Ashley Clements’ “Sona” space-drama series — a labor of love that was shot mostly in her L.A. apartment — premieres today on Legendary Digital Networks’ Alpha subscription streaming service.
“Sona” was created by and starring Clements (“Lizzie Bennet Diaries”), directed by Brendan Bradley and produced by Bradley’s Jigsaw Ensemble production company. Legendary’s Alpha, which has exclusive rights to “Sona” for six months, will release new episodes of the eight-part series on a weekly basis each Wednesday. The show is available at watch.sonaseries.com.
Set in a future where aliens are no longer welcome on Earth, the show stars Clements as Lt. Belyn Sona, a United Earth Space Corps officer who’s separated from her alien husband (Bradley) and jettisoned into space in a malfunctioning escape pod. Sona slowly unravels mentally and emotionally through a series of flashbacks as she drifts through space in isolation.
Wil Wheaton (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) makes a cameo appearance in the second episode, airing Aug. 29, playing a human who’s not a big fan of the extraterrestrial immigrants. Wheaton was “my dream sci-fi guest star,” Clements said, saying that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” her “gateway drug into sci-fi.”
Clements started working on the project with Bradley last year. “It came from a place of making something completely on my own terms – and self-contained enough that I could shoot it in my own home,” she said.
The principal photography for “Sona” was shot in Clements’ apartment in Silver Lake, on a space-pod set they constructed in a 6-by-8-foot nook off her dining room. The set took three weeks to design and build, but according to Clements and Bradley, it cost less than renting a soundstage for one day.
“She performed it as a one-woman show, essentially,” Bradley said.
At that point, the duo turned to Kickstarter to raise money from fans to add post-production elements including VFX, sound design, an original score, and location shoots for flashback scenes (including the one with Wheaton). The “Sona” crew set a minimum goal of $10,000 with the Kickstarter campaign launched in February 2018 — which they raised in four hours — and ended up raising $30,558 in three weeks.
During the Kickstarter campaign, Legendary Digital president Adam Rymer reached out to Clements via Twitter DM to inquire about bringing “Sona” to Alpha and they inked a distribution pact.
As part of the deal, donors to the “Sona” Kickstarter fund will receive free access to Alpha (projectalpha.com) for a limited time to be able to watch the full series, in addition to posters, postcards, and other show-related swag. Legendary Digital Networks’ Alpha service regularly costs $4.99 per month, or $49.99 for a one-year subscription.
The cast of “Sona” includes Lauren Lopez, who co-starred with Clements in Kickstarter-funded series “Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party,” as the voice of on-board computer that Lt. Sona talks to. The score for the series was composed by Erik Scott Smith.
“We’re thrilled to add ‘Sona’ to our Alpha slate, because this gripping sci-fi tale is unlike anything we have seen before and because Ashley and [Bradley’s] passion for filmmaking echoes our own — doing whatever it takes to tell the best story,” Johnny Wickham, VP of development at Legendary Digital Networks, said in a statement.
Watch the trailer for “Sona”: