This has been the year that high-profile filmmakers turned to Kickstarter to help fund their movies — and one of the more controversial examples will be debuting at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State) co-wrote and directed Wish I Was Here, in which he plays a struggling actor learning to cope with the death of his father, and today Sundance announced that the film would have its world premiere at the festival this January. It joins 118 other feature-length films that will be screening at the festival, including The Raid 2 and Anton Corbijn's spy thriller A Most Wanted Man.
Braff's film has proven to be a focal point in the conversation about the ethics of celebrities using Kickstarter for their projects. In March a Kickstarter project went live for a feature film version of the show Veronica Mars, with funding rocketing to over $5.7 million before all was said and done. While fans of the show were thrilled that they'd be seeing beloved characters again, others questioned whether it was appropriate to ask fans to fund a movie that they would then likely buy tickets for anyway.
Eventually Kickstarter itself weighed in on the debate
The rhetoric went up a notch when Braff debuted the Kickstarter for Wish I Was Here. In his case, the movie wasn't based on a pre-existing property, and Braff framed his decision to turn to crowdsourcing as a means of retaining absolute creative control — even though more traditional sources of funding could have been utilized (despite raising more than $3.1 million through the crowdfunding site, Braff also added traditional funding to the mix to reach the film's roughly $5 million budget). Eventually Kickstarter itself felt the need to weigh in on the debate — naturally, the company would like people of all types to use its service — but it won't be until January until we get an sense of whether the more than 46,000 individuals that contributed to Braff's campaign put their money to good use.