Nashville's 'Con Trek' Goes Where Few Shows Have Gone Before
by Jim Ridley
on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 2:08 PM
New media doesn't get much newer-media than Con Trek, a show produced by Stephen and Suzie Lackey of Nashville-based Captain Pixel Productions. Every month, the Lackeys--best known for Fans and Freaks, their 2002 documentary about the world of fan conventions--issue a 20-minute dispatch from a different convention, be it the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Ill., or the fabled Lebowski Fest this weekend in Louisville.
Hosted by Alan Smith and Brittney Eskew (who maintain blogs on the show's website), Con Trek adheres to a fast-paced entertainment-magazine format: interviews with the likes of the original Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, interspersed with fan chats, geek-fashion shows, on-site mania, and the occasional close encounter with a Wookiee. Except perhaps for the Wookiee, it's a formula familiar to watchers of E! or the TV Guide channel.
What's new is the vehicle of delivery. Con Trek is one of the first indie shows offered as original programming through Microsoft's Xbox 360 console and its Xbox Live Marketplace network--a system with 18 million subscribers in 26 countries. Even newer is the distribution model. By spending accumulated "points" through the console, users can access Con Trek for the equivalent of roughly $2 per standard-definition episode. (Hi-def costs about a dollar more.)
With four episodes under their belt since March--the latest went up just yesterday--the Lackeys have yet to receive their first quarterly report about the series' viewership. But Stephen Lackey says that their intent was never to get rich off Con Trek. Instead, they mean it as a calling card for future work, possibly on a network.
"You know how it is: you have to have done something before you can do something," Lackey says. Toward that end, he pitched the series to Microsoft before the Xbox Marketplace had even gone live. For now, its audience is limited to Xbox users, though Lackey hints "it's going to be available in a lot more places by fall."
To access the show, log into the Xbox 360 Live Marketplace, go to Video Marketplace, TV Shows, Networks and Studios and click GamerTV.