Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Last week some quotes came out of a Cop Out roundtable interview where Kevin Smith talked about the notion of accepting money donated from fans to finance his movie Red State. Smith said that he would match donations based on the plan that had been considered so far (a point I think a lot of people missed) to bulk up the financing.
I thought the idea was interesting, though possibly so difficult to pull together from a legal perspective that it could never really work. Astoundingly, a lot of the other reactions to this idea were vehemently negative. There was a range of angry response, much of which boiled down to “how dare he ask for money?” based on the idea that Smith would get paid to make the film and would own the final product.
Smith was understandably less than happy with the negative reaction and has addressed the idea and the response to it in a blog post.
The first point to take away here is that Kevin Smith did not propose this idea. He’s not begging; fans proposed and then endorsed the concept. (I arguably didn’t make that clear in my original post, which was a mistake.) One fan mentioned the idea of donations via Twitter, which led to many others offering to donate. At that point Smith said he’d look into it, and according to his post he has spent as much as ten thousand dollars having lawyers check into the legal issues that would ensue.
Here’s a segment of his blog response, which you should check out in its entirety:
This fan-financed-film (aka, “begging”) hasn’t happened yet, nor might it ever happen. While it all sounds perfectly Amish, it’s fraught with crazy pitfalls and tax problems that have required hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in legal fees to investigate even the possibility of the fan-financed idea’s merit.
…If (and I mean IF with a huge fucking i & f) this fan-financed idea were to move forward? I’m not making a dime. If I were, as suggested, to turn to the fan-base to fund the movie, do you honestly think I’d even take a salary? I was just tickled and touched a bunch of people wanted to see it so badly, they were like “Here’s my twenty, if it’ll help.” All without having read a script.
…This isn’t about making money, you negative pricks: it’s about making movies. And what’s sickening about it? Motherfuckers screaming foul WRITE FOR MOVIE WEBSITES. You’d imagine they’d support the making of a movie.
Whew. Good thing we weren’t among the ones screaming foul.
I want to reiterate the point I tried to make the first time: this is a really intriguing idea, and if Smith and his lawyers could make it happen it could represent a small seismic shift in the way the business works. There’s no real reason it couldn’t work, besides the endless series of legal hurdles that get thrown in the path of any typical film getting made. Add a wildly unconventional financing package to the deal, and things could get really weird. But someone is likely to do this eventually, and Smith has a dream (that may be a pipe dream, but still) that this could be a sort of American Indie Movement v.3. That’s a thing I’d like to see come into being.