‘Whatever this is.’: It’s Well Worth the Crowd’s Funding
As many Hollywood artists hop aboard the Kickstarter bandwagon, lest we forget the little guys: Those humble, hard-working artists who turn to the crowdfunding site to pay for their creative projects.
Such as Whatever this is. It’s a new web series from Adam Goldman, the Brooklyn-based force behind The Outs, an acclaimed seven-episode, online show about gay exes figuring out love and life in New York City. The Outs collected a cult following — including a few outspoken celebrity fans, like Alan Cumming — and praise from publications like The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Out and Paper, after it was entirely financed through two Kickstarter campaigns.
Now Goldman is calling on crowdfunding again for Whatever this is., a series focuses on three roommates — two production assistants, Ari (Dylan Marron) and Sam (Hunter Canning), and teacher Lisa (Madeline Wise), Sam’s girlfriend — as they struggle to make ends meet while chasing their career dreams.
“These characters have a plan to get where they’re going, but that plan maybe isn’t working out exactly as they anticipated,” Goldman explained to Celebuzz via email. “I think that’s probably true of everyone at some point in their life, so hopefully people will see something to relate to.”
But it is not in the same vein as other shows about twentysomethings finding their way. “What’s out there [on TV] is suffused with a kind of cynicism,” said Goldman. “Also, a lot of stories about young people on TV are about people with safety nets, and we wanted to remove that net. For Ari and Sam and Lisa, there is really no Plan B. It’s make rent or give up and start from scratch somewhere else. Money is not going to parachute in from the sky.”
Neither will it for the production of Whatever this is. With less than week left, the series’ Kickstarter campaign stands just shy of $70,000, which is less than halfway to Goldman’s $165,000 goal. While “the shoestring is slightly bigger” than with The Outs, he points out that they’re “still barely squeaking by” compared to “any ‘real’ television budget.”
It’s most certainly modest measured up to the $3.1 million that Zach Braff pulled in for his Garden State follow-up, Wish I Was Here, or the $5.7 million that Rob Thomas raised for the Veronica Mars movie. That’s in part why these high-profile, deep-pocketed Hollywood types have caught criticism for using Kickstarter: some see it as unseemly of them to ask for seven-figure sums while independent projects stagger behind.
But if you ask Goldman, the flak is not fair. “[It] is a great tool and it need to be available to everyone — period,” he said, adding that he generally agrees with Kevin Smith’s opinion of celebrities cashing in on Kickstarter. “It doesn’t discriminate. It is good, whoever is using it.”
And their presence on the site is something of a “push and pull” for campaigns like Whatever this is. “On the one hand, it means more exposure for crowdfunding endeavors like our own, which is great,” he explained. “On the other hand, someone is more likely to fork over $20 to the campaign that’s getting massive media coverage because it’s run by a celebrity than to kick those same $20 in to an independent artist trying to make a first project.”
But if the brilliantly-written, well-acted and witty first episode is any indication, Whatever this is. has a hopeful future, one that is already forming in Goldman’s imagination. “We designed Whatever this is. from the ground up to be more than one season,” he said. “The first six episodes have a clear arc and it’s all going somewhere, just like The Outs. Assuming people enjoy the show, we’d love to keep going … I’m getting really excited about it.”