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Posts Tagged ‘film & television’

I can’t believe September is almost done and, in a few weeks, I’ll be making the BIG move to Toronto – just in time for what’s predicted to be (and I quote) “the T-Rex of winters” (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/t-rex-of-winters-in-store-for-canada-old-farmer-s-almanac-1.2012804#).  Of course, I’ll be spending most of it on a nice, cozy spaceship set.  Or, in a nice, cozy car on my way to a nice, cozy spaceship set.  On the one hand, the highway driving may be icy and treacherous; on the other hand, all of the lane shutdowns happening in Toronto will ensure that nobody will be going fast enough to suffer any real damage.

The plan is for Paul and I to fly over to Toronto the week of October 6th for some meetings covering everything from casting and scheduling to DOP’s and editors. I’m going to try to pack everything I’ll need for my 7 month Toronto stay into two suitcases I’ll be bringing with me on that initial trip.   Just the bare essentials: shirts, suits, ties, cufflinks, laptop.  I’ll try to buy everything else I’ll need – towels, toiletries, dog beds, workout wear – while I’m there that first week.  Between approving ship designs and interviewing Directors of Photography, I’ll be hitting the Eaton Center for dress socks and warm underwear!

We fly back to Vancouver at the end of that week and then I’ll have all of the following week to get my local affairs in order, hand off the house keys to my former dog sitter who will become a house sitter until May of next year, and then make the final trip eastward (for 2014 anyway), dogs in tow the weekend of October 18th.  Our friend Jeff has kindly offered to help transport the pooches so, once we firm up a date, I’ll get on the phone with the airline and book the flight with the roomiest under-seats.  I believe the rules allow for only one dog (as carry-on) per person, and limit pets to a mere two in business class and two in coach.  If that’s the case, Jeff (and Lulu) will be flying in style while Akemi, Bubba, Jelly and I squeeze into economy.  I’m considering purchasing extra seats, just in case.  I have to admit, getting my dogs cross-country is the most stressful aspect of this whole Toronto production.

I’m aiming to have 9 of our 13 first season scripts completed by the time we land in Toronto, October 6th.  Paul did a brilliant job on the delightfully creepy episode #5 that went out today and is presently revising episode #6.  Rob is working on his first draft of episode #7 while I do a pass on Trevor’s draft of episode #8.  And, of course, I already completed episode #9 which sits, patiently waiting to be read.

We’ve approached the first season like a book, the thirteen episodes the equivalent to chapters in an extended story.  We set up a big mystery in the opener, one we’ll develop over the course of the first year and, eventually, pay off BIG in the finale. The great thing about having all 13 episodes in advance (besides the obvious production advantages) is that we’ll be able to read the entire first season from beginning to end, tweaking where necessary to ensure a gripping, well-developed narrative layered with intriguing set-ups and surprising/satisfying pay-offs.   It also allows our Visual Effects team (lead by former Stargate VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and this show’s VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson) and Playback department to get a jump start on those visual effects and awesome onscreen images.  And having those nine episodes in the bank for early October also allows us to choose the perfect sides for each character audition – and there will be plenty: six crew members plus that, uh, non-human character.

We’ve got half our directors in place and you’ll, no doubt, recognize a few familiar names.  Very much looking forward to working with them again.  It’s been WAY too long.

My biggest point of focus from now until mid-December will be those sets. Construction begins on the ship, shuttle, and space station in late October and I need them to look truly awesome.  Also, I’ll need to make sure the shuttle is heated, with a  roll-out bed and working bathroom because chances are, if the shoots run late, that’s where I’ll be spending most of my nights.

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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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A few days ago, I offered a rundown of some of the upcoming high-profile movies poised to hit the big screen in the coming weeks (May 26, 2013: Upcoming movie releases to look forward to! Or not!). Today, I’d like to alert you to some of the smaller upcoming releases that have captured my interest…

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THE KINGS OF SUMMER

Release Date: May 31, 2013

What it’s about: A coming-of-age comedy about three boys who run away from home to live in a tree house in the woods.

What it’s got working for it: Has a Stand By Me vibe.

What it’s got working against it: I think it’s a mistake to market this movie as a comedy given that everything I’ve seen so far suggests some fairly subdued humor.

1SHADOW DANCER

Release Date: May 31, 2013

What it’s about: An Irish mother is arrested and sent back to Belfast as an undercover operative.  To save her family, she must betray it…

What it’s got working for it: One helluva a set up.

What it’s got working against it: It looks very dark.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

1VIOLET & DAISY

Release Date: June 7, 2013

What it’s about: Two young female assassins get more than they bargained for on their latest hit.

What it’s got working for it: Potentially/delightfully weird and over-the-top.

What it’s got working against it: Potentially/ridiculously weird and over-the-top.

1BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO

Release Date: June 14, 2013

What it’s about: The line between fact and fiction blurs when a British sound engineer travels to Rome to work on an Italian horror film.

What it’s got working for it: Looks like an awesome homage to cinema giallo.

What it’s got working against it: Alternately, could turn out to be plain weird and inaccessible.

1A HIJACKING

Release Date: June 21, 2013

What it’s about: Somali pirates hijack a cargo ship and demand a ransom for the captive crew.  The CEO of the shipping company engages the pirates in a battle of wills while the lives of his employees hangs in the balance.

What it’s got working for it: Looks gritty, smart, and suspenseful.

What it’s got working against it: Also looks kinds of bleak.

1BYZANTIUM

Release Date: June 28, 2013

What it’s about: Two female vampires arrive in a small coastal town

What it’s got working for it: Moody, atmospheric.  A gorgeous-looking movie.  Female vampires are a bonus!

What it’s got working against it: Style over substance?

1COPPERHEAD

Release Date: June 28, 2013

What it’s about: “Copperheads” = northerners who opposed the American Civil War.

What it’s got working for it: Directed by Ron Maxwell (Gettsyburg, Gods and Generals).

What it’s got working against it: Might be a little dry.

Mailbag:

Magsol writes: “In this case, ownership becomes even more complicated. It was Aaron Sorkin who created the character, and Schiff who brought it to life, but Sorkin left after season 4 to pursue other interests and was in no way involved in the writing after that point. Hence, the new direction for the Ziegler character was entirely John Wells’ doing; Schiff was the only constant throughout.”

and

M Reed writes: “The two leads of Supernatural were recently discussing that it puzzles them that new writers come in and retcon history regarding the characters of Sam and Dean Winchester and that they don’t blame the audience for complaining about these sudden changes in the history of the characters.”

Answer: Ah, but these are very different situations.  In this case, we’re not talking about the writer who created the characters and developed them over the course of those early seasons.

M Reed also writes: “In the case of SG1 yit gets even more complicated.”

Answer: True, given that Jack O’Neil(l) was a character who predated the series.  Still, the Jack the fans came to know and love was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner, then brought to life and shaped by Richard Dean Anderson.

M Reed also writes: “Who really owns the characters of O’Neil(l) and Jackson?”

Answer: Oh, that one’s easy.  MGM! :)

shinyhula writes: “I’d think studio interference would cause the most problems on set than divas.”

Answer: Well, interference, either by a studio, network, or anyone involved in the production, would be a bad thing.  In a more general sense, studio/network notes can change the creative direction as well, but like cast input, it’s not really a big issue and can be addressed – so long as it’s not something that crops up at the 11th hour (or worse, some time after!).

Ryan “Stitch” Nixon writes: “Personally, the editing was the biggest downfall, they spent so much money I do not understand the cutting it down to LESS than 2-hours when most superhero films now are pushing 2.5 to 3 hours.”

Answer: Hmmm.  While I’m sure a 2.5 – 3 hour version of the movie would have made it “better” in the sense that it would have done a better job of reflecting the original script, I think a longer run time would have hurt the the movie even more.  As Cookie pointed out in his review, unlike Watchmen, Green Lantern was essentially a fun romp, a popcorn movie, not an epic.

HBMC writes: “And Joe, wouldn’t you say that your question – who owns a character – works very differently between television (where the writers often run the show) and movies (where writers are not to enter the actors’ eye-lines, ever, on pain of death)?”

Answer: Most definitely.  In film, it’s the director who sees most of the frontline action.

HBMC also writes: “As to Joe’s actual post – who owns the character, the person who writes them or the actor that plays them, I don’t think it’s a black and white either/or answer. I remember in Uni they once brought in some actors to act out scenes from the scripts we were all writing. It was fascinating because when they went through the particular scene I had written they did things in a completely different way to what I imagined in my head, and in some cases the decisions they had made were better than what I have originally thought of.”

Answer: So true and this is something I’ve mentioned in previous entries.  We, as writers, create the characters but it’s the actors that bring them to life and, consequently, influence their development.  They take what’s on the page and interpret it onscreen.  We see how they’ve interpreted and shape the character accordingly.  It’s a constant collaborative back and forth.

Tam Dixon writes: “Did you try the cheesecake recipe yet?”

Answer: Yep.  Full report tomorrow.

gforce writes: “I’ll go ahead an ask the obvious one – any word on the Dark Matter front, or the other projects?”

Answer: Apparently, June 6th is the date when all our questions will be answered.

gforce also writes: “Also, do you know if Cookie has and ideas for future reviewing projects after the superhero movies?”

Answer: Not so fast.  A thorough audit of the superhero movie catalog by yours truly reveals a bunch of review candidates Cookie (mistakenly?) missed.  Entries like the 1978 t.v. movie Dr. Strange and the equally horrendous Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. starring the Hoff warrant screenings as well.  But there’s no reason why, in addition to these gems, Cookie couldn’t review a few non-supermovies as well.

gforce also writes: “Are you watching the S4 of “Arrested Development” on Netflix? I think it’s brilliant, but you have to watch several episodes to start to figure out what’s going on.”

Answer: I loved the first three seasons of the show and fully intend to check out the fourth – but, at present, my t.v. dance card is full.

baterista9 writes: “As I’ve learned more about the film industry, I’ve gotten the impression that individual divas are in the minority. Am I correct in thinking that most participants “play well with others”?”

Answer: True.

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1AFTER EARTH

Release Date: May 31, 2013

What it’s about: A father and son find themselves stranded on Earth, roughly a thousand years after humanity abandoned the planet.  With dad injured, son must find a way to brave the strange and dangerous new/old world to ensure their survival.

What it’s got working for it: It’s scifi and we all love scifi, don’t we?

What’s it’s got going against it: Just because it’s SF, doesn’t mean it’s good.  In fact, more often than not, it isn’t.  Also, these father-son outings (starring real life father and son Wil and Jaden Smith) inevitably play like Disney adventures where the threats and suspense are muted by the foregone happy ending.  ALSO, it’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan who hasn’t delivered a good movie since The Sixth Sense.

1NOW YOU SEE ME

Release Date: May 31, 2013

What it’s about: An elite FBI team faces off against the world’s greatest illusionists turned bad.

What it’s got going for it: An impressive cast.

What it’s got working against it: Despite the out-there premise, it isn’t a comedy.

1THE INTERNSHIP

Release Date: June 7, 2013

What it’s about: A couple of out-of-work salesmen land internships at Google.  Hilarity ensues.

What it’s got going for it: Will Ferrell is part of the cast.  He’s pretty funny.

What it’s got working against it: Didn’t someone declare a moratorium on these Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn movies?

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THE PURGE

Release Date: June 7, 2013

What’s it about: In the not too distant future, the government deals with crime by allowing criminals one annual 12-hour state-sanctioned reign of terror.  Just to get it all out of their systems, y’know?  On one such night, a family has their lives upended by an intruder who breaks into their gated community.

What it’s got going for it: An intriguing, albeit somewhat silly, premise.

What’s it’s got working against it: An intriguing, albeit somewhat silly, premise.

1THIS IS THE END

Release Date: June 12, 2013

What it’s about: Six buddies try to survive the apocalypse, and each other, in this end-of-the-world laugher.

What it’s got going for it: A darkly humorous premise and the always-funny Craig Robison (Daryl from The Office).

What it’s got working against it: I think Seth Rogen is funny too – his movies not so much.

1MAN OF STEEL

Release Date: June 14, 2013

What it’s about: Superman.

What it’s got going for it: Brought to you by tremendously talented director Zack Snyder and tremendously talented writer Davis S. Goyer.

What it’s got working against it: I’ve yet to meet a Superman movie I’ve liked.

1WORLD WAR Z

Release Date: June 21, 2013

What it’s about: Brad Pitt battles zombies on a world-wide scale.

What it’s got going for it: The book, by Max Brooks, is excellent.

What it’s got working against it: What made the book so great, it’s sequential, multi-voiced narrative, is exactly what makes it impossible to translate to the big screen.

1MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

Release Date: June 21, 2013

What it’s about: A young, idealistic Mike Wazowski’s college plans are upended by an all-out rivalry with big-monster-on-campus James P. Sullivan.

What it’s got going for it: I loved Monsters Inc.

What it’s got working against it: It IS a sequel…but I’m cautiously optimistic.

1THE HEAT

Release Date: June 28, 2013

What it’s about: A by-the-book FBI agent (played by Sandra Bullock) teams with a loose cannon cop (played by Melissa McCarthy) to take down a drug kingpin.

What it’s got going for it: Melissa McCarthy.

What it’s got working against it: The premise aint exactly fresh.

1WHITE HOUSE DOWN

Release Date: June 28, 2013

What it’s about: Terrorists take the White House and only one man – a guy with something to prove and nothing to lose! – can save the President!

What it’s got going for it: I’m going to need more time to think about it.

What it’s got working against it: Didn’t this exact same movie come out a couple of months ago?  Only back then, it was called Olympus Has Fallen.

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GH poster

Do you have low expektations?  Are you annoyed by tings like logic and quality?  Are you a cretin?  If you answered yes to any of dese questions, den you may enjoy The Green Hornet.

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Cool, no?  No.  Not really.

Movie open on Russian gangster who visit club owned by rival.  There, he make rival an offer he can’t refuse.  Rival refuse it anyway, so Russian pull out carefully concealed weapon – a big, clunky twin-barreled gun.  How possible for him to sneak it inside?  It not make any sense!  Russian kill bodyguards, make another offer, den get up and leave.  As he leaving, rival notice he forgot his briefcase and say: “Hey, you forgot your briefcase!”.  Seconds later – literally, dats all de time it takes for Russian to get out de office, thru de club, and out de front door – briefcase explode.  It not make any sense!!

We cut to Chateau Versailles where we introduced to multi-millionaire douchebag father and his multi-millionaire douchebag son. Britt. Father is unhappy wit son’s lifestyle.  He unhappier still when he supposedly get stung by bee, have allergic reaction and die.  Britt take over de family business and fire entire house staff – except guy named Kato because he know which buttons to push to make great coffee. Also, Kato be a terrifik mechanic who, for some reason, tricked out Britt’s dad’s car wit all sorts of James Bond gadgetry.  Why?  It not make any sense!!!

One night, Britt and Kato dress up in disguise and take head off father’s memorial statue.  Dey also end up stopping gang of muggers. Well, Kato stop dem.  Britt just try his best not to get in de way.

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It not make any – shhhhhhhh.

Disguised Britt and Kato caught on security camera defacing father’s statue.  Britt inherit father’s newspaper and insist it publish headline story on mysterious criminal defacers, one of which he name Green Hornet.  Soon, everyone very interested in Green Hornet.  De media, citizens, even de Russian gangster.  But why?  Why de heck everyone suddenly interested in some guy just because he took de head off a statue?  Why powerful Russian gangster is worried about being upstaged by a costumed vandal?  IT NOT MAKE ANY SENSE!

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Green Hornet and Kato in…De Case of de Missing Plot.

In order to decide next course of aktion, Britt have to hire self-proclaimed “criminal expert” temp to tell him what Green Hornet will do next.  Using her “expert insight”, he follow her predikted pattern: beating up criminals and generally causing trouble for Russian gangster.  Why Britt need to hire some temp to tell him what to do? IT NOT MAKE ANY SENSE!!

x

Faster den a speeding truck.

Russian try to kill Green Hornet and Kato – but dey eskape.  Den have a falling out because Britt tink Kato dating temp.  Den Kato tink Britt dating temp.  Ho hum.

Kato accept Russian’s offer to kill Green Hornet and get de drop on Britt (after completely implausible flashback sekwence in which Britt piece together complikated backstory for benefit of confused viewer.  It not make any sense by de way) – but it turn out he have no intention of killing him after all.  In de end, it not really matter because, for some reason, Russian gangsters and his thugs start shooting up de place before Kato can go thru wit it.  Why?  IT NOT MAKE ANY FREAKIN’ SENSE!

Shoot out!  Car chase!  Fights!  Entire floor of newspaper building destroyed but newspaper staff unaware dere be anyting going on until a half a car drive out of de elevator.  IT NOT MAKE ANY FREAKIN’ SENSE!!

Bad guys killed.  Britt, dressed up as Green Hornet, get shot in shoulder and eskape.  But he unable to go to hospital because den police will know HE de Green Hornet.  So he and Kato and temp come up wit brilliant plan: De next day, Britt give public speech – and interrupted by Kato who fake shoot him in de shoulder and drive away. Presumably, hospital staff won’t know difference between fresh and day-old gunshot wound and everyting a-okay.

Britt and Kato put head back on statue, restoring dignity to father’s legacy.  Sadly, same can’t be said for Green Hornet franchise.

Verdikt: Seriously!  It makes no sense!

Rating: 3 chocolate chippee cookies.

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This was the question many Stargate fans were asking themselves yesterday after news broke of the astounding success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign.

For those of you who haven’t heard, series creator Rob Thomas approached Warner Bros. about making a Veronica Mars movie. According to Thomas: “Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.”  Well, the fans stepped up and demonstrated their interest, pledging $1 million dollars (in a record 4 hours and 24 minutes) to the project’s kickstarter campaign [http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/13/technology/veronica-mars-kickstarter/index.html].  And, last time I checked, over 47000 backers had pledged close to 3 million dollars, about a million dollars over their goal – and this is only day #2 of their month-long drive! [http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project].

It’s awesome news for Veronica Mars fans that has also energized fandom in general.  Already, loyal viewers are asking about their own favorite shows ['Veronica Mars' Movie Funded...Could a 'Chuck' Movie be Next?! (Poll)].  Could a similar strategy work for us?  Well, I suppose it depends.

Over at Forbes.com, Paul Tassi asks: “How did a show that’s been off the air for eight years raise two million dollars in barely half a day?”, and then proceeds to break down exactly how they pulled it off [http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/03/14/how-exactly-did-veronica-mars-fund-a-movie-in-ten-hours/].  It offers great insight – and food for thought.

So how successful could a Stargate movie campaign prove if it attempted to follow the successful five-step strategy he outlines?  Well, according to Paul, “There are a number of factors at work here, and they’re worth exploring in order to understand if this kind of thing can or will happen again…”

1. The fanbase must be religiously devoted

Check.  There’s no doubt the Stargate fanbase is still strong and more than willing to support the franchise as evidenced by their continued involvement on fansites like Save Stargate Universe | Facebook, GateWorld | Your Complete Guide to Stargate!, and Stargate Solutions.

2. Get everyone on board ahead of time

Okay, proper planning is key but, in this case, it requires MUCH consideration.  In the case of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell approached the studio and cast first, and THEN started their campaign. Which is, of course, what would be required here.  So, how interested would MGM be in a Stargate movie?  That’s the biggest question.  And the answer all comes down to economics.  Would it be worth their while (aka – not only financially feasible but lucrative)?  Will the potential rewards outweigh the risks?  Five years ago, the answer would have been  a resounding “Yes!” given the fact that Ark of Truth and Continuum surpassed expectations.  But, of course, that was before the bottom fell out of the DVD market.  Could alternate viewing platforms make up the shortfall?  Streaming?  Broadcasters?  Maybe the big screen treatment?

Which brings us to another question – “What does MGM have planned for Stargate? – because, let’s face it, as one of their most successful franchises, it’s not going to lie fallow for long.  Do they already have something in the works?

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say, it’s a best case scenario for fans of SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe.  The studio proves amenable to the idea.  Next up is ensuring we have a cast in place.  So, which cast? SG-1?  Atlantis?  Universe?  Or would it be a selective amalgamation of all three (which was Brad Wright’s original idea for an SGU movie)?

3. Offer rewards people want

Now this one is much easier to deliver on.  I, for one, would be more than happy to send you a signed script, arrange a set visit, or deck you out in prosthetics before blasting you out an airlock if it would ensure your support.

4. Leverage social media

Are you kidding?  Stargate fans are the kings (and queens) of social media.  We’ll get word to them and they’ll get word to EVERYONE.

And finally 5. Understand that not everyone will be able to do this

Why not?  Well, some former cast members may well be too busy to participate (Robert Carlyle now stars on Once Upon A Time while Jason Momoa has been burning up Hollywood post-SGA) while others may have simply moved on.  Still, provided we manage to cross this particular bridge as well, there’s the question of money.  To put it bluntly, we would need A LOT more money to produce a Stargate movie.  A LOT more to pay for the construction of new sets (alas, the Destiny, Atlantis, and Stargate Command are no more and would have to be rebuilt from scratch) and visual effects (I haven’t read the script, but it’s unlikely the Veronica Mars movie will feature much in the way of space battles), not to mention other related costs like cast, crew, and the onset aerobics instructor for my pug, Bubba.

So, conservatively, three out of five aint bad – unless you’re looking to make a Stargate movie in which case it aint good either.  Even if you could convince MGM to get onboard – and that’s a mighty big IF – there’s still the matter of the amount of money that would be required to produce a scifi movie.  How much?  Well, ballpark, I’d say significantly more than the 3 million dollars the Veronica Mars campaign has raised to date, but somewhat less than the $39 million dollars the Forbes article claims Serenity cost.

Certainly not impossible but, damn, them’s long odds!

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IMG_3702Look familiar?  Well, it should.  This is the massive VFX Stage at The Bridge Studios that once housed sections of Atlantis, the village set, various hive ships, and the Daedalus/Apollo/Odyssey/Korolev. Yesterday, Paul and I were joined by an old friend, former Stargate Producer/Production Manager John G. Lenic as we took a trip down memory lane, revisiting our old stomping grounds.  Once Upon A Time is now using Stage 4 (that once held the Destiny set), Stage 5 (the SGC gate room, control room, conference room, Hammond’s office, the infirmary, and surrounding corridors as well as the Alpha site corridors, control room, and gate room), and Stage 6 (the Atlantis gate room, control room, conference room, infirmary, and surrounding corridors) but there is plenty of stage space still available including the aforementioned monster VFX Stage.  While walking the grounds, we ran into a bunch of familiar faces – Ron, Graham, former Stargate Construction Coordinator Scott Wellenbrink, the gals in accounting. Earlier in the day, we’d paid a visit to Atmosphere Visual Effects where we spent some time with former Stargate VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and our former script coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.  Yep, just like old times.  Sort of.

And what, pray tell, were we doing reconnecting with our former colleagues?  Had we become wistful for times of yore and wanted to relive past memories?  Sure.  Let’s say that.  Also, our production partners on the shows we’ve been developing were in town and keen to see what Vancouver had to offer.  Just in case, say, we get that/those pick-ups.

My heart is with Vancouver and, given the choice, I would love to shoot here but, realistically, Toronto may make more financial sense.  At least, I suspect, until the ruling provincial liberal party gets booted from office this May (despite spending 11 million dollars for the rights to host the Indian equivalent of the Golden Globes).  Still, all options are on the table and being explored.  I hear that if we shoot in Germany, we’d get even more bang for our buck.  And there’s the added cost-effective bonus of being able to move in with our former colleagues – and recent newlyweds – Alex and Sarah while we’re there. I’m sure they’d love to host us – for the eight months to five years that the series will run!

Well, since we’re on the subject, what say we (almost) conclude our trips down SGA memory lane with the show’s final episode…

1ENEMY AT THE GATE (520)

Five years, 100 episodes, and it all came down to a group farewell from the balcony of the City of Atlantis, overlooking San Francisco Bay. Originally, we had planned to land Atlantis off New York but my writing partner. Paul, vehemently objected on grounds of scale.  So we changed it to a west coast location.  And thus ended the series.  Although, if things had worked out differently, the trip to Earth would have just been a stop on their return journey back to the Pegasus Galaxy.  Oh, what fun we’d planned.  Well, more than planned.  We’d actually written a script.  But more on that in another blog entry.

After five seasons, Atlantis had come to an end but, unlike SG-1, it lacked a true sense of finality.  I mean, sure, that last shot of our heroes, all together, finally back on Earth worked as a series ender but that was never the intent.  By the time we got word of the cancelation, the finale was already in prep.  Still, I had no doubt we’d be given the opportunity to truly wrap things up with a movie that would return our heroes to Pegasus and, like the SG-1 finale, suggest that they were still out there and that their adventures continued.

To be honest, news of the cancellation came as a bit of shock.  I’ve already discussed the specifics in previous entries but, suffice it to say, up to a few days before receiving final word, various sources had informed me we WERE coming back for a sixth (and probably final) season.  The story that was eventually turned into the script, Stargate: Extinction, was originally slated to be the following season’s two-parter opener.  But, of course, things changed.

Paul and I found out, walked down the hall and broke the news to a disappointed Carl Binder, Martin Gero, and Alan McCullough, then headed down to the trailers were we informed the cast.  A sad day.

As for the this final episode, while, in hindsight, there were a few things I’d have done differently (ie. introduce the idea of the wormhole drive earlier in the season.  Ironically, it was it was originally conceived, not as a payoff in this episode, but in the “return journey” storyline) it nevertheless worked well in that it closed a chapter while opening the door to endless possibilities.

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