The idea for Planet Republic was first initiated in 2006 when Sam was 13 years old. He wrote Planet Republic as a short film then titled “Hanger 18 / The Press”. "The inspiration came from my obsession with the classic mysteries in history such as ufo’s, the lochness monster and big foot as well as conspiracies like the Rosewell Crash site." says Robles.
Sam came across his old script of “The Press” when he was in high school. After realizing the premise had some legs he rewrote it as a television series now titling it “Planet Republic”. "I felt that I needed to wait till I had some real funds to make it so I put it away once again." Sam took a job working at an oil refinery in late 2014 and worked there for a little over a year in order to raise funds to produce the pilot.
"Bringing together a strong cast didn't come easy" says Robles. It was a strenuous 6 month process to find the cast that would be Planet Republic. From the beginning Sam knew that he didn't want to use actors but instead stand up comedians for the roles. "There's something special that a comedian brings that a traditional actor can't, the ability to be naturally funny."says Sam. After viewing countless videos of live standup performances Sam had a roster for all the character roles except one. The role of the lead character Alex was not yet filled. Sam attended a comedy show in Houston Texas where he discovered Jon Stringer on stage. "I knew instantly that Jon would be perfect for the role of Alex." Sam pitched the idea to Jon after the show and he was onboard.
Auditions were held in a hotel conference room outside of Austin Texas. "We could only afford the room for 2 days but not consecutively so we split it 2 weekends apart. The first Saturday was auditions and the 2nd Saturday was wardrobe and table read. "During the table read I was very open to allowing the comics to improvise and add anything that they felt would elevate their characters. I went back to rewrite the final draft that same day so that I could include anything new that I thought was too funny to ignore." Sam wrote the final draft of the script and asked the cast to rehearse on their own with each other as it was no longer in the budget to meet again prior to filming.
Planet Republic office: All of the filming locations were within a 30 mile radius of each other.
Interior Farmhouse: Sam booked an air b&b that would double as both a hotel for the crew and the interior living room for the farmer. Sam struck a deal with the air b&b owner offering to produce a walkthrough video of the house in exchange for a location film release signature.
Exterior Farm: After knocking on a lot of farmer's doors Sam was able to find someone willing to allow a film shoot. "We really got lucky with the farm location. It was able to provide the cornfield, the exterior of the farmer's house, the dirt road, and the owner was kind enough to cut out a crop circle in the field for us."
A huge amount of detail went into selecting the props seen on each of the characters desks in the office. "You can find pretty much anything on eBay. It's a blessing and a curse." It took Sam 3 months to gather all of the on-screen props.
Sam's approach to wardrobe was "experimental" to say the least. "Because most of the cast members had never had any onscreen experience or even 'acted', It was important for me to allow them to go shopping for their own clothing, this way they became more involved in the process of understanding their character on a deeper level. "says Robles.
Planet Republic shot for 4 days over 2 weekends in Georgetown near Austin Texas in the summer of 2015 . It was an ensemble shoot with most actors working no more than two weekends, though clever scheduling made it seem as if they each had far more screen time that their schedule suggested. The location was a draw to the local cast. The biggest challenge we encountered was filming the exterior scenes in the summer Texas heat. We had to make sure we were all staying well hydrated throughout filming. We were all burnt to a crisp after those 2 days. I gotta give everyone credit for fighting through that heat.
After locking the final edit Sam sent the sound mix to Timothy Banfield who would provide his home recording studio for ADR. "We brought back some of the cast to help us finish the sound mix."
The pilot went on to win the "Best Ensemble" award at the Los Angeles Film Awards and Honorable Mention for "Best Original Story".
Title: Planet Republic
Type: TV Comedy
Writer / Director: Sam Robles
Producers: Sam Robles, Ramiro Robles
Production: 4 days
World Premiere: Los Angeles Film Awards 2017
Awards: "Best Ensemble" "Best Original Story" Los Angeles Film Awards 2017
Logline: A failing tabloid magazine reports on unsolved mysteries and conspiracies meanwhile avoiding a secret government agency.
Cast: Jon Stringer, Timothy Banfield, J.R. Zambrano, Arlo Neill, Joy Ying-Chun Lin, Jasmine Palacios, Joe Moore, David Joe Garza, Tommy Berretz, Kaleb Rimer, Michael David Yuhl, Chase Archer Evans, Luke Knapton
Company: Revolta Films
Duration of project: 3 mo.