The dark side of crowd-funding? Online community whips out the pitchforks over 'What we do in the Shadows' Kickstarter campaign

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  • January 19, 2015
  • Damien Venuto
The dark side of crowd-funding? Online community whips out the pitchforks over 'What we do in the Shadows' Kickstarter campaign

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement have taken to crowd-funding website Kickstarter in a bid to raise $400,000 to take the mockumentary What we do in the Shadows to cinemas in 70 cities across the United States.  

To date, the campaign has already raised over $13,000 from 258 backers, with 25 more days of online begging to go.

This isn’t the first time that Waititi has used the website in a bid to raise funds for the US launch of a film, with the decorated director using the same approach in 2012 to collect coinage for the US distribution of Boy.

As was the case then, the latest campaign again offers a series of rewards for those backers who donate certain amounts. The rewards go from a final script for those who donate $10 or more to a full package—which includes a meet and greet with Waititi and Clement, the opportunity to appear as an extra in an upcoming Waititi production, a Skype conversation with the pair, among other things— for those who donate $10,000 or more.

The likelihood of these rewards coming to fruition has however been questioned by some of the Boy backers, who were previously left disappointed by the tardiness of Waititi in coming through with the rewards.

A quick perusal of the user comments attached to the Boy campaign quickly reveals that a significant number of backers were left empty-handed despite meeting the donation thresholds to qualify for rewards.

And the comments didn’t stop at the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign, with scathing remarks still being posted last year.

In response to the criticism of the tardiness in sending rewards to backers, Waititi shifted blame to the company that had organised the campaign for him.

“The US company who set up the Kickstarter campaign left me to pull everything together alone, so organising rewards for hundreds of people, including 80 drawings, has been a little difficult," he told the NZ Herald at the time.

Rather unsurprisingly, the latest campaign has been launched via Clement’s Kickstarter account instead of Waititi’s in a move that could be seen as an attempt to preclude backers from seeing the remarks posted to the previous campaign.     

But the internet doesn’t forget, and the Reddit community has been quick to draw attention to the previous campaign, with many contributors questioning the audacity of Waititi in again using this approach.

Adding further controversy is the fact that What we do in the Shadows already has a series of distribution deals in the United States.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Orchard has picked up US digital, DVD and broadcast distribution rights, Unison Films is responsible for the theatrical release in the country and Funny or Die is taking care of marketing via its online channels.  

Despite these distribution deals, getting the film into 70 cities will not be cheap, so it's likely that the funds raised from the campaign will be used toward ensuring that the film makes it to as many cinemas as possible.  

818 Entertainment, the publicity team respsonsible for the comms for the local release of the film, was asked what the funds raised from the Kickstarter campaign will be used for, but the spokesperson would not comment on account of having no involvement with the international release of the film.

Our questions have been forwarded onto the film's producer, but we are still waiting for a response.        

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