Crowdsourcing: should fans get more for their money?

As more and more viewers fund TV shows and films, some feel it's time they got a share of the profits

If subversive musical comedy is your cup of tea then now's the time to show you care. The writer and comedian David Baddiel has launched a campaign to raise funds for a new pet project – the stage musical adaptation of his 2009 film, The Infidel, a comedy about a British Muslim who discovers he is Jewish – and he's hoping fans will pay for it. If Baddiel can raise enough on popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter – £55,000 by 16 April – the show, complete with ditties such as "Sexy Burqa", will go ahead at London's Theatre Royal Stratford East in October.

Baddiel is relying on a legacy of support either for the film itself (perhaps not the most reliable plan, given the muted reception on its original release) or else on devotees of his dark humour and the talents of his songwriter, Erran Baron Cohen, older brother to Sacha. If you want more of the same, the investment model submits, then put up your money. In exchange, Baddiel and co offer treats from rehearsal room email updates for £1, to premiere tickets for £1,000.

Will that be enough? Past precedent suggests that it could be. Baddiel is not the first to tap the kindness of strangers. Projects dependent on the love (and deep pockets) of loyal fan-bases are everywhere, both on stage and on screen – and they can make a pretty big splash. Consider the wildly successful Kickstarter project to fund Veronica Mars, the film based on the geek-tastic teen detective show, released earlier this month to very decent reviews. When the TV show's director, Rob Thomas, launched the campaign a year ago, it raised almost $6m, $2m of which was pledged within just 10 hours. Screenwriter/director Charlie Kaufman (of Being John Malkovich fame) raised twice the budget he needed to make the animation Anomalisa via Kickstarter.

Money aside, the power of fans to revive cancelled hits by heavy lobbying has ballooned in the past decade, thanks largely to fervour stoked by the internet forums that keep cult favourites like Veronica Mars and Arrested Development, the dysfunctional family sitcom starring Michael Cera that was rebooted last year on Netflix after a seven-year hiatus, alive online long after production has stopped. More recently, Ripper Street, the axed BBC drama about Victorian detectives in London's gas-lit East End, announced that it would air its third season on Amazon Prime Instant Video (formerly LoveFilm Instant), after an online petition was signed by 10,000 people.

Fans who fund or campaign for niche reboots expect quite a big bang for their buck. Realistically, what can they expect to get in exchange for their money and time? Interestingly, fan power revivals don't need to be a mainstream hit to be successful. The Arrested Development reboot wasn't a hit with critics, but in general, it met with approval from long-time fans. New distribution methods mean that reviving a show just to please a narrow demographic is now financially viable. Online channels like Netflix don't have to chase ratings like traditional TV channels, so long as they attract new subscribers and word-of-mouth kudos.

So what about when money changes hands? Crowdfunders usually get things like free tickets, downloads, posters, celebrity meets and even film roles in exchange for their donation. Certainly Veronica Mars fans seemed pleased – the film revival recouped more than a third of its budget at the US box office opening weekend alone.

But as fan power grows will people expect more? Eyebrows were raised recently when a campaign for Scrubs star Zach Braff's film Wish I Was Here raised $2.6m, only to announce shortly after that the film had secured millions of dollars in extra support from a traditional film financier, Worldview Entertainment. The hybrid model prompts a question: what happens if the film is a big hit? If Worldview gets a monetary return on its investment, shouldn't everyone else?

There are concerns too that you are being asked to pay twice for the same product, once to get the show made, and then again to see it. Most VM contributors (from $35 up) were offered free downloads. But that's far trickier to offer in theatre. Infidel fans will have to spend £150 for a reward that includes a single ticket to the show itself.

What's next? You decide, of course – film and TV fan power has never been greater. Just make sure you know what you're asking for. Especially if you're paying.

Arts and Entertainment
'Banksy Does New York' Film - 2014

Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist

Arts and Entertainment
Woody Allen and Placido Domingo will work together on Puccini's Schicchi

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
The sixteen celebrities taking part in The Jump 2015

TV

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall