[Choking up] "I would like to thank Kickstarter. Without crowdfunding, I wouldn't be here today."
For some Oscar-nominated films, the thanks won't be doled out to Aunt Sally ("who always believed in me") or the significant other ("who supported me every step of the way"). This year, it's Kickstarter that's poised to receive a record number of acknowledgements from the podium. The streaming platform facilitated funding for three Oscar-nominated projects, two of which are helmed by high-profile directors.
It seems the crowdfunding future has fully arrived. We're ready to embrace it, even if it means sitting twice as long through movie credits.
Nomination: Best Animated Feature
5,770 backers pledged $406,237 — twice the Kickstarter campaign original goal — to bring Charlie Kaufman's stop-motion Anomalisa to life. Though these figures didn't fully fund the $8 million film, the producers wound up meeting their eventual financier through the Kickstarter platform, Dan Schoenbrun, Kickstarter's Film Outreach Lead, told us at Sundance this year.
The Anomalisa campaign was a considerable achievement given its esoteric subject material ("about a man crippled by the mundanity of his life"). It's also a notable win for traditionally studio-oriented directors who elect to make their films independently. The campaign description 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 just want to make something ourselves. Something pure. Something beautiful.
Beyond the usual suspects such as DVDs and behind the scenes videos, the Anomalisa team stepped up the Kickstarter game in the rewards section, offering everything from custom-written 10-page screenplays to hand-crafted puppets much like those used in the film. The team even enlisted the help of their friend, fellow animator Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time), to create custom artwork for high-tier backers.
Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson originally came to Kickstarter in 2012 to fund the short version of Anomalisa, a stop-motion adaptation of Kaufman's sound play. "There was an outpouring of fan and industry support, which led to the short growing into a feature," George Schmalz, Kickstarter's Genre and Animation Outreach director, told us. "It served as a bellwether to the growing animation community coming to Kickstarter."
World of Tomorrow
Nomination: Best Animated Short
It turns out Don Hertzfeldt has more fans than he thought he did. When the animator started his Kickstarter campaign, he only intended to raise $30,000; in the end, he raised nearly eight times that amount. "Hertzfeldt listened to his passionate fans who had long asked for BluRay versions of his films," said Schmalz. "They will be delivered shortly after the Oscars. The initial goal set of $30,000 was far surpassed, with over $215,000 raised by his fans, showing the power of our Kickstarter backer community craving creative animated works."
Nomination: Best Original Song
"More than 1,000 backers came together on Kickstarter to support the creation of the documentary Racing Extinction (formerly called The Heist), and we're very excited that Anohni's incredibly moving song, Manta Ray, is being recognized with a Best Original Song nomination as a result of the film coming to life," said Liz Cook, Kickstarter's Documentary Outreach Lead.
Previous Oscar nominees
2015: Finding Vivan Maier, Nominated for Best Documentary Feature
2014: The Square, Nominated for Best Documentary Feature
2013: Inocente, WINNER for Best Documentary Short
2013: Kings Point, Nominated for Best Documentary Short
2013: Buzkashi Boys, Nominated for Best Live Action Short
2012: Incident in New Baghdad, Nominated for Best Documentary Short
2012: The Barber of Birmingham, Nominated for Best Documentary Short
2011: Sun Come Up, Nominated for Best Documentary Short