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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Matter’

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 -

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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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I woke up this morning to find the above-pictured oranges sitting on my kitchen counter, and Paul’s pass on our latest script sitting in my inbox.  I looked it over, made a few changes, and then sent the script wide – and, in this particular case, “wide” refers to the 3-5 individuals involved in this development process.  Word is they want all the materials in by early February so that they’ll have plenty of time to review them prior to a decision in March.  Will we finally get that elusive series order?   Well, I feel very good about this project – but, in all fairness, I felt pretty good about Dark Matter which was in the same position last year only to ultimately lose out to another property by the very slimmest of margins.  My writing partner, like a spurned lover, refuses to get his hopes up, maintaining an emotional distance as if the project were a relative going in for risky life-saving surgery.

Speaking of Dark Matter, I’m trying to arrange a conference call with my partners to discuss where things stand.  When last er spoke, we had a modest budget in place that, while impressive to the uninitiated, isn’t really quite enough to make a good ship-based series.  I’ve been running comparison budgets with my savvy friend and former colleague, Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, and it would seem we’ll need an additional 15-20% to do it properly.  I don’t suppose any of you happened to have any lottery winnings you’re looking to invest?  If so, let me know!

Having completed a first draft of that southern gothic pilot with Tara, I’m taking some time of from the script so that I can return to it, fresh, in about a week.  I’ve always found that when you’re writing, it’s very easy to get attached to what you’ve put down on the page so a little time away allows you to come back to it with a more open mind.  Meanwhile, I’m about 23 pages into the horror script.  Ideally, I’d love to hit the 30 page mark before my partner on this one, Alex Levine, frees up his busy schedule.  So far, so creepy!

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Took my old gal Jelly (she’ll be 15 next month!) in to see the vet today.  Over the past couple of days, she’s been doing a lot of panting and crying, especially in the middle of the night.  She checked out okay, no obvious health issues, so I’m going to have to keep an eye on her.  And be prepared to wake up A LOT in the wee hours of the morning.

Today was Jelly and tomorrow it’s my turn to go visit the doctor to check out yet another in a long line of mystery ailments.  They’re racking up.  No sooner did I make an appointment to ask an opinion on one issue than another unrelated issue cropped up.  Akemi joked it was because I’m getting old.  The kidder!

A couple of purchases today…

1This handsome statue in preparation for my future supervillain-themed office.  How’s that for optimism?

1Yes, I have heard of kindle.  And, yes, I still prefer real books.  The only problem is all the late-night Stargate: Universe-watching with Akemi has eaten into my reading time so I need to free up an after-dinnner/pre-workout block just to play catch-up.

Hey, speaking of reading, don’t forget to vote for our upcoming Book of the Month Club selection.  Your choices…

Our discussion will begin a month after the polls close – or, a month after the winning book is actually released, whichever comes last.

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First things first!  My french bulldog, Lulu, eating kale chips.  Please raise volume to maximum before viewing:

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One of the worst kept secrets on this blog has been the identity of that scifi series Paul and I have been trying to set up.  As many of you know, back when we were working on Stargate, we started developing our own SF series in the hopes of rolling right into production with the same crew if and when Stargate ever ended.  The only problem at the time was that there was no end in sight.  Every time we thought Stargate would close up shop, the show would get picked up for another season.  It was a classy problem that allowed us to really flesh out the concept and characters of this prospective new show.

Unfortunately, when Stargate did end, the timing proved difficult. Instead of taking advantage of our terrific Stargate crew, we ended up having to put our project on hold while we took a job in Toronto.  But rather than relegate it to the back burner, we thought of an interesting way to go – and a great way to help sell the show.  We hooked up with Dark Horse Comics and launched the series idea as a comic book.

DARKMTR #1 CVRThe first four issues of Dark Matter garnered great reviews and, when the trade paperback came out in October, we used it as a calling card. Having worked in development, I was aware of, and wanted to draw on, the added appeal of an established property.  Also, half the battle of pitching is to help a potential buyer imagine the project you have created – and I could think of no better pitch document than that trade paperback.

DM4We went out with a story backed by some fantastic visuals compliments of artist Garry Brown and colorist Ryan Hill.  The response was incredibly positive.  Even more so after Paul and I delivered the pilot script.  Still, my concern was the budget, making sure we had enough money to do it properly (visual effects don’t come cheap after all!), so I was heartened by word from our producing partner today that the response in Europe has been equally great.

Now all that remains is for that final piece of the puzzle to fall into place.  Yes, we’ve been waiting a while but all indications are we’ll be receiving word soon.  If it’s positive, then things are going to get very busy very quickly.  If it’s not, then we’ll have to go elsewhere for that final piece – which will, of course, delay things.

But hopefully it all comes together as expected.  And, once it does, dare I say it…

No, better not.

Mailbag:

shinyhula writes: “And why no zombies on this list? Night of the Living Dead, 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland; what have the unliving done to deserve your scorn?”

Answer: I was listing Scariest Endings and, off the top of my head, none of the zombie entries came to mind.  Well, now that I think of it, maybe the original Night of the Living Dead would have been a good candidate.

ancuetas writes: “Is that you know what music is there at the beginning of the video.”

Answer: This piece of music, from SG-1’s Demons, was before my time (I joined the show in its fourth season), but it’s safe to assume that it was composed by the late, great Joel Goldsmith.

dasndanger writes: “Also, this whole thing with the shutting down of cell towers in cases like this? That’s why I still have a corded old timey landline tele-o-phone.”

Answer: Hmmm.  Good point.  I haven’t had a landline in four years.

RLAVILLA writes: “Recently there have been two new Stargate games for Android and iPhone, and I think that will be the new product line, which has been selected by MGM for Stargate franchise. How about converting “Stargate Extinction” in a game for these new platforms?”

Answer: Not my call.  That would be for the studio to decide.

Jen writes: “A tad random, but I went in on my birthday to have this done but the artist was booked up so I had it done yesterday.”

Answer: Great.  But I insist you draw the line at one of those Jaffa forehead tattoos.

baterista9 writes: “Just saw Cookie on Saturday at Sea World of Texas.”

Answer: Yes, he was there for his cousin Esmerelda’s wedding.

fsmn36 writes: “But the entire movie plays off the alcoholic!Tony arc from the comics and the Rhodey scene makes 20x more sense when you consider Tony is basically planning on suicide/knows he’s going to die. What seems a tacky action scene becomes a heart breaking fight between friends while Tony desperately gives everything he loves away to the few people that matter to him.”

Answer: Sounds terrific.  Unfortunately, none of that came across onscreen.

gforce writes: “Did you ever take Akemi up to Whistler yet? You should take her out to a nice dinner or even a weekend up there!”

Answer: I retired my krazy karpet years ago.

Seth writes: “How hard would it be to get the cast on board for a Kickstarter for the series or movies? Looks as if Veronica Mars just got 5.5 million in Kickstarter funds from fans!”

Answer: 5.5 million may seem like a lot, but consider that the previous SG-1 movies cost 7+ million each to produce – and those productions made use of existing sets and production personnel.

Tam Dixon writes: “Did you try one of the dog cookies for quality control? You did, didn’t you?”

Answer: I didn’t, but someone I know (hint: she’s Japanese) DOES taste test for quality control.

Tam Dixon also writes: “Anyways, what about another trip? New York, L.A. or maybe even go down South. I wouldn’t recommend Memphis, unless you bring a gun but what about New Orleans or Savannah, GA?”

Answer: Akemi definitely wants to go to New York and, after reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I’ve wanted to check out Savannah.  That said, both L.A. and Vegas are closer and more likely short trip destinations.  This, of course, is entirely dependent on our finding a dog sitter.

astrumporta writes: “I think you should bring Akemi to San Francisco for her b-day!”

Answer: It’s also on the list.  Good eatin’!  How goes, Michelle?

pennlynn writes: “You’re brave man Joe! I like having a nice drink but other than the whiskey I’m not sure I would try that haul of liquor!”

Answer: I tried the Nikka whiskey with Lawren last night when he came over for the American Horror Story marathon.  It was damn good, and much better straight up than on the rocks.  How went the t.v. interview?

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A few weeks ago, I was invited to take part in The Next Big Thing blog hop.  And what, pray tell, is a “The Next Big Thing blog hop”?  Well, it involves me answering a set of ten questions on a recent or upcoming release on this blog, and then forwarding the same questions to other writers of my choice so that they can do the same – and keep the process going until, presumably, every living writer with an internet presence has participated.

Amanda Ball, who kindly extended the invitation to yours truly, talked about her upcoming release on her blog last week, here: http://livingforcreativity.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop/

I, in turn, extended the invitation to a few more writers:

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As it turned out, author Ari Marmell knew all about the blog hop – because he’d already participated several months ago.  Get the scoop on the latest installment in his Widdershins series here:

http://mouseferatu.com/index.php/news/november-28-2012-the-next-big-thing/

1Author Dave Gross was also on my invite list but, like Ari, he was well ahead of the game.  You can find out more about his next book in The Pathfinder Tales series here:

Dave Gross: The Next Big Thing

1Author Mandy Hager has yet to participate in the blog hop (Success!). She’ll be talking about her latest release, The Crossing, over on her blog next week: Mandy Hager – Writer.  I will, of course, provide a link once the Q&A is up.

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And, finally, the ever-entertaining Sam Sykes will be discussing his work here: Sam Sykes » Blog.

So, my turn.

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Even though I was only forwarded ten questions, there were actually eleven I had to answer – the 11th (or, more appropriately, first) being: Which work do I choose to discuss?  I ultimately decided to go with Dark Matter, my comic book series.  Why?  Well, for starters, the trade paperback collecting the first arc came out in October.  Also, although I’ve written several “things” since, none are yet available for public consumption (I don’t believe there’s an airdate for the Delete miniseries while two of the pilots I wrote won’t be going to camera until the spring).  Finally, there’s a good chance I’ll have even more to say about Dark Matter in the near future.  And let’s leave it at that for now.

On to the questions…

1: What is the working title of your book?

Dark Matter.

2: Where did the idea come from?

The idea had been brewing for quite some time – some five years!  I developed the series while working on Stargate.  The plan was to set it up as a series whenever Stargate ended.  The only problem was (and, believe me, it was a classy problem) Stargate was in no hurry to end. Thus, I had a lot of time to really flesh out the characters, their respective backstories, and the series as a whole.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Science fiction.  Space Opera in the truest sense of the term.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Movie?  You mean t.v. rendition, no?  Well, hard to say.  Don’t want to tip my hand just yet.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The crew of a derelict ship awakens from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got onboard.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

The comic book series was published by Dark Horse Comics.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The series and pilot were five years in the making – but it took me about a month to write the first script.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Certainly Stargate.  A few of the space-based anime series like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun.  Maybe a touch of Breaking Bad (actually, reverse Breaking Bad).

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I drew my inspiration from a variety of sources: The Dirty Dozen, The Seven Samurai, The Shield, The Thunderbolts, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, the plan has always been to produce a television series based on the concept.  Want a sneak peek at the first few episodes?  Pick up the trade paperback: Dark Matter Volume 1: Rebirth TPB :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics

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