Melissa Joan Hart says Kickstarter failure ‘started out wrong’

Not every Kickstarter film-funding effort ends in multimillion-dollar success, a la actor-writer-director Zach Braff’s recent campaign or that achieved by the cast and creators of the canceled CW show “Veronica Mars.” Just ask actress Melissa Joan Hart, who failed in her efforts to raise $2 million for a romantic comedy in which she was hoping to star.

Turns out fans of the ‘90s child star -- best known for the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” TV movie and series -- weren’t so interested in watching her play a single thirtysomething forced to attend her sister’s wedding solo in Thailand. The project was titled “Darci’s Walk of Shame.”

Her month of fundraising efforts on the crowd-sourced site prompted its own walk of shame, nabbing only $51,000 in pledges and shutting down early.

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Hart, reached by phone Monday morning, appeared to be taking the long view toward the experience -- disappointed but encouraged by what she learned in the process.


“It’s a gamble. The whole thing is a gamble,” said the actress, who has a book out later this year and recently spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library about the trials and tribulations of a Hollywood career.

“I think we started out wrong, we didn’t launch it correctly. What we failed to do was let the fans know exactly what the project was. If we were to go back, what I would do is either shoot five minutes of the movie or have a full cast. We thought we could do it based on ‘Hey, here’s Melissa. You’ve liked what she’s done, check out what she’s going to do next.’”

Unlike the funding for Braff’s follow-up to “Garden State” or the reunion of “Veronica Mars,” Hart’s project lacked a nostalgia factor. Yes, the new project promised to reunite her with Tibor Takács, who directed the “Sabrina” TV movie, but otherwise the premise of the project was to cast Hart against the earnest characters she portrayed in the 1990s.

“You can help me do a funny, sexy part,” Hart pleaded to her fans in a video for the project. Her mother even mocked her on-screen good-girl persona.

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“That’s right, you grew up in Nickelodeon,” quipped her mother in the three-minute clip that also featured Hart bringing back her witch magic.

Hart said the video wasn’t enough to convince her fans to reach for their wallets.

“We didn’t give them the two things it takes to sell a movie: a poster and a trailer,” she said. “I really think that’s where we missed the boat.”

Hart is currently starring in the third season of the ABC Family show “Melissa & Joey” and says she has a few other projects in the works. She is still looking for an investor for her romantic comedy.

“I really think it’s more for entrepreneurs. People don’t necessarily want to see already successful people becoming more successful,” she said of Kickstarter. “It’s disappointing but hopefully we won’t always be used as an example of how not to do it.”


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