Would You Pay $5 to Fund a Movie?

Fans of stand-up comedian / television auteur Louis C.K. were treated to a unique interaction on Monday with the Emmy-nominated funnyman; he participated in an open Q&A on reddit.com, covering as many topics as possible, from his comedic influences to his religious beliefs. One of the reasons he was participating in the event was to promote his newest stand-up special, ‘Live at the Beacon Theater,’ which he is distributing on his own, via his website; you can download his new concert for a low price of just FIVE dollars. When a fan asked him if he had any plans to make a movie, C.K. explained that the difficulties of the film industry prevent him from trying to work within the system.

However, he also admitted that he hopes this cheaply-sold, Internet-only concert special is successful enough to change the traditional approach to filmmaking — and if his idea pays off, it might give you, the audience, even more control at what kind of movies are made by Hollywood.

Louis C.K.’s only cinematic outing so far has been the cult comedy ‘Pootie Tang’; when asked if he had any plans to make another movie, the comedian responded:

I would love [to] make more movies. That is a F—ING HARD JOB though, dude. Just to get it made. You can’t even do anything else while you’re [trying] to get it made and then you probably won’t. It’s heart breaking. Then it takes a good 2 years to make and finish the movie then it maybe won’t come out and then maybe it gets changed and worse than the movie not getting made, you made it, then it got changed into something you hated and then came out.
… if i can get a deal to make a movie the way I do my show, i’ll do it. Otherwise… no.

That despair seems pretty commonplace for an industry that is suffering from slumping box office revenue in the wake of a depressed economy; with Hollywood struggling to find profitable hits, they can only afford to make the safest movies possible, designed to appeal to the widest audience possible. But eventually that audience grows tired of having the same type of movie shoveled into the mouths and they just stop going to theaters. In turn, the movie industry has to play it even safer, creating a vicious cycle of diminishing returns.

But in addition to his blunt honesty, C.K. also reveals an audacious plan:

I have a dream, though. You want to hear it? Yeah? Well, okay. I thought about what if I make another special like this one and i put it up for 5 bucks again and it goes gangbusters. It makes, say, 8 million bucks. I don’t know that that is even possible. I’m trying to find out what the potential is with this one. But so if I make 8 million, which all goes through paypal right into Pig Newton, my company that makes my show and made the special. Well I would leave the money in there and make a f—ing movie.

In the reddit thread, hundreds of fans pledge to pay five dollars to the special, hoping to pay it forward to give him the money he needs to produce a movie on his own terms. While it’s yet to be determined if his still-fledgling plan will pay off, it’s worth considering: if this critically acclaimed, but still-under-the-radar comedian can rally enough fans to help pay for the kind of the movie they want to see, will more people start making movies that way?

All you have to do is look on KickStarter any day of the week to see a variety of artistic projects, including movies, successfully achieve funding. Audiences are willing to donate reasonable amounts to an artist/entertainer if they believe in the project and an organization like KickStarter keeps all the finances accountable, allows you to track how many other people are donating (in case you feel nervous parting with your money) and even offers you unique price incentives for helping out.

This upcoming Sundance Film Festival will showcase fourteen films funded through KickStarter audience fundraising. ‘Keep the Lights On,’ competing in the U.S. Dramatic Feature category, was able to secure its $25,000 goal with a majority of donations priced at no more than 50 dollars.

With the weekend’s terrible box office, the sure-things are coming fewer and farther between for actual crowd pleasers. We’ve heard your comments, and it’s clear you don’t think the movies are worth the ticket price. If producers, writers and directors were making the exact kinds of movies you wanted to see — but you had to donate, say five or ten dollars, just to get that movie made, would you fund it?

There’s no better way to make your point in a capitalist society than to vote with your dollar.


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