I get it. Borrowed interest is everywhere. You can't escape it. The idea that somehow a Celebrity™ lends credence to your brand--whatever your brand might be--has taken hold. For good or for bad.
Consider this: your OJ Simpsons and Gilbert Gottfrieds became pariahs-- either during or after their service. If it's the latter, then the spokesceleb got fired. If it's the former, well, let's just say Hertz would probably like to bury the fact it employed a notorious alleged murderer and definite robber as its spokesman. Such are the trials and tribulations of the celebrity. Remember, we're talking about people who often need extra insurance or a clause on the contract which state said brand is not responsible for whatever nefarious things occur.
But putting aside potential legal issues, there is also the fact your celebrity might overshadow your client. For the worse.
And now we come to The People's Page: Kickstarter. The oh so lovely crowd funded utopia. Where the Everyman™ can fund their pet projects and bring it to fruition and everyone succeeds and--really, are you still buying this? Everyman? Come on.
Zach Braff, already known for his work on Scrubs and Garden State, a well established TV and movie star, funded his movie to the tune of nearly two and a half million dollars. Veronica Mars took advantage of it, too. It was a successful tv show already. They raised nearly 6 million dollars for their movie. Because they were famous. I almost don't even want to bring up Amanda Palmer, but she is good link bait.
Look: I don't care how they spin it--this is akin to James Cameron applying for a home loan. These are successful people in Hollywood. Millionaires. Fully adept at the process. And they are casting a long shadow over the hard working people who want a break. What's worse-- they are succeeding at the expense of such people. Because they already have a name.
Contrast this to my amazingly talented friend Tess Alexandria. She held a kickstarter and managed to raise the funds to get recording equipment. And she succeeded. To the tune of a little over a thousand dollars. Which of course, Kickstarter sat on for a period of time while they invested it.
Note: If Kickstarter sits on a grand, imagine how long they sit on five million?
Think about the fact that Ken Levine, a writer/director/producer who has worked on Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond and more is calling bullshit on this.
Zach Braff is trying to raise money on Kickstarter to fund a movie he wants to make. Zach Braff is a good actor and a fine filmmaker. Garden State was a terrific movie. But I wouldn’t give him a dime. Why? Because it defeats the whole purpose of Kickstarter.
The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies. Zach Braff has contacts. Zach Braff has a name. Zach Braff has a track record. Zach Braff has residuals. He can get in a room with money people. He is represented by a major taent agency. But the poor schmoe in Mobile, Alabama or Walla Walla, Washington has none of those advantages.
So someone who otherwise might have funded the Mobile kid instead will toss his coins to Zach Braff because he figures it’s a better bet and he gets to rub shoulders with show business.
Too painful? Well, read on if you can.
This is what Hollywood does, dear reader. It sees an opportunity for exploitation and takes it. The Sundance Film Festival is another prime example. At one time it showcased modest little movies by unknown filmmakers. Kevin Smith made CLERKS – a grimy black and white film starring all unknowns. The result was discovered talent. Now look at the festival. Every entry features major Hollywood stars. During the festival they all descend upon Park City, along with Harvey Weinstein, reps from every major studio, and a thousand CAA and William Morris agents. Any hint of the original purpose of the film festival has long since vanished.
And that's the problem. The big celebs and cheapskate production companies have decided to jump on the fundraiser circuit. As if they needed to raise funds.
It bothers me. It should bother you, too. Because the more Kickstarter focuses on the Big Name Celebrities, touting them as success stories, the more folks like Tess Alexandria will get lost in the shuffle. It's kind of like seeing someone in an Audi show up at the Goodwill. Yeah anyone can shop there, but whenever the Audi driver buys something there, there's less choice for people who can't afford to shop elsewhere.
I get the purpose of making the most money possible, but if that's Kickstarter's only motivation then they shouldn't be surprised if small and large creatives talent calls them out on their hypocrisy.
All we can do is try to ignore the rich celebrities using their star power for their own gain and help undiscovered people like Tess realize their dreams. Because Zach Braff really doesn't need any help. And Tess is someone the majority haven't heard of but absolutely need to.
Hollywood elite: stand down. Give the rest of us a chance.
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