A basic premise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is to take back control from the traditional studio system. It’s normal, everyday people who choose what they’re interested in and, therefore, decide what gets made. This is why each project has a time limit, if it doesn’t reach its funding goal within a predetermined amount of time, it doesn’t get made: applying a democratic ideology to the creative process.
No one told James Franco this.
James Franco, who is currently raising money to turn short stories from his book Palo Alto into three separate feature films, just announced he’s extending the deadline on his Indiegogo funding campaign by two weeks. The project was set to expire on Wednesday, but has not yet made even half of its $500,000 goal.
I’ve made my personal thoughts on celebrity crowdfunding explicitlyclear. Back in April I wrote, “there is something particularly awful about professionals who have already risen to the near top of their field asking for handouts as if they can’t get work any other way.” It is, however, the mark of a specific kind of egotist to not only request that people less fortunate than you pay for your vanity project, but to then extend the deadline when people fail to pledge enough money in order to make three dumb movies based on three of your dumb short stories.
Perhaps there is a reason why, to date, less than $202,000 has been pledged. And perhaps that has something to do with the fact that the book on which the films will be based received very poor reviews. The Washington Post called it “a thin, hackneyed affair” while the Los Angeles Times quoted Dorothy Parker saying: “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly, but to be thrown with great force.”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Franco has pledged to donate all the profits of these films to charity, which makes his campaign less, if only so ever slightly, obnoxious. Perhaps he should just donate the money and move on to something else. Something tells me he’ll land on his feet.