'Venus Rises': Serialized Sci-Fi is Coming

Science fiction is definitely one of the costlier genres to make a movie in, especially if you go off-earth. You'll need to build sets, make costumes, create effects, and spend lots and lots of time in post production. While I like this kind of sci-fi, it does thwart the micro budget ideology. Some go forward anyway, and work toward bringing their vision to life.

Such is Venus Rises, a series of episodes set to be released on the web as 'vidcasts'. Created by writer-director J.G. Birdsall, the show concerns the future of man on colonized Mars and the mines of Venus. While nothing has been released yet, the first episode is currently in post.

There is a lot to look at on the website, including behind-the-scenes footage which give an idea about what to expect. The low budget sets look pretty impressive, and should be an asset to the project. Some of the acting looks a bit suspect (note the scene in the shuttlecraft), but without seeing anything "official", we may just be seeing early takes (or outtakes). There is also a nice gallery of stills, and a message board where you can interact with the filmmakers.

Technology and the Arts recently interviewed Birdsall about Venus Rises, and that podcast is available for a listen or a download on their site. I liked the research he apparently did, not only on the story, but also on the set design and how he incorporated old NASA junk he picked up on eBay.

As far as making money, Venus Rises does have an ad model. Anyone can buy time within an episode, and it appears commercials can run at the beginning and in the middle of each chapter. I'm not sure how well this will work (or how much money they've made), but it is something. There must be some cash coming in, as you can only buy time in Episode 3. The first two must be booked solid! They also accept sponsors.

I'm excited to see how well this tale comes together. It is more evidence that filmmakers want to use the web to its fullest potential, and I wish them success. Any good results achieved by these guys will only benefit the rest of us in the future when we try it.


Unknown said…

Nice to see interest in Venus Rises. My name is Joseph and I play the character Nathan Griggs. Very cool that you looked into the way the sets were constructed. In addition to what youve mentioned, there are old computer, decomissioned military, and even everyday consumer parts utilized in set design.
You mentioned 'suspect' acting and made reference to the cockpit argument scene on youtube. What youve seen and heard is from a home video camera we use to take behind the scenes footage. The actual take is shot through professional video and audio equipment. If youve ever seen behind the scenes of major film and television, ALOT looks and sounds like its two people in your living room talking.

That aside, I can see you truly invested some time taking in some of the sights, sounds and ideas that Venus Rises is producing and for that I thank you. Most do not understand or appreciate the time and effort that goes into a venture such as this. VR is completely funded by J.G. himself and he is not a millionaire doing a vanity project. The actors, artists, modelers, staff work unpaid and donate time, parts, talents, anything to assist. I have been working involved in VR almost 3 years and am the only original cast member.

I say that to say this project is to be believed in. Trust me.

Joseph Negra
Sgt. Nathan Griggs
Scott Eggleston said…
I'm aware of the limits of the home video cam taping the shoot, I was just commenting on the performances (and I pointed out in my post that I have no idea if this was considered a usable take or not).

As far as the audio quality goes, I wonder. The boom mic is so far away from the talent (and directly horizontal, instead of above or below), you're going to get sound of inferior quality, much like the video camera shooting the behind the scenes footage.

Quibbles aside, I look forward to seeing your project completed, and wish everyone the best of luck and much success.
Unknown said…
Hello scott. Ran across this old article while online. Venus rises was eventually completed, though unfinished, and all completely filmed episodes are online at venusrises.com. vr is now continuing as a comic book.