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Sci-Fi Television Entertainment

Finding Independently Produced TV Shows? 151

bornagainpenguin writes "Slashdot recently reported that Stargate Universe was canceled, taking with it yet another of the vanishingly smaller network Sci-Fi shows to watch on TV. In the comments of that story someone mentioned Pioneer One as an alternative to traditional network series. I'm downloading it now and looking forward to seeing it, but I'm wondering what else is available that is independently produced and has a greater emphasis on plot and actually finishing the story? I'm already a fan of efforts like Batman: City of Scars, Starwreck: In the Pirkinning, and Star Trek: Phase II so I know that great things are possible, I just don't know where to find them! Can you help by making some recommendations?"
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Finding Independently Produced TV Shows?

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  • If you fix those links then you have a few right there.
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

    So is that not Scifi network now just wrestling?
    They might as well just go ahead and brand it as a network for overly butch homosexuals.

    • Don't forget their plethora of B-class [wikipedia.org] horror films. The Sci-Fi Channel wasn't well managed even before it changed its name to look more like an STD [wikipedia.org]. Talk about a network that doesn't "get it."

      They need help. Revolutionary vision -grade help. If Comedy Central and Food Network could do it, there's no reason SyFy can't ... but that's not to say it's easy. With this genre, it's damn near impossible. Especially if you have to fight execs that cite profit margins on things like WWE (this is the short te

      • by Khopesh ( 112447 )


        Before somebody "corrects" me, that's an intentional wordplay.

        • by morari ( 1080535 )

          It's happened to everything. Sci-Fi and TechTV are only but a couple that have succumbed to the lure of being SpikeTV. Really, television isn't even worth watching nowadays. All the channels are pretty much the same.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            What Sci-Fi channel, I believe you mean the Sy-Fy channel and nothing sums up more the 'dumb' of that channel more the the title itself.

            Here's the catch science fiction has one of the most expensive production costs, due to special effects and high set design costs. To attract it core fans, the science fiction aficionados, the stories must be rich and complex and hold to premise behind the series as science fiction types have long memories. Problem this is a very limited audience and the drooling wrestli

            • Ah yes, animation, probably the best hope real scifi has left. Unlike live action, two aliens talking on a space ship costs the same as two guys talking in a kitchen. A battle using advanced weaponry or psychic powers costs only slightly more than a good fistfight or car chase.

              But unlike Japan, the US has an aversion for animation being used for anything other than comedy or kids' shows. Even Stargate Infinity was targeted for young audiences and aired in a kids' block.

              • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

                True life animation, nor cartoons, using virtual characters and environments, driven by artificial intelligence and robotics science. So software engineers become animation script engineers.

  • by Mage66 ( 732291 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:14PM (#34595720)

    You'll like:

    Starship Farragut: http://www.starshipfarragut.com/ [starshipfarragut.com]

    Starship Farragut Animated: http://www.farragut-animated.com/ [farragut-animated.com]

    Star Trek: Intrepid: http://www.starshipintrepid.net/ [starshipintrepid.net]

    Frontier Guard: http://www.frontier-guard.com/ [frontier-guard.com]

    These will give you a good start...

    • by Eudial ( 590661 )

      You know, I had mod points earlier today. No idea where they went, but I really wish I had them now.

      +1 Awesome.

      • Somebody should make a series about fictional character Bix Nood. Except, not all racist and condescending. He would surely have a lovable, innocent charm and he would unwittingly put himself in all kinds of wacky situations.

        And best of all, nobody could troll him. When faced with a tough situation, he would look at the camera with an innocent smile, shrug with his palms out, and say his famous catchphrase.
    • Your list shows one of the issues with trying to find the independently produced stuff. It's mostly unfunded. A lot of production happens around existing stuff like Star Trek fan works and parodies, Bat Man, Ghost Busters, etc. When you are trying to get volunteers to work on something, the stuff with a recognizable name that people are already fans of is the most likely to actually get made. That means that it's hard to find a lot in the way of original programming in continuous series that is independ

      • A technically minded ... decides that he can do better, so he creates something where every frame is absolutely beautiful, and the audio is perfectly clear, but you don't care about any of the characters, the writing is awful, and the acting would be improved by overdubbing the dialog with something from espeak.

        This seems to be the easy way out the critics took to unite in panning Tron Legacy. Tron 2 was just gutsy by Disney, out of nowhere, and all the critics can do is sandwich it between the slam of Michael Bay's Transformers as "all action and boring" to "all dialogue and boring".

        I think instead something happened culturally so that we are no longer satiated by even decent SciFi. Lord of the Rings coupled with Harry Potter is the End of Fantasy.

        I think we're on the verge of being culturally exhausted, to the b

        • I think we are culturally exhausted on the consumer site, but on the production site there is TONS more waiting in the wings.

          The problem we have is that the studios decide what we should see, and that means that they push out mostly same-old crap because that has historically made money.

          They are loathe to produce really off the wall stuff because it is not safe.

          Taking care of the bottom line is killing creativity universally.

        • This seems to be the easy way out the critics took to unite in panning Tron Legacy. Tron 2 was just gutsy by Disney,

          I walked out of Tron Legacy last night. About the point where we started to get more exposition instead of show. The 3D was horrible to non-existant. I found myself hoping the kid would get killed. It was friggin painful to watch. I was awed by the original Tron, even when it was light in areas of story. This was a LOST opportunity, much like the sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean and Matrix. Except this one actually induced me to WALK OUT. The last movie I walked out on was Kevin Costners "The War".

          • Let me borrow a pun to ask you a question.

            What did you think of the show Lost? I'm betting some of the same story problems the show had floated over.

            I wish studios would allow fan mashups of movies. Do you think it was okay in the visual department if you could hack out what every one refers to as "20 minutes too long"?

            We have an endemic problem with movies with good visuals getting dragged down by broken scripts. Sometimes a nice reviewer will say that an actor did their damndest with what they were handed

    • The two episodes of Phase II I saw had such shitty acting that I never felt compelled to watch another. Indeed, the acting was so poor that I don't even remember the plot. I was too busy wondering why they couldn't find better student actors.

      • by Mage66 ( 732291 )

        You obviously haven't watched it in a LONG time.

        Star Trek: Phase II is a labor of love, and it's insulting to call the performers "shitty". YOU put up hundreds of thousands of dollars to make one of these things. You'll have more of an appreciation of the work that goes into it.

        And, they just don't have the money to hire many real actors, because they have to be paid a certain amount of money based on the time they spend working due to SAG rules. Not-for-profit productions just can't afford to use SAG actor

        • Note that I didn't call the performers shitty, I called their performances shitty. Perhaps it's a tiny distinction, but it matters to me. I will check some of the newer material out.

          • Not that tiny a distinction. A good performer badly directed (or a good performance badly cut later) can appear quite shitty quite easily. A production is often as poor as its weakest part, but it isn't always easy as a member of the audience to tell where the responsibility lies.
      • The two episodes of Phase II I saw had such shitty acting that I never felt compelled to watch another.

        Truthfully I was pointing to the near professional production values and special effects. My point was to underline the fact that amazing things are possible now, even on a budget if the project is a labor of love. And if it is a labor of love it is less likely to be unilaterally "canceled" or have its story lines veer off because someone in management wrote a note.

    • Whee, more shows I have to find an alternative source for because they want me to stream but I can only do that at lowest quality with a lot of buffering... at least that last one.

      Why do people still not get this whole bittorrent thing?

    • Will look into those also Al, thanks for the suggestions.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:15PM (#34595722) Journal

    We're seeing the availability of new Sci-Fi content on TV decline.

    But the people who would produce Sci-Fi are letting it decline not because they're mean jocks who hate geeks. They'd love to make money off Sci-Fi fans. But it's clear they're seeing a decline in ROI for it.

    Possible metrics that are declining:
    Fewer viewers for that kind of show.
    Fewer of those viewers being observable by the viewership tracking system on which the ratings, and thereby the revenues, are based.
    Lower payback to an advertiser for any given viewer.

    And why? Probably because Sci-Fi fans are being distracted by all the online stuff that's available, or by their smartphones and gaming systems. I'd mention time-shifting, but most of those boxes report usage, which means the time-shifter demographic are even more deeply tracked than the Neilsen system, which has only one box per N thousand TV sets. But maybe they're time-shifting and sharing. And then there's the fact that in a declining economy there's just less of a profit and Sci-Fi has always been the marginal edge of TV, not its loamy bottomland.

    But answer me this question: does Summer Glau count even when she's not doing a geeky show?

    • Sci-fi fans are likely to not be counted in the all important C3 rating from Neilsen. I can't imagine sci-fi fans even agreeing to be tracked by Neilsen though. DVR ratings also dont matter as much to networks because they cant use those stats to sell ad time, and online ads bring in significantly less revenue than cable/broadcast. Frankly I'm a bit surprised they are so far behind with regards to accurate rating systems, but it's no surprise as to why we have shows that cater to those whom are technolog

      • I really don't understand why online ads are worth so much less. Or perhaps more accurately, I don't understand why TV ads are worth so much. If I happen to be watching non-timeshifted broadcast TV (a rare event in itself) I'll hit pause for 15 minutes at the start and do something else specifically to avoid the seemingly interminable ad breaks. Exposure to advertising (other than product placement) there is zero.

        If I'm watching Hulu I might tab over to another window, but the fact that the ads are only a m

    • But it's not just Sci-Fi - all scripted TV shows (you know, the ones with writers, and sets, and paid actors, and therefore lots of bills to pay) are under great pressure from reality shows and gameshows because they're cheap to produce.
    • by Daengbo ( 523424 )

      Fringr, Lost, The Event. These are all huge shows that I'm aware of, and I don'y really watch TV much. There was also that show about the multi-planet mission that got canceled last year.

  • Miro (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:15PM (#34595728) Homepage Journal

    Miro [getmiro.com], previously called Democracy Player (as previously [slashdot.org] noted [slashdot.org] on [slashdot.org] slashdot), is an aggregation of independent TV programs. I believe it is exactly what you are looking for.

    See also the Wikipedia articles on Web series [wikipedia.org] and the (now defunct) Open Media Network ... and YouTube.

    Other recommendations would include Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog [drhorrible.com] and The Guild [watchtheguild.com] as well as others listed on Wikipedia's Internet television series [wikipedia.org].

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      You forgot Chad Vader.
      http://www.blamesociety.net/chadvader/index.php [blamesociety.net]

    • The problem with Miro is that much of what they produce is "Reality TV" and that simply doesn't seem to go very far. I used to be a fan of a cooking show produced and distributed via Miro back when it was still known as Democracy Player, the guy produced five episodes of near network quality cooking and HOWTO and then disappeared. Everything else seems to be a variety show, a news show, or talking heads like diggnation. Worse lately Miro seems to have more and more offerings from the corporates, which re
      • by Khopesh ( 112447 )

        Right, it needs help. I was hoping its mention would bring Miro to the attention of indie producers that were told their programs were listed here (who wouldn't want to learn more about their peers?). In that regard, I suppose this is kind of a meta post, but independent shows can only go so far on word of mouth and forums with questions like this.

        The Wikipedia links should be useful too, but again they are limited in ways that I'm hoping IPTV loses soon.

  • Iron Sky (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vgerclover ( 1186893 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:17PM (#34595752)

    You will have to wait some time, but if you are like me, you'll be first in line for Iron Sky [ironsky.net].

    Moon nazis. What's not to like?

  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:20PM (#34595784) Homepage Journal

    From the makers of "Dorkness Rising" (Greatest indi movie EVER MADE!) Journey Quest follows a humorous troop of adventures along their quest... err... journey... err... well... you get the picture.

    Anyway, great series. I think most of Season 1 is up and their funding for Season 2 is coming along.

    http://www.journey-quest.com/ [journey-quest.com]


    • I would download and seed this if I could find a .torrent on their website, but it looks like the only way to watch it that they offer is embedded YouTube videos. The Pirate Bay doesn't have anything either.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        In their FAQ they tell you to use a youtube downloader. They even plug one. I think their dvd image is on the normal torrent sites.

        It is CC licensed so nothing wrong with downloading it.

    • I went to college with these guys. Demon Hunters was good about 10 years ago, for a college production. Have they improved?
    • JQ is ruddy brilliant.
  • The US model where something can be cancelled at every time and where the director can get over-ruled by studio executives even over something as trivial as the leads hair style (Babylon 5 season 1 - a lot of meeting over a haircut) has drawbacks.
    Japanese animated productions avoided that first by being low budget enough to get under the radar and that established a trend where 99% of productions last an entire season. There is occasional weirdness from fixed budgets running out - for instance the end of N
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      The BBC method is probably the best, they make a series on using whatever funds they get and if they get renewed they do it again. So never any random stops.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        The BBC method is probably the best, they make a series on using whatever funds they get and if they get renewed they do it again. So never any random stops.

        Of course that's easier when your sets are made from old cardboard boxes and your 'monster' is a guy wrapped in bubble-wrap and sprayed green :).

        • Invisible monsters are often good for this.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Better cheap props or a weird reduced budget "gainax ending" than going from episode to episode with the sword dangling overhead. Special effects are there to add to the story and are of course pointless if they become the difference between the story getting filmed or not.
          Nobody turns off Blakes 7 just because the ship is steered with study lamps and Viller's hi-tech box of tricks is a red esky. Bad plot, dialogue and casting via nepotism are the flaws in a few episodes that will annoy people more.
  • by Eugenia Loli ( 250395 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:07PM (#34596114) Homepage Journal

    I'm an indie filmmaker myself (used to be a tech nerd a few years ago, but turned into movie magic 3 years ago). I'm constantly trying to find such good shows too, online. And I have quite a list for you. :-)

    - Continuum, scifi: http://www.facebook.com/ContinuumTV [facebook.com] (shot with a Canon 7D dSLR)
    - Pink http://www.pinktheseries.com/ [pinktheseries.com]
    - http://mindseyeseries.com/ [mindseyeseries.com]
    - http://www.minglemediatv.com/CursedWebSeries.html [minglemediatv.com]
    - http://www.crackle.com/c/Trenches [crackle.com]
    - http://www.crackle.com/c/Fear_Clinic [crackle.com]
    - http://www.asylumseries.com/ [asylumseries.com] (shot with a RED One)
    - http://www.crackle.com/c/The_Bannen_Way [crackle.com]
    - http://www.crackle.com/c/Urban_Wolf [crackle.com]
    - condition:Human http://vimeo.com/user1160921 [vimeo.com]
    - http://compulsions.tv/ [compulsions.tv]
    - and of course, the videos in these two Vimeo Channels: http://vimeo.com/channels/hd [vimeo.com] and http://vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks [vimeo.com] if you have a Roku, or a GoogleTV you can view most of these shows above via RSS, or via the Vimeo application for these two platforms. The videos in these two Vimeo channels, are really, really good indie work.

    There's one more sci-fi web series coming out soon, but I can't remember its name. They use Canon dSLRs to shoot it.

    Feel free to email me btw, if you like to discuss any of that, I'm a lot into indie filmmaking: http://eugenia.queru.com/ [queru.com]

  • SciFi is circling the corporate toilet bowl by cost cutting. Normally I'd be bummed, but this thread shows an overwhelming amount of good content which is freely available. I think I'm done paying the corporate no-talent-ass-clowns money for a bad signal with worse programming.

    To the no-talent-corporate-ass-clowns reading this, you might want to put this year's cost-cutting bonus in the bank, because I'm pretty sure it'll be your last.


    • I personally signed out of Comcast CableTV *exactly* a week ago! Between the web series, Netflix, Vimeo via my Roku box, and Hulu Basic via my laptop's HDMI, I don't need any cable box. I bought an indoors TV antenna too, just in case, but I haven't connected it yet.

      • If you want more variety you could always go with the Ku band FTA receivers as well. A receiver and dish cost about what you pay for three months cable, and there is always something on. They even have some stuff that would normally pay for on cable... There are alot of Jesus channels though... alot...
  • I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of this: http://current.com/shows/bar-karma/ [current.com]
  • Is there are hope for comcast to save SGU?
    or some other network?

    • Is there are hope for comcast to save SGU?

      Was talking with a friend about this today. We collectively realized that FX, and AMC specifically seem to cancel great series. Started to wonder if they too were owned by the networks. As for Cable Companies, remember that they all have relationships and percentage ownership of joint projects with telcos, movie companies etc...

      I wonder if directors, producers, writers and actors will wise up and start to refuse to work for the studios that constantly cancel their series prematurely based on outdated a

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Keiser [wikipedia.org] a film-maker, broadcaster ,former broker, options trader, software creator - did suggest :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Stock_Exchange [wikipedia.org] to fund upcoming films.
    Then "we" could all help fund sci-fi ideas we liked.
  • RantMedia produces a variety of shows, they aren't exactly the sitcoms the author was looking for but they are indepedently produced and they even operate their own streaming tv channel.

    http://rantmedia.ca/ranttv/ [rantmedia.ca] - Online streaming

    http://rantmedia.ca/sktfmtv/ [rantmedia.ca] - Sean Kennedy The Fucking Man TV

    http://rantmedia.ca/patrolling/ [rantmedia.ca] - Patrolling with Sean Kennedy

  • Several years ago, I was lamenting the almost complete lack of anything worth watching on television. But since I starting watching anime, I've never really been lacking something new and interesting to try. Since most shows run 12-26 episodes and then stop, you don't get problems with things being cancelled half-way through, and while there's a strong studio system, the studios are small, and make most of their money from fans rather than the general public, (plus sourcing many of their stories from one-ma

  • Don't forget that there are some independently produced audio productions that are just as engaging and high quality as your TV shows. Here are some that you may find worthwhile to download:

    Wormwood [wormwoodshow.com]
    We're Alive [thezombiepodcast.com]
    Leviathan Chronicles [leviathanchronicles.com]

  • How old are you? What do you do in the daytime? Have you ever interfaced with that mysterious tribe called 'Grils'? They're crazy, but so probably are you, and the result is all we have that will inherit planet earth. Please climb out of the basement, and try to keep the species alive.
  • There are an amazingly large number of Star Wars fan films, and you can find them at TheForce.net. There are some really good ones. I recommend Duality and Bounty Trail.

    http://www.theforce.net/ [theforce.net]

    A few years back I saw a good Spiderman fan film. I Google searched it and stumbled upon a web site devoted to fan films:

    http://www.fanfilms.net/index.php [fanfilms.net]

    By the way, this was the Spiderman fan film I was looking for: The Green Goblin's Last Stand. "The total production budget was $400, and it shows. However, it a

  • I was director of photography for Star Trek Phase 2 for 3 episodes, and worked there on a total of six episodes, mostly in the camera department, but also in visual effects.

    I also directed photography on Cawley Entertainments Buck Rogers pilot.

    I worked on Starship Farragut, and Starship Polaris, which is an independent indie pilot.

    TV requires an immense budget.

    Phase 2, and any other show that claims "no budget" is really depending on donations of time, equipment and money from dozens if not hundreds of part

    • What you say is of course true, but it doesn't have to be this way. Four months ago, the most expensive Greek TV series ever, The Island, was broadcasted: 150,000 Euros per 50 minute episode (26 episodes were made). What they created for that amount of money, I'm sorry to say, rivals any of the US efforts for Star Trek or Star Wars indie fan films. Greek TV generally sucks, but they got it right on this show. But of course, there are no unions in Greece, and salaries are smaller there. Still, it's something

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham