Celebrities Use Crowd Funding Too
(ABC) — Crowd-funding started as a way for independent, mostly unknown artists to appeal directly to the public to fund their film, book album and more, but now a growing number of established celebrities are turning to crowd-funding for their next projects.
That’s got some people crying foul. John Trigonis writes on the website Daily Crowdsource that stars are “saturating the pool with their somewhat unfair advantage — celebrity.”
Stars have certainly found success through fundraising online on crowd-sourcing sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. By far, the biggest success comes from the creator of “Veronica Mars” who raised a record $2 million in a single day for a big-screen version of the TV series.
Moreover, celebrities are raising money not just for pet projects. Actress Karen Black‘s husband recently turned to crowd-sourcing to raise money for his wife’s cancer treatment.
“If you’ve ever enjoyed her work, now is your chance to reach back to Karen — because Karen needs your help,” the actress’ husband Stephen Eckelberry wrote on the a GoFundMe webpage titled “Help Karen Beat Cancer,” launched on March 14. By Tuesday morning, the site had already raised over $36,000, surpassing the $32,000 goal.
Eckelberry turned to crowd funding to pay for an experimental treatment for the 73-year-old actress, who was diagnosed with ampullary cancer — at the point where the bile duct and pancreatic duct meet — in November 2010.
After surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, the star of over 40 movies, including “Five Easy Pieces,” for which she received an Oscar nomination, and “Airport 1975,” has run out of options. Eckelberry said Black has lost a third of her body weight and weighs just 96 pounds. “Karen has been confronting the fact that she would die soon if she didn’t do something,” Eckelberry wrote.
He said she needs the money to cover travel and living expenses for two months in addition to the treatment cost because “most of the high-paying work dwindled out many years ago” and, with their savings gone to medical bills and only her “modest pension,” they don’t have enough to cover the cost.
Series creator Rob Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month and took the whole world by surprise after raising $2 million in less than 11 hours, greenlighting a “Veronica Mars” movie to begin shooting this summer.
With two weeks still to go, more than $3.7 million had already been raised. But the campaign has not been without controversy. Unlike the majority of Kickstarter projects, this one is owned by a major studio, Warner Bros., which produced the show. Slate wrote that the “Veronica Mars” project sets a “terrible precedent.”
But Thomas defended the strategy, saying “I don’t think anyone’s being taken advantage of. I feel like the rewards are worth it,” referring to the incentives — from a signed script to a role as an extra — people received in return for donations.
Their film may be a bomb, but their Kickstarter campaign was a success. The team behind Lindsay Lohan’s latest film, “The Canyons,” including writer-director Paul Schrader (“American Gigolo” and “Taxi Driver”) and author Bret Easton Ellis (“American Psycho” and “Less Than Zero”), raised just over $159,000 on Kickstarter.
“We all experienced the frustrations of financing and institutional censorship,” Schrader said in his Kickstarter campaign. “But now, with advances in digital photography and distribution, we can tell a story in the manner we choose. Movies are changing and we’re changing with it.”