Local sci-fi series shows potential for bigger things

The science fiction web series called Sentient stars an acting team local to the Pittsburgh area.
The science fiction web series called Sentient stars an acting team local to the Pittsburgh area.
The science fiction web series called Sentient stars an acting team local to the Pittsburgh area.

The upcoming local web series Sentient, self-described as a science fiction medical drama, is being created by more than one Pittsburgh resident including Duquesne alumni on its staff.

The series, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, will be shown on Vimeo, a video sharing website. The series is initially planned to be released as 11 to 15 minute webisodes, with the possibility of expanding to television and film.

Set and produced primarily in Pittsburgh, the series follows the efforts of a group of doctors whom discover a new virus while on sabbatical, infecting a Canadian man. As the team begins to investigate the virus, they come across a horrifying realization – the virus is sentient.

Raquel Bouvy is one of the producers of the series, who also attends Duquesne as a graduate student.

“In short, I do everything,” Bouvy said. “I have a hand in creative input for writing; I have a hand in hiring cast and crew, making sure everyone is on the same page. I make sure everything is running smoothly.”

When asked about the sources of inspiration of the story, Bouvy stated that the two writers, Doug Jones and director Mark Cross, often compared it to The X-files and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

“It was conceptualized in 2013 by Mark Cross.” Bouvy said. “They [the writers] really enjoy science fiction and liken the show to The Walking Dead.”

Cross gave further context into what could be expected in episodes from the series.

“It’s about an intelligent virus, there aren’t any stories like that. It’s kind of a unique take,” Cross said. Cross also mentioned how the story is very different from usual apocalypse stories involving infections, which normally involve zombies of some sorts.

According to Cross, the virus will be able to gain the memories of those it infects, as well as control of their body and will actively work against the characters trying to cure it, killing or infecting them if it has the chance.

“We have a five year plan in place,” Cross said. “And it is going to go the direction of new characters, follow a different group of people, characters are going to get killed. There won’t be the same person as the lead. The hero at the end is not going to be the hero of the first season.”

Cross also explained the series will be serialized, with each episode leading into the next, as well as new characters entering the story and others dying off.

One of the main purposes for Cross though, is to maintain solid grounding in Pittsburgh.

“We can really change things in terms of content coming from this city and not just from California.” Only two members of the crew are not from Pittsburgh.

Bouvy said she owes a lot of her success to Duquesne, specifically the journalism and multimedia department, where she did her undergraduate career in public relations and advertising.

“I credit where I am and the project I am working on to being at the JMA department and Duquesne University.” Bouvy said, also stating that she is currently working on her Masters within the JMA department.

Cross said the biggest challenge is the small budget they are working with, and has been working hard to gain fan support for the show.

“Just support us man,” Cross said. “Everyone needs to go to that Facebook page and click like ‘cause it’s not just supporting the show but supporting the Pittsburgh film community.”