Online sci-fi series 'Zhon' was written, filmed in Tucson

2013-07-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T16:27:50Z Online sci-fi series 'Zhon' was written, filmed in TucsonGerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

His name is Zhon, he claims to be an ancient extraterrestrial, and he is ready to share his experiences of the last 2,600 years with the world.

What do you do?

It's the situation in which Secret Service agent David Killjoy finds himself in the recently completed, locally produced Web series "Zhon: The Alien Interviews."

The series follows Killjoy and Zhon as they navigate through 20 episodes of interrogations and flashbacks, documenting Zhon's life and supposed impact on ancient Rome, Vietnam during the war and 1970s Chicago, among other points in history.

"We see things through his eyes, but we are never quite sure what is truth and what is fabrication," said Eric Shumacher, an executive producer on the project who also plays Agent Killjoy. "It is a wild ride."

"Zhon" is the brainchild of Schumacher and fellow producer Robert Linden, and was created entirely in Tucson by a local cast and crew.

The original concept was to create a, "one alien, one interviewer," scenario not unlike Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and their " 2,000 Year Old Man" comedy routines.

"I like to produce stuff that has a quirky, humorous edge to it and have it get more and more dramatic over time," Schumacher said.

But things continued to grow in scope as the project moved along.

Plotlines expanded.

More actors were hired.

Locations were sought out all over Tucson.

A pecan grove on the northwest side became a field in Vietnam.

Ancient Rome was shot in the monastery home of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, on North Country Club Road.

"The sisters were wonderful to us," Schumacher said. "A lot of them were sci-fi fans. We had conversations about 'Dr. Who,' 'Star Trek.' "

When all was said and done, the series took nearly four years to complete.

The first episode went online in June of 2012.

The final episode posted in May.

Schumacher said the entire cast and crew, including directors Alan Williams and Tyrel Good, writers Clif Campbell and Marty Ketola and Linden, who played the role of Zhon, put forth a huge effort under some rather difficult circumstances.

Production problems were constant. Money was tight.

"The people working on this series committed a lot to making this happen," Schumacher said. "Finding people willing to devote that amount of time and energy was very challenging. We ended up with some really great support."

Schumacher said that now that the entire series has aired online, he is shopping it around to festivals and conventions across the country.

Select episodes have already been chosen to screen at Gen Con, one of the largest gaming conventions in the country, held every August in Indianapolis.

Schumacher, a 13-year Arizona resident, said he hopes the series gives Tucson more exposure.

"A big part of our goal was to take steps to get (attention) for the local film industry," he added.

Watch Online

Watch "Zhon: The Alien Interviews" in its entirety at whoiszhon.com online.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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