Since the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter was launched in 2009, more than US$17.5 million has been pledged to projects in the site’s documentary category – projects needing funds for everything from post-production to finishing.
Filmmakers turning to the online fundraising platform in 2011 ranged from unknown auteurs to recognizable names such as Colin Hanks (son of actor Tom), Ricki Lake, Gary Hustwit, and Nick Broomfield.
Yancey Strickler (right), who co-founded Kickstarter with Charles Adler and Perry Chen, spoke to realscreen about the New York based company’s plans for the year ahead.
Why do you think documentary makers turn to the platform so often?
Documentaries are our single largest subcategory on the entire site. We saw a lot of success with the documentary category very early on, but this year was a very strong one and what it really comes down to is that each Kickstarter [project] is a story, and Kickstarter is ultimately a narrative form of someone telling the story about why they’re doing something, how they’re going to do it, why it is others should be a part of it. I think there’s a flow and rhythm to that that comes very naturally to documentarians.
Of course, documentary filmmakers have to be constant fundraisers. [Kickstarter is] concentrated, it’s a lot of effort, but it is a way to consolidate and have the opportunity to use that [effort] as a promotional moment and as a good opportunity to call out to audiences.
Where is crowdfunding, and Kickstarter, heading?
Even bigger than crowdfunding, [it's] about an assertion of creative independence. In a very fundamental way, artists and regular folks are saying, “I’m going to do this my own way, I’m going to make every choice the way I want to make it,” and I think that has a tremendous future ahead of it; the notion of people in charge of their own lives. That won’t just happen with Kickstarter. We’ve seen that recently with Louis CK [selling his comedy video directly online to fans] and to us it’s clear that that is the way that culture is moving. I see us being a really big part of that.