After a seven-year absence, private investigator Veronica Mars has returned, and she’s come to the big screen with the help of a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. In the film, Veronica (Kristen Bell) has come back to her seedy hometown of Neptune to help her old flame Logan (Jason Dohring), who has become the prime suspect in the homicide of his celebrity girlfriend. The film also stars Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Tina Majorino, Martin Starr, and Krysten Ritter.
At the film’s press junket last week, I got to interview Jason Dohring and Chris Lowell, who plays Veronica’s current boyfriend, Piz. During our conversation, we talked about their reaction to learning that creator/director Rob Thomas was going to fund the movie via Kickstarter, their surprise at how quickly the film reached its funding goal, reprising their characters, working alongside fans, and more. Hit the jump to check out the interview. Veronica Mars will be released on VOD and in theaters on March 14th. Click here to read my review.
JASON DOHRING: I guess it meant we were making the movie.
CHRIS LOWELL: To me, it meant Rob had tried every single possible thing and that all that was left was the kind of crazy, Hail Mary idea. To me, there’s no person better fit to do this for the first time than Rob because the show was such an alternative show, such a strange show, that it was perfect for an alternative fundraising platform. It just made sense for that show.
DOHRING: And very youthful too. When you talk about our fanbase, it was when the Internet was sort of catching on, bloggers and that sort of thing. So I think it traveled well when the Kickstarter was launched. And that’s why it traveled so fast and people were able to hear about it very quickly, and we were able to raise the money in the one day that we did.
With that in mind, were you surprised that it the $2 million so quickly?
LOWELL: I was definitely surprised.
DOHRING: There’s no way we thought we would raise that kind of money. And even beyond that, why do people keep donating? That was the biggest thing I didn’t understand. It was like, “Here’s $2 million”; “Okay, we’re going to make the movie,”; “No, wait. I want to donate more,” and we raised like $5.7 million. And I’m like, “What are people thinking? We’re still going to make the movie!”
LOWELL: I called Kristen and Rob the night before, and they were having a panic attack because they suddenly realized this could be a huge public embarrassment if they didn’t raise the money if they didn’t raise the money. So I remember the next day waking up—this is so pathetic—and sending e-mails that said things like, “250 dollars! Yeah! What a great start! We’ve got thirty more days; don’t worry guys.” And then I got a call from Ryan Hansen later that night and he’s like, “We did it!”, and I said, “Did what?”, and he said they raised all the money an hour ago. Then it became real. It was really exciting.
DOHRING: Right, like he said we were going to shoot it in L.A. now, which was great because Kristen has her baby, and we’re going to be here, we’re all from L.A., we can have palm trees in the back of our shots instead of in Louisiana or in Vancouver or anything like that because of the beach vibe, even though Neptune is sort of this fictitious place, was sort of our backdrop. This noir, beach-cool environment.
But we got to shoot in the Edison in downtown L.A., which has that feel of a dark sort of bar. It will continue with the theme of our show with how we even shot it in L.A. because were down in San Diego for the actual show. It does feel like a movie while still being our show.
LOWELL: I think something people fail to realize is when people thought, “Oh, $2 million is this small thing, but if I can get it up to $5 or 6 million, then it will be giant!” And a $5.7 million movie by studio standards is a very small movie still. So what we were able to accomplish with such a tight budget to me is just awe-inspiring because it’s a big product. It feels so much bigger than it was.
DOHRING: It was about the same speed, it felt like. We were shooting about 6 or 7 pages a day.
LOWELL: We were hauling ass.
DOHRING: Yeah, we were hauling ass. Chris was really on his A-game. He got everything on the first or second take.
LOWELL: Typical. Typical Lowell.
DOHRING: As usual.
LOWELL: “Lowell Two-Takes”. That’s my nickname.
DOHRING: But it felt like more fun than the show because we had extras on the set in the scene with us and we ate lunch with, and they were telling us stories about what the show actually meant to them. Like we had one lady who got engaged, and her husband gave her this as an engagement present where they would come on to set. And we’d have ladies that came in from Hawaii and they’re standing on high heels for 16 hours, and one of them fainted into Chris’ arms because she was so hot.
LOWELL: That’s not why. It’s because she was standing next to me. She may have also been very hot and dehydrated, but that’s neither here nor there.
DOHRING: Yes, so Chris rescued her. And they just thought it was the best experience of their life just to be able to hang out with people—because what you have to understand is that when you do TV, you’re in people’s homes every week. So it’s very one-sided as an actor when they come up to you and say, “Oh my gosh, Hi!”, and they know you, and you don’t know them. And it’s so funny because they’ve experienced your feelings and your emotions and stuff like that and they really connect with that, so it’s such a joy to be on that side of it when someone comes up to you and totally love you without even talking to you a sentence before.
DOHRING: We couldn’t even call them “producers” because after 5,000 investors you are a publicly traded company. So they were just “backers”, which is crazy because we could have been a fucking stock on the stock exchange.
LOWELL: That’s awesome.
They’re trading “Veronica Mars” at two-and-a-half.
DOHRING: 1.2 cents. Chris Lowell is the sole investor. We’re going to make it.
What was it like coming back to these characters after a seven-year absence?
LOWELL: It was fun. It was easier for us than we anticipated because a lot of that is due to Rob’s voice. The way Rob writes, you just say the words on the page and the character comes out of that. He just kind of does a lot of the work for you, which is such a spectacular thing, and such a rare thing to see on the page. It’s rare to find someone who writes as well as he does.
DOHRING: I like the little stuff in between the sentences of what the character says. Like when he says, “This touch feels like…” whatever, and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh! I get that!” From one line to the next, and that makes the jump for you, so your mind doesn’t have to fill in. You can make stuff deeper and more rich and stuff like that, but I think everything feel more natural. You get all the love and the beats in between, and how one moment evolves to the next one. It’s really like Chris said, once you read it you’re like, “I get it, dude.”
Is there one show that’s off the air that you’d like to see come back as a movie.
LOWELL: Yes, we decided it was “Seinfeld vs. Friends“. New York’s not big enough. It’s going to be awesome.