While some folks take the the streets to camp out and protest economic unfairness in our society, others are Kickstarting the economy and advancing their own dreams. While some complain that you can’t get ahead unless you are rich, others are finding ample funding for their creative visions through the online phenomenon called Kickstarter.
I’ve been thinking about blogging on Kickstarter for a while. An article in today’s New York Times suggests that now is the time to write. David Pogue, author of “Embracing the Mothers of Invention,” offers a fine summary of Kickstarter and its surprising success. Here’s Pogue’s description of Kickstarter:
Kickstarter is a “crowd-funding” site. It’s a place for creative people to get enough start-up money to get their projects off the ground. The categories include music, film, art, design, food, publishing and technology. The projects seeking support might be recording a CD, putting on a play, producing a short film or developing a cool new tech product.
How does Kickstarter work? Suppose you have a great idea, a work of art of an invention or something like that. You’re sure your idea has promise, but you don’t have the funding to move it forward. What are your options? Well, you could go out an protest against the 1%, hoping that somehow this will end up to your advantage. Or you could get your idea up on Kickstarter and see if people what to support it. If they do, then you get the funding you need to pursue your dream. If not, then you can always camp out in a public park.
I first became aware of Kickstarter just over a year ago. I received several invitations from friends to help “kickstart” the making of the film version of Blue Like Jazz. Based on the bestselling book by Donald Miller, Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson, along with Miller, had written a screenplay for the movie. But they could not get the funding they need to make the film. It was dead in the water, $125,000 short of what was needed with no obvious sources of support.
Enter Kickstarter. A couple of fans of the book learned that Steve Taylor could not get the funding he needed, and proposed to use Kickstarter to raise $125,000. Taylor figured this would never work, but gave permission anyway. A few months later, 4,495 backers had given $345,992 to the project. The filming commenced, and the movie will be out in April of this year. I have seen a preview of a rough cut of the movie at Laity Lodge. It’s an engaging film, one that will stir up plenty of conversation, much like Miller’s book did in the first place.
Supporters of a project (I have supported one so far) do not get any financial return on their investment, though there are sometimes incentives. (If you gave $5,000 or more to the Blue Like Jazz project, you got to spend a deay on the set as Steve Taylor’s assistant.) What supporters get is the joy that comes from sponsoring something worthwhile, something that can make the world better.
One of the things I like about Kickstarter is that it gives “the little guy” a chance. “Little guys” can advance their ideas and maybe even get them funded. “Little guys” like me can contribute to things we believe in, making some small difference. Just because we’re part of the mythic 99%, we’re not stuck, if we’re willing to be creative and/or generous people.