Unlike many of his ink and paper contemporaries, Roger Ebert embraced the Internet. The late film critic’s Twitter feed was a blast. Before Matt Zoller Seitz took it to its current height, RogerEbert.com was a wonderful spot to find original writing and Ebert’s old reviews.
I have a feeling Ebert would have appreciated this news: TheWrap reports that “Life Itself,” Steve James’ documentary based on Ebert’s terrific memoir, has raised more than $153,000 for its crowdfunding campaign via IndieGogo. The original goal was $150,000.
The film has already been made and is set to premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, so production costs weren’t a major issue. So, what was this all about?
…The filmmaker [James directed "Hoop Dreams," by the way] and others involved in the project launched a crowdfunding campaign to cultivate a community around the film. Anyone who contributed $25 to the campaign will get a private link to view the film simultaneous to its world premiere. 1,491 people claimed that perk.
“We had in our minds that at some point later in the process we’d like to do a crowdfunding campaign to help with finishing costs, but, more importantly, to tap into the community out there of people who love Roger,” James told TheWrap a couple months ago.
Usually, I’m skeptical when I hear about people raising money for non-charitable events via the Internet. I immediately think of Zach Braff laughing as he swims in a pool of money. Or the Mamet sisters bitching to some poor junior publicist over Joe and Jill Meatball not funding the music video for their ultra-twee kazoo and skiffle band, or whatever it was.
I’ll make an exception here. Ebert was a hero of mine, and the idea appears true and motivated by love. Plus, people can spend their money any way they choose. I’m just glad it’s this.