Investing in the Space Opera Society

Oh, I’d like to tell you about the Space Opera Society.

They are a Canadian nonprofit company and they are trying to launch the dream that I am sure many of you along with I have. They are trying to start a global television network, although not actually on TV, that broadcasts new and innovative space opera science-fiction TV programs.  They have an Indiegogo project, a website and a list of names attached with their organization that many of you will recognize. They have writers from various science-fiction programs that you would know, perhaps an actor or two that you’ve seen and even special-effects artists from classic program such as Space: 1999.

As a nonprofit, their stated plan is to pay their artists but any profit that comes from their programs or merchandising efforts are rolled back into the production and development of new programs and services.  They intend distribute their programs worldwide, sell novels tied into their properties, even have a merchandising shop where you can purchase exclusive merchandise for the programs that they’ve developed. They’re also using a system of ratings that is going to be somehow democratically voted upon by the members.

It all sounds like a space opera fan’s dream because we all know that we are an underserved minority that is treated like trash by network and studio executives who are completely artistically bankrupt and only interested in the bottom-line.

I encourage you to check out their website and their Indiegogo project and decide if it’s the right thing for you and if the time is right for such an endeavor.

I absolutely adore this idea, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a couple of questions that I think need to be asked and hopefully answered.

For starters, they make a big deal out of the fact that as a nonprofit their books will be open and that you will be able to see where the money goes. This is a laudable ambition and it helps people who’ve invested feel as if their money has been well spent. It’s less clear to me however what the initial $200,000 Indiegogo start up costs will go to. Is there a detailed itemized list of what that $200,000 will accomplish other than just setting up production? How far will that get into producing programs?

How to do they sustain the model going forward? Another Indiegogo project? Are they going to be selling ads? If so, Will the ads be localized or worldwide? What will the ad rates be? Is it going to be members only, subscription or some mixed mode? How much will those subscriptions cost? How many people do they have to get invested in this idea, at least invested with their time and subscription money or commitment to watch these programs? These are questions that need to be addressed and preferably before someone invests money in the project.

I’ve been all over their website and their Indiegogo project and if the answers are there to be had, I haven’t been able to find them yet.  There are lots of ideas, but no apparently concrete plans.

It’s not too early to be asking these questions.  I realize that those maybe difficult questions for them to answer at this early stage; however, they are asking for investors and these are the sort of questions investors should be asking them.

Secondly, on their website they list a number of program ideas that they have “in development.” Most of these ideas are new programs, which is exactly what I would expect from the Space Opera Society. However, one of them is listed as Moonbase Alpha: Legacy – a “60 minute sequel drama series” based on Space: 1999.  They have also recently been pushing videos which were originally part of the Space: 2099 fan-lead project to revamp Space: 1999 with more modern special-effects and updating the dates so that the timeline isn’t so obviously out of whack with reality.

It’s a bit difficult to tell if Moonbase Alpha: Legacy is exactly the same as Space: 2099 but either way I have to ask a simple question: do actually have the rights to do this? (Wikipedia says, “no.”)

If they do, how much did that cost and how did they fund that?  If they don’t have the rights, how exactly do they think they’re going to be doing this? If people invest in their Indiegogo project thinking that some form of Space: 1999 is part of the package, isn’t promising a show they can’t deliver a form of bait and switch?

OK, I’ve vented my questions and I may or may not have either encouraged you or discouraged you from contributing to their Indiegogo project.  Perhaps, like me, you think that you can afford to blow $10 or $20 towards something that might be totally Quixotic and not feel too badly if it never goes anywhere.

On the other hand, also like me, if you felt more assured that there was a good chance of success, wouldn’t you be willing to contribute even more?