Detropia among the many indies funded via Kickstarter.

Kickstarter has changed the game in fundraising but not just for artists with special projects. Kickstarter is a disruptive concept that rallies people together and bysteps the usual protocol of traditional business fundraising altogether.

Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, 900,000 people pledged support for indie filmmakers, with more than $100 million pledged to features, documentaries, shorts, webseries, and video projects, of which $60 million having been pledged in the last 12 months alone. This has changed the game for filmmaking as well as TV. So far in 2013, for example, 16 Kickstarter-funded films have been picked up for national broadcast through HBO, PBS, Showtime, and other networks.

What this means for a generation that’s now just entering college, is that they are first demographic that essentially went through their teens during the rise of Kickstarter as an option towards funding one’s own film, short, even cell phone movie project. For a DIY generation, it’s made possible crowd-sourced fundraising that matches perfectly with their EIY aesthetics. Overall, this has expanded the very concept of creating one’s own film, video, or web series, which is flipping traditional entertainment methods on its head.

Many films at Sundance 2013 benefited from the collab between the Sundance Institute and Kickstarter.

This was made most apparent during the Sundance Film Festival from January 17-27, 2013, but it all started in 2011. In 2011, Sundance announced a new collaboration between Kickstarter and the Sundance Institute, which started the process of curating Kickstarter projects from its distinguished alumni of artists, including plays, documentaries, feature films, shorts and other works from current and former Sundance Fellows.

“Technology now allows filmmakers to fund and make films in ways we could never have even conceived. Just as we did 30 years ago, the Institute is responding to a need, with a responsibility to help the individual artist,” Robert Redford said at the launch of the Kickstarter collaboration.

So, in 2011, Kickstarter agreed to provide branding, educational, and promotional support to Sundance Institute alumni. To launch the collaboration, the first alumni workshops took place at the Sundance Film Festival, conducted by Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler and attended by a range of artists from first time filmmakers to seasoned veterans.

In the Spring of 2012, the Institute curated alumni projects at and drove alumni and fans to support projects in various stages of funding. In addition, showcased projects and interviews with artists on a monthly basis for even further reach. Sundance Institute also built an online hub of resources related to independent distribution options, funding strategies and other key issues. The goal was to provide for filmmakers a central location to explore case studies and best practices, in addition to live workshops and training opportunities with Institute staff, alumni, industry experts and key partners.

Overall, utilizing Kickstarter to bring artists visions to life have paid off: In 2012, 10% of the films at Sundance were Kickstarter-funded; 6 films won Sundance Film Festival awards. Three short documentaries funded by Kickstarter were nominated for Academy Awards.

By the 2013 Sundance Festival, the total of Kickstarter-funded films increased to 50 as a total that have ended up as official Sundance selections. Top films at Sundance 2013 funded from Kickstarter included:

Feature Narratives:

  • Ass Backwards
  • Charlie Victor Romeo
  • I Used to Be Darker
  • Newlyweds
  • This is Martin Bonner


  • Boneshaker
  • The Cub
  • Gun
  • K.i.t.

Feature Documentaries:

  • 99%–The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film
  • After Tiller
  • American Promise
  • Blood Brother
  • Inequality for All
  • The Square
  • When I Walk

Overall, this is just the beginning of how Kickstarter is changing the game of fundraising for filmmakers and others. With Sundance in collaboration with Kickstarter for another year, we anticipate an exponential growth of even more indie creatives finding funding via Kickstarter and support from the Sundance Institute.