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

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week