I was (and remain) skeptical of crowd funding’s place within the traditional film funding model, but have been pleasantly surprised to see it recently perform adequately for two film related raises — both of which were to pay for lawyers. It’s always reassuring to see film making axioms play-out: in this case it’s that the only people who make money from every film are the attorneys.
The first one was to raise money for a securities attorney to petition the SEC to modify the accredited investors laws to allow crowd funding for films (something that I fear will be so fraught with fraud that producers will long for the respectable days of pre-crowdfunding film investment.) The raiswase successful and the fight is now on.
The second is posted at Kickstarter.com and was brought to my attention by Robert Redford’s article in the Huffington Post (which syndicates my posts as well.) In this instance, documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger is raising a legal defense fund for his fight against Chevron, who subpoenaed his 600 hours of footage for its defense against 30,000 Ecuadorians who are suing Chevron for destroying and poisoning their lands and people. It would seem that this footage and the people who confided to the filmmakers, would be a slam dunk 1st Amendment defense, but the courts seem to feel otherwise.
Having made a social issue documentary (“Who Killed the Electric Car?”) that was also a David vs. Corporate Goliath story, I vividly recall the production being threatened with potential litigation, as well as disinformation campaigns brought about by a publicity firm hired by GM.
Redford makes a valid point that if people don’t feel they can have some modicum of constitutional protection by whistle-blowing or speaking candidly with documentary filmmakers, then our society will lose one of its greatest civil protectorates: passionate, self-righteous, bullheaded filmmakers.
Independent filmmakers need all the help they can get, so even if Kickstarter and the other crowd funding resources aren’t able to fulfill the promise of film funding, perhaps they can find comfort as a vehicle for film protecting.