Zach Braff Responds to Kickstarter Campaign Vitriol: 'It's Not Like I Lobbied Congress'

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by Ryan Lattanzio
May 8, 2013 12:56 PM
5 Comments
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Zach Braff
Though he hasn't directed a feature since 2004's "Garden State," Zach Braff has been the talk of the town in recent weeks. With over 35,000 backers and nearly $2.5 million in funds with two weeks to go, his Kickstarter campaign for a new film fell under siege for perpetuating the notion that millionaires are just using the crowdsourcing platform to fund their vanity projects (our TOH! story is here). 

Recently, Braff sat down with the LA Times to respond to critics of the campaign for "Wish You Were Here," his sophomore effort that more or less sounds like "Garden State" redux. Excerpts from the interview below.

ZB: There's been some deliciously yummy vitriol. I guess I was a little naive about this coming in. I didn't think that people would care that much about a little movie, which I was wrong about. But I can’t say I totally get it. It's not like I've taken over Kickstarter. It's not like when you go to the home page there's a big picture of me smiling at you; you have to click through past a lot of other worthy projects to find it. It's not like I lobbied Congress to pass a tax to finance my movie. It's just sitting there in a corner of the site.

ZB: I have something every detractor doesn't have: the analytics. Most of the backers of my film aren't people on Kickstarter who had $10 and were deciding where to give it, and then gave it to me instead of someone else. They came to Kickstarter because of me, because of this project. They wouldn't have been there otherwise. 

Braff is sticking to his guns. In a podcast, he also spoke with Kim Masters of KCRW to discuss the controversy. It's worth a listen to hear why Braff, like so many directors, wants to flee the Hollywood system in favor of crowd-funding and independent projects.


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5 Comments

  • Phil | May 9, 2013 7:31 AMReply

    Personally I can't see any problem with people like Braff using Kickstarter to make a film. If people are willing to give money to get it made then it is down to them.

    Then there is all the talk about it being just for new filmmakers trying to get their projects made. All well and good and it is fantastic for that, but how would people feel if a person made a film funded via Kickstarter, that film does amazingly well and the filmmaker is the toast of Hollywood and they make millions from it. How would you feel if they then used Kickstarter to fund their next movie as they are a poster boy/girl for Kickstarter success?

    Just curious

  • Angelina | May 9, 2013 7:00 AMReply

    I agree with jenga. These movie stars's pay day is what we indies are trying to raise for years to make our films. Kickstarter was for people that had ideas and needed the help. If rich and famous pull all their friends together and give their pay checks they can easily get 5 million to make any film they want. But doing through kickstarter validates their intent. Makes them like 'us'. Well sorry guys, they are not. They are privilege and have a great fan base and I'm also one of their fans, so I do look forward to their film. I just worry that if a backer has $100 to spend and sees the hollywood name, he will just click on theirs and ignore the rest. So they will immediately be noticed. It's unfair. It's like you work all those years and they stick their image and name on it and they get all the attention. Don't get me wrong. I like the guy. But I also like the unknown director who has a great project and his chances are diminished because of the 'celebrity culture' taking over - yet again- the world.

  • jenga | May 9, 2013 6:53 AMReply

    Kickstarter should made celebrities accountable for what they do with their money. You can't cast your mate movie star at half a million salary - that doesn't happen in small indie films so if you don't want to use your millions to fund your own film and you ask the crowds at least do it the same way that indie do it, small deferred fees and a lot of struggle. What will happen to kick-starter if all the celebrities use their clout to pull in the backers? The same thing that happened to top tier festivals - another platform for the rich and famous, pushing the talented un-connected indies to the bottom of the pack. I think Kickstarter should have a top of how much they can raise and that will keep things under some control.

  • Morgan Yam | May 8, 2013 5:44 PMReply

    What people don't seem to realize is that almost EVERYTHING is a "vanity"project now. Unless you are painting watercolors or putting your point-and-shoot photos on Tumblr, it takes money to produce and distribute -- movies, books, whatever. The studios just want to churn out the same pablum month after month (see Soderbergh's SF film fest keynote address on Vimeo). Zach Braff didn't extort that money -- he earned it through his achievements, and the people who put it up are simply supporting a talent that they like. It's actually empowering for movie fans to be involved in decision-making, rather than corporations. Though Hollywood is anything but a meritocracy, crowdsourcing actually does make sense.

  • Mark Lipsky | May 8, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    According to Mashable, some 9,700 video projects have raised an average of $13,000 on Kickstarter. Among those 9,700 producers, how many internationally famous and fabulously wealthy TV stars do you think you’d find? Right, I got the same answer: 1 – Kristen Bell. Bell, along with Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, launched an equally cynical campaign not long ago and raised nearly $6 million off the backs of their fanbase. There are a few others from the entertainment industry that have gone slumming on Kickstarter but Braff takes the cake.

    Zach appears to be close to tears in his Kickstarter video as he whimpers about creative freedom and how ‘the money guys’ won’t give him final cut and may even want to cast Denzel Washington. Well you know what, Zach, their money, their risk, their party.

    By raising the money on Kickstarter, Zach not only gets to cast who he wants while retaining final cut, he takes zero risk and keeps all the profits. But wait, since Zach‘s risking none of his own money and Zach is in complete control of the project, all the money is profit. ZACH GETS TO KEEP ALL THE MONEY earned by the movie and his Kickstarter supporters get to, uhm, see the movie – which may or may not suck. They may even have earned the right to promote the movie for free by wearing the t-shirt. Awesome!

    Next time just write a check Zach.

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