There are fans, and then there are stans – the rabid zealots who spend 12 months creating detailed replicas of a fantasy world out of Legos, or those who make it their mission to cook every single food mentioned in their favorite series, or who camp outside for hours in a blizzard in hopes of maybe getting a ticket to see the object of their devotion perform.
Steven Dengler, the man who pledged $10,000 to Rob Thomas’s Veronica Mars movie on Kickstater today, is… not one of those people, at least where Veronica is concerned. “I’m not a superfan in the sense of knowing every line from every episode or anything like that,” he told EW during a phone interview this afternoon. “In fact,” he continued, “if you put me in with your average group of superfans, I’d probably get bounced pretty quickly… I would call myself a small-f ‘fan’ of the series.”
Dengler is, however, a superfan of something else: crowdfunding itself. A wealthy entrepreneur – he co-founded XE.com, a currency site that ranks among Alexa’s top 500 most popular webpages globally – he’s also an active philanthropist who has backed some 65 projects on Kickstarter, contributing to projects including videogames and an engineering set designed for girls.
“What I love about Kickstarter is it really is empowering the artists, the people who create content, to go directly to the fan base and say, ‘Look, let’s skip this baloney,’” he said, referring to the old-fashioned method of finding financiers who may demand creative control in exchange for funds. “Let’s just make it and not involve this crazy stupid layer of people who think they know what you want.”
Clearly, fans agree with Dengler’s philosophy – the Veronica Mars movie raised more than $1.3 million in about six hours, a total that broke a Kickstarter record and continues to climbing by the minute. The film’s biggest single investor guesses that its budget will soon exceed its goal of $2 million, much like the CRPG game Torment (which Dengler also backed). And this money will come in addition to whatever the cult series’ stars like Kristen Bell and creator Rob Thomas pitch in themselves. “My experience with self-financed production is, ‘Don’t worry, they’ll be kicking in,’” he said, noting the “piles and piles of invisible costs” that crop up during a project like this.
Soon enough, then, Dengler could find himself reaping the reward that his $10,000 entitles him to – a speaking role in the Veronica Mars movie itself. Well, as long as his schedule permits: “I’m really busy, and I travel a lot,” he noted. “I do have a day job which takes up my attention, so ironically, this might be something I won’t even be able to do in the end. I may have to nominate one of my friends to do it in my place.” Note to actual Veronica Mars superfans: Make friends with Steven Dengler ASAP.