David, a celestial cartographer, suddenly awakens from hypostasis when his emergency escape pod is ejected from its long-range mother ship, the ASCE-Atlas. Trapped in a space the size of a coffin, he will have to survive in the vacuum that surrounds him. With the help of LEO, an artificial intelligence, David must try to reconnect with his relatives still trapped aboard the Atlas and save them from imminent death.
We spoke to Creator Jesse Malcolm Sweet about his series.
What do you want your audience to take away from this series?
Exode is first and foremost a family drama – and my goal was to present this story in such a way that it felt compelling and interesting to a lot of viewers, especially viewers that are not interested in watching short form family dramas.
How did you fund your series?
The series was entirely financed by a broadcaster funding program called the “TV5 funds”. It is a financial fund created to help emerging talent produce their first web series and it often funds first directors that have never received funding before.
Do you have any future plans for this series?
I do, but since it is hard to secure funding I don’t really know if I will ever be able to continue the series. I had planned the series as a two-season story – I really hope that I’ll get to share the rest of this story with you some day.
What is unique about your series?
Exode is a strange beast, at least to me. On one side, it has very strong visual aesthetics and a great original soundtrack. On the other side, it tells a very simple and personal story – I feel like Exode’s most unique feature is that it’s a drama before anything else, it just happens to take place in a coffin floating in space.
What was your release strategy?
We are a very small production company and every dollar we received went into the production of the series. We released through social media and hoped we would get traction through word of mouth – it worked.
What was your target audience and how did you build a relationship with them?
Early on, one of our goals was to create a series that would appeal to older viewers, people that rarely consume content online. One of our strategies was through our casting – not only was our lead a great fit for the character, but Emmanuel Bilodeau is also well-known actor in Quebec and we hoped that with our aesthetics, genre and casting we would be able to get our target audience interested in our series.
How long did it take to produce and shoot the series?
The full production took about two years, with writing, prep, etc. Once shooting began, the process to release was quick – about 8 months.
How did you approach creating a sci-fi series on smaller budget?
It’s all about the people that we collaborated with – without our super talented team it would have been impossible to produce this series with the budget that we had available. Everyone that collaborated on the project believed in it and wanted to see it made – it also helped that we were all like-minded and obsessed about every detail.
On a more creative point, the project was developed from this idea that it would be possible to make a great looking science-fiction series for very little money if the set was very small. That’s how it started: a man floating in space in a coffin – from there I wrote a story about my fears as a young father and used this science-fiction setting as a way to enhance the narrative.
What inspired you to set your story in space?
Space is something so interesting and scary to me… the original idea for Exode came from a picture of the hexagon formation on top of Saturn’s north pole. For some reason, the picture gave me vertigo and made me anxious – I kept imagining myself floating in front of the storm and it made me feel nauseous just thinking about it. Here is the picture… and it still scares me. ;p What if I was stuck in an escape pod slowly falling into the depth of Jupiter.