Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 30th 2013 Contents A42
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Acclaimed film director Spike Lee grabbed
the tech spotlight last week by launching a
Kickstarter campaign to raise money for his
next feature film. He has until August 21 to
meet his goal of raising US$1.25 million.
He s getting there, slowly, with help from
some incentive giveaways at the higher dona-
tion levels. So far, 1,700 donors have pledged
US$311,000. At the US$10,000 donor level,
he s offering dinner and one of his courtside
Knicks seats. He revealed that one of the
$10,000 donors (there are 14 so far) is fellow
filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.
Technology website CNET chatted with Lee
about his campaign and how technology-dri-
ven tools---like Kickstarter, YouTube, and CGI
---can both help and interfere with the story-
telling process that is film. Here s an edited
transcript of the interview.
Q: How is the Kickstarter campaign going?
Lee: It s going pretty well. We re in day five
of a total of 30 days. We re reaching our daily
goal. Yesterday, we had our biggest day which
was US$68,000, and we have to reach US$1.25
million to get the money because on Kick-
starter, if you don t reach your goal, you don t
get anything. I m not complaining, but I m
doing everything I can to ensure we get the
It's about keeping the momentum going with
Lee: I ve been told by people who have done
it, and also the co-founders of Kickstarter,
that there s a great initial push, then you have
a lull in the middle, then it picks up again as
you re trying to reach that finish line.
Is it harder than you thought?
Lee: Well, really, I didn t have any expectations.
This is new territory for me. I just knew that
it wasn t going to be easy because what is easy.
I ve been really grateful for the help---people
have come out of the woodwork to steer me in
the right direction and have given me guidance
and wisdom because, like I said before, I ve never
done this before.
Given your prior film history, it's not unusual for
you to go seeking out funding, but it's just new
for you to do this way?
Lee: This method is new. This whole idea of
crowd funding is totally new to me. You re
appealing directly to the people who have sup-
ported your work, in my case, for a long, long
time. I ve been making films for three decades.
Were you wary at first?
Lee: No, I was convinced by the success Mr
(Rob) Thomas had doing the Veronica Mars
movie---that show had been canceled seven years
ago---it got US$5.5 million from Kickstarter. Zach
Braff, who was on the TV show Scrubs for many
years, he got US$3.5 million. So those two exam-
ples made me believe this was something I
You've watched technology evolve over the years,
with digital cameras, Web distribution and advances
in computer graphics. Has technology been good
or bad for indie filmmakers?
Lee: Technology has really made it possible
for me to do my independent films, which I ve
shot on digital, not film. Red Hook Summer,
which I self-financed, was shot on digital and
this will be too. (Lee also shot Baboozled mostly
on digital.) My concerns are when technology
rules the art, instead of the artist ruling and
commanding the technology. I will say this:
technology has really opened up the floodgates
and now anybody can make a film and put it
up on YouTube. I m not saying that all that stuff
is good, but still, it gives people the chance to
But when I have money, I still want to shoot
film which definitely is dying out.
How has the advent of computer graphics
changed the way Hollywood looks at filmmaking.
Lee: Well, CGI has definitely changed the
game, and I think the trick is how do you use
these CGI images to tell a story and to make it
original. Now, in my opinion, all these movies
look the same. It s like the same effects house
is doing everything. They all look the same.
What's driving that?
Lee: That s market-driven. In many cases, the
marketing department has a large say in what
gets made and what doesn t. That s why the
majority of (studio) films today have special
effects and 3D and this type of stuff.
It s not just me. Most recently, one of the
most successful directors in Hollywood today,
Steven Soderbergh, said he s not going to work
in feature films in the studio system. He s just
going to work in cable TV, where you could
argue a lot of the most interesting stuff is being
done now. Technology is a double-edged sword,
which I understand.
If you get this next film funded, how will you
Lee: That s down the road. We gotta get this
money first or there will be no distribution
because there won t be a film.
Where do you advise your students to go to
distribute their films?
Lee: Film festivals are still the best way to do
it. And it s harder, especially getting into Sun-
dance. Look at how many submissions they get.
You got to make a ton of DVDs of your film and
put it in the right hands, and hopefully someone
will see it.
Anything else you want to tell a our tech-oriented
Lee: For as little as US$5 you can join us, get
this film made, help us reach our (Kickstarter)
goal. I know we ve got some high-rollers there
(in the Bay Area) who are basketball fans and
"Wouldn t you love to sit with me courtside to
see your team, the Golden State Warriors playing
at Madison Square Garden?"
Now they only come once, so somebody I
know should hop on it and make that US$10,000
pledge. I ll take you out to dinner and we ll sit
courtside and we ll see if your team, the Warriors
can beat my beloved Knicks.
It will be a lot of fun. Your great coach Mark
Jackson is from Brooklyn, New York, went to
St John s (University) and is doing a great job.
And the Warriors are one of the up and coming
Spike Lee: Tech is a double-edged sword in filmmaking
Spike Lee is raising money for
his next film from fans and
other generous individuals via
Kickstarter. AP PHOTO
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