Spike Lee has had a hard time getting love from industry pundits and journalists for his ill-conceived Kickstarter campaign. If you follow the campaign close enough, though, it’s clear Lee is learning as he goes along. And as the campaign goes along, it’s actually unfolding beautifully.
When Lee launched the campaign for “The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint,” a film about “Human beings who are addicted to Blood. Funny, Sexy and Bloody. A new kind of love story (and not a remake of “Blacula”),” he received a lot of criticism for not knowing much about the community standards of the platform he was asking for money on. He encountered the now-expected “get celebrities off of Kickstarter” backlash, but he also was critiqued for not explaining why someone as wealthy and connected as he was (He is working, after all, with a HBO Mike Tyson doc and the remake of “Oldboy” about to be released.). He was also criticized for saying nothing about the film other than that it was about people with blood addictions and that it wasn’t about vampires.
The complaints against Lee were basically that his pitch was miscalibrated; it came off as out-of-touch and exploitative. Aisha Harris at Slate’s BrowBeat culture blog stepped up and explained how Lee should improve his pitch. She splits up her critique into three parts: Lee’s newness to Kickstarter is evident, he doesn’t sell his financial struggles well enough (“Malcolm X” needed to be saved by Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, and Magic Johnson; despite the fact that “Inside Man” was a hit for Lee, he wasn’t allowed to make a sequel), and he doesn’t say anything about the film. After a few days, Lee’s changed his tune in the first two regards. He still thinks that audiences know too much about films before going to see them (and that Kickstarter campaigns are potentially just as bad as trailers that give out all the details of a film).
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Well, things are turning around for Lee. Here are the seven things he’s done that have changed the spin on his campaign:
1. Lee stood strong to his message, that he was an indie filmmaker who supports his NYU students and often has more trouble than you’d imagine producing the films he most wants to get made.
Though he’s saying the same things, Lee is acknowledging that not everyone knows that he is a generous presence at NYU, that not everyone knows his trouble getting his films funded, that not everyone has seen his films. An appearance on Bloomberg News in which he got in a heated discussion with the host led to a big day of donations.
2. He started making announcements about the film.
Early on the campaign, he announced that Raphael Saadiq would be composing music for the film. This week, he announced that British actress Zarrah Abrahams will play the lead female role in the film.
3. He’s constantly updating his campaign page and is interacting with fans.
He’s sending personal shout-outs to every single person that posted a comment announcing their favorite Lee film.
4. He changed his campaign video so that he didn’t come off as so smug.
He also changed the key art for the campaign to allude to the style of “Do the Right Thing,” his classic examination of racial tension in Brooklyn. Much, much better Spike.
5. He shared his list of essential films all filmmakers need to see.
6. He struck a chord with basketball fans.
At this point, twenty-six backers will be going to Madison Square Garden to see the Knicks play in Lee’s wife’s seat. While it may harm his marriage, the offer raised at least $26,000 so far.
7. He’s hosting a Brooklyn party.
Hipster hangout Brooklyn Bowl will be hosting a DJ party in support of the Kickstarter campaign, which will have a $25 cover at the door. Below is the invite.