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Companion Update

Article 1, Day 1 | Companion Update

It feels 2% weird and 98% exciting (or maybe 98% weird and 2% exciting?) to actually be typing words that aren’t destined for a newsletter update or social media post, but here we are. Yes indeed, the first post on our brand-new platform. 

First things first, thank you so much for taking that leap of faith in supporting what we’re trying to do thus far, and we’re building the proverbial sci-fi parachute as quickly and reliably as we can. 

If you’re reading this, you probably have a pretty good idea of the kind of thing The Companion is going to offer: the long-reads, deep dives, new interviews, new perspectives and never-before-seen material. 

When we started thinking about what was already out there in the genre space, we agreed that there was a problem for sci-fi fans. So much content online is essentially promotional, geared towards pushing the new releases and the latest speculation. If you do find something focused on an older series or movie, it’s created with one eye on the clicks and the other eye on the ad revenue. That’s why you see these articles like “The Terminator is actually terrible,” which is an insane headline because it’s an awesome film, or “23 things you didn’t know about Total Recall,” and ok, I do admit sometimes number 7 really does blow my mind 😉 

There’s a place for those kinds of articles, but those aren’t the articles we wanted to write or documentaries we wanted to make. We come at storytelling from a place of genuine passion for these movies and shows, and we believe in the kind of editorial that makes you think, that stays with you – even challenges you. And we know that you share that standpoint. 

From our conversations together, you want the untold stories, you want the deep cut trivia, you want to know how it was made, why it was made the way it was made, and where it could go in the future.

So, we know that there is a hunger for stories that dig a little deeper and make you want to dig out that DVD box set and blow the dust off it. And, having worked with studios and from our conversations with the creative minds who we will be featuring, we know there’s a hunger from their side too.

The question still remained: how are we going to do this? The good news for us was that there wasn’t an immediate competitor who offered everything that we wanted to offer. The bad news was that there wasn’t an obvious home for this stuff either. We looked at blogs, we looked at websites, forums, fandom sites… As it turned out, the type of platform we were looking for wasn’t in sci-fi or entertainment, so we had to look beyond the category. You can find incredible sports stories from The Athletic or different perspectives from Fivethirtyeight. There’s detailed financial analysis from Bloomberg and stories on the macro trends in The Economist. And in fashion, places like Net-a-porter blend exquisite editorial with a luxurious shopping experience. And another thing they all had in common…they created premium app experiences. We think sci-fi deserves that too, so that’s our starting point. 

Wait, why is this an app? Nobody downloads apps! (By the way, we do have a website version and we are testing some unique features there too.)

The idea is to make a commitment in building a platform that we could grow together. You, me, and the other 300 early pioneers of The Companion. As an app, we can go places – literally!

This is why your involvement over the last few months and in the months ahead has been and continues to be so crucial. We need you to tell us what’s working, what you want, what you don’t want. You’ve already been so incredibly gracious with your time so far, answering our surveys, joining our events (pre-lockdown), and even jumping on hour-long calls to help make sure that this is the best it can be. We’re delighted that you have been so keen to help us because we want you to feel ownership over this too, and we’re hoping that’s going to become increasingly apparent over our first month.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be engaging in something of a live test. Each week will be a small trial in and of itself, offering different kinds of features, different kinds of release patterns, different kinds of release quantities. While things will vary week to week, we hope that each piece will represent what The Companion is all about. We’re not going to be rushing out an article every day. These articles are more in-depth, they’re carefully considered and researched, and they’re worth your time. We’ll get the expert voices, the consultants, and we’ll be approaching these classic films and shows in a way you may not be expecting, to surprise you, and hopefully getting you to appreciate them a little more than you do now. 

From an editorial standpoint, finding the story that hasn’t been told has definitely been something of a challenge, but it’s also been tremendously exciting to be able to ask our fantastic journalists “What’s the feature you’ve always wanted to write but never thought would get picked up by a magazine? What’s that pitch you always include in emails but make sure is accompanied by the clickbaitier headline that will guarantee you some paid work?” When you give people the chance to write about something they truly love, the angles will surprise you and the end result will amaze you. I don’t think we expected to be commissioning pieces on controversial theme park rides or movie soundtrack collections when we first started, but here we are, scouring eBay for a copy of the X-Files videogame that took four years to make and trying to figure out which of the planets in Star Trek: The Next Generation was made from dog sh*t.

Another hugely important area was chasing down contributions from the experts who created the shows and films we love. Trust me, it’s nerve-racking for me too to ask my heroes, “Hey, you might not know me, but instead of an interview, are you interested in spending a few days writing a 3,000 word thought piece?” But we went out and asked anyway for you my companion! Suprisingly, a few were incredibly enthusiastic. The directors, screenwriters and artists were excited to be given the creative freedom to write about the worlds they’ve created, dig deep into their vaults for any archive material they’ve been sitting on, and encouraged to share their unique perspectives on science fiction, filmmaking, and the industry. 

Some of the pieces we’re alluding to here are already in production, some of them will be part of our first four weeks. There are some collaborations that are still being ironed out, and there are some that are signed and sealed and waiting on an announcement. It’s a pretty damn exciting time for us, and we can’t wait to start showing you what we’ve been working on. Throughout this first four weeks’ trial period, we’re going to be asking for your honest feedback on everything from the frequency of content to the pieces themselves, and we’ll be updating you with what’s coming up. We’re always going to be available to answer any questions and listen to any feedback so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

That’s why, September’s on us!

You’re here early. You’re a pioneer. You’re the kind of person that believes in investing in quality sci-fi coverage, and we want to invest in you too. For the month of September, all Kickstarter Backers, BackerKit Backers and new members will get this month free. Once you sign up, you’ll see a renewal period for Sep 2021, depending on the day you signed up. We’ll adjust your membership manually after you sign up, extending your renewal period to October 1st.

Next on the slate is our interview with Academy Award-winning VFX trailblazer Robert Legato as he takes us back to the early days of building Star Trek: The Next Generation’s effects in his basement and he also muses on what’s been lost and what’s been gained through 30 years of CGI progress. It’ll be part of our first series CGI Fridays (we promise to keep the puns to a minimum) coming, you guessed it, on Friday.

Glad to see you join us and welcome to Day 1.

Testimonial Author Image

Lawrence Kao, is the Co-Founder of The Companion. He’s been working in the technology and media space since 2003.

Follow The Companion on Twitter @TheCompanionApp

Special thanks to our entire team including Nick, Ben, Tommy, and Jonathan and our wider team at the Design Laboratory, PugPig, Graphic Designer Joe Totti, Illustrator Sam Gilbey and Illustrator Mike Collins.

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If you’re not a member, we hope you enjoyed this article as a gift from a friend. We’re creating the ultimate companion guide books to your favorite Sci-Fi shows, each chapter serialized here first for our members starting with Stargate SG-1 (although there’ll be plenty of others featured too). 

No speculation, no clickbait, and no manufactured controversy, The Companion is bringing you the real story from the men and women who made your favorite sci-fi movies and TV shows. As well as Stargate SG-1, there’ll be great analysis and in-depth interviews on Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Tank Girl, Quantum Leap, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Farscape and more. Click here to sign up to The Companion.

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