Zach Braff, star of NBC's Scrubs, makes his directorial debut with Garden State, which he also wrote and stars in. The film is a sweet tale about a 20-something who goes back home to New Jersey for his mother's funeral. Garden State is an impressive debut for Braff, and it's one of the best films to come out thus far in 2004. The film debuts in theaters nationwide on August 6. Street had a chance to sit down with Zach and talk about his film.
Street: Did you hesitate over ordering around a great cast in your directorial debut?
Zach Braff: At first I was nervous, of course, because they are like movie stars, particularly Natalie... I just realized in my head that in order to gain their respect I had to be decisive. I had to be opinionated, it was my baby and I knew it better than anyone because I wrote it. I couldn't allow myself to be intimated.
The dialogue is very real. Did you draw on your own experience?
I love dialogue. I really appreciate it. That's why I like movies... I tried to write like my friends talk. Sometimes I would talk it out loud and sort of have a conversation with myself out loud at the computer.
Were there any struggles to get this made?
I couldn't get anyone to pay for it. No one wanted to take a risk on the movie. They liked the script, but they had lots of changes they wanted me to make to it. I'm sure there was apprehension about me directing and starring in it. Even after I had Natalie attached and Danny DeVito producing it, I couldn't find anyone to put up the money. Then almost at the last second, I found an independent financier.
Do you think Scrubs helped or hurt in getting this movie made?
It helped indirectly because when I got on Scrubs I got a really big fancy agent in town. CAA, they're a really powerful agency in Hollywood... My agents were amazing and their connections in town really helped to get the cast...You can't just submit a script to Natalie. It wont get in front of her.
Was it difficult wearing three different hats for the movie?
You have to be a little schizophrenic...At the end of the day I felt like I knew the script better than anyone and I knew the part better than anyone.
Which of the three was the hardest?
For me writing is the hardest. I am a big procrastinator. I have lots of ideas. The hardest thing for me is getting my ass in chair and writing.
Why did you want to act in your directorial debut?
I felt like I wanted to show people I could do something other than Scrubs...I felt if I didn't write this, I never would have gotten a chance to even be up for it...As a director you have the opportunity to give people their break... I was like, I would like to give myself a break.
How important is the music?
When I sent out the script I made a mix CD of all my favorite music and I put a lot of them into the script. When I gave out the script I would give it out with the CD...I put them in the movie when I was editing it, not thinking I would be able to afford them all, like Coldplay, Simon and Garfunkel, The Shins...The bands were so generous. We showed them the scene where it was used and I got every band but one.
What are you currently listening to?
The Shins. They are the best band in the world right now.
How did your work on Scrubs help you shoot this film?
The pace. We shoot an episode of Scrubs in five days. There is just no time to sit down and think about anything. We call it running and gunning. You just do three takes and move on. You just have to move so fast. That's great training ground for making an independent movie because you don't have any time on an independent movie either. You just have to go, go, go.
Do you plan to stay away from studio movies?
I would do it and there are actually some things on the plate at studios right now,but it's hard in a five month limit. We shot this movie in 25 days and I edited for like 2 months. That's like not even legal, once you are in the union they don't even let you do that.