Ten Things Worth Donating To Before Harry Knowles’ Kickstarter

Harry Knowles is the guy behind Aint it Cool News, a site ostensibly created to share movie scoops and reviews, but is about 10 years past its prime. Harry has been called out for being lazy about managing his site and for mismanaging his funds, but now he has taken to Kickstarter to ask his readers to fund his new pet project, a web series, to the tune of $100,000! This past year, Nerdist launched its own YouTube channel with a variety of nerd-themed entertainment. One of those shows was Harry’s web series in which he reviewed film and interviewed filmmakers. It was canceled, but Harry wants it to continue and he’s asking you to fund that. Here are 10 projects more worthy of your support than Harry’s vanity show.

Harry Knowles shows off film props

Harry shows off a prop from King Kong that, no, you can’t play with.

Hit the jump to see the list!

10) Want to support a web series about film? Try Red Letter Media

Half in the Bag's Mike and Jay

Mike and Jay deconstruct Hollywood blockbusters.

Do you want to support a good web series? Or specifically a web series about film? There’s no better show online (or on TV for that matter) than Red Letter Media’s “Half in the Bag.” It’s a review show framed within a self-aware hack sitcom premise. Two VCR repairmen, Mike and Jay, are terrible at their jobs but surprisingly knowledgeable about filmmaking and what works and what doesn’t in entertainment.

Also? Their show is completely free.

They produce indie films that are available for purchase in a variety of formats on their site. They don’t just criticize movies, they make their own! Or just watch and enjoy “Half in the Bag” or one of their other shows like “Best of the Worst” where they review really bad movies. That stuff gets supported with ads so any traffic they get helps. Seriously, it’s some of the funniest programming out there, looks better than what Harry’s making and it’s free.

9) Want to support a filmmaker enter the next stage? Try Angry Video Game Nerd

Angry Video Game Nerd

James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd

Harry Knowles has produced one season of his show, funded by YouTube. Now he wants us to pitch in our money for him to keep going. But what is his plan beyond season 2? There is no plan. Is there supposed to be a season 3? Would we fund that, too? Unknown. How about someone with a plan? Enter James Rolfe, best known online as the Angry Video Game Nerd. For many years, he has been creating hilarious reviews of terrible old video games. He also has created short films and serious reviews of too many films to count. So when he announced that he was having a fundraiser to film a movie based on The Angry Video Game Nerd, it felt like a natural progression. He’d proven his skills in acting, writing, directing and editing for years and wanted to take things to the next level. And his fans overwhelmingly supported him, surpassing his modest goal of $75K to give him well over $300K. You can still support James by picking up his DVDs that compile his Angry Video Game Nerd reviews and are filled with all sorts of extras like short films, film reviews and commentary. Visit his site for an archive of all his FREE material at Cinemassacre.com and buy his DVDs at ScrewAttack.com.

8) Want to support a good interviewer? Try Speakeasy

Paul F. Tompkins

Paul F. Tompkins on Speakeasy

Harry’s interviews are simply embarrassing. It’s awkward whenever he has to interact with someone else. He stumbles through his questions with a plastered-on smile locked in place and doesn’t listen to them. He just waits until they stop talking and forces his way into a new question. No followup or interaction. A surprisingly entertaining interviewer is comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Paul is a standup and a regular guest on a multitude of podcasts but is himself a fine host as well. On the web series Speakeasy, he interviews other comedians and we actually learn something about them, about their history and their process. And it’s funny. As is the case with most of the options I’m providing you with, the program is FREE on YouTube and you can support Paul himself by getting his stand-up albums on iTunes, Amazon or at AST Records.

7) Want to support a whimsical show that blends kid’s tv with pop culture awareness? Try Comedy Bang Bang

Comedy Bang Bang

Scott Aukerman, Andy Daly as Don Dimelo, and Amy Poehler

Harry designed his show with a bit of Pee Wee Herman in mind. There’s a knockoff score designed to sound like Danny Elfman and talking furniture. But he got it all wrong, tonally. His set is impeccably decorated, but it’s in a dimly lit, dank basement. He has toys everywhere, but casually throws out f-bombs. It doesn’t meld together well at all. For someone who takes the concept and gets it right, try IFC’s tv show version of Comedy Bang Bang. It’s an interview show set in a bizarre world where the couch or the stuffed animals on the wall can talk. The music is all original, improvised stuff by comedian and musician Reggie Watts. Walking out the door could take you into a miniature world or the far future. IFC isn’t an individual pay channel in most markets, but not every cable provider carries it in their basic package. If you want to support Comedy Bang Bang in another way, it’s a weekly podcast, still hosted by Scott Aukerman and features real interviews mixed with fake guests every episode. And once again, it’s FREE. You can listen to it and donate to support it at Earwolf. Plus, it goes on its second live tour starting in September. If it comes through your city, catch it. I saw it last year and it was hilarious.

6) Want to support a web series get another season? Try Geek & Sundry

Tabletop on Geek & Sundry

Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton on Tabletop

Harry wants a second season. That’s all well and good but does it deserve a second season? What is the value proposition offered here? It never quite found its niche in the first season and isn’t responding to viewer demands in any way. It’s Harry’s vanity project where he talks about the cool props he has and the cool sets he’s visited and how much great fun he’s having. For a new media creator who listens to what the viewers want, consider Geek & Sundry. Geek & Sundry is Felicia Day’s YouTube channel. Before she launched a YouTube channel, she created several seasons of The Guild, a web series sitcom about a group of misfits united by the fact that they all play an MMO together. A new season of that show launched with Geek & Sundry last year, as well as archived past seasons. But they also hit other niches, with book reviews, animated sci-fi shows, and Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop, where he explains various tabletop games to the audience while playing them with other celebrities. Felicia herself has a show called the Flog, where she learns new skills like ice sculpture, parkour, archery, cosplay and more. You can support them at their store which carries DVDs of The Guild as well as comics, t-shirts and other merch based on their various shows.

5) Want to support a site improve its design? Try Krissy Downing

Krissy Downing

Krissy Downing’s squid section


Take a look at Harry’s website. It’s looked like that for a very, very long time. There’s no care given to it. The wireframes, site skin and modules are wildly out of date. If he doesn’t care much about his core competency, what makes you think he’ll give any real effort to the web series he’s going to make on other people’s money? Some of Harry’s readers, in the talkbacks, suggest he plans to siphon some of the money into refurbishing the site. First, that would be a violation. But second, why would he start caring now? If you want to support good web design, there’s about 1,000 talented people I could aim you at. How about my fiancée, Krissy Downing. She’s designed stuff for the EPA, Energy Star and plenty of other big names.

4) Want the screenwriting help reward? Try Nerdist Writer’s Panel

Ben Acker and Ben Blacker

Ben Blacker (r) with his writing partner, Ben Acker (l)

One of Harry’s rewards is that for $3,000 (you read that right) he will read your script and talk to you about it for one hour. Who is Harry to tell you whether your script is any good? It’s a fact that his grammar and spelling are atrocious and he’s never had a movie filmed based on something he wrote. Why didn’t he call in a favor here from one of his Hollywood friends for THEM to review your script? If you want to hear some good advice by ACTUAL Hollywood writers, try the Nerdist Writer’s Panel podcast. Hosted by Ben Blacker, he interviews tv writers from all of your favorite shows to discuss their tales of breaking in, creative roadblocks and story structure. As usual, it is FREE and you can listen to it through iTunes or its site. Want to support Ben? He is the co-creator and co-writer of the weekly live show/podcast Thrilling Adventure Hour, a staged production in the style of old-time radio starring many top names in the world of acting and comedy. You can buy merchandise based off of their shows  or pick up the show’s new graphic novel, itself a successful Kickstarter project.

3) Want the film festival reward? Try Ebertfest


Ebertfest at The Virginia, which got refurbished last year

For $2,500 you can attend Harry’s annual film festival in Austin, TX. He shows movies for 24 hours straight and for $2,500 you get a ticket. Does not include travel or accommodations. Ouch. That’s only slightly more painful than the reward where you pay $2,000 and he says he’ll show a movie at your party as long as it’s in Austin and you provide the refreshments. I’m sure Harry’s film festival is perfectly entertaining but all it is is whatever Hollywood wants to earn some small buzz with the nerd crowd. We can’t all realistically make it to the big film festivals in Cannes or Toronto or Sundance, but one that has a nice range of film along with film discussions by noted critics is Ebertfest. Centrally located in Champaign, IL, this festival was sponsored by the late, great Roger Ebert. The festival organizers and Ebert’s widow, Chaz, have promised the festival will continue every April. The goal is to spotlight overlooked films. So if you consider yourself a film buff, this is the place to go and it won’t cost you $2,500. To go to absolutely everything is $145 or individual tickets are $14. Of course seats are limited, but that’s how it is for any movie or festival. You can learn more about Ebertfest here.

2) Want to support something creative? Try The Robot’s Pajamas!

It’s me! I work here!

Harry wants to be a creative guy, clearly. But he does not put the work in. His site looks like web 0.0 and would be dead if it weren’t for the talkback feature allowing people to interact. He has friends in Hollywood but isn’t doing anything there himself. He can’t get a tv or web show going. Just look at the talkbacks on his own site where he posts about Kickstarter. His own readers are nearly unanimously against it. But you’re here! You might like us. We try to put out content every day from Monday through Friday. We don’t make a dime on this site, we just write reviews of toys and movies and books because we love it. Still, there are hosting costs. So if you want to support us, simply click on the ads on the side. At least consider coming here and clicking on the amazon link over on the left. It helps offset the costs.

1) Want your money to be donated to a worthwhile creative project? Try Kickstarter

Kickstarter success rate graph

Kickstarter success rates courtesy Notthesingularity.com

Seriously, just about anything there is better than giving $100,000 to Harry. Look at everything above. Some of them are pros that are supported by ads but a lot are just fans creating something because they love it and offering it for free to prove they can make something worthwhile. Why can’t Harry do that? He could sell one or two of his precious collectibles and fund the season himself. He could decide that the show doesn’t need special effects and an award-winning director. Just film it in your own house with two chairs. Scale down and show us what you can do. Every Kickstarter description has a section for risks. Harry’s does not explain them. It does not break down where the money goes and why it would need that much. Exactly how many episodes will it even create? You would be much better off browsing Kickstarter and finding a healthy description with some innovative rewards and supporting that. Crowd funding is an amazing new business channel. Let’s not let it get abused.

  • Mike Hamm

    I’m late to the game but wanted only to say that I appreciate the thought put into the piece. So many others are taking the low road; you’ve made a good case, and the criticisms are sound & fair.

  • MightyThorazine

    If Harry wasn’t so damn hot looking I would have left AICN years ago.

  • TronSheridan

    I’d rather flush my money a toilet than give it to Miss Uncanny Valley (Felicia Day).

  • TronSheridan

    Kickstarters like the PA one is THE reason why I quit funding Kickstarters. So many of them don’t need the money they are asking for. If you want investors, fine…give me a kick back on my investment. But if you have the money and believe in your project, fucking fund it yourself.

  • Albee

    I get why people don’t like Harry but the legion of hidden keyboard warriors wishing for his death or mocking his illness are actually far worse people than Harry. And I’ve seen Knowles up close in action and was not impressed. But he loves more than hates.

  • Albee

    Yep. “I want to see the video of that!”