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5:00 a.m.: I wake up so early that not even the dogs will get out of bed and join me.

6:15 a.m.: I catch a cab to the airport with my fellow Executive Producer Paul Mullie.  As we pull away from the curb, I lament the fact that the production office didn’t drop off my car last night (off getting winter tires) because my hat is in the back seat and I fear I may need it in New York.

7:00 a.m.: At the airport, meet up with fellow Executive Producer Jay Firestone who has packed his tux in one of his carry-on suitcases because he’ll be staying in New York for the International Emmys.  (Note: I didn’t even know there was such a thing.)

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 7:30 a.m.: Our flight departs for Toronto.  When Jay mentioned we’d be flying in a “prop plane”, my mind immediately went to the “prop guns” and “prop gadgets” we used to build on Stargate, reasonable facsimiles of the real thing.  I imagined the airline buying one of these phoney planes from a production and retrofitting it with an actual working engine.  Beats having to build a real one from scratch!  But, alas, Paul disabused me of the notion by informing me that “prop” is actually short for “propellor” – which didn’t make me feel any better.  Since it was my first time flying one of these things, I got to swing the propellor to start the engine while, inside the cockpit, the pilot shouted: “Contact!” letting me know I had less than thirty seconds to scramble aboard before the plane took off.  Enroute, we dusted some crops!

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The east coat is a veritable winter wonderland!

We flew into Newark Airport and, from there, it was smoooooth sailing into New York City.  So smooth, in fact, that we arrived half an hour early for our meeting. We informed the front desk at 30 Rock.  They told us to beat it.

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Check it out!  They’re working on the big Christmas tree!

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11:00 a.m.: After going out for coffee and chapstick, we returned to 30 Rock, met up with fellow Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza, then headed up to the SyFy offices where we met up with our long-time favorite SyFy Exec (and longtime Stargate fan and supporter) Executive VP of Programming and Original Movies for SyFy and Chiller Tom Vitale!  We also met our Dark Matter point person at the network, Senior VP of Programming Chris Regina who struck me as both super nice and super sharp.  And he’s also a fellow foodie and fantasy football enthusiast!

We chatted about the show for an hour and then headed off for a lunch of lamb burgers and polenta fries at Bolud Sud.

12:00 p.m.: With approximately two hours to kill before our meeting with SyFy Marketing, we accompanied Vanessa to the Nike Store where she spent approximately 90 minutes browsing and trying stuff on including a pair of running shoes that apparently light up under headlights – and camera flashes.  I put ‘em to the test -

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Yep!

Apparently, 90 minutes wasn’t enough time for Vanessa so she set some items aside for a post-meeting perusal, and we headed back to 30 Rock for our meeting with the Marketing team.

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4:00 p.m.: I pitched our show: the opener, the themes, nature vs. nurture, redemption, twists, turns!  Paul backed me up.  Jay delved into marketing and licensing.  Vanessa fielded questions related to production and scheduling.  I think it went over well.  Nobody left the room or fell asleep while I was speaking (always a good sign).

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5:00 p.m.: Paul and I leave and spend the next 30 minutes trying to hail a cab. We eventually succeeded and spent over an hour in gridlock. finally arriving at the airport an hour before our scheduled departure.

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I had time to grab this not-so-delicious $12 sandwich.

11:00 p.m.: By the time we arrive, go through customs, catch a cab, and get in – I take a shower and crawl into bed thoroughly exhausted.  Then remember I have a blog to update.

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One of the most notoriously elusive member of the Dark Matter production team is Kim Zaharko.  For days, rumors abounded of a supremely talented Art Director frequenting the lower offices, coordinating the design and construction of our awesome sets.  There had been sightings but no visual confirmations.  Intrigued, I set out to get photographic proof of her existence.  After numerous failed attempts, I was finally able to snap the above pic during an Art Department meeting which I attended, disguised as an innocuous photocopier.  Note the discerning eyes for detail, the tell-tale look of seasoned professionalism, the the keen sense of fashion!

Now note her exceptional handiwork…

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Coming along nicely, no?

Tomorrow, I’m New York-bound for the day.  Out at 6:00 a.m.; back at 11:00 p.m! I’m tired already.

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The first time I’d ever heard about Production Designer Ian Brock was several months ago when I was having dinner with a fellow producer.  We were discussing production challenges and the benefits of hiring talented people capable of making efficient use of often limited resources when my dining companion suddenly sat back and informed me: “Ian Brock!  He’s a genius!”.

Genius?  “That’s a mighty big word,”I remember thinking.  According to my associate, he was not only incredibly good at production design, he was incredibly good at production design without going over budget.  “But GENIUS?”I asked.

“His work,”I was assured, “is efficient but visually stunning.”

And that’s something I can now personally attest to.  With the help of his Art Department team and the construction department, Ian’s vision for our ship, The Raza, is rapidly taking shape.  And it’s looking mighty awesome…

Ian heads up the Art Department meeting

Ian heads up the Art Department meeting

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Photo c/o (stolen from) Trevor Finn.

Photo c/o (stolen from) Trevor Finn.

Yep.  Genius!

Executive Producer Jay Firestone has had it up to HERE with us.

Executive Producer Jay Firestone has had it up to HERE with us.

Today, Paul and I sat down with fellow Dark Matter Executive Producer (and President of Prodigy Pictures) Jay Firestone for a marathon notes session.  Well, it was only three scripts, so not so much a marathon as it was, say, a 5k sustained jog through episodes #101 through #103.  And, I’m pleased to report, a good time was had by all.  Oh, sure, there were a few disagreements.  A couple of impassioned arguments.  And, at one point, (apparently) I almost jumped out of my seat.  But, in the end, it was a productive meeting and I have no doubt that all three scripts will be the better for it.  Jay flagged some murky moments in need of clarification, had some great suggestions related to character motivations, relationships, and arcs, and even offered up some pretty good dialogue tweaks.  No absurd requests or annoyingly illogical proposals or demands for reams of exposition to ensure that even a trained chimp can follow the story.

If all of our future notes sessions go this smoothly, I may actually look forward to attending them – instead of hiding under my desk and hoping people will simply lose interest and move on to more pressing matters.

Tomorrow = round #2 (eposes #104 to #106)!

My writing partner, Paul, got in yesterday for what should be a big week.  We’ve got budget meetings tomorrow, script meetings with Jay Tuesday and Wednesday, and a whirlwind trip to the SyFy offices in New York that will see us flying out early Friday morning and flying back later that night.  Today, we sat down with (well, actually, we all stood but you know what I mean) the Art Department, Costumes, and Props.  In the case of the latter, it was all about the guns, guns, guns!  And some swords and miscellaneous weaponry…

A veritable smorgasbord of firepower!

A veritable smorgasbord of firepower!

So we’re looking to use replicas of established guns as the base models for the futuristic sidearms and ordnance our crew – and everyone from Galactic Authority officers to Corporate Guards – will be packing.  Both Three and Six will wield big-ass guns and carry chunky holstered handgun variants (something along the lines of what you see bottom left).  One, Two and Four will go with sleeker shooters.  Holster options range from hip and leg to shoulder and back.

Yo, Slashy McStabberson!

Yo, Slashy McStabberson!

Apparently the longer swords are your go-to blades if you’re looking to decapitate someone – but you already knew that.  Four, our resident swordsman, would be adept with all four sheathed varieties – so we’ll keep all four in his quarters so that he can always have a choice.

And this lovely medieval pruning knife can be yours...if the price is right!

And this lovely medieval pruning knife can be yours…if the price is right!

The ship’s training room will house a variety of weapons, from simple training staffs to more exotic blades.  Here, Property Master Victoria Klein shows off a little something from her personal collection.

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Trevor gets mouthy with Alison.  She responds in kind.

1Our Props Buyer’s (Susan Woorts) shopping list will include: milk, eggs, cheese, and a half dozen fresh Berettas.

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Testing Alison’s reflexes.  Her rubber training sword is no match for my steel!

And you thought today was fun!  I can’t wait for tomorrow’s two hour script note session!

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The return of my bento box breakfast.  Peanut butter oatmeal with cherries and burnt white chocolate for dessert.

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My every-chilly girlfriend.

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Almost 16-year old Jelly, already in the Christmas spirit.

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Jelly sleeps off her walkies.

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Akemi’s latest passion = popcorn!

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And, apparently, knitting!

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Well, at least her ears are warm.

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Getting together with the gang for some Sunday football over some wings and nachos: Trevor Finn, Robert C. Cooper, and Alex Levine.

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Oh, my.  My Snow Monkeys are about to move on to a 7-4 record, and 2nd place in our Fantasy Football League.  I smell championship!

Way back when I was living in Montreal, I would attend something called Hong Kong Movie Nite.  It was a weekly tradition, hosted by my buddy Nigel, that saw us gather at his place for wings, Jamaican takeout, Jack Daniels, occasional cigars, and screenings of some of the most bad-ass and weirdly wonderful offerings from the Hong Kong film industry.  This was before Hollywood discovered John Woo and Jet Li, before Chow Yun-Fat had become a global star, before Quentin Tarantino had “borrowed” elements of Ringo Lam’s City on Fire for his first modest kick at the cinematic bucket, a movie called Reservoir Dogs.  Paul and I would swing by from work and take in double, sometimes triple features with the likes of Supa, Champion, Flipski, and Sushiman – big boys, mostly of Carribbean descent, who were as fun and furious as the movies themselves.

I miss the Movie Nite Crew.  And all those testosterone-fueled action flicks that have, in time, become classics of Asian cinema.

Reflecting back over the countless films we watched, I’d have to say that these were my Top 12 favorites…

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12. LOVE ON DELIVERY

This delightfully ludicrous romantic comedy was my introduction to funny man Stephen Chow – who makes several appearances on this list.

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11. NAKED KILLER

A gloriously over-the-top entry in the Girls with Guns sub-genre that became an instant cult classic.

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10. A BETTER TOMORROW

The movie that made uber-cool Chow Yun-Fat a superstar.

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9. RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY

Cartoon ultra-violence reigns supreme in this near future actioner, probably the craziest movie I’ve ever seen.

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8. THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR

Romance, tragedy, fantasy, and plenty of swordplay.  A beautiful film.

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7. KUNG FU HUSTLE

Nobody mixes action and comedy like Stephen Chow.

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6. FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE

And here he takes a turn as the Hong Kong’s 007 in this James Bond spoof with a definitive Asian twist.

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5. INFERNAL AFFAIRS

Adapted by Hollywood, practically scene for scene, as the Oscar-winning The Departed.

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4. FIST OF LEGEND

Jet Li at his bad-ass best.

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3. HARDBOILED

One of my very first forays into Asian cinema, this one remains one of my very favorites.  The action sequences are so exquisitely choreographed that my brain was buzzing for hours after our initial screening.

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2. SHAOLIN SOCCER

Stephen Chow is at the top of his game here, playing a master of kung-fu who enlists the help of his fellow Shoalin monks to form a soccer team,  one that incorporates martial arts into the beautiful game – with hilarious results.  One of my very favorite comedies ever.

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1. THE KILLER

A ruthless assassin attempts to make amends for a past mistake in this cinematic classic.

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