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Zach Braff Addresses Backlash To His Crowdfunded Movie Wish I Was Here

Zach Braff Addresses Backlash To His Crowdfunded Movie Wish I Was Here

Scrubs star and Garden State director Zach Braff has taken time to address the backlash to his decision to crowdfund his 2014 film Wish I Was Here.

He said looking back, he became the 'face of the debate' about whether celebrities should be using Kickstarter to fund their projects.

Braff managed to raise more than $3 million (£2.3m) for Wish I Was Here through fan donations, but came in for criticism since some thought crowdfunding should be reserved for smaller artists who could not fund their work any other way.

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The controversy deepened when traditional film financier Worldview Entertainment stepped in to top up the film's budget to around $5 million (£3.8m).

Some film fans questioned why the financier would likely be getting a much better return on its investment than fans, who only received access to special screenings and after-parties in return for their cash.

Wish I Was Here was billed as a spiritual follow-up to Garden State. Credit: Focus Features
Wish I Was Here was billed as a spiritual follow-up to Garden State. Credit: Focus Features

At the time, Braff defended the move, telling the LA Times: "I've done well in my career, but I am not sitting on $22m. 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."

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He later told Screen Daily he was 'shocked' by the negative response to the campaign, saying: "I was completely taken aback by the criticism. I was expecting a conversation because it's a fascinating and new model. But I felt that a lot of the criticism was unfair and uninformed."

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Six years after the event, Braff seems to take a more reflective stance on the upset.

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Speaking on Marc Marron's WTF Podcast, Braff said: "I think I was the first known actor/director to [crowdfund] a movie, and it was so successful, and we funded beyond what we asked for in 24 hours.

"That there was instant backlash saying that you as a known entity should not be using this. This should be for people who have no other means.

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Zach Braff says it was a 'bummer' the controversy appeared to affect the reception to his film. Credit: PA
Zach Braff says it was a 'bummer' the controversy appeared to affect the reception to his film. Credit: PA

"I, unfortunately, or fortunately became the face of the debate: Should people who have fanbases be allowed to participate in crowdfunding campaigns?"

When pressed by Marron as to whether the experience provided an answer to this question, Braff said: "Well, no one really does it... and not many people have done it since because of the amount of antagonism there was for the very idea."

In the end, the film managed a lukewarm $5.67m (£4.28m) at the worldwide box office, and Braff reckons the Kickstarter controversy could well have harmed the film's performance.

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He said: "It was a bit of a bummer, because I was really proud of the film, and not a lot of people saw it."

Thanks to the backlash, using Kickstarter for a film of this kind is an experiment unlikely to be repeated.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: TV and Film, Celebrity, US Entertainment

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