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Rob Thomas, Veronica Mars

Michael Rosenkrantz talks to Rob Thomas about his congested inbox, exhaustion and the responsibility to fans of the super-sleuth Veronica Mars.

The Kickstarter campaign by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell to raise money for a low-budget feature based on the cult TV show made headlines last month when fans pledged $2m in 10 hours.

Reaching that threshold ensured a production commitment by Warner Bros, however Thomas is keeping his fingers crossed that the current level of $4.9m as of Wednesday crosses the $5m target by Friday [12]. If that happens, the writer-director says, they will be better equipped to make the movie fans want to see. 

Let’s start by talking about the film before Kickstarter and then what drove you to Kickstarter. 

Rob Thomas: There had been a few iterations of the movie and I realised I wanted to put it to rest. I wanted to explore every avenue. Kickstarter was ultimately a last ditch effort for me because I had really given up hope that there ever was going be a film. I mean, I didn’t have much faith that it was ever going to happen. I finally pitched the Kickstarter campaign to Warner Bros, they liked it and then we started.

What are the positives and negatives of a Kickstarter campaign?

I guess the negative part is that I’m more physically exhausted than ever. There’s no question that managing the Kickstarter, writing the script and then figuring out how it’s all going to work logistically is just exhausting. I’m really looking forward to Friday [April 12], which is when the campaign finally comes to a close.

I’ve actually promised Warner Bros a script by April 15, which is really cutting it close. I should say there are huge upsides, though. I can’t even remember when a project like this ever received this much attention. All of this is going to help the movie and that’s really what I’m excited about.

Take me back to that first day of the Kickstarter campaign.

I really didn’t have these grandiose expectations. I expected to wake up and check the Kickstarter campaign and then just go about my day. Everything sort of exploded and my days now are insane. I’ve already sent 300 emails just about logo designs for the T-shirts. I never expected this. I pretty much wake up, write the script, e-mail constantly and check the Kickstarter. It’s turned into this completely different thing.

How will the element of crowd-funding affect the movie creatively?

As people have donated, I definitely feel a huge responsibility to get this right. I want the fans to get a movie they love. With a crowd-funded movie, you really feel that responsibility not to become too daring or too lavish with it all. You have to deliver a version of Veronica Mars that the fans are going to want and are basically investing in.

You’re trying to reach $5m before the campaign ends. How will this help the film creatively?

It’s really huge. With films like this, budget is everything. It’s going to allow me to have more shooting days and to hopefully shoot in Southern California. As a film-maker, I want to make a good film and I want the fans to have the film they invested in. That’s really what’s at stake here: the more money that we have, the better film we can actually make.

You’ve beaten the odds and the film is going to happen. What is the one message you want to send to the fans?

My message would be is that this entire experience has been amazing. As this campaign is winding down, I wanted to sort be there for its last hours. We had a small event planned at my local bar here in Texas and, you know, I didn’t think anyone would RSVP for it so I set the number at 75. And then over 400 people RSVP’d. I’m just stunned by that.

My final message is honestly just that the campaign ends on April 12 and to keep donating for a great movie.

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