Fans of critically-adored TV learn to be more familiar more with quality than quantity. Once you realize that your favorite show is a cult-hit instead of a mass crowd-pleasing money-maker, you have to just make do with what you have, which is usually a few short season(s) of highly enjoyable content before networks have to take it away (and if you’re lucky, a revival later via Netflix or Adult Swim).
So it was with Veronica Mars, which lasted three seasons total — two on the WB plus one on the rebranded CW — before it was cancelled in 2007. Show creator Rob Thomas had ideas for a movie continuing the story of Kristen Bell solving mysteries and exposing layers of injustice in her California town, but his pitch wasn’t enough to convince Warner Bros. to back the project. This Wednesday, Thomas and Bell launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a Veronica Mars movie to be shot this summer, hoping to raise $2 million in 30 days. In less than 24 hours the project had reached its goal.
The Veronica Mars Movie Project Kickstarter showcased a lovingly rabid fan base — watching the numbers skyrocket in real time was truly something remarkable to experience, and Buzzfeed reported that Kickstarter’s previously most successful film project, ‘Video Game High School’ season two, took a month to reach $808,341. The project also allowed for some transparency and showed how much love and hope the cast and crew of Veronica Mars had for the project. “Here it is,” Thomas said on the project’s page, “Our one shot to see a Veronica Mars movie happen. Kristen is in. I’m in. Let’s do it!” The optimism shined through in Thomas’s words as he straightforwardly presented who would be involved in the movie if it were to happen, turning everything over to fans reading the page.
And fans of all economic backgrounds can support — the VM Kickstarter rewards pledges ranging from from “$10 or more” to “$10,000 or more” with prizes like limited-edition T-shirts, shooting scripts, outgoing voicemail messages recorded by cast members, and a speaking role in the film (that’s the $10K one). Though the project has support from celebrities and other well-to-do fans, the $10K pledger, a wealthy entrepreneur named Steven Degler, doesn’t even consider himself a VM superfan — he’s more of a fan of the process of crowdfunding.
The crowd-sourcing of funds allows non-industry people to put all their fan-love into tangible money that actually helps make a project into something real. They actually (even if it’s ever-so-slightly) support the project financially instead of emotionally like they would with other projects. Imagine the movies that could be made if TV fans had more of a say and the networks’ lack of confidence in a project didn’t prevent it from being made!
Entertainment Weekly (who also broke the news when the Kickstarter went up) put out a poll asking readers what TV show they’d donate to to see as a movie, including long-lost cult favorites like Alias, Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, and more. “VOTE FOR #PUSHINGDAISIES” said Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller over Twitter along with a link to the article. Though in some cases logic might prevent a show’s movie-version from happening — some people from F&G are mega-celebrities now so maybe they don’t have time! — the idea still stands. If a TV show’s writers and actors want in on a movie, and fans do, too, nothing — not even an unconvinced network — can stand in the way of a movie getting made. (At least, financially. Now let’s see a project crowd-source its crew!)
The opportunity opens up a lot more possibility, giving television fans the choice of what they want to watch, a metaphorical remote — something TV was kind of all about in the first place.