Filmmaking in the Free Market: A Good Example
The New York Times recently featured a micro-lending website, Kickstarter, that connects filmmakers to private individual donors. The initiative has been so successful, it is planning to host its first film festival.
From the article:
Kickstarter is a concept: a Web site that puts together creative types seeking money with backers willing to chip in micro- and macro-payments, a way to crowd-source the financing of ideas. Started last year, the company has become an unexpected influence on indie culture, a new model for a D.I.Y. generation.
[…] Matthew Lessner, the director of “The Woods,” made his directorial debut with a viral video starring Michael Cera and has worked on videos for of-the-moment bands like Dirty Projectors and Fools Gold. He had already shot the film, his first feature, financing it on credit cards two years ago. But then the economy collapsed, and Mr. Lessner, 26, was left without money to finish it.
Enter Kickstarter, where Mr. Lessner was able to raise more than $11,000 from 95 backers to complete the film. “One of the things that’s most exciting about Kickstarter to me, it really provides an opportunity for films that otherwise would not have a chance,” Mr. Lessner said.
This demonstrates that a vibrant film community can emerge in the private sector, and that it doesn’t require financial assistance from the state government. I have argued, admittedly obsessively, against the use of film tax credits in Missouri on this blog.
Furthermore, this is evidence that in the unrestricted market, individuals that have a demand for film will voluntarily pay for it. In the status quo, state tax credits coerce individuals who do not possess a demand for film to pay for it through a marginally higher tax rate. This practice is particularly harmful to taxpayers, because they end up paying for something that they do not want. It is also harmful to businesses and individuals who operate outside of the film industry, because it forces them to compete at a competitive disadvantage.