What an exciting time to be an artist, writer, film maker. Not to mention all those other professions or hobbies where imagination reigns.
This afternoon a friend and I regaled each other with stories about the way our beloved publishing profession has changed. Even though publishers don’t always acknowledge this, no longer do authors listen and nod when they’re told what to write, how to write it and for what audience. While most of us continue to respect the publishing houses and professionals we’ve worked with, we know there are other viable ways to publish our work. Some people even believe “better” ways. We’re watching closely.
But that’s not the point of this blog. I want to talk about one of my favorite television shows, Veronica Mars, and an exceptional, powerful new idea called Kickstarter, which is really a symptom of change and an outcome.
Here’s Kickstarter’s own definition of who they are and what they do:
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $500 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects. If you like stats, there’s lots more.
So what does this mean and where does the money come from? Well, anybody with a truly wonderful idea can try to raise money to fund it on Kickstarter. The money? Well, that comes from you and me. It’s called crowdfunding. That’s right. If you believe in a project and want it to become a living, breathing entity, then you pledge money to see that dream come true. A little, most likely. Sometimes a whole lot.
Crazy, right? Crazy fabulous.
Kickstarter has launched more than 91,000 projects with nearly half of them a success. By the way, if you look at the stats you’ll see that over 10,000 of these were publishing projects, and 24,000+ were film projects. Success means the artist/writer/producer raised what he or she set out to raise or more. Can you the donor waste your money? No, because if a project doesn’t meet it’s goal, the money is never collected.
Now, about Veronica Mars? If you were a fan–I came to it late on Netflix–then you know that the series was on the Warner Bros. channel for three seasons. Veronica is the daughter of Keith Mars who’s a sheriff and later, after he lands in trouble, a private investigator. Veronica, a high school senior, is a modern day Nancy Drew, and boy, does she have a lot of material to work with in snooty Neptune, California. But the series is wickedly clever; the repartee some of the best on television, and the characters are engaging to the max. Why the show never caught on enough to warrant more seasons is hard to explain. Veronica did go to college in the last season, and after that she was clearly heading for the FBI. So why didn’t we get to see it?
Well, now we just might. Veronica Mars, the movie, is now a Kickstarter project, and holy moly, is it going to town! As I write this the movie has nearly 60,000 backers, and 100 of them have pledged $1,000. In fact the thousand dollar category’s closed now.
The hope was to raise two million dollars. So far they’ve raised almost TWICE that much, and the fund raising continues until April 12th.
In the words of Rob Thomas, the guy behind all this: Kristen and I met with the Warner Bros. brass, and they agreed to allow us to take this shot. They were extremely cool about it, as a matter of fact. Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board. So this is it. This is our shot. I believe it’s the only one we’ve got.
Kristen, of course, is Kristen Bell, Veronica herself.
So there you have it. Fans funding the projects they want to see. A new era for the arts? I hope so. Because when it comes right down to it, Kickstarter is a sign of the times. The arts are undergoing a revolution. Not all of that will be good or result in quality work, but some will change the creative world as we know it.
Now, if you excuse me, I have to donate some money. I can’t help myself. I’m dying to see this movie.