UPDATE: Spike Lee‘s gotten some Kickstarter love from fellow filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, whom Lee revealed backed his project to the tune of $10K – AKA the “courtside Knicks seats” level of donation. “I can confirm that Steven indeed supports his fellow filmmakers, especially when that support leads to courtside seats for the Knicks,” Soderbergh’s manager Michael Sugar tells me. Lee’s still got 28 days left to raise his goal of $1.25M.
PREVIOUS, 7:01 AM: Spike Lee has joined the likes of Zach Braff and Veronica Mars in going the Kickstarter route to get funding for a film that might not otherwise exist. Lee just started the clock on a 30 day attempt to raise $1.25 million for an untitled movie about human beings who are addicted to blood that he calls “funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not Blacula).” While most Kickstarter solicitations promise crowd funders little more than a seat at the premiere and some tchochkes of negligible value, give Spike credit for digging deep for his biggest benefactors. For bidders who put up $10,000, Lee promises to take each of them to dinner, and that person will then sit beside Lee in his wife Tonya’s courtside seat at a New York Knicks game. That has become a storied, and sometimes infamous spot at the world’s most famous arena, as Spike is to the Knicks what Jack Nicholson is to the Lakers.
It was there, in the infamous 1994-95 Eastern Conference Semifinals that Lee once goaded Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller out of a cold shooting spell into an unconscious state in which he buried the Knicks with jump shot after jump shot, hilariously chronicled in the Dan Klores-directed ESPN docu. But Spike is more than a fair weather fan; Lee continued showing up and paying for his courtside seats during the godawful Isiah Thomas regime, when the team mortgaged its future draft picks for one washed up player after another. Given the high hopes for the Knicks in the upcoming season, Lee’s offering prime real estate. “You will remember this experience as long as you live,” he promises. “This is a very limited item. You slow–you blow. This is big, big time.” Three backers who pledge $5000 will get an associate producer credit and there are other incentives for lower bidders including signed Nikes that were worn by Lee.
I’m still not sold on millionaires appealing to fans to get their movies made, when these backers don’t share in the potential upside if there is one. But it seems galling that a director who made as many good movies as Lee has, especially the taut and seamless thriller Inside Man, can’t get financing for his films. Studios have all been wary of him since his antics on Malcolm X, and recent films Miracle At St. Anna and Red Hook Summer didn’t perform in the marketplace. And he and Universal just couldn’t find common budget ground on the film he wanted to direct about the L.A Riots, which occurred while Lee was showing his first cut of Malcolm X to Warner Bros chiefs Bob Daly and Terry Semel. Lee most recently remade Oldboy with Josh Brolin for Good Universe and he’s doing a documentary based on the one-man show he directed onstage with Mike Tyson. So far he has raised $73,908 in his $1.25 million quest, which is a promising start to a Kickstarter campaign that ends August 21 for a movie he expects to deliver in late 2014. Lee promises to take no fee for the movie. Stay tuned.