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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Are Hollywood Stars Ruining Kickstarter?

Actor Zach Braff. (AP)

Actor Zach Braff. (AP)

Move over Amanda Palmer, Zach Braff is the latest Kickstarter darling — the actor recently raised more than $2 million on the site for a film called “Wish I was Here.”

Director David Fincher and comedian Whoopi Goldberg have also had success on Kickstarter.

But some are upset that celebrities will overshadow budding entertainers and entrepreneurs. The hashtag #dontruinkickstarter has been making the rounds.

Boston University Professor of Mass Communications John Carroll explained the sentiment to Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

“Why are you using other people’s money and the potential of taking it away from other projects, from start ups from indie filmmakers, who really don’t have the resources,” he said.

What is your favorite Kickstarter project? Tell us on Facebook or leave a comment.


  • John Carroll, Professor of Mass Communications, Boston University. His blog is Campaign Outsider.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Fisherdbus

    The Adventures of Lucy Smokeheart by Andrea Phillips. She got $7,000 to do an interactive serial story!

  • Mckenziebodkin

    Dear Robin,

    I’m about to launch a Kickstarter to record a beautiful new epic poem with characters and music, one I spent twenty-five years writing.  Very special.  I hope you can visit the preview.  Here is the link:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/331860368/864588272?token=61a40ae6

    I love your show.

    McKenzie Bodkin
    Bradford, NH

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Lots of luck getting this funded on KickStarter!!!! Better keep your request below $8K.

  • McKinley

    The thing is, the
    little guy as usual who is looking for their chance is now back under the
    shadow of those who have had their chance and more.  I don’t have millions of dollars. As a matter
    of fact, I don’t have a $1000 to my name.  I am an over imaginative,
    extraverted, computer technician that wants to bring new life into table top
    gaming.  I launched a kick starter
    with a fantastic idea (I am told by people without money) about 22 days
    ago.  It’s called Skape Rend.  I was thrilled of the idea that my dreams may
    come true and I worked very hard on how to present what I have worked on for
    seven years.  Well 22 days later only one
    person has even donated and that was because I talked to him on Google+.    

    I like the idea of
    professionals and those that are MADE to have a location to further their
    careers, however I think they should use $100,000 of their own wealth to have
    their own kick starter and let the little guys grow.  Without money for marketing and a ton of
    friend on social media sites, people that need a chance will just be over

    I really enjoy your show.


    McKinley Person IIII

    Ridgeland, SC

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Another reason for there to be more competitors to Kickstarter. They don’t seem to have come up with anything really new in four years now and I think their business model is going to fizzle out pretty soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesi-Yager/64901809 Jesi Yager

    Vermont artist Jesi Yager has taken her art into the world of crowd-funding.  She recently launched a Kickstarter project to invite the community to help shape an installation piece
    that will be the focal point of her first solo show.  As of May 8th, Yager has raised $4875
    of her $15,000 goal to be reached by May 25th.

    “Most of my recent work addresses Colony Collapse Disorder.  The honeybee’s have stolen my
    attention and devotion both on their own merit and because I feel like they are a great symbol for collaborative effort,”  says Yager. “In my work the hive is both literal and a metaphor.  We are like the bees—alone we seem small and feel insignificant, together we are powerful and united.  We can accomplish great things.  The ‘Join the Hive’ installation is an invitation to be a
    part of something larger than one person or one bee.  I will be documenting this project on video, in photos, and through writing to create a lasting record of art that exists as an installation only for a short time.”

    For each Kickstarter pledge Yager will include a small square painting, each a work of art in itself, but assembled like pieces of a photomosaic creating a larger image.  At the culmination of the show, the small paintings will be sent out to all of the people who backed the project.  The disassembly and dissemination of the piece becomes as much a part of the work as its creation, as it symbolized the cataclysmic event of collapse of the hive that happens with CCD–in which all the bees fly off and fail to come back to their hive.  

    In addition to the Join the Hive project Yager will spend the next five months creating work that plays in the space where painting and sculpture meet–from framed traditional paintings and free standing sculptures to what she calls “kinetic paintings.”  These are interactive, wall-mounted paintings that have three-dimensional elements with moving parts. 

    Successfully funding this Kickstarter project will allow Yager to spend five months dedicated to producing art fulltime. This time will make it possible for her to complete a minimum of an additional 15-20 pieces including a large installation to add to the six pieces she has finished over the past fifteen months of working studio time in around her factory job.

    To be a part of the Join the Hive project and support this Vermont artist, go to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/311265581/kickstart-my-art-launching-jesi-yagers-first-solo and click “Back This Project.”


  • DJGlass

    I’m in the middle of my Kickstarter campaign raising funds for the first true stereo headphone for people with single-sided deafness/hearing loss! We’re trying to start a business locally here in the Boston area: http://tinyurl.com/yuniheadphone

  • Clairegetts

    The correct grammar is, I wish I were here.

  • Bproud

    My favorite project is “First Comes Love” a documentary project celebrating same-sex couples who have been together for many years. http://www.firstcomeslove.org

  • Martin Wagner

    Here’s the problem: If everyone complaining about projects like Zach Braff’s movie and Veronica Mars instead used that energy to find interesting indie projects and actually backed them with pledges, then more of those projects would get funded than actually do. 

    If you’ve never backed an indie project by a struggling unknown, then don’t complain when bigger names — with their built-in fan bases — decide to play in the pool. If the celebrities are doing anything wrong, it’s exposing the ugly secret of Kickstarter that no one wants to admit: that the only real way to succeed on that site is to already have a fan base, and that most of the dickbag hipsters who claim to be stalwart supporters of struggling indies actually AREN’T. I have seen Kickstarter projects fail, where I’ve looked at the number of backers (say, 300 people), then compared them to the number of posers who just clicked the Facebook “like” button (over 2000). Yeah, I’m sure that creator really appreciated the “support,” assholes!

    Meanwhile, struggling indie creators need a reality check, and to understand that Kickstarter is not an “if you build it, they will come” situation. You HAVE to have a strong promotional strategy, and expect to work hard at it CONSTANTLY. Do your research before you launch your project, and it’s possible you’ll have a less painful experience with your campaign.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toddiuszho Todd Trimmer

    There are many problems with suggesting established names should use their own money and not use Kickstarter. First, it’s a form of censorship. Second, you are dictating to contributors how and why they should contribute their own money. They are adults. Let THEM DECIDE how to allocate THEIR MONEY. If they want to go indie-only, let them. If they want to donate to an established celebrity’s project, WHO ARE YOU TO SAY they suddenly cannot or should not? You are taking away contributors’ economic freedom. It’s like telling a landlord they should only rent to struggling minorities and never to a rich white man so that minorities will always get a chance. Lastly, the celebrity is not fully funding their project on Kickstarter alone. They are proving to potential investors there is a market for their project. If the celeb convinced enough people to pony up their OWN CASH to greenlight a project, then there is a STRONG CORRELATION enough people will also pay for the final product. If the Kickstarter fails to reach its goals, then investors know to stay away and hopefully what would have ultimately led to a sh!tty product was nipped in the bud before it had a chance to fly. Kickstarter is an effective way to “test the waters” and is a more potent indicator than many market research measures.

  • Guest

    I love the idea of Kickstarter. Fortunately, every person I know who has opened a kickstarter, has been successfully funded. I also run in a very artistic crowd, and a very generous crowd. Not that we have much money, but whenever I can help, I do. But, I will say, I don’t really dig the idea of celebrities using kickstarter. I’m not suggesting they use their OWN money, but they are fortunate enough to get in the room of high paying investors, as opposed to an indie artist.

  • lSarde

    Or. . . .support this project instead:
    Interesting, compelling, and really really important to the history of labor.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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