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By Mark Bell | May 23, 2011

When I set out to crowdfund, and document the process, I imagined it being more about statistics and techniques and learning how to engage effectively with your audience. I didn’t imagine that my crowdfunding would elicit hatred or anger in my direction (maybe mocking derision), but last week that’s precisely what happened.

As you may remember in the previous column, I mentioned a comment I received on the campaign. The comment read:

What a joke. Mark Bell wants us to finance a business he bought from the real Film Threat? GImme a brake.

My first reaction was, “Really? The ‘real’ Film Threat? That’s what this is.” I then realized that there are people out there who probably don’t know my own personal history with Film Threat, which is going on 8+ years now, or even that I was Editor-in-Chief for a number of years prior to my eventual purchase of the company. How this “real” criticism can pop up now leads me to believe that this person actually thinks I’m a stranger that just made an offer Chris Gore wouldn’t refuse; as if Chris Gore would’ve ever let 25 years of Film Threat just be handed to someone with no knowledge or experience with the company.

But who would say this, or worse, join a crowdfunding site with the sole purpose of leaving a negative comment (and not, for example, fund any other projects)? Google search brought up the name of a teacher at Wayne State University, which is where Gore co-founded Film Threat in 1985, but was this really a teacher at a university (my gut says, “no”), and if not, why use that name? Why bring Wayne State University into this at all?

I shrugged it off, though. Someone obviously has the wrong idea of me, and of what I’m doing here. Unfortunately, I can’t control that much beyond putting the facts out there for folks to read and see, and hopefully the actions will override the fears and criticisms.

But then I got another comment on the same campaign, from a different source:

I’ve known Marc Bell for a long time. I could never ever give him any money. As a person he’s kinda angry and I’ve seen him be incredibly vengeful. As a business man? Not a chance in hell would I give my hard earned money to someone who, in my opinion, isn’t good with money.

Sorry, Marc. I know this will hurt your feelings. It’s not like it’s fun writing this. I just don’t want to see other people throw their money away.

WHAT!?! This one shocked me. This person too only seemed to join IGG with the sole purpose of leaving a negative comment, and even worse, this person was out-and-out lying about me in an effort to dissuade others from helping out the project (first off, my name is, and always has been, MARK Bell, not Marc; someone who has supposedly known me for a long time would be very aware of that). Who does this sort of thing? Who pretends to know someone, lies about them and then acts like it’s a hard thing for them to do. Obviously, something’s going on here.

One of the co-founders of IndieGoGo, Slava Rubin (who I interviewed last year), contacted me to find out what was going on, and was even kind enough to get on the phone to try and sort the situation out with me because, as I suspected and as he knows from experience, negative comments on crowdfunding campaigns are rare. Apparently this last comment was the worst comment he’d ever seen left on a campaign. He asked me if I wanted the comments removed, but I said no. Since this is as much about succeeding as it is about learning from the process, I didn’t want to hide anything. This happened.

Why this happened, I do not know. I’ve never been vengeful as far as I can remember, and I didn’t think that I personally had any enemies to worry about. I figured, even if people thought these campaigns were stupid, they’d ignore them or comment elsewhere; I didn’t think they’d actively say things to try to stop other people from helping. I was wrong.

Something IS going on here. Over the weekend, was hit with DDoS attacks every 8 hours like (programmed) clockwork. The last time this happened was shortly after we re-launched the site last year. The site is holding up to the attacks better this time around (mainly because of what we learned from last year’s issues), but I’m still at a loss to the “why” of it all. We rustled someone’s feathers, and it looks like there is a concerted effort to make sure that these campaigns do not succeed. Or, it’s a coincidence.

At the same time, the support that we’ve received, monetarily and otherwise, has been extensive, and I am extremely optimistic that we will succeed with both our crowdfunding campaigns. Still have over a month to go, and there probably will be some more hiccups or incidents as this goes on, but I’m more determined than ever to succeed.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to the stats and theories of things, but I wanted to get the nastiness out and covered, so we can move on.

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  1. Amos says:

    Screw ’em. Plenty of others are voting with their feet in the other direction, self included.

  2. Brad Cook says:

    I agree with MJ: We’re on your side, Mark. I was happy to contribute something.

  3. Baxter says:

    This is so crazy. Only on the internet can you have a one-sided feud with a complete stranger.

  4. MJ Slide says:

    Wow. I’m really sorry that all had to go down Mark. I backed Film Threat because of your online rep and the fact that print is a dying breed which needs to have the life breathed back into it. I say the naysayers esp those who claim to “know” you either have too much time on their hands, a chip on their shoulder, or both. Success bothers people. Successful people that other people actually like seem to irritate even more. I’ll end by saying this, if anything those comments made me want to double my backing. Keep on keeping on. And know this, we got your back. Haters will hate but the indie film community is with you all the way.

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