Tag Archives: Shitstarter

Melissa Can’t Explain It at All: The Real Reason Why Melissa Joan Hart’s Kickstarter Project Failed

darciSeveral days ago I argued that Hollywood stars should be forced to used Kickstarter to fund their projects. It was in response to Ken Levine’s post decrying Zach Braff’s use of the fundraising site for his latest proposed project.

One Hollywood star who took up the Kickstarter idea was Melissa Joan Hart, who was best known for starring in ABC’s “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” She just canceled her Kickstarter for a proposed film project called Darci’s Walk of Shame after raising only 2.6% of her goal of $2 million.

We didn’t launch it correctly. What we failed to do was let the fans know exactly what the project was. If we were to go back, what I would do is either shoot five minutes of the movie or have a full cast. We thought we could do it based on ‘Hey, here’s Melissa. You’ve liked what she’s done, check out what she’s going to do next.

Hart, along with entertainment writers blogging on this catastrophe, emphasized the promotional approach as to why the fundraiser failed. Seemingly taking the cues, she explained to the Los Angeles Times:

“We didn’t give them the two things it takes to sell a movie: a poster and a trailer,” she said. “I really think that’s where we missed the boat.”

That might be true for sci-fi, horror and sexploitation. Indeed, a poster was a starting point in developing some classic films from American International Pictures.

But we’re talking a different type of movie here, and the big problem was that it had to be explained to someone other than a Hollywood exec who can just throw a check your way and think nothing else of it. Hart had to explain it to us. Most of us don’t have the expendable cash to give for what comes off in the Kickstarter description as a vanity project.

Other entertainment blogs can talk about her lack of a trailer, poster, her non-cult celeb status or even the goofy promise of following an investor on Twitter for a year, but what was the real reason this Kickstarter failed?

The premise sucked. It sucked lemons. HARD.

I urge you to click here and read the description for yourself if you haven’t already. If I had any potential money invested in this particular project, I would have asked the following questions:

1) “Darci Baker is a thirty-something schoolteacher who’s really looking forward to traveling with her boyfriend to attend her sister’s wedding in Thailand.”

Was there any footage of how Darci was able to afford a trip to Thailand on a teacher’s salary, or did she have a second and/or third job we don’t know about?

2) And why Thailand? Is that why the goal was set at $2 million? How is the exotic locale going to play as a character and not just wallpaper in a movie about a woman who travels thousands of miles to have a one-night stand? And in that context, why choose a country notorious for its sex trafficking? Will Gary Glitter make a cameo?

3) In the description, Darci is 30+ years old, lost her job, lost her boy friend to infidelity and somehow still has to explain herself to her family and friends about not having a casual fling? Is this a supposed model for independent women? Are you sure she’s 30? With this build up, the film that should have been pitched was Darci’s Walk of Fuck Y’All, I’m Gonna Make Jenna Jameson Look Like a Nun.

4) So what’s the conclusion after the “Walk of Shame?” Darci says a few lines and that’s it? Because that seriously should mean the end of the movie and she can run off with that waiter and open a Thai dating service. (Was I close to guessing the end of the movie?)

This premise was a turd so terrible that Meryl Streep couldn’t get it funded if she offered to drop salary for it. The Kickstarter went exactly as it should have and helps prove the point I made earlier that the stars should come to us directly for their next pitches. Hart came to us and we responded with a resounding ‘NO!”

If Katherine Heigl made other movies just like the description of Darci’s Walk of Shameas IndieWire suggested, it should give Hart hope. Some Hollywood dumbass with a checkbook is bound to come up with the green for this lousy idea. Who knows? Maybe the publicity with this Shitstarter is enough to get a cable TV movie deal in the works. That way, the investment pain is spread evenly and “silently” to all cable subscribers.

 

 

Ken Levine is Wrong: Zach Braff Should Be Forced to Use Kickstarter. Here’s Why…

Make him do it.

Make him do it.

Ken Levine wrote a blog post that went viral about how Zach Braff shouldn’t use Kickstarter, because he’s too well connected to use a fundraiser site meant for the starving artist. I understand the argument, but this notion that Kickstarter is cloaked in some golden glow of altruism is rather laughable.

Kickstarter is fundraising tool, not a shrine shut off to all but members only. Of course someone well off is going to eventually try his or her hand at it, if not Zach Braff, then someone else. Mr. Levine also has to remember that Kickstarter is not only used by struggling artists, but also by those who want investors for new products. Indeed, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns is for an E-Paper Watch, which garnered over 10,000% of the original goal.  It’s ludicrous to believe that tech companies won’t take notice and, if they do, expect to be warded off by hordes of  “indie investors” or their supporters crying foul.

If Ken Levine is so incensed by a well-off Hollywood type asking for money, then the best advice is the one he’s already following: don’t give money.  There are Kickstarters that fail–I would introduce Ken to the wonderful and hilarious Shitstarter, which compiles truly awful Kickstarter campaigns. If starry-eyed people want to waste their hard-earned dollars on big name projects, because they naively hope, as Levine infers, that they’ll hobnob and dine with the Hollywood elites, let them. To quote Suzanne Finnemore, “Delusion detests focus and romance provides the veil.”

I am, in fact, completely in favor of more transparency with investment monies given to movies. I want Zach Braff, Harvey Weinstein or any other Kickstarter recipient to answer from groups of investors when he makes a shitty movie. Having Kickstarter investors actually feel the loss of a bad investment I think is a good thing. Hollywood films are so divorced from your own artistic hunger and are so perfectly and systematically distanced from you personally that your only recourse for bad cinema is badmouthing it to your friends, skewering it publicly on blogs or asking for your money back from the cinema (good luck with that).

You shouldn’t have to hound the theater for your $12 back. You and other fellow investors should be able to follow the producer in every public appearance and ask why he took your investments and turned them in dogshit. Turn his next PR appearance into a townhall meeting shitstorm demanding your investment back. You probably won’t get it, but the headlines will certainly bite the producer in the ass. Let those producers know that if they invest via Kickstarter, they’ll be playing a different game. Not one which checks are written in closed rooms without a second thought given to the outcome, but instead one where the producers will be quite intimidated by average Joes to whom they’ll have to answer.

Levine is right about helping out independent filmmakers whenever possible. It’s a great idea. But even here, he misses the point on how to best do this.

Just as you can do for your produce, for the best arts results–go local.

Here in Chicago, I know two filmmakers who made feature length films for very little money. They, instead, used the time, energy and geniuses of other talents to make great looking films like The Pink Hotel and Sci Fi Sol (disclosure: the latter film is a production of this site, The Underground Multiplex).  Chris Hefner, the director of The Pink Hotel and the upcoming The Poisoner, told me in an interview that he made both features for practically nothing. Instead of a lot of cash, he bartered goods and services and even gained the assistance of an alderman who knows the value of having great art created locally.

The biggest mistake we can keep telling future filmmakers is that the only way to make feature films is to chase money. Don’t get me wrong, Kickstarter and other online fundraisers are great. But convincing artists that this method, or pitching movies with the big boys via festivals are the only ways to get your movie made is being disingenuous.  With technology and resources available to make movies very cheaply (we made Sisters of No Mercy 3D, a feature-length film for less than $200), this endeavor is open to more people with more ideas and more stories to tell than ever before. The real trick is to get the audience deeply engaged and the best way to do that is to find your local artists and filmmakers, meet them and support them and your local indie theaters.

Lew Ojeda
(I’ll be presenting a wild show on Saturday night, May 11th in Chicago, “The Ben & Arthur Interactive Cinematic Experience, or Can a Cult Movie Sensation Be Created?” Click on this link for more details and to attend. Click on this link for the promo video.)