It hasn’t been a good year for the celebrity, crowd-funded movie landscape. Despite a lot of press, “Veronica Mars” didn’t do much beyond play to the core audience (though it was popular enough to allow for a web series spinoff), Spike Lee‘s “Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus” got nearly universally panned (here’s our review), and then there was Zach Braff‘s “Wish I Was Here,” which managed $3.5 million in limited release, a far cry from the mega-hit numbers of “Garden State.” For the latter, it was an uphill battle from day one. When it was first announced the actor was passing the digital hat around to fund his movie, many openly wondered if the millionaire actor was really the right face to be putting on the Kickstarter service, which is designed for folks who have no other avenues to get financing. But according to Braff, the backlash took him surprise and was not warranted.
“I was completely taken aback by the criticism,” he said at the Zurich Film Festival, where he screened “Wish I Was Here.” “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.”
“It was frustrating having the debate with people who didn’t have all the analytics and facts. I knew that we were driving new people to Kickstarter who then invested in other projects, for example,” Braff continued. “The onus was on me to explain why someone like me couldn’t get a film made in the traditional way.”
Indeed, Braff says he felt “shocked” by the negativity that came his way for what he clearly feels was a project launched with only the best of intentions. And producer Michael Shamberg addressed some of the issues brought up by the celebrity crowdfunding debate. “If you gave ten dollars to our film it didn’t mean another film wouldn’t get funded. By contributing a certain amount people felt part of the film. [Crowdfunding] can be a very emotional medium,” he said.
As for Braff, he won’t be crowdfunding again, saying, “This was always meant to be a really fun art experiment.” Except, for the fun part it seems.
So, looking back, do you think Braff deserved to be put in the crosshairs? Have your opinions changed on celebrity crowdfunding? Sound off below. [Screen Daily]