Wish I Was Here, the movie Zach Braff co-wrote/directed, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival two weeks ago. I was a little excited about the movie premiering due to the fact that I pitched in via Kickstarter to fund it back in April 2013 (I can call myself a movie producer!). While my excitement was somewhat high, it quickly went down. Zach Braff and the rest of the staff working on Wish I Was Here haven’t done a really good job of making their Kickstarter backers (which funded $3.1 million of the $6 million budget) feel very appreciated.
Being a public relations major I felt the need to point out some of the missteps that Braff and the rest of the Wish I Was Here team have done. Discontent among the backers for the project has become more evident since its premiere at Sundance. Flavorwire pointed out about how the film and its production is becoming a public relations nightmare. Read the article here.
The first thing wrong with the Wish I Was Here Kickstarter production is the delay of the rewards. Kickstarter backers were promised to receive rewards based on the varying levels of money they pledged to the project. Yet since the finish of the project campaign in May 2013, backers have gotten nothing except a few behind the scenes videos. They have basically gotten nothing more than the average user would get when purchasing the home media DVD.
To make matters worse, in November 2013 Braff decided to open the wishiwasheremovie.com site to everyone. Everyone had access to the videos. Backers who pledged their money were receiving nothing more than what the typical internet surfer could find.
Zach Braff should have thought twice before reaching out to crowdfund his film. He said the reasoning for the kickstarter campaign was so he could remain creative control over the film and not have to cut things. His rational doesn’t hold much clout given the fact than nearly all filmmakers have to be willing to sacrifice some things to get their movie made.
Veronica Mars, the other big film financed through kickstarter, differs from the public relations nightmare of Wish I Was Here. Veronica Mars was backed by fans before the campaign even started. Rob Thomas (creator of series) kept constantly communication with the backers. Rewards were put out not too long after the film finished shooting. Veronica Mars was not co-financed with the help of a major hollywood studio like Wish I Was Here.
Main Point: Communicate more with your backers Braff. Give them the rewards they were promised, sooner rather than later. Make them feel part of the production rather than just providing the stock behind the scenes videos.