Kickstart This

Charlie Kaufman and Dan Harmon’s New Project Hits Kickstarter

Some of the best and brightest talent shrugs off the mainstream for fan-lead funding.

Kickstarter is looking more and more like the place for top talent to find production outside of the creative limits of studio systems and record labels. Earlier this week, a release went out heralding the arrival of neo-soul legend Cody Chestnutt’s first album in a decade, funded through Kickstarter. Today, it’s Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, teaming up with the ousted showrunner of Community for a new movie through the crowdfunding platform.  

NBC’s Community was a show kept alive by a rabid fan following who nearly read the network the riot act when showrunner Dan Harmon was ousted from his own production, which will continue for one more season.

Meanwhile, Charlie Kaufman is the kind of screenwriter and director whose unfiltered creative process no doubt scares most of Hollywood’s “creative execs”—or the studio suits who give screenwriters “studio notes” on how to give their material “more shape” (i.e. more marketability)—out of their skin. In the age of Transformers 3, it’s sometimes amazing that his films, which are almost always critically lauded, have even been made.

It’s not surprising that this higher-profile material is beginning to find its way onto Kickstarter. Their statement for Anomalisa‘s presence on Kickstarter reads:

Our goal is to produce this unique and beautiful film outside of the typical Hollywood studio system where we believe that you, the audience, would never be allowed to enjoy this brilliant work the way it was originally conceived. We’ve been working in the television and movie industry for years and we just want to make something ourselves. Something pure. Something beautiful.

There’s a slight point to be made in opposition to the presence of projects like these, however: Is Kickstarter big enough to hold both big name creative endeavors and those users who aspire to get their ideas funded who haven’t achieved some modicum of fame already? Moreover, are those who would fund either project carrying wallets big enough to push both?

Watching the two sort each other out—as well as the work of boldfaced-named funders’ and creators’ labors on the service come to fruition—is going to be a hell of a thing to watch. For the fans, sure, but especially for the studios and labels these artists are shrugging off, who are probably paying as much attention as your average rabid fanboy to the way this all plays out.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek

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