Who’s ready for a new science fiction TV series? A good one. Yes, we are, too! So, we’re excited to discover the Starfall project, which has already filmed its pilot. The series stars Damien Puckler (Meisner, from the hit series Grimm), Ellen Dubin (Giggerota from the series Lexx, as well as roles in Earth: Final Conflict, and Abraxas), Andrew Jackson (Stargate SG 1), and Daytime Emmy-award-winning actor, Bill Oberst, Jr. (Take This Lollipop and Criminal Minds).
The series, created by John Ellis, is set in a post-apocalyptic version of our Sol system. The apocalypse came in the form of a race of aliens who conquered Earth and raided humanity (and some other alien races) for slaves. Eventually the alien Empire underwent political reform, choosing to style itself a benevolent republic, rather than a conquering empire, so the slaves are declared free. In practice, however, this “freedom” is anything but complete, as both humans and other
alien races who were formerly enslaved are now tossed haphazardly back into the world as freedmen, and the world doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Humanity is more or less divided into three sets at this point: the ones who wish to revolt against the republic and get the conquering aliens out of the Sol system altogether; the ones who are content to assimilate into this new, blended society; and the ones who just have no idea what to do.
Krypton Radio got a chance to ask Ellis and Puckler a few questions about the project. Ellis told us, “Starfall will offer fans a new sci-fi space epic, intimately told through real people, not always doing the right things. Flawed actions with real consequences, against an infinite backdrop. Too, we’re striving for a higher production standard that hasn’t been seen before in independent streaming content.”
The action is set on a ship, the Ardri Jennet, which patrols the boundaries of the Sol system and tries to ensure that the freedmen are actually, you know, free. She is captained by William Hunter (played by Damien Puckler). Puckler told us, “Hunter is a tormented soul who began his life with true ideals and has seen them challenged and destroyed. He would easily chose to live in solitude, far away from any other beings, but life always throws him back into the position of responsibility … to be a leader, to take charge and make vital decisions. It’s that inner conflict between his idealistic compassionate heart and his experience of the real world and how to approach it, that makes the character truly captivating.”
His crew are an assortment of races and ideologies, which makes for plenty of potential for drama and excitement. Ellis gave us a sneak peek at the personalities. “Hanso Baash (played by Bill Oberst Jr.) is a brilliant engineer with extremely low self-esteem. Throughout the show he will come up with solutions to insurmountable problems, never once thinking
they’ll work — even after they do. This lack of confidence comes from being raised among a people (he’s of a race called the Quulsa) dominated by females, where males have no rights and are little more than sperm donors. He’s a bit of a rebel by even being aboard the Jenny, but constantly frazzled by self-doubt.
“Shingh-ah (played by Ellen Dubin), is one of the last members of her race (the Selsky), who have been hunted to extinction because of a singular ability they have (no, I’m not going to tell you!). She’s aboard the Jenny to hide in plain sight–she’s determined to stay off everyone’s radar for her own protection. Yet she is bonded to the crew, and will fight for them and with them against every foe.”
We asked Ellis what inspired him in writing Starfall. He said, “I take inspirations from almost anything. Tolkien to Alien; Dumas and Verne; Michael Connelly and Elmore Leonard. Pink Floyd, Rush and the Moody Blues. My own life has been a wealth of insight and thematic ideas. And my faith is always present and guiding me.”
Puckler said, “I have always been a huge fan of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and the like. Starfall embodies all of these and more. It’s the ultimate sci-fi opera with deeply developed characters … each battling their own
inner conflicts while dealing with life as a crew member of the Ardri Jennet. It’s a fascinating scenario with fascinating stories!”
What’s it like to go from working on a network series to an independent production? What’s the biggest difference? “Money! Network series simply have more money available.” Puckler replied. “That, however, also puts them in a chokehold of what’s popular. Smaller productions always strive for a bigger budget, but the financial shortcomings are overcome by creativity. More and more smaller shows are being made that are challenging what is out there. Smaller productions are able to create characters and storylines that are not always politically correct and/or are pushing the envelope! It think that is extremely exciting as an actor and even more as an audience.”
Where will Starfall be available? Ellis says, “Our original plan is to self-distribute online, and build a fan base large enough to support our continued independence. Even should a deal be offered by a third party, we’re determined to maintain creative control.”
Starfall has already succeeded in completing filming on its pilot. It’s currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the post-production work needed to make Starfall the masterpiece it’s meant to be. Now that principal filming is complete, the episode is awaiting editing, music and special effects. Ellis says that crowd-funding the work will allow greater creative control, and will also get the series in front of fans in half the time of a traditionally funded project. Donors get some pretty cool perks, including a walk-on role (at the $10,000 level), an Ardri Jennet uniform (at the $3,000 level), and loads of other goodies for smaller donations! The Starfall Kickstarter ends on Sunday, December 21, 2014.