'Wish I Was Here' Premiere: Zach Braff on Sharing His Movie With Kickstarter Backers

12:19 PM PST 06/24/2014 by Justin Krajeski
John Shearer/Invision/AP

The actor-director tells THR that without his Kickstarter backers, the movie wouldn't have been made. "I wouldn't have had final cut, and I would've waited," he said.

It's been 10 years since Zach Braff's indie breakout hit Garden State premiered in 2004, but he's finally making his triumphant return to theaters with Wish I Was Here, and it wouldn't have happened without Kickstarter.

In the Focus Features film, which he co-wrote, directed and produced, Braff stars as a struggling actor and family man forced to reevaluate his career, his household and his spirituality.

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Braff proved that the premiere itself was a family affair, laughing alongside costars Ashley Greene, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, Jim Parsons and Donald Faison as well as older brother and co-writer Adam Braff and the rest of his family at the Director's Guild of America Theater Complex in Los Angeles on Monday.

Braff called the film a labor of love, admitting that it simply "wouldn't have been made" without his devoted Kickstarter backers.

"This ain't my first rodeo," Braff told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. "I've been to test screenings for movies, and I've seen how corporations tweak these movies based on those test scores, against the director's will. That wasn't going to happen with this movie."

Not everyone was so sure about taking the project to Kickstarter, though, including Zach's co-writer/producer brother, Adam. "Honestly, I was concerned for my brother, since it was his gamble. To take your brand online like that worried me."

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Of course, when the numbers shot up, no one was more excited.

Kickstarter backers who pledged $1,500 or more visited the set during the shooting of Wish I Was Here in L.A., which co-star Jim Parsons conceded "gave an energy to the shoot" that he hadn't anticipated.

Ashley Greene described how exciting it was to speak with fans during one of the scenes at Comic-Con. "It was fun to be on the other side and see how things work," she said, noting how the experience differed from her time at Comic-Con with Twilight.

Zach Braff couldn't help but gush about how cool it was "to see a grip explaining something to a fan, or Kate Hudson talking to them about her wireless microphone. For those of us who spend our lives on set," he said, "it was so fun sharing that with people who love movies."

Wish I Was Here opens wide July 18.

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