Saturday, 11 May 2013

EXPLORING THE INFINITE ABYSS

This post was originally going to be about Zach Braff's movie Garden State. I watched it recently for the first time in a couple of years and it blew my mind. Blew. My. Mind. Firstly, because I realised that it came out nine years ago. NINE YEARS AGO! I was seventeen when I first saw that movie. Holy flying time, Batman! Secondly, the characters in the film are all twenty six, the age that I am now. That really fucked with my mind. I fell in love with these characters when I was seventeen and now I am the same age as them. The next time I watch the movie I will probably be older than them. Such a weird feeling.

So, yeah, that's what this post was originally going to be about. However, I have decided instead to weigh in with my opinion on the hoo-ha surrounding Zach Braff turning to Kickstarter in order to help fund his next movie, Wish I Was Here. I may be a little late to the party as the internet has been bitterly debating the subject for several weeks now, but fuck you internet, this is my blog and I'll do what I want.

For those unaware, a brief recap of events: Zach Braff (of Scrubs fame) directed a little movie called Garden State nine years ago (NINE YEARS AGO!), everybody loved the shit out of it but he hasn't made another movie since. He has attributed his lack of filmmaking to being unable to attain funding without signing away his creative control. Inspired by the overwhelming success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign, Braff decided to go the Kickstarter route himself in order to help raise (some of) the money needed in order to make the film he wants to make without signing away his creative control to the "money guys".

First of all, I must point out that I am a huge fan of Kickstarter. I have kick started the shit out of a number of projects. Some of which have come to fruition, some are yet to and some may never see the light of day at all. Such is the gamble you take when backing projects on Kickstarter.

The Wish I Was Here Kickstarter campaign has caused a great deal of controversy and has split opinion right down the middle. On one side there are those that disagree with "celebrities" using Kickstarter. Their argument being that Kickstarter was designed for the "little guy", the "working man", the independent artists and inventors that would otherwise have no other means to raise funds for their art project/invention/whatever. Zach Braff is part of the establishment: Lead actor of a hugely successful sitcom and a celebrated indie filmmaker. He already has plenty of connections within the film industry and has openly stated that he could get funding for his film should he be willing to sign away the final cut. In essence, the main gripe seems to be that Zach Braff is a celebrity, therefore he must be a multimillionare, therefore should fund his own freakin' film and by "panhandling" on Kickstarter he is exploiting his fans and taking away backers from smaller projects that will struggle to compete with such high profile competition. (sources: TV comedy writer Ken Levine and Guardian columnist Lisa Marks)

My view, along with that of 37,180 others (the current amount of WIWH backers at the time of writing), is that we don't care if Zach Braff is a celebrity, we don't care if he is a multimillionaire, we don't care if Scrubs ran for about four seasons too many and just wasn't that funny any more, we loved Garden State and we're fucking psyched to be a part of Zach's next movie. We're part of it. We're in. We're along for the ride. Which will make watching the film when it comes out that much fucking sweeter. Maybe I have been drinking the Zach Braff coolaid, maybe I have been brainwashed by his effervescent personality. Maybe, maybe not.

I could have sat back, not bothered with backing the project and just torrented that shit from Pirate Bay when it is inevitably leaked online. But no, I backed the project, and providing it leaves me with the warm and fuzzies after seeing it, I will then pay good money to own a copy of the DVD. (I will then watch it again in nine years and have my mind blown that I am the same age as the characters. Oh, life. You evil genius.)

In regards to the view that WIWH will take money away from other projects, that is complete and utter bullshit. Kickstarter themselves have recently reported that the Zach Braff and Veronica Mars projects have brought "tens of thousands" of new people to the website. 63% of their backers had never backed a project before, and many have gone on to back other projects. Kickstarter estimates that those two projects alone have brought $400,000 to other projects. If those figures are correct then it goes to show that these high profile projects not only don't detract from the "little guys" but help raise awareness for them. (source: Film School Rejects)

The only thing I will suggest in regards to Kickstarter is to avoid it all costs when you are drinking. The money doesn't go out straight away and is only taken once the project has finished AND has reached it's full target. Too many times now I have received e-mails along the lines of "Such and so project has been successfully funded and X amount will now be debited from your account" and I'm like... "Say whaaaaaaaat?!?"

Drunk Kickstarting, like drunk eBaying except you only find out like a month later. Fuck.

NB: I was 100% sober when I backed Wish I Was Here and I regret nothing.    

11 comments:

  1. Maybe I have a hole where my heart/soul is meant to be or something but I really do not understand why everyone and their nan loves Garden State. I just don't get it. That film always makes me want to punch Natalie Portman in the face. Repeatedly. And I'm a fairly non-violent person.

    Anyway, this whole Kickstarter thing- people can fund whatever they want to fund.. why is it anyone's business to police it? I mean, it's a Zach Braff film.. not like bloody Kony 2012 or something where it's actually causing harm/amounting to nothing.

    /end self-righteous comment.

    x


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    1. Maybe I should edit the post to say "everybody loved the shit out of it (except Risha)". Haha. Each to their own, I appreciate that Manic Pixie Dream Girls are not for everyone.

      And yes, you're totally right. People can fund whatever they want. Nobody forced anybody to back the movie. We did it because we WANTED to.

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    2. I'm with you, Risha. The film is mediocre-to-bad, the soundtrack pretty much saves it.

      That said, Zach Braff can and should use any resources available to him to jumpstart his project. The self-righteous "indie"gnation (is that a thing?! Please tell me I just coined a term. Nope, nevermind, just Googled it) this is stirring up among some factions of the industry. I say more power to him.

      But I'll probably end up hating the final result.

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    3. I meant to write "the self-righteous indignation this is stirring up among some factions of the industry is pretty hilarious to see". I was too excited about potentially coining a new term to actually finish the sentence.

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    4. I know I am biased and all but I'd say "mediocre-to-bad" is a fairly harsh assessment. There are many rom-coms out there that are infinitely worse as opposed to the amount that are better. In my humble opinion.

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  2. Thank fuck I'm still new to the idea of Kickstarter and haven't drunkenly funded anything. Yet. Lord knows my credit card couldn't handle it.

    I was completely unaware there was even a debate around WIWH's kickstarter, though not surprised. It probably all just boils down to tunnel-visioned morons who aren't familiar with the concept of the domino effect.

    Cannot wait for this movie.

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    1. Drunk Kickstarting is the worst. I have backed some really bizarre shit.

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  3. Out of curiosity, have you seen Zach's response video to the criticism? If not, here's a link:

    http://youtu.be/j1LY3C0Rbr8

    He makes some very salient points about how using Kickstarter to fund a film helps get the funders involved in the process and show people who have no experience in the industry what it is like to make a film by using some of the money to produce behind the scenes content and releasing it to backers throughout the production process. It gives people real-time perspective into a creative process that is otherwise missed when the viewer only sees the finished product.

    It's very strange, the uppity attitude that people have taken about Kickstarter. The community has latched onto this particular crowd-funding platform as some sort of "force for good" in the creative world, and is unnecessarily vocal about their discontent when someone is "violating" the sacred, unspoken Kickstarter code. The dissenters in the Zach Braff "controversy" are acting like Kickstarter users have some sort of moral duty to not support groups that are perceived as already having the means to produce creative things on their own, when really it's just a platform to help people who want money get money.

    As you said, nobody is forcing anybody to fund anything, and Zach Braff's presence on Kickstarter does not detract from other campaigns, despite what people may angrily proclaim on Twitter in all capital letters. There is plenty of room for this sort of funding campaign, and the people who support it are not being duped. Zach Braff had a lot of really compelling reasons for bringing in money through Kickstarter rather than pitching this to established studio executives as he supposedly "should have" done.

    But, the internet seems to only be capable of processing information in polarized modes of love it or hate it thinking. This is just another example of a few people being upset over some obscure principal and the rest of the community jumping on the angry bandwagon because it's not fun to argue on the internet when you have a moderate opinion about the subject in question.

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    1. I hadn't seen that video, thanks for the link.

      I think that once the dust has settled and the nay sayers have found something else to rally against people will come to the conclusion that actually, yes, this was a good thing for everyone involved; Kickstarter, the fans, and filmmaking in general.

      I do wonder how many of the Zach Braff detractors will watch the film when it comes out, and how many of those will actually admit it if they like it.

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  4. I am pro kickstarter for anybody....mostly me and my gameboy needs but I digress. No seriously, kickstarter used to be about giving teachers in poor districts cool stuff for their kids. Now it's about getting an amazing project to come to life. Not only do you make a good case concerning the other project people fund after finding the site but why should Zach trade creative control?
    I have never funded one because Erin has non monies. But I applaud you. Someday I would also like to give to wikipedia.

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  5. Thanks to you, I just watched Garden State. I loved it. Manic Pixie Dream Girls are totally my thing (as far as movies go). Also I kind of have a huge celebrity crush on Zach Braff ever since I watched Scrubs. It's actually more of a crush on the character of J.D. from Scrubs because he seems so awkward and nerdy and weird and hilarious. So I watched the movie for Zach Braff but stayed for Natalie Portman.

    And on the whole Kickstarter thing, I feel like people should be able to give their money who they want to. It's not like they can't give to more than one campaign.

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