My #VeronicaMars & #WishIWasHere Kickstarter Story
This is my story of how I became a Hollywood Insider, sort of, and helped fund two of the most successful Kickstarter film campaigns in Hollywood history with Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and Zach Braff, ultimately accomplishing our shared mission to #MakeSomedayHappen.
What does #MakeSomedayHappen mean exactly? It means to finally do the things you often dream about doing someday.
Have you ever said:
“I want to do that someday?”
It could be as simple as saying to a friend:
“We should check out that new restaurant someday”
Something creative and ambitious like:
“I want to write a book or make a film someday”
Something adventurous like:
“I want to travel around the world someday”
To something fun, and definitely a bit dorky, like:
“I want to be a Hollywood Insider, attend private movie screenings and hang out with celebrities someday!”
It can be whatever you want. There are so many things we dream about, yet we don’t always make them happen. For you, what you dream of doing “someday” may take many different forms. For me, it undoubtedly always involves at least one or more of the following ingredients: food, wine, travel and friends.
My big sister Carolyn and I loved all things Hollywood. We watched every awards show and talked about how much fun we would have that “someday” when we would attend red carpet movie premieres and private movie screenings. We even tried, during a trip to Los Angeles, to make it in to the Emmy’s red carpet. Looking through binoculars, a mile down the street, catching a glimpse of limos arriving, was as close as we got. That was not quite the Hollywood insider experience we were hoping for! We laughed and vowed to return “someday”.
We had a really fun outing for a local screening of ‘Sex and the City 2’ in 2010. We donned boas and fedoras, sipped cosmos and laughed at the absurdity of it all. It might seem so frivolous, yet the time we shared was priceless. It was not exactly the Hollywood Insider experience we were dreaming of though, so we vowed to try again “someday”.
Two years after this fun night of cosmos and fedoras, she was suddenly gone. That “someday” would never come. I realized our “someday” is not guaranteed. I have now made it my priority to take time to enjoy life with family and friends and do the things we’ve said we wanted to do “someday”.
To #MakeSomedayHappen is not always easy.
Life has a funny way of getting in the way of living, doesn’t it?
Yet, I do firmly believe that it is possible. You can make almost anything you want happen. If you want it bad enough and if you make it a priority, you can do it. You can save money for that trip; you can block time in your calendar to check out that hot new restaurant with friends; you can write that book and make that film you’ve dreamed of; Yes, you can even attend red carpet movie premieres and private screenings to be a Hollywood Insider, sort of.
I accepted that being a true Hollywood Insider wasn’t in the cards for me. However, when I heard about the Veronica Mars movie and the Wish I Was Here Kickstarter campaigns I saw the opportunity to live a bit of that Hollywood insider experience my sister and I had dreamed of, from a slightly different angle. Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and Zach Braff were also open to try something new and unconventional in order to make their “someday” projects happen when, to some critics dismay, they joined Kickstarter.
My Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Experience
In March 2013, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell, launched the most successful film Kickstarter campaign in history to bring their cult-fave TV Show Veronica Mars to the big screen. Since the show went off the air, 8 years prior, they had publicly said they wanted to make this film “someday”. On April 12, 2013, 91,585 “marshmallows”, as fans of the show are known, came together to raise $5.7 million and finally help make their “someday” happen. I was one of those marshmallows, and in so doing I had the opportunity to finally attend a red carpet movie premiere!
We traveled to Los Angeles in March 2014, exactly one year after the Kickstarter was launched, for an incredible week of sightseeing and eating around town. Oh there is so much good food in LA!
The main event though was the Veronica Mars Movie Premiere held at the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now called TCL Chinese Theater), which has seen every major film premiere since Cecil B. De Mille’s The King of Kings in 1927.
I got a chance to get all dressed up and meet the film’s stars, get autographs on the red carpet and then watch the film together with 150 other excited backers.
It was a surreal experience that I shared with my boyfriend Jeff and will never forget. It could have only been made better had I gotten a selfie with Kristen Bell, and had my sister Carolyn been there with us.
I made someday happen! I got my red carpet experience, witnessed the flash of the paparazzi cameras, saw all the stars and all the hustle and bustle and it was all fabulous!
This experience made me realize that in order to #MakeSomedayHappen you have to be ready to jump at the chance when an opportunity presents itself. Had I not clicked the “I accept” button on my computer screen, this once in a lifetime experience would not have happened. Or, it would have, but just without me.
The key to #MakeSomedayHappen is this: you must be flexible and open-minded. The opportunity may not happen exactly how you thought it would, and you need to be ready to recognize that and take action the minute it shows up. If you hesitate, you just might miss it!
My Wish I Was Here Kickstarter Experience
The next “someday” I looked to make happen was for a more exclusive Hollywood insider experience. I’ve always loved film and wanted to know what happens behind the scenes. Of course, getting a chance to casually hang out with the filmmaker before an advanced screening is part of what being an insider is all about, right?
In May 2013, Zach Braff launched his Kickstarter campaign to fund his second film “Wish I Was Here”, 10 years after his indie acclaimed debut Garden State, was released. 46,520 backers raised $3.1 million making it possible for him to make his sophomore film a reality. It’s a story written, together with his big brother Adam, for the thirty and forty-somethings that suddenly find themselves at a crossroads asking the ultimate question “What is my purpose in life?” This is something I can definitely relate to.
The ‘Wish I Was Here’ poster says it best:
“Life is an Occasion. Rise to It”
And, I did. I was one of those people who made this project happen.
Throughout the past year, while the film was being made, Zach Braff and his team provided an in-depth behind the scenes experience, just for us “backers”. We learned through frequent updates and beautifully shot documentary videos about the process of film-making. This was like being a Hollywood insider and going to a mini film school all in one.
Everything I wanted to know about location scouting (all done in or near L.A. – from desert to beach); casting (Braff assembled an all-star cast of Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Donald Faison, Jim Parsons); costumes, hair and makeup (an iconic pink wig and glasses that is unique and amazing in every way); special effects (a flying droid called Jax); song selections (the soundtrack is a combination of catchy, ethereal, soulful, goosebumps inducing songs, especially original songs “So Now What” by The Shins and “Wish I Was Here” by Cat Power and Coldplay); cinematography (breathtaking shots) and many more intricate details that go into making a movie, which in the end, when you watch the final product, you don’t even realize are all there (and that’s a good thing).
All you see in Wish I Was Here is a soul-stirring film that was both beautiful to look at and listen to”.
The updates we received in our in-boxes were frequent reminders of our Hollywood Insider status. They were funny in a way that, if you follow Zach Braff, you would recognize. I even got a (somewhat) personal thank you from Zach himself in the video introducing the trailer, which certainly made me chuckle and also made me feel like I was part of something bigger. A community of dreamers and dream makers.
In June 2014, we flew to San Francisco, another wonderful city for great sightseeing and food adventures. I purposefully picked cities for these Kickstarter events that had a lot to offer the food lover in me! I will be sharing posts about all the fabulous food I discovered and my #MustEat list of San Francisco at a a later date – but on to the important part – the main event I had been waiting for.
My chance to be a Hollywood Insider and finally attend a private screening where I would hob-nob (do people still say hob-nob?!) with the filmmaker had finally arrived. I was fretting over what I would say when (or if) I got a chance to talk to Zach Braff. I worried about saying something lame, which as you can suspect I did, and it involved sandwiches! You can read all about that embarrassing and hilarious encounter in the guest post I did for my friend Biggie’s blog Deli Fresh Threads.
During the event, held at local sports bar Jillian’s, which has the biggest TV screens I have ever seen (perfect for the World Cup games earlier that day), Zach mingled with the 25 backers and their guests over beers, cocktails and a varied display of spinach dip, Caprese skewers, hoagies, wings and more. I sampled it all except for the spinach dip. I did not want to risk an embarrassing moment being caught with spinach in my teeth! (Oh my! You know that would likely happen to me, right?)
After I recovered from my lame yet, funny and possibly (hopefully) original intro, thankfully sans spinach in my teeth, I chatted with him about the Wish I Was Here experience. I immediately sensed his genuine gratitude for everyone that helped him achieve his dream to make this movie the way he wanted to. We laughed about a recent “Weekend at Bernie’s-esque incident that happened while he was performing on Broadway (He is currently starring in Bullets Over Broadway). Only he could get away with sending a red bull to a sleeping patron in the front row! He is in fact a nice guy. No Hollywood falseness, no publicist whisking him away, no entourage, unless of course, you count his mom, brothers, sister, niece and nephew all being there to support him. It’s refreshing when you meet someone in person and they are as nice as you thought they were. That doesn’t always happen.
I then got a chance to meet big brother Adam Braff and his wife, the nicest and most down to earth people you could meet. They shared how some of the themes in the movie mimicked their life. They too have a son and daughter about the same age as the children in the film; he is the creative aspiring artist and she is the matriarch that keeps the family going. I was inspired by his determination as a writer. He mentioned he had written 17 screenplays with this one being the first to actually make it to the big screen! He had similar experience with TV pilots being shelved never to see the light of day. It was surprising to hear this because so often, us non-Hollywood insiders, assume that it is easy to have a project made when you have name recognition.
Chatting with his wife was like we had known each other for years. We talked about our made up swear words that we use around children and she shared how she convinced her kids into using the thumb as the “cursing finger”. Priceless! I will have to remember that next time someone cuts me off in traffic! I also realized we had something in common. The family was very excited about their red carpet premiere experience in L.A. the night before.
Both Kickstarter campaigns were a wonderful experience for me, from beginning to end. Seeing someone’s dream come to life and knowing that you had a small part in making it happen is an amazing feeling, no matter whether they are a famous celebrity or not. Kickstarter, the crowd-funding platform, allows you the opportunity to do just that. If you have the chance, I encourage you to check it out and find projects that you love.
In these cases, I funded two high-profile projects with known celebrities. Some have said Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and Zach Brafff, who are bona-fide Hollywood stars, don’t need our help and shouldn’t use this platform intended for indie artists. However, to me they showed they are human beings, with dreams, like the rest of us, that are not always possible to achieve via conventional methods. It also showed the power of a community of fans to come together and get behind something, or someone, they believe in. If the fans want it, they will pay for it. If they don’t, they won’t. It’s pretty simple.
I have also backed other projects by non-famous folks, such as the documentary “Far From Home” about a young snowboarder from Africa reconnecting with his family roots while pursuing his Olympic dreams. His story is remarkable and I can’t wait to see it unfold. Each project I support for different reasons. However, all of them help me accomplish my mission to #MakeSomedayHappen.
Wish I Was Here opens in wide release in the US and Canada this weekend. I encourage you to go see it. It is the story of Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor, husband and father trying to find his purpose in life. The title alludes to how often we are dreaming/planning for the future instead of being in the present. It’s a story of self-discovery, family, spirituality, love and trust that was funny, heartfelt and moving. The scenes with Mandy Patinkin, who plays the role of Zach’s father, absolutely clenched my heart as I had just lost my dad a few weeks prior to seeing the film. I cried and smiled throughout the movie. It reminded me of how precious the time we have together with our loved ones truly is. It made me appreciate all the special moments I shared with my sister and my dad before they passed away. It also made me long for those “somedays” we didn’t get to share.
A quote from the film truly touched me in a powerful scene between Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin:
Nothing in life will call upon us to be more courageous than facing the fact that life ends, but on the other side of heartbreak is wisdom”
I have learned it is in fact what we do after tragedy strikes that truly defines us. We can choose to wallow in darkness and sadness or we can choose to live in light and happiness with those that are still with us. I chose the latter. This doesn’t mean I don’t get sad, because I do. And in those moments of sadness is when I am most grateful for the special times we shared together.
My mission is to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip & trip at a time! I hope to inspire you to do the same with your family and friends. Enjoy today, for someday may never come.
Don’t forget to check out my first guest blog post on the Deli Fresh Threads blog to find out about my embarrassing introduction to Zach Braff.