He plans to lens Open Hearts in Northern New Jersey, and enjoys working in the area where he can utilize actors and crews from New York. Braff was born and raised in Jersey, and filmed his directorial debut Garden State there three years ago.
While I wouldn't say Braff's filmmaking sensibilities are diametrically opposed to Kevin Smith's, they do target similar young audiences, but when you watch Garden State you'll come away with a much different view of Jersey than you get from Smith's films. At least no one was getting it on with a donkey in the version I saw.
It's great when a director can work outside of the Hollywood environment and manage to capture the essence of where they come from. Richard Linklater did a great job of it with Slacker, and Braff seems to have done equally as well with Garden State. Although it's hard for me to know for sure since I spent several years in college living in Austin, and have never been to New Jersey, but it feels more real than the Jersey you get from The Sopranos or Clerks II.
If you try your hand at writing, you'll hear the phrase, "write what you know" many times. Whoever coined this phrase probably had no idea how much it applied to directing as well.