Zach Braff Kickstarter Campaign: ‘Wish I Was Here’ Gap Funding From Worldview Entertainment Has ‘Garden State’ Filmmaker On Defensive

Zach Braff wants planet Earth to know that he’s not a douchebag.

Criticism of the “Garden State”-director-turned-controversial-Kickstarter-user increased on Wednesday following reports that his crowd-funded indie film, “Wish I Was Here,” secured backing from the movie-investment company Worldview Entertainment. Braff has already raised more than $2.6 million from 38,000-plus backers on Kickstarter, in a much-talked-about campaign that many critics said violates the spirit of crowd-funding. The campaign still has eight days to go.

In a now-updated article, the Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock reported on Wednesday that Worldview has stepped up to finance much of the film, which she said will have a total budget of around $10 million.

But Braff took issue with the article. On his Kickstarter page late Wednesday, the former “Scrubs” star said THR’s report contained wrong information, and that he wanted to clear a few things up.

I seem to get called a 'douchebag' quite often these days. And that's fine; not everyone's gonna root for my success ... but I can't sit by while my fans get wrong facts.

This is a whole new way of making a movie. There is lots of discourse on Earth about it. Some of it is very misinformed. Let's clear it up so you have it from my mouth. I will tell you the truth. As David Mamet's writes in his masterpiece, 'Glengarry Glen Ross': The truth is the easiest thing to remember:

That truth, Braff writes, is that he has been completely upfront about the fact that funding for "Wish I Was Here" would come from multiple sources, including presales from foreign theatrical distribution and his own money.

Moreover, he emphasized that Worldview is providing gap funding, which is more akin to a bank loan than traditional financing. Braff wrote that when producers presell foreign distributions, they don’t receive all the money upfront -- hence the funding from Worldview, which fills in the gap.

“They [Worldview] are essentially a bank,” Braff wrote. “Loaning us the ‘gap’ between what we've raised together and what we need to actually make the movie. I have no idea where a 10 million dollar number came from but it is wrong and a lie.”  

On his Kickstarter page, Braff stated again, as he has in the past, that the movie wouldn't be possible without Kickstarter funders, and many supporters are buying it. But the narrative is still being challenged, even in light of Braff’s explanation of what gap funding is.

"[T]he fact remains that a major investment from a third party company, ‘gap financing’ or not, wasn’t part of the financing structure he laid out on Kickstarter,” wrote Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey.

One of the biggest criticisms of the campaign -- oft-repeated in news reports and across social media -- is that Braff didn't offer his Kickstarter backers a cut of the film’s profits, but it wasn't up to him: Kickstarter rules currently prevent that. “Kickstarter cannot be used to offer financial returns or equity, or to solicit loans,” according to its FAQs.

For the record, Braff’s “Garden State” raked in a worldwide gross of $35.8 million on a $2.5 million budget, so somebody made money. Conversely, a $3,000 investment in “Wish I Was Here” will get you and a friend on the set as (unpaid) extras, but you’ll have to pay your own way to Los Angeles and foot your own hotel bill -- and there are no guarantees that you’ll end up in the final cut.

The details of the movie’s deal with Worldview aren't clear. Gap funding isn't a no-strings-attached affair, and the company is presumably in business to make money. A request to Worldview seeking additional information wasn't immediately returned, but updates will be posted here if it is.

According to Atlantic Wire’s Richard Lawson, an avowed Braff critic, THR originally reported that, “with Worldview on board, a small percentage of the money raised will be returned in the form of a fee to Kickstarter,” but that sentence doesn't appear in the current version of the article.

Late on Wednesday, Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein quoted Stacy Sher, one of the producers on the film, who said, “Worldview may end up providing nothing at the end of the day beyond the gap loan depending on how we do in Cannes.”

The Variety story put the film’s total budget between $5 million and $5.5 million.

Support Braff or not, who could've predicted he'd touch off the year’s biggest controversy? Take that, IRS and Justice Department.

Got a news tip? Send me an email. Follow me on Twitter: @christopherzara

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