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Crowdfunding and Audience Myths on Reinvent Hollywood

In late May, Ted Hope kicked off the Reinvent Hollywood series, which employs the opinions and experiences of several familiar faces in independent film to address the industry’s pitfalls. From what I’ve seen in the three Google Hangouts thus far, Hope and his conspirators do a great job of summarizing and highlighting areas for improvement, but speak in more general terms when it comes to solutions. The latest 90-minute roundtable (and recap), which centered on audiences, aims to dismantle some of the more widely held beliefs that have resulted from the proliferation of crowdfunding.

Says Sheri Candler of the muddled impetus behind taking to Kickstarter and Co., “It has to begin with the creator’s mindset that they want to be part of a community…[if not] you’re treating your audience as a disposable commodity, that are eyeballs with wallets, so you’re not really creating a community. This is how Hollywood does it, this is how distributors do it.” Ivan Askwith, Associate Producer on Vernoica Mars, also argues that filmmakers should resist the “lemming-like tendency” to crowdfund because everyone else is doing it: “to think that once a new model is discovered that works, it’s the one that everybody should be using…there’s a multiplicity of models that work for totally different use cases.”  In other words, Candler and Askwith suggest that a filmmaker crowdfund when they’re committed to aligning themselves with the audience, and not just existing on the periphery as ringleader.

But for Marc Schiller, BOND 360 CEO, crowdfunding communities are hardly enough; “if the movie is good,” it’s about, “[going] beyond the niche, far beyond the Kickstarter and Indiegogo audience, which are not enough for a sustainable career.” Again, the notion arises that you are not simply making a movie, you are building a career, and how do you capitalize on this building block. Echoes Anne Thompson, “How do we build these communities and these followings so that the critical mass becomes great enough so the filmmaker can have a long career? That is the problem within our industry.” In the present tense, it’s easier to make a movie, but harder to make a career.

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