Friday, March 15, 2013

Sci-Fi and Kickstarter

Veronica Mars can do it, can't Clone Wars?
Given the surprising success a few days ago of using Kickstarter to fund a new Veronica Mars movie to the tune of $10 million, some sci-fi fans have thought about starting Kickstarter campaigns for canceled shows like Firefly and now The Clone Wars. In an interview, Joss Whedon explains why Kickstarter might not be sufficient for big-budget sci-fi films and shows.

However, Kickstarter does raise another interesting question - one relevant for this blog. Could Kickstarter be used to make filmmakers financially and politically independent of Hollywood? As I discuss in my "Images of Power" series, Hollywood is often remarkably conservative when dealing with political stories (conservative in the traditional sense rather than meaning Republican).

The Prequel Trilogy was notable in that it seemed critical of democracy and presented a morally ambiguous political atmosphere. But most major movies refuse to venture far outside the boundaries of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and West Wing - the idealistic to the cynical. In fact, one of the most prevalent criticisms of modern Hollywood is that it too often attempts to appeal to the least common denominator.

As Whedon said, Kickstarter probably won't be sufficient to fund big-budget sci-fi films anytime soon (although Veronica Mars' $2.5 million in 24 hours is not insignificant). However, for smaller, independent films, Kickstarter might help give filmmakers more creative freedom. There would might fewer concerns about offending the political sensibilities of portions of the audience.

What would that mean in practice? Who knows, but I'd enjoy finding out.

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