Sunday, 1 September 2013

Money-Grubbing Celebs Or Passionate Auteurs?

While no one this side of the Atlantic likes to bandy about the “auteur” label lightly, that’s no reason for artists to discount it as a career move or even a goal in and of itself. For them, the struggling filmmakers [and other types of artistic project also] who want to strike out on their own, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGogo have meant a lot in terms of growing a fanbase from the ground floor and having their pitch heard and backed by the audience themselves. But what about this growing trend that jumped up at us in outraged tabloid ink when musician Amanda Palmer reached out to fans via her own Kickstarter campaign?

The Majors have already hit pay dirt in the Little Leagues: the Veronica Mars feature film, Zach Braff’s follow-up to Garden State and even David Fincher-backed The Goon have all gotten funds.

Is this practice, which has now made its way into the movie industry too, of well-off stars reaching into our pockets, a shameless move on their part? What follows is a rundown of three of the more resounding projects championed by Hollywood A-listers this summer on crowdfunding platforms - they all look pretty small in scope, well worthy of the “labor of love” status that their mere presence on these sites should suggest. And if you’re wondering whether any of them will find their way onto a big screen, chances are slim - these smaller types of star-driven movies, and their viewers, might profit more from a video-on-demand approach, so look for them on a Time Warner Cable Boston roster in a few year’s time.

1. Evil Blessings - Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys fame has recently put up a page on IndieGogo, asking for a meager $113,727 and promising to match some of it, once the donations add up to the aimed-for sum. The movie he’s trying to get off the ground is a horror flick - a genre Nick purportedly is a “HUGE fan” of - which he co-wrote. Assuming nostalgic fans of the boyband, or Nick in particular, shell out enough for the campaign to hit the set mark, this will be the crooner’s first foray into producing and screenwriting and could make for a decent B-movie - judging by the mini-synopsys we have so far: “three friends go up to the the mountains to hunt, but soon discover they are the ones being hunted by an ancient family of evil.”

2. The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint - we’re on to bigger, more established fish with Spike Lee joining the fundraising bandwagon for his latest project, which he’s quite tight-lipped about, while asking potential donors to “trust him.” The flick, “a semi-genre film about ADDICTION” to blood, has recently surpassed the target sum, reaching $1,418,910 on the back of Joe Pledgers as well as the likes of Steven Soderbergh. It will follow Lee’s traditionally-funded Oldboy remake that’s set to hit screens across the country in October.

3. Gray House - to finish off, the smaller-scale project led by David Lynch’s son hasn’t seen the same amount of limelight showered on it, but, on the upside, it’s not all that expensive to shoot either. Once [if] the $25,000 goal is reached, the young director will invest the loot into what sounds like an experiment in moviemaking, where fictional drama will bleed into documentary footage and five stories will be interwoven to reveal little-known facets of America. For my money, this one sure looks like an artistic endeavor through and through - whether you deem it worthy of propping up, Austin Lynch is surely going places.

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