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Zach Braff has been in the news a lot over the last month.

Braff, the main character on NBC comedy Scrubs and of the surprise 2004 hit film Garden State which he wrote, directed and starred in (and of which I have a poster in my apartment), wanted to make another film as a long-awaited follow-up to Garden State. But to do that he needed money, apparently, and so he took to Kickstarter.

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It’s been mentioned in nearly every article about Zach Braff’s Kickstarter project that the would-be makers of a Veronica Mars film tried this first, and were wildly successful. Kickstarter, which allows people to go online and ask for help funding their business projects, got the Veronica Mars people to their goal of $2 million…plus another $3.7 million on top of that.

Using a similar formula, Zach Braff took to Kickstarter to appeal to his fan base–myself included–to help finance his next project, a film called Wish I Was Here. Braff explained  on the site that he needed $2 million from fans to get the movie made in the way he wanted to make it, rather than going through the traditional channels, i.e. financiers, who would then dictate the way he made the film, i.e. final cut.

I was a little skeptical that a TV and movie star didn’t have enough cash of his own or enough juice in Hollywood (or enough rich friends he could trust) to get a movie made without appealing to fans to pay for it ahead of time. Still, as long-time fan of Braff’s, I seriously considered donating $10, 20, or even $50 to the campaign to see the thing get made. After all, it was likely that the movie he ended up making would be the kind I would want to see. More than that, Braff was giving away a variety of items, from Braff-autographed merch to advanced online screenings of Wish I Was Here to tickets for the movie’s premieres in major cities.

But in the end, I decided not to contribute because of the following three tenets which I believe to be true:

  • It is not the responsibility of the audience–whether that audience is made up of loyal fans or someone who’s never seen an artist’s work–to fund an artist’s creative projects before those projects have been completed.
  • Once the project is completed it is then the audience’s choice, not their responsibility, to support the project (i.e. purchase a movie ticket) once they know enough about the finished product to make an educated decision (e.g. viewing the trailer or reading reviews).
  • Should an artist ask someone–either the average person or a wealthy financier–to invest in their work in progress before it is created, that investor should have the opportunity to make a profit from their investment.

On that last point, Braff addresses it in his Kickstarter in the FAQs:

Current SEC laws prevent Kickstarter from offering equity or financial returns. As Kickstarter explains in Kickstarter Basics: “Project creators keep 100% ownership of their work.  Kickstarter cannot be used to offer financial returns or equity, or solicit loans.  Some projects that are funded on Kickstarter may go on to make money, but backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not financially profit.”

Fine, I guess. Though I didn’t contribute to the campaign, I was glad it got its $2 million, and vowed–pending the reviews, which I expect to be largely positive–to see the film when it is completed. (I also look forward to some day when I can invest in a film like I would a stock, and potentially see a financial return on my investment.)

But then this past week a story came out about the project: Zach Braff is getting money from financiers after all.

Was Zach Braff misleading his backers? Did he not really need that $2 million at all, and was just trying to keep from having to pull it from his own pockets? Is Zach Braff a dick?

Well, not really. In his original Kickstarter he noted that “With a combination of my own personal funds, backing from my fans and the sale of some of the film’s foreign rights, I will be able to make the film I intended to make which I am hoping is a film you want to see.”

This is classic fine print and was readily available to any would-be Kickstarter backer who cared to read it. From what I gather on the internet, the world’s most reliable source of information, everything here is above board. Braff later “hit back,” as the tabloids say, at the negative story with his own response on Kickstarter. It essentially said that this was the plan all along, that nothing has changed from the original Kickstarter campaign, and that haters gon’ hate no matter what and not to get caught up in the negativity.

The sketchy dealings of the movie business aside–of which I know about solely from watching HBO’s Entourage–Braff’s trying something different in virtually uncharted waters. He’s doing what he believes he needs to do to make the best film possible, and we can hardly fault him for that.

But if we (myself included) decide that we don’t like what Braff is trying to do with his film, there’s no shortage of movie sequels and prequels and threequels and remakes and reboots of films that Hollywood wants you to see instead. Speaking of which, Fast & Furious 7 starts filming this summer.

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