[Interview] Travel Inside SPACE CHANNEL – A Chat With Jim Tolve

The streaming marketplace just got a little more crowded with the recent introduction of Space Channel. But this new network is literally out of this world, combining real astro science with vintage science fiction movies and memorable horror flicks. Gruesome got the scoop on what goes on at Space Channel from Jim Tolve, the company’s chief communications officer.

What is Space Channel?

Space Channel is the world’s premier global news and entertainment media platform dedicated to space. It started in 2015 by Chad Mallam and Bob Schefferine as a personal side project in a garage in Los Angeles. At the time, both were working in video production/marketing with NBC and Disney ABC, respectively. However, the channel really came into its own in 2020 when they left the networks and decided to devote 100 percent of their time to making the platform a success. I was assisting with communications during that time and officially joined the team in early 2021. Our new website was rolled out in December 2021.

How does one get Space Channel?

Space Channel’s Live Feed is available 24/7 on SpaceChannel.com; connected TVs including VIZIO, Samsung, Philips, LG and TCL; the VOD Space Channel app (accessible in all major app stores: iOS, Android and Amazon); and OTT services including Comcast’s Xfinity and Flex, ROKU (search: Space Channel Live), Plex, Local Now, RADTV and ZEASN.

What is your mission statement?

To Serve Man and build a global community around space.

What is your five-year plan? 

For a quick summation: 2020—gain capital funding, build out platform structure, app technology and website. 2021—hire staff, establish base operations in Houston, Texas; build out distribution outlets (Vizio, Roku, etc.), develop original programming, news coverage, implement newsletter; establish social media presence, open online store. 2022-2024—build out and increase marketing/advertising; attend trade shows; hire sales staff and expand editorial, technical, production and administrative staff; expand movie/television sci-fi/horror content; establish public forum site; expand and establish space gaming site.

Talk more about your original programming.

Original programming includes Space Channel News, Spotlight interviews, Gravity (humorous take on the news), Space Tourist, Social Space (tongue-in-cheek humor about space social mores and industry celebrities such as Elon Musk) and Planets (music of David Becker set to the planets).

What sets Space Channel apart from all the other streamers?

While there are several online platforms dedicated to space news, Space Channel is the only one that combines news content (articles/press releases and original broadcasts) along with entertainment—movies, TV series, comedy, documentaries, and music.

How much horror do you feature?

We currently have about 30 titles in the pipe, many of which are in the sci-fi/horror genre. For instance, we recently ran Without Warning with Jack Palance and Martin Landau, which had some fun parallels to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator, and definitely crosses into the horror genre. We’ve also run Laserblast, The Day of the Triffids, and Solar Impact. All were hybrid sci-fi/horror with an outer space connection. Future flicks will include Queen of Blood, Invisible Invaders, and The Crawling Eye. I’m also keeping an eye out for movies such as Event Horizon, Galaxy of Terror, Slither, Fire in the Sky, Signs, The Thing, and Night of the Creeps

Do you have a soft spot for 1950s sci-fi?

Most definitely! Like you, I was weaned on sci-fi/horror flicks from the ’50s in the early ’70s by Saturday night horror shows in New York such as WPIX’s Chiller Theater (that six-fingered hand!) and WNEW’s Creature Features (hosted by The Creep). Those flicks became “old friends” in a way and looking back on them now, the stories were actually quite good and, in many ways, influenced the more mainstream flicks that became popular later on. For example, Invisible Invaders, a John Agar/John Carradine cheapie, brought the living dead to life in a way that was very similar to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but without the flesh-eating angle and taboo scenes of patricide/matricide. I also remember sitting in the theaters back in 1979 watching Alien and thinking this story is a rip-off of It! The Terror from Beyond Space, one of my favorites from the ’50s. Movies from the 1950s that are on my wishlist include The Thing from Another World, War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, The Blob, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, When Worlds Collide, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Not of This Earth, and This Island Earth.

Is it hard to license the films in such a competitive market?

It can be challenging. The distributor has to have the appropriate licensing for the movie while covering the reach of an OTT service such as Space Channel. And, of course, the price has to be right. We are still a startup. Also, there are a lot of crap movies out there, so the challenge is to find the gems or “diamonds in the rough” so to speak from their lists. Many of the older flicks fit that category and are easier to obtain. For instance, Kronos and Target Earth were B-grade gems I remember from my youth that I found on one distributor list. I had to get those. However, some crap movies fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. Mystery Science Theater set the template for having fun with those kinds of flicks. For example, we recently ran Plan 9 from Outer Space and had a hoot with it using humorous popups during the flick. If you remember, Bela Lugosi died after doing very little filming and is replaced by Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor who stood taller than Bela, didn’t utter a word, and simply walked around covering his face with a Dracula cape. You can’t make that stuff up. Ed Wood hit his peak with that one. Also, I’m keeping an eye out for another baddie, Robot Monster. That one had some guy wearing a gorilla suit with a space helmet with antennas and using a bubble machine outside a cave to conquer the Earth. He was called Ro-Man and was assigned to kill all the Hu-Mans.

Tony Timpone