Kickstarter. Indiegogo. Gofundme. You’ve probably heard these names before. You may be familiar with the concept of crowdfunding. Maybe you’ve actually contributed to a crowdfunding effort – maybe even this one. Capital C is the first documentary about the relatively new phenomenon of crowdfunding and, appropriately, was funded in the same way.
Creating a product, planning a service, or explaining a cause is the first step in crowdfunding. The second step is to ask the world to pay you for it. That, in a nutshell, is crowdfunding. Cutting out the middleman, crowdfunding allows someone with an idea to find buyers and supporters for that idea before producing it or putting it into action. It’s sort of a strange concept at first, but has proven to be extremely effective in action.
This documentary follows three crowdfunding success stories. Jackson Robinson has a dream of creating custom, hand drawn playing cards inspired by the artwork on paper money. Zach Crain is a hipster with an idea for a nifty beverage koozie with tongue in cheek designs on it. Brian Fargo wants to bring life to the sequel of a cult classic computer game he designed in 1988. All three face unique challenges.
Jackson doesn’t have the funds to place an initial order with Bicycle to get a quality deck of cards made – and that’s if he can find a way to sell them afterwards. He also has a hard time justifying all the time it is going to take designing them. With a crowdfunding effort, he’s overjoyed to find he has more than enough people lining up as buyers ahead of time, giving him the means and motivation to complete his goals.
Zach is in a similar boat, but takes things a bit further, engaging buyers of his “Freaker,” and creating a community that not only enjoys his product, but helps come up with the designs to be used on it.
Unable to sell his idea to a studio, Brian takes his game straight to the fans, breaking crowdfunding records in the process, and giving the audience of gamers exactly what they want.
Capital C is a great introduction to the concept of crowdfunding if it’s an idea you’re not familiar with, but is compelling and interesting even if you just contributed to your fiftieth campaign. It is fascinating to see how one person’s dream and idea can become the driving force behind a community of strangers, and it’s inspiring to see this new sense of entrepreneurship gaining steam.
The film is rather lean, however, spending most of its 86 minutes focused exclusively on the lives and endeavors of the three subjects. I would have liked to have had more discussions about the overall benefits and pitfalls of crowdfunding. Such topics are touched upon, but only very briefly. The movement has a lot of history already, along with controversy and amazing accomplishments. I would have liked to get a broader vision since the film purports to be about crowdfunding in general as much as the three heroes. I don’t think it even mentions the way the movement has been used in ways other than selling something – raising money for medical treatments and other charitable causes has been a huge part of crowdfunding as well, something this film doesn’t touch. The narratives also meander a bit too much and could have used some tighter editing given the short running time.
Still, if you’re not motivated to either start your own campaign or help fund someone else’s after watching this doc, I’ll be surprised. Crowdfunding is one of the single most significant ways the internet is changing the world, and this film sheds a nice bit of light on it. It’s easy to watch, easy to understand, and just might open a new door for you.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Three out of five hats
Capital C funds select theaters and VOD July 24