Shockingly, Kickstarter Doesn't Work For Every Movie (Psst: Neither Does The Old System)

from the pointless-articles dept

Internet contrarian Evgeny Morozov has built something of a career out of being the online curmudgeon du jour when it comes to being skeptical about those who see benefits and opportunity on the internet today. So it comes as little surprise that he's now turned his "hype deflater ray" on Kickstarter, in an article for Slate that tries to bash Kickstarter for not funding every possible movie. I'm not joking. That's about the extent of the critique. He cites a study that finds that certain types of movies do well on Kickstarter (and other similar platforms), while others don't. Uh. Yeah.
...this revolution has a few mitigating circumstances. First, Kickstarter might produce many new documentaries, but the odds are that those documentaries will be of a very particular kind (this critique also applies to other sites in this field like indiegogo.com, sponsume.com, crowdfunder.co.uk, pledgie.com). They are likely to be campaign and issue-driven films in the tradition of Super Size Me or An Inconvenient Truth. Their directors seek social change and tap into an online public that shares the documentary's activist agenda. A documentary exploring the causes of World War I probably stands to receive less—if any—online funding than a documentary exploring the causes of climate change.
I see. And does the "old" system of Hollywood regularly make documentaries exploring the causes of World War I? I'm really not sure I understand how this is a criticism at all. Unless a platform can fund any and all types of movies, it's not really that big of a deal? Under those conditions, nothing is particularly good. Basically, what this paragraph seems to argue is that, "gee, Kickstarter is good at funding projects that lots of people want to see, but not so good at funding projects that people aren't as interested in." I'm not sure that's a critique. It seems to be the purpose of the site itself.
Second, some films require significant startup costs (think drama-documentaries or history movies) or involve considerable legal risks that may be hard to price and account for. Say you are making a film that includes an undercover investigation of the oil industry. When you have the BBC's lawyers backing you up, you'll probably take many more risks than when you are relying on crowdfunding. But if Kickstarter is your platform of choice, you'll probably forgo venturing into the thorny legal issues altogether.
I'm curious to know if there's any actual evidence to support this argument. One could just as easily claim that when your project has the backing of a big corporation with liability-averse lawyers, you're a lot less likely to be allowed to take risks, than when you rely on crowdfunding. I don't know which is true (though having spent too much time around movie industry lawyers, I'm pretty sure my statement is a hell of a lot more accurate than Morozov's), but where is the actual data to support this bizarre claim?

There are further complaints that seem equally silly. For example, Morozov points out that someone raised money on Kickstarter to help get his film on physical screens in movie theaters -- and that's somehow proof that Kickstarter isn't that special, since the "old" way of showing a movie is still involved. I'm at a loss as to how any of this is mutually exclusive. There is nothing inherent to Kickstarter that says if you use it, you can only do things online. What's wrong with using it to show a film in theaters?

All in all, this seems a lot like Morozov set up what he thinks Kickstarter should be about -- and then knocked that down. In the logical fallacy world, that's known as a strawman.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Tim K (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 7:43am

    Crazy

    Woah woah woah, you mean to tell me you can't get funding from people for something people aren't interested in?!?! Screw it, let's scrap kickstarter, clearly it's a flawed source of funding. We Need something that will account for things people have no interest in seeing or that have been done 100 times over.

     

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  2.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    "When you have the BBC's lawyers backing you up, you'll probably take many more risks than when you are relying on crowdfunding."
    Someone's misinformed what those BBC lawyers are there for.

    It's not to back up a filmmaker, but to tell them "Now, we see there's a billboard in the background. Remove it. There's a GM logo. Make sure it's gone, too. See that woman? She looks like a Kardashian. Edit her face."

    To think lawyers are out to protect anyone makes the statement a comical farce of how reality works.

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    Re: Crazy

    Well, they're no threat to Hollywood, which makes movies people don't want to see all the time.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    I see. And does the "old" system of Hollywood regularly make documentaries exploring the causes of World War I?

    Don't you get the History Channel, Military Channel, Pentagon Channel, Discovery Channel and PBS where you live?

     

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  5.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    It's sad that Techdirt has to post so much common sense because of common sense being in such short supply.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Crazy

    Well, they're no threat to Hollywood, which makes movies people don't want to pay for all the time.

    FTFY. You're welcome.

     

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  7.  
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    Tim K (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    They make plenty of really terrible, awful movies that nobody wants to see. They also do make movies that plenty of people want to pay for, like Avengers, Batman, Harry Potter, and all those others that continually break box office records.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:32am

    Re:

    What does the History Channel have to do with World War I?

    Or is World War I some sort of code name for some ancient alien civilization?

     

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  9.  
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    A Dan (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    Just because you can see John Carter for free doesn't mean you want to.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    That's what ChurchHatesTucker said.

    We don't want it, so we don't pay for it. Duh!

     

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  11.  
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    Donglebert the Magnificent, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    There's also...

    "looked at 47,000 Kickstarter projects and found that more than 75 percent deliver with delays."


    Without questioning what the percentage of traditionally funded start ups deliver with delays. I'd suggest that percentage is no better or worse.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    Oh but they do want it. They just don't want to pay for it. Derp on, AC!!!

     

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  13.  
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    iambinarymind (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:59am

    Microsoft's Windows 8 won't save hot dogs...

    While Microsoft Windows 8 may have the ability to run various software packages (i.e. Word, Steam, Internet Explorer), the truth is it will not create a hot dog that I can then consume for dinner.

    PC software is great and all, but just think about the various up and comers in the sausage industry.

    Who is going to save my weenie?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:00am

    You mean its not completely risk free while working for everyone? Geez this is nuts. Honestly though if you failed then you'd likely have failed using traditional method as well.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    And you have evidence of all this? Irrefutable evidence that says the majority don't want to pay for it but do want it?

    We'll wait while you present it...

    Also not paying for it is different than not valuing it at all or having decided that the content is not worth the value being asked and so on and so forth.

    But I digress. I eagerly await your evidence to support the statements you have already made. Can't wait to see it.

     

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  16.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re:

    On the History Channel? If that's was the case I think it would be a reality show following red necks that work in an army surplus store. Perhaps pitting them up in a competition with another nearby army surplus store to see who can sell more crap. They would ensure that there is a father-son love hate relationship, the son would likely have a girlfriend/wife that constantly berates him. I guess they could make the girlfriend/wife have a strained relationship with his parents. Throw in some other artificial drama for the cameras. Voila, you have yourself a new series for the History Channel. =P

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    If that was true, the entire movie industry would've imploded a long time ago.

    Recent statistics suggest that it is not even close to imploding. And bear in mind that we are going through a global recession. The kind that makes unemployment rates in some first world countries go over 20%.

    But I understand that it is more comfortable to hang on to the piracy misconception to explain our lack of success, rather than to admit that we have no talent or business sense. Hurts less when it is someone else's fault.

     

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  18.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    I think common sense started to suffer as soon as somebody came up with the idea of trying to fool-proof everything. If we stopped trying to protect the stupid people from themselves and let nature take it's course, I'm sure common sense would make a come back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re:

    Silly AC. You must be under the impression that the History Channel is about history.

    The History Channel is about junk dealers. Their main lineup features a pawn shop, a Cajun pawn shop, junk pickers, restoring junk, and restoring junk cars.

    In fairness, they are diversifying a little. They also feature some shows that illustrate that it is really cold when you get above the arctic circle. Last year they were featuring shows that make you glad that you don't hunt alligators, but I guess people picked up on that point after a couple of seasons.

     

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  20.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:19am

    I think that Morozov's real complaint is that they tend to fund movies that don't agree with his political beliefs.

     

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  21.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    He has the stub for the movie ticket that you didn't buy, duh!

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Pretty much everything you write should go into the "pointless articles" department.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:19pm

    He's basically saying that kickstarter is a liberal activist's wet dream.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Keroberos (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    In other news, a new study shows that water is wet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The History Channel, The channel that is trying to get into the history books for being the network that broadcasted a reality show for every blue collar profession...

    Come watch out new series Garbage Collectors, depicting the realities of people working in the refuse collection business. Followed by, The Porcelain Kings. Follow the exciting adventure of father and son as they install toilets across America. Next week make sure you catch People Movers, where we observe the day to day interactions of a Greyhound bus driver as he takes passangers from Seattle to New York...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    OH MY GOD! When did that happen? Why didn't anyone tell me in my hiding spot under this rock?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:17pm

    Re:

    Right back at ya.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:23am

    Re:

    "From the pointless comment dept"...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    bratwurzt (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Crazy

    Recent statistics? Links or it didn't happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 2:52am

    Re: Microsoft's Windows 8 won't save hot dogs...

    sudo: save this weenie

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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