Fans funding films. Is this the new way forward in getting films made?
Only a teenage sleuth knows the answer to that one!
For the uninitiated, “Veronica Mars” (created by a non-singing Rob Thomas) was a series set in Neptune, CA about a “once popular” high school girl, Veronica (played by Kristen Bell) whose world gets flipped upside down when her best friend (Amanda Seyfried; whatever happened to her, hey?!) is murdered. Ver’s father Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) is voted out of his job after he makes accusations about the murdered girls family – for all the right reasons, of course. Repercussions also stretch to Veronica’s popular social circles, of which she’s ousted from. Oh, and this all results in Veronica picking up a magnifying glass, insuring her iBook and buying shares in binocular companies – Keith opens his own private detective agency and Veronica comes on as his assistant. And yes, her debut case? ‘The murder of Lily Kane’. The series, which caught on with both audiences and critics alike when it hit the CW in 2004, documents Veronica’s life as a high school girl, and witty detective and did it with… a good theme song.
The series ran three seasons. Not long enough.
There’s been talk for years about bringing the television series to the big screen (creator Thomas saying Warner Bros just haven’t been interested), like like so many other popular series have done (for example, the ”Star Trek” series, or my personal favourite ‘The X-Files’), but having not heard anything about it for quite a while, most had given up on the possibility of seeing Neptune’s populace in a multiplex.
Kristen Bell told Vulture a while back that the rights holders were the stumbling block.
“Everyone involved wants to do it, but Warner Bros is a real stinker. It’s a real monster of a legal system there. If I had the money right now to produce it, I would do it in a heartbeat. I still have hope for it, I really do.”
Jason Dohring, who played Logan on the series, told Moviehole a couple of months back that ”The truth is, the only chance we ever had of making a ‘continuation’ project, such as this, came from the whole-hearted support of our fan base. Perhaps with continued support, enough weight can be pulled in our direction to finally pull it off.”
So what of that continued support of the loyal fanbase?
Well, it might just have got us our movie!
The ‘Veronica Mars Movie Project’ was started on the ‘Kickstarter’ fundraising website today (by Rob Thomas), and get this! it’s steadily climbing towards it’s two million dollar (US) target! I’m sitting here watching the numbers climb as I write this! By the time I actually finish this article, the film could be funded! The funding time for the film was one month. It won’t even need that long. It’s a done deal by the time I press ‘publish’ on this article.
‘Here it is. Our one shot to see a Veronica Mars movie happen. Kristen (Bell) is in. I’m in. Let’s do it!’ says creator, Rob Thomas on the Kickstarter project page.
The fact that fans are funding this project to get their film made is astonishing. As someone who is a part of a fandom who is trying to do everything to get a film made, is this the way forward? Could Kickstarter fandom campaigns be the way to get the studios to stand up and take note that the fans are out there? In addition, fans get some pretty cool benefits for helping kick-start the project, from film scripts to speaking roles on the film.
The “Veronica Mars” movie project campaign is the most successful ever campaign the crowd sourcing site has ever had the pleasure of pimping. There’s currently over 25,000 supporters for the project, including this guy who has donated $10,000 for a speaking role in the film.
Almost since Veronica Mars went off the air, there’s been talk of making a movie. In that span, I’ve taken different tactics in dealing with the question of whether it might happen. To be clear, I’ve always wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie. I love writing these characters and working with these actors. Kristen Bell has always wanted to make the movie.
There was a moment, a few years ago, when we thought we had a real shot at making it happen. I developed a pitch that revolved around graduation day at Hearst college — Wallace and Mac were graduating at least, Veronica had been sidetracked by freeing Keith from prison. Plus, there was a murder in Neptune that was affecting the beach city’s spring break business in much the same way a great white shark affected the beach community of Amity. I probably stoked fan fervor in my optimistic comments about the prospects. Warner Bros. wasn’t convinced there was enough interest to warrant a major studio-sized movie about Veronica and the project never got off the ground.
After that, I tried to tamp down expectations. I didn’t want to be guilty — at least not twice — of building up hope when the odds seemed so long. Still, without fail, in every interview I do or every place I speak, I get the “will there be a Veronica Mars movie?” question. Even after a couple of years of downplaying the chances, I’d still run across blog postings headlined, “will Rob Thomas shut up about the Veronica Mars movie, already!” I was trying to. I promise.
I first found out about Kickstarter a couple of years ago from an Austin musician friend of mine — Robert Harrison, lead singer of Cotton Mather, the band that gave us “Lily Dreams On,” our closing song of season 1. He financed a rerelease of the band’s fantastic Kontiki album. Later, I was marveling about Kickstarter with another buddy of mine who said off-handedly, “You should use Kickstarter to raise the money to make the Veronica Mars movie.” I chuckled. That seemed like a silly idea in the moment. We’d need millions. But for the next few weeks, the notion was never far from my mind. I started doing the proverbial back-of-a-cocktail-napkin math. The average pledge on Kickstarter is $71. Hell, if we could get 30,000 people to give the average donation, we could finance the movie, particularly if the cast and I were willing to work cheap. The most common donation amount on Kickstarter is $25. Surely, 80,000 of our three million viewers would find that price-point viable!
Of course, Warner Bros. still owns Veronica Mars and we would need their blessing and cooperation to pull this off. Kristen and I met with the Warner Bros. brass, and they agreed to allow us to take this shot. They were extremely cool about it, as a matter of fact. Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board. So this is it. This is our shot. I believe it’s the only one we’ve got. It’s nerve-wracking. I suppose we could fail in spectacular fashion, but there’s also the chance that we completely revolutionize how projects like ours can get made. No Kickstarter project ever has set a goal this high. It’s up to you, the fans, now. If the project is successful, our plan is to go into production this summer and the movie will be released in early 2014.
Life has taken Veronica away from Neptune. In the years since spoiling Keith’s chances to be reelected sheriff, Veronica hasn’t taken a case. But something big is about to bring her back home and back to her calling. My goal is to include as many of your favorite characters as possible. It is, after all, time for Veronica’s 10-year high school reunion. Keep in mind that the more money we raise, the cooler movie we can make. A two million dollar fundraising total probably means cross words are exchanged at the class reunion. Three million? We can afford a full-on brawl. Ten million? Who knows… For some reason the Neptune High class reunion takes place on a nuclear submarine! A Hobbit shows up! There’s a Bollywood end-credit dance number! I’ve always wanted to direct Bill Murray. We’ll figure out something cool. Hey, if that total goes high enough, I’ll bet the good folks at Warner Bros. will agree a sequel is a good idea.
Thanks to everyone who hasn’t lost faith.
A Message from Kristen:
I am currently the happiest blonde in a hamster ball the world has ever seen. We have been waiting so long to make this movie dream a movie reality, and it’s because of YOUR commitment, YOUR persistence, that we finally have a chance. We just have one more step to go.
You have banded together like the sassy little honey badgers you are and made this possibility happen. i promise if we hit our goal, we will make the sleuthiest, snarkiest, it’s-all-fun-and-games-‘til-one-of-you-gets-my-foot-up-your-ass movie we possibly can.
I promise to give it my all. i promise to work my hardest to give everyone a little bit more Veronica, and i will be oh so honored to do so.
I only ask for one thing in return.
If I ever die, do me a favor. Go on Oprah and tell the world that I loved kittens.
LoVe to you ALL,
I’m guessing Warner Bros are OK with this? I suppose.. why wouldn’t they be? Someone paying to make the movie for them, right!?
If Bell is onboard the “Veronica Mars” movie project, then it’s assumed everyone else – from Jason Dohring to Ryan Hansen, Enrico Colantoni, etc- are too.
The Kickstarter page deets say the movie, should it reach it’s goal today (and it will!), will film June/July and be released next year!
To learn more about the project, head to the ‘Veronica Mars Movie’ Kickstarter page!