The fundraising tool Kickstarter has been no stranger to celebrities lately. First we saw Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas surpass his goal of $2 million in 11 hours to greenlit the long-awaited movie version of his hit TV series, followed by Zach Braff turning to fans to fund the sequel to Garden State. It should be no surprise this trend would continue and the next star to turn to the crowds is Entourage’s Adrian Grenier.
Entourage fans can relax as that film is already set to go into production later this year. But the star is hoping his name will help fund one of his first projects since the Entourage TV series wrapped, a film called Aardvark.
The kickstarter campaing for Aardvark was launched by its independent production company Three Point Stance along with its producers, but Grenier and actress Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife, CBS pilot Backstorm) have signed on to play the leads should the film find its funding.
The project with mark the directing debut of Brian Shoaf, a New York-based filmmaker, playwright and actor who has been recruiting friends in the industry to produce the project with him. The team now includes indie vets Jessica Hong, Sean Akers and Marc Reina, as well as newcomer Joseph Fleming, and Erick Peyton, principal of the production company Three-Point Stance. The team has already secured $50,000 and aims to raise the remaining $125,000 needed to bring their project to life through this campaign.
Grenier will play the lead role of Josh Norman, described as “a man coping with mental illness, an unethical therapist, a famous brother, and a possibly imaginary girlfriend.” Gummer plays Emily, the therapist, and Shoaf and his team are presently casting the roles of Craig (the brother) and Hannah (the girlfriend) which they hope to announce throughout the Kickstarter timeline. You can learn more about these characters and in fact, you can even read the first fifteen pages of the script at Aardvark on Kickstarter.com
The recent wave of projects on Kickstarter using celebrity draw to find funding has prompted discussion and even backlash over who should be able to use the site. In response, the founders of Kickstarter posted this statement on their blog just before the weekend stating that their intentions have always been to let anyone find funding for their creative projects whether they’re “big or small, established or Indie, serious or fun.” “That’s our mission,” the founders wrote. “We’re a tool available to anyone (in the U.S. and UK, currently) to fund and build a community around their creative project.”
They also pointed out that,”The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter. 63% of those people had never backed a project before. Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far. Nearly 40% of that has gone to other film projects.”
It’s too soon to tell if more filmmakers and actors will turn to the fans to fund sequels, TV to film versions, or other long-awaited projects that have had trouble finding funding through the traditional channels of Hollywood. While some may criticize that these star-powered pitches take away from true self-start projects for which crowd-sourcing was created and others may worry that fans are now literally paying to see their passions get made, I can’t help but point out that now more than ever fans and up & comers alike have taken back a little of the power so long reserved to the Hollywood elite. To play a part, pledge here.