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The Story of Century 21 Film’s Nebula-75 – A 1960s-Thunderbirds-style series born in a living room during the first lockdown

Century 21 Films lockdown phenomenon Nebula-75 is due to air early next year in Japan and via cinemas too. To celebrate, the Century 21 Films team have made a free preview episode available on Youtube that you can watch here.

However, without the coronavirus situation of the past 20 months the series may never have been.

Intended to evoke a 1960s Supermarionation series that never actually existed, Nebula-75 began its life during the UK Coronavirus lockdown of 2020. When the team at Century 21 Films found their planned projects cancelled as a result of the global pandemic, they made the decision to attempt to produce something worthwhile using the resources they had to hand in the London flat where a number of them lived. Fortunately, thanks to their work on productions such as Thunderbirds: The Anniversary Episodes, Endeavour, and UK television advertisements, they had numerous puppets, props and models to hand.

Nebula-75 was filmed by a crew of three who happened to already live together during a time when travel was made impossible, with other members of the Century 21 Films team lending their talents remotely. It was originally intended as a one-off production and premiered as a ten-minute short, but the resulting film was received so warmly and passionately by online viewers that plans for further installments were soon made. A full-length series of half-hour episodes were produced throughout the course of 2020, introducing new vehicles and guest characters. A couple of friends helped from outside – such as making the model of the Nebula-75 remotely and posting it to the flat. The sets were intially built onto the back of bookcases and dressed in vinyl and ordinary objects the team had laying around.

The voices of Commander Neptune and Lieutenant Solstice were delivered remotely from Canada. The rest were recorded in the UK.

The series was created by Stephen La Rivière and Andrew T. Smith. Stephen and his two flatmates (his girlfriend Géraldine Donaldson and colleague Elliot Pavelin) filmed and puppeteered the first short film themselves in their small living room and used existing puppets from previous Century 21 Films Supermarionation productions.

Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, the team have also been able to leave their flat in order to continue production in more suitable studio premises. The result has been a second series of episodes that expand upon the scope and ambition of the original run. Transcending its lockdown origins, Nebula-75 has evolved into a fully-fledged Supermarionation production in its own right.

You can watch Season 1 of Nebula-75 on Amazon now and watch the first episode of Season 2 via Amazon Prime.

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