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Zach Braff's new film hits Kickstarter goal as director attempts to retain creative control

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Zach Braff Kickstarter
Zach Braff Kickstarter

Last month, the creators of Veronica Mars took to Kickstarter to fund a movie adaptation of the cult TV hit. It was perhaps the most high-profile example of a well-known creative entity using Kickstarter to mobilize a fanbase to get a semi-independent project off the ground, and actor / director Zach Braff (best known for the TV show Scrubs and his film Garden State) took notice. Earlier this week, he launched a Kickstarter with a goal of $2 million to help fund his latest project, Wish I Was Here, and the project just met its funding goal after only three days.

The big question around Braff's plans is why he needs to go to Kickstarter to fund his movie, rather than doing it through more traditional funding sources. Braff (who plans to star in and direct the film as he did with Garden State, says that while the Kickstarter money won't be enough to fund the movie's production entirely, it will be enough that he won't have to be give away his rights to critical creative decisions like locations, stars, and even the movie's final cut. "I want to bring you, my fans, the truest representation of what's in my brain," Braff said in his project's video overview.

"I want to bring you, my fans, the truest representation of what's in my brain."

"I'm doing this so that one negative audience comment in a test screening won't force me to change the end of my movie," Braff told Contact Music. As he said in the Kickstarter video for his project, "after I saw how the amazing Veronica Mars fans rallied around that project in a mind-blowing way, i couldn't help but think... maybe this could be a new paradigm for filmakers who want to make smaller, personal films without having sign away any of their artistic freedom."

While the film currently has no distribution partner, Braff says that selling foreign distribution rights will further increase his budget, and he'll be putting up money of his own to make up the budget difference from there. Despite that, some find it off-putting for a millionaire to be reaching out to the public to crowd-fund a movie, a disconnect Braff willingly acknowledges. "The people who would say, 'Fuck him, he should pay for it himself,' I don't expect those people to be the supporters of this project. I get it, Braff told Buzzfeed. However, he does feel that is he giving back as much as he reasonably can to the fans of his that back the project. "There will be videos and content, and people who are interested in the behind-the-scenes of the making of a movie will go on this ride alongside me — I think that's cool for 10 bucks."

"If I wanted to make dough, I'd go back and be on another TV show."

While Braff "would love, more than anything, to have it be [backers] get an equity stake," current laws prevent that, so instead he's tried to come up with "any and every incentive you can think of." Indeed, $30 will get backers a live streaming screening of the movie when it's done, followed by an online Q&A, plus a sneak peek at the soundtrack as it is assembled and other perks like a PDF of the script and the production journals that all backers will have access to. Jumping up to $100 will get you to a live pre-screening and Q&A in a number of different cities (most of which have already sold out).

At the end of the day, Braff doesn't appear worried about his critics, so long as he gets to make his movie just as he wants to. "It's not a scam," he told Buzzfeed. "If I wanted to make dough, I'd go back and be on another TV show." While Braff's plan does have its detractors, the fact that his Kickstarter already met its goal means he's likely just focusing on his movie. Filming for Wish I Was Here is slated to start in August, and Braff hopes to have the movie ready to debut at the Sundance Film Festival next January.