• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Versailles filmmaker on Amazon Prime

JERRY WILLIAMS, aka Corso, the hero of "Astro Space Hero," now has two series available on Amazon Prime. Most of the episodes of "Astro Space Hero" and spin-off "Space Bro" are shot in and around Versailles. (Photo by John McGary)

This Christmas will be the first in which Amazon Prime customers have the opportunity to view the exploits of Corso, the protagonist of the web-based science-fiction serial "Astro Space Hero" produced by Versailles resident Jerry Williams. The series began in 2010, with 89 episodes spread among its seven "seasons." In June, Amazon Prime picked up the first three seasons of Astro Space Hero and the first season of its more adult-oriented spin-off, "Space Bro." Williams portrays Corso and sidekick Hugo, the main character in "Space Bro." "I play the dashing hero (Corso) and his comic relief guy," Williams said. Asked if he thought some folks would decide to purchase Amazon Prime for Christmas this year in order to bring loved ones an opportunity to watch his no-budget series, Williams chuckled. "I think that kind of sweetens the (Amazon Prime) deal," Williams said. "I think that's actually what the future of independent film is going. . People's tastes are changing quite a bit." In the last few years, many customers of Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and the like have begun to "binge-watch" their favorite programs. Williams suggests caution with his creations. "They would probably say, 'We need to balance this with Masterpiece Theatre or something,'" Williams said. Williams said he wasn't sure how many people have viewed "Astro Space Hero" and "Space Bro" via Amazon Prime. "I'm starting to crack into Japan, but primarily it's Amazon America, England and Germany right now that seems to be the big fans of the show," Williams said. "There are numbers coming out of Japan now, so that's good." He said he'd also recently learned he has fans in Russia, but admitted he's not yet turned a profit with his video ventures. On the other hand, he's spent very little. "I would like to be able to retire and make nothing but 'Astro Space Hero' ." Williams said, adding that the financial prospects of many artistic ventures these days are spoiled by piracy and ordinary people who expect something for nothing via the Internet. Williams said he produced an eight-page comic book called "Naughty Moon Monster" - then learned it had been illegally copied. "It's like, Good Lord - this got pirated?" Williams said with a laugh. So while Williams concedes he'll likely never be able to buy a second house with his filmmaking profits, he also admits that without the Internet, "Astro Space Hero" and "Space Bro" would never have found an audience. "It's kind of a trade-off of sorts," he said. When The Sun profiled Williams in August of 2015, he admitted "Astro Space Hero" was not for everyone. "I think you have to shut down your critical thinking to enjoy it. If you're not, you're like, 'Hey, that's cardboard. That's something I saw at Save A Lot,'" Williams said about the show for which he's the creator, writer, chief photographer, editor and lead actor. The Ohio native said he'd long been a fan of low-budget 1950s television sci-fi series and their spiritual descendants. In 2010, he moved to Versailles with his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Maia, was born. Williams had been making videos of various lengths for some time, but baby-watching duties left him looking for a new way to satisfy his creative needs - quietly. So as not to wake up Maia, some of the lines uttered by Corso in the first season of "Astro Space Hero" were spoken quietly. When she grew older, Maia appeared in some of the episodes. Robots and witches and monsters (which strongly resemble humans wearing monster masks) abound in "Astro Space Hero" and "Space Bro," and most of the episodes are shot in and around Woodford County. There's cardboard scenery, modified squirt guns that shoot post-production rays, and the hero's costume features a lightning bolt, ala Flash Gordon, made of construction paper glued on a t-shirt. Corso's spaceship, The Jolly Roger, is usually seen moving slowly through space in front of a black piece of paper. The episodes range in length from two to 20 minutes, with some lines scripted, others ad-libbed, and most recorded after Williams sets a video camera on a tripod, presses record, and walks back to his mark. There are few two-shots. Williams is quite aware that he's not producing a modern-day Citizen Kane. "Yes. If you're putting aluminum foil on the wall for a set, yes, you're aware . it works on a six-year-old level. As long as you approach it like that, and as long as you have a good sense of humor ..." Williams said. "It's very camp, very tongue in cheek." Asked if any Amazon Prime viewer comments were particularly memorable, Williams recalled an email from a man in Virginia. "He said, 'I like nothing better than to get stoned and watch your show,' and I told my wife, 'Well, I try to make a difference,'" Williams said, laughing once again.

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