"Can't Stop the Signal" - an in depth look at the Apollo Awards

I’ve been promising you an interview with Melanie Teychenne-King and Peter Budd, part of the genius behind The Apollo Awards. This is an in depth look at what I predict will become the biggest entertainment award in the world. Please share the interview far and wide so the word gets out. Can’t stop the signal…

What are the Apollo Awards?

MISSY: In its simplest form, The Apollo Awards are a gala awards ceremony honouring the best of science fiction and fantasy film, television and multimedia from around the world, and throughout the history of genre entertainment on screen. The winners will not only be voted by the fans, but nominated by them as well. The aim is to let everyone have their say on what is popular without having to choose between only five or so nominations dictated to them. Everything is in the hands of the fans!

In keeping with this culmination of a united worldwide audience, the awards ceremony – held in Queensland, Australia in the latter half of the year – will be streamed live online, to an audience of millions of viewers around the world.

Supporting The Apollo Awards, and a fundamental part of the concept, will be the Apollo Website. It will be shaped and executed in a way that is interactive and inclusive, bringing together the scattered sci-fi & fantasy communities from all over the ‘net. Not only will fans be able to nominate and vote in the awards, interact with each other, and read news and blogs aggregated from a plethora of genre websites, but they’ll shape the growth of the site through user generated content and promotion of independent works such as film, art, literature, web series, v-logs or reviews.

PETER: The Apollo awards represent an opportunity for fans worldwide to voice their support for their favourite contemporary and past film, TV show, actor or media event in the world of Sci-fi/Fantasy. They are the Oscars meet MTV. Sci-fi/Fantasy is poorly represented in award recognition and yet they are among the top money makers. This is probably due to past prejudices; the belief that if it’s not real-life drama it’s not really acting or good. We’re not out to change the mind set of the world, only to give voice to those who deserve to be heard. As we say, “You Vote. You Decide. Be heard.”

EXAMPLE CATEGORIES (does not indicate exact title of category, the entire list of categories, nor whether they will be included in the 2011 awards. These are examples only): Best Series, Best Film, Best Actor/Actress, All-Time Legend.  Awards for best… space ship or vessel; space battle; land battle; magical world; talking creature; character death; villain; on-screen partnership; love match; robot/AI; genre parody; genre music video; short film – original; short film –  fan film; trailer for novel/game; webseries.

What inspired you to undertake this project?

MISSY: The Apollo Awards was born out of an idea Peter and I had about recognising and encouraging amateur, non-professional work in the fields of video production, art and literature.  As we developed the project, and through our association with the various sci-fi and pop culture events around Australia, we saw that not only are these fans passionate and vocal about the sci-fi and fantasy genres – the reason they were producing such fantastic works in the first place – but their view on what made a show or film work, or popular, was completely different from others around the world. The internet was the battlefield of debate, and there was a general feeling of frustration that there was so little recognition, not only by mainstream media, but by the creators or distributors of these show and films.

Around the same time, a consultant working on the project helped us to steer the concept in to something more commercially viable. Once we married the two ideas – the voice of the fans with a focus on great genre film and television, the Apollo Awards became an international platform for us to really get an understanding of what and who is popular, adored and iconic in the sci-fi fantasy genres. Delivering the awards ceremony simultaneously to a worldwide audience is paying our respects to the fans, and technology is at the point where we can stream the event online so everyone is a part of the show, no matter where in the world they live.

PETER: Missy and I had worked together on several scifi projects and had been confronted on many occasions by the passion and devotion the fans had for not only watching but also involving themselves on other levels with their favourite shows. This included costuming, short film making, writing and model making. We wanted to develop a national award to recognize these talents and efforts. As this progressed we realized that much of the devotion was also borne of frustration that the shows they loved and in many cases emulated, were not being given the recognition they deserved.

As long suffering fans ourselves and seeing the relationship between box office grosses and the lack of recognition given to our genres, we felt it was time for the fans to have their say. The concept we had been developing for the national fan awards then mutated into “The Apollo Awards”. The place for fans to voice their opinions to decide and tell the world who or what they feel deserves the honour of an award. Whilst there are other genre awards around, they also offer only their view of who or what is deserving. We want the fans to have a voice and let us know what they think. I should also mention that the national fan awards are still in development and that we hope to incorporate them eventually into the Apollo Awards weekend.

What is your long term vision for the awards?

MISSY: We want fans to tell us directly what they love and why, rather than simply waiting for a specific market to dictate the ratings or box office rankings – and thus ensure the longevity and success of genre television and film. The opinions of fans are as diverse as the countries they reside in, and what is popular in one region may not be the same in another.

As for Box Office takings – when 9 of the 10 top grossing films of all time are science fiction or fantasy, and yet combined they make up only a small percentage of the principle Academy Awards winners, we feel there is a stigma attached the genre that we want to help shake.  This is as much about the stereotype of fans, as it is about science fiction and fantasy being as legitimate and influential an art form as any drama, period piece or art house film.

While our target audience is tech savvy and vocal about their passions, they are scattered far and wide across the internet, making it difficult to gauge the true nature of their impact on the success or failure of film and television productions – whether studio/network and independent, on screen or online. The long term vision of the Apollo Awards and its associated online community is to be the central hub of everything to do with the genres; news, blogs, games, events, forums, merchandise, articles, reviews, trailers – and in particular – a place where people can promote their own work; be it a short film, online web series, music, or work with charities or causes.

The data we collect from the voting systems alone will be an invaluable tool for understanding the demographics of audiences – both the casual viewer and those who are more active in the online and real world communities. We hope to use this to help educate and influence the studios and networks to take into consideration the impact that science fiction and fantasy has in shaping our cultural idiom and the advancement of technological and social development. As an independent (non network or studio affiliated) team we believe we have the means to present an unbiased representation of the audiences from around the globe.

PETER: The long term vision for the awards is for events to be staged world wide simultaneously and linked into the global internet broadcast that is the Apollo Awards. We want the Awards to generate a community where fans globally will be able to voice their thoughts have their say and know that they are being listened to. The legendary letter writing campaign of the late 60’s to keep the original Star Trek on air was a mammoth undertaking for its time, but is still today the bench mark for fan achievement. The potential the Apollo Awards and activities offer for a global campaign on any given front is unbelievable. The fans not only need a voice they want one. The Apollo Awards will,  we hope make the marketplace stop and take notice and rather than riding the crest of our wave for their own profit start to work with us to create that wave and maintain its momentum.

How can people support the project?

MISSY: Right now our goal is to spread the word as far and wide as possible, which was the reason for launching the Apollo Awards at New York Comic Con, and why we want to reach fans around the world by attending other events in the UK, Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia. We are working on gaining support online via twitter and Facebook, so that when the voting goes live in 2011, we have a strong enough following to get a broad spectrum of votes from around the world that will diversify the results and give us a true understanding of what the fans enjoy and are passionate about.

Support from the creators and actors of genre film and television will also be invaluable; their direct access to fans via the internet has broken down the barriers between the industry and the audience. This will work not only to our advantage, but their own as they motivate their followers to have their say. It will open up avenues to them to promote their work, in both the entertainment and media industries, and auxiliary causes and charities that they support.

PETER: Our launch at this years’ New York Comic Con was all about letting the world know we here. This was our opportunity to tell 125,000 fans that their voce was worth listing to and where to find us. At this point in time people can support the project by going to the Apollo Facebook site and following us on twitter. With the launch of the major Apollo Awards website in February they will be able to start giving us their opinions and join in. We need everyone to send to their networks links to our current sites, to offer thoughts and information to each and us about what’s out there. If people are connected with actors or productions tell them about the Apollo Awards and encourage them to find us and offer their support. The building of the Apollo Awards community is the most vital thing at the moment.

What will it mean for Australia?

MISSY: Australia has such a diverse and talented pool of actors, writers, crews, creators, artists and directors that are limited by the current state of the industry in terms of incentives for external productions, and the support available to home-grown productions to produce works within the genres.

The Apollo Awards ceremony, being based in a reputable production arena such as Queensland, will draw the attention of the world to recognise the significant contributions that have been made by those in the industry in shaping the current face of science fiction and fantasy: Star Wars, The Matrix, Pitch Black, Superman, Ghostrider, Dark City, Daybreakers, Narnia and Mad Max, along with TV series such as Farscape and Clone Wars. These  are only an example of how Australian’s have contributed to the world stage of fantastic genre film and television; The Apollo Awards are not only about recognising global achievements, but by the very act of hosting this event in Australia, reminding the rest of the entertainment industry that we have an impact on the world stage.

PETER: For Australia it means an international focus when the awards are staged in Brisbane. A gala event with celebrities, personalities and fans joining together to celebrate our genres. Many local artists will be featured during the awards ceremony. The potential for film makers and fans alike to introduce the world to themselves and their product is limitless. These awards are international, but their home is Australia.

Read the ApolloAwards_Press release25nov

FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Apollo-Awards/127401647311337

TWITTER http://twitter.com/ApolloAwards

YOUTUBE http://www.youtube.com/user/TheApolloAwards

WEBSITE http://www.theapolloawards.com/

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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