Critics immediately noted that Braff himself would be able to supply* the two million dollars he was asking his fans to donate. Perhaps more salient was the widespread observation that Kickstarter backers won't become shareholders in the film and won't share in any profit it generates.
I chose to back the film. Simply, I wanted the perks that backing would buy me. I wanted them for professional reasons, really – if I could attend the early screening and Q&A, I could report on it. And I was happy to help, too, to get a film made that would otherwise have never been possible – because that's what we were told.
But I understand why many would choose not to be involved at all, or even to protest the whole shebang.
As it happens, all of this fuss may prove to be just a precursor to much greater fuss to come. To my genuine surprise, Braff has now made a deal for film financiers Worldview Entertainment to throw lots of money into the project – and in a way that will see them make money from its success, unlike the "original" backers from Kickstarter.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
The movie will be financed through a combination of Kickstarter, gap financing from Worldview and foreign presales by Wild Bunch. The movie stars 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.
Braff gave an interview to The LA Times' section Movies Now, and some of what he said, while it may have been entirely sincere at the time, will undoubtedly come back to bite him. Here's an excerpt:
MN: Have any industry types who'd rejected you before come and said, 'You know, maybe we were too hasty. Can we get back in?'
ZB: 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.
MN: Would you take any of their money now?
ZB: 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, it seems like Braff's pleas for support to help make his financier-unfriendly movie now ring rather hollow.
Would Worldview have thrown in their cash without the publicity of the Kickstarter campaign? Maybe not… so it might be true that the campaign was crucial to the success of Braff's endeavours. But, still, this isn't what the backers were being sold.
Do remember that Braff started his campaign with these words:
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.
Now we have to ask ourselves if we want to cancel our pledges – because I believe there's still time – or to stay in and accept the perks as, frankly, an overpriced way of buying our copy or screening ticket for the film. I paid $100 for a PDF of the script and tickets to an early screening, as well as other things I cared so little about I can't even remember what they are. I felt better about this when I thought I was helping to save an interesting film from the scrap pile.
For contrast, do note that all of the production budget of the Veronica Mars movie is coming from the Kickstarter campaign. These two films may be alike in many other ways, but in this respect, they're very different.
I backed both films, and I won't be cancelling on Braff's film. Not yet. But I am very interested to hear what he'll have to say about this development…
*They assumed. I don't know what Braff's personal finances are like, and I doubt very much these critics had any such inside information.