A while back I wrote about the highly successful Kickstarter campaign for the Veronica Mars movie. While I have never seen an episode of the show I can tell just by the response that the fanbase is excited and anxious to see it again. In its most basic concept I don't have a problem with bringing back old shows if fans still want it. As a huge fan of Arrested Development I can't wait to see the Bluths tear it up on Netflix, and then possibly a movie. However, sometimes taking a critical look at the implications of what that means is more important than my own entertainment.
Since the revelation that Hollywood could get fans to bankroll projects via Kickstarter we have seen a rash of projects from celebrities trying to bring back old, cancelled, or new concept shows. Like I mentioned earlier, Arrested Development will be returning based on the rabid fanbase, the excited cast/crew, and Netflix's willingness to take a chance. However, the critical point here is that the fans didn't have to pay for this. Unlike the Veronica Mars project where fans were asked to donate to make the movie happen Arrested Development was funded by conventional means, read: Hollywood backers. Raising over $5.7 million dollars (its goal was $2 million) Veronica Mars sparked the one thing in Hollywood that is persistent; replication. How would celebrities and Hollywood elites react to seeing a B-list show make that kind of money in 30 days? Well they reacted the exact way I thought they would.
So after the first day of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter project other cancelled shows were making announcements of possible revival KS projects. Pushing Daises, Terriers, and Men of a Certain Age all became very interested in what money they could get FANS to kick in to make dreams come true. Seems to me that if you can't get Terriers back on TV then the demand might not be that strong. Once again I point to Arrested Development as the titular example of bringing back something because there was demand. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint none of these projects have gotten off the ground...yet. So the Kickstarter issue is over, we can all go back to bed, right? Sadly, this is Hollywood we are talking about. Replication replication replication. So on April 24, 2013 another big Hollywood name caught the Kickstarter fever. Zack Braff, loveable goofball from Scrubs and Garden State, decided he would jump into the fray. Side note: I really like Zack's work and loved Scrubs (not the last two season...come on!) and thought Garden State was solid early 20s angst film done right. So when I saw he made a Kickstarter for his latest movie idea, a follow up to Garden State I got excited for a moment. I didn't care about Veronica Mars as a property so it was easy to dismiss it. Here I had been faced with a project that I support in concept, how could I not be onboard. Remember when I mentioned about forgoing my own entertainment, well here is when the rubber meets the road. With still 3 more days to go Zack's Wish I was Here movie project has already raised ~$2.6 million (goal was $2 million) in funding. Congrats! I will give Braff credit over the Veronica Mars project in one aspect. He wasn't being backed by a studio to get this done. He was going out on his own, so you as a backer were giving the money straight to the source. He plans on shopping it out to film festivals to secure distribution for a theatrical release. All that sounds better, but not great. Why as a fan am I funding this? Surely Braff is a big enough name in Hollywood that he could get this made. He says he is putting his own money in too so that's something. He says due to creative rights he wants to go independent and make the movie he wants. All this sounds so sweet coming from a nice guy like Zack...lets all chip in and make Hollywood see the error of their ways! Not so fast.
The true wrinkle to all of this is when it was announced that Braff's movie was receiving "gap financing" from Worldview Entertainment. So the movie is reported to have a sub $10 million dollar budget, and Worldview is helping make it happen. Wait wait wait...so if Braff got $2+ million from fans, lets say $3-4 million of his own money (purely a guess - a generous one I might add) that leaves $4-5 million picked up from Worldview, or possibly half! If a corporation like Worldview can afford that much why was the $2 million from fans even needed. While Worldview isn't a massive corporation they seem to be able to fully fund the film Killer Joe for ironically $10 million dollars. So my question is now that interest has clearly be created why doesn't Braff cancel the Kickstarter and give people their money back? He should and he has the means to make his movie happen. Any other excuse is just that, an excuse. Using your fans desire to see a project happen and take that enthusiasm and hold it over them to get more money is frankly BULLSHIT. If you can't get your movie made then tough shit try harder.
The argument will always come down to "if people want to give their money to something that's their business!" My response to that is yes you are correct, but there is more to this than just ponying up some cash. The fallout is what really matters here. Ultimately if you think that no one in Hollywood will notice what is happening you are wrong. Every iffy project that someone can conceive will be shopped out to Kickstarter to rattle the fanbase. Melissa Joan Hart tried but thankfully failed. Sorry Melissa but if you can't use your name and celebrity juice to make it happen then it isn't going to happen. Christopher Titus is the latest to join this parade. He expressed an interest in bringing back his failed tv show for one more season. While I actually liked the show, I wouldn't give him dime. I am sorry but its not my job as a fan to make this show happen financially. Fans have two jobs: 1. Pay to watch the shows or movies. 2. Keep the word of mouth going. As a creators you have several jobs: 1. Come up with the ideas. 2. Get the backing. 3. Make it a reality.
What's next, making a Kickstarter project to get obscure superheroes their own movies? How about a KS project for coming up with some new ideas for shows. I can see it now: "If we collect $2 million dollars we will come up with something on TV and it will be good, hit that donate button!"
Dear Hollywood and celebrities, you aren't being clever you just being dicks. Please stop.