Zach Braff

Zach Braff is looking to raise $2 million from fans on Kickstarter for his "Garden State" follow-up "Wish I Was Here." (Todd Williamson / Associated Press)

Actor and director Zach Braff's efforts to use Kickstarter to fund a movie about a struggling actor's existential crisis has turned into a minor public relations crisis.

Mere hours after launching the campaign to fund production for "Wish I Was Here," the follow-up to his cult hit “Garden State,” the backlash started.

Commenters on Twitter and in the trades on Wednesday accused Braff of cynically leveraging free money from fans on behalf of Hollywood producers, who would have funded the film and acceded to his creative demands regardless.

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On the social aggregating website Reddit, users wondered why the star of the syndicated TV show “Scrubs” didn’t pony up the $2 million himself.

Braff dismissed the criticism and says the reports of his net worth are nonsense.

“People seem to think I have Oprah Winfrey money. I’ve done well in my career, but I am not sitting on $22 million," he said in an interview.

Braff insisted that his only concern in is ensuring he has the artistic freedom he needs to finish the movie on his own terms.

“I’m doing this so that one negative audience comment in a test screening won’t force me to change the end of my movie,” he said.

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He also suggested he isn’t asking something for nothing of his fans. Many donors will receive invites to screenings and after-parties, while one $10,000 donor will receive a speaking role in his film.

“Even the most entry-level backer will get access to an online magazine about the making of the film. If David Fincher, who I’m a huge fan of, had a video blog of the making of one of his movies, I would have been the first one there.”

For now, Braff is shrugging off the haters.

“People who don’t like what I’m doing, that’s fine. That’s the great thing about crowd-sourcing -- it’s very pragmatic. You’re into it or you’re not. There are obviously a lot of people who like the idea and will support it. I feel like we’ve all joined this little club and we’re going to make a movie together.”

Within hours, the actor managed to raise nearly half the $2 million he’s seeking. His money pool has since risen to more than $1.55 million, and he has more than four weeks to fill in the rest.

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Follow Matthew Fleischer on Twitter @Mattefleischer