We’ve been having a lot of fun with Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-gate, because it’s funny on a few different levels. Funny that a guy supposedly worth $22 million would be on Kickstarter for one, and even funnier that people would be shocked and outraged about it for another. Oh my God, someone rich and famous is taking money and attention away from struggling artists who really need it? WHY THAT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS. It’s almost as if the entirety of show business is built on a lie! Anyway, Braff addressed the controversy in a recent interview with the LA Times, and not surprisingly, his response wasn’t “OMG, I’m sorry I hurt you, internet!”
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. If you want to wave at it and back it as you’re passing by, great. If not, you can just move along and that’s fine too.
Aside from the fact that describing anything as “deliciously yummy” kinda makes you sound like a mega huge gaywad, he has a point. No one’s forcing anyone to donate. And the filmmaking process is always 85 percent fundraising. Is it worse because he’s asking the lay person to do it out of love and not giving them a financial stake in the outcome, than if he were asking a studio to make a cold investment decision? Eh… It’s capitalism. The system decides what it will bear. Whether that makes you a dick is sort of up to you.
MN: Some of the critics have made a more subtle argument — that by putting your film on Kickstarter you’re diverting money away from films by lesser-known directors. What’s your response to that?
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. In fact, a lot of people who didn’t know about Kickstarter came and wound up giving money to a lot of other projects too. So for people to say, ‘That’s … up; you’re stealing money from documentaries’ is just not a sensible argument.
Dammit, I agree with the flying monkey again.
MN: Part of the reason I think this discussion has become so charged is because people really see in this a new model, one where fans are almost as important in getting a movie made as the professionals. Do you think that’s where this is headed? Or is that a bit of digital utopianism?
ZB: That’s the big question. No one knows exactly how it will turn out. But I do think one day people will be able to get equity in a project like this. They’ll be able to invest in a movie like a stock. It’s not legal yet. But there are some very smart people, people a lot smarter than me, figuring out the legalities. And anyone watching this knows that’s where it’s going.
MN: Would you have gone that route if you could?
ZB: Absolutely. I want to involve fans as much as I can. We’re giving people T-shirts and script pages and parts in the movie. That’s what fans want. I want to give them more, but it’s not legal yet. I’ll give them whatever I can in exchange for their support.
MN: Some of the backlash I think has been about your celebrity. Their objection is to the idea that a guy who had a hit like ‘Scrubs’ or starred in ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ should be on Kickstarter.
ZB: I think that’s a misconception about who I am. I make my own stuff. I’m not the person who people are banging down their door to be in their movie. I’ve always done my own indie thing. I think ‘Oz’ was the first big Hollywood movie I made. This is a labor of love. I wouldn’t spend the next year and a half of my life on it if that wasn’t the case. [LATimes]
Again, I see both sides of this. I have no problem with him doing what he did, because he has an obvious motive and it worked out perfectly for him. Which isn’t to say that I donated, or that part of me wouldn’t think you were dope if you did. All I know is, Tim Heidecker wrote a sample script page for Zach Braff’s movie, and someone else on the internet filmed it, and that’s the kind of thing that maintains my faith. Fight art with art, silliness with silliness.