The ambivalence of backing a successful Kickstarter project

June 26th, 2012

It’s cool to see a project I backed on Kickstarter, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry up on the Apple trailers page. But also deeply ambivalent as the promised digital download never arrived, which leaves me feeling used and kind of cheated.

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3 responses to “The ambivalence of backing a successful Kickstarter project”

  1. Andy Baio says:

    If they offered the digital download or DVD before a theatrical release, it wouldn’t qualify for an Academy Award and would make it impossible to get decent distribution. They promised backers will still get the DVD and digital download before anybody else does, and they haven’t violated that promise. Backers will have a copy of the film before anybody in the world.

    The frustration stems from backers not being able to SEE it before anyone else, but that’s the reality of film distribution. Even Indie Game: The Movie, which bypassed all traditional distributors, couldn’t send out digital downloads until it’d hit the festival circuit, because it would’ve been disqualified from Sundance if they’d showed it to backers first or screened in theaters.

    I thought it was impressive the Ai Wei producers managed to get their distributor to agree to the online screenings last month for backers only. Did you catch either of them?

  2. Kellan says:

    Whether or not they’ve violated the letter of a promise is orthogonal to whether or not they’ve violated a trust.

    It sucks that the legacy Academy system works that way, but it also sucks that I thought this film was being produced over here participating in a new community based system with us as (very minor) collaborators, and turns out we’re actually just not terribly valuable customers.

    And no, neither of the online screening times worked for me.

  3. Matt Jacobs says:

    I agree with you, Kellan. I felt the same way after backing Indie Games. I was made to believe that they were asking for the people who were really interested, excited, and willing to spread the word to help them fund the project. In return for our money and support, they’d let us see it first, hoping we would create a lot of buzz. Buzz leads to distribution, etc.

    Maybe it was naive of me to think that this route could be more effective than traditional ones or even that this was ever their intention, but it was disappointing they never tried. Seeing the film was screened dozens of other places before most backers had a chance to see it felt dirty.