By Erik "PK" Blackwell
We were recently contacted by kindred-spirits from the newly formed Space Opera Society (SOS), a Montreal-Canada based group of science fiction enthusiasts and professionals from Hollywood who’ve undertaken a journey and joined the ranks of other industry pros that have broken away from major studios and networks. Tired of big-corporate dictating how TV-shows and movies play out simply for the marketing dollars, SOS tells the “suits” to get lost and make way for a new generation of storytellers.
They, like many fans have felt the disappointment and heartbreak when their beloved characters and storylines are taken away or turned into something else over time because of greed and shortsightedness by those at the top of the corporate structure.
You may be thinking this sounds familiar, and it’s not entirely a new concept. Early last year, Hollywood legends Marc Scott Zicree, Doug Drexler, and Neil Johnson, formed an ambitious venture called Space Command, with the intent of making a series of 1950’s styled Hollywood quality space movies without the big studio interference. As of this writing the movies are still in development, but we’re eagerly looking forward to the results.
Space Command and SOS have one thing in common, kicking the “suits” out of the room and letting those who create the content have full and total control. One major example that SOS cites, is the cancellation of the popular rebooted sci-fi television series “V,” which ran from 2009-2011. The show was removed from the airwaves reportedly by a shortsighted network executive over low ratings, despite the fact the show had just hit a major arc in the storyline.
SOS has taken their mission even further by becoming a fully not-for-profit operation, focusing all of their time and money into producing the highest quality content. It’s additionally felt that by being not-for-profit, fans will enjoy the transparency of the operations, and feel more comfortable with donating and interacting.
Adding to the mix are acting and production professionals such as Armin Shimmerman, Vic Mignogna, Kevin Sorbo, Michele Specht, and Nick Tate. Helping SOS further unite those who like them, are simply wanting to create and share the types of Space Opera stories that have inspired us all.
Not limiting themselves to just television and movie formats, SOS is taking on the publishing world with its desire to produce space opera novels like those created similarly to the typical TV-tie-in paperbacks that were published in the 60s/70s/80s for SF shows like Star Trek, Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, and Buck Rogers. So far they haven’t touched the world of radio, and psst, hey guys, that’s our shtick, let us handle it
Even though SOS is a fresh start-up, officially debuting on September 13, 2013 – They already have many shows under development, including: The Rock- 60 minute drama series, Royce Bannion- 30 minute Comedy drama series, Conquest of the Stars- 30 minute drama series, The Terror Formers- Horror TV movie, Starlight- 30 minute Comedy series, Space Opera Society Presents- Anthology series, and what even appears to be a sequel to the TV series “Space: 1999,” titled “Moonbase Alpha: Legacy.”
Can it get better? SOS want’s to be much more than just a producer of high quality science fiction. They’re attempting to become the central hub of the space opera universe, giving professionals and fans alike a single place to join together online and further the cause of this art-form. Fan-members/supporters will even be permitted to directly vote on shows, participating in the creation and development process of all content produced by the society. “Our projects are viewer-supported and viewer-invested, and as long as viewers want our shows to continue, they will. S.O.S. supports a ‘No Suits Allowed’ mentality.”
When a production company allows this level of fan involvement, it begs the question, will they accept fan work? The initial answer at the moment seems to be “no,” as they state in their FAQ: “S.O.S. will produce exciting new content. However, as part of our mission we are interested in optioning the rights to select classic franchises to continue the best of-yesteryear stories for today’s audience.”
Don’t give up just yet! They are allowing people to audition for their growing team, and who knows, you may just have the skills to help the society thrive and prosper! The society also tackles another issue, in that they don’t want to be thought of as producer of a web-series. Considering “web-series” to be simple short videos, whereas SOS will be broadcasting their productions via Transmedia. This will initially consist of streaming in HD through television, online, on-demand, and various Smart-devices. SOS created shows will be done so with special global licensing to allow easier distribution to television networks across the planet.
Launch of the Space Opera Society
By adopting a crowdfunding mode of financing, and a transparent business model, SOS will go where few production companies have gone before. In this regard, SOS is inspired by New York’s Metropolitan Opera, as the MET Members (fans and opera lovers), and SOS donors (fans and enthusiasts of traditional sci-fi shows), know that their investment will be used for production, and profits will be reinvested in the development and production of new projects.
SOS can also count on an outstanding team of international talent who have worked on such cult series as Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Stargate, and more. SOS is launching its campaign on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, and will be live at the Montreal Comiccon to meet fans of the genre in person.
This is a pivotal moment in time for the entertainment industry, especially with the explosive growth of internet based shows, and big players from the world of Hollywood making an exodus to the indie-world of film and television development. The message is spreading, that artists and fans are standing united and saying they’re more interested in telling a fantastic story, and not record breaking profits.
If you’re like us and love a good space opera, then join in and help give these folks a chance to boldly go where Hollywood is too scared to trek.