Actor Zach Braff from the popular television series Scrubs recently launched a crowd funding campaign for his independent film Wish I Was Here a follow up to the film he wrote, directed and starred in Garden State. Garden State was a critical success and did well at the box office. The production budget was 2.5 million and earned close to 36 million at the box office. However, for Wish I Were Here Braff decided to raise additional funds through Kickstarter a place where anyone can launch a project and raise money be it filmmakers, musicians, artist and designers. It allows creators to have complete control over their project a problem many creators lose through traditional financing methods. However, some have criticized Braff for exploiting fans and this new financing method. In this article we will explore if these complaints are valid, traditional and new financing methods that allow fans to support films they want to see.
Traditional Film Financing Methods:
Independent films are financed by multiple sources. 43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film by John W. Cones claim these sources can include gifts, grants, and tax incentive programs, investors financing, lender financing, studio or industry financing and international financing options. For first time producers it is less likely to get studio or industry funding. The less well known you are investor and lender financing can be slim to none. Some artists have been known to put in their own money to maintain control over the end product of a film. Typically, a film with studio, industry and lender financing etc. will have final say on a film. According to Zach Braff he was all set to sign a financing deal for Wish I Was Here but decided against it he states,
“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.”
He goes on to say,
“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.”
New Crowdfunding Financing Methods:
Crowdfunding is a great option if you are unknown or outside of the studio system. The most well known are Kickstarter and Indiegogo.com. Kickstarter is what Braff used to raise 3 million for his film. On Kickstarter and other similar rewards-based platforms, users donate money to individual projects but do not receive any financial returns. Instead they may receive tickets to the premiere or T-shirts. Many see this method as a good way to test the commercial viability of new material.
Criticism over Zach Braff Crowdfunding Campaign:
Some claim Braff is taking advantage of crowdfunding and fans because he’s not an outsider to Hollywood. Below are a few comments taken from Deadline.com
Comment by Michael — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 3:52pm PDT
“…a thirtysomething actor who is trying to figure out who he is.”
This is what he begged the public to finance. Seriously. He asked THE PUBLIC.
I never pegged Zach Braff for a narcissistic sociopath, but I guess you never know.”
Comment by ??? — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 9:44pm PDT
“How does the profit share work on this? He makes all the money no matter what? It grosses 30 million he keeps all that? Wtf? If he only spends 2.1 million he keeps the remaining 900k?Braff claims he just desperately wants to make a movie….so any profit he makes he better put back into other kick starter campaigns for other aspiring film makers. Otherwise F HIM!!!!!”
Comment by Kickstarter — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 5:14pm PDT
“Go read all the comments on kickstarter for this film. It is making people happy. Read what they say. They are excited. It is so hard to get a film made. Do what you have to do.”
Comment by douwe — Friday May 24, 2013 @ 7:00pm PDT
“I agree with @Kickstarter! Here is an actor who with his money and the public pledges is going to make a satire about the misfortunes of actors at the hands of narcissitic producer/studios. We are All saying, ‘Enough of the remakes and other murderous rubbish fousted by producers on the public!’ Hopefully it will be amusing!”