I have a distinct memory from when I was young of the Blockbuster Video near my house having a section of films that I had not seen before--Cult Classics. I hardly remember any of the titles that were filed on these particular shelves outside of the entire catalog of Japanese Godzilla films (which, as someone who already had a lifetime devotion to those films, was the only thing that mattered to me at the time). Looking back now, however, I'm not sure that I can fully express how much I wish I could go back in time to peruse this section more thoroughly. Even better, I wish I could go back and clean the section out of its finer offerings (that Godzilla collection, if nothing else) in the final days before Blockbuster's ultimate demise.

Though my connection to cult films may not have been formed at this point, the concept is one that has always struck a chord with me. Even before I had any sort of access to other people with similar likes and interests as I do, passionately enjoying things outside of the norm has been a natural state to me. This has never been in an attempt to be hip or contrarian, and nothing brings me greater joy than bringing people into the fold of cult fandoms that I am a member of.

Pop culture and fandom has massively evolved since the integration of the Internet into our daily lives, and I believe that the increasing popular acceptance of these niches is a great thing. However, it also has me worried about the state of the cult classic genre.

Now, there are films that seemingly attain cult status before they go into production, or that use the concept of a cult following in order to churn up support that may not be there in a traditional sense.

Crowdfunding has undoubtedly revolutionized business funding by presenting an alternative model to traditional loans or investor models, and this has spread to the film world, as well. What crowdfunding does in film is invert the concept of cult followings and classics. Instead of a film slowly gaining a dedicated and passionate fan base after its release, it ensures a certain level of fandom from the very beginning by attaching a financial obligation to fans.

This is a potentially worrisome trend if it goes in a direction where it takes advantage of fans' excitement and passion without delivering worthwhile results. However, the other side of the coin is that many of the most successful examples of crowdfunded film and TV projects are ones that already had a sort of cult following, and are looking to continue a halted franchise that fans want more of, such as the Veronica Mars movie, which was groundbreaking in terms of its crowdfunding success.

In a world where studios are making decisions about which films to put into production based on increasingly nebulous financial criteria over critical reception or actual quality, I highly welcome the opportunity for fans to influence the creation of cult projects. It's a rare instance where the fans that are so instrumental to the success of a property have a chance to more directly influence the creation of content they want to see.

The unfortunate reality that this brings about, though, is that more filmmakers may have to go this route in order to make projects that studios think may be risky or have niche audiences. With studios being so intensely focused on money being the end-all, be-all in terms of their decision making, it makes more financial sense to them if they see that they can spend less money on these smaller, cult projects by only getting involved later in the game (as Warner Bros. did with the Veronica Mars film by only handling distribution).

Instead, what we need to hope for is that studios will see the success of these crowdfunded projects, and see that funding these films can still be great opportunity. The entire concept of a cult classic means that this type of success is not something predictable, or even sensical, really. However, by having a better feel for what fans react positively to, and more effectively connecting with those ideals, not only will the studios win by having their names attached to projects that grow over time, but the fans will as well, by having more properties that are worth this kind of devotion in the first place.