Why The Veronica Mars Movie Will Help All Women
5:18 pm, March 17th | by Meredith Lepore
Last week history was made. More than 30,000 fans of the cult favorite television series Veronica Mars pledged $2 million in a single day (10 hours actually)— to finance an independent film based on the UPN teen drama starring Kristen Bell. According to The LA Times, this is the biggest film campaign in Kickstarter history, and the fastest to reach the $1-million benchmark. It “represents a milestone in Hollywood moviemaking economics. It demonstrates that devoted fan communities can rally to support projects that mainstream studios might otherwise reject.” People are saying “This is the day that Kickstarter went mainstream.” This will impact the way film passion projects are funded (I think it is only a matter of time before we see Alias: The Movie) going forward. But in addition to that this is great news for female entrepreneurs and strong female role models on screen.
First of all, Veronica Mars the character was just plain awesome. A modern day Nancy Drew but instead of just solving mysteries for fun in a perfectly pleated skirt, Veronica was fighting for the high school underdogs. And yes Veronica came after Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed us that girls could kick butt and still get mushy over boys and wear platform sandals, but Veronica was doing that without super strength. She was using her mind. Jessica Roake of Slate wrote:
“Rob Thomas loves women (and not in the creepy, Brent Ratner sense). Like Joss Whedon before him, Thomas built a show around a strong, independent young blond navigating an unfair world and fighting the forces of evil. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that often means, you know, vampires. InVeronica Mars, it’s the entitled rich kids of Neptune High, arguably scarier and less sympathetic than vampires.
In this frankly unjust world, in which the rich and powerful get away with everything from school election rigging to murder, Veronica rights wrongs for the underdogs with a righteous anger and scathing wit, armed only with moxie, a talent for disguise, and, very occasionally, a Taser. She’s a complex, multidimensional character with great strengths and vulnerabilities, a trope-resistant heroine. This isn’t just academic: As a detective, Veronica continually plays on people’s low expectations of women—acting the ditsy cheerleader, the hysterical damsel in distress—in order to solve the case.”
This is also great news for female filmmakers. According to a new study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, only 9% of directors of the top 250 grossing Hollywood films in 2012 were women. For every Kathryn Bigelow, there is, well, no one else. This effect has been coined as the “celluloid ceiling.”
But more independent female filmmakers are turning to Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites. Producer Lydia Dean Pilcher, who led one of these campaigns for an independent film called, The Sisterhood of Night, wrote in a blog post:
“Despite our passion–having a first time feature director and deeply female material, and a teen cast with no vampires–we found it hard to gain traction with the conventional ways of financing. It’s no surprise that women are more likely to green light women’s pictures, have more confidence in women directors, and be more interested in stories about female characters. The scarcity of women at the top of the business-end of the film industry could have a lot to do with the fact that women made up only 5 percent of directors in Hollywood in 2011.
With crowd funding, audiences now have a vehicle to push back as well. Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites provide an opportunity for individuals to influence the development of independent film projects at the ground level, and give these films the momentum they need to go into or finish production, with or without Hollywood’s consent. Audiences can vote with their dollars and contribute to the development of projects, rather than just be mere consumers at the end of the line.”
Research shows that when the number of women in behind the camera roles increases, so do the roles for women in front of the camera and so does the content interesting to women and girls worldwide.
Looks like Veronica Mars saved the day again.