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Spokane-produced ‘Transolar Galactica’ grows Web audience, seeks funds

The first season of “Transolar Galactica” was made for $180 or so – basically what its creators, a crew of five recent film-school graduates in Spokane, found in the couch cushions. And that went mostly for Nerf guns and spray paint.

Yet the Web comedy series – which pokes fun at science fiction shows such as “Star Trek” and “Firefly” – is getting attention online, garnering national recognition and an enthusiastic fan base.

Just imagine what the crew could do with an actual budget. They’ve already imagined it – Sets! Props! Actors! – and they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign, ending Saturday night, to raise $30,000 to pay for Season 2. Fundraising through the online platform is all or nothing. Backers’ credit cards are charged only if the show reaches its goal by the deadline.

The show is a parody, its creators say, but it comes from a place of love – and a nuanced understanding of the genre. It follows the exploits of Capt. Remmington Trigger and his crew as they travel through space.

“‘Star Trek’ nerds – I guess I consider myself a ‘Star Trek’ nerd – they like picking things apart, and that’s kind of what the show does,” said Adam Harum, 24. “It takes those funny little tropes or clichés and tears them apart.” Harum plays Samson in the series, a communications officer who wears over one eye what appears to be half a set of sunglasses; it gives him little messages sometimes, he says in Episode 1, “and I read ’em.”

Selected for screening during the ReelSpokane film festival, “Transolar Galactica” also earned honors at this year’s L.A. Web Series and New Media Film festivals. The creators have been spreading the word off- and online, traveling to science-fiction, comic-book and gaming conventions and using Facebook and Twitter to connect with fans.

Those fans include fans of straight science fiction. As a comedy series, though, “Transolar” has a broader appeal.

The crew’s writing process resembles “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” said Clancy Bundy, 25, who plays the one-eyed Reggie Murdock (aliases include “1” and “Number One” and “One,” according to the show’s website).

“MST3K,” as it’s known to nerds, is the 1988-’99 TV series in which a man and his robots, forced to watch bad movies, offer their running commentary.

In space movies, the “Transolar” creators have commented to one another, people always seem to be shooting out windows or opening airlocks to send bad guys into space. Neither of those tactics, really, would go well.

So in one episode of “Transolar Galactica,” the crew shoots a window out, and everybody gets sucked into space. In another, they beam aboard a couple of crew members falling at terminal velocity. On “Star Trek,” it works. On “Transolar Galactica,” as physics would suggest, it’s messy.

The series is written and produced by five friends – all former students of the film program at Eastern Washington University – most of whom have day jobs in the film industry.

The series is their “passion project,” said Adam Boyd, 27, who plays Petty Officer McCall and runs the show’s meager finances.

To make Season 1, they used donated studio space and borrowed equipment. The actors who did join them worked for free or for lunch.

But they lost the studio space, and they no longer have access to the equipment. Also, they think it’s probably time to stop asking for so many favors to make their show, Boyd said.

If their Kickstarter campaign succeeds, they’ll be able to shoot on location, as opposed to just in front of green screens. They’ll be able to pay real actors, instead of just casting themselves and the occasional friend. They’ll continue to work without paying themselves.

“We’re really proud of what we were able to do with no money at all,” Bundy said. “If the Kickstarter fares well … we’ll be able to put something together that’ll blow the Internet apart.”

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