The Crowd Funding Trend

I had planned to write about Kickstarter the other day, but then Roger Ebert passed away. As promised, here are my thoughts on the influential site that describes itself as "a new way to fund creative projects." Ebert himself announced before his death that he was hoping to begin a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to relaunch At the Movies. It's all part of the successful "crowd funding" trend in which a bunch of individuals contribute donations via the Internet to support a project.

Kickstarter has enabled the financing of many independent films, stage plays, concerts, video games, and other pipe-dreams that may not have otherwise seen the light of day. Eliza Dushku used it to created her travelogue documentary Dear Albania.  Rob Thomas raised almost $5,000,000 dollars in record time, more than double his goal, to bring the cult-favorite television show Veronica Mars to the big screen.

Producer Ken Davenport, whom I greatly respect, criticized the use of Kickstarter for pet projects by well-connected celebrities who may have been able to raise the money through traditional means instead of tapping into the pockets of fans who might have used that cash to support other campaigns that had more challenging pprospects of becoming a reality. I agree that the goal of Kickstarter is to give those passions that might otherwise never be fulfilled a chance, and maybe Ebert, Dushku, Kristen Bell, and all the rest could have reached out to the deep-pocketed names and industry professionals in their digital rolodexes to find some investors.  I still think, however, that their projects were on the fringe of mainstream Hollywood and had the odds stacked against them, so having a winning Kickstarter campaign will open eyes and doors, proving that people want to see these productions, and they're willing to put their money where their mouth is to support them.

Davenport experimented with a form of crowd funding with his "People of Godspell" initiative, in which everyday folks had the chance to serve as "micro-producers" (for lack of a better term) on his Broadway musical revival. He's a believer in the power of crowd funding, so he very well may have a valid point that big business and other corporate highrollers might take advantage of the success of sites like Kickstarter, tapping into them as just another revenue stream when they most likely don't need it. This could damage access to crowd funding resources by the people who could truly benefit from it. 

In the meantime, though, the "little guy" still has a huge advantage now and many more opportunities than ever before to raise the funds necessary to make any dream project come true.

Whether it's photography, food, music, publishing, theater, movies, videogames, television, or some other creative pursuit, there are tens of thousands of ideas on Kickstarter looking to be funded so that they could be realized. It's an exciting time, full of possibilities.


Verona said…
This is cool!