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Spike Lee's Kickstarter Calls Out the Hollywood Studio System

07.23.13 @ 6:30PM Tags : , , , ,

Spike Lee KickstarterKickstarter has descended upon the consciousness of established filmmakers and it’s here to stay. Today’s high-profile project is none other than the Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint. There are a lot of qualms associated with celebrities using the crowd-funding model, and Spike Lee looks like he’s trying to appeal to some kind of middle ground; calling out the studio system for its perils and explaining that he has a “different vision of what Cinema can be.” Read on to get the scoop.

On his Kickstarter campaign page, Spike shares some of the issues he has about the industry:

With the current climate in The Hollywood Studio System it’s not an encouraging look for Independent Filmmakers. I’m not hating, just stating the facts. 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, too, am sick of tent-poles and explosions, but is Spike offering a solution? His question to his backers is, simply “Do you wish to see Human Beings dealing with each other on a Human Level?”

As far as his film, it’s seemingly an attempt return to his roots (à la She’s Gotta Have It) to make a small, intimate (sanguine) character piece. On one hand, Lee is doing the right thing by utilizing new tools to make a personal film, however, his campaign is vague and has a pronounced lack of specifics. 

Instead of telling us about his project in detail, he’s resting on his past work to drive the campaign. How does this make us feel as backers? Is he merely seizing an opportunity following the trend of other successful celebrity Kickstarters? He tries to put our minds at ease:

I promise on my Mother’s Grave and Right Hand to the Almighty – every Red Cent, every Wooden Nickel, every Dollar will go up on the Screen and not into my pocket. I’m not taking a Fee, your generous contributions will get this Film made.

To me, the fact that he addresses his backers as “Dear Faithful” says it all. He’s testing the trust that he has with his audience, the one he’s built up over his long and fruitful career.

So take a look at his campaign and decide for yourself. As for the perk for a $10,000 pledge, a courtside seat next to Spike at a Knicks game, Lee adds “P.S. Knicks will be great this coming season.”

What do you think about Lee’s campaign? Join the discussion below.


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  • The problem with celebrity Kickstarters is that KS only works because it’s an open market that is dominated by independent creators who can get their message to a large audience. Once it gets flooded with big money corporate entities, Indies will, again, not be noticed. Just like they’re not noticed in any other online marketing platform.

    What happens when the Design category of Kickstarter has three hundred IKEA products being launched? Or when Nabisco takes up a third of the Food category? Do you think the mom+pop gourmet baklava bakery will have a chance in hell then? This is what is going to happen to the Film/Video section. How many pages of multi-million dollar studio projects is someone going to browse through before they happen upon your ping-pong documentary? Go through the Top 100 Actors list and imagine each of them launching a KS campaign for their pet project every studio has turned down.

    It was nice while it lasted.

  • My issue with Kickstarter isn’t the people seeking free money despite already having huge resources, it’s the fucking smucks that donate money to a commercial enterprise and receive nothing back.

    If my $10 donation gets me a streaming copy of the film then that might be considered a fair deal.

  • The fact is he has a name, a track record, huge connections and actual money. Why can’t he make whatever pet project he wants without stealing our thunder? He should be mentoring young filmmakers, not competing with them for attention and financing.

    • That’s because Spike doesn’t have the clout that he use to have. Over the years he’s made a lot of enemies and has burned bridges within the studios ( especially Warner Brothers). Sure, He’s had sucess sure and has made a lot lf money and will allways have his supporters, but he’ll never be what he was 20+ years ago.

    • I so agree with you! First of all Spike Lee really is Pro Black as he loves to use that approach..I’m a Black Man myself his 40acres and a mule trust me if he was given that lets see how many Afro Americans he would invite to live on his acres how many people he would let crop with the mule.

      The answer is none because the majority of Black actors and actress in hollywood. Spike has overlooked to work on many of his projects. He’s a hypocrite in every sense. Not once have we seen a report about Spike being bankrupt so he should have his own money.

      He’s so flamboyant to point all all the movies he made as if we didn’t know how to google that. He’s using the same tactics of deceptions that has been used for many years including trickory. His intention is solely arrogance entirely.

  • Matt Stevens on 07.24.13 @ 12:27PM

    Well some many celebrity Kickstarters, his is not off to a great start. Frankly speaking, he can pay for this on his own. he’s beyond wealthy. Channing Tatum teamed up with SS to co-finance Magic Mike and made out just fine. I really do believe Kickstarter is going to be ruined by names taking it over, leaving the smaller folks out of the loop yet again.

  • The first and only thing I wanted to look at when loading the kickstarter page was how many projects Spike Lee has backed himself. I figured, if he truly loves independent film and thinks kickstarter is a good way to do so, he will have a strong track record. And if I can see that he is supporting others with his immense success, then maybe I’ll chip in for his.

    “0 projects backed.”

    Screw you, Spike. Fund your own damn film.

    • Great, great point. I hope that everyone sees that you pointed this out.

    • Would love to see this point added to the main article!

    • @Brian wow, very very good point, it would be interesting to see how many celebrities backed other independant kickstarter campaigns, most probably dont give a damnn.

      I am a black man and i personally feel like ” FCUK SPIKE LEE and any other celebrity regardless of race that is trying to get a kickstarter campaign funded.

      I Believe and this is just my opinion, i believe that kickstarter campaigns should be left for the little guys, the people who do not have the connections, agents, resources, or other associations that other celebrities have at their feet.

      What spike lee needs to do is pocket some of the CASH from side line NEW YORK KNICKS tickets , he evven travels to miami for sideline tickets. Honestly the knicks aint going nowhere no time soon, or better yet SPIKE LEE should do another VODKA campaign if he is short on cash.

    • To play devil’s advocate – he did just recently join Kickstarter. And it’s clear from his pitch video he has yet to master its finer details.

      • @Joe he may have just joined kickstarter as a non backer to deliver his film, but nothing has stopped him from joining in the past as just a backer or lover of great films. Honestly maybe he should have did his research or joined earlier and backed other projects prior to begging for money.

        At the end of the day ” IT is what it is”, he has tons of money, he owns several SONY F3′S that he bought from ALBECINE, not to mention he has all the connections/clout to get access to complete his documentary on his own, which he could eventually shop around once the film is complete.

        Spike asking for 1 million plus on kickstarter for a film is a complete joke

        • I think it is only a joke if he doesn’t get the 1.25 Million…

          And in Spike’s own words,

          “Going into this I was well aware that there would be Haters. They were Hating that an established Filmmaker (Worth 40 Million – A LIE) would be on Kickstarter. But I have every right as anybody else. I’m an Independent Filmmaker and I wanted to try this.”

          I may or may not be donating to him but I believe he has every right to use Kickstarter to get donations where the subscribers decide.

          • I don’t disagree with you, I just won’t be giving him any of my money.

    • Yes Case closed with your statement. There should be no more discussions about Spike. he’s never donated a “Wooden Nickel” as he stated what he would use. I’m sure he would when it’s not at his expense. Again he’s a Hypocrite and he’s no different than some crooked hollywood suits. He’s just in Black skin. He’s a hater and when he started hating on Tyler Perry this is when I knew I was done with his crap.

      By the way do you see Tyler Perry jumping on Kick Starter? NO because he uses his own money and other resources. Spike is basically on his last leg. The majority of his latest films flopped in the box office. Basicall he should just follow his own title ” DO THE RIGHT THING” and get out the movie industry you fraud.

  • Ethically wrong. Kickstarter is for those who don’t have the funds. It’s an indie platform. Spike has the dosh (money), the guy’s stinking rich, he just wants to gamble with other peoples money, money that could go towards funding indie films.

    And if he succeeds, profits from his venture, then where’s the profits going ?.. to top up his already overflowing bank account. How about this… make your film then reinvest all the profits into other indie kick-starter projects.

    Take a little – give a lot.

    • Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. It says nothing about morality of who gets to be creative and who does not. “Anyone can launch a project on Kickstarter as long as it meets our guidelines.” Spike Lee meets their guidelines.

  • Indie doesn’t automatically = good. Let’s get that out of the way up front. In fact, I’m even more pissed off when I see a bad indie film because indie filmmakers talk the most shit about quality and good storytelling.

    Kickstarter is based on DONATIONS. To my knowledge, no one who contributes gets any part of the profits. The same would be true if I funded your low budget, “more deserving” project. To say Spike Lee is taking money away from smaller campaigns is ludicrous. That’s like saying Beyonce is taking money away from my techno band because they promote her album on the iTunes home page. Some people are swayed by celebrity status. Most people give money to things that interest them. Be interesting.

    The number of talented people in the world doesn’t change with the falling price of gear or easier access to funds. By definition, the majority of filmmakers are average. It’s impossible for everyone to be above average, yet, if you took a poll on NFS, I’m sure you’d find most people think they are. Like him or not, Spike Lee is a better filmmaker than most people. You should be more afraid of that.

    I won’t be donating to his film. I probably won’t be donating to your oft-told coming-of-age tale either.

  • Spike Lee is a great filmmaker, but anti-Hollywood Studio System? Really?……

    He is remaking OLDBOY……….That is all.

  • People should really read the WHAT IS KICKSTARTER PAGE before bemoaning the death of crowdfunding. A few key points:

    ANYONE can launch a project on Kickstarter as long as it meets our guidelines.

    Backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not to profit financially.

    We’re a for-profit company based in New York City’s Lower East Side. If a project is successfully funded, we apply a 5% fee to the funds collected.

  • Celebrities finding funding for projects on Kickstarter isn’t harming anyone. If anything, it’s bringing more people to Kickstarter to find your project and help fund it. If you’re complaining, you’re either jealous or lack confidence.

  • I think celebrities should personally match what they receive in KS funds. Example. If they need 500k, they should put in 250k.

  • yeah, he can beg for money to make movies about how racist white people are

    • Yeah, he’s been singing the same old song for 25 years. To Spike lee all whites are racist… such a douchebag

      • Yeah… I’m not white so I don’t know how you guys feel when he says stuff about the white race, but I do know he’s a racist and it’s sick to see people backing him. It’s wrong and he’s a celebrity, so he shouldn’t be pretending to hate Hollywood

  • Another day, another millionaire filmmaker begging for free money… some shameful shit right there. Spike Lee would be the last filmmaker I’d give money to.

  • There are 300 million plus people in the US, another 250 million on North America and 730 million in Europe. That’s 1.3 BILLION people between North America and Europe alone. If just ONE HALF of ONE percent contributed $.50 to a campaign, that’s $32,000,000. No one is stealing anyone’s thunder by starting a Kickstarter campaign. There is plenty of people, resources and donations out there if you structure your campaign correctly.

  • For $10,000 you get to go 1 NY Knicks game with him! Wow, such a great deal. Can’t help but to think if he sold his court side seats, he could afford to make his movie…

    • Great point Kent if Spike sold his seasons courtside seat he would be able to fund his own film.
      People are idiots and so nieve to support this junky.

  • Man, I feel a lot of different ways about this. I personally don’t think any professionals should be allowed on Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go, NONE. They have broken thru the Hollywood barrier, they know people, ask THEM for money, you get our money what the thing is done. But then, despite some issues I’ve had with current works of Spike, NOT participating in his fund speaks to a larger socio-ethnic problem of African Americans not supporting each other. And I know some of you are going to be like,” Awwww here we go with the race….” STOP. It is a sad but real truth. Veronica Mars….really? Hey, I get it, donation, their money, their choice. But really, It doesn’t matter whether it was a good show or not, people should think about the fact that not did they take care of Hollywood imposed bills, (and believe me if they only knew the types of things the producers will spend that money on that are not necessarily a necessity) but then those will be the same folks that spend for over priced movie tickets just to see it! And we worry about govt. overspending? Then again, I admit that sometimes I look at other projects on those websites and I’m like, “Nope, nope, no, no, no.” I rarely see anything I want support so is it wrong to go with a professional production with a proven track record “the SAFE bet, so to speak”? Damn. I really hate the idea of Spike doing OLDBOY, but I’ve got to support him because its supporting an established Filmmaker of color, better a Spike Lee Joint than a Veronica Mars movie! Its the right thing to do, Black Power, sho-nuff ya dig…..LOL! See what I mean? Pro’s, do us a favor and just stay away.

  • Lie the rest of us I have mixed feelings about celeb KickStarter campaigns. I had a look at Spike Lee’s.

    What surprised me above everything is he hasn’t backed a single previous campaign! That’s a pretty poor show.

  • Like the rest of us, I have mixed feelings about celeb KickStarter campaigns. I had a look at Spike Lee’s.

    What surprised me above everything is he hasn’t backed a single previous campaign! That’s a pretty poor show.

  • Spike Lee is popular enough to find any Indy investor he probably wants. $1.2M is not a lot of money relatively speaking. But It’s FREE, easy, no hassle money from fans. That’s what makes KS suddenly alluring to “celebrities.”

  • This stupid trial refuses to die.

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