In a previous post, we showed you what happens when celebrity crowdfunding goes wrong. Now we move on to the celebrity campaigns that were lucky enough to receive funding for their projects. There are some interesting lessons to be learned, so celebrities should take note!

LeVar Burton – Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere!

American actor, producer and presenter LeVar Burton launched his Kickstarter campaign for Reading Rainbow in May 2014. Reading Rainbow is an American TV series that started in 1983, and Burton was its host and executive producer. The series enjoyed a long period of success spanning 21 seasons until it went off air in 2006. Burton set a $1 million goal, which was doubled in just 48 hours – proving that there was a real demand for the show’s return. By the end of the campaign, 105,857 backers had given a staggering $5,408,916.95 in pledges, creating a new record for the highest number of financial backers behind a Kickstarter project (which still stands). It is also the twelfth highest Kickstarter funded project. The team included a direct link on the Kickstarter page to crowdfunding pledge site Backerit for people to continue to donate after the campaign finished - and raised a further $265,059.49. Their aim during the campaign was to “reach a new generation of digital natives” by making Reading Rainbow available on Apple and Android devices, tablets, web, game consoles and connected set-tops (which they have started) and also to provide the versions in as many classrooms as possible for free. All this they promised to fulfil after reaching their stretch goal of $5 million. This was a very promising crowdfunding campaign for a very good cause.
You can read more about his campaign here.

TLC Album

This campaign clearly did not reach millions like the other successes, but it was still a success. The R&B group TLC launched a Kickstarter campaign in January 2015 to make their final album. They had a goal of $150,000, which they managed to surpass in three days. By the end of their 30-day campaign they had raised $430,255. This made them the most successful pop project on Kickstarter. Their project also had some famous support too, as a member of the boyband New Kids on the Block pledged $20,000, whilst singer Katy Perry donated $5,000. TLC hasn’t released an album since the death of founding member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in 2002, and remaining members Chilli and T-Boz declared this album will be their last. Their crowdfunding perks included a signed vinyl copy of the new album for those pledging $100 or more, and a personalised recording of a voicemail message by the group for those that donated $250 or more. The album release was postponed (late last year), so the group could have “more time to finish the record the TLC way”. Twitter users have since then expressed their feelings about this – and they were not impressed.
You can view their campaign here.

Zach Braff - Wish I Was Here

American actor and comedian Zach Braff (best known for his role in hit TV show Scrubs), launched a Kickstarter campaign for his American comedy-drama film “Wish I Was Here” in April 2013. The film was written by Braff and his brother Adam. Braff plays Aidan Bloom – a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is trying to find his identity and purpose in life. Circumstances lead him to home-school his two kids, where he decides to ditch the academic curriculum and trade it with his own. This starts him on a journey of self-discovery. Braff started his campaign with a goal of $2 million, but managed to raise an impressive $3,105,473 by the end of his campaign. Though the film received mixed reviews from critics and viewers, this project shows the power that crowdfunding holds in the creative arts.
To view his campaign click here.

Don Cheadle - Miles Ahead

Academy Award-winning producer and actor Don Cheadle joins the list of actors that have enjoyed crowdfunding success. In June 2014 Cheadle set up an Indiegogo campaign to finance a film titled “Miles Ahead”, which is based on the story of the late Grammy award winning jazz musician, Miles Davis. The goal intended for the crowdfunding campaign was $325,000; however, it was exceeded by almost $20,000. Cheadle turned to crowdfunding as he believed that the film should be a “social experience” as Davis preferred his music to be identified as “social music”. The film stars Cheadle playing Miles Davis – and his other credits include director, part producer and co-writer. The cast for the film includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and Austin Lyon. The money from the campaign was used to make the film everything that the team had envisioned. Also, seeking an alternative means besides crowdfunding would have resulted in the production company cutting out scenes or characters that they felt were a vital part of the movie. The funds were also utilised to recreate the “multiple time periods” and the ”logistics of incorporating all the music” - according to their initial crowdfunding campaign. The film was released almost a month ago in the UK and it is evident that Cheadle’s work definitely paid off after scoring a 7/10 rating from IMDb. 72% of people also gave the movie a positive rating on film review website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus reading "Miles Ahead is worth watching for Don Cheadle's strong work on both sides of the camera, even if this unconventional biopic doesn't quite capture its subject's timeless appeal".
Read more about Don Cheadle's campaign here.