Spike Lee has made more than 20 feature films and documentaries over the past three decades, to varying degrees of critical acclaim, commercial success and cultural impact. He's got one coming out this fall, a remake of the 2003 Korean cult classic "Oldboy," and he'd like to make another one soon about "human beings who are addicted to blood." Apparently, the 56-year-old Brooklyn-born filmmaker's next project hasn't generated much interest or funding from the Hollywood production machine, so Lee's decided to ask you to help out.
If that sounds familiar, it might be because Lee's taking a page out of the books of "Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas, who has raised more than $5.7 million for a film version of his cult TV show, and "Scrubs" star Zach Braff, who has raised more than $3.1 million for his next movie, "Wish I Was Here."
"Now, you might ask, 'Why, Spike? You did "Malcolm X," "Do the Right Thing," blah blah blah,'" Lee says in a video promoting his Kickstarter campaign, which launched Monday and has a goal of raising $1.25 million by Aug. 21. "But it's a very different climate now, and the only way to ensure, as an independent filmmaker, that your vision gets on the screen is when you bring the money to the table."
And as is the case with any Kickstarter, "you bring the money to the table" by promising wondrous gifts and exclusive rewards for the fans who offer their hard-earned cash to help you make your thing. In Spike's case, the rewards range from a $5 "thank you" tweet to autographed Spike-worn Nikes, an associate producer credit on the film, and even a trip to the Mecca:
Pledge $10,000 or more
This Award Is For All Playa-Playas. For 10 Grand I'm Taking You to Dinner, Then You Will Have The Honor And Privilege To Sit Next To Me (IN MY WIFE'S TONYA'S SEAT) COURTSIDE — FRONT ROW IN THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE AT THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA — MADISON SQUARE GARDEN TO SEE OUR BELOVED NEW YORK KNICKERBOCKERS, ORANGE AND BLUE SKIES. IF YOU DON'T KNOW THIS IS ONE OF THE TRUE GREAT SPORTING EVENTS TODAY. YOU WILL REMEMBER THIS EXPERIENCE AS LONG AS YOU LIVE. THIS IS A VERY LIMITED ITEM. YOU SLOW — YOU BLOW. THIS IS BIG, BIG TIME. PS. KNICKS WILL BE GREAT THIS COMING NEW SEASON.
First of all, I do not appreciate you burying the lede, Spike. The Knicks will be great this coming new season? Whew, what a relief! Here I was worried that the new Italian guy's kind of a stiff, their big defensive addition is a soon-to-be-34-year-old who's lost a step or two and their sixth man just had major knee surgery. Thank goodness that'll all work out!
Now, as to the ticket ... I mean, $10,000's kind of a lot of money, even for a courtside seat. Sure, secondary-market seats for big games can get up in that ballpark, but face value for a floor seat runs significantly lower, near $4,000. Then again, maybe the outlay depends on the specifics of the schedule and opposition — dropping 10 large on the project makes much more sense if you know you're seeing, say, a Friday night game against the Miami Heat than if there's a shot you're getting a Tuesday evening tilt against the Charlotte Bobcats. (We're taking as read, of course, that paying $10,000 for a project makes sense at all.)
Some may view Lee's perspective on crowd-funding his next project ("Nothing in Life is Free and if you want something you got to pay for it. If you have liked any of my Films in the past, this is the price it costs to see another one") as a reasonable move given the changing realities of the entertainment industry; others may take a more skeptical view of celebrity Kickstarter campaigns. Whichever side of that fence you call home, it must be said that a front-row seat to a Knicks game where you get to be as close to the action as humanly possible and are guaranteed to get on TV isn't a bad Kickstarter perk, all things considered. It just seems like kind of a bummer that you'd have to put 10 stacks on a detail-scarce pitch about blood addiction (the non-vampire kind, apparently) to realize the benefits.
On the plus side, if this works out, Spike finds enough takers to make his flick and he gets a taker for that courtside seat, maybe he won't be the only director to put a full-on MSG experience up for sale. I hear another New York filmmaker's getting intrigued by Kickstarter these days, too.
(Full disclosure: My brother used Kickstarter to raise money to make two records earlier this year. The degree to which you think he's a celebrity likely depends on what kind of music you enjoy and whether you've ever made him submit to the Million Dollar Dream.)
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