The following is an interview with David Dean Bottrell, co-founder of the annual sci-fi one-act festival, Sci-Fest LA. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Bottrell about the inspiration behind the festival’s launch, the star-studded one-act lineup for 2015’s festival, and how you can help to make Sci-Fest LA the best that it can be through its currently running Indiegogo campaign!
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: First and foremost, congratulations on the upcoming return of Sci-Fest LA for its second year! As a co-founder of the one-act festival (with Michael Blaha and Lee Costello), what initially intrigued you about the project?
David Dean Bottrell: Thank you for this interview! We’re thrilled to be coming back for our second year. To answer your question, I think it was the idea of an “anthology” that hooked me. As a teenager, I used to love those collections of sci-fi short stories in my local library. When I first considered the idea of creating a sci-fi stage festival, I knew I wanted to recreate that same feeling of a “collection” of stories — which is exactly what we did. One of our reviewers from last year said the festival was like discovering a bunch of new, contemporary Twilight Zone episodes – except they’re live on stage. I loved reading that.
BD: What do you hope that audiences took away from the festival in its first year, and what are you most looking forward to about the 2015 lineup?
DDB: We were very proud of the stories that were told last year. I had several friends who were definitely not sci-fi fans, yet when they reluctantly showed up last May, they were blown away by what they saw. A lot of them commented on how although the stories were bizarre they were also very “human.” I was thrilled with that description, since the best sci-fi literature and movies always examine our humanity under very extreme or supernatural circumstances. The 2015 edition of Sci-Fest LA is more of the same, but we’ve upped our game quite a bit on the technical side. And, the biggest (and most intimidating) news is that, this year, we are producing new scripts given to us by Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. And, they are both fantastic. I’m astounded they entrusted us with this material. We can’t wait to start rehearsal.
BD: When looking for one-acts for the 2015 lineup, did you have a specific criteria in mind for which shows would be included?
DDB: We always chose the scripts based on the quality of the writing, but we did keep our eye out for shows with a strong visual component. Last year, everybody was blown away when we floated astronauts on stage and made that guy’s face come out of a wall. This year’s shows will have some pretty dazzling effects. I’m dying to tell you about them, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
BD: What can you tell us about the process of working with the creative team of the festival, including the cast, crew, and writers, as well as the contributions of these individuals to Sci-Fest LA as a whole?
DDB: We’re blessed to doing this festival in L.A., where there are so many incredibly talented artists. Last year’s festival was sort of like a dream. I was astounded at how well everybody got along both creatively and professionally. Not that every second of it was smooth sailing, but I was tremendously happy to see that everybody, ultimately, had their eyes on the prize. We all seemed to have the same goal in mind: to give these shows whatever they needed to soar. It was some of the best teamwork I’ve ever been a part of.
BD: Like many independently created projects, Sci-Fest LA launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary funds for a second year. How has Indiegogo enabled you to provide further promotion of the project?
DDB: 2014 was our first time at bat, and, amazingly, we raised $80,000 in a heartbeat. We were floored and assumed it would be just as easy when we came back for year two. I suppose it’s the truth of any “sophomore” operation that it’s a little trickier the second year, because you’re not “new” anymore. Long story short, we’ve had to work much harder to raise money this year. We are totally committed to taking the festival to the next level, so nothing is going to stop us. That said, it would be terrific if your readers wanted to take a second (Right now!) and send us a donation via our website: www.sci-festla.com
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to Sci-Fest LA, are there any specific donation perks that may pique our readers’ interest?
DDB: We’ve got a ton of cool stuff that ranges from the fun and goofy, like our t-shirts and magnetic bumper stickers, all the way up to some beautiful, collectible posters — six of which are signed by Star Trek icons like Wil Wheaton, Michael Dorn, Armin Shimerman, and Walter Koenig. There’s also a great collection of Clive Barker material that he donated to the festival.
BD: Finally, where can readers find more information regarding Sci-Fest LA, its 2015 season, and the currently running Indiegogo campaign?
DDB: All roads lead to our website: www.Sci-FestLA.com. My strongest advice is to sign up for our mailing list, because it’s probably the easiest way to stay informed about all of the upcoming stuff. We’re about to start casting, and that’s always really exciting. We get so many amazing actors from Star Trek and all of these other great franchises, it’s amazing. The fest opens May 5th, and if anybody’s coming from out of town, I’d suggest that they do so over the Memorial Day weekend, because ALL of the shows are going to play in those two days. And, I’d just like to give a shout-out to all of the donors. We truly appreciate their support! They’re the ones who really make the festival happen.