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Zach Braff’s Kickstarter project challenging the definition of indie crowd sourcing

Zach Braff Kickstarter Movie Wish I Was Here Script

Kickstarter has been a godsend for independent auteurs from all corners of the creative world by facilitating crowd sourced funding for everything from gadgets to hot sauce, and from theatre shows to graphic novels. But some Kickstarter users have drawn fire for not footing their own bills when they seem more than capable of doing so.

Zach Braff, known to TV audiences for his lead role in Scrubs and to film buffs as the man behind Garden State, has turned to Kickstarter to fund his sophomore directing effort, Wish I Was Here. The actor admits he’s had funding offers from other sources, but all of them came with casting or creative provisos.

So instead of pitching his film to a Hollywood exec, Braff asked Kickstarter for $2.1 million to make his movie with no creative strings attached.

And it worked. The writer/actor raised the money in just three days, and he can now proceed with making Wish I was Here the way he wants to make it – outside the traditional Hollywood process.

But is this what Kickstarter should be about?

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Saga ban raises questions of censorship, homophobia in comics

April 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Saga #12 Comic drawn by Fiona Staples controversial image with gay sex on Prince Robot IV

On Tuesday, April 9, one day before its release, news broke over social media that Apple had banned Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga #12 through the digital comic distributor Comixology iOS app. The news touched off a firestorm of outrage across the comics industry, only to flame out 24 hours later when it was revealed that Comixology, not Apple, was responsible for the decision.

Comixology has since apologized and restored Saga #12 to the iOS app, but the damage has been done.

In an era of increased social acceptance for homosexuality and in a comic book community that’s more adult-driven than ever, this fiasco shows that homophobia and knee jerk censorship are still not things of the past.

(DISCLAIMER: This post contains no graphic images. Links are provided to the images under discussion.)

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Empire Uncut: the other much-anticipated Star Wars movie in production

Star Wars Uncut A New Hope claymation

Combine a rabid worldwide fanbase with the internet, add a twist of individual creativity and a dash of inspiration and you get Star Wars Uncut, a tremendously inventive love letter to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope that reshoots the film 15 seconds at a time using fan-made clips.

Try that recipe again and you get director Casey Pugh’s sophomore crowdsourcing effort Empire Uncut, a spliced-together reimagining of The Empire Strikes Back that’s well on its way to release sooner rather than later.

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Yes Rasta lawsuit threatens repurposed art, internet memes

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment
Canal Zone Richard Prince

An image from Richard Prince’s “Canal Zone”.

Intellectual property, copyright infringement and the very existence of internet memes are at stake in a multi-million dollar lawsuit over some repurposed photographs.

French photographer Patrick Cariou wants to see American artist Richard Prince’s “Canal Zone” series destroyed because, he contends, Prince’s reuse of Cariou’s photos was done without the photographer’s consent.

In 2000, Cariou published a book of black and white photographs called Yes, Rasta which contained – you guessed it – pictures of Rastafarians. Then, in 2008, Prince found the book and cut it up, scribbled on it and pasted it back together to create a series of images that would become celebrated pieces of art in their own right. Cariou sued Prince and demanded that the paintings, some of which had already been sold for millions of dollars, be destroyed. He won the case in March 2011.

Cariou Yes Rasta

A photo from Patrick Cariou’s Yes, Rasta book.

In Cariou’s view, the issue is not that Prince reworked the photos, but that he did it for personal profit. The “Canal Zone” images are valued in the millions of dollars, and Cariou contends that that worth is built off of the value of his own images. He also believes his work has been damaged by Prince’s use of it.

Prince contends that he simply put together images of the real world in a different way, and did not steal Cariou’s art. His defense leans heavily on the principle of fair use, which allows copyrighted material to be used without permission for commentary, research, news reporting and search engines. He contends that his pictures are a commentary on the original.

Prince defended the photo below to a judge. “He plays the guitar now. It looks like he’s always played the guitar, that’s what my message was.”

Yes Rasta guitar Patrick Cariou vs Richard Prince

Patrick Cariou’s original photo (left) and Richard Prince’s reworked version (right).

Prince basically gave these Rasta men the Jimi Hendrix experience, and he’s been doing this sort of thing for years. Many other artists do it too – it’s the equivalent of writing your own motivational poster on the internet. “I had limited technical skills regarding the camera,” Prince told Art Forum Magazine. “I had no skills … I used a cheap commercial laboratory to blow up the pictures … I never went in a darkroom.”`

drunk baby demotivational

10 minutes with Photoshop produces similar results.

With Cariou’s 2011 victory, Prince was ordered to destroy the paintings. The artist has since appealed that order and both sides eagerly await a decision.

The whole case has some media heavies tugging at their collars. Google, Getty Images, the Warhol Foundation and others filed briefs at Prince’s appeal. Google took a neutral stance, Getty favoured Cariou and the Warhol Foundation took Prince’s side. The fact that they came out at all shows how much this decision might resonate.

Was Prince wrong to appropriate the photos without permission? Does Cariou have a legitimate argument that “Canal Zone” has damaged his reputation? And is it right to destroy Prince’s art if it is found to be illegal?

Keep an eye on this one. It could affect your next Google search.