Veronica Mars, Kickstarter, and the Hollywood Machine

With everyone and their mother (including Cult TV) sounding off on whether or not Veronica Mars — a network show — was right to use its fans’ money to get a movie project off the ground, one voice had been silent from the debate: that of Kickstarter itself. But last week, the popular crowdfunding website released a statement to address that burning question: just who is Kickstarter for?

Veronica Mars (season 3)

Veronica Mars (season 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Big or small, established or indie, serious or fun. Judged on their own, these two projects squarely fit our guidelines and our mission. But there have been concerns that they may hurt the system as a whole, depriving other projects of funds. What about that?

Veronica Mars, despite the fact that it’s got a big studio behind it, raised over $5.7 M directly from its fans. Zach Braff, despite having the option to pursue a regular Hollywood deal, has so far raised $2.6 million for his new movie, Wish I Was Here, and there are still nine days to go on the campaign.

That’s over $8 million that could have gone towards independent projects that had no big studio backing, right? Well, maybe. But, notes the Kickstarter release, 63 percent of those who kicked in on these projects were first-time users. They had never backed a project before, and perhaps had never planned to. But Veronica Mars (and Zach Braff) brought them to the table, so to speak. These newcomers then went on to kick in over $1 million to over 1,000 other projects. Of course, we’ll never know for sure (unless we track them down and ask them each individually) if they would have signed up without the incentive of a big-name movie.

Whether or not these projects take advantage of fans is another debate. But I certainly don’t think it’s fair to say the projects take away from smaller/independent endeavors. As a first-time backer, I can only speak for myself, but I know I wasn’t sitting there with my $60, trying to decide between Veronica Mars or an indie film. I came to Kickstarter because of Veronica. I suspect most of the other first-timers were the same.