When someone who used to go by “Beaver Cleaver” speaks, you listen. Writer Ken Levine, who’s penned episodes of The Simpsons, Cheers, M*A*S*H, and, most importantly, Wings in his 30-plus-years in “the business,” took to his blog earlier today to explain why giving a single dime to Zach Braff for his Kickstarter project is a bad idea.
Zach Braff is trying to raise money on Kickstarter to fund a movie he wants to make. Zach Braff is a good actor and a fine filmmaker. GARDEN STATE was a terrific movie. But I wouldn’t give him a dime.
Why? Because it defeats the whole purpose of Kickstarter.
WHAT. Garden State, a “terrific movie”? It’s gonna take a lot for you to come back from that, Levine.
The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies. Zach Braff has contacts. Zach Braff has a name. Zach Braff has a track record. Zach Braff has residuals. He can get in a room with money people. He is represented by a major taent agency. But the poor schmoe in Mobile, Alabama or Walla Walla, Washington has none of those advantages.
Comedy writers will never pass up an opportunity to mention Walla Walla, Washington.
Recently, Kickstarter was used to fund a new VERONICA MARS movie. This is obscene to me. It’s a known television series distributed by a major studio. Are you a big fan of VERONICA MARS? Want to support it? Great. Buy ten tickets and see the movie ten times…This is what Hollywood does, dear reader. It sees an opportunity for exploitation and takes it. The Sundance Film Festival is another prime example. At one time it showcased modest little movies by unknown filmmakers. Kevin Smith made CLERKS – a grimy black and white film starring all unknowns. The result was discovered talent. Now look at the festival. Every entry features major Hollywood stars.
If Will Ferrell or Brad Pitt – just to name two random examples – are in an independent film, do they really need a film festival to get Harvey Weinstein to screen their film? The chubby nerd from New Jersey who maxed out his credit cards to make a film about a local convenience store couldn’t. He needed a film festival. He needed an audience to appreciate his effort before he could be recognized. And now today’s equivalent of a young Kevin Smith can’t even get his movie into a festival much less Harvey Weinstein’s screening room.
Today’s Kevin Smith would a lot like the first Kevin Smith, but twice as rotund. What with inflation and all.
Sundance is a lost cause. But Kickstarter isn’t. If you only have so much money to give to charity, give it to cancer research and not to help redecorate Beyonce’s plane. Support young hungry filmmakers. The next Kevin Smith is out there… somewhere. He (or she) just needs a break, which is what Kickstarter is supposed to provide. Zach Braff can find his money elsewhere. He did once before.
TL;DR: $22 million. That’s how much Zach Braff is worth, according to the ever-reliable Celebrity Net Worth. If Braff wants funding for Wish I Was Here, reasons Levine, he can use his own money, money that he will almost certainly get back when he sells the distribution rights. But Braff decided to put the film on Kickstarter, just as we can decide to NOT give him money. It’s up to the people, and, well, the people have spokeen and they want Wish I Was Here, to the tune of $2.4 million. Levine’s essay isn’t damning Braff; it’s damning those who line his pockets.
If only he wanted to make Turk Dance: The Movie, instead…