Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Kickstarter: We Don’t Have Anything Against Celebrity Projects (cc: Zach Braff)

The founders of Kickstarter today rallied behind celebrities who have been criticized for hijacking their open platform to serve a more privileged cause.

Why does Zach Braff need Kickstarter’s sympathy? Because the crowdfunding platform is beloved as a site that can turn independent passion projects into reality when fueled by the money and goodwill of fans and supporters.

So people get a little huffy when they see stars like Braff raise $2.5 million (with 14 days left to go) for his film “Wish I Was Here” that apparently could have been traditionally financed, if Braff had liked the terms. Or the “Veronica Mars” movie that raised $5.7 million on Kickstarter even though it was owned by Warner Bros.

Kickstarter, they say, is for the little people, not the celebrities who already have a whole industry built around them.

Braff, for his part, has gone on the defensive, saying in an interview posted on Mashable yesterday, “I’m making this movie for you and, ostensibly, with you. You’re coming along on the ride, you’re going to be a little GoPro camera on my shoulder experiencing how an independent movie is made … I owe [the fans] everything.”

But what about Kickstarter the company, which had previously gone out of its way to limit participation by hardware projects on its platform that might give people the impression that they are buying a product rather than supporting an endeavor.

Well, Kickstarter actually supports Braff, its founders said today in an open letter titled “Who is Kickstarter for?

Kickstarter’s mission is to “help bring creative projects to life,” according to co-founders Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. So the Zach Braff and Veronica Mars films qualify.

And second, celebrities have a halo effect for everyone else on Kickstarter. For this, they offered some numbers:

The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter. 63% of those people had never backed a project before. Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far. Nearly 40% of that has gone to other film projects.

And third, both of the celebrity projects in question were fully in the participatory, all-access spirit of Kickstarter. The Zach Braff rewards included attending premieres and Q&As that fans normally wouldn’t get access to; the Veronica Mars rewards included star Kristen Bell recording for fans outgoing voicemail messages of their choosing.

P.S. It’s not like all celebrity campaigns succeed; a would-be Kickstarter film from actress Melissa Joan Hart is currently only 2.5 percent of the way to its $2 million goal, with 16 days to go. It just recently added more interesting rewards in the style of the other two successful campaigns.

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