"Capital C" Review

The first thing that stands out in “Capital C” is its cinematography and camerawork. With well placed framing for interviews, and pre-calculated set up sequences, it’s easy to get visually engaged. The documentary originated as a crowdfunded film on Kickstarter itself, and thus it’s fitting that it covers the adventures of crowdfunding. As a visually stimulating and technically sound film, the only question is, does it cover the crowdfunding phenomenon just as well?

“Capital C” follows Zach Crain, the maker of the Freaker USA, a one-size-fits-all koozie company; Jackson Robinson, an artist drawing the entire deck of the Federal 52 poker cards; and Brian Fargo, the developer of a video game called "Wasteland 2". While the risk to start their own company seems big for Zach and Jackson, Brian seems to be branching out after an already successful career.  

The issue with the film, is that each character has great success with their crowdfunding campaign, reaching their goals quickly. So the inherent tension of the drawn out journey of seeing their campaign reach its goal, or the heart-wrenching agony of not making the goal is lost in the film. The film paints a picture of small business entrepreneurs having huge success in crowdfunding, while 60% of Kickstarter (just one platform for crowdfunding) projects are not funded. Not being able to follow someone who puts everything on the line, only to come up short gives the illusion that everything is awesome in the world of crowdfunding. We get a brief mention of crowdfunding failure in a couple of interviews but as quickly as it’s mentioned it’s back to the mirage.

The film also feels stretched at times to get to its 86 minute running time. For example, we learn about Freaker USA’s opportunity to go on Shark Tank and then we're informed what the show is about three times as Zach defines the show to a family member, to the camera in a one on one, and his business partner talks about it again. The small repetitions in theme or information cause you too look at your watch rather than get lost in the film.

Writer/Director team Timon Birkhofer and Jorg Kundinger do a great job of making you fall in love with Zach (who is a character on any given day) and Jackson’s family. Zach’s confidence and loving spirit oozes off the screen and makes it easy to support him. The struggle for Jackson to keep his day job, while fulfilling his crowdfunding obligations can be boiled down to the universal experience of stretching yourself to provide for your family. They also cover the tension that the campaign created between Jackson and his wife as she deals with their two small children on her own so that he can work. So when Jackson’s story wraps up with an emotionally moving moment, it’s earned.

“Capital C” is a testament as to why indie filmmakers should be supported on crowdfunding platforms. Birkhofer and Kundinger delivered on a completed film that looks great and you can tell they invested lots of time and thought into making. It comes up short however, in giving a well rounded experience of crowdfunding which would have been more interesting than three success stories. While it's not perfect, "Capital C" is a solid prototype for the filmmakers to get feature film experience and learn from their directorial debut, which may not have been afforded to them without the power of the crowd!

In theaters and on demand now!

Rating: C

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.