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by Jay A. Fernandez
October 12, 2012 11:09 AM
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Crowdfunding Gets a Major Test Case: David Fincher Wants Your Money for 'The Goon'

Wow. The straightforward simplicity of crowdfunding appeals even to Oscar-nominated master filmmakers working at the highest levels of the major studio system. The latest example is David Fincher, who has just dipped into the Kickstarter universe in an effort to raise money to push forward the adaptation of the comic book series “The Goon” that he’s producing.

Along with Blur Studio, “Goon” creator Eric Powell and publisher Dark Horse Entertainment, Fincher has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to further develop the feature version of the popular comics he optioned a few years ago. While the filmmakers already have a screenplay from Powell, the “proof of concept” reel they put together to sell the studios on the project has yet to convince anyone to make it at that level, which, given Fincher’s big-budget approaches to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” likely involves a sizable budget. This even though Paul Giamatti and Clancy  Brown had done the test voice work.

READ MORE: How to Be One of The World's Most Successful Crowdfunders: The 5 Top Tips

But given the edge in Powell’s comics and the untested nature of directors Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler, this Fincher-produced animated film is hardly a slam-dunk. So after footing the bill out of pocket thus far, the filmmakers are looking to raise $400,000 to create a feature-length story reel, though their approach seems designed to keep the studio suits at bay: “Help us make a NEW KIND of animated film... one that's LOUD, VIOLENT and OFFENSIVE TO YOUR GRANDMA.”

The “Goon” development is just another example of how the major studios are getting away from the old-school version of development that sucked up millions in cash working on ideas with writers, directors and producers only to have them go nowhere. In the crowdfunding age, what’s to stop the studios from defraying the pre-production costs of big projects by having filmmakers bankroll their own efforts to prove that a big enough audience exists and that the content can be executed in an effective way? Nothing, they’re discovering. So the online free-market carnival that crowdfunding has embraced suits the suits just fine, and it becomes just another version of independent financing.

READ MORE: To Crowdfund or Not to Crowdfund: 20 Years After Making 'Hoop Dreams,' Filmmaker Steve James Braves the New Financing World With 'Generation Food'

Which begs the question: Why not go all the way with it and produce the entire movie independently? Raise money for marketing and distribution, too? Someone of Fincher’s stature surely could convince pre-existing fans and potential moviegoers that this proposed slice of entertainment is original and exciting enough to justify their pre-emptive investment.

What if Christopher Nolan put out word on Indiegogo that he was thinking of making another “Inception”-style movie, and he made available some storyboards, a plotline and a few possible casting choices? How many global film fans would back that because it’s a movie they’d like to see? It’s an experiment I’d love to see Fincher or Nolan or even Paul Thomas Anderson or Woody Allen try outside of normal channels, direct to consumer, direct to film lover.

What do you think?

You can watch the “Goon” introductory Kickstarter videos here.

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4 Comments

  • Buggedout | October 13, 2012 8:19 PMReply

    So I'm supposed to believe that David Fincher the man behind Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Zodiac, and Benjamin Button can't find an investor interested in this. Or either fund the story reel himself or if he can't afford it find a way to cut costs so he can afford it. Mel Gibson funded all of Passion of the Christ himself and Christopher Nolan paid for Following when he was still shooting corporate training films before he got his foothold in the industry. Someone with Fincher's track record and contacts can't get $400,000? If a producer can find $10 million for a film as noncommercial as Cosmopolis Fincher can find money for The Goon which at best will appeal to a very niche audience. I'd rather give money to a filmmaker trying to break into the industry rather than a filmmaker who has been in the industry for thirty years.

  • caleb | October 13, 2012 7:26 PMReply

    i agree with sim. doesn't hollywood already get enough of our money at the box office? does it really need us to start funding story reels? if david fincher could learn to actually exist within a budget, he wouldn't have to resort to tatics better served for artist who actually need funding assistance.

  • Sim | October 12, 2012 4:29 PMReply

    I'm kinda confused about this one. Fincher has had quite a few successful movies, so I'm sure he's pretty well off at this point and he personally knows plenty of rich actors and/or producers. You're telling me he can't use a little bit of his own money and ask some of his millionaire friends to loan him a couple thousand dollars each? Crowd funding should be used by people who wouldn't have the means to get the money in other ways, not A-List director/producers with plenty of contacts. This whole thing just seems backwards to me.

  • Noel Donnellon | October 12, 2012 11:33 AMReply

    If it takes off on a large scale it will crush those who are not as well known and trying to get their smaller indies made. Just like a few years back when Directors, including Fincher, took on medium budget TV commercials, crushing those who used to work in the middle ground. We'll have high-end Crowfunding and low-end and yet again loose the middle.