Aw, Kickstarter — so annoying when it's being used to bug you about funding your small town cousin's rap career or the music video of someone you went to high school with, but then it starts hosting a project that you actually care about and all of your feelings begin to change. Like with the Veronica Mars movie, for example, which went up on Kickstarter yesterday and made its goal of $2 million in less than 10 hours. If I was Veronica, I would probably say something sassy here, but I'm not — I'm just a girl with a $15 investment in the soon-to-be recorded album of Hunter Orange, Ripon, Wisconsin's premiere MC/my aunt's son.
Yesterday, stars of the show Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni and Ryan Hansen, alongside show creator Rob Thomas, created a Kickstarter page with a video asking fans to donate what they could — in exchange for a few perks — in order to get the Veronica Mars movie made. Their goal, as previously mentioned, was $2 million and, by reaching it, they would be breaking Kickstarter records. After only six hours, they already had $1.3 million and in less than half a day they had surpassed the $2 million mark. One man even bid $10 thousand, earning himself a walk-on role in the movie.
While the fundraising effort has left some thrilled, it's left others with a bit of a bad taste in their mouth. As one of my favorite writers Richard Lawson puts it over at the Atlantic Wire:
In Veronica Mars's case, they're asking you to pay for what will ultimately be a studio movie. This is not some independent film, financed on credit cards and bake sales. Nor is this an investment that anyone who donates will ever see a return on; essentially you'll be a pro bono producer. There's even a joke in the campaign's introductory video about giving donors an associate producer credit, the joke being that the title is itself a joke.
It's pessimistic to rain on everyone's "we can do this" parade, yes, but wealthy celebrities drumming up consequence-free cash for their next projects just doesn't feel like the proper use of a site like Kickstarter. Want to start a campaign to, I dunno, send a dying person on a nice trip? Sure, go right ahead. It doesn't even have to be as serious as that. Use Kickstarter to get a sports team some new equipment, whatever. But when it's used to pay production costs for a Warner Bros. movie, the system seems abused.
While intellectually I agree with Lawson that there are probably other art projects out there that are more in need and deserving of your cash, I can't help but get distracted from that logic by both my own excitement that the Veronica Mars movie might get made and how cool it is that fans now get to become involved in the process of creating the thing that they love.
Whereas in the past, fans of a show would just have to watch the object of their affections peter out into nothing or get suddenly canceled thanks to the broken Nielsen system, they can now take a little more control in the situation. While Veronica Mars might end up being a big studio picture, it likely wouldn't get made if big studio executives were fully in charge. Sure, there's something a little gauche about seeing a bunch of wealthy actors and showrunners beg for money in a video shot inside of a wealthy actress' mansion, but there's also something gauche about a bunch of faceless suits deciding which movies and TV shows that we get to see and which ones they get to keep on ice forever.
People are always complaining about how no good movies are being made these days and with Veronica Mars, whether it ends up being great or terrible, the public finally has a chance to put their money with their mouth is. Here, the consumer is in control in a way that's generally unheard of. Would their money be better spent elsewhere? Probably, but in this case, fans are paying for what they want, what they think they'd most enjoy. While maybe that's selfish, it's still understandable. I, for one, am happy to kick in a few extra bucks to find out whether or not Logan Echolls remains as devoted to his puka shell necklace now as he was in the mid-aughts. Doesn't that make it all seem worth it to you, too?