Saturday, March 22, 2014

Confessions of a Veronica Mars Kickstarter Backer

One of these beefy gentlemen is my husband.
 I'll explain how this photo happened in a minute. But first-

Veronica Mars is one of my top five television shows of all time. I never missed an episode when it aired, and in the summer between seasons one and two I kept an unhealthy level of obsession with who was at the goddamn door. I watched the kissing scene on the balcony like a thousand times. I think "A Trip to the Dentist" is still one of the greatest episodes of television ever made. Every time I see a yellow Nissan Xtera, I still say "Hey, it's Logan!" 

MILD SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES:

When the third season ended, Veronica had just ruined her father's reputation through her own reckless behavior. Her entire college campus had seen her naked in a sex tape filmed and distributed without her consent. Her ex-boyfriend beat the tar out of a mobster who threatened him with certain death, and her current boyfriend still refused to cut his stupid hair. And suddenly, that was it. No more story.

SPOILERS OVER.

 You may not love Veronica Mars. You may never have understood it or even watched an episode, but at some point you've probably loved a show that was canceled. The vast majority of my readers are screenwriters, and I refuse to believe a screenwriter does not love a single show that's been canceled. If you haven't, you're either extremely lucky or you haven't loved enough. And if someone wanted to continue your favorite story and give it an ending, wouldn't you be excited?

I'm lucky to have loved shows that had a rebirth - Farscape and Firefly chief among them. I'm still waiting for Samurai Jack to go home or a Pushing Daisies... anything.

When Firefly was canceled, fans offered to pay for a second season. That would have been unrealistic even if Kickstarter had existed then, but the intent was there. If it's money you want - we have money! We will give it to you if you give us our show!

And we do pay for content. We pay for Hulu Plus and Netflix and Amazon Prime and cable and satellite and other services that allow us to watch the things we love. And I loved Veronica.

So when Twitter buzzed with the news that Rob Thomas had launched a Veronica Mars Kickstarter, I did not hesitate to check it out. I watched the video a million times because this is the most Veronica Mars we'd gotten in years. I read the fine print. I studied the rewards list. I made my choice and gave my money.

And ever since, people have given me shit.

Not me directly, but VM Kickstarter backers as a group have been sneered at by a lot of folks who think they know better how we should have spent our money.

According to some, anyone who contributed is a sucker who gave a studio money and only got a T-shirt in return.

Here's what I say to that:
Jog on.

I wanted a Veronica Mars movie. Without the Kickstarter: no movie. With the Kickstarter: movie. It was that simple. Is this setting a bad precedent? Is it going to make studios run to Kickstarter to fund all their movies now? First of all, not really, and second of all, that's not my problem. That's not Rob Thomas' problem. Rob Thomas wanted to get this movie made, as did we all. This was the way.

A friend of mine used to bring me to these Battlestar Galactica viewing parties with cast and crew members, and at one of them I told a director I was making a short film. He handed me $20 and wished me luck. I never saw him again. And that happens all the time in this town - the support for creative endeavors from other creatives is enormous. We all want to see good stories get told.

So yes, I gave my money. And when I did the math, I probably paid maybe $20 more for the items I got than I would have had I bought them independently. I'm okay with that.

Because what I really got was a great movie. The advantage all the naysayers weren't considering was that by circumventing the studio system to a degree (isn't that what we all say we want to do?) Rob Thomas was able to make a movie for the people who funded it - the fans. Instead of getting note after note and making a film that had to appeal to a broad audience at fan expense, he was able to indulge us in everything we loved about the series.

This film was exactly what I wanted. It's what I paid for. And I proudly wear my shirt and look at my poster, and when the Blu Ray comes I will watch it repeatedly.

The cast and crew knew how much trust we placed in them, and they didn't take it for granted. At the Paleyfest panel, they showed a documentary about the fans, and in every frame, as well as in the panel discussion that followed, there was a respect and love for the people who helped make this film happen. Yes, extras usually get paid to be in a movie and here were people who themselves paid for the privilege. But you know what? For professional extras, it's work. For these people, it was a chance to be part of something cool that they wouldn't otherwise get, and they don't regret it, so why should you regret it for them?

The guy in the picture up top in the red pants? That's Eric the Trainer, who trains tons of celebrity clients, including one Jason Dohring, AKA Logan Echolls. Through a mutual friend, I was able to go see the movie this week with Jason up there. He was polite and friendly (and I ain't gonna lie, handsome as hell in person), but when I told him I was a backer, he jumped up and hugged me and engaged me in conversation. It made my fucking day. I'm also pleased to announce that I did not embarrass myself, despite my internal squealing.

The entire time they made this film, the cast and crew knew exactly who they were making it for. You can see it in every frame of film. Is it a perfect movie?  Of course not. Is it everything I wanted as a fan? Fuck yes it is.

Here's one last thing. I never gave to Kickstarter before the Veronica Mars campaign. I have now given to nine funded projects in all, including comic books, short films, documentaries and a project that allows terminally ill children to write their own books. I think that's a pretty good precedent.

So don't you worry about how I decided to spend my money. You worry about your own spending habits. I chose wisely.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this. Never saw the series until you started tweeting about it, couldn't afford to contribute to the Kickstarter, and can't afford a trip to the movies now, but the comments that the supporters were stupid "because the studio would have made it anyway" makes me want to scream "Do the words DEAD PROPERTY mean *anything* to you?" I am certain the film would never have been made if Thomas hadn't been able to say "Let us do the Kickstarter and your only expenses will be some tchotchkes and four-walling a few theaters when we're done." The attitude of the naysayers beggars belief.

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  2. Excellent post. And thanks for backing it because I wanted to see it too.

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  3. This is everything as a fan/backer I wanted to say. Thank you.

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  4. I've felt much the same way. Even the weekly (or more often) Kickstarter emails from Rob felt like messages from someone who really cared about the fans of the show. By the time the movie came out, I still would have been satisfied with a movie I wasn't crazy about, just because it FINALLY got made. But when I saw it, I was cheering and punching the air all the way through, because THIS was the movie I'd been waiting years to see. It wasn't about forever settling the question of which guy Veronica ends up with. It was about Veronica figuring out who she is and what she was meant to do, and THAT is the Veronica Mars I've missed all these years.

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  5. Great and true! And to your "last thing": it's the same for me. I got to knew Kickstarter through VM and spent for some other projects of which I would never had known.

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  6. @IreneStaaf1:58 AM

    Loved reading this, thank you! Been looking for news about VM and the movie since the series where cancelled and gladly gave my money to Kickstarter when the opportunitie came! Backer from Sweden

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  7. Oh man, Joi. Yeah, the website with updates and videos was great. The Comic Con panels, too.

    Thanks for the comments, guys. VM fans have formed one hell of a great community.

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  8. Great post. I missed the Kickstarter and wish now desperately I had had a chance to kick in. But thank you for funding it because it was exactly the film I wanted too.

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  9. Let me start by saying that I am an unapologetic Veronica Mars fan and Kickstarter contributor. That being said, I do understand where some of the complainers are coming from, though most their complaints are misdirected.

    The argument that WB is receiving the profits of our investment sounds good, but is just wrong. First of all, the rewards for contributing amount to only slightly overpaying in advance for what they would have paid for later anyway.

    Then there's the argument that people should have been able to actually invest in the movie and be able to get a share of the profit. While that sounds good, at the moment there is one problem with that. It is not legal, at least not yet. A little online research will tell you that at the time of the VMars Kickstarter, Congress had passed a law [JOBS Act] allowing crowdfunded type investments pending SEC regulations being put in place. It looks like the SEC has only recently begun proposing such regulations, after sitting on their hands for a while. Once they get their act together it should be possible for people to actually invest in movies.

    Until then, if this is the only way to get a Veronica Mars movie, so be it.

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  10. I feel as though Kickstarter connected fans to the cast and crew of the Veronica Mars movie to create a community or sorts. I enjoyed the movie and was very happy it happened, thanks to the Kickstarter backers. You are very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend the viewing!! Also, good blog; you write well and interesting stuff. Stumbled upon it while reading about VM Movie but I'll keep reading. Cheers!

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  11. Although I've never seen Veronica Mars, I'm glad you got what you wanted, and I'd be wrong to judge you in any case. In fact, I'm hoping to tell a similar story if there's ever a chance for a Quantum Leap movie.

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