Wish I Was Here – UK Trailer

Wish I Was Here

Presented to you with a healthy dose of morbid curiosity and trepidation we have the UK trailer for Zach Braff’s upcoming second feature Wish I Was Here. It is a decade since his first film Garden State made hipsters worldwide, myself included, experience emotions and want to be rescued by an epileptic Natalie Portman.

Over time Garden State has lost its title as the greatest film of all time but does remain an indie touchstone for the twenty-first century and I won’t be getting rid of my DVD any time soon. I have a sentimental attachment to the first film I saw that wasn’t wholly mainstream. Ten years, and a controversial Kickstarter campaign, later and Braff appears to be on familiar territory.

While the protagonist may be appropriately older than before there is still a mid-life crisis, parental woes, and total uniqueness to be dealt with while The Shins play on perpetually in the sweet but angsty universe indicative of Zach Braff.

Will the film be any good? Was it right for Zach Braff to use Kickstarter to fund it? Will they invite me to a press screening to help me decide? The trailer below can only begin to answer some of these questions but there’s a version of me down inside, roughly ten years younger, who is very excited about Wish I Was Here and wants it to be good. Four stars at least please.

Braff Promises an “Ass-ton” of Funding for Kickstarter Film

Zach Braff

In a bid to remain unbiased and balanced (HA!) I figured I should share with you Zach Braff’s message from last week. I’d have done it sooner but it was sunny outside and I got distracted. For a background on Braff’s Kickstarter project click here and read me rant.

Last week Braff posted a public update to the Wish I Were Here Kickstarter page. The fact that it was public makes me think that it was less a message to his backers and more a response to those of us who remain sceptical about giving him our money.

In the update Braff raises the issue of “stretch goals”, a funding goal way beyond someone’s initial Kickstarter target funding which will enable a specific extra something to be created, then sort of meanders away from the topic and never really sets one. What he does do is make it clear that Kickstarter alone will not be funding the film:

The budget will be comprised of 3 elements:

  • The money raised here on Kickstarter. (That’s you. You rule. I love you.)
  • My own money. (Don’t worry. A LOT! An ass-ton.)
  • Pre-selling select foreign distribution rights to a few countries.

This at least reduces my concern that he is using Kickstarter as a way to fund his film without any financial risk of his own. I don’t know how much an ass-ton is (With a total budget target of “somewhere between 4 and 6 million dollars” it depends on how much he can get from selling distribution rights. So somewhere between nothing and $4-million? I suppose this is why we don’t use ass-tons as standard units.) but it is always reassuring when someone asking for my money has something at stake too.

Braff goes on to list the expensive parts of his production which include “fantasy sequences with special effects” and “a computer generated flying droid”. If he manages that on such a small budget I will be incredibly impressed. Maybe he should give Gareth Edwards from Monsters a call?

I have yet to give any money but know plenty of people who have, and plenty more who look at me like I’m insane when I mention the mere idea of paying to get a film made. And if Zach Braff wants to be interviewed by the UK’s 18th most influential film blog, just send us an email.

Veronica Mars What Have You Kickstarted?

Darci's Walk of Shame

Me and Kickstarter have been on an emotional rollercoaster of late and my poor friends have been subjected to a rant or two. Let’s see if I can get all of the rant out of me now so I can move on with my life and stop fretting.

My emotions started high when Veronica Mars achieved more than double its goal of $2-million. This was a show that I loved which wasn’t going to get a film made any other way. The film was largely being made for the sheer love of it all and us fans were happy to lend a financial hand. I did have some reservations about what this would mean for the future of funding for smaller films but all in all was pleased that Rob Thomas would finally be making a film follow-up to one of my all time favourite shows.

Veronica Mars

Then over a week ago I received an email/tweet/telegram from a friend telling me to have a look at Melissa Joan Hart’s Kickstarter as she was trying to emulate the success of Veronica Mars in a way we found ridiculous. The film Hart is trying to get made is called Darci’s Walk of Shame and is to be written and directed by Tibor Takács. Don’t remember Tibor? He directed the visually uninspired TV film Sabrina Goes to Rome. It’s not exactly the pedigree that inspires this particular Kickstarter user and their rewards were near carbon copies of the Mars project. This seemed less of a passion project and more a half-hearted attempt to get Hart a film to work on.

Darci's Walk of Shame

At this point I was all ready to write a slightly mean piece entitled Melissa Joan Hart, Veronica Mars is Smarter than You which would have been amusing and smug and make me feel like a happy little blogger. Then Zach Braff entered the fray.

Zach Braff is a bit of a special case where I am concerned. His debut, and so far solo, film as writer/director Garden State was the first film that made me realise there were other cinematic options outside the mainstream. The film is far from perfect but it is special to me and I have been waiting for a second feature from the Scrubs star for quite some time now. Braff last week launched his own Kickstarter for a second film, Wish I Was Here, with his eyes set on the now standard target of $2-million. I was elated. How much would I give? How much could I afford to give? This was all very exciting and gave my article a happy ending rather than a simple rant. And then…

And then…

Wish I Was Here

And then I read his Kickstarter in full and had a think. Never a wise proposition. It turned out that Zach Braff had already successfully raised the money for this second film but had turned down the deal when Veronica Mars opened his eyes to an alternative funding route. Braff cites creative freedom as his motivation for taking the Kickstarter route and while this may well be true a large financial incentive should also be taken into account. With his original funding deal Braff would presumably have had to relinquish some of the film’s profit to his investors one it had been released. With the Kickstarter model Braff receives all his money from fan donors, and let’s be clear these are donors and not investors, and so takes on no financial risk for himself or anyone else.

Zach Braff, a man who at one point was earning $350,000 per episode on Scrubs, is asking his fans to pay for his next film. Yes, I realise that is totally at the fans discretion (and I hypocritically have yet to decide if I will join them) and they receive various rewards, but I can’t help but fixate on the fact that the film would have gone ahead with or without Kickstarter. Braff is not even offering a copy of the film as part of any reward tier; you can donate as much as $10,000 but you’ll still have to pay when the film itself comes out.

I like Zach Braff and I don’t think he is being particularly conniving or deceitful in his Kickstarter campaign but this was not his only option. If his Kickstarter had somehow failed to reach its target I imagine we would have still been able to see a relatively unchanged Wish I Was Here in a year’s time. In the meantime there are various projects that genuinely need Kickstarter to get them the funding they need for production. To pick one at random the feature film Bonobo is looking for just £7,500 to fund filming this summer but is struggling with no big names attached and no existing fan base.

Bonobo

When alternative funding sources are available, and have been offered, it seems almost insulting to instead ask for handouts from admittedly willing fans. I don’t think I will be able to afford it if every film I want to see requires a donation from me before it can enter production. When a film’s budget enters into the millions then they are likely to be expecting the profits to reflect this. Hollywood is a lucrative industry built on large investments and larger rewards. Relying on us to fund their projects means they remove the risk but keep the potential profits for themselves.

As I said I am a hypocrite and a fan and can’t promise that I will boycott all future larger Kickstarter project but I hope that anyone willing to give a millionaire $30 to make their next feature will consider throwing a few pounds at a smaller film like Bonobo. I can’t promise that Bonobo will be any good but after All New People I can’t promise that Wish I Was Here will be either.

All New People – Theatre Review

I’ve been putting off reviewing Zach Braff’s debut play All New People for a week now, scared to put into words just how underwhelmed it made me feel. All New People is a single act play set in a beach house in the middle of winter on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Charlie (Zach Braff) is taking advantage of the isolation in order to commit suicide but is interrupted by an English real estate agent (Eve Myles), a drug dealing fireman (Paul Hilton) and a high-class prostitute (Susannah Fielding).

From this set-up the four characters spend ninety minutes discussing life, the universe, and everything as they try to convince Charlie that life is worth living whilst revealing their own tragic backstories. Each character is given a brief filmed flashback, projected onto the stage, which shows a shocking event from their past. Sadly these felt a little unnecessary as details came out in dialogue later on and seeing recognisable British actors like Amanda Redman doing their best American drawl took me out of the play.

On the whole the acting was without fault, Braff in particular should be commended for not giving himself the spotlight the entire time; he did write the play after all. Instead Braff made the most of his rants and ensured that even when in the background he was subtly drawing attention his way. Eve Myles (of Torchwood fame) was better than I had expected but got off to a rough start as her attempts at “wacky comedy” came off as a little try-hard.

Sadly the play as a whole didn’t really hold together well. The four characters all seemed to have been designed to be as quirky as possible, the backstories we were waiting to discover were of little consequence when they were revealed. Myles’ character in particular had such a bizarre history that felt wholly out of place in the play, and considering the subject matter involved (which I will avoid mentioning) felt a little cheap and crass when mentioned in such a passing manner.

All New People‘s worst crime is being easily forgettable and inconsequential, sorry Zach. All New People is on at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 28th April and tickets are available online but your money would be much better spent buying Garden State on DVD.

A Message from Zach Braff

Zach Braff has something he’d like to say to you:

The dead of winter, Long Beach Island, New Jersey, Charlie (Zach Braff), has hit rock bottom. Away from the rest of the world, this perfect escape is interrupted by a motley parade of misfits who show up and change his plans. A hired beauty, a fireman, and an eccentric British real estate agent desperately trying to stay in the country all suddenly find themselves tangled together in a beach house where the mood is anything but sunny.

In summary, Zach Braff has written a play called All New People which opens at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London on 22 February 2012, after brief visits to Glasgow and Manchester. For anyone who was of an impressionable age when they first saw Garden State, and it being their first taste of independent cinema became a bit obsessed and downloaded a lot of music by The Shins, this is an exciting opportunity to see Zach Braff perform his own writing again.

Sadly no Natalie Portman this time round, instead we get Eve Myles from Torchwood.

Buy tickets here, if you want. No pressure.

Any Scots reading, Mr Braff has a special message just for you:

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