When Zach Braff and the Veronica Mars movie both generated multi-million-dollar budgets on Kickstarter, it seemed the crowd-funding site might be a foolproof way for cult stars to finance their future film projects. But not everyone who turns to their fans for funds has met with such success.
Melissa Joan Hart, the star of the 1990s tween sitcoms Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Clarissa Explains it All, this week cancelled her month-old Kickstarter campaign to raise $2m (£1.3M) for her proposed movie Darci’s Walk of Shame. She was $1.95m short of her target.
Kickstarter allows members of the public to pledge small or medium-sized donations to creative projects in return for non-financial rewards such as signed memorabilia or cameo film roles. If a project’s target budget is not reached, the pledged donations are never collected.
The long-mooted film version of Veronica Mars, a TV series about a schoolgirl detective that ran for three seasons in the 2000s, raised a record-breaking $5.7m from more than 91,000 backers after its Kickstarter campaign to raise $2m began in March. Last month, the Scrubs actor Zach Braff took just three days to hit the $2m target for a follow-up to his 2004 film Garden State. Braff has gone on to raise at least $2.6m via crowd-funding; this week it was announced that he had secured further funding from a traditional film financier, taking his budget to $10m.
But Hart, who currently stars in the sitcom Melissa & Joey alongside fellow ’90s TV favourite Joey Lawrence, failed to entice fans with her planned star vehicle. Darci’s Walk of Shame is described on its Kickstarter page as the story of a thirtysomething unemployed schoolteacher who has her first one-night stand at her sister’s wedding, and then must endure “a very long, confusing walk of shame in a ridiculously bright coloured taffeta bridesmaid’s gown”. The film would be shot “somewhere like Thailand or the Caribbean”.
Braff described his hoped-for film, Wish I Was Here, as a passion project over which he wanted full creative control as writer, director and star. Hart, meanwhile, seemed keen simply to win her first leading film role since 1999’s Drive Me Crazy. In a promotional video, the 37-year-old actress told fans: “I need your help to prove to people that I’m more than just Clarissa or Sabrina.”
The film’s page offered incentives including, for backers who pledged $100, a promise that “two of our main cast members (not Melissa Joan Hart) will follow you on Twitter for a full year”. A month into the campaign, Darci’s Walk of Shame had secured just $51,605 in pledges from 315 backers.
Kickstarted: The success stories
The ‘smartwatch’ became the most successful crowd-funded project in Kickstarter’s history. The company behind the device asked for $100,000 (£65,000), but raised a whopping $10,266,845 (£6.7m) in the space of a few weeks.
This wireless dock to connect an iPhone to another device was described by WIRED magazine as “the dock Apple should have made in the first place.” It raised $1,464,706 after seeking $75,000.
Ouya’s Kickstarter campaign first launched July 10 with a funding goal of $950,000, promising an “elegant and affordable” games console for the Android platform. It raised $8,596,475 from 63,416 backers.