By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire January 10, 2012 at 1:21PM
If you haven't already stopped by Kickstarter's Year in Review page on their website, it's high time you did so. The company's strategy for presenting their data and their projects in interesting ways (exhibit A, B, C) is unrivaled and on full display on this page.
The crowdfunding website, which allows anyone with an Amazon Payments account the opportunity to fund creative projects from various mediums, is celebrating a banner year. Though it pales in comparison to the budget of some studio films, $99,344,382 was pledged across the site in a field of 27,086 launched projects.
That's more than three times what was pledged last year in a year with a crop of launched projects whose number increased by almost two and a half times from last year.
Indiewire called Kickstarter cofounder Yancey Strickler to find out what all the numbers and other trends all meant for filmmakers, the film business and film fans. Film, after all, makes up nearly a third of the total dollars pledged, with 308,541 backers pledging $32,473,790.40 to 3284 successful film and video projects this year.
"It's been really exciting to see 'Pariah' and 'Putty Hill' [two films that raised part of their funds on Kickstarter] getting so much attention," Strickler told Indiewire.
"When the industry is complaining that box office attendance is down x%, I just think people are looking for a different way to be a part of the creative process. This year, we had over 300,000 people supporting films that weren't even completed yet. They are really excited about these films. At least ten of our film projects raised six figures.
"The difference is buying a digital file of a film for $10 is not a satisfying exchange; giving someone $10 to make a film that you can then buy a digital file for is a satisfying experience. It's hard to feel an emotional to anything [big industry is doing]. The experiments of Radiohead's "In Rainbows" album and Louis C.K.'s recent concert show have a real engagement with the audience that you don't often find often, except on Kickstarter."
The company pulled together 83 events that defined their 2011, proving, in Strickler's words, that Kickstarter is "an engine for culture." "Seeing all those events together," he added, "is a clue that there's somethign that's happening here."
Last January, five Kickstarter-funded projects premiered at Sundance; when the lineup for next week's festival was announced this December, fourteen Kickstarter projects found themselves on the 2012 list.
"When we started the site in 2009, very film projects participated at all. Many of the categories were fairly equally represented." Then in 2010, "Battle for Brooklyn" and "Dear Mr. Watterson" (a documentary about "Calvin & Hobbes") proved that Kickstarter was an opportunity for raising funds.
"Now, people are launching on Kickstarter, and this public money is a piece of larger budgets. You have your private equity money, your friends and family money, grant money. The public money can help close the budget. That's a way that you're going to see Kickstarter become a part of more well-known film projects.
"The scale of what's possible has now increased. It also brings people who have already had success here. A Jennifer Fox will see this as a real tool for her."
One of Kickstarter's 83 events of the year was a New York Times article that called Kickstarter (perhaps jokingly) "the people's NEA."
Strickler responded by saying, "[Kickstarter] changes access -- who has access to funds. I think that Kickstarter has a promising future ahead of itslef. We're still growing; it's only been two and a half years. We're still just mostly known in the early adopter world and certain other demographics. There is an unmitigated opportunity, if you make the most of what you can do with the site. We have no barriers but the guidelines we give, which benefit every project."