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Spike Lee Answers Your Questions About His Kickstarter Campaign: Calls It 'Sexy, Racy Thriller'

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 23, 2013 11:46 AM
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Spike Lee

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): 

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  • Donella | July 25, 2013 7:33 PMReply

    No script. No storyboards. No storyline. Not even a logline. Rather, a vague description of blood, sex, and butt-naked Black people. But not vampires. Spike, you really can't give us more than this to go on?

  • ALM | July 23, 2013 8:45 PMReply

    "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."

    It's not because he's outspoken within the entertainment industry. Spike also has a talent for being rude to the everyday person who is not in the industry. He wants to be disrespectful, and then he wants to turn around and ask that same person for money for his movie.

    He's at 112k at this current moment, so he's blessed. It looks like he will make it. He may want to start treating the public at large a little better if he is going to keep asking for money.

  • CC | July 24, 2013 7:15 AM

    Well ALM, we don't want to debate the particulars and/or validity of comments that are "positive/constructive". You know, the devil is always in the details... and that other 5% could be the straw that broke the camel's back. So let's move on.

    Listen, one thing for certain, two things for sure, I agree, you don't have to "prove" anything to anyone, your conscience will get the last call. But if you believe Spike "checking himself" would change people's perception of him... well...

    Top of the morning to you too.

  • ALM | July 24, 2013 6:39 AM


  • ALM | July 24, 2013 6:37 AM

    CC, it's great that Spike has your support. If you have noticed, 95% of my comments on S & A are positive/constructive. I actually like Spike before I had my own experience with him. I still think that he is talented, but he needs to check himself quickly. Treating random people badly is not wise.

    The great thing about life is I don't have to prove anything to you or anyone else. I know what happened. Have a great morning :)

  • CC | July 24, 2013 6:16 AM

    Well Sterling and ALM, that's your side of the story. I need more proof. I mean, let Sterling tell it, Spike has a disdain for ANYONE taller, lighter and more attractive than him. Now come on, being that Spike is not the tallest nor handsomest man in the world, under those guidelines his relationship with most people would be like that of the Wicked Witch of the West and water. The man would swivel up every time he left his house. So I'm still not buying it.

    Until I see pictures of him yawning in a supermodel's face or hear a personal story of woe, not he said she said, I'm calling poppycock. And, the man still needs and deserves a little help.

  • Sterling Cooper | July 24, 2013 3:16 AM

    Will agree and confirm ALM's statement. Spike is indeed a rude m*****f*****, the type of person who will yawn in your face when shaking hands with you to show his disdain (I've seen him do it on several occasions).

    Particularly high on "Spike's rudeness list": women who are taller than him, light-skinned men, men who are taller than him, the press, actors who talk to him at parties, light-skinned women, anyone in the press who's taller than him, and any woman or man in the press who is light-skinned and taller than him and who may or may not also be an actor.

    Also, other filmmakers at black film festivals. And supermodels.

  • ALM | July 24, 2013 1:17 AM

    CC, I am speaking from recent PERSONAL experience. My experience, not anyone else's experience.

  • CC | July 23, 2013 10:19 PM

    "Spike also has a talent for being rude to the everyday person who is not in the industry"

    PLEASE.... are you speaking from personal experience or are you gossiping?

    Listen, throughout this whole discussion people are talking about Spike's "bank", his connections and what he should have, but nobody is speaking from a position of personal knowledge. So excuse me while I call it (one more time) POPPYCOCK!

    Come on now, there's no question that Spike's penchant for speaking his mind is loved by many, but makes enemies of others.

  • Sterling Cooper | July 23, 2013 9:01 PM

    ALM, you said it best.

  • jess | July 23, 2013 6:51 PMReply

    If Spike's going down the Kickstarter route (but what struggling Kickstarter auteur calls press conferences?!), he really needed to play by the usual rules. Providing a basic logline and attached actors would've been good. With other quickly funded campaigns like Zach Braff's and the Veronica Mars movie, people knew what they were in for. Those projects had a huge nostalgia quotient.

  • Ava | July 23, 2013 5:43 PMReply

    Looks like a test of the Spike Lee 'brand' because in these economic times without providing details...well...
    given his resume, it is possible though. I guess, I just wonder--why not treat Kickstarter investors like any other investor who would request/demand more information on story?

  • urbanuateur | July 23, 2013 5:36 PMReply

    Since Spike worked with Steve Mcqueen's D.P. could this be "his" version of "SHAME" with a little of "Twilight" mixed in;-)?

  • Roland S. Jefferson | July 23, 2013 2:57 PMReply

    If blood addiction is not a vampire movie, then it sounds very much like a film about incest and the obsessive nature of some people who want to keep the gene pool within the family.

  • Really | July 24, 2013 8:48 PM

    Still not getting it...that level of incest is a stigma in about 99.5% of the's deeper than that.

  • DJ | July 24, 2013 1:07 PM

    @Really -- I've watched it several times; obviously, it's not just incest but the context and enormous stigma of this taboo, and its revelation, in Korean culture. There's lots more nuance in this story that relates specifically to honor culture, family structures and Korean myth. Much of this will get lost, I think, in some generic Americanized adaptation.

  • Really | July 23, 2013 6:37 PM

    Just mentioning incest doesn't = Oldboy. So much more complex than that. Watch it again.

  • DJ | July 23, 2013 5:17 PM

    Well, to some degree, you just summed up the original (Korean) plot of Oldboy.

  • JEFTCG | July 23, 2013 12:52 PMReply

    The Four Steps of Spike:

    1. ANNOUNCEMENT - black people gon be doin our own thang!
    2. BUZZ - black people gettin closer to our goalz!
    3. PRODUCTION - black people finally makin it happen!
    4. RELEASE - oh HELL no wtf did I just watch???

  • Miles Ellison | July 24, 2013 4:56 PM

    That describes an alarming number of black projects.

  • TONY | July 23, 2013 7:23 PM

    HAHAHA I laughed out loud at this. So wrong

  • Zen | July 23, 2013 2:47 PM

    You ain't right XD

  • DJ | July 23, 2013 1:43 PM


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