Lost Hope is a comedic sci-fi epic with mature themes and dramatic overtones; or, as we like to call it, Archer meets Star Wars. Lost Hope, created by real life sci-fi couple Jeff Saamanen and Natalie Harvey, follows the exploits of Clara Hope and her team after the unexpected destruction of planet Earth. Together with her inexperienced crew of the USS Hopeful, Clara is forced to protect what remains of our species from the vast unknown of the universe.
Saamanen and Harvey have previously worked on the graphic novel Worlds Beyond the Grave: The story of Fate and mini series Hench’D20. Lost Hope is their first adventure into the world of digital television to find a galactic stage for their satire of all things sci-fi; and when they say “all” things, they mean “all” things.
Omni: What is Lost Hope—in 10 words?
Jeff Saamanen: Animated sci-fi comedy epic with mature themes and dramatic overtones.
What inspired you and your partner Natalie Harvey to create Lost Hope?
We were inspired both by each other and our favorite shows, and with the loss of Firefly on TV due to bad network decisions, we wanted to make something free of that folly. Natalie and I combined our creative talents and began production on our first animated saga, Lost Hope!
We have been creating together for 15 years, and felt like it was the right time to transition into full animated features. Our initial graphic novel titled Worlds Beyond the Grave taught us how to write and storyboard-out our ideas, as well as the pre-production process required for an animated feature. We then wanted to branch out creatively, so we filmed a live-action series called 4Villains to learn the ins and outs of full production. And now here we stand on the precipice of building something awesome with some amazingly talented voice actors and the passion to match!
Did any science fiction novels, television shows, or graphic novels inspire you to create the Lost Hope universe?
Lots of inspiration comes from mine and Natalie’s love for all things sci-fi. Personally I get massive inspiration from both Firefly and Cowboy Bebop. I love stories about underdogs, the unsung heroes, or even just the not-so-much-a-hero stories. The crew of the Hopeful will be similar, as they’re mostly untrained and forced to survive on the edge of the universe. I wanted to have their need to survive be a struggle every step of the way, to show that life outside the comfort of Earth is not so simple.
We also drew inspiration from those undeniable staples of modern sci-fi: Star Wars, and Star Trek. From the epic space battles and massive galaxy of Star Wars, to the bold exploration of new worlds and new civilizations of Star Trek, you’ll find many tributes to these great shows and movies throughout Lost Hope.
We were also inspired by the classics, such as the visionary sci-fi in the worlds of Jules Verne, to the psychological sci-fi of Philip K. Dick's Blade Runner; and of course another favorite of ours is Douglas Adams and his novels, like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
We hope to trope, spoof, and satire the best of sci-fi from generations of amazing mind-bending genre-specific shows, novels, and comics! If you could see our game/nerd-cave you would understand (laughs).
Are there difficulties in creating a comedy in the science fiction genre?
I think there is always potential for comedy, it is inherent in real life, sci-fi, or fantasy. I believe there are many opportunities for a laugh when dealing with with a massive, unexplored galaxy. I’ve found that writing comedy for a sci-fi like Lost Hope is fairly easy, and the real difficulty lies in making the comedy not targeted specifically to sci-fi fans, but to a broader audience that may not understand the references or subtle satire.
I’ve tried to hit everything from popular sci-fi to the obscure. Finding that middle ground is the golden key to the success of a project like ours, and I feel we have found that balance. Of course there won't just be references and one-off jokes. We have a rich, deep story to tell that yes, has influences from our favorite sci-fi, but doesn’t stop there. We aim to carve out our own existence in this absurd galaxy, and build a new universe filled with awesome characters that make their own comedy, drama and more!
What differs in the Lost Hope universe versus our own?
Lost Hope plays out in an alternative timeline, where the crash at Roswell, New Mexico, takes place several years after the initial contact and capture of the Greys. It’s their subsequent escape that triggers the Roswell event itself; in turn forcing humanity’s hand into developing a survival strategy in secret. Over the decades, we’ve prepared for the anticipated invasion of Earth with the creation of project Hopeful.
Outside of that, everything is pretty much the same, including our culture, our politics, our economics, and our social divides. But when 2020 hits, all hell breaks loose and our team is sent on a galactic chase across the vastness of our galaxy and beyond. Leaving behind a destroyed Earth, and losing everything and everyone they have ever known, things progressively get worse for our crew and those they are tasked to protect.
If you could be any character in the series, who would you be and why?
That is a really tough question. I love them all, because I created them! But I would probably go with the pharmaceutically-fueled genius Doc Tanner, mainly because he gets to stay onboard in the safety of the ship and play with some pretty awesome tech and gadgets. But Doc is not without his shortcomings. His lack of social grace and regard for humanity make him a bit rough around the edges and completely devoid of any bedside manner. Kind of like me in a nutshell, minus the illicit substances (laughs).
How would you define the term “science fiction”?
That’s a great question. I think the idea of science fiction has outgrown our old conception of the term, and should be thought of in a broader sense of what we used to consider fiction in science to be. We have blurred the lines between science and fiction over the last few short decades; so much so that much of our existing technology is even better than what we used to be blown away by in the sci-fi we’ve grown to love.
I think the modern definition of science fiction needs a revisit. I would define it as anything outside the realm of the real world of scientific discovery that leaves room for the mysterious and mystical, while retaining viability in our real universe.
We seem to be permanently on the cusp of new discovery, or even bringing sci-fi ideas into our reality. Things like virtual reality, augmented reality, and touchable holograms are all attainable in the real world now, and they used to be solely in the realm of sci-fi. I like to create in this cusp of scientific discovery, playing with tangible ideas supported by real science and pushing them into the fantastic. This keeps my ideas grounded in reality opposed to the mystical or magical qualities of high sci-fi.
Why do you believe the idea of a journey or a grand voyage is so central to the concept of science fiction? How is this used in Lost Hope?
Science is exploration of the unknown. It is the journey to identify and understand. Since the formation of our first footprints in the earth, we have been scientists keen on exploring new heights and discovering a new understanding of our existence. I think this is the core of not just science fiction but of life as a whole in our universe.
My journey has led me here to creating Lost Hope, but I stand on the backs of giants. The people who harness electricity and build processors more powerful than the human brain, the software we use the interact with our devices and the platforms of which we use to build our art assets and animation, are all here due to the science of our predecessors.
It is an inherent quality of science fiction and Lost Hope is no different. Our journey is one of survival, and more importantly, the growth of our species. When we are forced to face an alien threat and witness the loss of our planet, all the lines we drew in the sand and divides we conjured in our own minds, begin to fall away. Our social, political, sexual, and religious divides begin to crumble and we are left standing with the base elements to start building anew.
This is the journey we take with Lost Hope. Not just exploration of the unknown universe, but a re-evaluation of our species and our shortcomings, and how we can break past them to secure our survival and build a new and better future for those who must inherit our burdens.
Where can we watch Lost Hope?
For everything Lost Hope, our website LostHope.tv covers it all. We are shooting to create a 4-episode standalone pilot, equal to one 96 minute epic.
And finally...what did you think of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
I absolutely loved it! It was better after my second viewing, though. I was so overwhelmed with nostalgia and expectations during the first viewing that I barely got to soak anything in. My second viewing cleared up a lot of the missing pieces, fixed some plot issues with a few lines of dialogue, and ended in a most satisfying return of my favorite characters ever to grace the big screen.
Being able to walk through the theater doors on that opening night to see the big blue letters once more, and watch a move that was NOT THE PREQUELS was an absolute delight.
Slight spoilers… I feel like I lost a member of my family though...
Without Star Wars there would be no Lost Hope. It is by far the biggest influence on my life and my love for sci-fi, so sitting in that theater seeing my adopted family back together (sort of) was just amazing.
Witty, clever, and animated, Clara Hope and her (somewhat inexperienced) team of the USS Hopefuly protect what remains of the human species in Lost Hope. What ever looming threats will they find in the unexplored universe.