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An object in the sky spreads radiation over North America...
July 5, 2010 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Pioneer One is an original series from the writer and director of The Lionshare. In one sense, it is an experiment in crowdfunded "television", beginning with a $6000 KickStarter budget. In another sense, it is an experiment in using a peer-to-peer distribution model (i.e., VODO's "DISCO"). The show's pilot, released two weeks ago, which can be downloaded or streamed, has been a huge success; is currently the best-seeded show on BitTorrent, and already has had well over 1 million downloads.

An object in the sky spreads radiation over North America. Fearing terrorism, U.S. Homeland Security agents are dispatched to investigate and contain the damage. What they discover will have implications for the entire world.

The pilot episode can be torrented:
Pioneer.One.S01E01.REFIX.720p.x264-VODO.torrent
Pioneer.One.S01E01.REFIX.Xvid-VODO.torrent
(note: the scene-friendly file-naming.)

Or streamed.
posted by tybeet (32 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Trailer. Looks... like a nice try.
posted by basicchannel at 9:36 AM on July 5, 2010


Trailer. Looks... like a nice try.

They've got printers in the basement you can use.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:43 AM on July 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's also a badly acted, badly plotted, badly written attempt at using crowd mentality to make a product. People jump on this to say "Hey-torrenting has valid uses too!" and it does have valid uses, but a show with worse acting than the average syfy series isn't really a valid use.

My question has always been, why do bad actors always ALWAYS ALWAYS move their heads weirdly and often when they say their lines?

No bad director ever noticed and said "knock it off, this isn't a porno" ?
posted by reklus at 9:47 AM on July 5, 2010


It's also...badly plotted

Are you privy to something the rest of us aren't? From what I can tell, the story has hardly begun to develop.
posted by tybeet at 9:50 AM on July 5, 2010


It's a pilot. I'll give them some time.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:09 AM on July 5, 2010


from the Lionshare website: "...its kinetic style and raw performances recall the work of John Cassavetes and the DOGME 95 movement."

I really want to like this and I'm gonna try, but come on, Cassavetes AND Dogma? Why? Because they can't afford a tripod? If they live up to that pretention, I will come back here and show my appreciation.
posted by ouke at 10:26 AM on July 5, 2010


I watched it and I liked it a lot. There were no dialogue moments or acting flourishes that made me want to throw a rock through the screen. Were this a TV drama pilot I would definitely be tuning in for part 2. Not going to give them any money though, too mean.
posted by Wrick at 10:34 AM on July 5, 2010


It's an interesting development model but I think the best use of it would be to analyze where the process broke down or what other element was lacking, because the end result isn't very compelling. I don't necessarily need everything laid out from the get go but I do need something in the narrative that pulls me forward & for me at least, this story doesn't have it. It should, the premise has a lot of potential. But somehow they failed to make a product that realizes that potential. I think it'd be useful to study the decisions they made & the ideas they discarded to see where it went wrong & figure out whether & how the process could be improved to come up with a better product. Sometimes we can learn as much from our failures as our successes.
posted by scalefree at 10:36 AM on July 5, 2010


I haven't watched this, but just the description of the piece in the FPP tells me that this isn't actually DOGME 95. Street cred is not gained by showing one's ignorance.
posted by hippybear at 10:37 AM on July 5, 2010


I haven't watched this, but just the description of the piece in the FPP tells me that this isn't actually DOGME 95.

I haven't seen anywhere that Pioneer One was compared to DOGME 95. You're thinking of The Lionshare.
posted by tybeet at 10:43 AM on July 5, 2010


the best-seeded show on BitTorrent, and already has had well over 1 million downloads.

When I downloaded ╬╝torrent for a new PC the day after its release, it came with the software. I used it to test run ╬╝torrent; likely several hundred thousand others did the same. Watched it; cringed once (at the Old USSR Expert's example of What The Soviets Were Capable Of - true story that had nothing to do with his point - why did they waste several minutes on him? oh yeah, $6K budget); briefly considered posting it to MeFi; checked out the website (hey, look! a homepage illustration that's a SPOILER for the big reveal near the end of the pilot!); decided to let somebody else do it; it took 2 weeks.

Would watch Episode 2, but won't send them money, even for a PIONEER ONE tshirt.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:48 AM on July 5, 2010


from the Lionshare website: "...its kinetic style and raw performances recall the work of John Cassavetes and the DOGME 95 movement."

I really want to like this and I'm gonna try, but come on, Cassavetes AND Dogma? Why? Because they can't afford a tripod?


yeah, when people say shit like this, it's usually because they don't know what they're talking about and those are the films they've heard of that had a raw film making technique. Never mind that DOGME 95 had an entire manifesto of that included rules like "no props. no special effects. use only natural or pre-existing light." even the sonic screwdriver pen (!! WANT) in the first scene is against the dogme rules. (not to mention that nobody likes DOGME films. they're fucking awful.) Never mind that Cassavetes was making films about brutalized relationships that were informed by his camera work, rather than just being low budget.

now, I'm still watching this thing, but here's what I hope: that the work that recalls Cassavetes does so because its writing it top notch and human. That the camera work I'm already seeing huge Sodherberg tropes in will acknowledge that Sodherberg wants his camera to be a voyeur, and not just a gimmicky way to liven up a boring scene. we shall see. the connection is crazy slow on the streaming site. I think I'm gonna torrent it.
posted by shmegegge at 10:59 AM on July 5, 2010


I watched it and I liked it a lot. There were no dialogue moments or acting flourishes that made me want to throw a rock through the screen.

I live in Calgary. I can't quite say the same thing. An example: CFB Calgary is in the middle(ish) of the city, and was closed 14 years ago to make room for condos and farmers markets.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:00 AM on July 5, 2010


In another sense, it is an experiment in using a peer-to-peer distribution model

Why not just use Youtube? If you have enough subscribers you can actually make money on it.
posted by delmoi at 11:27 AM on July 5, 2010


not to mention that nobody likes DOGME films. they're fucking awful

That's not entirely true. The Celebration was harrowing, but was an excellent film in a lot of ways. I've watched it a number of times. The King Is Alive was also interesting, but I have only seen it the once. And Amerikana was good. I haven't seen it come around again, so I've also only seen it the once. I haven't seen many of the other DOGME films. Well, except The Idiots, which I hated, loathed, despised, loathed, despised some more, and finally hated.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on July 5, 2010


An example: CFB Calgary is in the middle(ish) of the city, and was closed 14 years ago to make room for condos and farmers markets.

Yeah, as soon as I saw the "CFB Calgary" text appear I suddenly developed a craving for farmer's sausage and homemade quiche.
posted by threetoed at 11:50 AM on July 5, 2010


I wish I knew how to do proper, high quality sound production. Just from the trailer, you can hear some echo and the audio just feels "amateur". It's amazing the difference that a high quality audio track makes when it comes to making something seem professional.
posted by heathkit at 11:51 AM on July 5, 2010


not to mention that nobody likes DOGME films. they're fucking awful

Are you kidding? Idioterne was amazing.
posted by tybeet at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


uuuugh. DIY filmmakers, if you learn only one thing, learn this.

Buy. Some. Damn. Fill. Lights.
posted by The Whelk at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2010


Lots of complaints here about the lighting and sound. Come on guys, it's a low budget production. Next episode is set up to be made for $21 000, so perhaps those things will get a little better.

But I agree that it feels a bit cheap, but I can't say that the general back story and plot are worse than many other sci-fi series. I'm hoping that people (not me, I didn't think it was that fantastic) will send them money and that they'll continue. Maybe it'll get better, because I think it does have some potential.
posted by bjrn at 12:48 PM on July 5, 2010


Woops, the next episode is meant to be made for $30k, not $21k.
posted by bjrn at 12:49 PM on July 5, 2010


I rather liked it. Sure it's rough and amateur, but that's part of the appeal. These people got together and pulled off a show all by themselves, without anyone telling them what they could or couldn't do. It's flint knives and bearskins time in a brand new medium, but if this is the start, just imagine what the show could become when they improve. That's the appeal: to see how good they get and say "I was there for the first episode, man."

The concept has lots of room for development, and I hope they go more Rod Serling than X Files in future episodes. We've seen dark conspiracy stuff before, and they can't really compete with that, but a show that explores the weirdness of the situation and how that weirdness effects the characters could work. If they can swing it, strong characters and suggestion can make up for a lack of effects.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:46 PM on July 5, 2010


Yes, I felt the acting was kinda weak, well hey we're seeing the pilot, whatever.

But you're criticizing the plot? Are you familiar with the term hard sci-fi?

You see, sci-fi television usually involves shit like faster-than-light travel, teleportation, sexy aliens, telepathy, dragons, chain mail bikinis, vampires, zombies, amazing technology invented within one hour, magic, leprechauns, etc. All that shit? Yeah, not science, not even close, try fantasy.

In fact, all good science fiction and fantasy literature lies firmly in either the science fiction or fantasy camp. We're fairly forgiving about television shows that must attract the viewership of morons too, but all the best science fiction shows limited how they diverged in bullshit.

ST:TNG may have hired very talented writers, but ultimately they pooped out mystical particle-of-the-week gibberish while Stargate & B5 obliterated ST by keeping clearly defined realms fantasy while following reason & logic elsewhere.

A priori, any show that maintains true hard sci-fi credibility has in one important story aspect beaten out all science fiction shows of the last two decades.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:06 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's hard to discuss without mentioning spoilers, but the show's central premise is pretty darn weird. It's just barely plausible in a hard SF way, but must involve some really interesting shenanigans in the back story. I'd love to see a flashback episode or three detailing what happened back then and why, but that's probably a bit beyond their reach right now. For now they should just develop the story in the present and improve their storytelling skills and acting as much as possible.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:20 PM on July 5, 2010


I will support this project if and only if the creators can prove, by means of an inspection by a neutral third party, to have completely worked out the story arc and deposited a preliminary treatment of the answers to the story's core questions with a notary or banking institution of their choice for safekeeping, to be opened and published on the internet in the event of bankruptcy, cancellation or death of the writers.

I have learned my lessons when it comes to fantasy / sf tv series.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Lots of complaints here about the lighting and sound. Come on guys, it's a low budget production.

I have lit and (and to a certain point miced) better looking productions for less money. You can get a lot of work out of cheap clip lights if you're willing to haul them around and fiddle.
posted by The Whelk at 3:43 PM on July 5, 2010


FFS, the dialogue audio makes me want to knife someone.
posted by tomierna at 4:22 PM on July 5, 2010


I wasn't too unhappy with the dialog audio - it does sound a little compressed, but I can't hear excessive noise. But that's something I can't judge too well.

The actors have no chemistry. Scene 1 really drags at 3:03, which is a shame because they cue the point of the scene at ~3:40 "lionshare".

The guy in the first scene irks me because he talks about wanting to be a filmmaker - and if there's one thing that's going to take me out of the movie is if it makes me wonder- is this an autobiography? Is the director putting himself in the scene? Is that the director acting?

Oh god, the scene is still going and it's 06:30!
Can't watch this HD with no makeup... gosh.

Sorry Mr. Bernhard, I appreciate the effort but this is such a fun, easy target...
posted by niccolo at 8:14 PM on July 5, 2010


"Why not just use Youtube? If you have enough subscribers you can actually make money on it."

Looks like they are on Youtube.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:21 PM on July 5, 2010


Got as far as the first caption. They mixed up astrology and astronomy. Hard SF fail. Buh-bye.

(Really. The idea of a large observatory doing an astrological survey is actually a pretty cool premise, if you're going to explore it - lots of ways to go from there, as commentary on the Rise of the Woo, or alternate science-as-magic-as-science Arthur C Clarkeian universe building. But as a mistake - that's not a budgetary limitation, that's a thundering turd.

Mind you, I hated The Matrix for similar turdular reasons. So I may be temperamentally unsuited to watch.)
posted by Devonian at 1:19 AM on July 6, 2010


But you're criticizing the plot? Are you familiar with the term hard sci-fi?

For all those who find jeffburdges's comment humorous, enlightening, or maddening, I suggest you check out episode five of season one of Party Down. There's a bit of dialogue that almost perfectly mirrors said comment. And you can watch all the Party Down episodes streaming online if you have Netflix!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:22 AM on July 6, 2010


A priori, any show that maintains true hard sci-fi credibility has in one important story aspect beaten out all science fiction shows of the last two decades.

Repeat after me. The only quality which matters in television is character. Character character character character.

Everything else. EVERYTHING. Is secondary.

This includes comedy, drama, dramedy, fantasy, sci-fi, action, reality, ad infinitum.

Hard sci-fi credibility is so far down the list, it's on page 6. Does it have to be believable? We have to want to believe it. (And y'know what Party Down has in spades? Character.)
posted by incessant at 11:00 AM on July 17, 2010


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