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Filmism.net Dispatch

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A caveat first up; I've talked about this before. But this week we saw another very high profile example of it.

Actor, producer and director Zach Braff, who you might know as James Franco's assistant and the monkey he befriends in Oz the Great and Powerful, has raised $2m in a week for a project on Kickstarter.

Now we can again look forward to a slew of breathlessly creative commons-flavoured and hip stories about the democratisation of the web and how the new level playing field gives everybody a voice (if you're interested in the story, you can find it here).

But before we go mental, let's ask ourselves a question (firstly, I'm using Zach Braff as an example only here, I have no idea what his project is and it may well be a strong enough idea to have earned $2m in pledges after one week on Kickstarter).

Do you think Zach's project earned $2m in one week because of the quality of the idea, or because he's a famous movie actor with a platform from which to launch something like this into the online stratosphere?

Just look at those new media personalities who command the biggest followings (on Twitter for example), people like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Kevin Smith and Ashton Kutcher. Aside from the fact that at least half of the people listed above seldom have anything remotely interesting or intelligent to say, what's the common theme? Smith's a Hollywood director. Kutcher's a movie star. Lady Gaga's a pop star. I don't know what the hell Kim Kardashian is, but millions of people watch her on TV.

See the pattern? They're all old media constructs. Might Zach Braff have $2m on Kickstarter simply because he's Zach Braff? If I launched the same project on Kickstarter I probably wouldn't earn $2, let alone $2m. But if I was a movie, TV or music star everyone would be fascinated by anything I have to say, launch or attempt, and by nature of my old media profile, it would get a lot of attention.

The point of all this? Sure, the internet has made our five minutes of fame easier than ever to achieve, but it still doesn't hold a candle to the power of the old media institutions, even those which are supposedly dying.

Of course, I'm the last one to begrudge anyone their success and the profile it gives them and I wish Zach all the best (I'm sure he reads the Filmism.net Dispatch religiously).

But I'm not the only one who's noticed something strange about all this. In fact, a very sharp writer at The Wrap contends Braff's success on Kickstarter might signal the end of your last chance to get a project off the ground if you're not famous, because the famous themselves are now going to crowd in to get a piece of the action.

For a more in-depth look at what I'm talking about, I expanded on it in an older Filmism.net Dispatch

And just for fun, here's a story I wrote not long before the end of 2011. Steven Spielberg had two films coming out, and for the first time in the history of anything ever, I wasn't the least bit excited about either of them. Was Spielberg, as I asked, past it?

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