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.

THE FACTS:

#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?


  • HollywoodIsDead

    Glad I wasn’t stupid enough to give that fat lying piece of shit any cash. Sorry that so many others were.

  • Monroville

    So at what point would one NOT do the things you mentioned? And at what point would going to Kickstarter so they can look into it first NOT be a part of the investigative process? I’m kind of surprised.. you never came across as a Harry suck up, Hap.

    But please.. be as condescending as you want to be. This is the internet after all.

  • Monroville

    Receipts?

    Because if there is NOT a means of Kickstarter guaranteeing that donated money will only go to the cause kickstarted, then that means I need to start a kickstarter right now for my cold fusion project that will come to fruition by 2025.

  • Zenith

    With this, it’s coming from experience. It was my job a long time. Not anymore, but for a long time. And I’m not in anyway apologising for Harry. His behaviour has been abominable. It would be terrific if he could face legal censure for it, but the reality is what he has done comes under it being a civil matter, not criminal. Civil matters will not be moved into the criminal matter sphere by any police force until all civil remedies have been explored and found to be useless.
    With kickstarter, you’re entering into a legal and civil agreement that has built in remedies for breaches of its conditions. There are also a lot of “get out” clauses for kickstarters that go wrong. I can’t stress this enough. It is currently a civil matter. Not criminal. Do I like that? Nope. But from someone who worked in that field for a long time, that is the situation. He has been remiss on fulfilling kickstart obligations. At this point, police will not consider a criminal investigation unless kickstarter has already investigated under their own rules and conditions and found a criminal breach to have occurred at which point police would then need actual victims to step forward and make a complaint. Only then would it be considered fraud or deception. Until Kickstarter reacts to complaints by the people Harry fleeced, and determines actual fraud, there is no criminal case to answer. It’s not being apologetic about Harry, it’s about the facts. Harry is a deceptive, lying toe rag. No doubts. And morally what he has done is a joke. You and I both know that not all that money went into this ridiculous season two. Id be surprised if even a third of the money made it into the production. But by kickstarter rules he has not committed any offence beyond late fulfilling of promises. There is footage, however brief. Even if that’s all there is he can cry unforeseen circumstances, renege on the whole thing and blame the station for eating up his budget and walk away scot-free.
    That’s the situation as it stands. It’s got fuck all to do with anyone apologising for him. People constantly stating though that the police should be dealing with it haven’t a clue how the police work or how this falls under law. It’s a scam he’s got away with due to kickstarter rules and procedures and until they call it a crime, police won’t touch it. End of story.

  • Zenith

    And in case it wasn’t obvious, I am the post-banning Hap Hazzard.

  • B. Smith

    Has anybody reported this fat fuck for fraud yet?

  • Chris Piers

    Well, apparently he has announced it’s done and will air in a month:
    http://www.therobotspajamas.com/a-year-and-a-half-later-harry-knowles-promises-his-webshow-will-debut/

  • You_Will_Be_Found

    No, but you’ve been reported. You’re going to find out that what you say and do online has consequences. Your family, friends and employers (if you have any, we’ll know soon enough) will be finding out just how loathsome you are.

  • You_Will_Be_Found

    Please feel free to email me via Disqus for more information regarding my reply to @disqus_fWRTQkvZrJ:disqus

  • http://www.therobotspajamas.com/ RobotsPJs

    Uh oh, it’s the internet police!

  • understudyheroes

    “Season One of Ain’t It Cool with Harry Knowles airing on KLRU-TV, Austin PBS on KLRU-Q on Saturday, February 7, 2015 is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Department as a sponsored project of VSA Texas, the state organization on arts and disabilities.”

    So people who donated to VSA Texas ended up funding some part of this shit on TOP of the kickstarter funds? No answers yet, would the author of this article like to reach out to harry and quint for further comment?

  • B. Smith

    I’m terrified. Shaking in my boots here. Really. Just purely terrified.

    Say, how do you define “soon enough?”

  • B. Smith

    My wife?!?!? Oh, no! Fuck! What am I going to do? I’ll have to travel back in time and tell her already that some little pussy piece of shit is going to “get me” and is “logging me!” I’m sure she’ll be horrified!

    Say, how soon is soon enough, fuckwad?

  • B. Smith

    Uh…uh…uh…uh…shit! Some little pussy whiner with an ugly ass kid he fucks to sleep is “logging my activity?!?!?” Oh, no!!!! FUUUUUUUUUUCK!!! I guess the EVERYBODY who already knows me and my shit is going to be COMPLETELY NOT FUCKING SURPRISED that I think you’re a worthless sack of mule shit!

  • eBob

    So Harry has released his first episode.

    The handful of hate-spammers that constantly fill his AICN articles with bile just spent endless hours and months of their lives hating and posting completely useless crap that amounted to nothing. Harry isn’t going to jail. Hell, Harry isn’t even going to be investigated.

    “But…but…but…what about the Hollywood Reporter article saying he owed $300,000 in unpaid taxes?”
    You mean the one if you read it all the way through that on page 4 it actually says, “The site continues to fight its way back to profitability; earlier in March, Knowles was able to pay himself for the first time since last summer.” And this was PRIOR to his Kickstarter campaign, geniuses.

    “But…but…but…we hate-spammers have driven away all the visitors to the site and we’ve burned it to the ground!”
    Really? Because in that same Hollywood Reporter article you all love to quote so much it says that the site gets “…300,000 unique monthly visitors.” That’s roughly 10,000 unique visitors per day. That sure sounds like a site that’s about to close to me…

    “But…but…but…he got all that extra corporate sponsorship money from all those companies at the beginning of his video! Scam!”
    You simpletons really don’t understand how PBS Corporate Sponsorships work, do you? That money goes to the PBS station to pay for the overhead of running a television station. None of that went to Harry or AICN, you dolts.

    A bunch of willing adults donated small amounts of cash to a Kickstarter campaign with poorly defined parameters, but they did so willingly. If those morons failed to do any due diligence into the person they were donating money to, then they got what they deserved. Caveat emptor.

    And all of you impotent, angry little hate-spammers can’t take it because it’s been revealed that despite all of your hours, months and over a year of endless effort…you have been proven meaningless. Absolutely meaningless.

    HA!

  • http://www.therobotspajamas.com/ RobotsPJs

    I neither understand the people that really hate him that they post all day about it nor do I understand people that feel the need to write a long diatribe defending him.

  • eBob

    He’s not a great human being, without a doubt. I’m not defending Harry Knowles. I’m saying that for people to spend 17 months pounding out endless posts attacking him says more about them than it does about Harry.

  • CreepyThinMan

    I’ve heard that someone filled out Form 3949-A, detailing the entire Kickstarter scam as well as articles about Knowles’ previous sub-criminal activity and his tax issues, and sent it in to the IRS! That’s what I heard!!!FACT!!!

  • Patrick

    Dude…what…?

  • You_Will_Be_Found

    Try not to poke the bear? Is that a joke? This isn’t just going to go away. I not only have your IP address now, but also the time, disposable income and most importantly the determination to find you. I won’t be needing to hand over my address to obtain your address. I have people doing that for me now. Enjoy your moment while it lasts.

    And for those of you who are interested or just generally confused, B.Smith is regularly posting and being banned from this talkback over on AICN.

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/70292

    He’s currently ‘disguised’ as Mamie_Shorgon_Jaw. Feel free to check out his comments before he is deleted and banned, yet again.

    He also posts here as ZombieMorgon_Shaw

    http://www.slashfilm.com/rumor-batman-v-superman-split/

    He not only thought it was funny to generally abuse people online, he then went on to stalk one of the people in the group and take a photo of their disabled son, photoshopped it to look like a zombie and then continue to generally harass the group. Some of you may find this hilarious, but if you have at least half a brain you’ll realise that this isn’t funny at all.

  • You_Will_Be_Found

    Explanation below.

  • Doofus Guy

    Yay Red Letter Media rules! Fuck this guy, and go watch Half in the Bag or Best of the Worst! Woooo!