SXSW: Dana Brunetti Knocks Zach Braff, Spike Lee for Crowdfunding

Academy Awards Nominee Dana Brunetti
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

'House of Cards' producer also touts Netflix for revolutionizing TV biz

Never one to mince words, Dana Brunetti criticized Zach Braff and Spike Lee for utilizing crowdfunding at SXSW on Sunday.

In a Q&A with Randi Zuckerberg, the outspoken “House of Cards” producer singled out the filmmakers because those celebrities “already have access” and are taking “away from the little guys, who actually needs the funding.”

Brunetti voiced his support for projects seeking crowd funding that aren’t related to entertainment as being more worthy of contributions.

Indie filmmakers on Kickstarter are not without their faults, either. Brunetti thinks “selling walk-on roles and producer credits undermines the integrity of the film” and the “creative process” and brings ups “issues with guilds, SAG, whole other bag of worms if” the movie starts “making money, brings up questions of return on investment.”

Zuckerberg cheerleading aside — she called him one of her heroes changing both “the history of content” and “the face of content” and told everyone to follow him on Twitter — Brunetti dropped some quotable gold, as predicted.

When Brunetti first began working on House of Cards in 2011, people thought he was “crazy” and “nuts.” Now everyone “gets it,” he said, to the point where people will pitch him shows for Netflix as if he is “the gatekeeper for Netflix.”

As for traditional methods of distributing content, Brunetti said TV is actually already “dead the way we know it” and if a show is “not available on devices or streaming,” five years from now that would be “absurd.”

On working with Netflix, Brunetti described it as “a perfect marriage of creative and technology” and praised the company for not releasing their viewership ratings.

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  1. benire says:

    Ok you know why I’m on his side? Because everybody’s who is funding movies “the old way” they get their money back, their INVESTMENT back- now on Kickstarter with some ‘celebrity’ you get sometimes good, sometimes stupid gifts for what you’re giving, and yeah, I know that in the end this is people’s business but I think there has to be some way that you can benefit from the movie. Kickstarter movies are a full success for big companies, because they get to pay the production without spending anything, and receive almost total profit.

  2. Desi Singh says:

    Sounds like you guys have it out for Dana. Well all I can say is it’s true that Zach Braff has his own group of fans that follow and support his work. But it’s also true that most famous celebrities of Zach Braff’s status and financial resources can easily finance their own films with their own money. The only reason they don’t, is because they don’t have any faith that their film projects will make a profit. And so they don’t want to risk their own money on their own a vanity projects. Sure they’ll make a show of it, and put up some of their own money; usually about 20% to 30% of an inflated budget. But they’d much rather risk the money of their fans, friends, family and other supporters.

    And true enough, if the fans of celebrities want to throw their money away to support someone who can support themselves, then that’s their business. After all as a main component of crowd funding, they do offer rewards to their fans in return for their donations. Though the last I heard, Zach Braff’s fans were still waiting to get their rewards, even after Braff bragged about how he sold out his project to distributors.

    But what Dana is saying is that some or most of those fans would have possibly supported less fortunate filmmakers who don’t have the resources, or access to the resources, that a Zach Braff would have. But Noooooo, these celebrities come along, who top seven figure paydays, and see a cash cow staring them in the face and say, “screw the little guys! I want some of that money!”

    The Zach Braffs of this world have the money to hire big time entertainment, and business lawyers, to draw up their business plans. And they have agents, and managers, to represent them and approach potential investors the traditional way, and wheel and deal on their behalf.

    So yes, it’s hard enough already for small, unknown, indie filmmakers to get their films financed and made, without the Zach Braffs of this world coming along, and stealing the lime light, and distracting potential donors from donating to the lesser known or totally unknown filmmakers, who are struggling to get their films made.

    And as for Dana Brunetti, I happen to be a member of triggerstreet.com, which is Kevin Spacey’s website for writers and filmmakers, where we can go and get free feedback from one another on our work, whether it be a screenplay or a short film or short story. It was there that I had the pleasure of having a run in with Dana Brunetti right after I joined triggerstreet around the time they had just started supporting indie filmmakers.

    Dana was the President of Triggerstreet.com, now triggerstreetlabs. For some stupid reason, we got into an internet argument, and some heated words were flung back and forth, and I ended up challenging him to meet me somewhere for a fight. Needless to say after having a very short calming down period, cooler heads prevailed. I soon found out that Dana Brunetti is a really cool guy, who has since earned my respect, for being a true champion of indie filmmakers.

    And while I don’t depend on triggerstreet to get my movies made, I applaud Dana and Kevin Spacey for their tireless work, and efforts on the behalf of the little guys that don’t have the wealth, resources, or fame of a Zach Braff to get their movies made.

  3. almaandr says:

    “She called him one of her heroes”? You mean Dana?…

  4. I hate that “it takes away from the little people” argument. So tired. Hell, big names attracted me to Kickstarter.

  5. mattheww says:

    There isn’t a big pot of Kickstarter money that gets divided up among aspirants. Zach Braff and Spike Lee are able to draw attention to their Kickstarter projects because of their celebrity, which is another way of saying that Kickstarter funding works a lot like non-Kickstarter funding: It helps to have names attached or a recognizable property.

    If you don’t then you are facing longer odds of your project happening, but two popular things you can offer on Kickstarter are walk-on roles and your-name-in-the-credits. Brunetti would take these away because of some vague nonsense about integrity of the film or the creative process, two meaninglessly squishy concepts he didn’t apparently see fit to make comprehensible; it just pleases him not. P.S. There actually is no problem with return on investment because that’s all spelled out going in. But who can be bothered to research everything one bloviates about?

    It seems like the best — only? — way to do things is to suck up to a David Fincher and then ride his coattails. Good note! And nice work if you can get it. But it makes you an expert on nothing, so shut your big yap about things you don’t understand

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