Zach Braff is the latest celebrity with a Kickstarter campaign. He’s raising money to direct his sophomore feature which he describes “is not a sequel [to Garden State] in story, but in continuation of tone.” The project just began and is well on its way to make the $2M goal in 30 days. If you watch his plea video for Wish I Was Here, you’ll understand that he wants to make another personal film, hand-pick his cast and have final cut of the picture. With a name like his, it’s hard to believe he doesn’t have more pull to make this happen with or without the fans help. But filmmaking is a business and with studio financing, many times artistic beliefs are overrun by what seems to be a smarter box office decision. Whatever the result is, as long as Braff really does ‘continue the tone’ of Garden State and brings along his directorial instincts and music tastes, film number two should have a good following.
Braff wrote and directed the hit film Garden State, starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard and himself and won Best First Feature at the 2005 Independent Spirit Awards. He also produced a very successful soundtrack which won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture. Watch a clip that features Braff, Portman and Sarsgaard with the Cary Brothers song ‘Blue Eyes’ playing in the background.
Garden State follows Andrew Largeman, an emotionally detached twenty-something actor that hasn’t been home in nine years. Having just weaned himself off antidepressants, he returns to his New Jersey hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. As Large attempts to re-connect with a variety of odd acquaintances, including his father, he slowly begins to see his life in a new light and in the process, forges a connection with a new friend.
In an interview with Spliced Wire, Braff talks about how biographical Garden State was.
There are large pieces of myself that are in the character and definitely large pieces of the story that are in line with things that have happened to me. Being an actor, coming home and feeling alienated, feeling estranged and lonely — all those things in the character are definitely myself. But the film is a collection of stories, things I collected growing up, some things I read about in the paper, some of it was stuff people told me.
My mother’s a psychologist, my stepfather’s a psychologist, my stepmother is a therapist and my dad’s a lawyer. So it was all prominent in my life. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know someone on some form of prescription medicine. It’s very prevalent in our society today, and I think it’s important for my generation to talk about it. I’m by no means condemning prescription medicine for mental health. I’ve seen it save a lot of people’s lives. But this was a story about someone who didn’t necessarily need to be on them, but stayed on them out of comfort and safety because he’d grown up on them and they were like a security blanket to him.
He also talked about financing Garden State, which is interesting to look back on while he kickstarts his way to finance the next film.
Once I had it cast, it actually proved harder to find financing than I thought (it would)…we had to go out and find financing — and even with all those people attached, still everyone in town passed on the movie. It was pretty much the last person we found — an independent financier who paid for the whole thing out of his pocket.
It’s a character piece. It doesn’t follow three-act structure or any of the conventions so beautifully made fun of in “Adaptation.” I was untested, and I wanted to play the lead and direct. So there were a lot of things (that might scare off studios). I was surprised because we weren’t asking for a lot of money, but no one was willing to take the risk. Then we met this guy (first-time producer Gary Gilbert) and he was willing to take the risk, and it paid off because he doubled his money (when the film was sold at Sundance).
While there’s no certainty that a film will find the right audience or have a successful box office once it’s in the can, Braff has proved once before that if you tell a great story, hire a great cast and crew, choose the right music and let your passion lead the way, it’s not unreasonable to believe it can’t be done again.