Today in Cyclical Arguments: The Fame Threshold

So there is a Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie, which in and of itself I have exactly zero opinion about. Maybe it’s great; I never saw it. But the inestimable Janna O’Shea (and others, I’m sure) have expressed concern over it; to whit:

I’m really excited about this movie idea, but I’m not sure how into the Kickstarter part of it I am.

I guess it just bugs me that this forum is being used to fund a movie like this. Can’t really put my finger on exactly why.

Veronica Mars on Kickstarter.

I wager that sentiment comes from the fact that Veronica Mars and the people associated with this project are already pretty well known. It creates “what do you need ME for?” type of feeling. Likewise, the number of other well known people that are endorsing it lend to that feeling, when Kickstarter is generally a platform for new projects, the person who otherwise might not be able to raise the capital for something like that.

A few tweets or a blog post from people like Gabe of Penny Arcade, or even Janna, would make most Kickstarter projects. Brian from Kickstarter has noted that early recognition from Niel Gaiman helped the Fireside Kickstarters.

$2,000,000 is a fair chuck of change, so maybe this is the route to go. Without a major studio willing to invest in it, why not turn to the fans? If it’s something they want, well, that kinda seems like the definition of crowdfunding, doesn’t it? And if it fails, it’s no money out of anyone’s pocket.

My concern is saturation- at what point do enough big names join Kickstarter that the little guy gets crowded out? Based on what I’ve seen lately, that might not be the worst thing ever, but how do we go about getting new blood? The Stripped documentary has some big names behind it, and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Is that crowding out a budding filmmaker? Possibly. Welcome to capitalism, kids.

No matter what, I think we can all agree Joss Whedon should Kickstart more seasons of Firefly, right? I thought so.

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19 thoughts on “Today in Cyclical Arguments: The Fame Threshold

  1. The LoudMouse Radio Podcast! says:

    I’m sorry mate, but I don’t think that forcing out the little guys is okay, no matter what kind of drivel they’re putting out. They’ll make money off of that movie, and producers, directors and actors have the money to make that investment. The “little guy” won’t make SQUAT unless they can find a way to begin producing their idea. I’m not for the big (monetarily) guy taking away the means of funding from the little guy so they can make EVEN MORE MONEY.

    • deanfortythree says:

      But that competition IS good. It forces the little guy to make a better product; that’s why Kickstarter works in the first place- there are quality projects that might not be picked up by ‘traditional’ outlets. But just because they already have money and notoriety, why aren’t they allowed to play? And where is that line anyway? If they’re the big, bad ‘man’ or whatever, pushing tripe, then it won’t get funded. Problem solved.

      • The LoudMouse Radio Podcast! says:

        In all honestly, I don’t think that’s entirely true. They have things like 20,000 dollars to market the simple fact that they HAVE a kickstarter. There have been many popular ideas that ended up being drivel.

  2. Amanda says:

    You know, exactly the same concerns about smaller projects being crowded out were put forwards when fairly well known developers such as Double Fine and inXile started using Kickstarter to fund their games, but it turned out that the opposite happened.

    Blockbuster projects like these bring in huge numbers of backers – many of whom havn’t heard of Kickstarter or rarely use it. Then while they are hanging around watching the progress of their favourite projects, many of those fans start looking at what else is available and end up funding smaller projects that interest them at the same time. Here’s a blog post on the subject made after the Double Fine Adventure kickstarter -> http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/blockbuster-effects

  3. Callie says:

    KBell and co tried to pool together their own money in the past. It didn’t work. The reason was that Warner Brothers didn’t want to put anything into a movie that they didn’t think would sell. The kickstarter campaign, while it is funding the movie, I think is more being used as a sign for Warner Brothers. Sure, people can sign all the petitions they want, saying ‘I will watch this movie, I will buy tickets,” but how can they be sure those people aren’t just signing it because someone said they should? Petitions weren’t enough to convince the company that people really wanted this movie. But money talks. If people are so invested in this little show/movie that could that they are actually willing to put their money where their mouths are MONTHS before seeing an end result, warner brothers will have no qualms in going forward with the project because it’s clear that we are sincere.

    Honestly, I don’t think the donations are the point of this kickstarter, unlike more traditional kickstarter campaigns. I think this campaign is about the people.

    • deanfortythree says:

      Excellent point- in fact, I think that’s one of the biggest benefits from crowdsourcing in general, showing that projects that large companies aren’t willing to take risks on can succeed. There are still failures, obviously- they are risks for a reason- but this eliminates them with less waste (if that makes sense)

  4. Chad says:

    I think this is great, and it will be a high profile example of how crowd-funding can work. It has been several years since the cancellation of the Veronica Mars series. The series creators have since the end of the show stated an interest in at least a theatrical follow-up, and the fans have been very vocal about all they’d be “willing to do” to see that happen. Let’s be clear, without crowd-funding this film would not happen. With crowd-funding the fans get to put their money where their very vocal mouths are, and help make this film a reality. To me (though obviously WB will get their “fair share”) it will be poetic justice for WB to see exactly the extent the fans are willing to go when for years they’ve said that there isn’t enough interest to justify making a movie.

    As far as the ramifications for crowd-funding, I don’t see it having a detrimental impact. This project like any other, features a creator interested in providing a project that would not be possible without public support. It’s this feature that makes kickstarter so compelling for me.

  5. Michelle "Kenobi" Osorio says:

    As a filmmaker who has had a successful Kickstarter recently funded, I don’t feel threatened at all. The VM movie is at over $1.5 million on its first day (which isn’t even over). This project will break all sorts of records and I agree with others that it will help bring more people’s attention to this site and possibly run into other projects they’d like to fund.

    Over the years I have definitely seen YouTube become a tougher and tougher game to compete in with the over-saturation of content. It’s possible this will happen on Kickstarter too, but we’re not there yet. If filmmakers and artists just focus on a great project that people want to back and make sure they put some effort into their pitch video, they’ll be fine.

    I was amazed by the results of my first little Kickstarter, 290% funded. I was told I did well because the video was good and I posted a lot of interactive updates (Q&A videos, a Google Hangout live feed from the set, etc.). If you want to raise money, don’t whine that that big guy is crowding you out. Just try to think outside the box and get people excited about your vision! Anything worth a hill of beans requires some hard work behind it. ❤

    • deanfortythree says:

      Not late, reiterating the point since people have been freaking out about it all day. And how am I wrong? My point is that it brings more people to the platform and it’s pointless to be upset that ‘big’ names are using it as well… which is the point of that KS post (that I have seen before).

  6. Morgan (The818) says:

    I could really care less that they’re using their celebrity to fund their Kickstarter. What I do care about is that a major motion picture studio has asked for fans to show them the money before they’ll show them the movie. I think it sets a hideous precedent.

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