Spike Lee is financing his next film on Kickstarter. The famed director launched a crowdfunding campaign today to raise $1.25 million directly from his fans so he can bypass the Hollywood studio system and create a movie about human beings “who are addicted to blood.”
Spike Lee is not the typical Kickstarter campaign owner. He has released over 20 films and received two Academy Award nominations, an Emmy award, and recognition from international film organizations. He addresses provocative topics dealing with race, urban crime, poverty, and politics, and his career has been both controversial and successful.
Kickstarter was founded as a way to help creative people get projects off the ground. Its film and video section primarily features projects from people without big names or lengthy careers who don’t have access to Hollywood studios and money. However, that’s changing this year, as the Veronica Mars Movie Project raised $5.7 million and Zach Braff raised $3.1 million for his film, Wish I Was Here. Lee, along with these creators, saw Kickstarter as a way to raise money without sacrificing creative control of their films.
“With the current climate in The Hollywood Studio System, it’s not an encouraging look for Independent Filmmakers,” Lee said on the campaign page. “Super Heroes, Comic Books, 3D Special EFX, Blowing up the Planet Nine Times and Fly through the Air while Transforming is not my Thang. To me it’s not just that these Films are being made but it seems like these are the only films getting made. To The Studios it seems like every Film must be a Home run on a Global scale, a Tent Pole Enterprise, able to spin off Sequel after Sequel after Sequel after Sequel after Sequel after Sequel. I have a different vision of what Cinema can be, a different vision of what some underserved Audiences might want to see.”
The major film studio system consists of six media corporations (Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal, Fox Entertainment, Paramount) that command approximately 90 percent of the U.S. and Canadian box offices. Independent filmmakers operating outside the system tend to make films with considerably lower budgets, but they are able to pursue their personal artistic vision and include content that wouldn’t appeal to the mainstream. The indie film movement rose to popularity in the 1990s, but finding someone to fund your movie when you are unknown or have limited experience remains a challenge.
In Lee’s case, the challenge is not finding someone to believe in his vision. He has a proven track record and a large following. Lee, and probably many celebrities to follow, instead turn to Kickstarter as a way to assert their voice outside of Hollywood, explore new methods or hot button topics that may make studios nervous, and forge a deeper connection with their fans.
Lee did not reveal too many details about the film in his campaign page. We know that it will likely be bloody and filled with “explosions with ear-splitting sound effects.” The campaign started today and raised just over $4,000 at the time of publishing.