Kickstarter: Celebrity crowdfunding actually helps indie creators

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Does Zach Braff's rising tide lift all of Kickstarter's boats?

Celebrities have taken a lot of flak for asking fans to crowdfund their multimillion-dollar movie projects, but new numbers released by Kickstarter suggest that the controversial Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have actually given a boost to indie creators on the site.

The team behind cult TV show Veronica Mars in March started a Kickstarter project to raise funds for a movie version. In truth, it was more of a proof of concept to show Warner Bros. there was enough fan interest to make the movie viable. It was the fastest project to hit $1 million, and then $2 million (its goal) before topping out at $5.7 million.

Spurred by that success, Braff started a project to raise funds for a follow up to his hit indie film Garden State. He stated he could have raised the money elsewhere, but that would have required artistic compromise. With 14 days left, he's raised $2.5 million of his $2 million goal.

Both the Veronica Mars team and Braff had solid reasons for turning to Kickstarter, though were criticized for doing so. For one thing, many backers will also have to pay for tickets to see each film, as they won't receive a copy as their reward. Some suggested backers' cash would be best served to help out other projects, and let the millionaires fend for themselves.

Kickstarter has come out swinging, carrying stats in its pocket as it steps up to the podium to spit some truth in a fairly self-promotional blog post.

It claimed those two projects brought tens of thousands of new users, 63 percent of whom had not backed a project before. Many went on to back other projects—thousands pledged over $400,000 to around 2,200 projects. Almost 40 percent went to other movie projects. That's cash those other projects may not have seen otherwise.

It's not really surprising that the high-profile projects, those that gain a lot of press attention, will lead to new Kickstarter users digging around the site and finding other projects to back. Publicity for certain projects is by extension publicity for Kickstarter and all of its creators.

The phenomenon's happened before. Last year’s groundbreaking Double Fine Adventure game project led to more than 60,000 people making their first pledge, with more than 13,000 of them going on to pledge over $877,171 to more than 1,200 other projects. Perhaps Kickstarter has seen much more in pledges from those users since its post on the subject in March 2012.

There's a flip side to Kickstarter patting itself on the back here. Those who were already Kickstarter users could have pledged their money elsewhere than the Veronica Mars and Braff projects, potentially funneling more than that $400,000 to other users.

In the long run though, it’s hard to argue with the numbers: Having more backers on Kickstarter could lead to more projects being funded.

Photo via anoshole/YouTube

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