Thursday, March 14, 2013

Let's Go Back to Neptune

I love TV. A great, great deal. And I watch a lot of shows. Some are fun, but come and go. And some are the Great Ones. Those TV shows that change the TV landscape and that you think about for years to come: Friday Night Lights, Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, and Veronica Mars.

That's right, Veronica Mars. In case you missed the news today, this canceled TV show that went off the air 7 years ago just made over $2 million dollars in less than 8 hours all from fans. Let me break it down for you:

  • Veronica Mars was a TV show on the CW that lasted 3 seasons and then was unjustly and untimely-ly canceled.
  • There was talk of making a movie but of course it didn't happen, because it NEVER happens (Serenity being the one exception.) 
  • We moved on with our lives.
  • Today, Rob Thomas, the shows creator launched a Kickstarter campaign. Essentially, he had gotten the major stars to agree to the movie but lacked the funding because big movie studios don't typically want to put the money down for a movie based on a TV show that had low ratings and was canceled.
  • The fan's, excited by the prospect of not only a movie, but cool swag like signed posters and t-shirts, rallied and the movie met it's funding goal of $2 million in about 8 hours. (And the money is rolling in.) 
  • Next year, there will be a Veronica Mars movie, and I am thrilled.
Here's the Kickstarter video and if you are a VM fan you will be filled with glee. (Warning: Adult language. Don't watch withe the kiddies!)

Not only is this amazing because I get to see all my old friends from Neptune, California again. (Veronica! Logan! Keith Mars! The Piz! Dick! Weevil! Wallace!! Mac!!) but it kinda might change the face of the TV/ Movie industry.

Whenever a culty TV show gets the can, the fans panic and there is always talk of the show being made into a movie or moving to another network. And it almost never happens. When Buffy the Vampire Slayerwas canceled there was talk of a movie, even though that TV show was based on a movie. And no one backed it.

But a few years ago when NBC canceled Friday Night Lights it was picked up by DirectTV and lasted another couple of seasons. And the fans rejoiced. But it seemed like kind of a weird fluke. And then Arrested Development was canceled far too soon. And suddenly Netflix stepped in and it is coming back. Soon. And now this - a show that ended 7 years ago still resonates with fans enough that it raised $2 million in less time than it takes me to work a shift at Old Navy.

I think my friend Daryn (who is a filmmaker) said it best:
This is kind of genius. Made a show with devoted fans? Get the fans to pay for the movie by giving them fan stuff. Unlike investors, who would expect to make money on the money they invest in the movie, the fans get the movie and the geek stuff. The filmmakers get paid and keep all the profits. Everybody wins. Especially the filmmakers. 
 And it feel like this is changing in a lot of creative endeavors. While the studios (and the publishers and the music moguls) still have most of the power, that power is shifting slightly. If you want to make a movie, get your fans to pay for it. If you want to release an album, put it online. If you write a book, self-publish. We are taking the power away from the gatekeepers and putting it in the hands of the artists and creators. And I think it is pretty awesome. And I hope you all do too when I am begging you to buy my self-published novel or back Patrick's Kickstarter to get his play produced. If Veronica Mars can do it, why can't we?
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