Dan Harmon, Dino Stamatopoulos, and Charlie Kaufman are funding a stop-motion film on Kickstarter

I have mixed feelings about Kickstarter. However, I don't have mixed feelings about Dan Harmon (Community), Dino Stamatopoulos (Moral Orel, Mary Shelley's Frankenhole), and Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaption, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). And the thought of them working together and making something is really, really exciting. Probably even exciting enough to warrant giving money to a Kickstarter campaign, which is exactly what they're doing! In an attempt to bypass the studio system and the corporate entertainment world completely -- which is totally not a statement on the way Harmon was fired from the show he created by NBC, nope! -- the trio are hoping to raise $200,000 on Kickstarter in order to make a 40-minute stop-motion film called Anomalisa (and some other projects) and do it without any meddling from executive types. I have a feeling they will probably accomplish this.

Let's address the elephant in the room: The obvious selling point in the video on Kickstarter (which is, by itself, pretty great) is that it's very existence promises no corruption by a studio system that would try to change it for the sake of ratings, advertising, and all those other dirty, dirty Hollywood sausage factory things that we don't want to think about. Because that is exactly what meant the end of Dan Harmon's tenure as Community's showrunner, and that sucked. It still sucks. And we will get through it. In the meantime, there is Starburns Industries.

Yes -- Starburns! The character played by Stamatopoulos on Community who died near the end of the season... or did he? A very fitting metaphor for Harmon himself.

Not that there is anything wrong with this, and it will probably mean a huge success for this campaign. News of its existence hit the web yesterday and it's already raised over $82,000. The campaign ends September 9th, at which point it will probably make double the intended amount. But that means more money for more projects that may or may not include the input of Robert Smigel and Louis C.K., who has also seen great success by instituting a more democratic way of disseminating his product.

So, what is Anomalisa about? Written by Kaufman, the short plot summary says "The film is about a man crippled by the mundanity of his life." Splitsider has this longer version:

The film follows a celebrated motivational speaker travelling the country, changing the lives of countless people. But in the course of transforming others, his life has become hollow and meaningless. It’s a grey and monotonous existence where people literally look and sound identical. Suddenly one day, a girl’s voice pierces through the veil of nothingness. She fills him with such a rush of “aliveness”, he’s willing to abandon everything and everyone, including his own family, and escape with her to a better life.

The very idea of Harmon, Stamatopoulos, and Kaufman working together is going to be enough for a lot of people to say "Shut up and take my money," and as is part of the deal with Kickstarter, some of those people will be rewarded with prizes for their contributions. Those prizes are not too shabby, either, even for small donations: $20 will get you a digital download of the finished film (after it's been released), but five more dollars will also get you a "downloadable set of Anomalisa Character Designs and Artwork from the film." Contributions in the triple digits will get you things like signed scripts, a tour of Starburns Industries during production, and tickets to the premiere.

Some people might be tempted to give things like "their left nut" to see this made, but there are no prizes mentioned for that specific and visceral of a contribution. So, feel free to hold onto that nut. (via Splitsider)


    1.  Now, wait, Evan. $200,000 doesn’t fund the film. $200,000 is a fraction of what a 40-minute stop-action film takes to create. Raising $200,000 is a few things. First, proof of an audience (especially if they raise much more than $200,000). Second, it’s significant to the various parties that $200K can be raised outside traditional funding and reduces the risk giving breathing room. Third, I expect that they are each chipping in all or a considerable portion of the rest of the necessary financing. They are also almost certainly foregoing compensation until the project is complete.

      I see Kickstarter partly as a way to prove people want the next thing you’re doing. It’s a morale booster along with the money raised, and may ultimately help with distribution and into channel sales.

  1. A no-longer-young, rich and successful man is saved from his dreary existence by a magickal young woman. I wish I had thought of that premise!

  2. “Anomalisa” is just the working title. The actual title will be “Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.”

Comments are closed.