LitStaff Pick: Open Thread

Will Kickstarters Replace Corporately-Funded Art?Kickstarter_Logo_a_l

It seems everyone I know is working on a Kickstarter project. We’ve even promoted a few here on LitStack. One concerned a book, the other, a very necessary and deserved fundraiser to help facilitate our friend Jay Lake’s medical treatment. But this week, director Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, put together a Kickstarter to fund a Mars film.

Veronica Mars, which starred Kristen Bell as a young sleuth, ended its three-season run in 2007. With Bell’s help, series creator Rob Thomas started the effort Wednesday to make a big-screen version. More than 33,000 contributors had pledged $2.1 million as of Wednesday evening, and the total was still growing.”

This got me thinking. In the past decade or so, we’ve all seen the impact of fan power. Firefly, the Joss Whedon SciFi series that Fox rather stupidly cancelled after barely one season, left in its wake millions upon millions of fans who simply could not let the series go. They rallied, they wrote letters, they came together and demanded that a Firefly film be made. It happened and in 2005, we Firefly fans got ‘Serenity.’ It was the congregation of viewers, Browncoats, that have kept the stories of Captain Mal and his crew alive.  To which star, Nathan Fillion said, during the Firefly ten year reunion at ComicCon:

When Firefly died, I thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen. And what I realize now, 10 years later, looking out over this room, is that the worst thing that could have happened is if it had stayed dead.”

Fans partake in love affairs. They single out a novel, a comic, a film, a band, because they feel an intrinsic connection to the characters and creators of the worlds they love. As such, with a devotion that doesn’t necessarily impact a studio or publishing house’s decision to continue with production, it may very well end up becoming the fans that determine what books, films or serials will continue in production.

Echoing that in the publishing industry is the ease by which books are now distributed, especially in terms of eBooks. Many authors are seeing their work, initially self-published and distributed via sources outside of traditional publishers, crossing over to the masses, to markets that may have not been receptive ten years ago. EL James, Amanda Hocking and Jennifer L. Armentrout have all broken the traditional publishing molds. They’ve expanded, become vastly successful because of their individual marketing and, of course, because fans have embraced their novels.

Kickstarter has given the fan the opportunity to fund the arts without the restrictions set by corporate America.

Case in point: Amanda Palmer, musician, performer and wife of Speculative Fiction’s darling, Neil Gaiman. Palmer used Kickstarter to fund what she referred to “an appeal for free labour.” She garnered over $1 million from the fundraiser.  She believes that, as a society, we are returning to an age of an intimate connection between art and community:

“For most of human history, musicians, artists—they’ve been part of the community,” she said at TED, “connectors and openers, not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance. But the internet and the content that we’re freely able to share on it are taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough.”

If this is true, if the momentum of fan-funded arts continues, we may well see films produced, books published and music made by the discretion of the fan alone. If this happens, where do the suits fit into the model? Will they be necessary?

What do you think, LitStackers?

-TS Tate

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