While some diehard fans follow the career moves of Twilight Saga cast members with fervor, I find myself more interested with the post-franchise careers of the cast of my favorite movie trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings. Especially the Hobbits. I’ve written often about how Elijah Wood, beyond starring in the FX series Wilfred, has gotten into producing and has turned his Frodo image on its ear with roles like the slasher he plays in Maniac. Dominic Monaghan found his calling on the TV show Wild Things, crawling into godawful places to grab onto dangerous-looking oversized insects and animals. Now, Sean Astin, of Samwise Gamgee fame, has taken to Kickstarter for his passion project. That is hosting Vox Populi, a political interview show on the web. Astin, who still makes his living acting and is currently part of the cast of Guillermo del Toro’s FX pilot The Strain, is looking for $30,000 from Kickstarter to take his web show to the next level. That means hiring a couple of people so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. READ MORE »
Ain’t It Cool News blogger Harry Knowles already has a polarizing rep for getting chummy with the makers of the movies he covers. Now Peter Jackson is the latest high profile filmmaker to throw his support behind a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100K for Knowles’ fanboy talk show. In a video posted today, the Hobbit helmer urges backers to contribute to Knowles’ Kickstarter which is just about $18K shy with a day left to reach its goal. I hear Jackson has not made an official monetary donation to the campaign but other directors including Rian Johnson, Eli Roth, and Guillermo del Toro have backed the project, with del Toro notably donating $5K to the cause.
Investor Leaves Them $250,000 Short; John Herzfeld And Sly Stallone Hope Kickstarter Can Raise Finishing Funds For ‘Reach Me’
EXCLUSIVE: All summer we’ve debated the merits of Kickstarter as Zach Braff, Spike Lee and the makers of Veronica Mars successfully used the mechanism as a way to fill in funding gaps for movies they wanted to make. Well, here’s a new wrinkle: John Herzfeld, who wrote and directed 2 Days In The Valley, 15 Minutes and The Death And Life Of Bobby Z, was already shooting the ensemble film Reach Me when one of his backers fell out to the tune of $250,000. Rather than squash the movie, he, his star Sylvester Stallone and producer Cassian Elwes have made a pitch for the funds through Kickstarter.
With a cast that includes Stallone, Lauren Cohan, Kelsey Grammer, Kyra Sedgwick, Nelly, Entourage‘s Kevin Connolly, True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten, Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore, Elizabeth Henstridge, Terry Crews and Danny Trejo, you wouldn’t imagine they would have any trouble finding the coin for a film about a group of very different people connected by a self-help book written by a reclusive football coach. Herzfeld says he put everything he had into the film and that he and his producers Elwes and Rebekah Chaney went through hell to get this far. Stallone himself does most of the talking in the Kickstarter pitch along with Herzfeld.
Like the celeb crowdfunders who came before him, Spike Lee attracted some criticism when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25M for his next joint. Lee hits back at the haters in a new interview: “I’m bringing to Kickstarter who’ve never even heard …
UPDATE: Spike Lee‘s gotten some Kickstarter love from fellow filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, whom Lee revealed backed his project to the tune of $10K – AKA the “courtside Knicks seats” level of donation. “I can confirm that Steven indeed supports his fellow filmmakers, especially when that support leads to courtside seats for the Knicks,” Soderbergh’s manager Michael Sugar tells me. Lee’s still got 28 days left to raise his goal of $1.25M.
PREVIOUS, 7:01 AM: Spike Lee has joined the likes of Zach Braff and Veronica Mars in going the Kickstarter route to get funding for a film that might not otherwise exist. Lee just started the clock on a 30 day attempt to raise $1.25 million for an untitled movie about human beings who are addicted to blood that he calls “funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not Blacula).” While most Kickstarter solicitations promise crowd funders little more than a seat at the premiere and some tchochkes of negligible value, give Spike credit for digging deep for his biggest benefactors. For bidders who put up $10,000, Lee promises to take each of them to dinner, and that person will then sit beside Lee in his wife Tonya’s courtside seat at a New York Knicks game. That has become a storied, and sometimes infamous spot at the world’s most famous arena, as Spike is to the Knicks what Jack Nicholson is to the Lakers.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s conference coverage.
The Kickstarter model of financing movies was front and center this morning at a Produced By conference panel entitled “The State of Producing — Finding Funding, Lining Up Talent & Securing Screens,” which replaced the scheduled session with Tom Cruise (postponed to next weekend). Before the seats were even warm, producer Stacey Sher (Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction) was quizzed about her groundbreaking Kickstarter effort in April on behalf of Zach Braff that found his project Wish I Was Here meeting its $2 million fundraising goal in a mere four days en route to a 30-day total of $3.1 million from a grand total of 46,520 pledgers). “We were absolutely shocked,” Sher admitted. “We became these people who lived for 30 days under both a microscope and a spotlight. And it was excruciating.” Why “excruciating”? Sher explained that by virtue of being Exhibit A in the new media funding model, the haters were inspired to come out of the woodwork wondering why they deserved this kind of support. But she stressed that the experience has been overwhelmingly encouraging and positive. “The people who backed the film are going through every step of its production with us, with more access to how it’s being put together than some of our interns,” she said. Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad will join Braff in the film about a thirtysomething actor who is trying to figure out who he is.
Kate Hudson has been cast as Zach Braff‘s wife in Wish I Was Here, the indie film Braff will direct that landed funding via Kickstarter in a campaign that surpassed its $2M fundraising goal in three days. Braff wrote the script with his brother Adam. It centers on Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff), a struggling actor, father and husband who at 35 is still trying to find his identity and a purpose for his life. He and his wife (Hudson) are barely getting by financially and Aidan passes his time by fantasizing about being the great futuristic Space-Knight he’d always dreamed he’d be as a little kid. Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad have already joined the cast. Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg are producing the pic through their Double Feature Films.
2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY AM: The prognosticators who’ve been telling me that Kickstarter is a game-changing enterprise for movies, are proving to be so Kreskin-like, I will next challenge them to bend spoons with their brains (dated reference). Just a couple days into his attempt to raise $2 million to finance his film Wish I Was Here, Braff is already up to $1,766,130 and counting, from 25,245 people who’ve committed cash for a variety of tchotchkes. The game plan was to use Kickstarter funding, and foreign sales, to raise the $5 million needed to make the movie. Braff, producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg planned to work practically free, upfront. At this rate, Braff will reach his funding goal by the weekend. And with 28 days to go, they’ll likely wind up with enough dough to fund the whole movie without making pre-sales, and maybe enough to pay participants a little bit. This is startling, that so many people are betting on a filmmaker, and not donating because they just want to see a movie version of a favorite TV show like Veronica Mars.
Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell’s history-making Kickstarter campaign notched its $2M initial goal within 10 hours of launching last month. While that meteoric rate didn’t hold up, the Kickstarter did …
2ND UPDATE, 5:55 PM: It took just 10 hours for Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell‘s Veronica Mars movie to zoom past its Kickstarter goal of $2 million, with a full 30 days to go to raise additional cash on the crowdfunding site. That’s testament to the power of a cult fandom to rally behind a property, even if some are wary of the precedent it sets for studios entering (and profiting from) the crowdfunding space. It will be interesting to see how Warner Bros. pitches in as Thomas eyes a summer start. I’m told the extent of WB’s involvement at present is in aiding with distribution, marketing, publicity and legal via Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, which will help with a limited theatrical release followed by On Demand via cable and satellite providers as well as digital retailers.
PREVIOUS, 12:30 PM: Only four and a half hours into its fundraising campaign, the Veronica Mars movie became the fastest to hit $1 million in Kickstarter history. Tweeted the crowdfunding platform: @kickstarter: Wow. Veronica Mars (@RobThomas @IMKristenBell) reached $1m in 4 hours 24 minutes, a new Kickstarter record. Looks like the cult series could reach its goal even faster than anticipated. $2 million by suppertime?