platform Kickstarter has created for Independent Artist's, who have been shut out by the Major Studios for so long, become the Slush Fund, for those same studios, and drown out the independent voices once again.

    38. David Bean on

      Having a well known name, whether famous or infamous (depending on your view point), try to raise funds on Kickstarter can only increase awareness of Kickstarter and crowd funding in general. It should increase the amount of Funders or Backers that Makers can appeal for funds from. I don't think that as a "famous" person Spike Lee is taking an unfair share of the pot. Funders back projects because they have a feeling about them. They don't do it for profit, they do it as the purest form of help, to be able to see something successful that they themselves have helped create and they didn't do it for money...some people are incapable of doing anything unless there's money in it and you'll never see them acting as Funders. It's like volunteers who do something because they love doing it. They rise above the greed and arrogance that prevails in our society just to give someone a helping hand. If Spike Lee reaches or even exceeds his target then it shows there's a lot of people who understand that he wanted to avoid the Hollywood rubbish and constraints. He hasn't taken potential funds away from other projects, he's just taken a bit more from Funders who will back other projects anyway.

    39. Yazin on

      Don't like it? Don't fund it.

    40. Missing avatar

      Lee Dempsey on

      The "truth" here is the primary issue. If Lee had stated off the bat that he didn't need the money for the movie but wanted to use the opportunity to give fans some rewards and swag then he might have fared better.

      But the "truth" is Spike Lee is a multi-millionaire with vast houses and luxuries and is never short of work in Hollywood that gives him enough money to easily come up with the funds to make any movie he wants to.

      Money going to other KS projects? I doubt it makes a difference. A lot of the new backers would never have bothered to support any other projects.

    41. Missing avatar

      Thomas Rodgers on

      I believe that the people who fund these projects are adults. They know up front that this investment will not yield a return on thier pledge. They like the project or the idea of the project and the project gets funded. There is transparency in this process. Also, how can a big project overshadow a small project? Projects big or small get funded on the merit of the project. If the projects are successful and make a lot of money, power to the creator. I believe that crowd funding is here to stay. For now, it is the best way for aspiring creators to get thier projects before an audience. Whatever Spike Lee's financial situation is, his backers will decide whether or not his project gets funded. Spike had 6,000 people who wanted to see his "Joint" gets made. That's the way it is, and its like that!

    42. Lois V Harrison on

      When giving people give, they feel good about the act of giving. When creative people create, they feel good about the act of creation. When miserable people spread misery what happens? It's a choice. We have free choice here, that is the beauty of KICKSTARTER. Of LIFE.

    43. Missing avatar

      Rich Guay on

      Spike has just as much right as anyone to use Kickstarter to fund his project. A few things are missing from this discussion. First, it is extremely difficult to get a film financed and be able to retain creative control. Kickstarter solves that problem. Second, the real competition between films is for an audience for the finished product. Kickstarter begins the process of building that audience. His film has 5,000 people vested in it's creation. That's amazing! I didn't contribute to Spike's project but it is now also on my radar because of the press. Decades ago I used to joke about pre-selling tickets to my projects to get them financed. This is really not much different. Congrats Spike!

    44. Missing avatar

      Kevin Duvall on

      While I understand the concerns about Kickstarter being abused by people who do not need really need it to fund their projects, I think it's important to remember that these project creators are still individuals or independent operations. Spike Lee and Zach Braff have more money than most project creators, but one of them (or another wealthy individual) is not the same as a corporate giant trying to fund a blockbuster. It's not abuse for someone to say he or she want to use Kickstarter to make a movie independently that they have complete control over (especially Lee, because he's been controversial in the past); even if that person could seek other funding through other means, he or she may not retain full creative control. Lee may have money and personal connections, but it's not as though he's saying, "I will not make another movie unless audiences pay for its production through crowdfunding." If the crowdfunding community does not think a creator's motives are ethically sound (such as Nic's hypothetical example of Disney using Kickstarter to fund Iran Man 4), then I'd like to think backers would decline to pledge. Everyone has a right to use the site; it's up to the community to decide who is using it properly.

    45. Missing avatar

      Charles on

      The truth is that there isn't anything even preventing film companies from using Kickstarter. The morality everyone is preaching has no basis in logic. Back projects you are interested in and leave the rest alone. For those creating, I am sorry, but even if I ever did create a project I would still have no sympathy for you since it is up to the creator to create a good project and I would hold myself to the same standard. If a company (big or small) makes a good project that I'm interested in then I would fund it. If I was competing with a company for the same audience I would try my best to stand out as different from that company by being more innovative, creative, and as professional as I could possibly be.

      I don't agree with keeping big movie companies out of kickstarter. If the project looked good I would back it and if it looked like they were trying to make the same sort of stuff they usually make in Hollywood I wouldn't back it. I probably also would be less likely to back a sequel than otherwise (but if I asked myself if Joss Whedon made a project to fund a sequel to Serentiy, would I back it? the answer would probably be yes). There are a ton of indie movies and music that are just terrible that I would never support in any way and there are a ton of mainstream music and movies that are just terrible that I would never support in any way....

      My argument is that the only way that Zach Braff and/or Spike Lee would be abusing Kickstarter is if in the end their projects result in terrible un-creative and unimaginative movies that I don't like...So in the end, my opinion is the only opinion that counts to me :D And I will back the projects that I see as being interesting and having a fairly good chance of success. If I back a few celeb kickstarter projects and they turn out to have terrible results then I would be somewhat leary of backing celeb projects in the future..Being new to film making will never enter into my brain as a reason to back your film no matter how hard people try to convert me to the "indie cult," lol.

      As a project backer I care about the end results which makes it hard as a backer since you don't really see any results until much much (sometimes years) later. To be fair, I don't care if you have made a movie before either because there is every chance that you could make this new film badly...I would point to all the bad sequels to movies or just bad movies companies have made in general or "indie" film makers having one success and going on to make a dozen bad independent movies etc etc and say that unless a company or individual shows me why I should pledge for their new project on kickstarter, then I'm also not going to consider it. Period.

    46. Electric Marshmallow Productions on

      As those involved in film, we should be cheering on these projects, not being spiteful. Yes, I wish I had the outreach someone like Spike Lee has, but he was making films back before Kickstarter was even a possibility. The fact projects can make so much in this venue provides great hope for those of us who dream of having the recognizability filmmakers of this caliber have!! Congrats on the success and yay for bringing more to Kickstarter!!

    47. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    48. Thad Revitt on

      You can expain it all you want the very moment I saw it I thought that aint right. If you have to explain it then it has the appearance of being wrong and perception in the majoirty becomes reality. The first thing that came to my mind was really Spike has money why does he need to ask other people for money? And his name drew the money but still in all it sucks.

    49. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    50. Missing avatar

      Namaku Keren on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

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