Last weekend was the Oscars, and boy what a night it was. Most who know me know that I’m quite passionate about films and enjoy taking a deeper look at them. However, I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing my thoughts on the actual awards or show. I’ll just say this, The Hobbit deserved the awards for Production Design, Hair & Makeup, and CG for sure.
There is one aspect of the night that I would like to take a deeper look at and discuss its greater meaning for our culture.
Last night, for me, something very magical happened. Something that I feel changes the very nature of how we perceive not only the film industry, but potentially all industries. The film in mention is Inocente (http://inocentedoc.com/), the Oscar winner for best documentary short. The film seemed like a quite moving experience, “The inspiring story of a 15-year-old homeless and undocumented girl in CA who refuses to give up her dream of being an artist”. What struck me most, however, happened this morning when I realized that the film was a Kickstarter project. In July of 2012 294 people gave $52,527 to the filmmakers to help get their film finished and formatted correctly for festivals it had been chosen for.
Now, mind you, this film was already finished and made by people who had previously been nominated for best documentary in 2008. The story goes further. In fact there were actually three films nominated for Oscars last night. The other two were Kings Point (nominated also for best documentary short) which raised $10,165 in January of 2011, and Buzkashi Boys (nominated for best live action short) which raised $27,410 in February of 2012. Three films, which collectively raised almost $100,000 from 558 different individuals, all nominated for the field’s highest honor.
Kickstarter, and it’s competitor IndieGogo, have certainly been picking up steam since their launch in 2009. There have certainly been projects that have put the website in the news and blown minds with the amount of funding they have received. Some of these projects include the Pebble watch which raised $10,266,845 (10,266% of their goal) and Amanda Palmer’s new album (which raised just over $1 million). My favorite of these highly funded projects came from one of my favorite bands, Five Iron Frenzy, who came out of music retirement to raise $208,000 for a new album.
For me, however, the fact that a project won an Oscar changes the very nature of the idea of crowdfunding. How long until the Grammy for song or album of the year goes to a crowdfunded album?
What I’m saying is this, up until now crowdfunding has been getting popular, but still has remained focused on a niche geek market. The most successful projects have been geared towards small markets with a few passionate fans. What would happen, though, if a much bigger artist crowdfunded their new project. If Fun or 1Direction chose to crowdfund their new album. Years ago Radiohead did an experiment with their album In Rainbows where the individual could give as much or little as they wanted for the album. It seems to me that what is happening now with Kickstarter is, in many ways, the business side of that same concept.
Needless to say, I am super excited about Kickstarter and crowdfunding at the moment. In fact, I have decided to make it a priority to back at least 1 project each month for the rest of the year. I will write a little bit about the project that I have funded, why I decided to fund it, and (if or when the resulting product or film or incentive shows up) what I thought of the end result. I view this as another way that I can give back and help someone out who needs the funding to get a brilliant idea off the ground..
These articles will be able to be found on my blog (http://www.StevenFekete.com)