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Duck for cover!  We’ve got a whirlwind four weeks of production left on Dark Matter’s first season.  After tonight, it’s 10 episodes down; 3 to go!  The finish line is in sight!  And, once all is said and done (well, in reality, with edits and mixes and ideas for season 2 percolating, it’s never REALLY done), I think I’ll sleep for a month.  June sounds good.  There’s never anything going on that month anyway.

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I imagine that, a few months down the line, this blog will be inundated with new visitors scouring the archives for tidbits and teasers.  To those fans of the future – welcome!  You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  But feel free to do so, safe in the knowledge that these entries are spoiler-free.  Of course, it really depends on how you classify spoilers but, in my mind, there’s a marked difference between teasers and spoilers.  This, for instance –

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Is a teaser.  Whereas this (albeit censored pic) –

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Is a spoiler.

I was having this conversation today on a conference call with Dark Matter Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza and the gang from SyFy (Gary Morgenstein, Garrott Smith, and Samantha Agnoff).  I don’t want to wait until after the show airs to roll out the visual goodies.  I want to whet your appetites early with concept art, design work, 3D renders, and animatics.  We came up with a game plan and I’m hoping we can coordinate a launch sometime next week.

VolkavRusi_Crest

Nefarious Multiplanetary logo courtesy of the amazing Roxanne Boris – who is a regular reader of this blog.  Don’t believe me?  Check the comments section.

I’ve got a backlog of questions to answer, so let’s do this in instalments…

gforce writes: “What are your thoughts on the Nova Scotia government severely cutting the film production tax credit there? There seems to be a few repercussions already. Personally, I think it will be a big net loss for the province.”

Answer: For purportedly intelligent people, politicians tend to be amazingly short sighted.  They assume that cutting the tax credit will mean more money in government coffers when, in fact, the opposite will be true.  For instance, if a production is offered the choice between two locations, A (which offers a 15% tax credit) and B (which offers a 20% tax credit), it stands to reason they’ll choose to shoot in location B, the better deal.  Location A WILL NOT be receiving an extra 5% on whatever the production spent.  Location A will receive nothing because 15% of zero is zero.  Math so simple even a politician could understand.  Or maybe not.

ascreedintime writes: “When will you know if there will be a season two?”

Answer: If we start hot out of the gate, I’m hoping we’ll know by episode 3.  If not, I’d guess September at the latest.

ascreedintime also writes: “My music question from last mailbag was in reference to the songs from season one. Who helped pick them and will Dark Matter have something similar, or will it just be music?”

Answer: We went back and forth on this and, ultimately, decided to forego songs which some feel has a tendency to date a show.

no1zoierpalmerfan writes: “Will Itunes be offering the episodes for download the day after they air on SyFy? Any chance the show will be released on DVD at some point?”

Answer: Alas, no idea what the plans are, but I have no doubt episodes will be available in the unlikely chance you miss one.

shaneac1 writes: “…what I would like to know is what plans do you have for the future do you plan on staying in television or going the route joss whedon did and becoming a big time Hollywood filmmaker?”

Answer: I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.  Ideally, I’d like to create and run a few more shows, then retire to Japan.

astrumporta writes: “When will the first episode be ‘in the can’ and how far ahead will the eps be done before they air?”

Answer: The first episode will be in the can the third week of May, roughly three weeks before air.

paloosa writes: “How are the responsibilities of the show shared or divvied up between you and Paul?”

Answer: Paul is traveling back and forth between Vancouver and Toronto, producing five episodes this season.  As show runner, I’m here in Toronto overseeing the whole of production.

“Any big surprises that you have encountered during the production process that you had no idea were coming, good or bad?”

Answer: Oh, like any production, Dark Matter’s first season has been chock full of surprises – mostly good.  For instance, I was pleasantly surprised by how great and supportive the crew is.  A number of our standing sets have surpassed my expectations.  The cast developed a wonderful chemistry in no time at all.

“You mentioned a huge reveal in episode 113. Does that lead to an equally huge cliff hanger at the end of the first season?”

Answer: This show, as evidenced in its first season, is a series of set-ups and pay-offs, mysteries and revelations.  I wanted to approach the first year as one would the first instalment in a book series.  The first 13 episode block stands alone and, if the show doesn’t continue past season one (but perish the thought.  It will.), I’m very satisfied with the way in which it would end.

“And how is distribution different for DM versus SGA? Wasn’t Stargate also worldwide, or does worldwide encompass more countries than before?”

Answer: I don’t recall the distribution deals for Stargate, but I do know that the ones in place for Dark Matter will offer fans around the world, in over 90 countries, the opportunity to watch our show.

Ponytail writes: “After seeing first hand all the work involved in starting up a brand new series, are you glad your first season is 13 episodes long or would you have rather gone ahead and produced 20 episodes? Will season 2 be 20 episodes?”

Answer: Creatively, I prefer the 13 episode order.  Given the choice, I would prefer another 13 episode order for season 2.

Winst writes: “Will the Dark Matter show be able to be viewed on Syfy synced up to the Philips Hue lighting system?”

Answer: No idea.

Winst also writes: “What is the actual airing schedule of the Dark Matter episodes going to be like?One episode per week for thirteen straight weeks?..or will there be a split season with some time off in between a set number of episodes?:

Answer: From what I’ve been told, the full thirteen episode first season will be aired straight through in its entirety as part of the new SyFyFriday line-up.  No interruptions.

JustLookAtTheFlowers writes: “1/ Are any of the characters homosexual?”

Answer: Ah, information regarding our characters’ individual backstories and relations fall into spoiler territory for now (and if you’ve read the trade paperback, you’ll know why) as the better part of the show’s first season will be devoted to exploring who these people are and how they got onboard that ship.  We, the audience, will effectively be joining them on a journey of self-discovery.

“2/ Follow up: is homosexuality accepted in the future time period Dark Matter takes place in?”

Answer: The series takes place some two to three centuries into Earth’s future and humanity has come a long, enlightened way.  The issues of today are the non-issues of tomorrow.

“3/ What are race relations like in the world of Dark Matter?”

Answer: Vastly improved.

Elminster writes: “If you can’t tell us who the Canadian carrier for the show is, can you confirm that there IS a Canadian carrier? And whether or not it will be broadcast at the same time as SyFy?”

Answer: Alas, the Canadian broadcaster is holding off on making the grand announcement.  Not sure why.  Maybe they’re shy?  Anyway, did come across this the other day.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.49.08 PM Read into it what you will.

paloosa writes: “How many minutes will an episode run?”

Answer: About 43 minutes.

Scott writes: ” It seems to me that the older generation (people who’ve created and produced pre-2005 shows like yourself) knows how to make a proper sci-fi show. Serious, but lighthearted too, family-oriented with comedic moments. Like every version of Star Trek, Stargate, the original 1978 Galactica, Buck Rogers, Babylon 5, etc. But a lot of the newer generation simply doesn’t get the concept — i.e. they think sci-fi is always dark, gritty, full of blood and gore, based too much off realism instead of science fiction. Why do you think this is the case, where people like you understand the genre and what’s required to make a successful sci-fi program, while many others, to be frank, have no idea what the heck they’re doing? “

Answer: I had the good fortune to work on a long-running scifi franchise that combined action, adventure, camaraderie and humor to great success.  I believe I know what works because I believe I know what most SF fans want to see.  More Stargate and Guardians of the Galaxy and less…that other stuff.

Mike McGinnis writes: “1. If you could have made a spin-off show about a single character from Stargate, who would it be? Maybe pick one from each show?”

Answer: SG:1 = Vala Mal Doran, SGA = Rodney McKay, SGU = Ronald Greer.

“2. Did you have any ideas for Stargate Atlantis episodes that you thought were great that either no one else liked, budget issues, or studio approval kept them from getting made?”

Answer: Not especially.  We got to make pretty much every idea we pitched – with the exception of all those stories for SGA’s sixth season that never came to be:

https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/september-30-2008-an-au-season-6/

“3. Does David Hewlett have the potential to appear in more than 4 episodes? Or is this going to be it for his run on Dark Matter?”

Answer: If David’s character, Tabor Calchek, survives the show’s first season (no guarantee), there is certainly opportunity for his to return in season 2.

anas ben writes: ” I want to know whats the difference between ur show and killjoys, the other series that ure going to be with on friday nights, it sounds that both re about space bounty hunters?”

Answer: Actually, Killjoys is about a trio of intergalactic bounty hunters while Dark Matter, well, isn’t.  Can’t speak for Killjoys, but our show will be super serialized.  From what I understand, the one thing the two shows do have in common is fun and a sense of humor.

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Star Trek has its trekkies, Firefly the browncoats, and the various Stargates their gaters (not gateheads as wiki would have you believe).  So, I figure that now, less than two months out from our world premiere, is as good a time as any to come up with a name for our Dark Matter fandom.

First, the show…

“The crew of a derelict ship awakens from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got onboard.  Naming themselves numerically in the order in which they woke up, ONE through SIX, they begin their search for answers.  Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal, secrets, and shocking revelations.”

So, what do you think?  Suggestions?  Army of Darkness?  The Crazy 8’s?  Marauders?

I’ll leave you to it.

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Because you asked, extra nicely, here’s a picture of Dark Matter’s Commander Truffault of the Mikkei Combine (Torri Higginson) standing alongside ONE (Marc Bendavid).  Wait.  Is that  the mess hall?  What is she doing onboard the ship?

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Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok was looking a little piqued so we placed him in quarantine.  Nighty night to our brave little soldier.  See you Monday morning!

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The concept meet for episode #112.  Or was it the concept meeting for episode #113?  Whichever.  Andy Mikita is directing both.

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The request list in the production office kitchen.  I’m checking the fridge first thing next week.

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Production Assistant Kyle Dolphin models the Android look for an upcoming episode.

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A bottle of Vega V whiskey.  And upon closer scrutiny…

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A shoutout to a blog regular and her recent whisky/whiskey rant.  Hey, Ponytail, looks like the Dark Matter crew checks the blog as well.

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Thanks to everyone who was inquiring about my elderly pug, Jelly.  She seemed kind of logy the other night.  But I’m pleased to report that she’s back to her old cantankerous self.  Akemi suspects she just may have eaten too much omelet.

Speaking of Akemi – she’s the birthday girl tomorrow!  We celebrate with couple’s massages, a trip to the sunglass shop, sushi dinner, and the director’s cut of episode #108!

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Another day, another off-ship location.  This one a little harder to get into than your average space station.

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What’s in the big weird box?

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On Set Key Props Lisa Amaral Wright shows off another mystery box – with some inspired gak.

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Anthony Lemke (Dark Matter‘s THREE) rolls in from his second job as a refrigerator repairman.

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Funnyman Ennis Esmer (Dark Matter‘s Wexler) looking his nefarious best.

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Repairman/actor Marc Bendavid (Dark Matter‘s ONE) takes a break from cleaning the condenser coils.

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Key Make-Up, Lynda McCormack, is all smiles – as usual.  The hair and make-up trailer is so relaxed, I think I’m just going to live in it next year and forego the apartment.

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Script Supervisor Matti Huhta listens carefully to ensure the cast delivers every word of our precious dialogue.

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On Set Dresser Jean Brophey sports a custom made Dark Matter cap (actually, just a former Lost Girl baseball cap with the name of the new show taped over top).

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Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza cracks the whip.  And enjoys the coffee.

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Key Hair Renée Chan gets creative doing Torri Higginson’s hair.

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This picture has been sitting on the back wall of Dark Matter Costume Designer Noreen Landry’s office since the beginning of the season.  It’s not uncommon for her to tack up visual inspirations, but somewhat unusual for it to be something so nefarious looking.  Every time I visit wardrobe, my eyes always gravitate to this pic of the ballistic mask worn by the Taiwanese Special Forces and I think: “There’s got to be a way to work this look into the show.”

Well, finally, after five long months, I think we’ve found a way.  You can expect something like this group to be marching into your living room this summer…

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 Minus the kneepads.

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By the way, before I forget, here’s your digital access card to the SVRF (Sweater Vest Research Facility).  Don’t lose it!

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Today, we celebrated Elliot Sokolsky’s birthday in fine style, with whisky and whiskey!  We carted out half the collection and he had his choice – finishing the Oban.

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Then, it was time for the gifts – presented in this stylish carrying bag for fans of some guy the gals in the office described as “The Australian Justin Bieber”.

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And inside – more whisky!  And a salacious magazine detailing the faux erotic goings-on behind-the-scenes of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Get it?  The guy’s name is Grey!  Christian Grey!  And he seduces fifty women at a reunion concert of the 80’s soul band Sade.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Hamilton for a morning of fun in the sun.  And Torri Higginson!

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My sweetheart seems to be feeling under the weather tonight.  No, my OTHER sweetheart.  Well, technically, my first sweetheart.  At 16 years, Jelly is my longest relationship.  She’s getting a bit fussy in her old age, more demanding, less inclined to suffer fools (mainly my other pug, Bubba), but I think that just makes her more lovable.  She’s a daddy’s girl.  Despite her bad hips, arthritic joints, deafness, and weak eyesight, she always greets me with an enthusiastic fervor usually reserved for pan-fried chicken hearts.  Tonight, not so much.  Not sure what’s up.  Maybe she’s got a lot on her mind…

Did you see the Dark Matter teaser trailer?  78k+ views in four days!  Did you share it with your friends?  Your family?  Complete strangers?  Did you get it out to other SF enthusiasts?  Maybe William Shatner and Wil Wheaton are looking for a new scifi series to get hooked on?

Well, just in case, here’s the link:  https://youtu.be/1TqwBlTQfTg

I guarantee, this show will be more addictive than those honey and tabasco roasted pecans I made last year.

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Two units shooting today on our standing sets.  While John Stead was directing the action on the bridge and the infirmary, Ron Murphy was directing the action in the training room and various quarters.  Scenes from four different episodes were on the docket today.  Meanwhile, Director Martin Wood was busy prepping episode #111, while Director Andy Mikta was prepping episode #112.

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John Stead directs Marc Bendavid (ONE).  Crew blocking.

I spent most of the day agonizing over and, ultimately, writing two new scenes for episode #112.  Tomorrow, I kick things off with a soundscape meeting (deciding on all the awesome ship tones), then head to the production offices for a pre-VFX Visual Effects meeting – again for episode #112 (It’s a big one!).  I’ll while away the afternoon in my office, writing the two new scenes for #110.

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Kyle models the soon-to-be space suit.

Amid all of the prepping, producing, writing, and editing, I have managed to get some time off.  For eating and sleeping, mostly, but also to check out a couple of horror movies with good buzz…

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A simple but creepily effective and, ultimately, unnerving horror film.  I’m not sure what was more unsettling: the babadook or that annoying kid.

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A small, independent film with a great premise and a lot of good scares.  Eerie.

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I spent most of today out and about, checking out possible locations for our last few episodes.  We were on the lookout for: a high-tech facility, cool corridors and stairwells, operating theaters, a dining room, and a field emitter room…

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This chamber offers a great-looking entrance and exit – when it’s not being used to wash hospital gurneys.

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Line Producer Norman Denver and Production Designer Ian Brock kick back between autopsies.

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See if we can switch out that thing in the middle for a power saw.  We’ve got a tough nut to crack.

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1st A.D. Brandon Tataryn finds his light.

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Suitably creepy corridor.  Could you imagine it, just a little bit dimmer – with some unfathomable creature crawling toward you from the other end?  Yes?

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To be honest, I’d try my luck in the creepy corridor with the crawling creature before I’d brave this catwalk.

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“I’ve never seen a group so excited about a stairwell before.” – Guy who was giving us the tour of the place.

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Director Andy Mikita in prep.

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When the alarm that sounds like an air raid siren sounds, please put these one.

1Interesting architecture.  Potential HQ of Dwarf Star Technologies?

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Ian invites you to share a seat with him on the hallucinogenic carpet.

Tomorrow, we follow up with a location photo look-see.  And then, I’ve got to write that Android(s) scene!

In yesterday’s blog entry, I thanked all of the people who helped make Dark Matter a reality.  BUT, I forgot one important supporter.  Thankfully, longtime blog reader Ponytail reminded me…

“Joe you forgot one person behind your success…the one who keeps the home fires burning, offering endless support, taking care of the kids, a culinary expert, flying companion and dog escort, a constant source of amusement and delight, beautiful partner, perfect distraction from job stresses, ideal Tokyo sidekick and personal translator, equally talented with endless energy, and beloved by all. Where would you be without Akemi.”

…and reduced Akemi to tears.

So, yes.  A special thanks to my awesome girlfriend who takes care of business on the home front while I’m away…

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…and also sends me off every morning with these awesome bento box lunches.

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