'Capital C': Film Review

Capital C Still - H 2015

Capital C Still - H 2015

An inspiring but less than informative documentary.

Timon Birkhofer and Jorg M. Kundinger's documentary examines the phenomenon of crowdfunding by profiling three entrepreneurs.

Viewers will be hard-pressed to resist the urge to dream up a business, any business, and immediately launch a crowdfunding campaign to finance it after watching Timon Birkhofer and Jorg M. Kundinger's rah-rah documentary about the exploding internet phenomenon. Chronicling three entrepreneurs who successfully funded their quixotic goals via the process, Capital C is an engaging but unfortunately one-dimensional effort that was—you guessed it—itself funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

The profiled subjects are Brian Fargo, a computer games designer attempting to produce a sequel to his popular '90s-era roleplaying game Wasteland; Zach Crain, a heavily bearded hipster who along with several partners created the Freaker, a knitted bottle and can insulator; and Jackson Robinson, a graphic designer who in his spare time works on his design for playing cards inspired by U.S. currency. 

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Each suffers various pitfalls along the way. Fargo constantly worries that if his latest effort fails to win the hearts and minds of gamers he'll never be given another shot; Crain's small office is burgled, effectively shutting down his operation before his hometown community comes to the rescue (ironically, using the old-fashioned, lo-tech method of a benefit concert featuring local bands); and Fargo, working a 9-5 job, struggles to make his self-imposed deadline. But it's not exactly a spoiler to reveal that they all succeed in the end.

They're all inspiring stories, to be sure, but the film's relentless celebratory tone proves wearisome, and its failure to provide much hard information and context about its subject is a serious drawback. Rather than delving into the negative aspects of crowdfunding — surely, there must be some — we're instead treated to endless talking head experts delivering such platitudes as "People are more connected now than ever in human history." "It's perhaps the most significant social development of the last twenty years." And "It's the largest paradigm shift since the Industrial Revolution."

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While it's perhaps churlish to point out that this paradigm shift is here seen resulting in such things as video games, snazzy playing cards and beer koozies (not to mention a film by Zach Braff), there's no doubt that Capital C would be more effective if its scope had been broadened. But even on its own terms it feels insufficient; for example, Crain winds up going on the reality television series Shark Tank to promote his product, but we see no footage of his appearance.    

The film ends with an onscreen dedication to "Those Who Dare." Presumably, you know who you are.

Production: Father&Sun
Directors/screenwriters/producers: Timon Birkhofer, Jorg M. Kundinger
Executive producer: Stefan Brunner
Director of photography/editor: Jorg M. Kundinger
Composers: Glasperlenspiel, Moonlander

Not rated, 86 min.