An issue in the film industry, besides the obvious lack of originality in mainstream flicks, is money. From the past week, Zach Braff has been receiving slack for his Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming movie, ‘Wish I Was Here’.
Kickstarter, if you don’t know is a platform for creators and artists who don’t have access to money to fund a project. They ask the community the certain amount of cash they need to fund the project and they provide the backers with incentives. For every dollar amount a backer donates, the creator provides items or services to ensure the money funded is in good hands.
Many successful projects have been funded through Kickstarter like last year’s film Blue Like Jazz and Oscar winning short documentary, Inocente, but the question coming into light now is whether celebrities, who have access to funds, are abusing this service. Braff has succeeded well past his goal of $2 million with still 13 days left to donate. This isn’t the first time someone in Hollywood has turned to KickStarter for support. Rob Thomas successfully funded a Veronica Mars movie using KickStarter making well over $2 million, as well.
Critics have called out Braff for abusing his use of Kickstarter since he’s a successful actor
in Hollywood. Braff has defended himself claiming the effort for crowd funding was a way to engage his audience. “I actually love engaging my fanbase,” says Braff in a newly released video about his Kickstarter project. Company co-founders of the site stand behind the projects made by celebrities. “The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter,” writes Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler of the Kickstarter blog.
They essentially write that if it weren’t for high profile projects like those aforementioned then many people wouldn’t be introduced to the crowd-funding site established back in 2009. So far, $400 thousand dollars have been donated to other Kickstarter projects as a result of this Hollywood takeover. Trickle-down economics working at its finest. Many people on the Internet are unhappy with Braff about his project. There are comments upon comments of fans criticizing him for his smugness and his “reverse Robin Hood” tactic of taking money from the less fortunate.
“He’s using his name to garner that fiscal success,” say Michael Wotherspoon, Course Director of Producing over at Full Sail University. Wotherspoon seems to agree with the fans on this issue. “He’s really just taking money from fans,” he explains. He doesn’t think Kickstarter or crowd funding in general is hurting the film industry.
“[W]hat crowd sourcing does [is] it gives small filmmakers a chance to have a little bit of funds to make a dream project. And now, digital distribution of cash, which is what crowd sourcing is, is now following along the same way as digital filmmaking. Will it change the industry? No. The studios will not give up, and the studios always have leverage over [indie filmmakers] and it’s cash.”
To listen to more of what Wotherspoon had to say, listen to the raw audio interview below.