Crazy Random Happenstance

Billy: So good... Hey, this is weird. I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?
Penny: I love it!
Billy: You're kidding? What a crazy random happenstance!
-Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Long Time Ago... We Used To Be Friends

Veronica Mars premiered on September 22, 2004 on UPN. A little show starring a then unknown Kristen Bell, about a teenage sleuth trying to solve the mystery of her best friend's murder, had an extremely loyal cult following and lasted a much too short 3 seasons. Rob Thomas (the writer, not the singer of Matchbox Twenty) is the creator of this brilliant, witty, snarky and so damn addicting television series. The cast included Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), the fantastic Enrico Colantoni (Veronica's dad, Keith Mars), Percy Daggs III (Wallace) and Francis Capra (Weevil). Not to mention the plethora of phenomenal guest stars throughout the three year run (Sam Huntington, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Jessica Chastain, Max Greenfield, Aaron Paul, Alyson Hannigan, Michael McMillian, Krysten Ritter, Kevin Smith, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Charisma Carpenter, Dianna Agron... to name just a few). It was a fun show. A show with heart and a show that made you think. It was so smart and so fresh and so much better than most everything else that was on at the time...

So naturally, it was canceled.

In a last ditch effort, Rob Thomas pitched a season 4 idea to the CW (which UPN turned into after the 2nd season) but they decided to pass on it:

Not only did they pass on the idea, but the series was left completely hanging. There was no pretty bow to tie up the series. Fans were literally left wondering what was to come of every character on the show. Every story ended on a ciff hanger. Talk about not getting closure. As the years went on after Veronica Mars, the question that was constantly asked of Kristen Bell, Rob Thomas and anyone else associated with the show was this; Will there ever be a Veronica Mars movie? Each of them always said the same thing, "if we had the money and the studio backing, we would do it in a heartbeat". The possibility of that happening seemed absurd. What big name studio was going to back a tiny show that was on UPN/CW for a mere three seasons? The answer? None.

Until they had the idea to start a KickStarter Campaign:

Warner Bros. told them if they could get their fans to raise a million dollars in 30 days, they could start production on the movie. So on March 13, 2013 they launched their idea to fans all over the world. It took off more brilliantly than anyone ever could have imagined. Ever. They raised the million dollars in 12 hours. TWELVE HOURS. Rob was shocked. Kristen Bell was ecstatic. Every single person associated with the project was thrilled. Including the fans. I was addicted to watching the website over that month. Watching the dollar amount go up and up. To see fans and creators so passionate about the same thing was wonderful.

On April 13, 2013 the Kickstarter came to a close.

91,585 backers (including myself) raised $5,702,153

$5,702,153 in thirty days!!!!

I'll be honest, even if I wasn't a fan of Veronica Mars, I probably would have donated. I loved the entire idea of it. To see the creators and actors so passionate and thankful for their fans just made my heart swell. I'm still blown away by it.

There were different tiers of rewards for the amount of money that you donated to the campaign.
Ranging from receiving exclusive backer updates for donating $1, all the way to a speaking role in the actual film for donating $10,000. I donated $25 which got me exclusive updates, access to the backers only website (which was updated daily during film production), an exclusive backers only T-shirt designed by Rob Thomas and Co. (we got to choose from 2 different designs. Those designs were modeled by the oh so handsome Jason Dohring), a personalized PDF of the script the day the movie premiered, a thank you on the Veronica Mars movie website and super awesome stickers... Oh, and the feeling that I contributed to something awesome and fun.

Over the last year, I was sent updates every time a cast member signed on, every time there was a new stage in production, every time Rob just felt like sending out his love and appreciation to the fans (which was quite often).

Did I mention that almost every single original actor from the show signed on to do this film? For free? Not only did they sign on to do it but they were excited to do it.

They started filming the movie on June 17, 2013. Just two months after the Kickstarter campaign ended. They shot for 28 days and that was that. It went into production, Rob sent regular updates on their progress, thanked everyone relentlessly and never failed to show his gratitude to the thousands of backers who were just as passionate about getting this little film made as he was. They held a few Kickstarter movie premieres in Texas, LA and New York. The backers who were able to attend those premieres got to hang out with the cast at the after party.

Listen, I cannot stress enough how great Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and every single person associated with this show are. These people are wonderful. I have never seen such devotion to fans in all of my pop culture obsessions. This movie is 100% a love letter to the fans. From the get go, they did this to make their Marshmallows happy and my goodness, let me tell you; they succeeded. Above and beyond, they hit the mark. Bullseye. Dead on. Spot on. They hit it out of the park.

Tickets went on sale for the movie February 14, 2014. I bought them for opening night, March 14, 2014. Almost a year to the day that the Kickstarter campaign started.

One year.

I was jumping out of my skin excited for the movie. I wore my backer t-shirt. My parents watched C for us and we were on our way. We went to dinner beforehand and as we were sitting in Red Robin, I noticed that the girls at the table next to us were each sporting a Veronica Mars shirt (TEAM LOGAN and TEAM MARS to be exact). I giggled and pointed them out to Jeff. He laughed. We heard the waiter asking them about their shirts and they responded with as much excitement and enthusiasm as I was feeling. Then I noticed them noticing MY shirt. When we got up to leave, Jeff walked over to their table and asked them if they were excited for the movie. We all started talking at once. They asked me if my shirt was "the backers only shirt", I responded with a proud "yes!" then we said we would see them at the show later.

We had an hour before the movie started. Much too early to show up at the theater but not really enough time to do anything else, so we just went to AMC20 and figured we would wait it out in the lobby. Good thing we got their early. Not only was there a line, almost everyone had on Veronica Mars shirts. Backers shirts, Cafepress shirts, homemade shirts. It was like being at a Harry Potter or Twilight premiere. I was shocked. And maybe a little bit giddy. Jeff and I got some $4.50 mochas and picked our seats. That theater was packed. People were pouring in right up until the film started. It made me so happy.

It started and I don't think the smile left my face the entire 2 hours it was on. They did a nice little recap of the series right at the beginning. Refreshing old fans memories and introducing the story to new ones. Believe me when I say I loved the movie. It exceeded all of my expectations. There were inside jokes, shoutouts to the fans and reminders of why this show was so freaking fantastic to begin with. I giggled, I cheered and I jumped at some spots. They worked The Dandy Warhols theme song, "We Used To Be Friends" into the beginning of the film and the entire audience cheered. Every time a fan favorite showed up on screen, there were whoops and hollers. It was awesome.

For two hours, this three season television show that never got the respect it deserved, delighted fans endlessly. Every scene, every take, was a thank you to the fans that believed in Rob Thomas's vision from the beginning. He sent out a thank you to all of the backers Friday evening. Saying how grateful he was for each and every one of us.

"Today, Veronica Mars returned and it's all because of you."

He said that he didn't understand why every fan he encountered would thank him. He said it should be the other way around. The movie happened because we made it happen, sure. But it never would have been possible if he hadn't listened to his fans. We wanted closure. We wanted to hang out with his characters one more time. We wanted to live in Veronica's world just a little bit longer and he said "let's do it". What other creator would willingly listen to his fans so intently? I don't know of anyone else. The way they have taken care of their marshmallows overwhelms me with gratitude and I cannot thank them enough. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in something so groundbreaking for the television/film industry. Who knows if it will happen again? Who knows if there will be a sequel to this Veronica Mars film? What they did over this past year was nothing short of brilliant and each and every single person involved should be so proud of themselves.

Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. EPIC.

We got a Veronica Mars movie made, Marshmallows. Be proud.