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by Paula Bernstein
December 27, 2013 10:48 AM
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From 'The Canyons' to 'The Square:' A Kickstarter Year in Review for 2013

"The Canyons"
Overall, it was a good year for filmmakers crowd funding on Kickstarter --  9,516 film projects launched with $79,305,924 dollars pledged to film projects and at least 100 Kickstarter-funded films released in theaters, digitally or on television in 2013, according to figures from the crowd funding site.

Of course, that's just the good news. Certainly, there were a fair share of film and video projects that never got off the ground -- including Melissa Joan Hart's "Darci's Walk of Shame," which was cancelled once it became clear it wouldn't come close to reaching its $2 million goal.

Although the site doesn't break down percentages of unsuccessfully funded projects by year, since its inception, there have been 18,818 unsuccessfully funded film and video projects on Kickstarter. As Kickstarter points out on its stats page, "Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing in more ways than one. While 10% of projects finished having never received a single pledge, 80% of projects that raised more than 20% of their goal were successfully funded."

Here are some milestones from 2013:

Early in 2013, Inocente became the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Academy Award (for best documentary short subject). More recently, 19 Kickstarter films were selected for the 2014 Sundance Festival -- about 10% of all of the films screening at the festival.

Spike Lee Takes to Kickstarter
Documentaries fared especially well on Kickstarter, with projects such as "The Square," "Inequality for All," "Our Nixon," "Room 237," and "After Tiller" premiering during 2013. "The Square," which was acquired by Netflix, has been shortlisted for an Academy Award for best documentary.

Read More: Indiewire's Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding

It was also the year of the celebrity Kickstarter campaign, with 91,585 pledging $5.7 million towards the "Veronica Mars" movie, which is set to premiere on March 14, 2014. Zach Braff raised $3.1 million for "Wish I Was Here," which will screen at the upcoming Sundance Film Festiva, while Spike Lee raised over $1.4 million for "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," which recently wrapped production. 

Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" courted controversy with its provocative plot line featuring Lindsay Lohan and James Deen. It also offered creative rewards, such as script coverage from Schrader and live tweeting about your movie by "The Canyons" screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis.

Understandably, there was a bit of a backlash regarding the fact that celebrities -- who could presumably afford to fund their own projects -- are taking to crowd funding. To counter complaints about celebrities hogging Kickstarter, the folks at Kickstarter felt the need to explain "The Truth about Spike Lee and Kickstarter."

Not quite celebrity veteran indie darling Hal Hartley successfully crowdfunded his latest project, "Ned Rifle," the third in a trilogy that began with "Henry Fool," surpassing the $384,000 goal.

Read More: 10 Most Creative Celebrity Kickstarter Rewards

Other notable Kickstarter-funded narrative releases in 2013 include "Gimme The Loot," "Newlyweeds," "I Used to Be Darker" and "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty."

In October, the site tweeted it surpassed the milestone of over 50,000 projects successfully funded. At the time, Kickstarter's success rate is 43.89% overall, but broken down by category, only 39.88% of film and video projects have been successfully funded, compared to 55.04% of music projects and 71.33% of dance projects (granted, there were only 1,556 dance projects).

Still, the most popular category (and most successful overall) on Kickstarter is film and video with 30,175 projects launched and $142.83 million raised (on successful projects) by mid-October 2013.

In 2014, celebrity crowd funding projects such as "Veronica Mars," "Wish I Was Here," and "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus" will be released and audiences will decide whether the respective crowd funding efforts were deserving.

Also set for release in 2014 are Kickstarter-funded projects, "12 O'Clock Boys" and "Blue Ruin."

While Kickstarter is still the largest of the crowd funding sites, Indiegogo and Seed & Spark continue to build momentum. In August, we published an article comparing the three sites' success rates. Recently, "Life Itself," Steve James' documentary based on Roger Ebert's memoir, took to Indiegogo to raise funds, as did Milestone Films' "Not Film," a documentary about the making of Samuel Beckett's Film. The main appeal of Indiegogo over Kickstarter is its flexible funding option as opposed to the "all or nothing" ethos of Kickstarter.

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2 Comments

  • sandylieberson | December 28, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    some good info. still don't understand why film schools have not yet incorporated crowdfunding into their curriculum...

  • Benjamin Neal | December 27, 2013 11:51 AMReply

    I believe there is a slight error - Inocente won the academy award for Best Documentary Short Subject. The Best Foreign Language Film award went to Amour.