Why I Won’t Be Supporting Rob Zombie’s Crowdfunding Campaign… Probably.

First thing to establish. Unlike a lot of folks who have vented their spleen in the wake of Wish I Was Here I have absolutely no problem with established filmmakers using crowdfunding. In fact I think it’s fantastic. For far too long ostracized filmmakers have tried and failed to get films made, leaving us to only dream about pet projects. What would have happened if Jodorowsky had kickstarter in his prime? What could Terry Gilliam have done with Indiegogo backing him up? I wish more filmmakers would turn to crowdsourcing. Come on Richard Kelly how much could Corpus Christi really cost? What about John Carpenter? Wouldn’t you love to see another film from him? I love that we as fans now have the power to make “Director Jail” a thing of the past.

Right now at this very second films by the likes of Paul Schrader, Alex Cox, Spike Lee, Steve James, Hal Hartley and Phil Tippet exist that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for crowdfunding. As far as I’m concerned that’s not a good thing, that’s a great thing. That hardly any of these projects have been good is almost beside the point. In an era of cinematic homogenization crowdfunding allows idiosyncratic filmmakers to make idiosyncratic films and gives the fans direct and genuine power.

0adbb251-3eff-48c2-8f7e-7cfd81fb1c76Second thing to establish. I actually really like Rob Zombie as a director. Unapologetically and pretty much across the board (We shall not speak of El Superbeasto). Lords of Salem is a one of the best horror films of the last fifteen years. Devil’s Rejects is nearly as good. His Halloween films are at worst interesting failures and frankly the franchise was so degraded by the time Zombie got his hands on it that even “interesting failure” would have to be considered an exponential leap in quality. At the very least both have an interesting take on Myers and sequences with genuine frisson. Zombie’s films may be repulsive, but they are so because of Zombie’s genuine visual talent and atmospheric skills so strong that his films are practically tactile

So why does his crowdfunding campaign for his new film 31 leave me so dispirited?

At its core it’s all about a lack of information. There’s plenty of production art and plot description on Zombie’s pitch, but precious little else. No ultimate funding goal, no explanation of why this particular film needed to be crowd sourced (though from the looks of the previz art it’s possible he just doesn’t want to deal with the MPAA), hell not even a running tally of what he already raised. And I think I know why…

When Zombie first announced that he would be making 31 in lieu of The Broad Street Bullies (a film I’d much rather be crowdsourcing) a few month’s back he had this to say to The Daily Dead.

“Well, it really didn’t have anything to do with not being ready. It’s all about money, you know. We didn’t have the money yet to do the hockey film. And someone decided that they would give me the money to do the other film, so I said “ok, I’ll do this one first and come back to do the other one later.” Because I didn’t want to just sit around for years trying to get the movie made, because that’s how it goes sometimes, you know. Sometimes it takes a long time to get a movie made, and I didn’t want to wait. And every time I plan a movie another movie is the one I make. You know, they’re very expensive to make. So, as soon as I told someone the idea for 31, they were like “Oh! We’ll give you the money for that! Let do it!” So I was like “Ok! I’ll do that first and then I’ll come back to the other movie!”

So what happened? Did funding drop out? Or is Zombie just trying to be able to afford a few more scary vans? I would be happy to give Zombie money so he’d be able to make a movie. I would be significantly less enthused to give him money so he could get a better craft service table. There’s no mention of outside funding on the 31 page, but the fact that there’s no ultimate goal suggests that Zombie’s not really worried about hitting a certain number for a budget. From the way it looks this is all gravy.

Of course Zombie would have a reason for keeping outside sources mum. Anyone remember Joe Dante’s movie Burying The Ex? Dante ran a crowdsourcing campaign for that too. Problem was he ran it while the film was in production. The stakes of the Burying The Ex campaign was better CGI, not a there being/not being a film. And though you’d be hard pressed to find a figure more beloved by horror fans than Joe Dante, the campaign belly flopped. Simply put once a movie is getting made, we don’t really care how it gets made.

Now it’s tough to be sure how much Zombie’s campaign has made without going through and tallying up every donation from the 600+ donors, but given that Zombie has already sold out of lifetime passes to his concerts that were going for 1,000 dollars a pop (great idea) it’s fair to say that Zombie’s campaign is already a success on its first day.

If Zombie’s mysterious investors dropped out, and he just couldn’t bear to let the project go, then more power to him and I will be happy to shell out a few bucks to help make it happen- but he should let us know. If on the other hand he’s just doing this for a few extra days on the shooting schedule… I just think it’s a genuine shame that he called in his favor from his fans before he really needed it.

Also beyond all these considerations there’s a midget clown with PAIN tattooed on his forehead, and man I just don’t know if that’s something I can get behind.

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The Author

Bryce Wilson

Bryce Wilson

Confirmed film geek and literary nerd. Writer for Paracinema and Art Decades Magazine, columnist for the San Luis Obispo New Times and author of Son Of Danse Macabre. Resides in Austin, TX.