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Behind the Scenes with the Cast and Crew of Shiny New Things

If you haven’t already checked out Shiny New Things, now’s a great time to do so—because all of season one is rolling out on The Fantasy Network. This snappy sci-fi series by writer, director and producer Lakeisha Jackson is fast becoming a favorite of The Fantasy Network’s audience, and it’s easy to see why. With great writing, a killer concept and excellent work by cast and crew, Shiny New Things brings a lot to the table when it comes to smart, entertaining science fiction.

To give you a taste of what the show offers, we talked with cast and crew members Jason Menz (who plays Tom Harding), Christopher Martell (who works behind the camera as First Assistant Director), and Hugo Fuentes (who plays James). Here’s what they have to say about why they love being a part of Shiny New Things — and why they’re so passionate about sharing it with you, the viewers!

TFN News: How did you become involved in working on Shiny New Things?

Hugo Fuentes, in Shiny New Things on The Fantasy Network
Hugo Fuentes (James)

HUGO: I had worked with Maro Molina (who plays Shiny New Thing’s Chase) on another film, and he told me about this project and that they were casting. I went to the casting call, applied, auditioned—and luckily got the part!

JASON: I had auditioned for Lakeisha Jackson from a casting notice on an actors’ site that I follow. I have auditioned for more projects that never came to fruition, but after the first conversation I had with our Executive Producer, Lakeisha, I knew this (project) was something beyond special.

CHRISTOPHER: For me, it was back in 2017 when I was in film school with Lakeisha Jackson. I was in a Sound Design class when Lakeisha talked to me about a different potential project she wanted to shoot and needed help with. I really admired her passion for filmmaking because it mirrored my own. So when Shiny New Things was brought up, I read the initial script and she asked if I wanted to be her first assistant director, immediately I jumped on board.

What is it about this particular project that appeals to you, or speaks to you the most?

Jason Menz in Shiny New Things on The Fantasy Network
Jason Menz (Tom)

JASON: Wow, there are so many things close to my heart about this that I can mention, but I’ll name a few. First and foremost, I think, is the vision of the project. The writing is so good. The knack for talent and casting that I saw in the initial table read and seeing my fellow cast mates for the first time, and the story lines in the season probably stand out the most. I started in the business in the early 1990s and have done my fair share of single episode, day player gigs, but this is my first foray into being a regular in a series. And I couldn’t be more proud that it’s this one. The timing was right, and all the stars aligned in place for this one.

HUGO: I am a sucker for anything post-apocalyptic and sci-fi. As soon as I read the concept and story, I was hooked. Then, learning more about my character made him someone I definitely wanted to play.

CHRISTOPHER: For me, it was the whole aspect of the separation of social classes being put in a story that pushes this topic to the foreground rather than the background. The Faction vs The Opposition. It’s a nice allegory to what people may be feeling is happening today.

Tell us a bit about your specific role or roles on the show.

JASON: I play the character of Tom Harding in the series. Tom couldn’t be more polar opposite of a person than I am in my personal life. Tom truly is sociopathic and enjoys being in a role of power. He has the ability to order your demise with a lift of his eyebrow. I think this is a dream role for me in the sense that I get to stretch every time I shoot a scene. The talent that I get to sit across the table from when I shoot helps bring out the best in me. They push me to do my best and encourage me when we watch the playback on the monitor. It’s a dream as an actor to play a role like this, and I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity.

Crane shot, Shiny New Things on The Fantasy Network
Crane shot with First AD Christopher Martell

HUGO: I play James in the series. James is a very interesting and complex character. He was very fun to bring to life. I can’t say too much other than that, though (because of spoilers!). And i was lucky enough to also be a producer for the series and work as a Slate/Grip, which was awesome because I was able to be immersed in the filmmaking experience. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.

CHRISTOPHER: Being a crew of mainly two—Lakeisha and I both wore many hats. For me, my two main roles on set were First Assistant Director and Sound Recordist. This was very challenging, because I had to focus more on capturing good sound for each episode while balancing keeping our production on time. And time is a constant battle when making an independent production such as this show.

What was the process of filming an indie production like for you?

HUGO: It was great! The cast and crew made it a breeze.

CHRISTOPHER:  The process for shooting this was definitely a long and wild ride. By the end of it, we were all like a tight family battling through the trenches that is indie filmmaking. Lakeisha and I were in constant communication throughout pre-production, production, and post-production, which helped tremendously.

How did you stay focused throughout the shooting?

HUGO: It was easy to stay focused because everyone on set was very professional and courteous.

Shiny New Things - tune in for sci-fi on The Fantasy Network
Martell at work behind the scenes

CHRISTOPHER: It was easy for me to stay focused on the project because the vision was so amazing, and working with Lakeisha was wonderful. Every day I was excited to go over our shoot days and plan out certain scenes. They were not without its challenges; however, we’ve had rough days from planning schedules around actors’ day jobs, to equipment malfunctions, to even having to re-shoot some episodes. Even with all of those, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

What are you excited for fans to see happen in this season?

HUGO: I can’t wait for the fans to see how the story unfolds and how characters come into play!

What kind of responses have you seen from audiences so far, and what has that been like for you?

HUGO: I haven’t really had the chance to see it with an audience yet, so can’t really answer the first part. But for me personally after seeing it, I can tell that people will love it and can’t wait for y’all to see the finished product!

Shiny New Things - sci-fi dystopian series airing on The Fantasy Network
On the set of Shiny New Things

JASON: I am very active in promoting the show on my social media, Facebook in particular. And the responses have been through the roof. And as an actor, nothing warms my heart more than knowing there is so much anticipation for people to see the show. My character is introduced in episode 4, and I can’t wait to see the kind of response/ratings this series gets. I thank God and my family every day for this beautiful opportunity and something that will resonate with me for the rest of my life.

What are you looking forward to if/when more seasons get made?

HUGO: Honestly, to continue seeing James’s story and to have more fun with this character. Also, to reunite with the cast and continue to grow. Truly a great bunch of people!

Jason Menz on set of Shiny New Things

JASON: The first thing that comes to mind is that we will get to live this dream a little bit longer. Every artist and actor dreams of having their initial season get picked up for more shows. It shows us as a group that what we’re doing is resonating with audiences, and what we’re doing is working. Nothing makes me happier than knowing we are connecting with people. And with what we have to work with in terms of writing and a story line leaves a lot of room for additional seasons.

CHRISTOPHER: When more seasons get made for SNT, I am looking forward to the where the story will go and how it will evolve. I am also looking for how the character dynamics will change with where the story takes them. It was very impressive what we were able to do with such a small crew on Season 1. I can only imagine how much more we will do with Season 2 and any other season after that with more cast and crew.

Keep up with what’s happening next!

Watch Shiny New Things on The Fantasy Network – new episodes for season one airing on Saturdays, 8pm ET.

Connect with Hugo on Instagram: hugofuentes_actor

Connect with Jason on Facebook: Film & Television Actor Jason Menz

 

About Michele

Michele has been writing and editing professionally since 1997. In 2017, she launched full-time into her own copywriting and editing business, serving marketing firms, service businesses, nonprofits, book publishers and consulting firms, as well as indie authors. She serves as Editor of the science fiction website Recursor.tv and The Fantasy Network News. Michele is also co-founder of Writing Well Creative Writing Workshop and a partner in Three Point Author Services.