After nearly a decade-long break from feature film directing, Scrubs star Zach Braff is making a comeback this year with Wish I Was Here, a comedy drama and spiritual sequel to Garden State about a thirty-something struggling actor who finds himself in desperate financial straits and is forced to home school his two children.
The first teaser trailer for Wish I Was Here has now been released, and its not shy about echoing Garden State's tone or soundtrack. The Shins are back, serenading the mostly dialogue-free trailer with "Simple Song," and Braff is joined in the cast by Kate Hudson, Joey King and The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons (who also made a memorable short appearance in Garden State).
Wish I Was Here caused quite a stir even before it began production, as Braff turned to his fans for funding through a Kickstarter campaign that asked for $2 million. The campaign eventually raised over $3 million and Wish I Was Here was gap financed by Worldview Entertainment, with distribution rights eventually sold to Focus Features for $2.75 million.
The decision to crowd-fund the indie film triggered a backlash for several reasons, starting with the fact that some felt it was unfair for an already wealthy and successful actor/director to be asking for money through a site usually used by start-up companies and those looking for their first big break. Braff admitted that he'd had interest from studios, but said that he didn't want to sacrifice creative control of the film, which he co-wrote with his brother, Adam Braff.
There are other issues that arose from Braff's fundraising approach - for example, having fans pay up to $7500 for the privilege of being an extra, which would ordinarily be a paid job even on a low-budget production - but for better or worse Braff lived his dream of producing a (mostly) fan-funded movie, and Wish I Was Here looks like it will be an entertaining watch for those who enjoyed Garden State.
Wish I Was Here is out in New York and Los Angeles on July 18, 2014, with wider releases scheduled for July 25 and August 1.