Kerfuffle Watch: Zach Braff’s Kickstarter movie has a new financier

05.15.13 5 years ago 25 Comments

Just to recap: Zach Braff put his proposed film, Wish I Was Here, up on Kickstarter. People freaked out, because Zach Braff is supposedly worth $22 million and maybe shouldn’t need Kickstarter (what does anyone “need?”). But his movie got funded anyway, and Kickstarter shot back that Braff’s movie, far from taking money away from other projects, was actually funded 63 percent by people who’d never used Kickstarter before, who went on to contribute $400,000 to other projects. So, a dick perhaps, but a net good in the end. End of story, right? Well, not exactly.

The brouhaha is poised to become even more kerfufflerous today with the news that Wish I Was Here has found a financier. Wait, what?

Zach Braff’s successful Kickstarter campaign for Wish I Was Here has helped the actor-director land a leading film financier: Worldview Entertainment.

Wish I Was Here has been generating headlines since April 24 when it became the latest film project to turn to the popular crowd-funding site for help. To date, the project has raised more than $2.6 million from more than 38,000 people, exceeding the $2 million goal.

Worldview will provide most of the financing for the drama, which will star Braff as a young man who, upon learning that his father is dying, must take a second look at his life and reconnect with his family. The budget is less than $10 million. With Worldview on board, a small percentage of the money raised will be returned in the form of a fee to Kickstarter, according to insiders.

Now, that might’ve been a little difficult to parse, but basically, Braff’s $2 million goal wasn’t the entire cost of the movie. The entire cost of the movie was closer to $10 million (even though the LA Times said $5 million a few weeks ago). Worldview Entertainment is stepping in to pay for the difference between the $2.6 million raised on Kickstarter and the final, near-$10 million cost of the movie. (The part going back to Kickstarter is just Kickstarter’s standard fee – they get paid when a project gets funded, that’s how it always works).

The question is, was Braff being disingenuous when he explained why he needed your Kickstarter money? Here’s his original pitch:

I was about to sign a typical financing deal in order to get the money to make “Wish I Was Here,” my follow up to “Garden State.” It would have involved making a lot of sacrifices I think would have ultimately hurt the film. I’ve been a backer for several projects on Kickstarter and thought the concept was fascinating and revolutionary for artists and innovators of all kinds. But I didn’t imagine it could work on larger-scale projects. I was wrong.

After I saw the incredible way “Veronica Mars” fans rallied around Kristen Bell and her show’s creator Rob Thomas, I couldn’t help but think (like I’m sure so many other independent filmmakers did) maybe there is a new way to finance smaller, personal films that didn’t involve signing away all your artistic control.

Financing an independent film the traditional way often means having to give away your right to “the final cut,” casting choices, location choices and cutting down your script to make it shoot-able on the cheapest budget possible.

I look at it like this: Come join this little club. Join for whatever you can. And then, together, this lil club’s gonna make a really cool movie, and you’ll have made it happen. If you’ve liked the stuff I’ve made so far, I know you’re going to love this.

Once again, I want nothing more than to hate Zach Braff, if only because he has kind of a stupid-looking face, and because he once used the phrase “deliciously yummy vitriol,” but I still don’t quite think he’s in the wrong here. It’d be one thing if he said “I’M DOING THIS TO KEEP FROM TAKING ANY STUDIO MONEY!” He didn’t pitch it quite like that. He said he was doing it to keep from having to give away:

  • Final Cut
  • Casting Choices
  • Location Choices
  • Cuts for Budget

Just because he brought in outside financing doesn’t necessarily mean he gave away any of those things. It could, but we don’t know that yet (and let’s face it, he probably wouldn’t tell us). It does sort of contradict what he told the LA Times (during the same “deliciously yummy vitriol” interview) a few weeks ago:

TIMES: Have any industry types who’d rejected you before come and said, ‘You know, maybe we were too hasty. Can we get back in?’

BRAFF: Of course. It’s always like that for me. It was like that with Garden State. It was like that with the play I did a few years ago. People who were cold suddenly are hot after it comes out.

TIMES: Would you take any of their money now?

BRAFF: I think that would be in bad taste for all the people who are backing this. It wouldn’t be in the spirit of the thing.

So… he is taking money, but maybe Worldview Entertainment aren’t “industry types”? Thing is, he probably wouldn’t have gotten Worldview’s money if he hadn’t already proved that $2.6 million worth of people wanted to see his movie. I’m not a time-travel gypsy, but I doubt they’d give the guy from Scrubs $8 mil to make a movie if it hadn’t proved its own demand by breaking all those Kickstarter records. And if he retains creative control, he’s not a liar. Fans’ Kickstarter funds definitely helped buy him that creative control.

That said, there are still eight days to go on the Kickstarter, and if what I’m hearing is true, you can still retract your pledge. At the very least, it’d be an interesting experiment to see if Worldview would cover an extra million if $1 million worth of people retracted their pledge.

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