Filmmaker Phelim McAleer has ramped up his accusations against crowd-funding site Kickstarter, posting a billboard a half-mile from the company’s Brooklyn headquarters and publicly accusing them of “censorship,” a charge Kickstarter denies.
McAleer, who is working to raise $2.1 million to produce a TV movie about convicted murderer and former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, told TheBlaze that he and his wife, fellow filmmaker Ann McElhinney, purchased the closest billboard they could find to Kickstarter’s headquarters.
“We wanted to post the billboard to draw attention to Kickstarter’s censorship to draw attention to how they don’t want diversity of opinion on the crowd-funding platform,” McAleer told TheBlaze. “Kickstarter tried to censor us — it didn’t work. When faced with a different point of view, their first instinct was to censor.”
McAleer said that while Kickstarter, as a private company, has the right to block any project it wants, he believes it was actually a matter of shutting it down because of the subject matter. He said “they need to be honest and announce that certain opinions and ideas are not welcome on Kickstarter.”
But Kickstarter spokesman Justin Kazmark denied that the Gosnell film was censored, telling TheBlaze in an email that it “was not rejected” and that it “was accepted exactly as it was submitted for our review.”
Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler issued a statement to National Review last month also denying that the Gosnell project was censored.
“In this case we recommended the filmmakers copyedit both a factual error and a phrase that evoked an incredibly graphic image that felt too strong for a general audience,” he said. “The creators replied with a spirited defense of the graphic depiction they wanted to include. We decided to bend our rules and give them green light to launch at their convenience.”
Strickler said the copyedits were made, but that the filmmakers decided to launch on Indiegogo, a different online fundraising platform, instead.
“We wish them the best of luck. But trying to make this about something it’s not, stoking a make-believe fire to incite publicity, and imagining Kickstarter as a partisan battlefield is wrong,” he added. “We exist to support creators and creativity, not a political ideology.”
McAleer and McElhinney have so far raised more than $1.6 million of their $2.1 million goal on Indiegogo. The campaign is scheduled to run through May 12.
McAleer has previously decried the lack of Hollywood interest in a subject like Gosnell, despite being a character that’s “part Hannibal Lecter, part Dr. Kevorkian.” Gosnell was convicted last year of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive at his Philadelphia clinic.
“You’re more likely to see a Hollywood executive at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser than on the Internet scouring for great stories like Kermit Gosnell … they actually look away,” he said.