This is Part 5 of our extended retrospective about the #SaveTheExpanse movement. If you missed the beginning, please start from Part 1. A shorter, more concise overview of the campaign is also available here.
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5
Much like the little Rocinante, a few of our organizers were in the sky and on their way to LA to join the cast & crew at the ISDC (International Space Development Conference). Tension was in the air as many fans hoped that something big would happen at the event: In a totally unplanned coincidence, members of The Expanse’s cast & crew and Jeff Bezos himself would be in attendance. The Expanse was to hold a panel on the science of the series, while Bezos was to accept an award and give a talk to guests from the space and aeronautics industry.
Those present at the conference included Naren Shankar, Hallie Lambert, Cara Gee, Steven Strait, Wes Chatham, and Cas Anvar. Fan campaign organizers Vincent Buyssens, Murilo Silva, Ed Akselrud, Hanne Paine, Luis Levy and journalist Michael Pea were also on site. Shortly before the panel, Strait recorded a short video for our social media, thanking and motivating the fans.
The panel actually kicked off with a showing of Zurik23M’s trailer that was released the week before — a welcome acknowledgement of the quality of fan-made content. The cast and crew then discussed the lengths they went to ensure scientific accuracy in the series, showcasing more clips as examples and elaborating on the shooting and VFX techniques required. As a scientist, who holds a Ph.D in applied physics, showrunner Naren Shankar spoke about how he in particular wanted to ensure the series doesn’t take the easy way out in the portrayal of science and physics.
After the panel concluded, the cast went out to meet and speak to Jeff Bezos, who was mingling in the lobby. This was already suspiciously theatrical, and seemed to all but confirm the possibility of acquisition. Off to the side, the @SaveTheExpanse representatives were jumping up and down with a giant #SaveTheExpanse banner (just in case Bezos still hadn’t gotten the message).
Meanwhile, the rest of the campaign team was preparing contingency press releases and graphics for either outcome. Earlier that day, the team also released the official video of the Rocinante weather balloon flight, edited by Orion Reed. Emotions were running high, and most of the team had been sleep deprived for days, especially given the global distribution of the volunteers. Everyone wanted to know whether we could rest easy that night, or if the fight had to continue.
To all of our relief and complete joy, it was the former.
As soon as Bezos got up on stage at the awards dinner, he interrupted moderator Alan Boyle to make the announcement, with the attending cast and crew of The Expanse seated near the front:
“I was talking to the cast … right before dinner started,” Bezos said. “I was telling them we were working hard at Amazon to save The Expanse, but it wasn’t a done deal yet. And during dinner, 10 minutes ago, I just got word that The Expanse is saved.”
The crowd cheered. Many of those present in the room were fans of the show as well, not to mention the cast and crew. The news came at a perfect time, in a perfect way — and no one could have been happier.
We did it! The Expanse was saved.
The news instantly went viral, broken by user /u/austinmiles on Reddit, who was in the room at the time of the announcement and captured it on video. Shortly after, Cas Anvar posted a clip of the cast celebrating the announcement, and the SaveTheExpanse Campaign published our press releases.
“I always had hope. This is a phenomenal show with an exceptional cast and a lot of quality support from people that other people listen to.” says Shannon Boyle of the Tightbeam podcast. “We helped make something amazing happen, and we should stick together and just be excellent and uplifting to each other. Remember what happens when we do.”
I'll just let him say it…#TheExpanse#RocinanteIsSafe#BreakingNews
Thank you @JeffBezos pic.twitter.com/wxHN31zgJs
— Cas Anvar @DragonCon (@Casanvar) May 26, 2018
“Unte wang wit milɒda ta du ting nakangidu; Milɒda ta du da Expanse séfesɒng!” says Pirate, the real life Belter. This translates to “And together, we did the impossible: we saved The Expanse!”
The historic campaign finally concluded in the most climactic fashion possible. The wealthiest man in the world took it upon himself to issue this announcement — not by press release or a news report — and was excited to do so. The fans filled the promotional gap left by Syfy and proved themselves to be one of the most creative, talented, and resilient fandoms ever. By the end, the petition reached nearly 140,000 signatures. Planes and weather balloons, incredible fan trailers and illustrations, trending hashtags and mainstream reach, and even a dedicated team of full time volunteers all contributed to the effort, supported by the wonderful cast and crew of the series.
After two impossibly hectic, emotional, and — let’s not kid ourselves — exciting weeks of campaigning for our favorite show to be saved, it was finally over. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of relief that all of us felt as we celebrated the news, but we know that each of you experienced that same feeling… wherever you were at the time.
We are sitting back out in the lobby with Cara, who remained to keep us company for a short while after the big hall cleared out and we lost track of the rest of the cast & crew. Flushed with emotion and relief, everybody is spent.
As Cara gets up to say her goodbyes and head home, we offer her the #SaveTheExpanse banner as a parting gift and make her promise to take it up to the set in Toronto when shooting resumes for Season 4. She happily agrees, hugs us farewell, and takes off.
And with that, the unforgettable night is over. It’s time to crash for the night, and we can rest easy knowing that all the hard work paid off.
Well. That was… fucking bonkers. Was that a weird dream??? Is this real?!! Holy. Thank you to every single person who signed the petition, watched live, tweeted, and flew banners. And thank you @JeffBezos and @AmazonStudios @PrimeVideo #SavedTheExpanse pic.twitter.com/LWmdjVyjqN
— Cara Gee (@CaraGeeeee) May 26, 2018
For all of us on the volunteer team, it was an experience we will never forget. Days of sleep were lost, mental breakdowns were had, some of us even got in trouble at our jobs — but all for a good cause. We made many new friends, with whom we will always share a special connection. And for those of us who had the immense luck and pleasure to meet and celebrate with the cast & crew at ISDC, May 25 will surely be a day for the history books.
On the subject of cast & crew — their support was immeasurable, and their connection with the fans was unlike almost anything before seen in TV history. As Jim Murray and Bob Munroe painted our target, many others also stepped in to help in the fight: Hallie Lambert of the writer’s room and Cas Anvar, who were both highly prolific on Twitter and collaborated with us throughout the campaign; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the authors of the books the show is based on; Kenn Fisher, who runs the production office’s Twitter account; Naren Shankar, the showrunner. Cara Gee, Dominique Tipper, Shohreh Aghdashloo, François Chau, Wes Chatham, Terry Chen, Nick Tarabay, Chad Coleman and Anna Hopkins were all active online as well, and Frankie Adams even started a Twitter account to show her support (looking at you, Steven Strait)! Meanwhile, Alcon Co-Founders Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, President Laura Lancaster, and other producers and executives worked relentlessly behind the scenes to find The Expanse a new home.
Not only did they take the time out of their busy schedules to support the movement, but many of them even held off signing on to new projects in hopes of the series being resurrected — all because, like us, they love The Expanse with all they’ve got. And they owe it all to you — the fans. The day after the renewal, Bob Munroe and Daniel Abraham both dropped by Reddit — where much of the campaign organization took place — to thank the fans. A few days later, creators of the show Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby did the same, and Steven Strait spoke more about the movement on AfterBuzz a couple of weeks later.
Season 3 continued to perform well, maintaining steady ratings for a few more episodes before dropping off, but still rallying to deliver the third highest-rated episode in the show’s history (episode twelve, “Congregation”), which was also the highest-rated episode since the very beginning of the show. Although the campaign was over, we continued to promote each episode online. In New York City, a big finale party was organized by Hanne Paine, with Bob Munroe, Steven Strait, and François Chau all stopping by to watch the two-hour season finale with the fans.
#StevenStrait, @ExpanseVFX and @FrancoisChau say a few words at @ItReachesOut and @spaceappsnyc's #TheExpanseParty in NYC for the #ExpanseFinale! pic.twitter.com/Cr1Bb2r40U
— Ed Akselrud – #TheExpanseLives (@edaxmedia) June 28, 2018
And finally, a couple of months later, the cast and the showrunner got together with Amazon to produce a short video thanking fans that was shown at the Amazon Prime Video panel at San Diego Comic Con. This wonderful video acknowledged the fans directly, promising a fantastic new season and even calling #ScreamingFirehawks out by name. Our team likewise followed up with a new “Revival” Fan Trailer, a victory anthem featuring an extended version of the show’s title track and exclusive narration by Elias Toufexis.
From all of us at @SaveTheExpanse (now @TheExpanseLives), we wish to thank you as well. If you signed the petition, donated to the fundraisers, watched and shared fan work on the internet, tuned in live and streamed the show, liked, shared and retweeted The Expanse & crew on social media, or voiced your support in any way — thank you. This could not have been done without you, and you are the reason one of the greatest shows to ever grace our television screens will remain alive and well. #TheExpanseLives!
Although we tried to cover as much of the campaign as possible in this article, ours is still a limited perspective, and we would love to hear your story. If we missed something you believe belongs here, or if you wish to share your own experience with us, please get in touch. We would love to publish more accounts of these two weeks from other fans as we continue to document this historical campaign and promote the show through Season 4 and beyond. Thank you for reading!