By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 16, 2013 at 12:46PM
UPDATE: Congratulations to Spike Lee, who today surpassed his Kickstarter campaign goal of $1.25 million for a humorous thriller on humans addicted to blood. Lee's hard work has paid off -- and that's the double truth, Ruth.
The campaign is currently sitting with $1.3 million, with still four days to go. What a relief!
Lee has really embraced his indiehood with this Herculean Kickstarter effort, putting himself out there and unafraid to go tub-thumping for cash. Some directors consider themselves above the crowdfunding fray, like Kevin Smith or Derek Cianfrance. But not Spike. He reached directly to his fans, who he has nurtured for years. He knew they were there.
But his goal is a relatively large amount of money as compared to, say, Paul Schrader's successful crowdfunding of $250K for "The Canyons" (which already had a well-known if infamous star attached, Lindsay Lohan). Lee has been fortunate to have some big donors, too -- both directors John Singleton and Steven Soderbergh, for example, pitched in large contributions upwards of $10K.
One aspect to Kickstarter is the amount of money that goes in to the rewards one promises for people. We picture interns stuffing envelopes with T-shirts and "Bad" Blu-rays. Yet much of this too winds up being self-promotional across all Spike Lee Joint ventures.
EARLIER: With 11 days to go on his Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25 million for a humorous thriller about people addicted to blood, director Spike Lee couldn't be working harder to raise funds for his new project, one dollar at a time.
While such well-known celebrities and properties as Zach Braff, "Veronica Mars" and Paul Schrader have made news for reaching their Kickstarter goals (and then some), the famous aren't immune to failing at crowdfunding. Zosia Mamet, star of "Girls," and her sister raised less than $3,000 of a $32,000 goal for their would-be music video. Melissa Joan Hart nabbed only $51,000 of a $2 million goal for a film in which she'd play a single woman attending her sister's wedding in Thailand.
So with a higher profile name comes a high embarrassment level if the funding doesn't pan out. (In that vein, James Franco did the right thing: He opted for Indiegogo, which allows for a project to receive the money its raised regardless of whether it met its goal.) And even before that, there's the inevitable media backlash to the supposedly rich and famous asking for fan dollars.
But Lee seems to have overcome that negative spin. Indiewire recently published a piece on the ways in which the director has turned a controversy into a project people want to support. And his hard work plays a huge part in that -- sending out constant Twitter announcements, updating the campaign page, re-editing the campaign video, appearing candidly on television and more. He's not just relying on his name. In fact, he's trying to raise four times as much as Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" without a Lindsay Lohan to sell.
We have no problem with fans supporting these campaigns and paying for something they want to see. Lee has grown his fanbase over decades. There's a difference between fans and the people who complain about and criticize rich people for going on Kickstarter. Most people don't go tub-thumbing on TV to flog their crowdfunding push. You gotta admire the guy.
Lee also posted on Kickstarter his Essential Film List of top directors that he gives to his NYU grad students. He listened to all the feedback--especially that he included no women on the list--and plans to add more now, he says:
Over the course of the last few days since I released my NYU GRAD ESSENTIAL FILM LIST I have been rightly told that my list did not have at least One Woman Filmmaker. This serious omission has been corrected. These Films will be added to my list.
LINA WERTMULLER - THE SEDUCTION OF MIMI -1972
LINA WERTMULLER - LOVE AND ANARCHY - 1973
LINA WERTMULLER - SWEPT AWAY - 1974
LINA WERTMULLER - SEVEN BEAUTIES - 1975
EUZHAN PALCY - SUGAR CANE ALLEY - 1983
JULIE DASH - DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST - 1991
JANE CAMPION - THE PIANO - 1993
KATHRYN BIGELOW - THE HURT LOCKER - 2008