Stop Whining About Zach Braff
I will start with this: I don’t know Zach Braff, and I have no idea if he’s a nice guy or a heel. I saw Garden State and wasn’t nuts about it, and I’m not a huge Scrubs fan. I’m also jealous of his New York apartment which I once saw in maybe the New York Times? It was beautiful. So basically overall I’m the kind of guy who is complaining a lot about Zach Braff right now.
But seriously, people like me: quit complaining about Zach Braff. Especially his Kickstarter. You’re being dicks.
As someone who does a lot of work that’s supported by its consumers, I have strong feelings about this. And frankly, those feelings are pro-Braff.
Here is the transaction that Zach Braff offered fans of his work in the Kickstarter for Wish I Was Here: you put up some money, I will make a movie you want to see. Why is that bad?
He didn’t even ask people to put up all the money. He managed to secure financing for a significant portion of the budget, and a loan to keep things moving, but needed a final piece. Which his fans were happy to provide him. Because they wanted to see the movie.
In fact, his fans so wanted to see it, that they kept giving to the project even after the goal was met, to the tune of over a million bucks. Because they wanted to directly support a guy whose work they loved.
Look - I don’t love his work. Maybe you don’t either. But why shouldn’t people who like something pay to get it made? What the hell’s wrong with that?
Here are some complaints I’ve heard:
But he’s a Hollywood insider! Couldn’t he just get the money himself?
I don’t think people understand how hard it is to make any showbusiness project happen. The truth is that he tried, and he couldn’t. The best he could do was a version where he (the director) gave up final cut, and he didn’t want to give up final cut on a project that was very personal to him. So he wondered if people who wanted to see his version would want to pay for it. And they did.
Isn’t he a millionaire?
Sure. I mean, I saw his apartment in that magazine, that’s gotta be worth a million bucks easy. That doesn’t mean he can make a movie out of pocket, though, or that he should. The truth of movie-making is that most projects lose money. Only by amortizing across a lot of projects does the investment make any sense, and as you can see by the franchise-ation of moviedom, there’s so much risk in small adult dramas that people with real money don’t even bother with them any more. Why should he risk losing everything he has? Why is that expected of him?
Kickstarter’s for the little guy!
Well, for one thing - this is the little guy. Five million bucks for a feature film with lots of semi-famous people and a full crew and shooting schedule and several significant effects sequences is the little guy. Not the littlest guy, but the little guy. Movies are expensive. Trust me.
For another thing… why? Why shouldn’t a medium-sized guy use this method to raise money for a creative project? This isn’t a charitable endeavor. People are paying for something they want to see in the world.
He’s manipulating his fans!
His fans are grown ups. They can decide for themselves whether getting a movie made and seeing it in an advance screening is worth thirty bucks to them. Or if getting a movie made and seeing it in a regular movie theater is worth them kicking in ten bucks beyond the regular ticket price. Just because their tastes are different from yours doesn’t make them idiots. Which brings me to…
But he’s so lame!
This has nothing and everything to do with it. Are you being a dick about this because you don’t like how he raised the money, or because you didn’t like Garden State? Or because you did like Garden State and now you’re embarrassed about that because the world changed around you and/or you grew up and now you know you’re not supposed to like Garden State?
This movie isn’t for me. But it is for someone. 46,000 someones.
More importantly: directly audience-funded creative work is by far a net positive for society. It fosters deeper and more important work - there’s a big difference between your relationship to something you voluntary give money to and something you’re willing to show up to a theater with friends for. It reduces the risk inherent in any creative undertaking for the creative people. It makes it so that folks can spend more of their time making and less begging big corporations for money. It gives creative people control, with the backing of people who like their work, rather than giving that control to someone who wants to sell stuff. All of these are good, good things.
Let’s break the idea that this is a matter of charity. No one pities Zach Braff. He’s rich and handsome and doing well for himself. But tens of thousands of people love his work, and they want more of it. They’re willing to pay for it. And you don’t have to go see it. So what the heck’s wrong with that?
Writing a dissertation is bad for mental, physical and economic health
Sociology, University of Chicago
WHY DOES EVERYONE IN MY HOMETOWN THINK I GO TO BARNARD WHEN I SPECIFICALLY SAY THAT I GO TO BARD PREVIOUSLY IN THE CONVERSATION. WHY.
The struggle is real.