Here’s a photo of my new employee.
If you haven’t seen Kickstarter yet, you should check it out. I’ve been watching it for a while and I just took the plunge for the first time, dropping $40 into Zack Braff’s new movie. The movie is already fully financed and will be made, thanks to crowdfunding:
“Wish I Was Here” is the story of Aidan Bloom (played by me), a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He and his wife are barely getting by financially and Aidan passes his time by fantasizing about being the great futuristic Space-Knight he’d always dreamed he’d be as a little kid.
When his ailing father can no longer afford to pay for private school for his two kids (ages 5 and 12) and the only available public school is on its last legs, Aidan reluctantly agrees to attempt to home-school them.
The result is some funny chaos, until Aidan decides to scrap the traditional academic curriculum and come up with his own. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find.
By crowdfunding the movie, Braff retains creative control and can make the movie he wants to make. From what I can see, the movie he wants to make is likely to be another big win for the cultural forces of wisdom and reconstruction, just like Garden State. At least, I think it’s likely enough that I’m willing to venture some dough. By venturing $40, I get a T-shirt; if I’d acted faster I could have put in $100 and gotten a ticket to a private screening, but they were all sold out within a day.
Crowdfunding’s not just for art. My friends at TGC have also started crowdfunding translation of theological resources into new languages. In the hobby board game world, of which I’m a proud member in good standing, GMT Games has been crowdfunding the production of board games since long before the term “crowdfunding” was invented.
Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general will make it a lot easier for cultural entrepreneurs to get their start. People who want to challenge the status quo can get the backing they need without having to kowtow to the traditional gatekeepers – but only if they can make a persuasive case that they’ll be faithful to their commitments and their projects will succeed.
Now, granted that the Kickstarter haters are right about two things:
- Substantial amounts of the material on Kickstarter are crap.
- There are no legal guarantees that the people you fund will do what they say they’re going to do.
But the first criticism is true of everything else, too. Substantial amounts of the movies made through the traditional Hollywood system are crap. (Hey, I just won the “understatement of the day” award!) Ditto for everything else on Kickstarter: art, books, games, music, etc. Most of what’s out there in the world is crap. My impression is that Kickstarter beats the traditional world on this metric, if not by much.
As for the second criticism, this is one thing I love about Kickstarter. It runs on trust! People can decide who’s worthy of trust and who isn’t, and then they have the freedom to trust each other. That means 1) people can prove that they’re trustworthy without a safety net, so to speak, and 2) reputations will matter. That’s a good thing; the more we rely on laws and regulation to protect us from cheaters, the less your reputation matters, and over time it degrades the moral character of a people to live in a culture where reputation doesn’t matter. In general I think one of the constructive contributions the Internet is going to make is to bring back a sense that reputation matters; crowdfunding is only one example among many.
So strike a blow for trust and character – crowdfund a cultural entrepreneur today!