Veronica Mars is closer to staging her comeback.
The movie spinoff of the teen television drama — which recently made waves in Hollywood after creator Rob Thomas launched the biggest film fundraising campaign in Kickstarter history — wrapped production in downtown Los Angeles early Tuesday.
The untitled movie, set for release next year, updates the story of the “Veronica Mars” TV series, about a student investigator who solves mysteries with the help of her father. The series ended in 2007 after three seasons on UPN and the CW.
Although the TV show had low ratings, it had a cult following. Fans lobbied for its return and played a pivotal role in “Veronica's” big-screen debut.
This year more than 90,000 backers helped Thomas raise a staggering $5.7 million through the Kickstarter crowd-funding site, illustrating how social media is changing the way movies are being made. The total easily surpassed the $2-million goal Thomas needed to raise for Warner Bros. to make the movie and spurred other filmmakers to seek Kickstarter funding.
The “Veronica Mars” movie campaign enticed donors with prizes — fans who contributed $35 could get a copy of the script, a digital copy of the film and a T-shirt. About 100 donors got to visit the set, appearing as extras, mingling with stars and crew members to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made. A Canadian businessman who contributed $10,000 to the project even got a line in the movie as a waiter.
Other fans attended a panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where producers showed brief footage from the movie.
In the film, which was permitted under the name “AKA” to avert paparazzi, Kristen Bell reprises her role as Veronica, now a New York City lawyer, who returns to her hometown of Neptune, Calif., for a high school reunion.
“This was a challenging and ambitious shoot, but was undergirded by this joy of being able to reunite the cast,” said Dan Etheridge, a producer on the film and TV show.
Many of the roughly 65 crew members had worked on the original TV series and were grateful to the fans for their financial support, said Danielle Stokdyk, Etheridge's producing partner on the film and an executive producer on the TV show.
“We had people who sat behind the monitors and hung out with us for two hours,” she said. “They were so excited and happy to be on the set. We did everything we could to make sure their experience was special.”
The “Veronica Mars” movie was shot at 28 locations in just 23 days, filming on location rather than on soundstages to avoid the cost of building sets.
“It was a tough show,” said location manager Caleb Duffy, who also was a location manager for “Hitchcock” and “The Artist.” “We covered a lot of ground with a lot of expensive, quality locations that we were able to get into.”
Although the TV series was filmed in San Diego, the movie was shot in the Los Angeles area. The Santa Monica Pier, the Vincent Thomas Bridge crossing the Los Angeles Harbor and the Edison at the historic Higgins Building downtown are some of the landmark locations used.
On Monday and early Tuesday, the crew filmed various nighttime scenes in the arts district in downtown L.A., including a gunfire scene under the 6th Street Bridge, according to a permit filed with FilmL.A. Inc. The production also spent a week in Long Beach.
“With independent films, you always have a passion for your project, but you're never sure if the audience will be there or not,” Etheridge said. “But to go into something buoyed by the fact that you have an audience for it already, and that they've expressed their love in advance, it just made it fun.”