Never underestimate the power of small dollars in large numbers. “Citizen Koch,” a documentary critical of the billionaire Koch brothers and big money in politics, has surpassed its $75,000 Kickstarter goal in just three days with more than 1,700 donors.
The film, directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, premiered at 2013’s Sundance and was set to broadcast on public television. That was before was before the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the public agency that funds and curates independent documentaries, pulled the $150,000 it originally committed to the documentary, reportedly in fear of offending the Koch brothers. The brothers have donated $23 million to public broadcasting and David Koch is a member of the board of directors of WNET in New York and WGBH in Boston.
The Koch brothers are billionaires who own Koch Industries, an energy and chemical conglomerate, and are known for their conservative politics.
To help bring the film to the public, the directors put the project on Kickstarter July 9 with a goal of half of the money that was cut. Three days later, they have raised $95,000. The campaign is a month long and, with 26 days left, filmmakers hope they can earn back all of the money that was cut.
The average donor pledged $53.31. According to the Kickstarter, the money will be used for the final sound mix, score, graphics, color corrections, creating mastered elements for digital retailers, licensing archival footage and music licensing.
While PBS was reportedly originally excited to air the documentary, David Koch had a negative reaction to “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream,” another PBS documentary critical of him. ITVS said they cut funding due to editorial differences.
Documaker Michael Moore has been among those lending support to the filmmakers.
“Citizen Koch” primarily focuses on the 2010 “Citizens United” Supreme Court ruling, which eliminated bans on independent expenditures and effectively made campaign spending unlimited, and the effect it had on the 2012 Wisconsin recall uprising.
The Koch family has also had to deal with another crowdfunded documentary in the past: Robert Greenwald’s “Koch Brothers Exposed,” which included a full-fledged investigation of the brothers.
The “Citizen Koch” Kickstarter campaign ends August 8.