Since crowdfunding began (circa 2005), platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and all their many cousins have been taken up en masse, creating opportunities for independent filmmakers and rewarding good ideas over studio backing. However, in the last couple of years established Hollywood actors/directors/comedians/musicians and even politicians have launched their own campaigns, pitching passion projects that they are ‘struggling’ to fund themselves. Their celebrity often manages to pull in thousands, if not millions, towards their projects. The question is, how fair is it? The ‘Keep Celebrities Off Kickstarter‘ campaign would argue, not very.
Here we examine ten ‘celebrities’ taking over crowdfunding sites.
#1 James Franco – Palo Alto Stories
After dissing Zach Braff’s kick-campaign, James Franco has launched his own on Indiegogo, raising funds for a film version of a book of short stories he has written. ‘Palo Alto’ is inspired by his childhood growing up in Palo Alto, California. The campaign has now finished, and managed to raise $327,929.
#2 Sylvester Stallone – Reach Me
Stallone’s project is “Reach Me”, a film written and directed by John Herzfeld (2 Days in the Valley) and produced by Cassian Elwes (The Butler). He’ll play a sports coach that turns into an author of self-help books. The film had previously been privately funded to the tune of $250K, but when investors pulled out, Stallone and Elwes took to Kickstarter to get the film off the ground. They have raised $25,307 to date.
#3 Robert Redford – Be Natural
Robert Redford is executive producer on this project, which may account for its phenomenal success, having raised $184,692 to date. The film will be directed by Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs, and documents the life of cinema’s first female director, Alice Guy-Blaché, who wrote/directed/produced over 1000 films over her 20 year career spanning from 1896 to 1920. Jodie Foster is on board to narrate the film.
#4 Rob Thomas – The Veronica Mars Movie Project
Having raised $5,702,153 to date, The Veronica Mars Movie project is one of the most successful crowd funding campaigns the world has ever seen. This could be due to the popularity of Veronica Mars or its star, Kristen Bell, but either way, this is a film we can’t wait to see.
#5 Zach Braff – Wish I Was Here
The Scrubs star managed to raise $3,105,473 from 46,520 backers for his project Wish I Was Here. His second directorial project after Garden State (2004) is about a struggling actor looking for his identity. He said on the project: “After I saw the incredible way “Veronica Mars” fans rallied around Kristen Bell and her show’s creator Rob Thomas, I couldn’t help but think (like I’m sure so many other independent filmmakers did) maybe there is a new way to finance smaller, personal films that didn’t involve signing away all your artistic control.”
#6 – Spike Lee – The Hottest New Spike Lee Joint
Spike Lee recently reached his Kickstarter goal, raising $1,418,910 for his film. He said: “I’m an Indie Filmmaker and I will always be an Indie Filmmaker. Indie Filmmakers are always in search of financing because their work, their vision sometimes does not coincide with Studio Pictures.”
#7 – Adam Carolla– Road Hard
When investors pulled out of comedian Adam Carolla’s passion project ‘Road Hard’, he took to Donald Trump’s crowd funding site FundAnything.com for the money. Blogs, photos and a video diary helped this campaign reach its target. He reportedly needed $250K, but managed to raise $1,436,018.
#8 – Zosia Mamet – The Cabin Sisters
Technically a music video and not a film per se, this was the Girls star Zosia Mamet’s failed attempt at raising money on Kickstarter. The campaign aimed to raise $32K to put towards making a music video for a single the girls were planning to release. Their failure could be down to their brief campaign, which is only a few paragraphs long.
#9 – Melissa Joan Hart – Darci’s Walk of Shame
Another failed project was by Sabrina star Melissa Joan Hart, who removed her film ‘Darci’s Walk of Shame’ from Kickstarter when it failed to reach its target of $2m. She told the LA Times that the reason for the failure was: “We didn’t give [fans] the two things it takes to sell a movie: a poster and a trailer. I really think that’s where we missed the boat.”
#10 – Charlie Kaufman – Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa
Charlie Kaufman, writer of Being John Malokovich, Adaption and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has raised $406,237 towards the making of an animation he wrote. Unfair as it may be to reward celebrity writers/directors/actors for simply being themselves, in some cases it is well deserved. If the industry won’t fund them, we will.