Ain’t It Cool News blogger Harry Knowles already has a polarizing rep for getting chummy with the makers of the movies he covers. Now Peter Jackson is the latest high profile filmmaker to throw his support behind a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100K for Knowles’ fanboy talk show. In a video posted today, the Hobbit helmer urges backers to contribute to Knowles’ Kickstarter which is just about $18K shy with a day left to reach its goal. I hear Jackson has not made an official monetary donation to the campaign but other directors including Rian Johnson, Eli Roth, and Guillermo del Toro have backed the project, with del Toro notably donating $5K to the cause.
If successful the campaign will finance a second season of Ain’t It Cool With Harry Knowles, a web talk show focused on Knowles and filmmaker guests that ran its first season via Nerdist on YouTube. That season cost an estimated $300K, according to Knowles, who claims that most of that budget went to the Nerdist cabal overseeing the project and not to AICN’s production team. Nerdist passed on a second season but Knowles says he got an offer from local PBS affiliate KLRU to air the show’s second season if funded.
According to Knowles the requested $100K will go toward shooting costs and studio rental. Some critics of the campaign scrutinize Knowles’ lack of a budgeted plan for the $100K which an insider with knowledge of the show describes as “arbitrarily high.” Knowles has boasted of being paid as much as $1.5K or more for each of the first season’s 30 episodes, they say. The current campaign’s donation rewards include a 15-minute phone call with Knowles, a DVD copy of Knowles’ wedding invitation short made by Peter Jackson, access to Knowles’ annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon movie marathon, and a one-hour script consultation. For $10K one backer can receive exec producer credit on the show; SXSW and Austin Chronicle co-founder Louis Black has already nabbed the first of two of those slots.
Austin-based Knowles has been accused of conflict of interest in his reviews of filmmakers like Del Toro, whom he describes as a friend. He waves off critics of his Kickstarter and adds that he’ll only get paid if corporate sponsors come in at a later date. “We were supporting Guillermo when nobody was supporting Guillermo. But I’ve always been a fan-advocate as opposed to a strict by-the-rules critic,” he said. Del Toro also recorded a video for the Kickstarter campaign (below). Meanwhile the fundraising effort to finance a second season of Ain’t It Cool With Harry Knowles has drawn criticism even from within Knowles’ own readership. “The ‘first season’ was just a vanity project for you – all about you, starring you, about you and your fabulous toys which you have and no one else does and we’re supposed to envy you,” one AICN commenter complained. Here’s the Kickstarter campaign page.