The latest big name to come to the defense of Spike Lee’s crowdfunded project for The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint is the actual website that hosted his cash-raising efforts, Kickstarter. The company posted a defense of the director on their blog on Aug. 19 after Lee began amassing criticism accusing him of abusing the crowdfunding platform and hurting the success of lesser-known projects.
Here are Kickstarter’s main lines of defense:
Success by association. Prominent directors like Lee bring along huge fanbases to Kickstarter
“Spike Lee brought three decades of fans to Kickstarter when he launched his project. He introduced many of them to this new way of funding creative works, and to the thousands of other projects that are funding on Kickstarter. Of Spike’s backers, 47% had never backed a Kickstarter project before,” they said. “In the past 90 days alone, more than $21 million has been pledged to filmmakers on Kickstarter not named Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, or Spike Lee. Even without counting these projects, it’s been the biggest three months for film ever on Kickstarter!”
Using Kickstarter isn’t tantamount to begging
“Others have accused creators of asking for a handout by using Kickstarter. This is silly. Every project offers a range of rewards to backers in exchange for their pledges. Spike’s backers get online screenings, tickets to the premiere, and access to the creative process of one of the most important voices in independent film. Just because an artist funds the creation of their work upfront rather than waiting until later to sell it doesn’t somehow make it charity.”
All creators can ask for public involvement
“Kickstarter is a place where creators share their work directly with the public, and audiences show their support for the projects they love. The results are amazing: more creative work by a greater diversity of creators than ever before. This isn’t just a different way of doing things, it’s a better way — for creators and audiences alike.”
Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (and a pal of Spike’s) also came to his friend’s defense, saying “Spike’s success helped make my success possible.” Soderbergh pledged $10,000 to Lee’s campaign, garnering him the prize of having dinner with Lee and sitting with him at a Knicks game.
And Spike Lee himself had something to throw into the fray with his video defense, explaining “I’m bringing people to Kickstarter who never even heard of Kickstarter; I’m talking [about] a lot of people of color who’ve never heard of Kickstarter, who’ve never made a pledge on Kickstarter.”
Lee reached his goal of raising $1.25 million for his film about “human beings who are addicted to blood” on Aug. 16. As of press time, Lee surpassed his goal, raising $1,353,207 from 6,096 backers, with less than a day to go.