Last we heard from Charlie Kaufman in 2008, he brought us the postmodern film Synecdoche, New York, where Philip Seymour Hoffman directs thousands of actors in the mundanities of their lives inside a New York City warehouse. At least, that’s the best I can understand the movie after reading several reviews. Kaufman’s latest project, however, is a bit more straightforward: He’s financing a 40-minute stop-motion film through Kickstarter with Community‘s ex-showrunner Dan Harmon.
You’ll remember that part of what made Community so innovative was its unique approach to episodes, including the 2010 stop-motion Christmas episode. You can thank Starburns Industries for that; they’re now working with Kaufman and Harmon on Kaufman’s movie Anomalisa. Not surprisingly, it shares plot themes with Synecdoche: All we know is that it’s about “a man crippled by the mundanity of his life.” And they need $200,000 to do it.
Already this campaign has raised over $75,000, having existed for a day or so. You can credit the Kickstarter perks, which include signed storyboards, your name in the credits, puppets, a Starburns Industries studio tour… But of course, the most attractive perk is at the $5,000 tier: Dan Harmon will write a twenty-page custom screenplay all about you. Obviously the Community fans are psyched about this one, excited for their hero to bring his meta humor to their lives.
But if you did have $5,000 to spare, bad news: Someone already claimed that perk. And the $7,500 one, which came with a hand-crafted set. Seriously, who has this kind of money to throw around? It was incredibly smart marketing to put out that kind of exclusivity, and to have only one prize at each tier, but it also brings up what bothers me about celebrity Kickstarters: What about all of the projects by people who aren’t famous, who can’t offer such a badass perk but have an equally compelling plan?
The reason they chose Kickstarter, the Anomalisa page says, is that they didn’t believe that they could do it without having to compromise to fit Hollywood standards. That’s why they want to entirely self-fund it instead and not owe anyone but the audience:
Our goal is to produce this unique and beautiful film outside of the typical Hollywood studio system where we believe that you, the audience, would never be allowed to enjoy this brilliant work the way it was originally conceived. We’ve been working in the television and movie industry for years and we just want to make something ourselves. Something pure. Something beautiful.
But couldn’t someone like Kaufman finance at least part of that $200K? Playing devil’s advocate here. Obviously I’m excited to see Kaufman get more work out. And yet he’s already realized so many edgy, un-Hollywood projects. Will Anomalisa overshadow other aspiring artists trying to fund their dreams through crowdsourcing?
Photo: NBC/Starburns Industries