Christopher Preksta’s 'The Mercury Men' Lands on Syfy

Local director's throwback science-fiction shorts find a home on SyFy.com.

"The Mercury Men," the latest web series by 31 year-old Pittsburgh native Christopher Preksta, has been picked up by cable channel SyFy and will premiere online at Syfy.com on July 25.

The Mercury Men is a black-and-white, 10-part series. Each episode runs seven minutes; the series features local actor Aaron Kleiber (featured in this month's PM). Set in Pittsburgh in 1975, the series follows a trapped office worker who has to fight off evil, ray-gun toting men of Mercury that have invaded his office.

Preksta, who hails from the Steel Valley, previously attracted attention with his successful first web series, "Captain Blasto."

"In summer or fall of 2007, I had been working on some other film projects. I was writing, taking meetings and pitching projects, and everything was going so freakin' slow that I just wanted to get behind the camera again. I wanted to shoot a short film. And more importantly than that, I wanted to shoot something with ray guns. I absolutely love ray guns," Preksta said.

In 2008, Preksta got together a crew and cast, shot a short version of the series, and took it to festivals.

"It was getting picked up by a lot of science fiction film festivals, and it was actually winning a decent amount of awards," Preksta said.

The turning point came at Comic-Con in San Diego.

"I thought, maybe I can really do something more with this," he said. "[A web series] felt like such a good fit because it truly gets back to that old serialized form of storytelling."

Preksta said that he was heavily influenced by old serials when creating the series.

"They were definitely the compass by which we plotted our course. [We were] trying to walk that line…taking [out] the things that are cheesy or don't really work, and keeping it modern enough that people won't be turned off by it," he explained.

The whole project was born of Pittsburgh, which Preksta said was important to him. Much of the cast and crew were also local. The entire series was shot around the Pittsburgh area.

"There were three locations, [including] two office buildings in the North Hills, up in Wexford and Cranberry. We had a difficult time finding offices. There's people working there, doing business there. Not every office is thrilled to have guys with ray guns running around the cubicles in the middle of the night," Preksta said.

"The other location was a parking garage downtown, across from Heinz Hall. We'd be filming until 6 a.m., so our lunch was always at midnight or 1 a.m. in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh on the roof of this parking garage. It was really unique. Kind of other worldly."

Because it was an independent project, Preksta financed it himself. He produced and directed the series, wrote the script and half of the score, edited the footage and did all of the visual effects.

"Ideally, you want a team to do that, but when you don't have the money and still want to tell the story, you just get in there and do it yourself," Preksta said.

When the series was picked up by Syfy, Preksta said they were "thrilled to death." From the very beginning, SyFy was "the dream,” he said.

Preksta said that the hope is definitely to continue the series in some way.

"We developed stories for a second and third volume of episodes, and for comics or books, that kind of stuff. We're kind of waiting to see how the series goes, and then we'll go from there," he said.

The series premieres on July 25 on Syfy.com. A live Pittsburgh screening is in the works for later this year.

Visit www.syfy.com/mercurymen for more information.

 

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.

The 412

Gear Up for Month of Mud's Final Bike Race of 2014

Gear Up for Month of Mud's Final Bike Race of 2014

The homegrown race series wraps up on Sunday at Ohiopyle State Park.
Local Developer Creates Pittsburghese Plugin for Google Chrome

Local Developer Creates Pittsburghese Plugin for Google Chrome

Have a little fun as you search the Web.
Pittsburgher Ali Spagnola Releases an App Version of Her 'Power Hour' Album

Pittsburgher Ali Spagnola Releases an App Version of Her 'Power Hour' Album

The creator of the app — which takes any playlist on your smartphone or tablet and plays it in one-minute pieces — reminds users to please drink responsibly.
NPR Blog Team Tries, Critiques Primanti Bros. Sandwich

NPR Blog Team Tries, Critiques Primanti Bros. Sandwich

The group behind the station's Sandwich Monday blog series orders the iconic sandwich and writes a review.

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
40 Under 40: 2014

40 Under 40: 2014

In their own ways, the 40 men and women we introduce here show us daily how we can ensure that Pittsburgh is deserving of its Most Livable City title.