Zach Braff on the Kickstarter backlash

zach braffheadshot

Zach Braff has made a name for himself in Hollywood by playing the beloved role of JD in “Scrubs” and penning and directing the indie-hit “Garden State.” But for his latest project, he’s gone directly to the people.
Hoping to keep final cut on “Wish I Was Here,” a film he co-wrote with his brother, Braff started a Kickstarter appeal to raise funds for the movie.  While the project hit the $2 million goal in four days, some critics have angrily pointed out that well-known names like Braff shouldn’t be going to the crowds to get money for their projects. We talked to him about the film, and the backlash.

Congrats on reaching $2 million-plus. How does it feel?
Amazing! I feel so grateful to my own fans who rallied around us. We never knew what was going to happen and we gave ourselves one month to let it happen, and then to reach the goal in four days is beyond anyone’s expectations. In fact, many people thought it wouldn’t work at all.

Tell us a little more about “Wish I Was Here.” What kind of movie are you going to give Kickstarter funders with $2 million and counting?
The story is hard to explain without ruining it for so many people. There’s a summary on the page. Backers will get as much information as they want — all of the images they want, spoilers if they want and ultimately they’ll read the script if they’ve chosen that. But it’s a story of a family whose struggling to get by in the valley of Los Angeles and trying to make ends meet and raise their kids. And the father, played my me, is an out-of-work actor wrestling to have his dreams come true as he gets a little bit older in his life. Through a series of circumstances they decide to homeschool their children.
He’s not much of an academic so he ultimately learns a lot about being a better dad and being a better person through teaching his kids what he knows now. He can’t really teach them much about academics but he can teach them what he knows about being a better person.  It’s in the tone of “Garden State” and “Scrubs” sometimes, so It’s the perfect thing for people who like what I do.

Does it exist in the same universe as “Garden State” with all those manic pixie dream girls running around?
I never really got that expression! I guess people were taking a dig at the character of Natalie Portman. There’s not that type, there’s not a Natalie Portman in regards of that role if that’s what you’re asking.

Why was it so important to you to have final cut?
I’ve been involved in a lot of movies as an actor/writer, and I’ve been involved in a lot of TV pilots. I don’t think a lot of people who aren’t savvy to the film industry don’t know that very often the person’s whose name is the director didn’t essentially have the final say of what’s going in and what goes on in the movie.  Films are tested for a test audience these days, and if a test audience or even a couple people in a test audience start campaigning, “This thing should go this way,” I’ve seen executives and financiers’ ears perk up and want to try that. In the spirit of creating art with a small little Indie like this we’re creating art hopefully, I don’t think that’s a very good way to make a film.

Were you planning a crazy insane ending, and afraid it’d be changed?
I think people were thinking I was talking about this specific film. I just mean in general, many films are changed after a test screening.

You’ve had a ton of supporters, but there’s also people who weren’t as supportive of the project. One tweet that we saw said, “Imagine – fools funding #VeronicaMars & #ZachBraff via @kickstarter sent cash to Haiti, NO, Sandy vics instead of hollywood #BetheChange.“ Another pointed out that you reportedly made $350,000 per episode for Scrubs. Do you feel you’re on the defensive, more than you expected?
I think a lot of people definitely got their panties in a bunch. They definitely don’t know all the facts. It is frustrating at times to read stuff on the Web that is so misinformed, but I think it started a giant conversation which we’re probably due to have because anyone who doesn’t think that this is a way musicians and filmmakers and artists of all times whether they’re known or unknown people are going to be able to directly reach their fan base, I think those people aren’t keeping up with what’s happening.  To me, this was the next logical step. I just like to say to detractors who might say this isn’t for people in the public eye, the day we launched this campaign was by far the most traffic Kickstarter has ever had. So, we’re introducing people who aren’t Web savvy and don’t know about crowdfunding to all the many, many, many, many hundreds if not thousands on Kickstarter and the way so support art in that way. I think it’s only positive for everyone.

Did you see that Tim Heidecker, of “Tim and Eric,” wrote a “sample” script page? A family goes broke and can’t feed their child because they funded your movie. What did you think of that?
I think it was funny. He’s a really funny comedian, and I think that as he pointed out, “This is a zeitgeisty thing and I can make fun of it.” The only problem is he has so many followers that I don’t think if he meant to do this or not, but the amount of people that he sent to the page was one of our highest so I thank him for that! But then there were some nasty fans of his that really decided to, I don’t know if they were drunk tweeting me or not, but they were saying some really vitriolic things.

For filmmakers that are going to attempt the Kickstarter route, what are some words of advice you want to give them?
Like any sales pitch, it’s really about the video you make and being honest about the thing you want to do. The things I’ve supported on Kickstarter — I’ve supported about six things — the video is what got me, the passion of the artist and the sales pitch saying, “Look this is what I want to do. This is why I want to do it.” I believed they could pull it off.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.