Did Harry Knowles Fleece His Fans with His Kickstarter?

It's his prop and you can look but don't touch

It’s his prop and you can look but don’t touch

On September 5, 2013, Harry Knowles successfully funded his Kickstarter campaign to pay for a second season of his web series movie review show, Ain’t It Cool with Harry Knowles. Harry is the founder of Ain’t It Cool News, a movie news, gossip and review site and he was given season one of the show as part of Nerdist’s then-new channel with YouTube. The show never got very good viewership (over a year later, the majority of episodes have less than 20,000 views). Harry is an awkward interviewer who used the show to frequently brag about props and guests but also presented an off-putting show that played like Pee Wee’s Playhouse but with vulgar language. It was all over the place.

While some of Nerdist’s lesser-viewed shows currently get 30,000 or so views, those have much lower production costs. And many of their shows get more than 1 million views. So Harry’s show was canceled (or not renewed, if we want to be nice). Harry was determined to keep doing his show despite critics and fans alike not really liking it. He offered a Kickstarter with some pretty terrible rewards and it floundered for a full month. In the last week, Harry called in favors from film directors Rian Johnson, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro who made videos and reached out to social media to ask their fans to support Harry. He crossed the goal line at the last minute. It’s been over half a year – has he fulfilled his obligations? Well, we’ll list the facts and let you draw your own conclusions.


#1 There have been no updates to the Kickstarter campaign since it was successfully completed

You can check it out for yourself by clicking here. Neither Harry nor anyone on his team have put any kind of official update up on the status of the project. That’s not very encouraging. You can also look at the Comments section and see a lot of people asking what’s up. There are a few replies but nothing concrete on when people can expect to see what they paid for. One reply says they’ve finished 7 episodes but there are no official updates to back this up. This is even more frustrating for the backers who were promised exclusive updates about the status. According to many on both the Kickstarter page and in various forums, they’ve received no such updates.

Harry shows off all the cool STUFF he has

Harry shows off all the cool STUFF he has

#2 There have been no updates on the site or social media

Harry hasn’t posted a single thing to his website, Twitter account, or Instagram about the status of the show. If he’s working on something that takes up so much time, why no mention anywhere about what he’s creating?

Harry requires a massive crew to film him in closeup talking about what he's up to

Harry requires a massive crew to film him in closeup talking about what he’s up to

#3 According to the Hollywood Reporter, Harry Knowles owed $300K in back taxes

If you read this article, you’ll see that Harry has not been wise about managing his finances. Harry claims to have paid off that debt but can his fans who backed his Kickstarter campaign know that for sure? He hasn’t released any records to back the claim up. To make matters worse, the Kickstarter campaign never broke down where any of the funding went specifically. He asked for $100,000 from his fans to make some web episodes. Why can excellent web series/review shows like Red Letter Media and Angry Video Game Nerd produce top-notch shows for free and Harry needs $100,000? It’s not addressed. If I funded his campaign, I’d want to see the accounting.

I don't know what he's doing here

I don’t know what he’s doing here

#4 Harry bought himself a new car

Harry mostly only posts about movies he’s seen, but in December, he posted this tweet about buying a new car estimated at $24-28K. He sure is okay with throwing his money around when he’s being watched. Maybe that’s a good sign. But he should probably consider explaining why he can afford a new car but not afford his own web show.

He never moves

He never moves

#5 Rewards still haven’t been distributed

According to people in updates to the Kickstarter page, talkbackers on Harry’s site and supporters talking about the project in this Kickstarter forum about fraud, many people haven’t been given their backer rewards yet. They were due, at the latest, last December.

What a fun set - a dank basement!

What a fun set – a dank basement!

All in all, things don’t look good for those who supported this project. As soon as it was about to be funded, Harry changed the project by announcing it would air on Austin, TX’s local PBS station. That wasn’t quite what people thought they were funding and the legality of it is iffy. But even so, you’d think that would help drive things forward. Harry already had his set and he claimed to have several interviews in the bag. When people like Red Letter Media can make two shows on a roughly weekly schedule, both about half an hour each, reviewing films – why can’t Harry get even one episode done over 6 months later with $100,000?

  • eBob

    Oh Queefer….I thought you above the juvenile name calling?

    But I totally agree with the sentiment that any competent adult that did their due diligence and still decided to donate to this Kickstarter campaign (really ANY Kickstarter…but THIS one even more than any other) took an enormous risk and has nobody to blame other than themselves and no business complaining.
    And people that did not donate have really no reason to complain about it. It’s none of their business.

  • Queefer Sutherland

    Thanks. I mean, seriously, right? Anybody who didn’t get what was promised for their donations kind of deserves what they got. I don’t hate Harry, but I knew damn well he talks the talk but only rarely walks it.

  • Queefer Sutherland

    Aw, hell no, I can be juvenile from time to time. I think Harry was pretty damned despicable in this case, so he WAS a giant loser. At the same time, so were those who donated. They’re two different sides of a butt-cheek.

  • Paul Walker

    just kidding that iz actzuallyz funny

  • CarbonaNotGlue

    No one is stopping you.

  • CarbonaNotGlue

    He is unable to walk.

  • Queefer Sutherland

    Hm, that might explain some things…

  • President Muffley

    It’s a bad obsession.

  • Carolann Waggner

    Any news on this mess?