Crowdsourcing On Steroids, Ctd

Readers keep the popular thread going:

I think most people who “donate” on Kickstarter think of themselves as something like small-scale patrons of the arts. I know it sounds silly when applied to a TV show instead of a symphony or museum, but people with less money and low(er)brow tastes are allowed to donate some of their money towards art too. I agree there are issues here with respect to Warner Bros being a corporate interest that stands to make money off of this, but that’s not really enough in my mind to condem the entire thing. Everyone who donated already knew that.

Another is more skeptical of the movie corporations:

I think supporters of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign are missing what a dangerous precedent it sets. If the studios realize they can mitigate financial risk simply by crowdsourcing funds from the fans of established properties, what’s to stop them doing it for more and more, larger and larger productions? And why stop at production expenses? “Oh no, Firefly fans! We got the new movie made, but we can’t afford to distribute it to theaters! Donate $50 and you get a deluxe Blu-ray!” While I’m sure Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas is not being cynical in this situation, one should never doubt the power of Hollywood studios to cynically manipulate consumers if it means they can save a buck.

Rob Thomas emails the Dish and, in part, addresses our readers’ concerns over corporate influence:

The least important thing I’ll say is this. I am thrilled this debate is happening. I am an avid reader and early subscriber to The Dish. I live on this site. Before we launched the Kickstarter drive, I wondered if there would be a Dish debate about the auspices of the Veronica Mars movie. I am so pleased that there is.

I have likewise followed with great interest the way you handled the transition on the Dish to subscriber service. I knew that they were similar appeals in that both projects have such a community feel to them. We’re very different products, but the people who follow us are devoted. I paid for the subscription for the content, yes, but also because I really wanted it to be successful. I know there’s probably quite a bit of that with our Kickstarter as well.

Other people have made the case effectively that we’re not asking for charity. We’re not asking for people to donate for the greater good. I understand why it is totally appropriate for public television to offer a $5 tote bag for a $100 donation, but it would be unseemly for our project to do that. We’re not. We’re offering great rewards for the pledges.

A script, a T-shirt and a download of the movie for $35? That’s a helluva deal. What we’re doing here is pre-selling the movie. You can think of the Kickstarter page as a store. If you like the product we’re selling, buy in; if not, don’t. What Veronica Mars fans are doing is taking the risk out of making the movie by showing Warner Brothers there is demand for the product. I think everyone wins here. The fans get to see a movie they wouldn’t see otherwise. Kristen Bell and I get to finally make our passion project, and, God-willing, it’s profitable and Warner Brothers makes more movies this way and we get to see more of our favorite titles get a second life.

The other important point I want to make – the studio people I am working with on this? They are not chomping on cigars and demanding to see balance sheets. They want to make this movie. They’re fans of the show. They’re fans of movies in general, and they’re excited about opening up an avenue that could allow them to make more cool projects. There’s actually a lot of bravery on the part of the executives who pushed to make this happen. The easiest thing at a big corporation is to say no. They knew there would be a vigorous debate about this model. They said yes because they believe, at the end of the day, the consensus will be that everyone benefited.

Hey, if Freaks and Geeks follows our model, I will happily pledge whatever I can to make that movie happen.