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'Veronica Mars' creator Rob Thomas talks from the movie set
Plenty of 'pinch me' moments in the Kickstarter-funded revival
Day 3 of the “Veronica Mars” movie shoot found Rob Thomas battling mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was directing this improbable project, which had been funded by a groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign that brought his detective character back to life six years after the CW canceled the TV series, and on this day in June was going to be filming Kristen Bell in a variety of iconic Veronica shots as she took surveillance photos of the apartment of Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter, one of many alums of the series to return for the movie). On the other hand, he was still reeling from the previous night’s NBA Finals Game 6, where his beloved San Antonio Spurs blew a championship-winning game in the closing moments(*).
(*) Despite my reassuring words to Thomas below, the Spurs would go on to lose Game 7 as well, and the title.
As I sat down with Thomas in his production trailer to discuss what it felt like now that the movie was a reality (it will be released on March 14), he was first distracted by thoughts of Spurs-Heat.
So third day, how are you feeling?
Rob Thomas: Great, with the exception that my life ended last night when the Spurs lost.
Rob Thomas: We were at lunch, which for this production wound up being 8:00 last night, and going down the elevator back to base camp, the Spurs took the lead. We were up five inside of a minute. I was already allowing myself to celebrate. There's never been a more painful loss that I have witnessed. Literally I just kept hitting refresh on my phone. I was obliterated. I had to leave lunch. I had to go back and just sit in the empty set and try to gather myself to direct the second half of the night. I live and die with the Spurs. And to be seconds away from an improbable championship – I'm wrecked.
One, it's not over yet; the entire series has gone back and forth. No one has won two in a row. And two, you're filming the “Veronica Mars” movie, man.
Rob Thomas: I know. And I am thrilled about that. And yesterday was a great day. It was a great day. The first day was the usual first day; everyone meeting each other and you're thrown right into battle and it's always a little challenging. And then yesterday we wrapped early; I was thrilled with material. Yesterday was a pretty seamless so I'm hoping that we roll off a few more of those days. When you build a schedule, I think it’s always good for the director to line up a bunch of the easy days first. For me and what I'm used to and where my comfort zone is, it's like, ‘Let's have dialogue scenes with Veronica and Keith. Let's have our go-to actors and two people talking scenes. That I can do.’ But we shoot the climax of the movie tomorrow night and that's complicated. And then we shoot the reunion scenes, which are long and complicated and fight scenes and it gets outside of my comfort zone on directing and what I've done before and understanding special effects.
What was the first shot on Monday?
Rob Thomas: The first shot on Monday was drunk Canadians singing the Canadian National Anthem at karaoke. Because initially it was supposed to be “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, but that would cost us half the budget of the movie. So we went with the public domain song “O Canada.” And then it became actually funny to me. It allowed me to make a Terrance and Phillip joke. If I'm going to save some money, the karaoke intro to that scene was a good place to do it.
I suppose you could have reopened the Kickstarter to pay for the song.
Rob Thomas: I know. I spoke at the new ATX Festival, and a lot of questions were on “What were you able to do?” and “Where did you have to make compromises?” And I said one of the things that I just lost that I'd been hoping to do was I really wanted it raining when Veronica returned to Neptune. And she arrived in sort of a municipal airport thing, soft of like a Palm Springsie style airport. And it would play off of the last shot of the series, with Veronica in the rain, and I wanted her to step back into it, and at a certain point try to make budget work. We saved $35,000 by not having the rain shots that I wanted. And the moderator at the panel was like, “Would you like us to pass a hat?,” which was a pretty funny moment.
At this point it's this great story, but is there any way in which it becomes a burden? Like everyone's thinking, “You raised all this money from the people, we expect so much”?
Rob Thomas: There's some of that. The example that I've used so much in talking about the movie, just because it gets into the specifics about shooting hours and cost, is this reunion brawl. I jokingly said if we just climb over the $2 million mark, it will be terse words are exchanged at the reunion. And if we go over that, we'll actually have a brawl. And we are going to have a brawl, but at the same time, you know, when they shoot fight scenes in “The Matrix,” they're shooting those over weeks. They're shooting a half page a day on those. We are going to shoot a brawl in about five/six hours. So it will look more like — the prototype I'm using is like the brawl from “Mean Streets.” There will be a lot of grappling and people jumping in and wild punches, but it won't look like ballet. It won't have that sort of every punch choreographed.