Why Zach Braff’s Kickstarter Made $2 Million in 5 Days

Zach Braff Garden StateZach Braff launched a Kickstarter project asking for $2 million to fund his new movie, Wish I Was Here, and it almost instantly flew past the $2 million mark.

So, you might be wondering, how the fuck did he do that? Okay, so he’s a celebrity and he’s had a lot of publicity, but you know what? So’s Bjork, and her Kickstarter flopped like a tuna on a fishing trawler.

I’m not going to get into the politics here. (Although for the record I am totally in support of anyone using Kickstarter — if people want to fund stuff, that’s awesome; a dollar to a celebrity is not a dollar away from a poor unknown. If people want to donate to the celeb, they will. And if people want to donate to the poor unknown, they’ll do that too. It’s not one or the other. But seriously, not getting into the politics.)

I’m not going to lie to you, either. I haven’t seen Garden State and I didn’t chip in to the $2 million for Wish I Was Here. But I was tempted, which is quite impressive, because: a) it’s very hard to get me to part with my money, and b) I’m not the target audience here; I’m not into movies unless they feature Cillian Murphy or an 80s synth soundtrack. (I’m a sore disappointment to my movie buff friends, of whom there are many, but I make up for it by being supremely interesting and reading a lot of books.)

Anyway, get to the fucking point, Karen. Right?

The simple fact is, the man wrote a fucking badass sales page. And I’m going to tell you how to do it too. I mean, I can’t guarantee that you’ll make two mill, but still.

If you’re running low on time, here’s the short version: he made it about you. For the smart cookies among you, here’s the long version:

How to Write a Badass Sales Page, Zach Braff Style

Quick note: I decided to write this post before I even watched the video on the Kickstarter page. I just watched it now and, holy SHIT, it’s awesome. But even without it, the pitch rocks. Anyway, my point is, this post is just about the copywriting, not the vid. And also now I’m kinda tempted to watch Garden State, even though I don’t think Cillian Murphy is in it.

The Intro

I was about to sign a typical financing deal in order to get the money to make “Wish I Was Here,” my follow up to “Garden State.” […] I’ve been a backer for several projects on Kickstarter and thought the concept was fascinating and revolutionary for artists and innovators of all kinds. […] Financing an independent film the traditional way often means having to give away your right to “the final cut,” casting choices, location choices and cutting down your script to make it shoot-able on the cheapest budget possible.

Zach kicks off by telling people exactly what this Kickstarter is for: the follow up to Garden State. Right away, this lets people know whether they’re in the right place. The message is: fans of Garden State, or Zach’s work in general, stick around. Otherwise, maybe don’t bother. I’m willing to bet a huge percentage of the people who donated are already fans of Zach’s work.

The second, more subtle thing to note here is his mention of Kickstarter projects he’s backed. Now we know this is something he believes in, and he’s not just trying to make a few quick bucks. (Two million is a few, right?) He’s slapped any initial reservations across the face and told them where to go. This guy is for real.

And the third part explains precisely why he’s decided to go all Kickstarter with this. Traditional financing of films strips away all artistic integrity — something, surely, none of his fans want to see happen to his work.

The Project

Zach then goes into incredible detail about what the movie will entail. He gives a full synopsis of the film, then goes on to talk about the soundtrack:

The Soundtrack to “Garden State” was more popular than I could have ever imagined. […] One of the cool things about being a backer is that you can get access to weekly song picks by me, and be the first group to stream the soundtrack.

Fans of Garden State loved the soundtrack, so they’ll love this one too. And they’ll get to hear it sooner if they’re a backer. What’s in it for the backers is starting to become clear.

The guy is also funny. There’s a recording of him beatboxing, because he doesn’t ‘have the rights to put any cool music on here’. And there’s a picture of a dog at the end, because you should ‘always close with a cute dog’. Funny is a fantastic way to showcase your personality and your human side — both vital if you’re trying to make a connection with your audience.

Next up, he talked about pre-visualisation, explaining that it helps ‘establish the look and tone of the locations and characters before going into production’. Basically, badass artwork:

Wish I Was Here

The quality of the pieces he includes show that he’s serious. But we knew that already. More importantly, this gives backers a taste of what they’re putting their money into.

Zach also mentions some big names who’ve agreed to work on the film: Larry Sher, who worked on The Hangover movies, ‘has agreed to shoot the film’, and Judy Becker, who worked on Silver Linings Playbook, among other big hits, will come in on the design team. This gives the production credibility, and gets bonus points for exciting the fans of these creators.

The Why

I want you to be my financiers and my audience so I can make a movie for you with no compromises. I know it’s risky, and I don’t know if it’s going to work, but here are a few reasons why I think it’s worth it to fund via Kickstarter.

Did you notice it? He said for you. He’s not making the movie for himself. He’s making it for you. This is the most important part of all and it’s reinforced throughout his entire message.

He then goes into great detail about the features of traditional funding, and why he doesn’t want to go that route. I won’t bore you with it here; all you really need to know is that he makes it accessible to people who don’t know about movies by saying things like:

  • ‘Final Cut is the industry term for who has the final say on how the movie will be edited […] You ultimately have no right to fight against these changes because you have signed away those rights in order to get your money.’

    and

  • ‘Traditionally, in order to procure your financing, a filmmaker will often have to choose from a list of pre-approved actors with whom the financier is willing to make the movie. […] Bored yet? Basically, you have to cast who they want, not who you want.’

Of course, as it’s Kickstarter, there’s a whole slew of rewards too. But that’s by the by. People would’ve donated to this project without them, because it’s such a good bit of copywriting. The rewards are just an extra incentive to donate that little bit more, because the more you give, the better the goodies.

To Summarise

Everyone loves a summary, right? Here you go, kiddo:

  • Tells people they’re in the right place in the opening line.
  • Kills objections by demonstrating his love for Kickstarter.
  • Details the benefits of Kickstarting: artistic integrity; get to see the movie as it should be.
  • Details the features: backs up artistic integrity spiel with actual technical information.
  • Makes it accessible, by explaining things in a way that people who don’t know about movies can understand.
  • Focuses on you.
  • Is funny. See also: human; relatable.
  • Lots of Kickstarter-shaped goodies/rewards.
  • Cute dog.

If you want to read the sales page in its entirety, check it out here.

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    5 Comments

    1. First things first: you must see Garden State. Moving on… This post helped me a lot. You took a real-world, current, relatable, interesting example and broke it down for me. When I hear I’m supposed to write things like “features,” “benefits,” “kills objections” I get all tense and the words come out stiff and sales-y and non-human. I need to shake that off and keep it real like Zach did. You are the awesome-est.

      1. It’s true. I am the awesomest. Uh, anyway. Glad I could help! I find case studies so much easier to learn from than articles that just state the facts. Personally, I need something to relate info to & I need to see it in action.

    2. Another rockin’ post Karen. The point I took note of most though is the cute dog. I dont feel my work can be complete unless I can add a cute dog into a sales pitch somewhere. Serious question – I often read that you should only talk about benefits, not features – valid or bollocks? Awesome stuff, keep it going.

      1. Bollocks! You should lead with the benefits, for sure. That’s how you make people WANT what you’re selling. The benefits should make people FEEL something. Then you go in with the features, because that’s how you show people that what you’re offering them will actually work — that they’ll actually be able to reap the associated benefits. But there’s no point leading with features, because if people don’t want it in the first place, they’ll just get bored and click off.

        Basically, you’ve got to persuade people they need something before you can tell them why you’re the one to give it to them.

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