Kickstarting the Olympics
by Evelyn Bottando — Indiana University Northwest
July 31, 2012 – 00:00
However controversial they may be, the Olympics represent nationalistic excess and the individual greatness. Media portrayals of individual athletes craft narratives that support triumph in the midst of trial. However, Olympic narratives that are offered during the moment of the game often leave out particularly touchy subjects like the ones to be explored in "Three and a Half Pike" by High Energy Films. Operating outside of broadcast distribution, Human Energy Films takes advantage of their position as a documentary production team to highlight rising competition from Chinese competitors, whose national government has given strong support for Olympic diving. The stills of American-run facilities tell an alternate narrative of American sport - dilapidated buildings and dwindling funds.
What particularly drew me to this clip for this issue of In Media Res, was the use of Kickstarter to garner funds for the project. Crowdfunding is no longer new. Kickstarter is a solidified and highly competitive means for funding a wide variety of projects - from new technical innovations to films. Earlier in Kickstarter’s history, independent producers tapped into the crowdfunding website for the guaranteed audience of the Kickstarter community. "Three and a Half Pike" leveraged the community, social media, and a grassroots network of divers and diving enthusiasts to become a successfully funded project.
One of the keys to the success of "Three and a Half Pike," has to do with traditional sorts of media funding. The team pooled support from a network of friends and supporters from within the diving community, bringing this audience to the website. While Kickstarter is touted as a great crowdfunding website, successful artists like Amanda Palmer succeed by bringing fans to the site. The "crowd" of crowdfunding are not an anonymous crowd in either the case of Amanda Palmer or "Three and a Half Pike." The crowd includes a known group of supporters and fans willing to provide advanced support for a project.