From the Art Department, another little something to look forward to.  Concept art for Dark Matter season 3 c/o Set Designer Russell Moore.

cell_v02_161025_rdm-05cfForeboding metal door built into a stone wall.  It sports a familiar insignia.


Ah, it’s a cell.  The big question is: Who does it hold?

Can’t wait to find out!

Today, we were at the animal clinic for Bubba’s third (of four) anti-cancer vaccines.


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Lulu was on hand to offer moral support, but ended up freaked out and trembling through most of the visit even though all she had to do was sit and wait.


Freaked out!

Today, my world changed.

We had just finished dinner and I was loading the dishwasher when Akemi said: “I wish I had baby.”.

I froze, stunned.  The admission had come out of the blue and, to be honest, struck me as shockingly contrary to her general attitude these past seven years. But then again, she’d never been a dog person when she first came to Canada from Japan and now she positively dotes on Bubba.  So, I suppose, I could see it.  Sort of.  Still.  A baby.  My brain scrambled for a response, finally settling on a lame: “Why?”.

“Because I didn’t have any for the curry.”

“Wait.  Did you say bay leaf?”


And, my world changed back.

Taking it back down to Defcon 5.


My baby in her Anna Suit outfit.  Tough to top this little lady.

So, today, we sat in on auditions for three of season 3’s bigger guest roles: Solara Shockley, Teku Fonsei, and Adrian Maro.  Our casting director, the lovely Lisa Parasyn, did a wonderful job bringing in some terrific talent.  It was tough, but we’ve narrowed down our choices and tomorrow, hopefully, we’ll have our picks!

Dark Matter - season 3

A little concept work that came my way via the art department today.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Click on the pick for a closer look.    I like the build of the chair in A as well as the helm and atypical wheel base.  I’d prefer the seating to be a little hire, like B, but am not a fan of the throne-like seat backing.  I’m kind of partial to G as well.


Hey!  We’re starting to build!  Production Designer Ian Brock already has the floor plans for the big “entry way” in Episode 303, ideas for the tech room and garrison, and has almost close on that space ukulele.  No, really.


Hey, don’t throw those away!  We could still use them!  Elements of a crashed ship?  Destroyed lab wall?  Remnants of a giant aluminum robot?


Hey, check out the latest additions to my burgeoning sock collection – part of my belated birthday gift from Akemi.  The french bulldogs will be perfect for Friday’s location scout!


A sad update to conclude today’s entry.  Scrappy, the senior pug many of us supported and helped rescue from a high kill shelter in New York has crossed that rainbow bridge.  He had a host of health issues including pneumonia and untreated diabetes, and passed away yesterday.  Thanks to Waggin Train Rescue for pulling Scrappy from the shelter, ensuring his final days were not spent in lonely seclusion, and also to Green Mountain Pug Rescue that invested over $2000 for Scrappy’s care.


The other day, I was asked to describe my writing process.  My first instinct was to say I didn’t have one but, upon further consideration, I realized that I do follow certain patterns when writing a script.


I’ll do anything to avoid starting a script – surfing the net, doing my taxes, writing this blog – sometimes going weeks steadfastly distracting myself until, finally, fed up with my no-can-do attitude, I’ll capitulate and begin!


I’ll open up a new file page, put my name, the date, and the title on the cover page, then set up the headers and, finally, write TEASE at the top of the first page. This always gives me a great sense of accomplishment and, satisfied with work well done, I’ll take the rest of the day off.


The first scene of the episode is crucial and, for that reason, I will agonize over it for days, constructing the entire scene in my head before writing it down.  After several rewrites, I’ll set it aside and come back to it the next day, throw out what I’ve written, and take another stab at it.  Eventually, I’ll have a scene that I don’t love but honestly don’t hate as much as previous versions and, besides, I’ve got to get moving.  And so, the following day, I’ll rewrite the scene, then forge ahead and, usually, complete the tease.  This offers another great sense of accomplishment as I convince myself that 1/7th of the script is complete (tease down, next five acts and the tag to go!  That’s technically 1/7th – if you don’t take page count into consideration).


The beginning of a script is always tough as I’ll re-read and rewrite those early scenes endlessly in the hopes that racing through them will give me the momentum to carry me through the rest of the act.  Instead, I usually stumble and crash half a page into new territory.  Fortunately, the cure for my writer’s block is only an elevator ride away.  Once I’m behind the wheel of my car, far away from the distractions of the internet and the chocolate in my fridge, I can finally focus. In fact, I’ve done some of my best writing while driving.  I’m not sure why it is but the 20 minute drive to work is golden time, allowing me to run and refine dialogue so that, by the time I get into the office, I’m ready to write!

Step #5: PUSH!  PUUUUSH!

That’s it!  Don’t let up!  Lock your door, ignore the distractions, and keep at it! You’re almost there.  Yes!  Yes!  You’ve done it!  Congratulations! You’re the proud parent of a Tease and First Act!  It may not be much to look at now but, like any mom and dad, you’ll grow to love it.  Or get used to it.


Completing the first act is a HUUUGE accomplishment.   Believe it or not, the hardest part is over.  Now it’s simply a matter of repeating the techniques and superstitious  rituals that got you here.  Re-read, rewrite, go for a drive, lie awake into the wee hours playing scenes in your head, drink some sake, seek out positive reviews, comments or messages to remind you of your salad days and motivate yourself to achieve the perception of unparalleled visionary heights, you sad, creatively-spent has-been.


At some point in the writing of the script, amidst the seemingly endless hours agonizing over turns of phrase or Rubik-like plots, you’ll get into a groove and the words will start to flow, smoother and faster.  And suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and you can do no wrong.  You’re in the zone and it’s glorious!  Great characters moments, tight dialogue runs, clever developments – it’s as if some future you has traveled back in time to give you all the answers. Sadly, this inspired burst is fleeting, usually lasting 5 to 15 pages before dissipating and leaving you the shattered mess you once were.  But the key is to recognize the wave and ride it as long as you can.  Just last month, I rode my best wave ever on Dark Matter Episode 304, blazing through a record 32 pages in a white heat.


By this point, I’m hopefully at least halfway through the script.  I can often rely on a late closing burst as all the story’s narrative points converge in those final pages of the fourth act, giving me the momentum to  drive through another modest chunk.  If that doesn’t work, then the prospect of a looming deadline will be enough to spur me forward.


Beginning a script is tough, but ending one can be just as hard UNLESS you’ve got the Holy Shit conclusion already in your head.  And you should!  Start strong, but end even stronger.  Yes, it’s important for the viewers who will no doubt be blown away by your inspired moment, but it’s equally crucial to your creative mental well-being capping the episode with an ending YOU know will blow them away.  The shocking reveal at the end of the show’s very first episode, the reveal of Jace Corso in Episode 3, TWO being blown out the airlock, the Android going down in Episode 12, the captured crew being escorted off the ship by the G.A. with SIX revealed as the mole in the season one finale, the bloodbath in the palace in Episode 212 – all deliciously devious moments I envisioned for ages and saved for script’s end, like a decadent bite of dessert you look forward to at the end of a long and exhausting dinner party.


Once the script is complete, I’ll set it aside and move on to other things.  Resist the urge to give it any attention.  Don’t you remember the difficult times?  The frustration?  The thankless hours and days spent trying to make it work?!!  Play hard to get.  Ideally, I give it a few days before I pick it up and give it another read and another pass.  After that, it’s someone else’s problem…

Until they give you notes.  Then it’s your problem again.

One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld involves the gang trying to get a table at a Chinese restaurant.  They put their name on A list and, after being informed a table would open up in “Five, ten minutes”, they proceed to wait – and wait…and wait. At one point, a guy breezes in, walks right past them and, after exchanging pleasantries with the manager, is immediately seated.  This prompts the following exchange –

Jerry: Excuse me… we’ve been waiting here. Now, I KNOW we were ahead of that guy, he just came in.

Bruce: Oh no, Mr. Cohen always here.

Well, pretty much the same thing happened to Akemi and I today at Bar Buca in Toronto.   We arrived a little before noon and the place was hopping.  There was no manager in sight, so we took up position at the front and waited.  About ten to twelve minutes go by when a family walked in – mother, father, and young son. Suddenly, the hitherto M.I.A. manager magically appeared to warmly greet the woman who stepped in front of us to announce her presence.  The manager informed her the wait wouldn’t be long and that a table would open up shortly.  As the family shuffled off to the side, the manager stepped up and informed me it would be a 30 to 40 minute wait.  I couldn’t help but point out that we were there first to which he replied the woman had put her name down first – this despite the fact that he greeted her like a long lost friend he hadn’t seen in ages.  And, no, she couldn’t have called ahead because that would be contrary to the restaurant’s “walk-ins only” policy clearly mentioned on their website.

Rather than argue, we left and I’ve scratched Bar Buca off my go-to list.  I’ll never go back.  At the end of the day, there are dozens of other brunch places in Toronto (and I’ll happily recommend some better ones if you’re ever in town).  Their “favorites to the front of the line” behavior also ensures I’ll never again set foot in their big sister Buca, formerly my go-to place whenever I’d host out of town guests and, up until this morning, my choice for our season 3 cast dinner.

Time to expand my culinary horizons!


While in Osaka this summer, I had one of the greatest katsu curries ever at Rika Shokudo.  Katsu curry, for those not in the know, is thinly sliced pork fried to golden perfection served a bed of rice and alongside Japanese curry which is a thicker, somewhat sweeter version of Indian curries.

Today, I discovered that Canada’s best katsu curry is served in a small food court mall on Yonge Street.  Kaiju, located in the basement level of 386 Yonge St. (#51) offers up a surprisingly authentic version.  The chew/owner hails from Singapore and apparently spent six years in Japan, mastering, among other dishes, a damn fine katsu curry.  According to the website, their homemade curry…

“… is made from over 14 different ingredients including various spices, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It is slow cooked for up to two days and the result is a deliciously rich, comforting sauce that balances fragrant spices with sweet and savoury flavours.”


They also serve up a delicious but potentially lethal homemade hot sauce.

Because it’s tucked away out of sight, the place doesn’t get much traffic but has persevered in its hidden location for some four years.  If you’re in town, check them out.  The food is great and the woman behind the counter is super nice.


After today’s lunch, we stopped by Infuse Cafe, home of Toronto’s tastiest teas and infused beverages.


The drink-making process is pretty elaborate.  Check out the website for the breakdown but, suffice it to say, their drinks are far superior to any rival shop in town.  Akemi had a hot jasmine tea that delivered a delicate floral flavor minus the typical bitter finish.  I, on the other hand, went with something a little…heartier.


The Ice Cream Sandwich Coffee contains three simple ingredients – espresso, ice, and three ice cream sandwiches – which are blended to a deliciously creamy finish.



I’m not really a coffee guy, but I’ll make an exception for this drink.


Hey!  Look at who got her stitches out today!

You know what I hate?  Apple updates.  As soon as I get comfortable with something, they change it.  One day, it’s the swipe/lock features of my phone; the next, it’s the iPhotos layout.  I wouldn’t mind so much if said changes were actual improvements but the frustrating thing is they’re always so damn counter-intuitive.  I’m about one or two more annoying updates a way from seeking out a more stable alternate for my cellular and computing needs.

And, while I’m in complaint mode, I have to say that the worst thing about shooting in Toronto – besides the winters – is the catering.  Back in Vancouver, we’d get our lunch from the food truck that would prepare the meals on location, offering varied high-quality options.  Here in Toronto, the caterers ship their pre-pared slop to the various productions, their quality varying from edible to abysmal. Today’s jerk chicken tasted like it was seasoned with rosemary and Vick’s Vaporub. The chowder we were served yesterday was a fish, quivering, gelatinous mass. Last season, someone found a raw chicken wing in the vegetarian lasagne.  I’m thinking of starting a new daily feature here on this blog titled “You Wouldn’t Believe What They Served Up Today”.  Watch for it!

Do you like puzzles?  If the answer is yes, then you maybe, this weekend, you can help me break down 93 production hours down into seven 11 hour days.

A few preliminary “sketches of interest” via Dark Matter Production Designer Ian Brock:





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