Wednesday, May 08, 2013
My response to your Zach Braff comments
Thanks to all of you who commented, even those who disagreed with me. Your arguments were thoughtful, well stated, and you made some great points. See Roseanne? People can take issue with me without calling me an asshat.
And you all are welcome to keep commenting.
But let me respond.
A lot of you contend that Zach Braff has actually brought increased visibility to Kickstarter, which is good for the site and good for the little guy seeking backing for his/her small film. If that is so, then great! My underlining concern is that the unknown filmmaker gets hosed. If in fact, he doesn’t, then I’m thrilled. Will this be the case? I don’t know. I think we’ll have to see in a couple of years. In the meantime, more actors and known quantities will jump on this gravy train. That’s a given. Will unknowns still reap the benefit when there are twenty former sitcom stars asking for your money?
Others said my point that investors have a finite amount they will spend and will put their money into Zach’s project instead of others is a fallacy. It’s not a zero-sum proposition. Okay, you may be right. I have no hard evidence either way.
One reader, Andrew wrote: I'm not sure why you, a professional, published author, are writing a blog. Blogs are supposed to be for people who haven't made the connections to get published yet, or whose views are too outrageous or controversial. How dare you take up valuable cyberspace on Blagger that could be going to unknowns? Uh, the difference is there's more than enough space for all blogs, and I'm not asking for money. I provide the content of this blog for free. And occasionally you get your money's worth.
Angry people asked what right I had to determine who should qualify for Kickstarter and who shouldn’t? I never said Zach Braff should be banned. I just said I didn’t support him.
If you choose to support Zach Braff, fine. Or VERONICA MARS (more on that later).
In Zach’s promotional video (where he was able to get Jim Parson to join him – another advantage he has over the peons) he claims that there were investors willing to back his movie but they wanted some control. They wanted casting approval and final cut. It’s their money, you can’t really blame ‘em for that. And I appreciate his standing up for his vision. But you know what? If he gets his film made, exactly to his satisfaction – he’s still going to have to go to Hollywood for distribution. And it’s not impossible that a buyer might say “We’ll distribute it but we want you to cut this scene or take ten minutes out of the movie or change the music. Now depending on whether he has other offers he might have a big decision to make at that point. He still might end up editing his film to someone else’s specifications.
And if his movie does get distributed, some "evil" studio will share in the profits.
Sidebar #2: When Billy Wilder was faced was this same “final cut” issue on the first movie he directed he shot only the angles he would use. There was no other way to cut the film. There were no alternative angles anywhere. So there are ways…
And finally, a lot of you agreed with me about Zach Braff but not VERONICA MARS. You pointed out that creator Rob Thomas did try for years to get Warner Brothers to make it and they flatly refused. This was a viable alternative. There would be no VERONICA MARS movie had it not been for Kickstarter. Fair enough and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I also give Rob Thomas points for ingenuity. He was the first to use Kickstarter in this regard.
One great distinction a lot of you made is that for Rob Thomas and VERONICA MARS, this was an absolute last resort. Zach Braff had backers but chose not to use them. Kickstarter was a luxury for Braff, a necessity for Thomas.
But keep this in mind re VERONICA: Warner Brothers had to approve Rob Thomas’ plan to take the project to Kickstarter. This means Warner Brothers does still own it (or part of it). If it’s a hit they still make a nice profit. Look at it from their perspective. They get a possible hit movie, they didn’t have to lay out a cent for production, and they don't have to share the profits with the investors. They give them T-shirts and souvenirs and they're off the hook. How sweet a deal is that? On a project they didn’t even believe in. What a win/win.
I understand the passion of VERONICA MARS fans and wish there were enough ALMOST PERFECT fans so I could do the same thing. But again, I worry that studios now view this as a viable way to get movies made at no cost to them. Warner Brothers is probably saying, "If only we knew about this before we greenlit JACK THE GIANT SLAYER."
And I’ll just leave you with this – I love Kickstarter because it offers an alternative to the studio system. Hollywood continues to consolidate. Conglomerates get bigger and bigger. And choices become fewer and fewer. The result is a new GI JOE every summer. Through websites like Kickstarter we have the chance to see different, more personal, less commercial fare. We also have the chance to see amateurish shit but that’s beside the point. I just want to make sure those young filmmakers have a shot. That’s all.
And I want my Twitter feed to be so dazzling that Melissa Joan Hart will follow me.
UPDATE: I understand that Zach's fans have been asked to rally to his defense so I'm getting a lot of comments supporting him, which is fine. Please continue (although I'm sure I'll now get a bunch saying that's not true -- whatever). I just want everyone to know why the sentiment seems so skewed. Okay. Get back to bashing.