When Veronica Mars -- one of my all-time favorite TV series -- ended seven years ago, I was devastated. Not call-in-sick-to-work, my-world-stopped-spinning devastated, because I didn't have that luxury. But believe you me, I was devastated on the inside.
Since then, I'd followed the discussions of film adaptations very closely. Any morsel that was reported in the entertainment industry, I devoured. And when Rob announced the Kickstarter campaign last year, I donated on the very first day.
I wasn't interested in being an extra in the film, and I couldn't afford to donate enough to fly out for the red-carpet premiere, so I ended up donating at the level where I'd get a T-shirt, a digital copy of the film the day it was released, a PDF of the script, a DVD of the film later on, and a few other goodies.
If there had been a $500 level that simply said, "Follow Rob Thomas around the set every day for a week, refilling his coffee cup, holding his cell phone and wiping his brow," I literally would have bought it. I'd prefer the opportunity to watch him work than be an extra on-screen any day of the week.
Can I just tell you that my Kickstarter experience exceeded every expectation I could possibly have had? Starting with this:
ROB THOMAS KNOWS HOW TO TREAT THE FANS.
I had no idea what to expect at that point, other than that I had a movie to look forward to in a year. How Rob and Associate Producer Ivan Askwith managed to put together everything they did for Kickstarter backers while making the movie, I'll never know. But I'll tell you this: it was a testament to their commitment to us that they did.
Throughout production, they sent regular email updates (we're actually currently up to Update #94, as of this week) that included all manner of behind-the-scenes information, from casting news to how Rob was thinking about scoring the film to anecdotes from the set once they started filming. Sometimes he included links to video clips that the actors had filmed just for "us." WELL HELLO, MAX GREENFIELD, NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.
It was every fan's dream, to hear about the making of a film as it was happening, straight from the writer/director himself. Seriously, Internet. Rob & Team won me over time and again. I kept thinking, "I don't deserve this! I basically only paid enough for a T-shirt!"
Here's how I feel about my Veronica Mars Kickstarter experience, in a nutshell: I would donate again, at a much higher level, in a heartbeat. If there's a Kickstarter for a sequel, they can count on me for five times what I donated this time around, and I'd consider it an honor and a privilege.
SO. Once they actually MADE the film and Rob emailed out the theater locations for the release, I realized that it wasn't going to be showing in Birmingham -- at least not initially. Once I put the word out on Twitter, though, several of my Twitter followers expressed an interest in meeting in Atlanta to see it together. I couldn't imagine anything more fun than getting to meet several long-time "virtual" friends for the first time at an event I was already looking forward to with so much anticipation!
The day the film was released, as part of my Kickstarter Rewards Package, I received two pivotal emails in my inbox:
I am trying to come up with an analogy that will adequately convey to you how difficult it was for me to leave the movie undownloaded and the PDF of the script unread. I AM COMING UP EMPTY.
But I didn't want to spoil my enjoyment of the film in the theater -- especially since I'd be seeing it with friends -- by seeing it or reading the script first. But oh my stinking heck it was so incredibly hard to remain unspoiled.
ALMOST AS HARD AS IT WAS TO WEAR A BRANDED, CREW-NECK T-SHIRT OUT IN PUBLIC THE NEXT DAY.
Internet, have you ever seen me wear a branded T-shirt? Or a crew-neck T-shirt? I can answer that for you: YOU HAVE NOT. That is because with the exception of The Day of Any 5K, it has never occurred. Until March 15, 2014.
I met Jamie at her house at 10:00, and we set off for Atlanta. Jamie in a cute dress, me in my branded, crew-neck T. #dedicatedfan
I don't think we shut up the whole way there.
When we made it to the theater, it was so much fun to meet up with all the other fans! The only one I knew in real life (other than Jamie) was Robin -- but Robin was originally an Internet friend, too. I LOVE THE INTERNET, INTERNET. You guys are the best.
From left to right, this is Dr. S (a doctor in Robin's office), Robin, me, Haley, Jamie, Jen, Amanda and Amanda's daughter Haley. Haley and Jen drove down from Tennessee, and Amanda and The Other Haley drove down from North Alabama.
They didn't have any Veronica Mars merchandising at Phipps Plaza -- like cardboard cutouts or anything -- so we just stood outside the theater door and I asked a complete stranger to take our picture together. I HAVE NO SHAME. Branded, crew-neck T, remember?
The lighting was horrible. The guy was like, "Turn the other way. Let's see if this is any better."
But here's why we chose this theater:
LEATHER RECLINERS. I'm sorry, but have. you. ever.
I've known Jamie for more than two years and that's the first time I've ever seen anything CLOSE to that expression on her face.
I'm pretty sure all other theaters are ruined forever for me. Mm hmm. This was the life.
I'm sorry, did someone say "dress whites"?
Have to say, sending Logan into the Navy was an inspired decision. Fully support that.
We all did. When we came out of the movie, my sole complaint was that it was a few hours too short. I would gladly have given up a few of the nods to the fans, particularly during the reunion scenes, to make room for some more dialogue between the core characters, but I don't begrudge Rob those nods. None of us did ... the whole theater clapped as the credits rolled.
Before we went our separate ways, I insisted on a few pictures in the lobby. Haley, Amanda and I somehow settled right in front of the ladies' restroom. And I somehow look as though I'm about to fall over onto the floor.
Please enjoy how my branded, crew-neck T is so large it almost reaches my knees. That's because I ordered it large enough to be my PJ shirt -- which it is. Never planned to wear it out in public. AND YET. (Good thing Haley and Jen look so cute, just to offset me here.)
Dr. S and Robin also got in a picture with me in my famous T. Oh! And see what else is making an appearance here? My pedometer, which I never take a step without! If you're looking for klassy, you found her.
By the way, I was branded on the front AND the back, so you got me coming and going, Internet.
But in all seriousness, I wanted to support the Kickstarter project, the film, the cast, the production crew ... everything about it. This was such an incredible experience from start to finish for me, so much fun.
I know it goes without saying, but I'm a huge fan of Kristen Bell. I'm 40 years old, live in Alabama and have four kids, and our lives couldn't be more different, but I just adore her. I mean, have you seen the video of when Dax brought a sloth to their house for her birthday? Kristen loves sloths. And, well ...
I'll follow Kristen and Rob wherever they take Veronica. I've already read the first book in the series (and given it a five-star review on Amazon).
I've watched my digital download of the film twice, and I've read the PDF of the script from start to finish. My only disappointment with it was that it doesn't have any director's notes ... it's a straight script. No notes about line readings or last-second strike-throughs or blocking. I don't know that I was EXPECTING those things; maybe more that I was HOPING for them.
And then I recorded all the Logan/Veronica scenes onto my phone so I can watch them whenever I want to. OH YES I DID. And there aren't nearly enough of them.
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, Rob Thomas. Take it again and again and again.