When Rob Thomas and fans managed to use Kickstarter to raise the funds to have a Veronica Mars movie in 2014, there was a lot of talk as to whether that was the ‘appropriate’ use for crowdfunding platforms. Wherever you land on this issue, it was definitely a sign of how funding of projects too specific or risky for a traditional network or production studio would now still have a chance to be made.
The latest of such projects is the web series Con Man. Created by Alan Tudyk (best known as Wash in Firefly) and produced by Nathan Fillion (also Firefly, as well as Castle), the plot of the web series may seem eerily familiar to Browncoats. Tudyk plays Wray Nerely, a co-star on Spectrum, a sci-fi series cancelled way too soon but ended up a cult classic. In the meantime, his friend and co-star Jack Moore (Fillion) becomes a major star. While Moore lives the high life, Nerely is stuck touring the sci-fi circuit, and the show plans on being a sitcom showcasing some of the more unusual things happening to Nerely at said conventions and events.
The campaign was launched on Indiegogo on March 10, with an initial goal of $425,000 to make three episodes of the series. The power of fandom (specifically Browncoat fans) however, had it not only pass said goal within hours of the project launching, but is currently standing at over 492% of funding – with over $2 million raised and over 29,000 funders. The campaign ends on April 10, and with the rate it’s growing, there’s a chance it could have a better budget than most cable television shows. In Tudyk’s latest video update on the project page, he talks about the various things this extra money (as well as any future funds) will go toward.
With the success of such ventures, added to the ever-growing popularity of online original content on streaming services such as Amazon and Hulu, the concept of ‘network television’ (and television overall) is changing rapidly. And, of course, with the rise of such websites as Patreon, fans helping get things made isn’t limited to just things that involve film. On demand entertainment means that ratings and box office figures can only measure so much when it comes to success, and fans have more power than ever before in getting things greenlit.
The success of Con Man‘s funding shows that in an alternate reality where crowdfunding was as popular thirteen years ago as it is today, Firefly would still be still going, with multiple movies under it’s belt. But of course, that would create a sci fi paradox where Tudyk would have never gotten the idea for Con Man. Maybe in ten years, we’ll see some sort of future version of a web series about THIS series?
You can see more of Angie’s writing at her website.