Michael K. Williams Joins Spike Lee's Successfully Kickstarted Indie
by Ethan Anderton
August 21, 2013
Following in the footsteps of the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff's sophomore directing effort, director Spike Lee took to Kickstarter to amass funds for his next project. As of today, when the Kickstarter campaign ends, Lee will have raised over $1.38 million, including a $10,000 donation from fellow director Steven Soderbergh. The film already has Stephen Tyrone Williams and Zaraah Abrahams on board to star in a film that Lee has said is about "human beings who are addicted to blood" without being another vampire tale. Now Lee has revealed that "Boardwalk Empire" star Michael K. Williams has signed on.
Here's how Lee announced the casting on Kickstarter, complete with unnecessary capital letters:
"Ladies And Gentlemen, We Have Added A Great Talent To Our Stellar 2 Leads. My Main Man Brooklyn's Finest, Michael K. Williams Has Joined The Cast Of My Newest Hottest Joint. Who Can Forget The Wailing Warning Of "Omar's Comin'!!! Omar's Comin'!!!"? Michael Killed It. I Feel That His Portrayal, His Complexity And His Humanity Of Omar Will Go Down As One Of The Greatest Characters Cable TV Has Seen. Omar In THE WIRE Was Not The Usual Bland, Black, Ghetto, Street Thug We've Seen 8 Million Times. Nah Son, This Was Some Totally New Sh*t. I Had The Pleasure Of Working With Michael In My Film MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA. Now My Brooklyn Bro Is Doing His Thang As Chalky White On BOARDWALK EMPIRE. We Ain't Playin'. We Ain't Shuckin' And We Ain't Jivin'. Going To A Higher Level And Like Stevie Sings "HIGHER GROUND." And Dat's Da "OMAR" Truth, Ruth. YA-DIG? SHO-NUFF."
As Lee indicated, the director previously worked with Williams on Miracle at St. Anna, so this will be a little reunion of sorts. As for Lee's Kickstarter endeavor, he's taken some heat from people saying he's abusing the crowdfunding platform and hurting the success of lesser-known projects on the fundraising site. However, Kickstarter is at Lee's defense saying :
"Spike Lee brought three decades of fans to Kickstarter when he launched his project. He introduced many of them to this new way of funding creative works, and to the thousands of other projects that are funding on Kickstarter. Of Spike’s backers, 47% had never backed a Kickstarter project before,” they said. “In the past 90 days alone, more than $21 million has been pledged to filmmakers on Kickstarter not named Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, or Spike Lee. Even without counting these projects, it’s been the biggest three months for film ever on Kickstarter!”
Again, this is still a new arena for filmmakers and audiences alike, and there's no reason that a filmmaker like Lee shouldn't be allowed to use Kickstarter. At the end of the day, even for a well-known filmmaker like Spike Lee, getting a film made at a studio is hard work, and finding financiers to back independent projects isn't easy either. So if fans are willing to fork over some dough to help out a production from their favorite director, why shouldn't filmmakers take advantage of that? This is just the beginning, and you can expect to see more name filmmakers use Kickstarter down the road.