In May of 2018, it was announced that one of my favorite TV series, The Expanse, was being cancelled after a three-season run on Syfy. On a whim, I decided to cut a fan-trailer for the show in an attempt to express what I believed made it special and worth saving, staying up late during the work week to ensure the trailer was published while fan momentum was still building.
On the morning of May 15th, I uploaded the trailer and posted it on Reddit. Within a few hours, the trailer made it to the #1 spot of the entire platform, shared by the cast & crew of the show as well as the likes of Adam Savage on social media, and energized the fans to continue making their voices heard. It was probably the most emotionally exhilarating day of my life up until that point, and what followed was an experience I will never forget.
After the trailer went viral, bringing thousands of new viewers to the show and inspiring the fanbase to continue campaigning, I became acquainted with a number of other active fans in the community. Within a couple of days, we brought together a diverse group of volunteers with expertise in the areas of media strategy, marketing and advertising, PR, social media and multimedia production and design to establish a central action hub for campaign efforts.
The next two weeks were an absolute rollercoaster as we spent literally day and night producing further marketing materials to promote the show and subsequent events held by the cast & crew; raising funds for stunts and online ad campaigns; communicating with the cast, crew, and other fans to maximize viral impact of the campaign; running social media campaigns including major pushes to (successfully) boost the show's live broadcast ratings; and managing the campaign's overall presence online. A few of us were even interviewed by Newsweek in their article about the effort in the heat of the movement.
To be clear, the trailer was only one of a number of initial high-impact actions by the fans in the first few days of the movement, before we became organized. Others included the infamous crowdfunded airplane banner flown above Amazon Studios, and the rapidly growing petition set up for the campaign.
In one of the most high-profile fan campaigns of 2018, the effort resulted in an almost dream-like climax at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC). Amazon's CEO and wealthiest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, got up on stage in front of the show's cast and crew and about a hundred astronauts, businessmen and other esteemed guests and announced his company's latest acquisition - The Expanse. A fan of the books and show himself, Bezos had reportedly been texting his colleagues for updates on the deal, eager to make the announcement.
Meanwhile, just outside, myself and a few other fans were waiting for updates. Upon learning of the announcement by way of a video uploaded to Reddit, we burst into the dinner hall (which we were previously not allowed in) with a giant #SaveTheExpanse banner we printed earlier that morning and held it up as high as we could while shouting praise and thanks to Mr. Bezos, before finally joining the show's cast and crew in heartfelt celebration. It was the experience of a lifetime, and I am incredibly proud of what our team and the fanbase as a whole accomplished over the course of those two weeks.
For more detailed information and recounting of these incredible events, please check out our retrospective article on our successor site, TheExpanseLives.com. For an even more extensive, personal recollection of the experience, check out our extended retrospective feature.
Thanks for reading, and if you have not yet seen this show - I promise its worth a try.