OT: A Veronica Mars Crowd Sourcing Miracle
Yes, I'm a Veronica Mars fan. Big time. I was fortunate enough to cut two seasons of international promos for it back when it was on the air. With its cleaver season-long plots it was a little ahead of its time, and died too soon. This crowd sourcing project to get a Veronica Mars movie made was launched this morning. And, as I type this, it is nearly funded. One day. This has the potential to change a lot of things.
Ha! Before I pushed send, it had reached its goal. Along time ago we used to be friends...
Call me Mr. Negative but I don't think it will affect much more change than NIN & Radiohead experimenting with pay-what-you-want album releases, Louis C.K. making a couple million streaming one of his comedy specials or Tim Schafer raising over $3 mil on Kickstarter for his next video game.
Old Media success + rabid, installed fan base = crowd source windfall is not formula most people have access to. NIN & Radiohead both have not so found memories of their pay-what-you-want experiment and Trent Reznor has teamed up with Columbia Records for his latest music endeavor. The grass on new media side of the fence is getting greener but I don't think it's as green as the hype makes it seem (at least not yet).
Andrew, You misunderstand me, which is understandable given the Internet pie-in-the-sky talk that goes on here. But are we really so jaded, that when someone finances a film in day, its just not worth talking about? I don't think its a revolution (dangerous word to use around here) or anything, but I think it'll be a boost to niche production, which I'm all in favor of, especially among some of the more innovative, interesting folks in the already established creative community. I also like the people involved.
[Andrew Kimery] "Old Media success + rabid, installed fan base = crowd source windfall is not formula most people have access to."
Exactly. I totally agree. The truth is that you have to stand out in a way that you can be seen. This is potentially a boost to people who are part of the creative establishment, but who--for one reason or another--are falling through the cracks. BTW, I think the term "old media" is quite a misnomer. "Old" media is actively absorbing "new" media at an astounding rate. I really don't see much of a dividing line anymore.
Anyway, its a pleasure for me to see this happen. Yes, I'm rabid, installed fan base incarnate.
I was impressed both times when Video Game High School blew by its funding goal but, honestly, I am less impressed when something like Veronica Mars or a Tim Schafer project gets funded. Raising over $2 million bucks in a day is of course amazing but the fact that that money is going to fund a Warner Bros movie is, I dunno, weird? According to the KS page, WB gave the campaign their blessing to gauge 'fan interest'. Of course WB gave it their blessing. Fans are paying WB to help fund the movie then WB will charge the same fans to see the movie in theaters! Since KS backers aren't investors this is about as close to free money as WB is ever gonna get.
I agree that crowd funding and social media is expanding the playing field so that projects that wouldn't have had a chance 10yrs ago could get a shot at being made today. I'm not jaded (although considering the years I spent creating content for web-centric companies I should be) but I just have mixed feelings over projects like this getting funded.
[Chris Harlan] "You misunderstand me, which is understandable given the Internet pie-in-the-sky talk that goes on here. But are we really so jaded, that when someone finances a film in day, its just not worth talking about?"
Anything you like or value, or perhaps might be excited about that may differ from established norms; gets put in a grinder and chewed up to be spit back on your plate, predigested, ready for you to take a second helping.
Except for me, of course, I am jade-free.
The plan sounds wonderful and cheers to the future. Perhaps there'll be a "Deadwood" kickstarter campaign hosted by Swearengen to ignite donations in hopes of bringing back the prospectors.
[Jeremy Garchow] "Perhaps there'll be a "Deadwood" kickstarter campaign "
I'd kick in for that.
[Chris Harlan] "I'd kick in for that."
[Chris Harlan] "But are we really so jaded, that when someone finances a film in day, its just not worth talking about?"
Yes, because apparently the lesson to be learned here is that, if your famous and/or have a famous back-catalog property, you too can raise millions on Kickstarter!
Exactly how does this inspire anyone? Oh, it'll "inspire" a lot of people all right, a lot of people who'll put up countless Kickstarter campaigns and raise nothing, because they are unknowns with no established properties to play off of.
It hasn't changed hardly anything for people trying to break in with an original idea, no matter the quality.
[Gary Huff] "It hasn't changed hardly anything for people trying to break in with an original idea, no matter the quality.
I didn't mean to suggest that it had. We talk about the motives and movements of huge corporations on this forum all the time, as if we know and understand them intimately. Can't we talk about a smaller group of business people who've made an interesting lateral move in an arena that has been previously blocked?
[Chris Harlan] " Can't we talk about a smaller group of business people who've made an interesting lateral move in an arena that has been previously blocked?
Of course, I just think it's too early to tell if this is a good example of an interesting lateral move. If the profits end up in the hands of the creator (Rob Thomas) and any cast/crew that agreed to work on deferred/reduced pay in order to keep the budget down then I think this is an interesting concept. If the profits end up at WB then, from my perspective, the fans have quit literally gifted a movie to Warner Brothers.
According to the LA Times article WB is going to cover marketing, promotion and distribution and I wonder how much are they going to charge for those services? If standard 'Hollywood accounting' is used then the production will be charged exorbitant fees by WB ensuring that the movie will never turn a profit on paper. My hesitation is really centered around WB's involvement and that they will manipulate the situation to end up with a pile of cash from a movie that cost them $0 to produce and $0 to acquire.
I think the Shadowrun Returns (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/shadowrun-returns) is a better example of what we are talking about. The original creator wanted to make a new Shadowrun game but he no longer held the IP. He went to KS to raise funds (leveraging the game's existing fan base) to cover licensing the IP from Microsoft, development and distribution. Sans the licensing costs and KS fees all revenue will go to the development team.
[Andrew Kimery] "Of course, I just think it's too early to tell if this is a good example of an interesting lateral move."
Not for me. I'm thrilled that their doing it. I'm a TV fan, a Veronica Mars fan, and, for that matter, a Warner Bros. fan. So, I'm happy. Will it happen again? Who knows. But it is a lateral move, and they DID make it.
[Andrew Kimery] "deferred/reduced pay "
I'm not seeing any mention of this, other than a few bloggers who have made this assumption based on their expectations and nothing else. I'm sure it will be a Guild film. If you actually know differently, clue me in because I'd love to know. I do doubt it though. Will some of the actors take a little less for old time's sake? I have no idea.
[Andrew Kimery] " If standard 'Hollywood accounting' is used then the production will be charged exorbitant fees by WB ensuring that the movie will never turn a profit on paper. "
"Hollywood accounting," especially when done in relationship with a major international corporation, is not what it once was. A lot of light gets poured on the books, and their are reporting requirements that the old, much more insular fiefdoms didn't have to live up to. Besides, I doubt anyone involved in this project is confused by the difference between net and gross.
[Andrew Kimery] " My hesitation is really centered around WB's involvement "
As I said, I'm a Warner Bros. fan, so I really don't have any hesitation.
Like I said, I don't think this is a revolution. I'm just happy about it, think its interesting, and hope more good from it comes down the road. Here's a take from Forbes:
A quick Google search told me that SAG low budget is for pictures $2.5 mil and under and I'm sure that would've made many people work at low-budget scale. With the success of the Kickstarter campaign they are out of low budget SAG scale range though I'm sure normal scale for someone like Kristen Bell would still be south of what she usually makes. I'm not privy to the budget breakdown but we all know that $2 million (the projected budget) doesn't go very far in terms of making a feature film.
Hollywood accounting is still alive and well unfortunately. While judges have not been keen on the accounting practices the light only gets shone on the books when someone sues and the case ends up in court (which can be a costly undertaking in and of itself).
Putting aside your personal feelings for this specific project how do you feel about the overall situation in general? A major studio/label/network/etc., has people pay up front to fund a project, it retains distribution rights so it can profit from the finished work while the people who financed the project receive no share of the profits as their money was a donation not an investment. I'm sure studios would love it if this caught on as it allows them to reap the benefits while taking minimal financial risk (just marketing and distribution costs). Movies financed like this probably don't even need a completion bond as KS has a no refunds policy (even if a backed project never comes to fruition).
Sure, a movie will get made (hopefully it's on the good side of TV shows turned movies) but at what cost?
Andrew, I feel good about it. You've got way too much speculation going on, and I'm just not going to follow you there. Every type of business has examples of questionable or fraudulent business practices from time to time. You do not know the particulars of this deal, and you are assuming a lot of things that you have no evidence for, other than you feel that way about "Hollywood." I don't see a studio the same way you do, because I see it as a whole bunch of different people at work, not as the entity you see it as.
I see a group of people who had a terrific time working together finding a way to fund something they want to do that would otherwise not have gotten funding. You see exploitation. I don't. I think its terrific, and I wish them lots of luck.
[Chris Harlan] " I wish them lots of luck."
Or rather, a broken leg.
[Chris Harlan] "You do not know the particulars of this deal, and you are assuming a lot of things that you have no evidence for, other than you feel that way about "Hollywood.""
I could say the same thing to you. ;)
My feelings about "Hollywood" are just pragmatic expectations based on prior history plus current conditions. The biz has a history of doing its best to mitigate its risk (ex. chasing taxpayer subsidies), maximize its profits (ex. previously mentioned accounting) and squeezing people for all they are worth (ex. current VFX uproar) so I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that a studio would gladly let someone else fund a movie no-strings-attached and gladly take in all the revenue from distributing it.
[Chris Harlan] "I don't see a studio the same way you do, because I see it as a whole bunch of different people at work, not as the entity you see it as. "
On the KS page Rob Thomas only refers to Warner Brothers in a monolithic way so I did as well. If Rob would've said, "Rick at Warner Brothers wanted to gage fan interest..." then I would've said, "Rick at Warner Brothers probably just wanted to see if they could get a couple mil for free." I've worked at some of the biggest media conglomerates on Earth so I understand that they are run and staffed by individuals and don't function like a Borg collective. Sometimes it's just easier to say "Warner Brothers" as opposed to "the people at Warner Brothers making decisions about whether or not there should be a Veronica Mars movie". ;)
Earlier in the thread you said you wanted to talk about "motives and movements" and I feel like I've tried to steer the conversation that way without much success. I'm glad you are excited about it, I hope the movie is great and that the right people get compensated if it does well. I never watched the show and I'm indifferent towards WB so I have no emotional dog in this race. I'm just trying to talk about this situation (given the facts at hand) and even compare it to other similar situations (again, given the facts at hand).