Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kickstarter: best innovation for independent filmmakers since the digital camera?

We all know that digital cameras revolutionized the art of filmmaking, paving the way for extremely low budget productions and removing certain economic barriers for filmmakers/filmmaking. Mainstream directors even took up digital filmmaking for the advantages in mobility and cost. But what sort of innovation will come next that will further democratize the art of filmmaking? I don't mean to sound teleological here and make the argument that everyone will someday be a filmmaker (But is this not true? With cameras on cell phones, etc.?), but it does seem to be a direction the art is currently taking. I've blogged about alternative methods of distribution previously, and now the same (or similar members) of the group I was referring to before have started a Kickstarter project.

Kickstarter allows anyone to fund a project by contributing any amount of money, from a dollar to a hundred dollars. Often, this comes with some sort of material 'thank you' for the contributor (a t-shirt, for example). It also comes with the idea that one is taking part in the project by virtue of funding it, which is, I think, part of the website's rhetoric. Though, you could treat the site as an online store and 'browse' for purchases (if the projects succeed). Anyway, the point is that it allows funding to come from a multitude of small investors, simultaneously creating an audience and a backer for a project.

The project I've posted here is not breaking ground by using this site for filmmaking. In fact, 'film' is listed as one of the categories of projects you can fund on the homepage of I've searched 'film' on just now, and the search result came up with 866 projects. The project budgets range from $1,000 to $10,000, but I assume they could go higher. Here's the kicker though: these $10,000 projects are being funded! In the world of filmmaking, $10,000 is an insanely small budget of course, but for independents who start with nothing but (perhaps) a digital camera and a story, $10,000 makes a huge difference.

For many of the film projects, donating a certain amount gets you a DVD. So, the website essentially allows one to sell their film before it has been made, but without the need for a producer or distributer. I'd like to hear more about this experience from filmmakers who have tried using before. If you have, please comment and let me know how your experience with the website/funding went.

Also, take a look at Keep it Cinematic, a project that blurs the line between narrative filmmaking and music videos (an interesting project, because music in film usually operates to destabilize the narrative). Looks like an exciting project! Also, The Keaton Collective is an excellent band, so if you want to get started with, you can't go wrong with a $10 pledge to get their CD.

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