After fans helped him raise $3.1 million to fund his latest project, “Wish I Was Here,” via Kickstarter, multi-hyphenate Zach Braff was able to share the end result with several backers who attended the film’s premiere Monday night at the DGA Theater.
Joined on the red carpet by his brother and co-screenwriter Adam Braff and costars Joey King, Donald Faison, Ashley Greene, Jim Parsons and Pierce Gagnon, Braff said the process of promoting his movie has been a bit like running for office.
“Releasing a movie is a little like a political campaign,” Braff told Variety. “You’re constantly trying to just catch any eyeballs you can because there’s so much competition for everyone’s attention. All bets are off with marketing movies now. The old ways don’t work anymore and it’s all about the new ways.”
Though the past few months have been hectic, Braff said he enjoyed working with his brother because it allowed them to draw upon their childhood memories while writing the script together.
“It’s great when you can refer to so many inside stories and so many inside anecdotes, even if it’s not related,” Braff said. “You can go ‘Oh my God, you know what this scene should be like?’ and you can say a movie or that thing dad did when we were 10. You have such a shared history, and that’s really, really great.”
Adam Braff explained that the whole process began with a phone call from his brother, who had an idea for a film.
“It seemed very similar to my life when I heard it,” Adam Braff said. “I had been working on a story about a father’s death that eventually got woven into a story about a father homeschooling his kids,” he continued, telling Variety that he and his brother were also inspired by their own father, who is now 80 years old.
In addition to utilizing their shared history, Adam Braff also said that also enjoyed being on set and helping his brother remember the key points of each scene while he juggled his duties as helmer, producer, writer and lead actor.
“As brothers, we have differing opinions about things, but we managed to work it out into a whole that was really great for both of us,” Adam Braff said, adding, “I always feel like it was nice for him to have a brother’s voice in his ear every now and then.”
The Braff brothers weren’t the only ones who relied on each other for support. The cast had nothing but praise for the sibling duo, especially King, who plays Braff’s on-screen daughter.
Joined by her sister (and recent Daytime Emmy winner) Hunter at the premiere, King said Braff helped her get through a challenging scene that required her to shave her head on camera.
“That was pretty stressful, but it was exciting,” King said, explaining that she was able to get through the scene in two takes after a pep talk from Braff, who she has known for almost five years. “Everyone wore wigs for me that day. The whole cast and crew wore wigs. That was one of the coolest moments ever.”
Producer Michael Shamberg said he also felt fortunate to work with Braff, who made the process much smoother while in the director’s chair.
“He can see a film and do a film in a way that nobody else can,” Shamberg said. “You knew he wasn’t going to be a handful — he was going to be a collaborator. It makes you want to do your best when you have a filmmaker that’s inspired.”
Though he didn’t reveal any details about upcoming projects Adam Braff said he’d like to work with his brother again in the future. “I think we have some other things we would like to say,” he said, though it sounds like they’ll be looking into other sources of funding. “I think Zach’s already said that he wouldn’t do [Kickstarter] again,” he explained.
Following the premiere, guests made their way down Sunset Boulevard to Aventine for the after-party, where they snacked on a variety of bite-size Italian foods including margherita pizza and mini ramekins of mushroom risotto.
Film stars Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin were unable to attend the premiere as they are both currently on location in Africa. Braff told guests that Hudson is working on a new movie and Patinkin is shooting “Homeland.”
Focus Features’ “Wish I Was Here” bows July 18.