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Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction Television’

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So much for the Christmas spirit.  Today, Akemi did something she rarely ever does.  She actually bought herself something.  The girl hardly ever spends on herself but, this afternoon, she made an exception when she came across a cup emblazoned with the letter A at a local shop.  Being a big tea drinker – and having a name that starts with the letter A – she thought it would be perfect, so she bought it.  About an hour later, she was getting off the subway, when some guy, in an obvious rush, bumped into her, knocking her purchase out of her hand.  The guy didn’t even slow down, jumping into the car and heading off, leaving Akemi to check on her cup – which was, of course, shattered.  Her disappointment was apparently so apparent that a subway employee consoled her with a shoulder pat and some words of encouragement.

Still, in good spirits.  And silly slippers.

Still, in good spirits. And silly slippers.

Well, two more days until we depart for the holidays – which means roughly a week’s worth of ground to cover before we go.  In addition to tomorrow’s early EARLY morning tech survey (which leaves the production offices at 7:00 a.m., meaning I’ll have to leave my place at 6:30 a.m., meaning I’ll probably have to wake up for 5:45 a.m.), I’ve still got to do another pass on scripts for episodes #103, #104, #105, and #106, incorporate Jay’s notes into #107, #108, and #109, and get notes from Paul on #112.  Oh, and then there’s the meetings.  And the camera tests!  Today, Lawren, our VFX Supervisor, showed us some preliminary FTL (fast than light) effects as well as some animatics of the ship – and the missile pursuit.  Very cool.  I’m making a note to keep everything on file so that I can share with you all in time.

Meanwhile, the production offices are embracing the Dark Matter theme…

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I need to place this on my dash, otherwise Vanessa will knock off my side mirror with a baseball bat.

I need to place this on my dash, otherwise Vanessa will knock off my side mirror with a baseball bat.

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Adorning the walls of the cafeteria

Adorning the walls of the cafeteria

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Please note our strict no Facebook, no twitter, no photo policy.

Bon Appetit!  Please note our strict no Facebook, no twitter, no photo policy.

One more day for our Dark Matter Holiday Toy Drive!

And one more day for our Dark Matter Holiday Toy Drive!

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We’re heavy into prep on episodes #101-102 and, with the commencement of principal photography about a month away, sets are coming together nicely.  Our ship, The Raza, has come a long way in the past couple of weeks.  The corridors have been textured with faux-grate flooring, pipes, vents, and grills, its walls painted in metallic hues, sliding doors installed; the quarters are coming to life, the sub-level cargo hold and walkways finished, and the bridge…the window are in, front AND top, and the consoles went in today.

Meanwhile, work is being completed on the shuttle (the Phantom Class Marauder) interior design.  We’ve gone back and forth on its various elements – width, depth, seating layout, windows, and location of the door – and are in the process of finalizing the look.  I wanted something similar to the puddle jumper in terms of layout with a little more of the depth of the SGU shuttle.  Ultimately, I think we’ll also incorporate an element of the SG-1 cargo ships with its sectioned cockpit and separate hold.

Anyway, I contacted Stargate Production Designer James Robbins, who has been doing some fabulous design work for us on Dark Matter (Can’t wait to show you his work on The Marauder, the space station, and the various cruiser, destroyer, and shuttle class versions of the Ferrous Corp, Mikkei Combine, and Galactic Authority ships!), and asked him about the dimensions of those smaller Stargate ship designs.  He sent me the following which I thought were too cool not to share with you -

SGU Shuttle_Dimensions_R001

As James points out, the dimensions are from our VFX department and may not reflect what was actually built.  80 feet long for the SGU shuttle seems a bit much, but the 40 foot length of the Atlantis puddle jumper sounds about right.

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Takes you back, no?

Many thanks to James for digging these up from the archive!

Prep continues with non-stop meetings.  Today, it was the concept meeting followed by visual effects, playback, and impromptu hair meeting, stunts, and special effects.  Tomorrow, it’s an Art Department review, props, paints, another hair meeting, and not one but TWO gun meetings!

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Prep continues on Dark Matter!  The other day, we had our follow-up gun meeting as we move toward arming our kick-ass crew.  It’s a dangerous galaxy out there!

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The inspiration for the weapon of choice the Ferrous Corp soldiers (corporate guards) will be carrying.  Each corporation (Ferrous Corp, The Mikkei Combine, Traugott, Volkov-Rusi) will have a different color scheme – basic black with color elements and corporate emblems – reflected in their gear and guns.

Suggested changes – in addition to the aforementioned color schemes – including a build on the stalk and chunking out and squaring off the barrel for more heft.

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The inspiration for One and Four’s sidearms.  Something simple for both as One is not a gun enthusiast while Four’s weapon of choice is the katana.  Comes with a detachable light source.

1Alterations include the addition of a side scope.

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The base model for Two’s gun.  I wanted something sleek and easy to handle.

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And refashioning the barrel to a more pronounced snout.  She would sport two, one in each hip holster, for balance.

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The model for Three’s big-ass gun (Bubba).  Pretty damn big!  He’ll lug this one around – in emergency cases – but will otherwise rely on his sidearm (Lulu).

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And the base model for Six’s weapon of choice  = the sawed-off shotgun which will fit snugly in the holster strapped to his back.  All he’ll have to do is reach up over his shoulder for a quick unslinging and he’ll be ready to rock.

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And presenting the man behind the firepower, our resident arms dealer and gun aficionado: Jason Ehl.

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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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Two down, one to go.  The Toronto and Vancouver second round casting sessions are in the books and only the L.A. session remains.  Be Vanessa and I won’t be able to attend, we’re going to live stream it to the production offices.  Theoretically anyway.  I imagine it’ll be sort of like those interactive video conferences that look so cool in the movies but never quite work out the way you want them to in real life, with participants dropping out, losing audio, losing video, the whole punctuated by the background caterwaul of children or dogs in desperate need of feeding.  Still, we’re going to give it the ole college try (let’s say more Devry than Harvard).  Festivities get underway at noon PST, which means we’ll be watching well into the twilight hours.  Guess we’ll be ordering pizza!

The plan is to have our selects, Top 3 for each of the seven roles, by early next week.  And that’s when the decision-making will get REALLY tough…

Paul delivered his first draft of episode #10, the first part of our late season two-parter.  He promises to have #11 to us before his weekend arrival – which means I’ll be able to do my pass on #12 (already written) have that out by early next week.  Leaving us with…only the grand (season one) finale to write.  Or, rather, finish since I’m already 15 pages in.

Meanwhile, no rest for our awesome construction crew who have been working their little tool belts off -

Right this way, step right up...

Right this way, step right up…

On our way to the bridge.

On our way to the bridge.

The crew of The Raza = Alison Hepburn and Trevor Finn

The crew of The Raza = Alison Hepburn and Trevor Finn. 

The bridge in its infancy.

The bridge in its infancy.

Corridor going one way.

Corridor going one way.

And the other.

And the other.

Hey!  We’re on instagram!  http://instagram.com/dark_mattertv

And facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darkmatterseries

And twitter:  https://twitter.com/dark_matterTV

Tell your friends!

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Seriously.  No sooner do I recover from my pulled solar plexus (see previous issues, ed.) than I am now battling a lower back “thing”. Specifically, a lower right hip ache that flares up whenever I shift my weight a certain way – or not.  I don’t remember doing anything that could have caused it – outside of those heavy deadlifts – but that’s not really the point.  The POINT is that I have never been the type of guy to suffer from back issues.  That has always been the “other guy” – you know, the little guy in the office next door who occasionally slips a disc and then either has to sleep on the coffee table or standing up.  Not me!

Today, I received a request for some Atlantis blueprints.  I explained that my collection of blueprints, part of the various art department packages from past Stargate episodes, are incomplete.  Some episodes have plenty of supporting docs, everything from schematics to colorful designs, while others only have a sketch or two.  I’ve been meaning to digitize these files for a while now (maybe a year) but just haven’t had the opportunity to get around to doing so.  I figure the next best thing is to just scan and upload the various packages for your entertainment and edification.

Would you all happen to remember a little Stargate: Atlantis fifth season episode called Remnants?

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With the recent news that Roland Emmerich would like to make a second, big screen, Stargate movie, questions surrounding the future of the franchise have again started popping up throughout fandom.

It’s been three years since Stargate: Universe was cancelled and fans want to know: What’s next?  Whither Stargate?

Well in my humble and somewhat informed opinion: Beats me.

But let’s look at the possibilities…

THE BIG SCREEN REBOOT (TWO WAYS TO DO IT)

Look at the re-imagined Star Trek.  Both movies did HUGE business.  And, like Star Trek, Stargate is an established scifi franchise that would undoubtedly wow with a big screen treatment and visual effects budget.  The potential box-office returns could be tremendous!

Or not.  If the summer of 2013 has taught us anything, it’s that Big Budget Star-driven features don’t guarantee success.  The Lone Ranger ($215 million dollar production budget), White House Down ($150 million dollar production budget), Turbo ($135 million dollar production budget), RIPD ($130 million dollar production budget), After Earth ($130 million dollar production budget), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ($60 million dollar production budget).  What do the aforementioned have in common?  Yep, you guessed it: Big hopes, Big budgets, and, all of them, Big box office disappointments.  Also, keep in mind that the listed amounts in parentheses are the approximate production budgets which don’t take into account the equally sizeable costs of marketing these movies.  Ouch.

So, it’s clear that “throwing money at it” won’t guarantee a movie’s success. Neither will casting hitherto bankable actors like Johnny Depp and Will Smith.  BUT Stargate is an established property with a pre-existing fan base, so it’s got that going for it. Right?  Well, okay, so did The Mortal Instruments movie but, for argument’s sake, let’s just stick to Stargate for now.  Big budgets aside, the Stargate franchise is much like Star Trek in that it has that built-in SF fan base eager for more.  So it stands to reason that it should follow the Star Trek model and find success as a big screen reboot!

Well, not so fast…

First of all, as proud as I am of everything we accomplished with the Stargate franchise, I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t have quite the reach or support of Star Trek.  And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Sure, we produced three series, two direct-to-dvd features, and some 300+ episodes over 15 years but, while impressive a feat, it pales in comparison to Star Trek’s five series, twelve theatrical features, and some 700+ episodes over 46 years.  As a result, Star Trek’s influence reaches far beyond its fandom – which is important given that, despite its established fan base, Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled after four seasons.  This is not to minimize the impact of fans but simply to suggest expectations should be tempered.  A robust and passionate fandom doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Having said that, however, it’s in instances such as these, where a franchise’s reach may not be as wide-ranging as a Star Trek, that fandom is even more important in a studio’s campaign to “get the word out”.

It’s for this reason that you want to make sure you get fandom “on your side”.  And this is where reboots can get a little tricky.  On the one hand, re-imagining a property offers first-timers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  They’re on equal footing with longtime fans in that they don’t need to come in to a movie knowing what has come before.  It’s fresh and new to them as, ideally, it would be to longtime fans.  A new beginning of sorts.  Problems arise when you start distancing those longtime fans, the support crew that could prove an indispensable part of any pre-release online campaign, who may not take kindly to the franchise they’ve come to know and love being messed with.  And, by messed with, I mean…

Ignoring what has come before.

Yes, a fresh start is a great idea when it comes to reaching out to a potential new audience, and while some fans would undoubtedly be pleased with a complete relaunch, many others would no doubt take umbrage with a complete dismissal of established canon.  In some ways, it’s the equivalent to the Bobby Ewing in the shower scene in Dallas.  Remember?  Actor Patrick Duffy decided to leave the series and his character was killed off at the end of the show’s eighth season.   But then Duffy had a change of heart and decided he wanted to come back. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a scifi show and cloning, time travel, and ascension were not viable options.  So, to address the issue and bring back Bobby Ewing, Duffy’s character makes an inexplicable appearance in the final episode of of the show’s ninth season. His wife hears the water running, walks into the bathroom, and is shocked to see him there, showering.  When season 10 got underway, it was revealed that Bobby never died and that the show’s ninth season was just a dream. An insanely detailed dream that ran 31 episodes!  Which leads me to wonder how that ninth season performs in syndication and alternate media purchases (i.e. downloads). Anyway, my point is that a creative clean slate could hurt rather than hinder a reboot’s prospects as it slams shuts: a) the book on beloved characters and b) the door on the faces of longtime fans.

On the other hand, instead of a complete reboot, the studio could opt for a reboot that makes use of established characters – which is what Star Trek did.  We are presented with  a new version of long-established characters – Kirk, Spock, McCoy – but the potential to piss off longtime fans is minimized because the story takes place in an alternate universe.  So, quite literally, fans can have the best of both worlds. The new adventures don’t undo what has come before.  Fans will, of course, have a preference, but both versions can happily co-exist without trumping one another.

Of course, one could argue that the reason this type of reboot worked for Star Trek is that, while these classic characters have long been engrained in the SF consciousness, it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve seen them onscreen in a new adventure.  In the case of Stargate, well, it’s been about two years since we last saw Jack O’Neill grace the small screen.  Is it perhaps too soon to expect fans will embrace someone other than Richard Dean Anderson in the role?

A SMALL SCREEN EVENT (TESTING THE WATERS)

Another possibility is to produce a one-shot Stargate television event that could potentially act as a backdoor pilot for a new Stargate series.  If the ratings are great, the studio can move forward with an all new t.v. series while, if the ratings disappoint, they can cut their losses with this single production.  At first blush, this seems like a great idea.  Creatively, it would allow the franchise to head in a bold, new direction while still paying its respects to what has come before, leaving the door open for established characters to make an occasional appearance and help bridge the gap between old fans and new.  Upon closer scrutiny, however, it becomes clear that a “one and done” deal wouldn’t make much financial sense.  In order to do it properly, especially if it was going to serve as a potential backdoor pilot, $$$ would need to be spent, and broadcast license fees and alternate revenue streams may not be enough to make the venture worthwhile. Like any show, it would be a gamble, but the fact that science fiction requires more of a financial investments makes this even more risky.  At some point, the studio needs to ask itself what would be the better scenario: strike now or wait?  There’s an argument to be made for both.  The fact that the last Stargate episode aired only two years ago suggests the fans are still out there and, if a movie or series is produced sooner than later, one could count on their support – in addition to the potential support of new viewers.  Strike while the iron is hot!  Then again, the ratings for SGU’s final season could suggest viewer fatigue and maybe waiting is advisable.

A CLASSIC STARGATE MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

As much as I would love to see a television mini-series or movie based on either of the three past Stargates (SG-1, Atlantis, or Universe), this one is the longest of long shots mainly because the sets no longer exist and rebuilding them for a one-time adventure doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense.  At the very least, if one were going the backdoor pilot route, there is the very real prospect of recouping those upfront expenses in an ongoing series.  Back in the day, the two Stargate direct-to-video features, Ark of Truth and Continuum did VERY well.  But that was before the bottom fell out of the dvd market.  Sadly, a “classic Stargate” miniseries or movie isn’t the slam dunk it used to be.

A NEW STARGATE SERIES

Well, yes wouldn’t that be great?  A new set of characters and host of new adventures with the potential for guest spots from the likes of Rodney McKay, Daniel Jackson, and maybe even Eli Wallace.  A new Stargate-based television might be the best way to go.  After all, while the original movie was successful, it was the television franchise that proved an incredibly lucrative earner for MGM. But some of the same questions arise.  When should the studio look to put another series in development?  Sooner or later?  Has enough time passed?

LOOKING AHEAD

So, having said all that, what DOES the future hold for Stargate?  Again, I haven’t a clue and I’ve long since accepted the sheer folly of applying logic to Hollywood decision-making.  But, for what it’s worth…

My gut instinct tells me the studio would LOVE to follow the Star Trek model: take an established property, re-imagine it for the big screen, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars.  Of course, it could be argued that that is a very best case scenario.  If the studio does consider going down this route, careful consideration will present two indisputable facts: a) Stargate is not Star Trek, and b) alienating long-time fans in favor of a new audience could prove  disastrous.

As much as I would love to see that Atlantis movie or SG-1 movie or even a mini-series that incorporates elements from all three Stargate shows, this is the unlikeliest of scenarios for the simple reason that the risks far outweigh any potential rewards.

No, given the history of the franchise, it would seem a new television series would be the best way to go – a fresh take on Stargate that would bring in new viewers while rewarding the long-suffering fans.

However, I’m not the one making the call.

In the end, I think there’s only certainty: On the question of Stargate’s glorious return, it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN.

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