For a new unheard of film maker starting their career with no contacts and even less funds there are two routes to take. Route one, send their script to major film companies in the hope that someone will like their idea enough to create it, or route two, be funded by a private investor who believes in their film. Whilst the first option requires almost an entire loss of creative control on the film makers part, ensuring what hits the screens is yet another safe bet of Hollywood clichés, option two requires unrealistic quantities of luck. As a result of this many independent projects have never gotten off the ground, until now that is.
Social networks, once again, have made the impossible, possible. Sites such Kickstarter and Indiegogo now allow films to be funded by the fans. Donations can be contributed big or small, with certain rewards given depending on how much is donated. These can range from exclusive behind the scenes updates to VIP tickets to the première. In the last twelve months various projects have been successful using such sites. Sci-Fi web series Chronicles of Syntax received $4,525 over their target allowing the show, originally planned in 2009, to finally be produced. The project was funded last August and aired on the Multiverse earlier this year. Even more impressive was the funding of a Veronica Mars film. After it’s television series was ended prematurely, fans of the show raised a staggering two million dollars in just ten hours to watch the rest of the story unfold.
Inspired by the amazing support shown by fans, film-maker Zach Braff, of Scrubs fame, has created his own Kickstarter account in a bid to produce his film Wish I was here. Braff’s début film Garden State was funded by a single fan of his work and was well received by fans and critics alike. Braff was already offered funding for his second film but under the conditions that he’d give up casting controls and the decision of the final cut. In order to retain the same artistic direction as his prior work, Braff took a huge risk by refusing the funding and asking his fans to help instead. The risk has certainly paid off, in just three days the needed two million dollars was donated and as the account does not close until the 24th May the figure continues to raise. The film industry has been left in awe.
However is this really a feasible future for independent cinema? Though the films now can be produced there is still the obstacle of distribution and many will have to rely on a good reception at film festivals such as Cannes or Sundance for their films to be available to a wider market. Another issue is the power of fans depends on the amount of fans you have. Whilst Braff’s acting popularity allowed a large fan-base to respond to his project unheard of film-makers will have a much harder time in gaining donations. The success of Chronicles of Syntax was in part due to the fan base they had gained over time by producing a trailer and other promotions of their vision.
Despite the remaining set backs, Kickstarter has proved if you want something enough there’s a way to get it. Independent cinema may not be able to rival Hollywood yet but it’s beginning to catch up.
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