Zach Braff first became famous for his role as Dr. John Dorian on the hit tv show “Scrubs”, which earned him an Emmy nomination. He then gained a huge following after directing the movie “Garden State” in 2005. Earlier this month his notoriety skyrocketed when he started a highly controversial Kickstarter campaign to fund his upcoming movie, “Wish I Was Here.” His campaign raised over two million dollars in just a few days, sparking controversy and a wave of criticism from filmmakers, writers, bloggers and others who feel that Kickstarter should be used by unknown and struggling independent filmmakers. This week, Zach sat down with Ron Bennington to tape a one hour episode of “Unmasked” in front of a live audience at the SiriusXM studios in New York City. They talked about his career, his upcoming film, and his now infamous Kickstarter campaign.
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Braff Educates Woody Allen on Crowdsource Funding:
Zach talked at length with Ron about being under fire for his Kickstarter campaign. Most of the criticism, he says, has come from people who believe he is hurting other less-well-known artists by seeking the funding. He explained that he hasn’t hurt anyone, and in fact claims that his efforts have actually helped other artists. “The day we launched this, Kickstarter had their biggest traffic day they’ve ever had,” he explained. “I’ve given global exposure to this website and the idea of crowdsourcing to the Earth.” And he’s done more than just educate the Earth about Kickstarter– he also says he taught iconic director Woody Allen all about crowdsource funding:
“By the way, I’m the one who explained crowd funding to Woody Allen. It was really funny,” he said. Braff continued, “He’s one of my heroes and I met him because we were talking about doing something together.” They had met on the day the kickstarter blew up, and everyone in the room had been talking about it. “[Woody] clearly didn’t know what anyone was talking about. So I started to explain it to him. And I thought, you know, I’m a little nervous around him.” According to Braff, Woody was riveted. And apparently he made a big impression on the famous director, “a couple of days ago, his assistant emailed me about something and I said to her – P.S. I’ll always remember that I’m the one that explained crowd funding to Woody Allen. And she wrote back – P.S. You explained it too well. He won’t stop talking about it.”
Zach Responds to the ScreenJunkies.com “Don’t Back Zach” Foundation
Without mentioning them by name, Zach also brought up the anti-Zach campaign started by the film website ScreenJunkies.com. In their two and a half minute video, titled “Don’t Back Zach”, SJ.com asks America to “refuse to give a celebrity millionaire billions of dollars to make his vanity project” and vowed to “make sure that celebrity crowd funding of vanity projects is shamed out of existence.” Zach responded to the Screen Junkies video:
When he heard about their campaign, he said, “I wanted to hit my head against the wall.” He continued, “these are filmmakers who are mad at me, who are crowdsourcing 10 grand. They could go off with 10 grand and make a really awesome short like I used to do when I had no money….and instead, they’re putting all their anger and energy into literally trying to raise money to buy a Hollywood Reporter ad to say that I should be stopped from crowdsourcing. I mean that’s the kind of shit that I’ve encountered in the last month.”
Chris Cornell Offers to Write a Song for Zach’s Upcoming Film, “Wish I Was Here”
Despite all the criticism, he’s determined to focus on “the donut, not the hole.” And of course, even though most of the national conversation is focused on how he’s raising money for the film– yes there is a real film behind it, with an outstanding cast that he is proud to have assembled. Kate Hudson, who is a good friend of his, will be playing his wife. Mandy Patinkin is playing his father– “we needed someone who was a great actor, and felt believably Jewish.” Josh Gad who he describes as “easily one the funniest people I’ve ever seen in my life” will be playing his brother. Jim Parsons, Anna Kendrick (“about the most charming thing on screens these days”) are signed on for the film as well, and one of his heroes, Chris Cornell, even contacted him and offered to write a song for the film. The film starts shooting in August, and he’s hoping for a release the following fall.
Braff says while didn’t expect to be the “poster boy” for the conversation on film financing, but he’s more than willing to take on the role. And for his critics– he says, he’s stated his case, and you’re either into him or not. “This was a wacky idea I threw out there. I didn’t know if anybody would be into it. Forty thousand people so far are into it. But if you’re not, awesome. Move on. Why are you still talking about it?”
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Unmasked with Zach Braff will air on Sirius 206 and XM 103 (the Opie and Anthony Channel) this Sunday at 10 am ET & midnight ET. You can also listen on SiriusXM on demand.