Filmmaker Nathan Blackwell on Inspiration, Web-Based Cinema, and Directing His Latest Series, Voyage Trekkers

Categories: Film and TV
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Provided by Nathan Blackwell
Director Nathan Blackwell
​Local filmmaker Nathan Blackwell is in the process of filming and producers "Voyage Trekkers
," a web series shot in and around Phoenix that follows an intergalactic crime fighting team ... that's also the worst space crew ever. 

Blackwell says his goal in creating the series was for enjoyment, both for himself and for an audience. None of the episodes are sequential, but will always jump into an already distressing situation -- all in good humor, of course.

As the writer, creator and director, Blackwell sat down with us to give an insight into the making of his 10-part web series (with a live-action, choose-your-own-adventure finale).

Read the Q&A after the jump.

Q: Where did the idea for "Voyage Trekkers" come from?
A: "Voyage Trekkers" came about out of the sheer desire to make something fun. I was balancing several projects at the time, and for whatever reason, I needed to make something that tapped into that childhood energy of when I first picked up a movie camera and made stories about aliens and ray guns. And that's what it is. We're running around in spaceman outfits and having much more fun than full-sized adults should probably have.

Science fiction was a genre I was really hungry to tackle. The great appeal is that you have to invent everything -- the characters, creatures, costumes, gadgets, worlds, ships ... everything.

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Provided by Nathan Blackwell
Grip and 2nd Assistant Camera Jake Quinsey holds the slate in front of Adam Rini (Captain Sunstrike) and Gabrielle Van Buren (Dr. Rena).
Q: A lot of web series are produced on a low budget. How does that affect the end product?
A: Because of our low budget, we really have to be clever about what we show or can't show. There's no bridge of a starship in this season because we can't afford to make one. In the first episode we see two lizard men, but there was only one costume. We used a good old-fashion split screen to duplicate him.

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Provided by Nathan Blackwell
Director of Photography Bracken Batson (holding the board) tests the light from the green screen on the actors as Visual Effects Producer David Stipes looks on. Adam Rini (Captain Sunstrike), Gabrielle Van Buren (Dr. Rena), and Logan Blackwell (Commander Powell). Gaffer Colleen Marshall in the background.
Q: If you had no limits with money, how would "Voyage Trekkers" be different?
A: If we could create any set or alien world we could imagine, it would all have to go toward getting bigger laughs. The joke of the show is that these characters live in a space universe full of adventure and excitement. It's like they're inside a big budget TV show but they keep screwing it up by being the idiots they are.

There's 30 thousand starships in the Galactic Union, and someone has to be the worst, right?

Q: What kind of reactions are you getting from the online audience as well as from the cast and crew?
A: I've done quite a few projects at this point and I've never had such an enthusiastic response. Not only from the cast and crew, who have been with us on a lot of nutty projects, but from complete strangers as well. I think the fun and silly energy that the show has is infectious. We're not out to position ourselves as the hottest and hippest filmmakers ..., we're just out to make people laugh. Some shows are a full meal, but "Voyage Trekkers" is unabashedly popcorn and dessert.

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Provided by Nathan Blackwell
Captain Sunstrike (Rini) confers with the alien officer Lt. Jayda (Brian Blackwell).
Q: Can you explain the production process, both pre- and post-production?
A: Because of the skit-based nature of the episodes, this lets us shoot more than one episode in a day. The first day of production we actually shot the first, second and fifth episodes back-to-back. Yeah, that was basically craziness.

Post production takes considerably more time since we have sound design, original music composed for each episode by Michael Markowski, and in many episodes, visual effects.

Q: What's been your favorite part about working on the series?
A: There's something to be said about doing work that's 100 percent about the comedy. Your only mandate is to go for big and silly laughs. We may never break even on the show, but that's fine. It's true when they say that the journey is more important than the destination.

For episodes and to choose your own adventure, check out Blackwell's Squishy Studios website


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