By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act July 23, 2013 at 11:46AM
As I noted yesterday, a couple of weeks ago, I received an email alerting me to an upcoming big announcement Spike Lee was scheduled to make at his 40 Acres Brooklyn office. We (the press) were to congregate there last week Monday to witness firsthand what Spike's revelation was to be. The announcement got pushed back to this week (to this morning, actually), and Jasmin was there to get the details for S&A.
Needless to say, the big announcement is/was the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25 million to fund his next feature film, which I already shared last night.
BUT, Jasmin spoke to Spike directly, asking him questions that many of us have about the mystery project and campaign - like, what the heck the film is about, given that, on the project's Kickstarter page, he doesn't give anything away about what we can expect, instead resting on the belief that his lengthy resume should be enough to encourage fans to have faith and confidence in his abilities as a filmmaker and storyteller, and contribute to the campaign.
Here's a summary of Jasmin's chat with Spike. She will post a full write-up of the conversation once she's transcribed it all, so look for that in the next day or three.
In the meantime, here are what I feel were the most interesting revelations he made during that interview:
- First, in response to what the film will be about, Spike calls it a sexy thriller with lots of "butt-naked black people," and a focus on blood addiction. Although he emphasizes that it's not a vampire movie, adding that it's going to be racy, apparently the raciest thing he's ever done. I keep thinking of Ganja And Hess as I type this up, although, based on Spike's limited description, that film probably won't be as racy as what Spike has in mind. I also believe that the "blood addiction" he mentions is probably more an allegory or metaphor, and expect that Spike will be going for something much deeper than just blood-sucking humans.
- Stylistically, he says that he's going for "something new," although some of the usual Spike-isms will be incorporated, like his famous dolly shot.
- He says that shooting will take place in Brooklyn, NY.
- No talent is attached yet, although he says that he's looking to break in new talent both in front of and behind the camera, and that he wants this to be a community project, with a local emphasis.
- If he doesn't raise the $1.25 million, he'll find a way to get it done. He's "in it to win it" and definitely plans to make the film one way or another.
- As for why this project, and why now, his answer was that, essentially, it's a budget thing. This is what he's able to do now. I suppose it's either this, or wait several more years before he's able to get backing for a larger project that would required a lot more money. But more on that from Jasmin in her post later.
- In response to some of your complaints about celebrities like him taking to Kickstarter to finance projects, Spike stresses the fact that, as he states, there's this big misconception that he has the money and/or access to the money necessary to finance this project. He stresses that it's nowhere as easy to find the money to finance his projects as some believe. He gave examples of his past struggles in trying to raise financing for several previous projects, but wasn't able to. He also agreed that the racy subject matter of this particular film doesn't help matters either, and admitted that his being outspoken probably has had a negative impact on his career as a filmmaker, notably when it comes to getting films made.
- He shared that Steven Soderbergh has kicked in $10,000 of his own money to help the project reach its Kickstarter campaign goal.
- He realizes that he's essentially an experiment for black celebs on Kickstarter, at this level. Prior to today, the only other high profile fundraising campaign by a black celeb, asking for a 7-figure sum, was Shemar Moore's failed Kickstarter attempt to raise $1.5 million for a rom-com. He eventually took to IndieGoGo to raise about a 3rd of that amount, and, thus far, with 5 days left, is about $160,000 shy of reaching his $500,000 goal. The difference here though is that, with IndieGoGo, he gets to keep whatever he raises, minus IndieGoGo's percentage.
- And finally, regarding his release strategy for this mystery "blood adiction" film with lots of "butt-naked black people" in it, Spike says that he certainly doesn't expect a huge release, and, like most films at its budget-level, sees a pick-up by one of the smaller distributors, and an eventual solid box office return for a film of its ilk.
So that's it for now! Like I said, look for Jasmin's full write-up of their conversation before the end of the week, I'd imagine.
One thing that immediately comes to mind is, why he didn't use IndieGoGo instead, if he says he plans to make the film whether the Kickstarter campaign is successful or not. With Kickstarter, as opposed to IndieGoGo, if a campaign doesn't reach its goal, the project gets none of whatever is contributed. So even if Spike's Kickstarter campaign raises $1.1 million of the $1.2 million he's asking for, he won't see any of that $1.1 million raised. Whereas, if he used IndieGoGo instead, he gets to keep whatever is contributed. If his goal is to see the film through production one way or another, whether his Kickstarter campaign is successful or not, why not go with IndieGoGo, get what he can there, and find the rest of the money elsewhere?
At the time of this post, his Kickstarter campaign has raised just over $90,000. So there's still a very long way to go, with 28 days left in the campaign. To compare, Zach Braff's Kickstarter campaign raised several hundred thousand dollars within the first 24 hours after it went live. He got to a million within a day or two, as I recall.
As Spike said, he's an experiment for high profile black celebrity projects on Kickstarter, so this is something to watch closely, and I certainly will be.
Here's Spike's video pitch (to contribute, click HERE to head over the project's Kickstarter page):