Pioneer One (2010) HD

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Pioneer One

A mysterious spaceship has entered Earth's atmosphere. A US Department of Homeland Security investigation has uncovered a live human being in a Soviet space suit in an unstable condition. A note in Russian, found at the crash site, claims the man is the child of cosmonauts living at a base on Mars.

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Episode 6: "War of the World"

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Taylor prepares to go to the public with Yuri's story, and everyone discovers the consequences of their actions in the conclusion to Pioneer One's first season.

Pioneer One is a serialized drama produced and distributed online through VODO and the DISCO network. Downloaded almost 2,000,000 times and winner for Best Drama Pilot at the 2010 New York Television Festival, the show is independently produced and financed by viewer donations.

Episode 5: "Sea Change"

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When an unannounced visitor breaks in to the Calgary base with just days left in the Quarantine, tensions are at an all-time high. The fate of Yuri and everyone on Tom Taylor's team is about to be decided.

Episode 4: "Triangular Diplomacy"

As the media begins to question the story about the crashed satellite, Secretary McClellan starts to play hardball with the Russians in pursuit of his own truth. But everything hinges on what Yuri, the frightened boy at the center of it all, might have to say…

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Episode 3: "Alone in the Night"

Quarantined to the Calgary base for two weeks, Taylor and his team have bought time to get answers from the supposed Martian cosmonaut. But who can get him to talk?

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Episode 2: "The Man From Mars"

Mars expert Dr. Zachary Walzer (Jack Haley) fights to prove the validity of the Mars story. Can he convince the government to mount a manned mission to Mars? Agent in charge Tom Taylor (James Rich) faces pressure from both the Canadians and his own superiors, and has to make a call.

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Episode 1: "Earthfall" (Pilot)

An object in the sky spreads radiation over North America. Fearing terrorism, U.S. Homeland Security agents are dispatched to investigate and contain the damage. What they discover will have drastic implications.

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The Pioneer One Team

In late January 2010, writer Josh Bernhard pitched his Untitled Mars Show idea to director Bracey Smith. In February, the pair quit their jobs and got down to work on the pilot episode of Pioneer One, finished by May with a budget of $6000. The enormous response to its release on VODO prompted them to continue producing the first season with viewer-donated support.
The Pioneer One team is based mostly in and around New York, NY. At its core is a group of filmmakers who met at the avant-garde cinema department at Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY. With P1, they've amassed an amazing group of talented performers and crew, all willing to work for free because of their belief in the project.

Pioneer One

  • At 22:04 on 14 Dec 2010

    Episode One: This 35-minute sci-fi pilot revolves around the discovery of an object from space, a lost cosmonaut and the U.S. government’s efforts to contain the situation. The production values are impressive given the low budget, and the scripting, acting and direction are solid. If you enjoyed the slightly talky but eerie Quatermass series, Pioneer One would probably be right up your alley.

  • At 19:42 on 23 Apr 2011

    Here’s a bold statement: episode three of Pioneer One may go down in history as one of the most program-revolutionizing episodes in a series, ever. In this episode we saw a complete gear shift – characters were fleshed out and brought to life in a hitherto unexplored fashion, giving far more depth to the show on the whole. The actors, whether under some adjustment of direction or simply achieving comfort in their roles, seemed to blossom and take a giant step forward towards achieving their potential. In some cases, such potential was revealed where it had previously not been clear. Before I go any further into my review, I must disclose two things. First, this review does contain spoilers, and I will not clearly label them. So if you have not yet watched it, stop reading and stream/download it now – then proceed. Second, unlike with the previous two episodes I was completely sober when watching this third installment. See? No need for an intervention. I have already lauded the character development and acting in this episode, and these elements will comprise the bulk of this review. Why? Because the story was not greatly advanced. Plot took a back seat to “getting to know you”, and this is more or less OK. The end result was an episode that was thoroughly engaging regardless. My only concern is that what plot was advanced seemed to be mostly sub-plot – and I would hate to see the primary storyline diluted by too much flotsam and jetsam. There was nothing inherently bad about these asides and incidentals. However, some struck me hit or miss. Some I am fairly certain will have a major impact on future episodes. Time will tell. One example of such hit or miss storytelling was the puzzling glimpse into Tom Taylor’s personal life. After a cursory and somewhat clumsy conversation between Tom and Dr. Walzer about Walzer’s failed marriage, Tom was suddenly desperate to escape quarantine to go to his rather impatient and mostly unlovable significant other to pop the question. No doubt this was intended to grip us, as it was left a cliffhanger, but it seemed so hastily thrown-together as to feel like a non-sequitur. I found myself not the least bit emotionally involved in the scenario. And while I’m speaking of Tom Taylor, let me state that while your mileage may vary, to me he went from being one of the most, if not the most, likable characters on the show to something of an unsympathetic dick. It’s the only character whose progression, in my opinion, ended up a regression. Case in point: in this episode he delivered the worst pep talk in history to a distraught Jane Campbell when she was doubting her suitability as companion to the stricken “Martian boy”, Yuri. His idea of motivation was to tell her, “Sure, there are tons of people who are better than you. But you’re the one we’re stuck with, m’kay?” Now, I have already pointed out that he seems unprepared and unsure of how to handle the situation in which he’s at the helm. Understandable. Maybe that sequence was intended to underline this. And, while I’m proposing excuses, maybe the whole rush-to-marriage-proposal thing was meant to illustrate how fed up he is with being in charge. Maybe his sudden desperation to escape quarantine was, whatever his ultimate motive for so doing, more or less symbolic of his need to escape the turn his life has suddenly taken. But at this juncture you may be asking yourself, unless you were good enough to watch the episode before reading this review, “Who is Jane?”. She’s a new character brought abruptly onto the scene to help keep Yuri company, and to perhaps elicit from him some intelligible responses to the inevitable onslaught of questioning to which he’ll be subjected when he’s recovered more. In a nutshell, she’s a nurse who’s experienced working with sick kids, and she happens to have a passable grasp of the Russian language. (Though this was never fully illustrated.) She is, quite simply, the most stunning element of the show thus far, and if the preview of episode four is to believed, she will (thankfully) play a much larger role in plot to come. She is well and believably acted, but more importantly, she’s identifiable and you cannot help but relate to her on any of a number of levels. And for my money the best scene in the entire series thus far is her attempt at storytelling, guiding the clearly frightened and suffering Yuri through a little good old-fashioned escapism. It wasn’t not the first time someone reached out to him with a personal touch – more on that in a bit – but it’s the most touching outreach. Combining a simple fairy tale with something I can only describe as interpretive dance (and this is the only time you’ll ever hear me mention interpretive dance in a positive light), she came across as graceful, almost ethereal, and you couldn’t help but fall in love. And, for what it’s worth, it was one of the least choreographed-looking dance sequences I can recall seeing in TV or film. The end result was a totally organic scene. Since we’re on the topic of reaching out to Yuri, let’s discuss the brief but important conversation Dr. Walzer had with the young lad. Walzer veered sharply from his Vizzini-esque path in this episode, becoming someone it’s possible to truly like. During his little chat with Yuri we saw a side of him that’s not yet been highlighted. We were given a chance to better understand what motivates him. And the show is better for having one of its central characters clearly explained. But that’s not the only case of “meet and greet” with already-established players. Remember the guy with the emo haircut? Turns out he’s not so much emo, but actually just a nerd, and a fun nerd, at that. (He never stood a chance at being hip; he was named after Adlai Stevenson.) Why it took three episodes to learn more about him I can only speculate – however, getting to know him brings about another layer of polish and greater chance of immersion to the series. Perhaps it’s coincidental that it was Jane who brought him out of his shell. Then again, maybe not. One last instance of character development, as well as a shining example of acting vastly improved from the previous episode, came in the form of the Canadian liaison, whose acting was stiff and actually distracting in episode two. In this episode, however, we were shown more of his character – a character who continues to assert his importance to Tom verbally, but more or less rolls over when told. And finally, this was brought to life with better-delivered dialog and body language. Hell, he even made a witty remark. A vast improvement. “Vast improvement” is actually the key phrase when it comes to the entirety of episode three. And considering Pioneer One was a solid show to begin with, that’s a feat. As I pointed out in my review of the first two episodes Pioneer One began with much room for growth. It has made good on its promise and grown. I am greatly looking forward to episode four and hope you’ll join me both in watching it when it’s released, and in reading my future reviews of the series.

  • At 16:42 on 15 Mar 2012

    Today we’re revisiting a series that I kinda gushed over last year. Since reviewing the pilot, Pioneer One has since been able to crowdfund five more episodes for six in total, they won the drama category for 2010′s NYTVF (and should’ve won pretty much everything else. Illuminati Brothers? Greg And Donny? Really?), and their first two episodes as of January 2011 received over 1.7 million downloads. So, for the equivalent of an hour-long television pilot, they had more viewers than either of the first two season premieres of Breaking Bad. According to their blog, it sounds like creator Josh Bernhard and director Bracey Smith are tiring of discussion over their novel distribution methods—hint: torrents are effective! I’ll skip that. Let’s talk the show itself. Are you watching it? You should be. You should be talking about it. When people say, “there’s nothing good on the web,” or “you can’t do drama on the web,” you point them directly to this series and you say, “shut up.” With each episode, small revelations, things that on the surface appear mundane, have major and lasting consequences. A single word near the end of Episode 4 (by this time, our running time is deep into TV Miniseries lengths) and with no shocked response, no intense musical cues, everything you thought about the series changes. Political intrigue is shown through devil-in-the-details moments, from using old immigration agreements and laws as ammunition for forcing the Russians into backing down to simply not answering the phone until they’re damn good and ready to buy time. Humanity shown through old clips of a character begging Congress for funding to go to Mars because “it’s the next step,” and the power of simple human contact for someone who may have never felt it before. We talk a big game about the web overtaking TV, about the creative freedom it provides. And while only a semi-full picture of its ratings are known for the first two episodes, less than 1,500 people have watched Pioneer One‘s fourth episode on YouTube, released on October 4th, 2011. You want us to overtake TV? You want to talk about how it can provide something that TV never could or would? Viewers are gonna have to do better than that. We’re going to have to have the balls to bring it up at the water cooler. We’re going to need to be willing to discuss it at least the way we would a Sundance film. We need to take the “just” out of “it’s just on the web.” When someone produces something that at its core stands up against anything on any medium, we as advocates for our particular medium better step up. Not just for a pilot. But continuous. I’m not going to lie — that Pioneer One‘s producers are unable to make this their full time, somewhat lucrative job pisses me off. Doubly so because I’m partly to blame. I forgot about them. I talked it up but I didn’t champion it. It was only through dumb luck talking with Marc a week or two ago that I was reminded about the series. They’ve made it on the summer issue of Moviemaker Magazine. They won best drama pilot in 2010 for NYTVF. I gave it a full on, no-strings-attached win review. What more do you want, a cookie for watching? Fine, I’ll start baking. We want great dramas on the web, ones that are independently made and don’t sink to the lowest common denominator? We only need to get up off our asses and watch and talk about the ones that’re already here to those who don’t necessarily watch series on the web. It’s entirely that simple.


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on June 19, 2010 at 11:37pm

I like the story and the writing. The production value could be a bit higher though. Also the producers might benefit from a larger acting pool for some of the more minor characters. I really liked the score but would like to hear more of it throughout the show. Cant wait for Ep 2!


on June 19, 2010 at 10:56pm

ok the guy with the long review doesn't know what he's talking about. You totally forget about the shaky camera after a few minutes and it really doesn't bother anyone. The plot was great l did not see that coming .
And l like the style of directing really keep up the good work l really hope this works out because it's a terrific idea


on June 19, 2010 at 10:27pm

Looking like a first semester college film class must be the new thing to try and do. Seriously I can see that a lot of thought went into this but I cannot believe that this took more that five months from planing to execution. The actors seemed to be very "oh this is my line, right?" Also not a whole lot of emotion. One camera works to get the job done but on the whole if you had two, even if they are cheap, you could have such a smoother vantage change. Last, but certainly not least, is lighting. lighting in this seems to be very stale. the only time I really noticed a change in light that could be considered for the mood was during the scene when the fed was trying to coerce the scientist into helping... and that was achieved seemingly by accident with the EXIT sign hanging above them. For example having the walls unlit and the characters and objects close to them lit in a dim light works very well. and for outside shots use a filtered lens or even shoot it during dusk/ sunset to give it a cooler light, mid-day shots are always way too bright and wash out the color your looking for.

Over all though I could see this pilot becoming a fantastic series if done properly. I did enjoy it the first time through and used the second time for my critique. hope to see the next installment soon. have fun :)


on June 19, 2010 at 10:26pm

Looking like a first semester college film class must be the new thing to try and do. Seriously I can see that a lot of thought went into this but I cannot believe that this took more that five months from planing to execution. The actors seemed to be very "oh this is my line, right?" Also not a whole lot of emotion. One camera works to get the job done but on the whole if you had two, even if they are cheap, you could have such a smoother vantage change. Last, but certainly not least, is lighting. lighting in this seems to be very stale. the only time I really noticed a change in light that could be considered for the mood was during the scene when the fed was trying to coerce the scientist into helping... and that was achieved seemingly by accident with the EXIT sign hanging above them. For example having the walls unlit and the characters and objects close to them lit in a dim light works very well. and for outside shots use a filtered lens or even shoot it during dusk/ sunset to give it a cooler light, mid-day shots are always way too bright and wash out the color your looking for.

Over all though I could see this pilot becoming a fantastic series if done properly. I did enjoy it the first time through and used the second time for my critique. hope to see the next installment soon. have fun :)


on June 19, 2010 at 7:01pm

I started watching it, but I just couldn't continue because the camera is moving all the time. I easliy get motion sickness and that was really unwatchable for me. Would have really liked to watch it.

pioneer1 is trash

on June 19, 2010 at 6:48pm

okay you have done absolutely NO research whatsoever. Calgary and Edmonton are not exactly "adjoining" cities you flit between via helicopter, in fact I'm not aware of a helicopter that could go between them without stopping to refuel. Why given that Edmonton has major hospitals would they transport someone to a "defunct" airbase [incidentally the correct term would be 'mothballed'] further even making 'adjustments' between reality and tvland for a moment, do you really think that Canada would just cede jurisdiction on something like this? OR if they had that suddenly a medical doctor would have to take orders from a US department? What world do you idiots live in?


on June 19, 2010 at 6:21pm

Good plot got to inmprove camera use still camera and preferably more army people to make it look better and the chief desk has no files the plot needs it to be more dramatic but the story despite its need for speed is slow love the charecters but they make it look reharsed too love the plot love the idea hope they fix all of these in the second episode good luck


on June 19, 2010 at 6:14pm

Just wondering if theres anyone else out there who cant play this in Miro. It only plays the sound not the video. VLC works great.


on June 19, 2010 at 4:54pm

Thanks for the interesting Pilot!
Will you make russian subtitles?


on June 19, 2010 at 4:36pm

brilliant. i love the fact this isn't polished and buffed and faked up, that the actors aren't superactors on their 50th take. it lends to a realisticish documentary feel and the plot is far more fun than some generic pander to the masses three hits and you're done mediocrity. more please.


on June 19, 2010 at 1:17pm

Well said!


on June 19, 2010 at 1:15pm

For a low-budget project, extremely well done!

However, the dialog (in places) is really bad, and has that "written by a student/noob" vibe, and trying so damn hard to sound like the "Big Boys". Otherwise, most all of the other departments did a fabulous job in keeping this project somewhat believable and non-"studenty". But again, some of the dialog is comically bad, and trying way too hard. And makeup department....really? Nice job of having a scene in which the shine off the lead characters scalp takes precedence over everything else happening. That is a makeup/DP/LD/camera operator, fail!

Overall, a monumental effort. But bad/unbelievable dialog (in parts), laughably bad CGI, and really bad lapses in judgment both during, and also in post production, will keep this from going as far as it might have. I rarely see a project which is winning so heavily in most all areas FAIL so miserably in some fairly minor ones.

Learn from this, kiddies. CGI is NOT supposed to draw attention to itself. And it's even more (if thats possible) offensive when it not only draws attention to itself, but in a way in which the audience is like "wow, that's some crappy, 1st year, sub-sub-par CGI work". Pathetically bad CGI harms a film more with it in, then if it was edited out. So what if those scenes werent there? Cut out the bad flesh, so the body can live, noob editor/director.

Use your heads people, you obviously have some brains since the overall look and feel of this project were so good. Fire whichever idiots are dropping the ball, he/she/they are screwing up the value of this project.


on June 19, 2010 at 1:10pm

I am not one to ever comment on online forums. But after watching the pilot I was very disappointed. Nothing was believable. The writers should watch the first 4 seasons of the West Wing. The writers of that show were actually aware of how situations were handled. And if not, they made me believe thats how security threats were handled. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the United States government send more then 1 agent from homeland security to sort out the issue. And would their agents actually have laptops with huge "homeland security" stickers on them. Would there not be CIA up in Canada doing what they do. For example, the scene with the rocks. I think I saw a car drive by in the background. Would something like that not be moved to a secure location. There is an old army base just south of Edmonton with a huge underground bunker, a very secure location. I live outside of Calgary and I can't think of 1 place in the city that would make sense a strange capsule that spread radiation would be moved to. The writers need to do a lot more research and a lot more thinking on how to make something seem real. In the area 51 stories, there was mas amounts of agents sweeping the landing sites and airplane hangers converted to secure the findings (I believe. Area 51 stories aren't told to often up here in Canada). the only part of the show I found to have reason is when the main guy made some comment about RCMP officers being incompetent. Being Canadian, I know that to be true.


on June 19, 2010 at 12:30pm

I loved the pilot! It's really interesting and captivating (speaking about both the plot and the idea itself).
Though I've noticed few omissions, won't repeat them, they've been mentioned by koreth and yattaman. I really hope that the areators will do some googling and won't make something like " Baikonur, Russian Federation"
Also I am concerned about language mistakes (I mean Russian language) - you've made not many yet, but you have, and the pronunciation leaves much to be desired - I could hardly recognize this or that word (although I am native russian)


on June 19, 2010 at 11:21am

English subtitles are at -- we're working on other languages now.


on June 19, 2010 at 9:57am

hey how do i get the stuff offered for donating to the show? I gave $10


on June 19, 2010 at 9:22am

I liked the story line the film and acting was good just not great but liked it...I donated to help and improve and see where this goes...I am very hopeful


on June 19, 2010 at 8:37am

Really good considering the budget. Loved the idea of a free torrent distribution. Subtitles would be great. Always have in mind that English is only the third language spoken in the list of languages ordered by the number of native-language speakers.


on June 19, 2010 at 2am

I was really REALLY disappointed it wasn't time travel. The writing and characters need shoring up, they just arn't believable at it made it boring at times. Still, the ending left me wanting more and if theres an interesting sequel of the same or higher caliber I'll donate.


on June 19, 2010 at 1:32am

LOVE the storyline! Interesting and leaves much to follow! This has soo much potential!!
But I'm not liking the cameraman, moving the camera so much when people are having dialog is nauseating. Cutting from person to person would work better.
The writing could be more.. human, less character. Make your actors get into the characters, not the other way around. Make them real with personalities, not persona's. Since this project doesn't have the restraint of big studio bullshit focus groups, your actors should be able to develop their characters and the writers should be able to integrate them into the scripts.You're trying to make Scully and Mulder, and they aren't. And did I see the Joe (Clive) smirk at 10:04? Really??? Kathleen is doing good as Christine. She should be lead.
The support characters are boring, make them funny. I liked the guy in the beginning texting while talking to the redhead, he had a acting ability. The guy in that scene with the glasses, not so much. And the Dr. Zach isn't wowing me either. He's smart but doesn't realize its a great idea to be involved in a gov't coverup that deals with ANYTHING from space??? Thats not so much the actors problem as it is the writers.
And what happened to the background music? Its was all over the place in the first 15 minutes, but as the intensity grows towards the end, its all but existent.
Amatuerish, yes, needs REAL scifi geek preview (such as mine). It doesn't have to be bad, even though its no budget. I donated, make me see some good!!

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