You might have heard of the new funding site Kickstarter, an outlet where you can pitch any independent venture and ask for funding from private donors. It's a site that might be considered a dream for an independent movie producer when the world economy precludes an easy road toward receiving a single dollar for anything. And that might still be the case through Kickstarter, with no guarantees of donations to be had for any particular project, unless it's something so compelling that it can't be denied.
That happened to the indie feature "Blue Like Jazz," a movie attempting to redefine what it is to be a Christian in America. When the producers ran out of money during early production, donations were collected through Kickstarter and a temporary funding website that resulted in a possibly precedent-setting amount of donations for an independent film venture. If you're attempting to fund your indie feature on the site now, move over to share space with millions of others.
But the question has to be broached: Is it really the best method of funding during an extended time of an independent film renaissance? When "Blue Like Jazz" received thousands of donations, the producers called and thanked every single donor after the movie was made (plus placing every single name in the end credits).
Yes, in the age of stoked ego, how would it go over placing several thousand names in the end credits as essentially the real producers of an independent film?
It may be the only way left as independent film funding struggles in an economy that shows evidence of weakening each year. For actors and actresses who want to perpetually star in smaller, quirky, intelligent indie fare, it's going to be a rougher road acquiring a green light immediately. The reason, of course, is because plots that veer off the beaten path aren't going to have assurances of making profit.
"Blue Like Jazz" already had one major thing going for it: people who've been long exasperated at the way American churches have perceived Christianity. Nothing else like the movie had been made within what's deemed the misunderstood and maligned "Christian movie market." With a strong emotional desire to get such a thing made, "Blue Like Jazz" is a lesson in how Kickstarter will have to be used.
The problem with this kind of precedent is that so many will now see "Blue Like Jazz" as an assured way of funding for any quirky indie feature. If you've ever taken a look on the website, you'll see thousands of independent media ventures that may sound good in the abstract but likely wouldn't translate into profit. Any indie feature that reaches its financing goal on Kickstarter will be projects drawn up based on plenty of marketing pre-planning.
Nevertheless, the site is obviously going to be one of the biggest Internet ventures for use of media since Instragram. Don't be surprised to see Kickstarter bought out within a year by Google, Facebook, or any other technology behemoth.
Let's hope we'll see plenty of indie movie features that have as compelling an edge of marketability as "Blue Like Jazz," just for the sake of seeing an art renaissance continue to fly. If not, it'll be the equivalent to the Middle Ages Renaissance in Europe without the Medici family at the helm.
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