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Okay.  I may not love where I’m presently living and I may hate the weather and the Toronto traffic but, boy, am I looking forward to production on Dark Matter‘s first season.  Yes, of course I’m thrilled that I’m about to start prep on my very own show, but experience has taught me that, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the people you work with.  And I’ve got a very good feeling about the people I’ll be working with in the months ahead.  They’re relaxed, friendly, supportive, upbeat, and incredibly talented.  It’s a great vibe and highly reminiscent of the positive tone I experienced on Stargate.  Can’t wait to introduce you to the gang in the coming weeks.

This morning, I settled into my new office, had my green smoothie, and talked t.v. and books with Alison and Caitlin (who promised to recommend me some Scandinavian reads) before getting on the phone with our Casting Director, Lisa Parasyn, who has done a phenomenal job of bringing in an incredible array of acting talent for these auditions.  To be honest, with seven varied roles to cast, I was a little nervous going in but about a week into the process, I’m positively excited by some of the talent.  We have 2-3 solid candidates for each part – and still have more people to see!  With Vancouver and L.A. sessions upcoming, Lisa and I reviewed exactly what we need from each of these characters.  One of the key aspects I emphasized was humor.  I’ve always felt that a sense of humor goes a long way toward humanizing a character and facilitating a viewer connection.  I’m not necessarily talking about laugh-out-loud funny but even a subtle humor is great.  When I think back to Stargate, characters like McKay and O’Neill are the obvious examples, but I’d argue that Daniel, Teal’c, Woolsey, Ronon (and many more) were also funny in their own way.  And the viewers loved them for it.  Well, that’s what I’m looking for in these auditions.  Humor – in addition to depth, range, and an utterly brilliant performance.  And, so far, a surprising number have delivered.

This afternoon, I walked the stages that will soon hold our sets…

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This is where we’ll be building the ship’s infirmary and isolation chamber.

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Future home of The Raza’s bridge.

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Potential home of our shuttle, the Phantom Class Marauder.

I know it doesn’t look like much now but just you wait.

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That’s it.  We’re out of time.  Ready or not, we are on a plane and Toronto-bound tomorrow morning.  I’m super anxious about flying with the dogs – but have done my best to prepare them for the four and half hour in-cabin flight.  I spent an hour on the phone with Air Canada, making the arrangements.  Jelly, Bubba, and Lulu will be flying in-cabin with us.  Each dog must be accompanied by a passenger but, sadly, must remain under the seats at all time.  I did my research and learned that the middle seats in economy actually have the most under-seat room so I booked three in a row – and also booked the aisle seats so that Akemi, Jeff, and I wouldn’t be too cramped.  I know, I know.  It’s an added expense – that required a whole separate call and next day confirmation – but this is a (hopefully) rare occasion. Lulu’s recent stomach issues had me concerned enough to take her to the vet today but I’m pleased to report that her case of (what Carl Binder used to refer to as) “the skitters” has abated and she is back to her old self.  And, as an added bonus, actually shaved off half a pound!

We fly out at 9:00 a.m., but we’ll be meeting at the airport at 7:30 so that we can check in together.  The dogs will be skipping breakfast, just to be on the safe side, and I’ll be administering Rescue Remedy and maybe a little bit of gravel before they head into their sherpa bags.  I may even wake up extra early to take them for some early, EARLY morning walks and ensure they’re nice and tired for the duration of the trip.

I’m hoping for a lot of this:

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And, once we’re in Toronto, it’ll be smoooooooth sailing!

Mailbag:

Bailey writes: “Will the series follow closely with the comic? If I have read the Dark Matter will I be spoiled for the series?”

Answer: The first two episodes will cover the events of the Dark Matter graphic novel (comprised of all four issues of the comic book) although some changes will be made.  Yes, there are spoilers in the graphic novel but the revelations contained therein are merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the twists, turns, and surprises to be doled out over the course of the show’s first season.

glisterghost writes: “Casting must be an exciting experience for any writer – do you have any say in the process?”

Answer: Yes, as show runner I will have a say in everything from who is cast to the color of the onscreen display on the bridge.  I’m mad with power.

gforce writes: “Poor Lulu! Hopefully, that will clear up really soon. Who will she be riding with anyway? Jeff? :)”

Answer: Yep.  Jeff has the honor.  She’s feeling much better now.  Hopefully, she won’t be too gassy.

Dallas Marshall writes: ” is Dark Matter going to be aired in the United States, or just Canada? “

Answer: SyFy is our U.S. broadcaster: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/syfy-stargate-producers-take-graphic-740985.  Just like old times!

dasndanger writes: “Dude…DUDE…the toughest character to cast will most certainly be Ryo Tetsuda”

Answer: I thought so too – until I started reviewing the auditions.  Some terrific candidates.

JimFromJersey writes: “Since this is going to be “our” show, let me know when would be a good time for a set visit. Preferably after it’s built, of course.”

Answer: Damn.  I was going to put you to work on the bridge.

livingforcreativity writes: “You seemed to have many, many shows in development at one time. I’m thrilled Dark Matter is happening. It seems like getting a show to air is a miracle under any circumstances. But, are any of the other shows still a possibility? If one of them “happens” what do you do? (Add people to the team, while you still executive produce?)”

Answer: I should be so lucky.  Right now, Paul and I are wholly focused on Dark Matter‘s first season –  and will be through June of 2015.  One of our other prospective shows, A.K.A., is still in play out there, while another script I co-wrote with our friend Tara Yelland was recently optioned.  I’ve always said that, in this business, you either have to have near infinite patience, or a near infinite amount of projects out there.  You just never know.  Even when you think you do – you don’t.  A while ago, I thought Dark Matter was dead and would have bet money we’d be producing A.K.A. in Vancouver – but, clearly, things worked out differently.

Joan001 writes: ” I know that there are people I’d like to see being cast again. “

Answer: So would I and I’ve recommended certain individuals I’ve worked with in the past for certain roles.  But, in the end, it all comes down to the auditions.  We’ve seen a lot of very talented people so far, and will be seeing a lot more in the coming week, and, in the end, it all comes down to who is right for the role.

Jarvis writes: ” Are you guys casting only in Canada or in L.A. too? “

Answer: The L.A. sessions start next week.

JeffW writes: “So it premiers next fall? In September?”

Answer: They haven’t announced an official premiere date yet.  Could be as early as June or late as September I imagine.  What works best for you?

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Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 3.55.16 PM

So now that it’s official, I can finally talk about my new show, Dark Matter, and my plans for the series and this blog in the lead-up to season premiere (sometime in 2015).  As most of you know, while I was working on Stargate this blog offered fans a peak at the inner workings of the production, with posts of everything from concept art to behind the scene videos and, of course, Q&A’s with the many talented individuals who helped produce it.  Well, I’d like to offer fans and prospective viewers the same opportunity with Dark Matter - with the added bonus that we’ll all be on this journey together.  From prep through production to finished episode,  this blog will offer you spoiler-free insights into the evolution of the production, something usually reserved for after-the-fact special features.  I want you all invested in the series from the very beginning and involved in its progression and completion so that, ultimately, hopefully, you’ll consider it YOUR show as much as I consider it mine.

Saturday, I leave rainy Vancouver for the frosty environs of Toronto where I’ll spend the next seven months – at least.  Next week, I’ll be talking to Jay Firestone (http://www.jayfirestone.com) and his team, lead by Vanessa Piazza (https://twitter.com/Vanessa_Piazza_), about coordinating these behind-the-scenes entries.  In the meantime…

Delivered scripts for episodes #7 and #8.  The script for episode #9 will come out next week.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, my writing partner, Paul, and I are approaching this first year as a maxi-series, each episode a chapter in our season-long story.  By the time we go to camera in January, we should have all 13 scripts done.

As for now, we’ve got six crew members and an android to cast and are deep into it.  We’ve cast a fairly wide net, opening the roles to all ethnicities and, in a couple of cases, both genders.  In the end, I think two of our linchpin female crew members, defacto leader TWO and the mysterious kid FIVE are going to be the toughest to cast.  Having that, however, we’ve got A LOT of very interesting candidates.

Well, seven if you include the Android.

Well, seven if you include the Android.

Thanks for all the birthday well-wishes.  I celebrated today by getting my haircut and doing a pass on the aforementioned scripts.  We went out for sushi dinner and, tonight, I cap off my birthday festivities by taking in another 30 auditions.

One final full day in Vancouver and then we’re Toronto-bound.  And, just when I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable about flying with the dogs, Lulu, my french bulldog has come down with diarrhea.  Let’s hope it clears up before we board our Saturday morning flight.  :(

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Big news!  I’m not crazy after all -

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.22.25 PM

http://tvline.com/2014/10/15/syfy-acquires-dark-matter-graphic-novel-adaptation/

http://www.gateworld.net/news/2014/10/stargate-producers-bring-dark-matter-to-syfy/

So I DIDN’T imagine the whole thing.  Unless, of course, this is also part of my elaborate, ongoing hallucination and those url’s actually link to the live cam of a cat hotel in Cornwall.

But, just in case, I’d like to thank a few of the people who got us where we are today: poised to go into production on a glorious 13-episode SF series…

First and foremost, Jay Firestone of Prodigy Pictures who worked tirelessly for months (and months and months!) relentlessly pursuing (I suspect he’s really a T-1000) and piecing together the various deals that made Dark Matter, the t.v. series, a reality.  If not for all of Jay’s determined hard work, none of this would have been possible and I would have had to find something else to blog about today.

Next, Keith Goldberg at Dark Horse Comics who green lit the original four issue Dark Matter comic book series (available as a graphic novel here: https://digital.darkhorse.com/browse/brand/52/.  As I suspected, the graphic novel proved an invaluable visual tool in conveying a proper sense of the prospective show’s tone and plotting – and ensuring people didn’t automatically imagine “the worst version”.

Speaking of the comic book, a big thanks to artist extraordinaire Garry Brown who illustrated all four issues (http://www.garrybrownart.com), colorist Ryan Hill (https://twitter.com/josephryanhill), letters Richard Starkings and Comicraft (http://www.comicbookfonts.com/default.asp), and my awesome editor Patrick Thorpe (http://www.comicbookdaily.com/columns/wham-bang-pow/got-job-series-patrick-thorpe/).

I’m sure I’ll have at least another hundred people to thank when all is said and done but for now, a final thanks to Vanessa Piazza who has been overseeing early prep (everything from The Raza and space station designs to casting) and will be joining me on set for all the space-faring fun in the coming months.

Spread the word.  And check back here for plenty of behind-the-scenes insights, tidbits, and sneak peaks.

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Watching dis movie be like getting together wit former girlfriend after several years.  You tink it be a great idea but, when show up for date, you diskover she really let herself go, embittered wit life, and spend most of evening telling tasteless jokes and trying to sell you on Amway.  At end of de night, you go home feeling sad, cheap, and gross.  Also poorer becuz you bought box of multivitamins and six pack of men’s fragrance dat smell like eau de Grover’s toilet.

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Yo, Kick-Ass.  Try to keep up.

Movie open on Hit Girl and Dave (aka Kick-Ass) in training.  He a wimp but she tuffening him up by beating de living crap out of him and, occasionally, shooting him.  Dey going to be de greatest team-up since Punisher and Archie!  UNTIL Hit Girl’s step dad make her promise to give up superheroing and just be a normal girl. Haha!  Right.  De Hit Girl we know from last movie would never agree so…Oh.  She does agree?  Haha!  Right.  But de Hit Girl we know from last movie might agree but would never really give up being a superhero…Oh.  She does?

Yes, for some reason, she agree and den spend big chunk of movie “trying to fit in” wit other high schoolers.   Dis plot development offer plenty of opportunities for hilarious fish-out-of-water scenes as Hit Girl try to akt like a normal teen. Unfortunately, it make absolutely no sense.  It be totally out of charakter for de Hit Girl we knew from last movie but,  luckily, cliquey high school girls also akt totally out of charakter, inviting her to a sleepover and convincing her to try out for dance team.  While she desperately trying to fit and hilarity ensuing, monster wonder: “What happened to terrific rebellious kid from last movie?”.

Alrighty, den!

Alrighty, den!

Meanwhile, Dave, aka Kick-Ass, team up wit lame amateur vigilante superheroes lead by Ace Ventura.

You!  Gimme de cash!

You! Gimme de cash!  You!  Spank me!

Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico, aka Red Mist, come out of retirement and don his dead mom’s S&M ensemble to become…De MUDDERFUCKER!  He also assemble his own lame amateur super villain team.

Scenes of extreme violence ensue but, unlike original, no fun to be had here.   In first movie, action sekwences enjoyable becuz it feature incongruous kid taking out bad guys.  In dis movie, we instead treated to action sekwences of bad guys killing cops in gruesome fashion.  Hohoho!   And, later, Ace Ventura.  Hahahaha!   Oh, and Dave’s dad.  Heeheehee!  At one point, Mudderfucker unable to assault a girl becuz he can’t get erektion!  And it all played for laughs.

Eventually, Hit Girl come out of retirement and join rest of superheroes in warehouse showdown against supervillains.  Ho hum.

Sorry about getting your dad killed, dude.

Sorry about getting your dad killed, dude.

Bad guys are defeated and all is forgiven.  Even Todd, Dave’s high school buddy, who joined Team Supervillain, revealed Kick Ass’s true identity, and was direktly responsible for Dave’s dad being murdered, get a pass.  Well, you know what dey say: “Bros before common sense!”

So long and tanks for all de fish sticks.

So long and tanks for all de fish sticks.

Hit Girl heads off into the sunset disappearing herself and leaving her step-dad to pick up de pieces of the police investigation into her vigilante past – and, presumably, face jail time for aiding and abetting a murderer.

Not so kick-ass.  Aktually, dumb and depressing.  A sekwel in name only.

VERDIKT: If you loved de first movie, you’ll hate dis one.  But if you hated de first movie, you probably won’t hate dis one as much.

RATING: 4 chocolate chippee cookies – except chocolate chippees actually raisins.  Sucker!

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Today, we interviewed some great Directors of Photography, talked cameras, shooting style, pre-lighting, then sat down with our stunt coordinator and discussed how our characters’  varied personalities are displayed in their respective fighting styles.  After lunch, we visited the art department where the gang had a bunch of goodies awaiting our perusal: designs of the ship corridors, quarters, mess hall, air locks, training room, and bridge.  It’s all coming along nicely.   Tonight, it’s dinner with Brad Wright.  Tomorrow, we sit down with the director of our opening two episodes – and, maybe, in honor of Carl Binder, dinner with our script coordinator at his favorite Toronto restaurant.

Fielding some of your early show-related questions…

arcticgoddess writes: “Since your team is writing scripts a year in advance, what happens if one or more of your actor choices go awry and do not work for your series?”

Answer: This is a very serialized show, so we’re approaching the 13 episode first season as an extended mini-series.  We’re not writing the scripts a year in advance but will have all 13 scripts completed by November – roughly a month a half before the commencement of principal photography – so that we can plan ahead and make the most efficient use of our time and resources.  It also allows us to make adjustments to any of the scripts early, for whatever reason, rather than have to scramble and make last-minute changes that compromise the story.

Bailey writes: “Sometimes actor chemistry just changes things on a show and can’t be predicted.”

Answer: True but, like I said, we know the story we want to tell, but can certainly make adjustments to the various character relations based on performance and onscreen chemistry.  I liken it to adapting a book.  You need to be flexible enough to make necessary changes but you’re not going to overhaul the entire script.

Line Noise writes: “So is there a ready-made production company for you to use in Toronto? Or did you have to build your own? You seem to already have a production team and art department on tap so I assume they come with the studio?”

Answer: Yes, we’re working with a production company here in Toronto.  Over the course of the past couple of days, we met all the department heads and they’re a great bunch.  We’re really looking forward to working with them.

It’s time to play Guess the Show by the Teefury t-shirt!

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P.S. Under the terms of the deal as this blog’s resident film critic, Cookie Monster is sitting through Kick-Ass 2.  You can expect an angry review within the next few days.  Screen the movie if you have time and want to commiserate!

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I’m exhausted.  I slept fitfully last night because of the time change and then woke up at the crack of dawn – because the morning sun shines unobstructed through a blind-free section of my patio window.  Fortunately, the meetings were plenty interesting enough to keep me wide awake throughout the afternoon.  We started off with our costume meeting in which we discussed wardrobe for our crew, the android, “planet-dwellers”, and corporate guard.  Then, we moved onto the directors’ schedule and nailed down all but the late season two-parter.  We discussed Directors of Photography (we’ll be sitting down with a few over the coming days), then headed downstairs to check out what the Art Department have in the works.  We’ve got a great-looking hero ship and an equally awesome space station design.  The designs for the ship and space station interiors, corridors and rooms, are very clever.  We’re close on the exterior shuttle design but have yet to start work on the interior.  I expect we’ll see more in the coming days – and more in the days to come as we’re about three weeks away from the start of construction.  On deck tomorrow: casting, locations, and post-production.

Oh, and, apparently, the official announcement is coming sometime next week. Unofficially.

Saw this today…

Apparently, the cult series will be returning to television in 2016.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I loved the first delightfully eccentric first season of the show but hated the meandering, ponderous second season.  With the exception of the final episode that ended the series in perfectly depressing fashion.  But, like the conclusion to Blake’s 7, it’s a classic.  I’m not sure what more can be added to the story (like most, I skipped the Fire Walk With Me prequel movie).  And I honestly don’t know if I’d be all that interested in finding out without the quirky Agent Cooper leading the investigation.  But I certainly would love to know what they have planned.

The story apparently picks up 25 years later.  I wonder how many of the original cast they’ll bring back.  Sadly, some of the actors who played a few of my favorite characters have passed away since Twin Peaks arid back in 1990-1991.  Jack Nance (Peter Martell), and, of course, Don S. Davis (Major Garland Briggs).  Don, who, for many years, played the part of General George Hammond on Stargate: SG-1 loved attending the occasional Twin Peaks conventions and meeting his many fans.  One afternoon, he was sitting in my office and told me about the atypical way he was cast for the role of Major Briggs.  According to Don, he went in for an audition.  While waiting for his turn, he struck up a conversation with show co-creator and director David Lynch who was, presumably, on break.  They hit it off immediately and spent a long while talking about fly fishing.  Then, Lynch excused himself.  He had a meeting to attend.  He left and Don inquired about his audition – only to be told that Lynch had left so they wouldn’t be seeing anyone else that day.  Don returned home, upset.  After all, he had spent all that time preparing for an audition that never happened.  He phoned up his agent to complain only to learn that the Twin Peaks production offices had called only moments earlier.  They wanted him for the role!

I have to admit, I was a huge fan of the show back in the day and still have the collector card set back in Montreal.  Among them, this – my favorite card:

tpsp64

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/10/will-the-twin-peaks-reboot-stay-weird/381159/

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