Late in the summer of my thirty-first year, in the waning hours of my Kickstarter, I said something very foolish.
“If we reach $7,600,” I said aloud, “I will record a Firefly EP.”
That was only $600 over my last stretch goal, which was “to make a music video,” which was only $1,000 over my actual Kickstarted project, to record Giant Robot Album in a real Los Angeles recording studio with the band The Long Holidays.
It is now the summer of my thirty-third year. The Kickstarter rewards were sent out almost immediately after the Kickstarter got funded. Giant Robot Album was officially released on June 25, 2013. The Giant Robot Album music video, which I ended up making myself in iMovie because I had long spent all the Kickstarter money, went live on March 23, 2014.
Now, I’m spending my evenings sitting on the scrubbed-clean floor of my apartment bathroom, putting together a Firefly EP.
(Just so we’re all clear: by “Firefly EP” I mean “an EP containing original songs about characters from the popular-but-canceled television series Firefly.” Also, musicians record in bathrooms because the acoustics are good.)
Anonabox, the Washington Post reports, may not just be a silly name for a product; it might have the distinction of being a Kickstarter cautionary tale.
But the Anonabox, which has raised more than $600,000 from 9,000 people since going online four days ago, is a curious case. Most Kickstarter controversies erupt after the fact, when a project has been funded and the creator fails to deliver. (Earlier this year, in fact, Washington’s attorney general sued a Tennessee-based project that did just that.) But funders began to notice problems with the Anonabox — a tiny, affordable Internet router that anonymizes your online activity — long before that point. There were glaring discrepancies, they noted, between creator August Germar’s original description of the Anonabox and actual pictures of the device online. Germar claimed that he had designed the hardware from scratch, when, in fact, the primary components were bought almost off-the-shelf from China.
Haha oops! And backers are not happy.
Since 9 a.m. today, donors have withdrawn roughly $14,000 in pledges, or 2 percent of the project’s earnings to that point. (Under Kickstarter policy, backers can change or cancel their donations at any time before a project closes, with some exceptions if they cancel in the last 24 hours.) According to Anonabox’s Kickstarter page, more than 200 people have contributed at least $250 to the project, and a handful have donated considerably more.
Funny that Kickstarter refuses to get involved in a case of fraud and misrepresentation, whereas GoFundMe was quick on the draw when it discovered that a woman was trying to raise money for a lawful abortion. But the bigger lesson is, of course, caveat emptor, everyone.
Putting up capital isn’t usually how corn-fed, dreamy-eyed boys and girls across America hope to break into the Entertainment industry. As of this week, though, it might be the most accessible way for them to do it. The New York Times reports:
A start-up, Junction Investments, plans to open for business on Wednesday, allowing wealthy individuals to invest in movies alongside veteran film financiers.
At the start, the company will offer an online chance to back “A Hologram for the King,” an adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel that will star Tom Hanks. Soon after, would-be mini-moguls will be able to invest in “Triple Nine,” a thriller featuring Kate Winslet, the “12 Years a Slave” star Chiwetel Ejiofor and Woody Harrelson.
The Junction Investments-backed films are films that will be made anyway, with or without your cash. They are not Tinkerbells that will die if you don’t clap, like the Veronica Mars movie, which became a three-dimensional manifestation of an audience’s enthusiasm after its on-a-whim launching on Kickstarter.