Zach Braff understands critics of his multimillion-dollar Kickstarter campaign for Wish I Was Here, which premieres today at the Sundance Film Festival, but says they’re missing the big picture. “I have money, I’ve made money in my life and I put a great deal of money into this film as it were, but I certainly couldn’t write a check for $5 million to make the film and that’s why I looked to Kickstarter as a way of doing it,” the director and former Scrubs star says. “I understand why people got all upset about it but, when you look at all the data, we drove an insane amount of traffic to the site,” he adds. Weathering a hailstorm of “Why does a rich guy with a sitcom in syndication and lots of famous friends need to hit up the Internet for cash?” critiques, Braff took to the crowdfunding site last spring to raise $2 million for his second directorial feature; in 30 days his comedy-drama about a struggling thirtysomething actor looking for meaning in his life after the death of his father raised $3.1 million towards the $5 million-budgeted pic.
That had a digital spillover effect for less high-profile projects, Braff says. “The analytics show what drove [backers] there, be it my Facebook, my Twitter or an article on Deadline, but then you see what they did. They didn’t just go on my site. They spent a fair amount of time pursuing the site for other movies they might want to fund.”