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Should Zach Braff have used Kickstarter to make his next movie?

Zach Braff

deborah baic The Globe and Mail

Zach Braff is finally readying to make the long-awaited follow-up to his 2004 indie-film hit Garden State, but not everybody is thrilled about it.

Best known for his stint on the long-running sitcom Scrubs, the actor/writer/director was inspired by the recent Kickstarter-fuelled resurrection of Veronica Mars, and this week took to the crowd-funding website to finance his new film. It worked – the campaign raised $1.7-million (U.S.) in less than two days – but has also generated a notable amount of negative publicity, most of it refusing to buy the actor-writer, whose sprawling New York apartment was featured in New York magazine last spring, as an earnest, penniless filmmaker.

"There is something particularly awful about professionals who have already risen to the near top of their field asking for handouts as if they can't get work any other way," said Celebuzz, while Grantland.com ran its critical take under the headline: "Thanks to Kickstarter, Zach Braff finally has millions of dollars."

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Last month, the creative team behind Veronica Mars utilized Kickstarter to reach out to fans of the 2004-2007 TV series, starring Kristen Bell as a girl detective, to fund a reunion movie. The campaign generated $5.7-million from more than 90,000 donors, along with an outpouring of nostalgia-fuelled support for the show, which many fans felt was abruptly cancelled in its prime.

On his Kickstarter page, Braff admits he was inspired by success of the Mars campaign.

"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," his note states. "It would have involved making a lot of sacrifices I think would have ultimately hurt the film. After I saw the incredible way Veronica Mars fans rallied around Kristen Bell and her show's creator Rob Thomas, I couldn't help but think (like I'm sure so many other independent filmmakers did) maybe there is a new way to finance smaller, personal films that didn't involve signing away all your artistic control."

Braff's campaign promises gifts for backers, including access to advance screenings and production diaries. A gift of $10,000 allows the donor to speak a line in the movie and their name in the credits. The minimum donation allowable is $10.

Reached by an Entertainment Weekly reporter on Friday, Braff was nonplussed regarding the grumblings about his fundraising efforts and instead used the interview to solicit further donations.

"If you're a student and you like filmmaking, put in $10," he said. "You're definitely going to get your $10 worth in behind-the-scenes, really interesting insider filmmaking videos and information and you'll be part of it. It's like joining a club."

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