Kickstarter is fast becoming the darling of DIY producers in multiple niches–comic books, zine makers, even restauranteurs and book authors. It’s enabled independent creators to fund their works–like Etsy, but for projects–and has already sent
two five feature-length films to Sundance (plus some shorts, but Kickstarter doesn’t have a full count yet). But more than that it’s the True Fans: if the groundwork has been laid and a direct relationship has been built, your fans will assure you of that 94% success rate,” writes co-founder Yancey Strickler.
The start-up is hosting its second Film Festival this weekend–Saturday, July 9th in Brooklyn, New York, on the roof of the Old American Can Factory–which will feature 100 minutes of footage from 16 feature films, documentaries, shorts, project videos, animation, video art, and music videos, from two to ten minutes in length.
Betabeat recently breakfasted with Silicon Alley OG Jason Calacanis, who had just come from interviewing Kickstarter on stage at a panel and was guzzling the Kickstarter Kool-Aid. He thinks the service can completely upturn the movie industry, which is controlled by a handful of Hollywood production houses that only fund formulaic films that take no risks in order to guarantee they’ll make a return. These producers also exert pressure on directors to make more conventional movies. There are obvious problems with this industry groupthink: first, it leads to boring art, and second, it doesn’t even work. Movies still flop.
Taken to the extreme, you can imagine a future in which the nation’s movie houses are running hundreds of Kickstarter-funded films instead of the same eight Hollywood movies. Which would be fantastic. Small films would be made once they hit a certain threshold and would only open up at locations where the showings have already sold out. What if Steven Spielberg put his next script on Kickstarter and made the movie entirely under his own discretion, without the pressure of Hollywood suits.
The challenge for Kickstarter from here looks to be managing user submissions. Right now the staff is approving projects by hand, which will be tough to scale if the site really blows up. But without some curation, the site could end up hosting offensive or embarrassing campaigns, or attract corporations–Red Bull is at least one corporation to attempt to associate itself with the hip Kickstarter brand–and lose its indie bent.
Correction: This post originally said Kickstarter sent two films to Sundance–it’s actually funded five features that played at Sundance.