Editorials

The Submerge Universe — a fifteen year search for science fiction greatness

Demetrius Witherspoon’s Submerge Universe exemplifies the inverse proportionality of resources and heart that every artist must struggle with. The more personal and unique your work is, the harder it is to fund. The more money you take in, the more compromises you have to accept. For ten years, Submerge has made its own way as a series of short films that has grown into an independent transmedia property covering animated films, tabletop games, and an award winning animated pilot. Both sci-fi epic and personal journey, Submerge has made an impact far larger than its modest production size would attest.

Submerge: The Chronicles of Ni're (Official Film 2014)

Submerge begins modestly enough, with single mother Ni’re living on the streets and trying to survive. Trusting the wrong offer sees her experimented on, biologically enhanced, and cast adrift in a foreign universe. The series is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, marking 5 live action films along with comics, action figures, and a card game. Though the audience is never huge, those who pay attention have been surprised at the depth (if you’ll forgive the turn of phrase) of Submerge and its story of struggling against a world that views you either with derision or hostility.

None of this would have been possible without the work of Demetrius Witherspoon, writer, director, and creator of the series. Growing up in Bardstown, Kentucky, the two screen theater opened up a galaxy of possibilities. With a background in art and music, he started working on music videos, teaching himself to shoot and edit. After three music videos he wanted to work on something more expansive, replicating the lessons of Star Wars on a smaller level. The only way to survive with an independent transmedia property is to think outside the box and attack the problem from multiple angles, constantly experimenting with new technology and media to develop the setting in different ways. The Submerge Universe Graphic Poetry book, for example, comes with a QR code to add a voiceover to enhance the story.

Submerge: Echo 51 | Sci-Fi | Full Movie

These efforts have been noticed by fans as well as other independent filmmakers, and Demetrius lectures on best practices for production and promotion for similar artists. The most important element, he says, is consistency. His awards and accolades are the result of creativity and hard work, but also the drive necessary to keep something going for a decade on nothing but the will to keep going. That will can only be sustained if you define success on your own terms, not the benchmarks that anyone else sets for themselves.

There is more coming from Submerge all the time. You can find its five episodes on Youtube, Tubi, or the website. While the main series has always had an ending planned, two spinoffs are planned for the future. To keep up to date you can follow the series on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook.

Senior Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

John Farrell is an attorney working to create affordable housing, living in West Chester Pennsylvania. You can listen to him travel the weird west as Carrie A. Nation in the Joker's Wild podcast at: https://jokerswildpodcast.weebly.com/

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