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Last week, Spike Lee shocked the film community by going onto Kickstarter to raise money for his next film. So far, the service has been used more often for things like the big screen resurrection of beloved cult TV series "Veronica Mars" and Zack Braff's next movie; both projects that spoke to young, impassioned, internet-savvy fans who were more excited about the prospect of returning something they loved to former glory than making a quality movie. Spike Lee is arguably the most serious director to use the platform, and he's asking for a fraction of what "Veronica Mars" wanted... and he still hasn't gotten it yet. ("Veronica Mars" scored $2 million in the first ten hours.)
Still, hope is not lost, especially when fellow heavyweight director Steven Soderbergh casually pledges $10,000 to the campaign and then writes a really awesome explanation of his pledge.
Soderbergh and Lee first met at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989, when Lee was presenting "Do the Right Thing" and Soderbergh was unveiling his first feature, "sex, lies and videotape," which would go on to win the Palme d'Or and forever change the face of American independent cinema. They've been buds ever since. And Lee is, quite obviously, super excited about his friend bankrolling his project. As part of his $10,000 pledge, Soderbergh will go out to dinner with Lee and go to a Knicks game, sitting beside Lee in his famous court-side seats.
Of course, Soderbergh decided to explain his pledge on the Kickstarter page, in the most elegant, Soderberghian way possible (it's well worth a read). The explanation starts with a brief rundown of the cultural landscape of American cinema from the sixties to the eighties (of course), a time when Soderbergh was starting out but when he found that there was little in the way of American cinema to really hang on to, besides the work of three filmmakers: David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch and Lee.
"Certain filmmakers exist outside the traditional parameters of criticism; their point of view and body of work make discussions about individual films interesting but ultimately irrelevant because each project is merely a chapter in a very long book that must (and will) be acknowledged and appreciated for its breadth, ambition, and contributions to the art of cinema," Soderbergh wrote. "For me, Spike Lee is one of those filmmakers."
He went on: "He is a totally unique figure in American cinema, and he’s always gone his own way and spoken his mind (even when the commercial stakes were high), qualities which are in short supply in the film business." Aw!
What might be even more shocking than Soderbergh's pledge is the fact that there are now 16 other $10,000 + backers on the Kickstarter page. That's a lot of dinners and Knicks games! We wonder when Lee is going to have time to actually make the movie (which he describes as about "the thirst for human blood"). Lee's next film, a remake of the beloved South Korean thriller "Oldboy," hits theaters in October. You have 23 days to contribute to this new project — plenty of time to empty out your college fund to sit court-side with Spike!