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Tuesday, August 4

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Video Mon May 20 2013

DIY Sci-Fi: Hank Frisco Boldly Goes There

Stepping onto the bridge of Hank Frisco: Galaxy Defender, bright orange vinyl shines off the walls. The swiveling captain's chair, beamed up from your grandparents' basement. And Hank's wisecracking robot, Archie, is clearly a guy wearing tinfoil-covered boxes. But that's kind of the point.

"We chose to do a sci-fi series because we wanted something that gave us the freedom to do crazy, weird things and could be done cheaply," explains Scott Lynch, one of the show's producers.

Accompanied by his trusty sidekick Bonzo, the confoundingly confident Captain Hank Frisco alliterates his way through the galaxy. His mission: discover new sources of grey matter and save a dying Planet Earth.


Working independently and on a barely-existent budget, the team behind the comedy web series draws inspiration and supplies from their everyday lives. A living room served as the launching pad of Captain Frisco's first spaceship. Assenting bosses and easy-to-access workplaces warped into the world of an evil CEO whose handshake holds hypnotizing powers.

"You add on a musical number, some dick jokes, sexy space babes and a lot of silliness and out the other end you get an episode of Hank Frisco," Lynch said.

Despite the silliness, each chapter of Hank Frisco looks seriously good. Its producers are all pros, jettisoning their free time for a chance to sit in the captain's chair. Most of them work for Zacuto, a River North-based company that rents high-end camera equipment (and lets them use it for free). Still, the show hasn't received an astronomical number of views online.

"We have this media where we're able to produce things ourselves and put it out on the Internet, but at the same time it's so easy to get buried with the other hundreds of thousands of web series out there," said writer/producer Matt Kelley.

Instead of making money online, the crew landed on a different way to support the series: launch parties. Held at Lincoln Tap Room and including everything from t-shirt sales to raffles, these friend-fueled festivities fund the next episode.

"It's like being a band on tour," explains producer/director Joe Dejulius. "We're all stuck in a van for six months at a time and then we have this huge show that makes our money back -- and then it's back into the van."

It's been over a year since Hank Frisco last reported back to Earth, but a brand new installment is due out this summer. I won't give you any spoilers, but a space monster, corn dogs, and lube are involved.

You can watch the latest episode of Hank Frisco below:

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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