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Crowdfunding sites are making hard-to-finance indie films easier to achieve

posted Jul 13, 2014, 10:42 PM by Siamak Ebarhimi

Despite those who criticize celebs like Zach Braff resorting to Kickstarter, there is a trickle-down effect where smaller projects get attention as well; this Friday marks the return of the Kickstarter Film Festivalcrowdfunding marketing

The crowdfunding site Kickstarter marks two major victories this Friday: the opening of Zach Braff’s film “Wish I Was Here” and the fourth Annual Kickstarter Film Festival in Brooklyn.

It would be hard to blame Braff if he feels a little vindication over both events.

Like every other film fan, he took notice last March when director Rob Thomas and actress Kristen Bell turned to the public, via Kickstarter, for help in funding their long-dormant “Veronica Mars” film. Thomas wound up with nearly $6 million, earning praise for ingenuity, breaking Kickstarter records, and shining a spotlight on a new way of making movies.crowdfunding advertising

A month later Braff tried the same thing, asking fans to finance his followup to 2004’s “Garden State” in exchange for a typical range of rewards (T-shirts, private screenings, an appearance in the movie). He made about $3 million, but the cash came with a heavy dose of resentment.

Director Kevin Smith spoke for many when he said that celebrity crowdfunding was “not fair to real indie filmmakers who need the help,” and Braff was forced to defend himself repeatedly.indiegogo marketing

As he pointed out, traditional film financing is a complex and tortuous process that too often takes freedom (and money) out of the hands of creators, assuming they can convince studios to invest in them in the first place.

Thanks to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, though, artists no longer need to rely on corporate resources. Anyone can contribute to a Kickstarter campaign, helping to finance a project they think worthy.kickstarter marketing

By bringing so much attention to Kickstarter, he also brought in countless new investors. The company has referred repeatedly to “the blockbuster effect,” in which thousands of people have come to the site for high-profile projects like Braff’s, only to stay, look around, and support smaller efforts that desperately need their help.
As a result, the landscape is vastly more expansive than it was just a few years ago. And though his detractors would be loath to admit it, Braff can take some of the credit. While he absorbed a lot of heat for abusing an “indie” system, it’s fair to say that he actually strengthened it.kickstarter project

So far, more than 14,000 film and video projects have been successfully funded on Kickstarter, surely the start of a true revolution. Seven have been nominated for Oscars, while hundreds of others have premiered theatrically or at major festivals. There are Kickstarter-funded movie theaters, and Indiegogo-financed film fests. Spike Lee, James Franco and Don Cheadle are among the filmmakers who turned to crowdsourcing after Braff did.

Surely it’s no coincidence that Friday marks both the release of “Wish I Was Here” and the annual Kickstarter Film Festival. The festival lineup, playing at Fort Greene Park from 7-11 p.m., offers an ideal glimpse of the wide-ranging options available to independent filmmakers now.CrowdFunding advertizing

The program include

s the well-reviewed “abortion comedy” “Obvious Child” and the award-winning documentary “Rich Hill.” There’s also the zombie comedy “Night of the Living Deb,” which boasts a charming Kickstarter fund-raising page worth checking out. “Walking Through That Door” is a music video from the band Future Islands; “Me & Ewe” is a stop-motion

Together, these films — short made by an 11-year-old girl; and the gorgeous “Wonder” was made from 8,760 pictures hand-drawn by director Mirai Mizue.CrowdFunding marketing

 and the 12 others in the festival, along with the hundreds currently available on iTunes — attracted thousands of backers, creating a community of strangers willing to help someone achieve his or her artistic goals one dollar at a time.

Without those strangers, many of these movies might never have been made. So should we care if some backers discovered them while also supporting bigger names like Thomas, or Braff, or Franco? With so many unheralded projects waiting to be found, it’s not the blockbusters that matter most, but the momentous change they can effect.crowdfunding websites

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By David Khorram