Interview: Nathan Blackwell “The Whole Crew is Full of Geeks”
Julian Barnes
Apr 30, 2013 (Modified: May 1, 2013)

Voyage Trekkers is a fantastic example of what a lifelong love of science fiction and a talented bunch of filmmakers can produce. Today we speak to writer, director and co-creator Nathan Blackwell to discuss the show and get the low down on what to expect from season 2 which launches May 1st.

For those who’ve never seen Voyage Trekkers before, what’s it all about?

Voyage Trekkers is a sci-fi comedy about the worst crew in the galaxy.  The story world is similar to Star Trek, but different enough that it gives us the latitude to draw on other sci-fi shows and situations.  Our crew are the bottom of the barrel, representing the Galactic Union in the oldest ship in their fleet, as they get into sci-fi situations and royally screw them up.  It’s been described as Galaxy Quest meets It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Originally the series was intended as just six episodes, were you surprised by the reaction from the audience?

I was not surprised as much as energised and encouraged.  As a filmmaker you want to make things that people love.  And more than anything else I had made, and by now I’ve made a lot of stuff, there was a real excitement from the feedback.  People were getting hooked into the characters and the world.  We had even decided to round the series out to ten episodes before we had even shown it to an audience because we too were hooked by the project.

vt1

What was the biggest challenge filming the first season?

For the first season the biggest challenge was the learning curve of making a web series.  What are the best practices for releasing content?  How do we publicise and get the word out about our show?  There was a lot of trial and error in working in this new medium, which continues to change and develop.  But if I had to pick one challenge in particular, becoming my own publicist was the hardest.  I’m naturally not a promoter, so talking about myself and my show was initially very difficult and draining.  Ha ha, it’s become easier but still zaps my life force like nothing else!

What got you into filmmaking?

I grew up with movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars, and to me movies were magic.  More than anything else they made me want to create worlds full of adventures.  World building is one of the things I enjoy the most, where you get to invent an entire ensemble of characters, and planets, and rules that govern that world.

Do you think science fiction as a genre is only just being embraced by online filmmakers?

There’s less spacey sci-fi movies in theaters these days, that’s for sure, but I think largely because they’ve been cycled out and replaced by the superhero and “magic” movies, which in a certain way are kind of siblings to sci-fi.  For web series, the sci-fi genre is extremely popular because that’s what a lot of filmmakers were raised on.  We grew up wanting to channel our inner Star Trek and Star Wars and the web series is a way of creating that sandbox for us to play in.  Heaven knows the day may never come that Paramount Studios cuts us a check for 120 million bucks to make the stories we have in our head, so a lot of us are doing it on the cheap and getting it out there whatever way we can.

vt4

Making a good movie spoof is becoming a dying art, is the future of parody online?

I think so.  Especially when you have the advantage of telling shorter parodies with online video.  You don’t have to make and develop full two hour feature parody with hundreds of ideas, instead you can just tell a two minute version of one or two ideas you had on why Bane was goofy, or why Inception made no sense.  Sorry, Christopher Nolan, no offense intended … Those were just the first two things that popped into my head.

The season 1 finale was something quite special, what made you opt for the choose your own adventure style multiple endings?

We had done some text-based choose your own adventures on our Facebook page with our fans (shameless plug – facebook.com/voyagetrekkers), and it just popped into my head that that’s how we could do something special to close the season on.  It turned out to be a huge undertaking, even though the audience only gets two moments to choose the path of the story, that meant we had to make four endings and a total of seven videos.  We won’t be doing that again for Season 2, not because it was too hard, but because I found something that I thought would top it, which is to actually make the last four episodes of season a four-parter.  And because we get three episodes to ramp up with, the season finale this year is going to be bigger in terms of both action, character, and story.

vt2

David Stipes has worked on some iconic TV shows, how did your collaboration with him come about?

Yes, David’s awesome.  He’s worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, the original Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers, and he’s been a tremendous asset to the show.  I actually met him through his son, Nathan Stipes, who is our Production Designer on the show, and who I worked with on projects before Voyage Trekkers.  David teaches VFX at the Art Institute of Phoenix, and he was actually chomping at the bit to get his hands dirty again with some effects.

You’re all clearly big fans of the genre, who is the biggest geek in the group?

Probably me, in my own way.  I don’t cosplay or buy action figures, but I’m the movie geek who forces his friends to go on midnight screenings.  But yeah, the whole crew is full of geeks, which is great.

Would the known universe fall into a black hole if James T Kirk and Captain Sunstrike were to meet or would they end up fighting it out for the hot alien woman’s phone number?

I think Shatner should play Sunstrike’s legendary grandfather, that sounds great!  But if the characters did meet, let’s not forget that Kirk is still the best at what he does and Sunstrike is the worst, so I’d love to see Sunstrike try to go to crazy, horrible ends to top him in any situation they were in, and Kirk is just like Chuck Norris or “The Most Interesting Man In The World”, where everything comes to him so easily.

You guys finally got round to finishing Normally this Weird, how did it feel to get that completed?

Well we haven’t finished editing it yet, ha ha, but yes it feels great to have it in the can.  We actually finished filming our first web series, Normally This Weird, between Season 1 and Season 2 of Voyage Trekkers.  It’s been a long time coming, and this is an exclusive, but we’re aiming to have the new episodes premiere this Halloween on October 31st.

vt3

What can we expect from season 2?

With Season 2 we’re really raising the bar in terms of visual effects, production design, but most importantly story.  This Season we’re going to get to know who these characters are, spend more time with them, see what they’re made of, and they’re going to go on bigger adventures than ever before as they become more desperate to make a name for themselves.

What’s next from you and Squishy Studios?

We love embracing both genres that we love (zombies, spies, adventure serials) and adding our own comedic point of view to them, so expect more of that kind of fun and more of Voyage Trekkers!

For all the latest news, behind the scenes videos and updates be sure to check out the Voyage Trekkers website and follow them on Twitter @VoyageTrekkers.

Creator Feed (beta)

  • I Guess That Fortune Cookie Was Right: Danny Zappin Buys NewMediaRockstars
  • Thanks for the Memories – NMR Senior Class 2013
  • Check Out YouTube Space LA, Its Huge New Space For Local Video Creators
  • Baby Names – A Comedy Sketch from Whitney Avalon
  • McDonald’s Training Video Pops Up On YouTube, Ruins Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ [VIDEO]
  • Hulu Off the Market, Will Get $750 Million Cash Infusion
  • I liked it better when it was called Army of Darkness
  • Web Series Review Talks Slebisodes
  • Creating Your Next Channel Just Got a Lot Easier
  • The Slow, Impending, And Painful Death Of Basic Cable
  • Are Current YouTube Vlogging Styles Getting Tired? [VIDEO]
  • YouTube Opens Its Partner Program to Advertisers This Fall
  • Jack Black’s Tenacious D Ready To Make Best Web Series In The World
  • 10 Things Creators Should Know About the Latest Study on YouTube’s Top Channels
  • 5 Tips for Effective YouTube Descriptions
  • Koldcast TV Pulls The Plug on Their Terrible Crowd-Funding Campaign
  • MARGARET CHO SIGNS WITH MAKER STUDIOS TO PRODUCE WEB SERIES ‘IN TRANSITION’
  • The Actress Diaries – Season 2 is 20% Funded After First Week
  • Kickstarter is Not a Charity
  • ISSA RAE INTERVIEW: WRITER, PRODUCER & DIRECTOR
  • Dutch Gordon is Watching: Bad Lip Reading
  • Comedy Central Launches Stand Up App So You Can Watch All Your Favorite Comedians And Discover New Ones
  • Dutch Gordon is Watching: Veronica Osorio’s Character Reel
  • Dutch Gordon is Watching: L.B. RAYNE – WHERE NO MAN’S BEEN BEFORE
  • YouTube Triples Mobile Sales Amid Wireless Shift
  • Meet Your “On The Rise” Nominees for June
  • YouTube Rolls out New “One Channel” Design to All Its Channels
  • Maker Studios To Launch Online Video Platform To Compete With YouTube