English: Spike Lee at the Vanity Fair kickoff ...

Spike’s gotta have it? Spike Lee’s crowdfunding campaign is off to a so-so start among criticism that he’s siphoning off funds from less establsihed filmmakers.

Spike Lee is the latest established artist to seek funds on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. And he’s off to a somewhat tepid start. He’s faced some criticism since he started the campaign last week that he’s siphoning funds away from other, less established filmmakers.

Spike Lee’s campaign follows the path laid out by the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Branff’s, Wish I Was Here, both posted on Kickstarter by established Hollywood pros. Like all Kickstarter campaigns, Spike Lee has 30 days to reach his goal. It’s an all or nothing proposition. He either raises the amount and gets it, or gets nothing. 

With 23 days to go, Lee has raised $335,442 of his $1.25 million goal. That figure includes 17 backers who have pledged $10,000 or more. Their prize is dinner and sharing courtside seats with Spike Lee at a NY Knicks game next season. For lesser amounts, there are other rewards, including signed movie posters and screenings.

Spike’s not buying the criticism that he’s siphoning funds away from less established filmmakers who have come to rely on Kickstarter as a funding vehicle. He says that he’s been essentially crowdfunding before there was crowdfunding. Spike also contends that he’s brining more people to Kickstarter, many of whom have never heard of it as well as many people of color.

The Veronica Mars and Zach Branff projects both achieved their goals of $2 million in three and four days respectively. Interestingly, Spike Lee has a lot further to go at this point. The possible reasons: For one thing he’s offering far fewer details about his film than did the other two. It’s described simply as being about “Human beings who are addicted to blood. Funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not “Blacula“)…” A second reason could be that Spike Lee’s audience are perhaps less familiar with Kickstarter than the younger perhaps more “culty” audiences who follow the others.

In all of this there may be a certain amount of hubris involved. Spike Lee’s campaign is positioned almost as if he’s doing Kickstarter and its followers a favor for using their platform. He is claiming  that he’s bringing traffic to the site, while providing few details about the project. That may be a turnoff to some potential donors, coupled with sense that Lee can almost certainly raise funding at this point in his career from more traditional sources of film funding.

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