7 Failed Celebrity Kickstarters

Though originally intended to help money-strapped entrepreneurs fund projects that might not otherwise have existed, Kickstarter has in the last year played host to several celebrities—some of them not so well known, some of them household names—hoping to finance a project they feel wouldn’t be able to come to fruition through the usual methods. Though a few have been successful—Zach Braff of Scrubs fame reached his $2 million goal for his spiritual sequel to Garden State; Spike Lee got the $1.4 million needed for his next film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus—several others have failed, at times spectacularly. The following celebrities have been forced to other means of investment.

7 Zosia Mamet

One of the stars of HBO’s Girls and daughter of playwright/screenwriter David Mamet and actor Lindsay Crouse, Zosia Mamet seemed like she would be in a good financial position to fund a music video for her and her sister Clara’s folk project The Cabin Sisters. Nevertheless, she turned to Kickstarter to help raise the $32,000 for their “Bleak Love” video. Among the gifts promised for certain levels of pledges were $25 for a digital download of the completed album, $2,000 for a Skype call with the sisters and $8,000 for Zosia’s director’s chair from Girls’ second season shoot. Out of the $32,000 needed, a grand total of 80 backers pledged $2,783, none of which went to the sisters after Kickstarter deemed the project unsuccessful.

6 Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

Apart from being one of the members of pioneering hip group Run-DMC, Darryl McDaniels is also an aspiring comic book publisher. McDaniels attempted to Kickstart his would be imprint, Darryl Makes Comics, as well as its first 64-page graphic novel DMC last summer. With $100,000 as its hopeful goal, DMC would have featured writer Ronald Wimberly, pencils by Damion Scott and inks by Dexter Vines. For $1,000, high-spending backers could have netted a character based on their physical likeness in the comic itself or a pair of Adidas sneakers signed by DMC, described as “black and white, white with a black stripe, the ones I like to wear when I rock the mic!” A meagre 89 backers pledged $5,537 in all, and the project was rendered unsuccessful.

5 John Herzfeld

Though director John Herzfeld—perhaps best known for the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John reunion Two of a Kind—isn’t a recognizable name, his independent film project Reach Me would have had an ensemble cast of more notable individuals: Sylvester Stallone, Kelsey Grammar and Tom Sizemore to name just a few. The film focuses on a collection of disparate individuals brought together in search of the reclusive author of a self-help book. Herzfeld had originally financed the film through traditional independent means—i.e. with investors—but when a key financier backed out, the director turned to Kickstarter to scrounge up the $250,000 needed to finish off the mostly-completed movie (though it should be noted that star Stallone’s net worth is approximately $275 million; just sayin’). Herzfeld and co. made sure that fans’ investment would be worth their money, such as co-star Nelly’s outfit from the movie for a $500 donation or a round of golf with Tom Sizemore for $100,000. While the project did make its funding goal in time, a couple of $10,000 donations (which could have netted an executive producer credit, a cameo in the movie or an appearance at the premiere) caused “an administrative” glitch with Kickstarter. Herzfeld moved the film’s means of funding to Indiegogo, where project heads can still receive donations even if the goal isn’t met.

4 Eisley

While indie rock quartet Eisley was able to finance the recording of their fourth album, Currents, getting money to tour in support of it was another matter. At the time the Kickstarter began in late April of 2013, four of the band’s members had recently become proud parents and the funds that might normally be spent on a series of concerts were diverted toward more pressing things like food and baby clothing. So Eisley turned to their fan base in hopes said fans could perhaps fork over a little charity dough. The tour required $100,000, covered 30 dates, and included a digitally streamed performance that anyone who contributed a dollar or more to the Kickstarter could view. Larger donation incentives included an “EXCLUSIVE ‘Backer-Only’ Cardigan” for a donation of $40 or more, $4,000 for Eisley to come play an acoustic show at the donor’s house, and $5,000 for a custom made LaRose electric guitar with art done by the band themselves. In spite of these interesting incentives—or perhaps due to their cost—the band’s Kickstarter received only $60,277 from 1,051 backers and the enterprise was unsuccessful.

3 Marilyn and Hal Weiner

Environmental documentarians Marilyn and Hal Weiner are not household names, but one of the key players in their series Journey to Planet Earth is: Matt Damon. Damon has been the host and narrator of Journey… for more than a decade and key to its success, according to the couple’s Kickstarter. Their Extreme Realities documentary would explore the correlations and possible causations between environmental changes and real world conflicts and turmoil.

As the couple doesn’t receive funding from their broadcaster PBS and only from private and public investors, Kickstarter seemed a fair shot to raise money for Extreme Realities. Most of the Kickstarter backing incentives would entail getting DVD copies of the Weiners’ documentary series, but a donation of $10,000 or more could have landed someone the opportunity to sit in with Matt Damon during a voice-over recording session. However the couple received only $45,477 of their $75,000 goal from 192 backers.

2 Björk

When the incomparable Icelandic music artist began her Kickstarter in late January of last year, it wasn’t to raise funds for a brand new product, but to finance a port of her Biophilia app to Android and Windows 8 from iOS. Biophilia, Björk’s latest album, was less a conventional record and more a music-focused multimedia project. Released through 10 individual iPad apps in 2011, Biophilia allows users to immerse themselves in the album’s themes and score through animations, digital essays and even games. It even led to the Biophilia Educational Program, which according to the program’s official website aims to “help children to explore their own creativity,” and is supposedly apt for kids with “ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disabilities.” Backers could have potentially received an admission ticket to one of the Biophilia Residency Shows—an art installation featuring the album’s multimedia—for £320 (roughly $520 US) or a VIP ticket to one of the shows plus post-event drinks with some of the participating musicians for £650 ($1060 US), though an appearance of Björk herself would not be guaranteed. Roughly a month after the Kickstarter began in early 2013, it became apparent that the Kickstarter would not meet its goal, with only 263 backers raising £15,370 (approx. $25,000 US) of the £375,000 ($612,000 US) required, and Björk canceled the fundraiser. Fortunately, Björk was eventually able to port the app to Android with the help San Francisco-based startup Apportable.

1 Uwe Boll

German auteur Uwe Boll has had one of the more rough and tumble careers in Hollywood, the majority of his filmography consisting of largely unfaithful and altogether critically panned adaptations of video games such as House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and Far Cry. One of his most notorious is Postal, itself an adaptation of the controversial video game whose contents are not fit to describe in mixed company. Late last summer, Boll turned to Kickstarter in an attempt to amass funding for a sequel to Postal. On the official Kickstarter page, Boll said that all $500,000 of the required funds would go toward “the best movie ever made,” and certain backers could be rewarded with an exclusive screening in Los Angeles for $200 (though travel and lodging costs would not be covered), a full work day spent with Boll for $2,000 (which would have included lunch!) or being able to write and direct your own scene in Postal 2 for $10,000. The director received only $29,977 from 378 donors, and he pulled the plug on the Kickstarter almost a full month before the funding period was supposed to end.

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