Director Spike Lee, arguably the greatest and most prolific black film director of all time, completely went off on Trish Regan yesterday on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” The subject: His controversial Kickstarter fundraising campaign for his new independent film. He was brought on to discuss the controversy and wasted no time to get offended by how Trish Regan began the segment (video below). Poor Regan never had a chance really…this is SPIKE LEE we’re talking about! In my opinion, he makes some valid points but comes off a little too defensive and like an “angry black man” (which isn’t a first for him). 

Spike has been the talk of the town lately when it comes to this campaign because people argue that not only is he already an established filmmaker (his new remake of the Korean classic “Oldboy” will be released this Thanksgiving), he’s also being very secretive about the details of the project that he’s trying to raise money to produce. At the time of this writing he’s just under halfway to his goal of $1.25 million dollars to be met by August 21, 2013.

Many readers already know how passionate I am about the subject of financial support in the black gay community, that same passion applies to the black community in general. I’ve had a successful project run on Kickstarter before where I raised well over $10,000 (higher than my goal), so I know how tough it can be to generate enthusiasm needed from people to open their wallets. In my case, however, it was clear that I didn’t have any other way to secure the funds and I was very descriptive about the project so people knew what they were backing with their hard earned dollars. All Spike has revealed is that the film will be a thriller about blood addiction, but not about Vampires. Uhhhh, okay.


The Kickstarter waters have been clouded up recently with the successful campaigns of Veronica Mars’ film resurrection and actor Zack Braff’s new indie film. These projects, started by people already inside the industry, raised millions with both campaigns reaching well over their initial goal. I’ll open Pandora’s Box to add that the aforementioned fundraisers were Caucasians for projects with a primarily Caucasian audience. Spike Lee is a black man. A black man in America. The same America that recently was divided after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Will Spike Lee, the director of over 30 films and documentaries over 30 years, be able to duplicate the same level of support that an actor from Scrubs and the producer of a cancelled CW television show saw?

So there’s the argument: If you’re already rich, why do a fundraiser? I’ve wrestled with this question a bit as well. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the fans are voluntarily giving their money to support something they want to see. What is the problem with that? Technically, we do this all the time.

When people pay $50 – $400 in advance for tickets to a Jay-Z or Beyonce concert, they’re essentially donating to make the concert happen. If the concert promoters don’t reach their “goal” (in this case enough ticket sales to cover the costs), they cancel the concert. So I’m now okay with “celebrities” being on sites like Kickstarter. Especially someone like Spike Lee, who has always had a difficult time securing financing for his films from Hollywood. Like Spike’s films or not, he’s inspired a lot of young black filmmakers and broken a lot of barriers for black filmmakers in general. It shouldn’t be difficult for him to raise this money. 

As I’ve discussed before, there is a clear divide when it comes to Caucasian filmmakers attempt to raise money for films and African American filmmakers try to raise financing. Even when it comes to gay filmmakers. This is not to say that ALL white filmmakers have an easy time getting money for films, but more of them do than black filmmakers. Why is this?

Black audiences constantly say they desire more content by and featuring black people, but why aren’t they more enthusiastic to support the projects and opportunities presented, especially when the level of support can be so small, yet still make a difference? True, I’ve had some success on Kickstarter before but it took a lot of begging to make it happen. Even then, most of the support came from family and friends and non-black supporters, not the general African American public.

What about Cypher Avenue? As hard as we are on black gay media, have we supported any black gay projects at all? The answer is yes. We financially supported Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear’s new D.L. Chronicles project “Episode Thomas.” And we were very pleased with the results.

Having said that, I have faith that Spike Lee will at least meet his Kickstarter goal, if not surpassing it. I’ll even throw in a few duckets to help make that happen.

Check out Spike going off on Trish Regan below: