Kickstarter abuse: Why are you giving your money to wealthy celebrities?

By | April 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm | 151 comments | feature slider, News, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Kickstarter is amazing. It’s especially amazing for industrious, talented artists who lack the connections and capital usually needed to realize their dreams. In fact, it’s been a pleasure recently to see photographer Seth Olenick’s book of comedian portraits, comedian Sue Costello’s one-woman show and an interactive eBook about late comedian Robert Schimmel reach their fundraising goals. I’m looking forward to seeing the final products of each.

If you are somehow not fully familiar with Kickstarter, allow me to explain: Kickstarter is a crowd-funding service wherein a project creator asks the site’s users to give a few bucks (or more) so that they can create something. In return for receiving donations, the creator dishes out increasingly exciting and valuable rewards based on the amount a backer gives. Only if the project is fully funded does the creator get his or her seed dough. If the goal isn’t reached, backers keep their money. Like I said, amazing.

As is the case with all amazing things, however, there comes abuse. And Kickstarter abuse has become increasingly bothersome and offensive. By my definition, a Kickstarter abuser is a well-known person who has the financial means and/or professional connections to fully fund their project without asking their fans for money but asks anyway.

Most recently, actor/director/writer Zach Braff has joined the should-be embarrassed ranks of Kickstarter abusers— in this case, celebrities who could easily fund their pet projects without asking you or me for money. Braff, who was making a reported $350,000 per episode of Scrubs and who is currently wiping his ass with syndication money and who can be seen in the $215 million Oz the Great and Powerful, asked his fans for $2 million so that he can produce a follow-up to his 2004 indie flick Garden State. The result: As of this post, he’s raised $2.2 million and there are 25 days to go. If the history of celebrity Kickstarter projects means anything, fans will continue to give money to Braff, despite his goal being met. It also means Braff, like his fellow Kickstarter abusers, will gladly accept the excess funds. Classy.

In order to launch the new film, titled Wish I Was Here, Braff explains, “I was about to sign a typical financing deal in order to get the money…It would have involved making a lot of sacrifices I think would have ultimately hurt the film.”

To be clear, Braff secured money for the project, but he would have had to make sacrifices— you know, the way we all do every day in every aspect of our lives. So, instead of accepting this financing deal and creating the movie like an adult, he’s decided to beg us for money. His other options included not making the movie or liquidating $2 million of his assets — that is, if he doesn’t have that much sitting in an account — so he can pay his friends to make the movie, which is what he’s now doing with the donations some of you gave him.

To put it another way, Braff’s life was already great: He’s rich, famous and gets to put his penis inside a model’s vagina. But his life could be even better if only he could make another movie— better still, if he can do it exactly the way he wants with the exact people he wants in the exact location he wants using the exact equipment he wants and with your money to pay for it. I’m not saying Braff’s wealth excludes him from pursuing more wealth and happiness, but isn’t it obvious he should be using his own money to do so?

Of course, Braff isn’t the only absurdly rich celebrity with an equally absurd sense of entitlement. And he’s not the only Kickstarter abuser. By his own admission, he was influenced by Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, who earlier this month, with the help of the defunct series star Kristen Bell, raised more than $5.7 million to start producing the film version of the cult favorite. The goal was $2 million. The excess donations mean “more locations, more sets, more actors, and most important of all, more shooting days,” according to Thomas, who, like Braff, is enjoying the constant flow of syndication bucks.

Then there’s Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. He raised nearly $137,000 ($60,000 over his goal) so that he could produce an 8 to 10-minute cartoon featuring a character from his iconic animated show. And let’s not forget Charlie Kaufman; the Oscar winner is behind critically-acclaimed films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but that doesn’t mean he won’t take your money. He wanted $200,000 to produce a 40-minute stop-motion animated film called Anomalisa. What he got was well over $400,000.

David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fight Club, Seven) raised $442,000 to start production on The Goon, an animated film based on the popular comic book. And then there’s Whoopi Goldberg, who raised $74,000 to produce a documentary on pioneering comedian Moms Mabley.

Before I go further, please indulge me while I make a disclaimer in an effort to prevent, “Why do you hate Veronica Mars?-type questions in the comments section. I don’t hate any of the project creators or the projects listed above. In fact, I think most of them are downright swell. What I hate is the way in which the artists have decided to raise funds.

If you’ve already given to projects of these types and you still think it was a good decision, by all means, keep doing it. If you’re so desperate to feel part of something that you believe the rich have your interests – and not their own – at heart, commit to it. But don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re actually part of something special; you’re helping the rich get richer. There’s nothing special about that.

“Well, no one is forcing people to give money to these incredibly wealthy celebrities,” some of you will say. You’re absolutely correct. People are free to do what they want with their money. And wealthy celebrities are free to beg for money from people who have already helped pad their unimaginably luxe lifestyles. But that doesn’t mean what these celebrities are doing is right. Nor does it mean we’re not allowed to shame them, which is what I propose we start doing.

Comedian Tim Heidecker tweeted this mock script page the other day in response to Braff, and there’s this pretty brilliant video response in addition to a few other blog posts, wherein the authors speaks out against Kickstarter abuse. But why isn’t their more? And more importantly, why are so many people so willing to give their hard-earned money to some of the wealthiest people on earth?

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About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

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  • http://donationmoneyfreetocharity.weebly.com dharmeshjpatel
  • Asashii

    So let me get this straight I invest in a company but I don’t get a share of the company and with money they begged for, they turn around and make billions off of money that was begged for. Anyone who gives money to kickstarter BS should ask for a share in the company these people just got rich off of the stupidity of idiots, you people just got shafted.Iit is called investing not give people money to make them billionaires and you get ZERO return.

    Please stop using kickstarter and tell them you want a share in the company. What idiots, everyone that gave them money should take them to court!!!!

    Please refuse to give them money and tell them you want share.
    If I could have the shares of Oculus Rift that was just sold for 2 Billion dollars, I would have had a good return, Please stop giving people money and making them rich, just STOP.

  • pillybilly

    The truth is more rich you are more rich you become.

  • frankelee

    He should have written this post about Kristen Bell and put up a bunch of pictures of Kristen Bell.

  • fez

    I tell you for why… he’s a jew & i have nothing against jewish people but they are just the greediest people on the planet & there very good at keeping money… come to think of it i’ve never seen a homeless jew.

  • CJ

    It’s pretty disgraceful when a wealthy person goes on Kickstarter and asks for money, the site is for people who don’t have any money. Celebrities should go on Kickstarter to donate.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/alessandro.schiassi Alessandro Schiassi
  • independent thought

    I think the real issue does lie in the fact that the celebrity campaigns are publicized more. If anything, the solution is simple. A special section of kickstarter for those already famous for film making (or any other field where celebrities solicit funds). There are a finite number of people who give money through crowd sourcing. And many people are only attracted to the glitter and shininess of celebrity. I don’t begrudge them the opportunity to be funded, but I do feel when their star power is heaped in with the teaming masses it dilutes the giving power to the not quite famous folks.

  • Greg

    Go fuck yourself blind and die in a fire Dylan. Just because you don’t like Zach Braff or what he does as an artist doesn’t mean your opinions matter. You’re a real moron.

  • Turing.Test

    Because in my ideal world resources aren’t hoarded by the few at the expense of everyone else, they are simply shared; and art isn’t created in order to procure more resources for the artist, it is simply created for us all from the resources we all share. Kickstarter is a program that creates a system that, while imperfect, is far more aligned with that ideal than the capitalistic, greedy, exploitative entertainment industry that is the only real alternative. Naturally I’d rather give my money to those who are more in need; however, if my money goes to someone who already has some resources but will be able to forego producing (and compromising) their creation through the conventional entertainment industry, I’m all for it. You don’t supply us with any evidence that the people you mentioned could make these projects work with what they have, you just assume that they have infinite resources. Your call to unjustifiably shame those who want to make uncompromised art through a better alternative is what is shameful.

  • yup

    “But why isn’t their more?”
    Learn how to english more good

  • Bob Saget

    I think you need to get over yourself and realize that Braff is just asking for some help so that he can produce the movie the way he wants it and not the way the investors do. Yes he has money, but don’t you think he is going to be putting a lot of his money into this project also?

  • Lev

    Why would anyone care how I’d like to spend my extra cash? I enjoy Zach and would like to help any way I can to make his vision come true. Plus cool rewards.

  • http://www.wraithtdk.com Matthew Young

    Meh. I don’t see what the big deal is. The guy wanted to make a movie without cutting a bunch of stuff the investors didn’t like. Yea, he could have used his money; but no one is forcing anyone to GIVE him money. If people think it’s abuse of the system, they don’t have to pony up. If they do, well, it’s their money and their opinion.

    The beauty of Kickstarter is nothing so pretentious as “it only funds people you’ve never heard of.” It’s that it allows fans to fund all those projects you read about that didn’t get made because the networks believed the archaic Neilson system over the overwhelmingly loud fan voice. It cuts out the middle-men so that artist can make what they want the WAY they want to make it, so long as people believe in him.

  • ElHoboLoco

    My friend and I backed ZB 3x$250, and I don’t feel scammed or anything. We get three audio files where he’ll say what we want and we’ll get other stuff as well.

    In the end, people choose to give them money or not. As long as ZB and the team keep their promises it’s all good.

  • Jim

    Writer of this is a crackpot journalist who A) made no valid argument and B) resorted to personal attacks. Good to know that whatever this Laughspin crap is, its being led by the utmost stupidity.

  • Ryan

    This is one of the most fabricated, ridiculous non-issues that I have ever seen. What is with the Kickstarter hate? Going directly to the fans allows the people with vision to make the product the fans want, as opposed to having to cater to the whims of the money men. This is a GOOD thing. They should be ashamed of themselves? That’s so stupid, it’s hardly even worth rebutting. Shame for what? For utilizing an alternative funding strategy that was established for just such a purpose? For not putting their own money up? That doesn’t even make sense. Why should any director work with a studio,then? I mean, why not just put their own money up? It boils down to this: If those asking for money are willing to do exactly what they say they are going to do with the money, and those giving the money are happy with the product, then just exactly who are you to look down your nose at it? Maybe there is some deeper issue that you need to work out, but leave Kickstarter and those who utilize it out of your personal issues.

  • mts

    My biggest objection to Braff’s plea is that I simply can’t believe that he can’t find funding from people who would grant him more freedom with his work. He had private investors for Garden State, and it made a TON of money, so his track record is proven. I know people who have forked over sums close to this to artists who have had much less success and asked nothing in return (certainly nothing as silly as final decisions on casting and locations). It sounds fishy to me.

    Not to mention the fact that, in the end, this film will end up in the hands of distributors who will make a s**t-ton of money off of it. Studios are seeing this whole kickstarter thing and are realizing they can get the fans to fund the movie, so they make money without having to put much up (other than marketing, which the kickstarter campaign has already helped with). All the money people gave Veronica Mars is going straight into Warner Bros’s pockets, and then some. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some studio lurking behind Braff’s project as well…

  • Worker Bee in The Industry

    These folks who have money for movies want the excess for nicer catering, more overtime, a bigger budget to dip in, new phones etc. These are things that the past provided in excess and now its super limited. So have your fans pay for your golf cart and double wide trailer.

    The rewards are absurd, – have someone follow you on twitter, pay $10,000 to have ONE line in the whole movie.

    Those donating money should get back what other investors get back: MONEY.

    There are tons of people who can barely fund their own projects and pay rent, this guy is sitting on so much money he could go into porn and throw his career away, still being able to retire comfortably on an island paradise.

  • irateburrito

    Guys, I have an idea, guys. Guys, stick with me on this one. Guys, I think. Guys, I think if we. Guys, this is a great idea, guys. Guys, how about we don’t. Guys, this is great. How about we don’t give him money, instead of just complaining about it?

  • http://www.HunterBoone.com Hunter Boone

    I really don’t see what the problem is.

    This is business and he’s treating it as such.

  • Rachel

    The sacrifices he was talking about were presumably the artistic sacrifices explained in the video, which are sacrifices you should be *proud* to refuse to make. If he’s telling the truth, then it’s artistic integrity he’s after, not “more wealth”. I don’t know much about Braff and haven’t seen Garden State so I’m not biased, I just think this kind of criticism suggests that some people are so completely absorbed with the idea that making films can only ever be about money and status that the notion of anyone caring about anything other than the mainstream appeal of a creative project is washing over their heads. Surely Americans are aware that most big budget films from their country, like everything that gets diluted and dumbed down for the sake of wider (as opposed to deeper) appeal, have a tendency not to take risks, use the best suited music/actors/locations/anything, challenge the more intelligent audience members or be original?

  • Ryan

    Weird, I can’t find the bit in Kickstarter’s term’s and conditions where it explains how wealthy you’re allowed to be to put a project on there. Can you point it out to me?

  • http://twitter.com/drnorth drnorth

    The worst part of this is that we all had a chance to stop Zach Braff from making another fucking Garden State movie and we blew it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/k3n.king Ken Poirier

    It’s a voluntary system. Who asks for support and who is doing the support is irrelevant.

  • MRI

    At no point in the article is an actual argument made for WHY this is bad; the article is all emotional appeals. Only in the comments does the author get to his point: which is that he believes Kickstarter is zero sum. In particular, he says:

    “the more celebrity Kickstarters that launch, the less non-celebrity projects will not get funded and there goes the reason Kickstarter began in the first place”…and that efforts like this take “money out of the hands of people who do need it”.

    To the author, or anyone who agrees with him on these points: what – precisely – is the basis for these claims? How do you know? (And, have you considered the possibility that Braff has just introduced a bunch of newbies people to Kickstarter? And that these new people, with their new accounts, will give money to new projects?)

    Anyway, an empirical claim has been made: that celebrity Kickstarters take money away from other projects. Please provide evidence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tedmrak Thomas Mrak

    I would say it depends on the situation.

    Setting up a Kickstarter is a way to forecast a demand in a way that doesn’t involve focus groups or marketing or metric or even just blind luck.

    If the celebrities or any wealthy people for that matter aren’t providing value in return, I agree, the fans really are being exploited by someone who is already wealthy.

    To tell people how to spend their money is tyrannical, and demeaning people for being successful is silly. The money is not always there for people just to grab. There are usually terms and conditions attached to money that is obtained from others, so I can see where Braff and others are coming from.

    These celebrities did ask for money, it’s not like people were obligated to give them money, and not it’s not like every rich person has contempt for those that are not.

    I’m a musician myself, and I understand the importance of connecting with others and getting backing/sales.

    But, to believe that every person who is “indie” is automatically deserving of success and the wealthy ones are “exploiting” the ones who aren’t is silly.

    I agree, there are some people who would and do use their positions of power and wealth to their advantage, but since most of us don’t know these people, who are we to judge?

  • boo hoo

    I’ve heard this sentiment from many others, and it sounds as if the self-proclaimed artistic elite are pissed off that the truly cool kids have invaded their playground. Boo hoo. I’d rather be able to choose to give my money to Zach Braff than have no say in the fact that a portion of my tax dollars is given to the lastest steam-punk inspired production of *fill-in-the-blank* at the cutting edge black box theatre in EVERY town in America.

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  • http://twitter.com/Facepunchers Facepuncher Films

    we are making a movie about zach braff and his kickstarter adventures!

    our movie is called:

    BAD BRAFF

    that’s right. we are rasing funds through indiegogo (which is sort of like kickstarter) we are actually serious about this. you can find us by searching “bad braff” on the indiegogo website or search us on google or youtube.
    please check out our indiegogo page, like us on facebook and tell everyone you know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=712556101 Bret Meaker

    Dylan…I was with you, right up until you decided to loose your integrity. Now I see your post for nothing more than a jealous rant. I still agree with your premise, but you lost the edge with the vagina comment. Who that man sleeps with has no baring on this article at all. That was as classless as Braff asking for the money.

  • Andrea

    The “model’s vagina” comment is completely offensive, misogynist bullshit. If the author wants to be taken seriously as someone who is interested in the rights of artists, he should not reduce any woman to a body part. Half of artists are women, in case you hadn’t noticed.

  • samcraig

    I find your comment about Zach’s girlfriend disgusting. Every woman AND man that has read your “article” should be disgusted by the phrasing. Talk about wanting to SHAME someone. You should be
    embarrassed.

  • lizlemony

    When a celebrity is asking you to, essentially, act as a PRODUCER for his film, you should get what REAL HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS get: shares in the profits the film makes in the theater. Simple as that.

  • http://www.thechurchstateguy.com/ The Church State Guy

    Not sure I agree with this. What Braff is doing is subverting the industry. Yes, he *could* fund it himself. But this is also a way to see if there is interest in general for this film, PLUS folks get to have buy-in the project and can even be put in the credits and whatnot. It’s actually a pretty cool way to give a movie to movie buffs rather than industry conglomerates.

    Kickstarter is NOT ONLY about giving the little guy a means to raise money. It’s also about letting the little guy fund stuff that they like and have buy-in. Buy-in is also often reserved only for giant corporations and whatnot. The subversion of kickstarter goes both ways.

    (Just noticed that others have mentioned similar thoughts in the comments too. So just adding that perspective, maybe a follow-up post in light of others opinions would be warranted.)

  • Dr. Bigfoot

    Either Gadino stands to lose like the other middle men getting cut out of this deal, he’s jealous, or he just has blinders on.

  • http://twitter.com/edwonia EDWON

    The media business is changing, soon even celebrities will find it impossible to fund films in the traditional way (studios, investors, corporations). Wouldn’t you prefer to decide where and who your money goes to without some corporation calling the shots? Wouldn’t you prefer to have that celebrity going to their fans for funding and advice rather than Mr. Studio Exec who btw gets a huge cut on someone elses creative work?

  • Tim

    Grow up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lassous Lou Assous

    Why do you hate Veronica Mars??!

  • KB

    I’m sorry, but a lot of the judgments and assumptions that serve as the basis for your story are wildly inaccurate. You say the following:

    “By my definition, a Kickstarter abuser is a well-known person who has
    the financial means and/or professional connections to fully fund their
    project without asking their fans for money but asks anyway.”

    How do you know what people’s financial means and/or professional connections are? That’s a HUGE assumption to make. VERONICA MARS was a cult show on the smallest of the major networks with a loyal but notably tiny viewership. When was the last time you saw a major studio like Warner Bros greenlight a film based on a cancelled TV show that lasted three seasons? Or a film based on a cancelled TV show EVER? Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell have been trying to get the movie made for five years and the studio refused to fund it because they said there wasn’t an audience for it. In that case, Kickstarter WAS the only means to fully fund the project. It provided the money to make the film AND showed the interest in the audience who would be willing to watch it. The show wasn’t a hit and airs in incredibly limited syndication. How much money do you think Rob Thomas has lying around?

    When defining the mission of Kickstarter, you said it yourself:

    “If you are somehow not fully familiar with Kickstarter, allow me to
    explain: Kickstarter is a crowd-funding service wherein a project
    creator asks the site’s users to give a few bucks (or more) so that they
    can create something. In return for receiving donations, the creator
    dishes out increasingly exciting and valuable rewards based on the
    amount a backer gives. Only if the project is fully funded does the
    creator get his or her seed dough. If the goal isn’t reached, backers
    keep their money. Like I said, amazing.”

    If the site is supposed to be a place for anyone to personally donate toward making a project they find worthy happen, isn’t that exactly what’s happening in the cases you’re railing against? The function of the site is being served exactly as it was intended to be. Who are you to put a value judgment on that? There’s no intention in the methodology of the site for it to only be for projects without exposure or notoriety associated with them. Based on your line of thinking, you clearly don’t have an understanding of how the studio system or entertainment industry works if you feel like projects like VERONICA MARS and Zach Braff’s film would have happened easily without crowd funding, and it’s unfair for you to proclaim them in the wrong accordingly.

  • Gio

    Realistically you can say what you want about me “taking offense” to the point of view of this article as I will admit that I did pledge to this specific project. The truth is I do like the fact that I have the option to contribute to funding projects such as these. Essentially you call it exploitation of the fans; I see it more as granting the fans say and sense of control and letting the artist know there is a demand for the product. Instead of getting upset when any person of wealth chooses to use Kickstarter; how about just sticking to your guns and refuse to donate. Myself on the other hand, I will continue to pledge to projects I find interesting, especially for the added perks.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/claudiasherman Claudia Sherman

    “he gets to put his penis inside a model’s vagina” is so gross and hackneyed

    jesus think up a new joke now and again

  • Ben Phillips

    Who cares? We give our money to politicians and bankers… at least we get a bit of entertainment form this. Stop complaining.

    • Taffy

      That’s a very “little people” way of looking at the world.

  • http://twitter.com/CraigCaudill CraigCaudill

    kick starter rejected me because my kick starter was not awesome
    enough. I wanted to raise money to update my computer design clothes and
    a make little documentary about me having surviving hospital abuse and
    trying to get out of financial debt as a disabled person. My proposal
    was rejected 5 times. even when i offered insentives like prints of
    artwork made plus clothing i designed. I was rejected because they saw
    me as a charity case without 501c status and i was disabled. since it
    was for me an not a sexier pitiful charity like down syndrome or
    something. I was also rejected by crowd-rise for the same thing. but i
    could still have a profile and receive updates. needless to say I’m not a
    fan of crowd-rise and Ed Norton.

    I would like to
    add that if my Doc. would have been made Participant productions. Was
    interested in seeing some footage. so kudos to George Clooney and a big
    fat Zero to Ed Norton.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KARITAWORLD Actress Karita Fleming

    What is surprising isn’t that people give money to overly wealthy celebrities its the fact you guys still go to the movie theatre , well grandma get off that dinosaur and put down the victrola have I got news for you it’s called Pirate Bay .”Viva La Download “(lol I kid not really .)

  • Sucker Tank

    SO what. who cares. Zach Braff’s jewishly cheap & probably a penny pincher douche bag. He’s no different to any other penny pincher douche buckets. Not to mention, his “Model Girlfriend” is an ostrich. Jealous? Not likely. So what if his fans want to back his cheap ass for 2¢ So what if he’s rich and don’t want to suck on his own cock for it. So what if Kickstarter is being exploited like any other type of media. So what. You have the key to be part of it. Great art will always stand out. It just takes a while now, to weed out the crap ones. The pipes are clogged.

  • David Fairbanks

    I’m not sure if you understand how Kickstarter works, but we’re donating the money toward making Zach Braff’s movie (for example), not lining his pockets. But phrasing it honestly doesn’t really help your point, does it?

    That you associate “adulthood” with the acceptance that you need to play in established playgrounds that can require you to compromise in your artistic vision is a whole other kind of depressing.

    Maybe, instead of asking why Braff isn’t funding the movie himself, you could be asking why Hollywood is broken in such a way that someone who has a significant fan following wouldn’t get final cut of their film.

  • Melodic

    “He’s rich, famous and gets to put his penis inside a model’s vagina.” this line killed the whole damn article. She’s not just a vagina, she has a name SO USE IT.

  • PithHelmut

    Dylan Gadino, spot on.

  • whatever

    i mean did you realy have to say zach braff “gets to put his dick in a model’s vagina”? that was lewd and kind of sexist.

  • E Robb

    Movies I want to see are happening when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thecoppo Paul Coppolelli

    if hollywood considers making a godawful sequel to a godawful movie, a kickstarter campaign becomes a great opportunity for us to say NO PLEASE DONT.

    and if getting the money from fans who trust your creative vision allows that vision to flourish, whereas traditional investors are gonna be all “needs more of a love story and a happy ending else it wont sell”, then by all means, let the fans fund it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t really think these celebrities using Kickstart are necessarily taking away from other artists on it. If anything, they’re working like advertising for the site so that people are more likely to actually pay attention to all the Joe Shmoes on there. Also, this article has some good points but it overall just smacks of pathetic jealousy. The whole “they’re rich and therefore evil” sort of thing (“He gets to put his penis inside a model?.. Wow) is just kind of angsty teen to me. If you’re going to make this argument, please make it in a way that does not make you sound like you’re just trying to get revenge on Zach Braff for fucking your model crush.

  • Yuna

    The rich get richer because there’s a demand for their products. While Kickstarter was likely created for the “regular” people, I’m sure they’re not complaining as they too get a generous cut of the funds raised. I’m sure they aren’t complaining!

  • jmgrace

    The Vacationeers had one of the first parody Kickstarter videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMtjn6i1qBM

  • Caias Ward

    It’s called the patronage system, people. It’s been going on for thousands of years. Now, average people can support art they like.

    Combined with a platform which lets you mitigate risk and get a certain amount of ‘buy-in’ regarding a process, it’s worthwhile for small and large projects.

    To say that Kickstarter must be used only for starving artist and the like is classist and pretentious in the extreme.

  • http://twitter.com/Darkarm66 Ken Wesley

    My biggest concern for a lot of these famous people putting up works: these works are going to get sold anyway. They aren’t making these products and giving it away for free. If this was just a case of ‘I need this project made’, then it’s no biggie anymore. Not having to worry about making back money that was spent can benefit most products. That’s why I’m wary about movies being funded, the authors can make back that money through distribution deals in theaters, streaming, home video markets. I’m not implying these projects are going to be flushed with cash once released, but now the author is keeping that cash, minus whatever’s left for rewards,

  • http://twitter.com/StevenThadeus Steven Thadeus

    typo. second to last sentence. there vs. their. that being said, I fully agree. and this coming from a HUGE Charlie Kaufman fan. PS – what was little Zach offering as a reward anyhow?? and, I wish he’d stop frequenting my favorite Studio City sushi spot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/justinsee.justinsee Justin See

    YES! Finally, someone is writing about Kickstarter abuse by people in the industry. These crowd funding websites are made for poor-nobody peons with good ideas and no START-UP cash. Bravo. Celebrities already inside the industry should be able to get money from inside.

    • http://www.facebook.com/justinsee.justinsee Justin See

      Thank you for addressing this Dylan. Great article. People will take it the wrong way but I feel the same. These websites are START-UP sites for the poor and unconnected. Nobody is banning celebrities and the rich from using the sites, but it is in EXTREMELY BAD TASTE for wealthy celebrities to use them. So many good ideas and good projects are lost and buried when someone famous and on the inside abuses the site. We need to give amazing creators a chance to show their work to the public.

      • http://www.facebook.com/scottpomroy Scott Patrick Pomroy

        I know right!!! They don’t always need to goto the studios for the money. I’m pretty sure they have some rich friends that will fund their film. But Zack on the other hand has enough of his own money to make this film. If not he should sell his restaurant in Manhattan that should cover it.

  • Bob F

    I fundamentally disagree with most of what you said, but the thing that jumps out at me more than any other is the bit about making compromises “like an adult.” The number of films, television shows and songs that have been damaged or even ruined because of the compromises that had to be made in order to get backing is endlessly long. Kickstarter funding certainly could be abused, but if Zach Braff’s movie is a fiasco, his fans might hesitate to fund the next one. And when you can, as others have pointed out, get a perk that you like for the price, why not? I just funded someone’s album. For my $10 I’m getting a copy of the album. That’s pretty much what it would cost me anyway. Why wouldn’t I want to help the album become a reality?

  • Blaria

    I don’t know if this has been said already as I did not go through and read all the comments, but I worked in film for a few years and movies, simply put, are extremely expensive and difficult to make. For example, the studio has an extreme amount of sway in who gets casts and more than likely, the ppl that get cast in major studio flicks have a higher asking price than $2 million dollars, which is the budget for the ENTIRE movie (worst case scenario: you don’t want to cast a certain person, so the studio walks away and thus no movie is getting made). Secondly, locations are extremely expensive, as is advertising, distribution (in which case, many studios try to distribute films overseas to make even more money in revenue, which is how we end up with $100 million price tags on bigger films and considering that Zach’s film has fantasy aspects, it would probably be distributed overseas), and special effects, which this movie will have some of. All of that requires a pretty hefty budget and Zach is saying instead of doing all of that and jumping thru a studio’s hoops, help me make the movie that I want to make instead of producing garbage that will make the film company happy. Clearly, if you looked at his Kickstarter, you would know all of this and realize that your sanctimonious complaining is really an exercise in indignation.

  • http://twitter.com/sxipshirey sxip shirey

    No-one is “abusing” kickstarter. If people don’t want to participate they don’t have to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ebrakey Eric Brakey

    Stop whining.

    Who does this hurt? Zach Braff puts it up there and people voluntarily give. Its a free market. I don’t understand how that is “abuse.”

    I commend Zach Braff for using this process. If raising money through grassroots supporters instead of the film industry allows him to maintain the artistic integrity of his project, I applaud him for doing so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/justinsee.justinsee Justin See

      It is in bad taste. He is bumping a poor creator down to the bottom of the list. They need to let others have some kind of chance at being successful.

    • http://www.facebook.com/scottpomroy Scott Patrick Pomroy

      He doesn’t need to raise money for this film at all. He has enough in the bank to do it with his own. He opened up a restaurant in NYC that costs about the same as he was asking for in the film these days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=627403900 Martin A. Schneider

    This whole argument leaves out the most import part: that all celebrities should be murdered after 5 years of fame.

  • Steve L.

    It makes sense if people like Braff want to protect creative freedoms in the development process. You hear artists catering to networks and producers all the time complaining that the money guarantees the finished product wasn’t their vision, but one motivated by the church of the dollar. Not being

    tied to any ONE donor is key in retaining some artistic/creative freedom. KS allows you to access funding from a diverse pool of MANY, as to avoid being tied down into monopolization by any one backer who tires to leverage your design decisions with the threat of pulled funding.

    • http://www.facebook.com/justinsee.justinsee Justin See

      But he has the resources to fund the project without Kickstarter. He is essentially stealing for from the poor. It is in bad taste.

    • http://www.facebook.com/scottpomroy Scott Patrick Pomroy

      Yeah but Braff has the means and funds to fully fund this as a independent project without having to goto the networks or major studios. Instead of opening a restaurant in NYC which costs about the same as he was asking for on Kickstarter or more. He could of put that money into the film. He has more than enough to make this film himself already.

  • RickyRoma

    No one seems to be discussing the following scenario: what if Braff’s movie, or the Veronica Mars movie, goes on to gross tens of millions of dollars? Do the “funders” get any of that return? I buy stocks on the stock exchange not because I am a “fan” of Apple, IBM, Exxon, Caterpillar, etc, but because I expect a return! A motion picture, if successful, can create “passive income” for its creators well into the future, in terms of licensing rights for foreign distribution, TV, pay-per-view, VOD, sell-through, etc, etc, in PERPETUITY. That means forever, folks. Guess who gets all of that passive income? I’ll give you a hint: it is not the people who “funded” the movie on Kickstarter.

    • dylan

      but, but… the funders are “part” of something. and it’s “special” and they’re supporting “true artistic vision” AND they’re getting a song playlist mailed to them from Zach Braff. man, you’re being real cynical.

    • Consideration

      What is your point? This information is obvious and freely available. It’s not like backers are being tricked into thinking they’re buying shares of a film’s gross, here.

    • jason

      But the same thing apply to all the smaller projects on kickstarter too. What if on a long shot someone make another paranormal activity for $10,000 and it goes on to make $100,000,000? does that mean that they shouldn’t have used kickstarter. There is an old saying in the film biz.”NEVER use your own money”. and by buying stock you are investing in that company. with kickstarter you are not investing. if someone really wanted to they could contact Braff and invest in the film. but I don’t think anyone in under the illusion that they are investing on kickstarter

    • http://www.facebook.com/querlvox Jason Cornett

      This is the exact reason why I bucket Kickstarters into two groups: the ‘artistic’ ones and the ‘for profit’ ones.

      If something isn’t being principally done as a commercial enterprise, then I’m much looser on what I expect from the rewards-for-dollars relationship. In this situation, I’m basically acting as a very low level patron of the arts (VERY low level).

      However, if the project is either explicitly or implicitly a commercial endeavor, then I have much stricter standards. In these cases, I should be essentially pre-ordering whatever it is that the project is going to result in (a copy of the music, book, video, movie, novel, game, etc.).

      Traditionally investors in these kinds of projects are given an ownership stake in the project – money ventured is compensated by potential payout if success is achieved. However, since Kickstarter projects never put a slice of ownership into the mix at any reward level, all that’s left is for it to function as a pre-ordering/funding mechanism, and that seems reasonable to me.

      The great crime with Braff is that he’s not even offering THAT. He, I suspect, wants to keep the ground fertile for securing a distribution deal (both theatrically and on DVD/Blu-Ray), so he didn’t include any reward tier that get copies of the film in circulation which might potentially undercut those prospects. Cake + eating it, too. The reward structure seems to me to be quite pointedly designed to maximize all the upside to Braff, and when the guy’s already likely worth multiple 10s of millions of dollars, it comes off as kind of crass for that reason.

  • http://twitter.com/PassingtheShame Joe Joe Louis

    Dylan, just so I’m clear on this because I’ve read it a few times and I’m not sure what you’re saying:

    Your position is that If you can comfortably afford a given project WITHOUT crowdfunding, then to ask for crowdfunding is morally reprehensible.

    Furthermore, if someone were to give to funds to a project created by someone who could comfortably afford it, the money they give is less significant towards the creation of said project, and therefore people who give money to should not feel that they are actually contributing to a project and should feel more like they’re just giving money to someone who is already rich.

    And finally, given these two realities: we, as members of a community dedicated towards comedy, should begin making fun of both groups of people as soon as possible because of the obvious moral and causal incongruity.

    Is this accurate?

    • dylan

      “Your position is that If you can comfortably afford a given project WITHOUT crowdfunding, then to ask for crowdfunding is morally reprehensible.”

      yes.

      i never said anything about making fun of the doners. i said we should start calling out the project creators who, i believe, are abusing the system. as for those who donate, my advice was to not delude yourself into thinking what you’re doing is so “special.” i never said let’s shame them. i’m asking the questoin: why are so many people willing to give money to these projects.

      thanks for reading.

      • al

        your original point was valid. but the sniveling tone and wildly condescending disclaimer muddies the argument. Honestly the whole article sounds like you hate anyone who is successful that isn’t a comedian.

        • dylan

          if that is honestly what you think it sounds like, let me assure you that i don’t hate anyone just because they’re successful and not a comedian. in fact, i call out Whoopi Goldberg, who’s a comedian. and successful.

      • Ugh

        Here’s what you said about the donors:

        “If you’re so desperate to feel part of something that you believe the rich have your interests…”

        But sure, you’re not “making fun” of them. Fuck you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/glitchphil Phil Kahn

    The REAL problem is conversations about who does and does not have the RIGHT to use Kickstarter.

    That’s just as elitist, privileged, and entitled an attitude as the one you accuse all of these Rich People having.

    And does anyone really think a studio was going to risk putting on a film made by Kaufman and Starburns? Kaufman may be critically acclaimed but to my knowledge he’s not one of those high-grossers. And good luck getting a studio to foot a claymation film not done by Tim Burton.

    And unless you have some data that suggests this use of Kickstarter is truly damaging to KS and its community, all you’ve got is speculation and hollering of “SLIPPERY SLOPE, SLIPPERY SLOPE!”

    Sure are a lot of Chicken Littles up in here. Some folk just want to see the sky fall, I think.

  • Drewcifer

    The real problem is Braff’s terrible “rewards” for donating. $20 to stream a soundtrack (not own). $30 to stream a movie via the internet ONE TIME and you don’t even get to own a copy of the film you helped fun? Famous or not, that’s a terrible incentive for Kickstarting anything. $30 to stream it once. Then another $15 to see it in the theater. And if you like it, another $20 to buy the blu-ray. That’s just a poorly crafted Kickstarter campaign.

    • Drewcifer

      *meant to say fund, not fun

    • Tipsle

      vs paying $30 to watch it in the theater one time? I say $30 in the theater, because my husband and I would be watching it, and that’s about how much it would cost for both of us to go to the theater (tickets, drinks, popcorn, etc).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22702359 Che Broadnax

      In point of fact it is clearly NOT a poorly crafted campaign, as it has surpassed its goal with still three weeks left on the clock. Kickstarter isn’t Amazon (okay, well… it’s not the same service, at least), one needn’t support the project only for the reward. Indeed, I frequently support a project and choose the no-reward option, because I don’t really want a sticker or a post-card or a signed poster. Then why do I support that particular project? Because I think it sounds like a good project and I want the kickstartist to be able to make their art. Haven’t you ever given a busker a buck just because they were playing their heart out, even if it wasn’t your chosen genre of music? Thirty bucks to stream a movie isn’t a great deal (although, it’s true, that’s the price of two people going to see a film in the theater), but $30 to help somebody make the film they want to make and I want to see, without the studio breathing down their necks, that IS a good deal. That’s a great deal. Do I fund every (or any?) famous person’s project? No, not at all, I didn’t bother with Braff’s because a) I’m not a big enough fan, and b) I knew he had enough fans to make up for me. But I have funded well-known game designers, filmmakers and comic book artists, as well as totally unknown talent. The great thing about Kickstarter is that some unknown first timer is pitching their idea alongside established greats and notable hacks. And whatever appeals to me the most gets my hard-earned money-bucks. I’ve never once said, “aw, too bad, that project looks great, but I already pledged to that famous artist, so I cannot pledge to this other thing.”

    • MRI

      Agreed. But this doesn’t make him EVIL. It just means you shouldn’t donate. The end. Right?

  • Alex_VO

    The rich v. poor narrative doesn’t really serve this post well, but kickstarter abuse is getting ridiculous. A great example of the right way to do things is Shane Carruth, writer/director/star of Primer (which beat Garden State at Sundance) who’s ability to make a movie relies on how his previous effort did. When you have the kind of money that Braff has, you need to either pony up the cash to make the movie how you want, go through the normal process of getting a movie made with financiers/compromise, or don’t make the movie.

    • http://twitter.com/lukejvenables Luke Venables

      Why? Who is he hurting? He doesn’t want to compromise, I want to see him make the movie his way. What is wrong with him offering incentives to people like me in return for money to help us all get what we want? Don’t forget, the more money he raises, the more money Kickstarter makes which means they will be better able to support the smaller guys. It’s win-win!

  • http://twitter.com/lukejvenables Luke Venables

    I really disagree with this article. Yes, Zach Braff has money but he also has a product that people obviously want and now he is offering it to them without any middlemen. He is just approaching prospective investors in the technological age. You make reference to him having to make sacrifices. Yes, he is avoiding making sacrifices but it isn’t so he doesn’t suffer it is so the movie doesn’t suffer. I don’t know about you but I want the movie to be as good as it can be. I don’t understand why people seem to try to claim some sort of ownership over Kickstarter. Just because it was started by middle class people doesn’t mean we own it and have exclusive access to it. If the Kickstarter people don’t mind then why should anyone else? It’s a free and open internet for everyone. Not just us.

  • Matt Baen

    This is reverse Robin Hood, just like the local referendums in which people vote themselves tax increases for private sports stadiums and taxpayer-backed loans for insolvent banks. It’s the farcical epitome of our trickle-up culture, a travesty made possible by our worship of the rich and famous – as well as the weird way that having a social media spin makes even the crassest behavior seem acceptable.

    • tipsle

      Who is stealing money from who here? Both parties are willing participants.

      • http://twitter.com/lukejvenables Luke Venables

        Not to mention the fact that they will both most likely be happy with the final outcome of the whole deal.

        • http://www.facebook.com/tedmrak Thomas Mrak

          Kickstarter is what Capitalism is supposed to be.

          People exchanging value for value, for the benefit of both parties.

          That is the honest path to wealth.

  • Clifford

    Great article, thanks for writing. I second the sentiment that Kickstarter is a great idea–but I am extremely wary of it. Give it a few more years until the scams and projects that are never finished become more widely reported, and then perhaps people won’t defend it so blindly. And everyone blames the faceless studios for being so manipulative, close-minded, etc., and while that may be true, people also need to consider the notion that some (ie: most) projects, well…aren’t very good and don’t deserve studio funding (like Zach Braff’s movie–why anyone would want to see another Garden State is beyond me, and any studio would take a loss in producing it.)
    You are absolutely correct that Braff should be ashamed of his campaign, as well as Whoopi, Kaufman, and Fincher (although I do question if Kricfalusi would have the money for his short, as it’s apparent that no studio will work with him.)

    • Ryan

      “Wait and see, you’ll ALL see!”

      I mean… really?

  • http://literatureuniversity.blogspot.com/ Dean Deanington III

    Hmm, this seems the talk of the town :) This was the topic on my blog today but what the solution is, I don’t know. I think if the goal is to shame wealthy actors to get them to stop, it won’t work because you aren’t who they are appealing to. In my opinion everyone has an interest in Kickstarter working out but they are going to have to coordinate better because everyone in my opinion is going to lose to some degree if things continue on the trend it’s going. Kickstarter is not a charity. It’s a way to deliver content that’s better suited to the internet, which is where everything is headed. Perhaps there are other ways to finance films than crowdfunding but audiences are going to have to pay for things increasingly up front because there’s going to be a lack of ability to fund it from the studios’ perspective because they have to hope the audience will pay for things on the internet out of the kindness of their heart. It works for right now because people still view TV and go to the theaters but how will that work when everything is largely delivered online? The way the internet is run right now called charity and it’s slowly eroding the profits from television and film. So if audiences want great films, they should invest in things like Kickstarter. Hollywood can’t continue finance 100 million dollar films with the way people pay for things on the internet and the way audience fragement themselves. So if Hollywood wants to make it to the internet, they will want to take advantage of this system of getting a partial guarantee they aren’t flushing money down a drain for a film that no one wants to see or worse want to see but only want to pay a reduced price or watch for free. And if actors want to make films with more creative control, because studios are going to demand more control over their films as movie attendance keeps dropping and they have to guarantee the remaining movie goers actually help make a profit, they need to take Advantage of Kickstarter. It can work for everyone and everyone wins but for the system not to be abused, original content and up and coming talent needs to be encouraged some way or another in the long term. As of right now, I could see a worse case scenario where the average viewer is unhappy with the derivative things they asked for, the studios unable to make a profit from its films and go out of business in part because the public won’t pay for it’s product and also in part because the public only wanted to support well known highly paid actors which the studios can’t afford. And if actors can’t demand high salaries, their income will drop and a lot of things they have in place to protect their salaries like the union, SAG will be at risk, and it could drive down salaries to the point where it will be hard to encourage people to be actors in the first place. All this could lead to movie production as it’s done today will be a thing of the past. I don’t know if that could happen, it’s just my long apocalyptic term thinking at best :) At the very least, Zach Braff is going to make his movie regardless of what happens.

  • Birns

    This post connects with Amanda Palmer’s TED talk perfectly, and the author and the readers would be well-served to watch it (it’s titled “The Art of the Ask”).

    The people who think celebrities or the wealthy are “taking advantage of” the fans don’t understand what’s going on. It gives the fans, people without the money or connections to matter in Hollywood (people like me), the ability to be a part of something. Could they have made Veronica Mars without the fans? Of course. Given the standard budget for a film, a few million from the fans probably wasn’t even that big a deal.

    What the fans got was something real, though, the knowledge that they helped make a piece of art that matters to them. We connected the fans and the artists in a new and meaningful way.

    Who the hell are you to look down on those thousands of fans and say that they’re fools, that they’re being taken advantage of, and that you know better. You know who Kickstarter is meant for? Anyone with a project and the ability to get people to fund it. Celebrity Kickstarters bring people to the community. Do you have any idea how many people probably just joined Kickstarter to back Braff or the Veronica Mars film? Do you think those folks might stick around and throw some money at an interpretive dance group in Des Moines?

    Who knows. You certainly don’t. So stop proclaiming yourself champion of the poor artistes and focus on putting out good art. If you have a project to market, do it. If you don’t, sitting in the back of the classroom and laughing at the proletariat just makes you look like a jerk.

  • Lincoln

    Wow, someone has a problem with rich people, and a clear lack of understanding of how much the studios really mess with your material. The Cyanide and Happiness guys also went to Kickstarter because it was just that much more sensible to ensure that what the viewers liked about C&H would stay that way, rather than getting Happy Tree Friendsed about it all. I’m sure Braff’s position is much the same. The fact that he’ll later give away 100,000 DVDs/blu rays is missing your mind also.

  • http://twitter.com/pchidel Philip Chidel

    When it comes down to it… What difference does it make whether you give a famous person (or studio) money BEFORE a movie is made vs AFTER? In some cases, giving it before it’s made is actually more value — you get a deeper connection and a richer experience for it, as well as the feeling like you’re part of the team. If that means something to you, and you’re willing to pay for it, what’s the problem?

    I’m not without bitterness here — I’m actually trying to raise only $5K (!) for a project, so this largesse is a bit annoying. But it’s sort of like comparing a the Little League World Series to the SF Giants — they’re both baseball, and both entirely enjoyable, but they’re entirely different leagues. (OK, maybe instead of the Little League WS, just put in the Houston Astros). :)

    I expanded more on this in my recent blog: http://www.cardiacpictures.com. (pardon the plug. But I’m not Zach Braff!) :) Long and short of it: If this is an issue to you, at what point does someone actually get ‘too big’ for crowdfunding?

  • http://twitter.com/MeekinOnMovies Paul Meekin

    Also I somehow doubt the 2 million dollars is enough to fund that movie in it’s entirety – I imagine he has to pay for craft services, transportation, marketing, screening, editing, the crew, and so on.

  • http://twitter.com/SoChuckLudwig Comic Chuck Ludwig

    So you guys are blaming the fans right? Because that’s the way I read this. It would be a non issue, if the stupid fans didn’t give money to make the rich richer. Silly fans. How dare you support what you want to see.

    • dylan

      your reading it that way because apparently it supports your comment. i’m blaming the celebrities for exploiting a program they don’t need, for taking the money out of the hands of people who do need it. like i say in the piece, if people believe in what they’re giving to, by all means, keep doing it. the celebrities, however, should be ashamed.

      • Consideration

        “for taking the money out of the hands of people who do need it”

        You’re right. When dumb shit like this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/galenbennett/the-holy-bible-zombie-edition doesn’t meet its funding goal, it isn’t because the idea is stupid as hell, it’s because Zach Braff STOLE those kickstarter dollars with his movie pitch! What a horrible person he is.

      • http://twitter.com/SoChuckLudwig Comic Chuck Ludwig

        No one has anything taken out of their hands. That is what I don’t get about your argument. If people were forced, or tricked somehow, then sure it would be terrible. But they aren’t forced or tricked, unless you are implying that the average kickstarter contributor is too stupid to know any better.

        People are choosing who they want to support, as opposed to some studio exec making the call. I can’t see how that’s a bad thing no matter how rich the people starting the kickstarter are.

        • http://www.facebook.com/alrik.bursell Alrik Bursell

          It simply makes it harder for unknown’s to have their projects seen or heard out in the world wide web. I am a non-famous industry professional and I did a kickstarter and out of all the websites I sent press releases or e-mails to, none of them posted about my project. But the next day I read about the Charlie Kaufman project or the David Fincher project on those very websites, with the editors encouraging readers to support these poor artists….
          In addition to the obvious argument Dylan makes, it just simply over saturates the crowd funding market with high profile projects making it more difficult for the little guy to be noticed. Zach Braff has all the opportunity in the world, a first time filmmaker or artist only has what they can do on their own. Kickstarter is a good resource for anyone to use but it is being absorbed by filmmakers and artists who have other avenue’s open to them.

          • http://twitter.com/SoChuckLudwig Comic Chuck Ludwig

            I think by having high profile artists using things like Kickstarter, it brings the water level up for everyone. Sure you will be overshadowed by the big names, but that was the case before Kickstarter too. On the other hand having big names in the field legitimizes crowdfunding to many people who would never consider it before and therefor increase potential contributors to your projects.

          • Melissa

            I completely agree that having famous people use Kickstarter is a good way to spread the word about the website. More and more people are learning about Kickstarter, which is good for all of the non-famous people trying to fund a project.

            I don’t see any problem with famous people trying to use websites, such as Kickstarter, to promote a project. The problem I have is the fact that celebrities are promoting their project by offering things such as screenings and signed DVDs for films that haven’t even been made yet! That is a really stupid thing to do. Why would a fan do that if they have no clue if it’s going to be good or not?? That’s like walking into an art gallery and buying a non-refundable painting with a sheet over top of it, not knowing what it looks like until you get home and are able to remove the sheet. The same scenario could be used for walking into a movie store or jewellery store, etc. You have to be quite stupid to do that. I think that this is using the fans, even though it’s their choice to purchase it. A BETTER way to do it would be to do like Nick Carter is doing for his “Evil Blessings” film project. I don’t like his options where you can buy the DVD or t-shirts and stuff, but he has options to go to a Backstreet Boys concert and meet them, etc. That is something that Backstreet Boys fans know will be good. It’s expensive, but it will be worth it to fans because they love the music. Celebrities like Zach Braff could have offered signed copies of Garden State. Yes, his fans most likely have already seen this and might even have the DVD already, but if they love it and love him then it will be worth it to spend money and get the added signature. Also, they will know if they enjoyed the movie already so they won’t be disappointed. High profile people should give away things that their fans have already seen, or if they are singers, then give away tickets to their concert. Celebrities could also use their talents to fundraise. For example, if James Franco ever used a site like this, he could post a gallery of some of his artwork and people could buy the one they like. That way, fans know what they are getting. The way celebrities promote their film is by writing about it on the website, not by giving away things about a film that hasn’t been made yet. It’s dumb for fans to pay all this money to go see a screening for a movie that might be terrible. If a meet-and-greet was included in the screeing, that would be different. I just think that giving fans a screening or a DVD that they haven’t seen could be setting them up for disappointment. Just because you love the actor, doesn’t mean the movie is going to be good. It’s a waste of money too because there is cheap movie night where you can see a movie for $6.50. Who cares if the movie sucks, you only paid $6.50. I would feel so ripped off if I spent $30 or more on a movie that was awful! Yeah sure, if it’s great then you got your money’s worth, but why would you want to risk that. Yeah, people risk money when they go see a movie in the theatre because they don’t know if it’s going to be good, but that’s why a lot of people, including me go on cheap night. If I can’t make it on that night, it’s only $12.50 for full price. Asking people to spend money on merchandise on a film that doesn’t have a single preview is dumb. I can see that fans get all excited about movies that are trilogies and they’ve already seen the first one or movies that are based on books/comic books, but buying a DVD or spending $30 or more for a screening of a film before it’s even made just because they like the actor is stupid. Celebrities know that their fans will support them so it’s like a trick. I want to know that I am going to like it for sure before spending more that $20 or $30! As I mentioned above, meet-and-greets, artwork, old DVDs with signatures, concert tickets, etc., are better options. Celebrities will still be raising money for their project while giving their fans something that they know they will be happy with and enjoy. They will also grow a large fan base for their future film in the process. They don’t need to sell the project’s merchandise to promote the film and get fans excited about it.

          • Comic Chuck Ludwig

            TLDR

      • Alonzo B

        of course it supports his comment. that’s why he made the comment. where else would the comment come from if not a reaction to your piece of writing?

  • Ryan

    You think $30 to see the movie, get the script, get the sound track and get a making-of is abusing kickstarter? As opposed to paying $15 bucks just to see the movie in a theater?

    • dylan

      we’re talking about two different things. you’re saying that for $30 it’s a great deal for consumers. i don’t disagree. but i think it’s abuse when people in power exploit the middle class for their gain. the more celebrity Kickstarters that launch, the less non-celebrity projects will not get funded and there goes the reason Kickstarter began in the first place. so yes, it’s abusive to use a system you don’t need. it’s like if an upper-midde class person who’s making $150,000 a year gets food stamps– not because he needs them, but because, ‘hey, i can have more disposable income if i don’t need to pay for food.’

      • http://twitter.com/SoChuckLudwig Comic Chuck Ludwig

        It’s not like that at all because your money only goes into making the film if you choose to do so. Unlike government projects where we all shoulder some of the financial burden.

        I can’t see how this can be looked at like exploitation in any way since there is no coercion going on.

      • Consideration

        The flaw with your argument here is that you think people are spending money on celebrity kickstarters INSTEAD of smaller ones. I doubt most Veronica Mars movie-backers would even be on kickstarter if it weren’t for the Veronica Mars thing. I don’t think there are a lot of people saying to themselves, “Gee, the solar powered USB charger backpack, or a Zach Braff movie… well, I can only do one, better go with Braff!”

        • http://twitter.com/sxipshirey sxip shirey

          exactly, as someone who is NOT a big time artist, kickstarter has been invaluable, celebrities using it actually makes it MORE useful to me not less as it makes it a MORE viable alternative to the old model not less.

        • http://www.facebook.com/tobeornottobethatisthequestion Patrick Gerard

          Exactly. As someone who’s run a Kickstarter, I think these Amanda Palmer/Zack Braff/Rob Thomas Kickstarters are introducing people to the fact that Kickstarter even exists at this point. The little guy actually benefits from the publicity.

          The success rate for Kickstarters is 45%. I haven’t seen a well constructed Kickstarter that’s failed though. And I have seen Kickstarters by famous people that have failed or squeaked by barely. Sometimes, artists starve for a reason. And being famous is not a ticket to success with a Kickstarter. It’s not like Zack Braff’s fame got this funded. It just made people aware that it existed and then they chose to fund it after reading his pitch.

          Personally, for me, on anything that isn’t an impulse/staple good, I would rather support through a system like Kickstarter to get exactly what I want. And if it excludes or minimizes corporate shareholder influence and maintains the focus on the producer and the consumer, it’s money well spent, even at a premium, even late, and even if everything isn’t perfect.

          Three things though: Kickstarter is not…

          - Investing (no equity stake)
          - Charity (it’s not just to help out the less fortunate; it’s to talk people into doing something by giving them the means)
          - A pre-order (A Kickstarter that would be made in the same form without funding success is a bad Kickstarter. The campaign changes when, how, or in what form the product is available. That’s it.)

          I’d see nothing wrong with the Mars Corporation putting up a Kickstarter for M&Ms with a fruit center for President’s Day. It’s weird. It’s something you could rationally doubt that they’d make with their own money in that form and on that time table. And you either spend money to make it exist or don’t.

          That’s what crowdfunding is. You spend money to make something exist that probably shouldn’t or wouldn’t at a certain time or place or in the hands of a certain person who is making you a pitch on it. Everything else is irrelevant to that. Though it’s generally good if you have a way people can get access to said thing (screening, streaming, rental, photo documentation, shipping the finished thing) at some level of backing that seems reasonable to people you want to spend money.

      • Alonzo B

        What food stamps is anyone getting here? The only effect this has is bringing attention to Kickstarter and to other artists on there in the grand scheme of things.

      • E Robb

        I think the more people funding projects on Kickstarter will only lead to more projects being funded on Kickstarter. Which is good.

        • PithHelmut

          The writer is highlighting the way celebrities, whom many admire, are just doing it for themselves, exploiting their fans. Do you think they’re going through Kickstarter to bring more project there? Hardly. Yes it is a mutual agreement between consenting adults and no one should stop that but it’s nice to know that this is going on. It certainly has turned me off the “stars” that do this.

          • E Robb

            It’s not exploitation. It’s payment for goods and services. If I bought a movie ticket, a tee shirt, a script, and a make of DVD, it’d be about what I contributed in support. All I did was pay up front for those things so the movie could be made.

  • Mae

    EXACTLY. Thanks for writing this.

  • Jonathan Martin

    how is this any different than what louis ck did? zach braff is just trying to cut out the studios which make it a hassle to get any non-commercial movie made and if people enjoy the product what does it matter that hes wealthy , good for him and fuck the haters

    • dylan

      it’s different because Louis fronted the money himself. he used his own money and produced a special. and then he sold it to his fans for a huge discount. that’s a massive difference. he didn’t ask his fans to fund his project.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685986268 Benjamin Blank

        Zach Braff is using a bunch of his own cash in addition to the kickstarter money.

        • E Robb

          Which makes sense because making a movie costs more than filming a comedy special (which was already happening and was paid for by ticket sales; basically Louis only paid for the camera and web hosting; still love him, but this argument is flawed)

  • Consideration

    I think what you’re leaving out is the whole “rewards” thing on Kickstarter. If you look at which rewards seem to have the most backers for these type of projects, it’s the packages that offer a copy of the movie. I don’t think crowdfunding was originally intended for it, but it has basically become a system where people can preorder a movie before the movie is made. Then, when it gets made, they get their movie. And if the funds aren’t raised, they get their money back, so no big deal.

    Basically, I don’t think people are seeing it as “giving their money to wealthy celebrities” any more than going to see a movie at the theatre is giving their money to the company that made it. They just think the project (Veronica Mars, Braff’s thing, or otherwise) is something they want to see, so they’re buying a copy of the DVD… in advance.

    • dylan

      i think Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr, Joe Rogan and others have proven an artist can put out his own money, sell direct to the fan at an incredibly discounted price and make everyone very happy. you can rationalize Braff and others’ intentions anyway you’d like. it’s offensive and absurd for them to ask the people who have supported them and who have helped make them who they are for money. it’s gross.

      • Consideration

        I don’t see it as asking for money. The backers get something in return. If I go give Zach Braff $20 and I get a DVD of his movie, which probably would cost $20 in a store, I’m still getting the movie. Why does it matter so much to you if he gets my DVD money before or after its made?

        You’re turning this into some kind of class war thing because you are apparently mad at rich people. The reality is people are funding these movies because they want to see them. Could the cast of Veronica Mars have put together their own money and made the movie and then sold it after? Sure. Should they be obligated to do that and risk nobody buying it, it getting pirated to hell and back, and losing their money? No, that would be stupid. They COULD take the risk. It has clearly worked for others like you’ve mentioned. But they can also do it this way and not potentially lose millions of dollars, so why risk it?

        • dylan

          you risk it because you’re embarrassed to ask regular people for money when you have a few million sitting in the bank. you risk it because you’re humble. you risk it because it’s the right thing to do.

          i’m not mad at rich people. i’m offended by anyone with an unwarranted sense of entitlement.

          • Anonymous

            What is an unwarranted sense of entitlement in your opinion? There are no inherent rules stating Kickstarter is only to be used by “starving artists.”

            Also, the argument that Braff should take the money and just make the movie “like an adult” is utter foolishness. I see no reason why he shouldn’t ask for funding from fans in order to fund his film, one which reflects his artistry (not that I’m even a real fan, but clearly, many people are) and which is what the funders WANT to see. Sure, perhaps he shouldn’t do this on Kickstart. Okay, you could have made that argument in a much more eloquent, less whining way. But the points you have used to make it are fundamentally flawed: ie. the one about how he should just make the movie like an adult. That’s not the issue here. You said you have no problem with him fundraising elsewhere, so therefore he does not have to just accept what the studio offered him…

          • PithHelmut

            What is your own unwarranted sense of entitlement one could ask as you don’t seem to see this goes over what’s right, it’s taking advantage of their fans. Sure the fans are probably happy to pay, that’s what makes these celebrities all the more repulsive, that they know their fans will fund them. Maybe fans will realize what their idols really think of them, that they’re not much more than fodder.

          • BrotherBee

            Maybe they just like his work and want to support his next project? If the movie is good, people who donated will enjoy it’s success more, because they did make a small investment in it. If the movie isn’t good, people won’t fund his next project. It’s pretty simple really.

          • E Robb

            It’s not an unwarranted sense of entitlement if the masses rise up in approval and support.

          • Squiggly_P

            It’s not entitlement. yeah, he probably COULD make the movie with his own money. Filmmakers do like to make films, after all. But if the movie tanks – and it most likely would given what Studios usually do with low-budget movies – then you’re out of $2 Million and you have to blow another $2 Million to make the next one. Even Braff would run out of money at that rate if he wanted to make a bunch of movies.

            Kickstarter is a way to not only raise the funds, but to build a fanbase for your movie that hasn’t even been made yet, and to basically start marketing the film well before it’s out. The backers get something in return, the film maker gets to make the film they wanted to make and prevent them from losing $2 Million if it tanks – which is far less likely thanks to the lack of compromise and the built-in fanbase the movie now has – and everyone’s happy.

            Except the hollywood studio guys who are probably starting to get a bit worried about this whole kickstarter thing.

          • Sydonis

            I love how you speak about someones sense of entitlement, while trying to play some kind of moral judge pointing out on people that should be embarrassed for no other reason, than becouse you think they should be, judging by your inner code, that is not universal law of society. But hey, risking money yourself, when you can ASK (that implies, it’s their decission whether they think it is or isn’t alright to do so) fans for financing is wrong. BECOUSE YOU SAID SO!

        • TK

          If you read the rewards part of at least Zach Braff’s project, he is not offering anyone a copy of the film to keep. Just screenings.

        • michele

          Why risk it? Because making art is risky. As the buying/watching public, we make them rich to encourage them to create more things for us to buy/watch. If they make things we don’t like, we don’t have to continue to enrich them. The fact that they are enriched a crazy amount is awesome and not to be resented; I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who’s ‘spoken’ to me through their art the ability to have a better life than I do. But part of the post-creation enrichments of artists is just that: post creation. A painter might slave away for years before someone buys his art. That’s sort of the artist’s bargain: follow your creative muse while supporting yourself in any way possible, then reap the benefits when the audience says yes, we like what you’re doing. Please do more of it. The risk is that there is no audience. The Veronica Mars people need only pop on the Internet to see that there is a huge audience for what they can do. The fact that they made their goal plus a huge amount is further evidence that if they put out a good product there are tons of people out there who will pay for it. What they could have done is said okay, our fans have spoken; we can fund and make this film at minimal risk, so we’re taking the kickstarter money and giving it back, or giving it to some charity.

        • PithHelmut

          Yeah true and all, but why are the rich muscling in on Kickstarter now – don’t they get enough of the rewards already? One has got to wonder what kind of people they are…conjures images of Daffy Duck on a mound of riches screaming “Mine, mine, it’s all mine” while shoveling as much of it his way as duckingly possible.

          • Squiggly_P

            They’re doing it because the guys running the show in the film and games industries (and probably most of the other entertainment industries as well), treat them like shit, force them to work at extremely unhealthy paces for little money and treat their medium with no respect. They make them water down their work for mass market appeal. They make them release unfinished, buggy games that don’t work and tarnish their reputation. They churn out sequels instead of funding original work. They are factories that make product to sell to people like any other corporate endeavor.

            Kickstarter allows the artists to get out of that system. No one wants to spend $2 Million of their own money on making a movie. Movies are risky, and studios don’t like self-produced films. You’d just lose $2 Million.

        • Zelda

          If all the backers are getting in return is a preorder of a movie that hasn’t been made yet, it’s an even bigger joke than the post suggests. I can reluctantly understand backing celebrity projects if there is something tangible to be had in return, like an autographed something or other. But a preorder of something that doesn’t even exist yet? Come on.

      • http://literatureuniversity.blogspot.com/ Dean Deanington III

        Not to play Devil’s advocate but were all those people selling their comedy tours? I know Louis C.K did. I’m sure the cost of tickets to the location where he filmed at didn’t cover the cost of production but it did give him a good indication of whether people liked his material and would pay for it. In fact, any comediy club he did that year gave him a good indication of whether people wanted his 5 dollar comedy tour and gave him the ability to tweak his act if he felt they didn’t. That’s much less risky than Louie C.K. asking for 20 dollars for a movie none of the public has seen yet. If Louie is brilliant in his comedy tour, it’s a hit. The comedy performance rests all on him. If he’s brilliant in a movie, it’s entirely possible the movie just sucks or the actors didn’t have chemistry or it was the wrong genre that people didn’t want to see at the time or any number of reasons that would make the audience not really care how well Louie C.K did in a movie because the movie is bigger than just the rolde he plays or how he directs. Also, it is a different cost in terms of energy and time from the audience’s standpoint for these forms of media. If a sound file of a comedy performance on their computer isn’t funny, the audience can devote their time to other things and multitask. Perhaps the first 1/3 is quite funny so they only listen to that and switch to something else more entertaining. It’s not a continous experience like film. At least on the first watching, you have to pay full attention with your eyes and ears to what you are viewing and if the first 1/3 is good and the rest is awful, well it’s a bad film from the audience’s viewpoint. I’m not saying Louie C.K. would fund a movie thru Kickstarter, but at least as I understand it, perhaps I’m wrong but it would seem a more risky bet.

      • Joe

        So it’s gross to ask for money UPFRONT (before the movie is made), but its not gross to ask for the money AFTER when they are selling the DVD? Your logic is very flawed.

        • Mindse

          Its not flawed. The difference matters. Its gross because asking upfront asks fans to assume the very real risk that the movie WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Fans should not have to assume that risk. In fact, speculative investments like the film financing Braff decided to forego usually insist that the investor have a particular net worth, a particular sophistication, so that the risk is spread sufficiently to those most able to bear it. Its not fair to forego that means of raising money in favor of taking it from your fans, who will suffer more if the movie never happens.

          • Squiggly_P

            If you kickstart it, you’re legally obligated to follow through or face consequences. Why the fuck do people think you can just take the money and run on a kickstarter? You can’t do that. That would be illegal.

            The reason movies often don’t happen is because the studios don’t give them funding, and they don’t give them funding because they want the filmmaker to agree to their bullshit and they have to hammer out some deal to make the movie work. The studios generally want to make generic garbage and the filmmaker generally wants to make something beautiful. The compromise is that they make generic garbage with glitter on it.

          • Mindse

            Sorry but you’re wrong about this. Look at the Veronica Mars kickstarter. Its clear that they’re not sure its ever getting made and the donors are risking that. And your money is going to an account held by Warner Bros. Which, last time I checked, is one of the studios that you’re railing against. I would love it if this were the fairy tale of David v. Goliath you seem to think it is. But it is not.

    • michele

      Why would I invest any amount of money now in return for a product like a DVD, which gets cheaper every year?

      • Bob F

        Feel free not to. But don’t begrudge anyone else’s decisions about what to do with their money.

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