BYU student creates improvisational, science-fiction, live stream web series

Nathan Young explains what will happen on the screens in the simulator master room and how it will work during the live stream. (Hannah Miner)

In February, BYU media arts major Nathan Young was playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends when one suggested that Young start a role-playing game (RPG) show and take on the role of Dungeon Master. Young said most of his friends laughed it off, but he stayed up all night thinking about the idea.

Young called his friend Matthew Ricks, who he worked with at one of the space center simulators, and asked what it would take to make an improvisational, science-fiction spaceship series.

“I sat down and drafted out a quick write-up of what this all would look like, combining all the RPG shows, web series and live streaming, and this is what I got,” Young said.

Young asked around to see if there would be any appeal in the show. He said some people weren’t interested at all, but others who showed intrigue said, “I don’t know how it’s all going to work, but that could be interesting.”

Crew members on the Good Luck, Have Fun, Don’t Die web series set up lights and camera equipment before the live stream on July 18. (Hannah Miner)

According to Young, he spoke with the director of Renaissance Space Academy Victor Williamson, who also built the first space center in Utah in 1990, and asked Williamson if he’d let them use the space center for a show. Williamson allowed Young to use it for free.

Over the next few months, Young rounded up volunteers from the media arts major to help him with this project. Young said since the idea for the web series was sparked in February, all the grant deadlines had already passed.

“We had no budget. Fortunately, we were able to scrape together enough willing people who think the idea is cool from all over campus to help put this together,” Young said. “We got this first episode approved from the (film) department as an ‘Advanced Practice Exercise.'”

Young said the lights and camera equipment are from the BYU’s film department but everything else was either coming out of pocket or from what the cast and crew had in their houses.

According to Young, the six cast members they have for the show went through a series of auditions, but three are not acting majors.

Starting at the back, left to right: Kealani Creech, Ian Buckley, Éamonn Shults, Jacey Bruns, Alex Farnsworth, and Normandy Wanberg. The “GL, HF, DD” six cast members pose before airing the live stream web series. (Normandy Wanberg)

BYU exercise science major and cast member Kealani Creech said she was contacted by her mission friend MarKaye Hassan. A casting director, Hassan asked if she was interested in getting involved.

“(Hassan) texted me one day asking, ‘Hey, do you want to get involved with a fun, little simulator where you get to wear a costume?’ and that’s all I knew,” Creech said. “I thought maybe I was going to help out children by wearing an Elmo costume and I thought, ‘that’s fun!'”

Creech said it was at the auditions when she found out it was a web series. Creech said she has never had experience with theater or acting, was asked to come to callbacks and was surprised to be given the role.

BYU acting major and cast member Ian Buckley said he saw postings and advertising about the casting for the web series and thought it was a neat idea. When Buckley found out that Young — a student in one of his acting classes — was the producer, he decided to go audition.

“I have been performing for most of my life in front of people, but the difference between this is I have no idea what is going to go down in there,” Buckley said.

Creech and Buckley said all that the cast members received was their specific character’s background. The rest is unknown until the time of the actual live stream.

“Because it’s all very improvised, that’s the goal of the show: to be as down-to-earth and real about it as possible,” Young said. “The show exists on multiple layers. It’s not just an interesting story, it’s also about a group of crazy college kids trying to put together the show.”

Young’s show ‘Good luck, have fun, don’t die’ was live-streamed on July 18 through Youtube.

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