Filmmaker Accuses Kickstarter of Censoring 'Gosnell' Abortion Movie
"They need to be honest and announce that certain opinions and ideas are not welcome,” says independent producer Phelim McAleer, who has now placed the censorship message on a billboard which went up a half-mile from Kickstarter's New York headquarters.
A filmmaker who is raising $2.1 million for the making of a TV movie about abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell -- in prison on multiple murder convictions -- is claiming on a massive billboard near Kickstarter's offices that, due to an alleged political bias, the crowdfunding company attempted to censor his project.
Phelim McAleer is co-producing the movie, called Gosnell, and had intended on using Kickstarter for his crowdfunding campaign, but switched to IndieGoGo at the last moment because, he says, Kickstarter was insisting on changes to the wording of his campaign and engaging in other delay tactics. In the end, Kickstarter approved the project but stipulated, as it says is customary, that McAleer agree to allow the company to yank the project from its site if anything "objectionable" was added to its web presence.
The billboard, which went up a half-mile from Kickstarter's New York headquarters Wednesday, contains the text "Kicked out by Kickstarter" and, "To Kickstarter – We Say … 'You Stink At Censorship!'"
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McAleer says Kickstarter was dragging its heels on granting permission for the crowdfunding campaign to launch because of a liberal agenda, including a bias against the film's "pro-life" tilt.
Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler emailed a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that disputes the claims made by McAleer and his Hat Tip Films.
"The 150,000 projects that have launched on Kickstarter encompass pretty much every ideology imaginable. We're proud to promote an environment that respects all beliefs and gives them a voice," Strickler said.
He added that in one instance Kickstarter staff conceded McAleer's point that the phrase "thousands of babies stabbed to death" should be allowed. The text is a paraphrase of information found in the Grand Jury report about Gosnell, who was convicted in 2011 of using scissors to kill born-alive babies at his Philadelphia abortion clinic.
"The creators replied with a spirited defense of the graphic depiction they wanted to include. We decided to bend our rules and give them [a] green light to launch at their convenience," Strickler said.
Nonsense, says McAleer.
"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.
He adds, though, that he believes Kickstarter was within its rights because it's a private company. "But they need to be honest and announce that certain opinions and ideas are not welcome," he said. "It's sad, but that's the truth."
With 11 days left, the Gosnell project has raised $1.66 million, 79 percent of its goal. If it reaches $2.1 million, it will become the most successful movie or TV project to raise funds at IndieGoGo.
McAleer says the site of the billboard was the closest one he could find to Kickstarter headquarters. He declined to say how much he paid, but billboards in that area can rent for as little as $3,200 a month.