Pioneer One is a 2010 American independent film project by Josh Bernhard and Bracey Smith.[1][2][3] It is notable both for being funded purely through donations and for being the first TV series created for and released on BitTorrent networks.[4][5]


The pilot episode was filmed on a budget of $6000, raised using Kickstarter. The series itself was released under a Creative Commons license and is distributed for free in collaboration with VODO, as with Bernhard's previous independent film The Lionshare, over the Internet including peer-to-peer networks.[6][7] So far, only a pilot episode has been produced, as the production team relies upon new donations to film the rest of first season's episodes.

Pilot Plot[]

A mysterious spaceship enters Earth's atmosphere, triggering a massive response from the American government. Since the ship has spread radiation over hundreds of miles of rural Montana, officials are quick to bring up the possibility of a terrorist attack, specifically the detonation of a dirty bomb. Debris is found in Canada, where an investigation of the crash discovers a live human being in a Soviet space suit. The man is in an unstable condition and his initial blood work shows signs of severe cancer. A note handwritten in Russian found at the crash site says that the man is the child of cosmonauts living at a base on Mars. The American Department of Homeland Security orders Agent Taylor to bring the man back to the United States as a terrorist suspect, although the doctors believe his condition is far too severe for him to be transported, leading Taylor to ignore his orders to pursue the possibility that the note is true and bring in Dr. Walzer, an expert who has written several books about the possibility of human survival on Mars. At the end, a strange radio signal is heard, sounding similar to "The Buzzer" signal, with several numbers appearing on screen, including latitude and longitude (but no N/S or E/W indicators) which could indicate a location in western Russia, a field northwest of Edmonton, Alberta, or two sites in the southern Pacific Ocean.


  • James Rich as Tom Taylor
  • Alexandra Blatt as Sophie Larson
  • Matthew Foster as Dr. Zachary Walzer
  • Guy Wegener as Vernon
  • E. James Ford as Dileo
  • Laurence Cantor as Norton
  • Joe Amato as Clive
  • Kathleen O'Loughlin as Christa


It is hard to estimate how many people have downloaded and watched the pilot episode, as it was made available through several different download methods, including multiple torrents. However, after being promoted by The Pirate Bay and several other torrent sites, thousands of downloads have taken place. Initial reviews are positive, with many reviewers praising the show for being surprisingly good for an independent project. For example, Download Squad described the first episode as "supris[ing] ... I found myself wishing there was more episodes available when it finished."[8]


  1. Miller, Liz Shannon (2010-06-18). "Original Series Pioneer One Debuts Directly To P2P Networks". NewTeeVee. 
  2. Currie, Andrew (2010-04-07). "Pioneer One = Television Industry 2.0". Open Attitude. 
  3. Jacques Franc de Ferrière (2010-06-17). "Les poids lourds du Torrent soutiennent une série TV indépendante" (in French). PC Inpact. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  4. Van Der Sar, Ernesto (2010-04-08). "Pioneer One, A BitTorrent Exclusive TV-Series". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  5. Braue, David (2010-06-21). "Crowd-funded thriller could be studios' worst nightmare". APC. 
  6. Suen, Michael (2010-06-20). "Sci-Fi Thriller Series Pioneer One Debuts… For Torrents!". Geekosystem. 
  7. Van Der Sar, Ernesto (2010-06-16). "Massive P2P Conglomerate Backs New TV-Series". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  8. Rogers, Matthew (2010-06-18). "Watch the first "made-for-torrent" drama series: Pioneer One". Download Squad. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 

External links[]