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Finishing up my overview of our wonderful cast, we finally come to the character of TWO.

Here’s the breakdown that went out for the role:

“AKA Boss Lady, AKA Portia Lin. NIKITA-ESQUE, BEAUTIFUL, SOFT- FEATURED. THE GROUP’S DE FACTO LEADER, SHE IS A MASTER FIGHTER and an unbelievably quick learner when it comes to any sort of weaponry. DETERMINED, TOUGH, AND MORE THAN A LITTLE HEADSTRONG, SHE IS NOT THE TYPE YOU WANT TO MESS WITH – OR DISAPPOINT. She can be cool and inscrutable. LOOKING FOR SOMEONE FIT, PREFERABLY WITH FIGHTING EXPERIENCE.  ALL ETHNICITIES.”

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By far, this was the role that saw the most auditions.  When all was said and done, over 250 candidates had read for the part. We had a lot of interesting possibilities but one, for me, stood out amongst the rest.  I received her audition, a rare self-tape, from New York where she’d been on Broadway appearing in Les Miserables.

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Her name was Melissa O’Neil and she was everything I was looking for in the character – someone with obvious strength and a commanding presence and yet, at the same time, sympathetic and possessed of an underlying warmth.  Too much of the former and one risked making the character unlikable.  Too much of the latter and one risked making her seem weak.  It was a very, very tough balancing act that most were unable to pull off, but one that Melissa managed to deliver with ease.  She also had MMA and martial arts experience which was a huge plus because, next to the character of FOUR, TWO was our most technically proficient fighter.  The rest of the crew were brawlers but she needed to be an expert in the use of weapons and hand to hand combat.

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One of the things that impressed me about Melissa early on was her positive outlook and commitment to her craft and character.  She was a stunt coordinator’s (not to mention a director’s and show runner’s) dream, training like crazy, rehearsing complex action sequences on weekends so that she could nail them on the day.  The editors loved her because she was so good at fight choreography that we could actually stay on her in the wide shots rather than having to cut around to her stunt double.  Like the character she played, Melissa was an incredibly quick learner who picked up enough moves to give me pause whenever I debated story points with her.

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When all is said and done, however, I’ll forever remember the enthusiastic emails exchanged shortly after we received her audition.  Some of the highlights: “I’m so excited about her”, “That second scene was near perfection”, “Top of my list”, “I think she’s really special and fresh”, and “She’s ready to break!”

We all knew we had a star in the making.  And, in about a month, I believe we’ll be proven right.

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Whoa!  As our series premiere draws ever nearer (less than two weeks and counting!), things are really beginning to ramp up.  Check out all of the Dark Matter-related goodies…

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…starting with this terrific interview by longtime Stargate supporter and friend, Steve Eramo, who talks to Dark Matter Executive Producer and Prodigy Pictures President Jay Firestone about how he brought the series to air and his continued involvement in the show’s creative and production:

http://scifiandtvtalk.typepad.com/scifiandtvtalk/2015/05/jay-firestone-talks-dark-matter.html

Give it a read and leave him a thank you for bringing you some much-missed ship-based scifi!  And your new favorite SF series!

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Get to know Dark Matter and Lost Girl’s Zoie Palmer:

http://www.syfy.com/lostgirl/blog/get-to-know-lost-girls-zoie-palmer

Hey!  Jodelle Ferland and the gang speak Spanish in the Dark Matter trailer for #SyFySpain:

https://amp.twimg.com/v/05c44b2e-d871-4853-bb17-b441b2f111b4

For our Spanish-speaking fans:

https://seriescienciaficcion.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/conoce-a-los-protagonistas-de-dark-matter-la-nueva-serie-del-canal-syfy/

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SyFyNL is offering up the opportunity to win a trip to San Diego Comic Con.  See you there!

http://www.syfy.nl/competitions/win-een-reis-naar-comic-con®-san-diego

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SyFyUK’s poster for the series.

AIRDATES…

June 12th: US & Canada
June 13th: Australia
June 13th: Germany
June 14th: Asia, Poland
June 15th: UK & Spain
June 16th: France, Netherlands & Belgium

(and more to come…)

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The ladies.

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And the guys.

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#Don’tMessWithTheZobot!

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Dark Matter’s Goemon!  Yeah, anime aficionados know what I’m talking about!

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Recently got a chance to sit down and talk Dark Matter with the wonderful Sam Maggs, author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy (http://sammaggs.com/writing/books/).

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A delightfully informative read for all genders!

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When it came time to cast Dark Matter’s resident bad boy, this is the breakdown that went out for the role:

“AKA Sunshine, AKA Marcus Boone. A TRUE BADASS, he is the flipside to One’s principled coin- which is why the two are often at odds, developing a (grudging) like-hate relationship over the course of their journey. HE IS A MERCENARY THROUGH AND THROUGH, ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR HIMSELF. But he must come to accept the fact that, if he’s going to survive long enough to reach the outer colonies, he’s going to have to learn to get along. THINK SAWYER FROM LOST.  ALL ETHNICITIES.”

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Some roles are harder to cast than others.  In the case of Dark Matter‘s THREE, however, it was surprisingly easy because, at the end of the day, one actor clearly stood out amongst the rest.  Now don’t misunderstood.  There were plenty of great auditions for the role but Anthony Lemke’s first read for the part of THREE delivered absolutely everything I was looking for in the character – and more!  He was brash, confident, cool, charming, and very very funny.  I can’t understate the importance of the latter.  I needed someone who could convey the humor on the page – and Anthony did.  And then some.  I can’t remember anyone so thoroughly nailing an audition before.  “That’s him,”I said the first time I watched him.  “That’s our Three.”  And absolutely everyone agreed.

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THREE is Han Solo, Jack O’Neil, and Captain Jack Sparrow rolled into one – mercenary, opportunistic, with swagger to spare.  Anthony so thoroughly embraced his character, imbued him with so much delightful nuance, that rarely a scene went by that didn’t have me smiling or shaking my head in amazement.  It was the little things he added – a line, a look, a choice.  Every time I see a certain scene in #104 (let’s discuss once the episode airs), I can’t help but laugh at two back to back expressions that, on the surface, don’t seem like such a big deal and yet do such a brilliant job of bringing the character to life and making him real.  With an entire season under our belts, I know that he is destined to be a fan favorite.

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Working with Anthony has been fun.  More than any other cast member, he is always offering up ideas: a line here, some business there.  On the move in one scene; twirling his gun in the next.  The guy does so much on-camera eating that I honestly fear for his health!  It’s the type of thing that probably drives most showrunners nuts but, to Anthony’s credit, he is always respectful and professional in his approach, pitching me beforehand and offering up his reasoning when necessary (ie. I say no).  More often than not, I’ll let him run with it because, more often than not, his little additions are terrific.  Occasionally, I’ll simply ask him to give me two versions so I can decide at the edit stage.  On rare occasions, I’ll say no and he’ll be fine with that.  And just try twice as hard the next time.

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Anthony and THREE share certain character traits: cheekiness, daring, and a singular sense of humor.  On the other hand, Anthony differs from THREE in his warmth and willingness to engage.  Whenever a guest visits set for the first time, Anthony is always the first one to walk over and introduce himself, happily chatting away until someone drags him back to set.

A couple of months ago, I hosted a young woman who had just completed her studies and was considering a career in television.  She was thrilled to be visiting a television production and even more thrilled when one of the cast members, Anthony, strolled up and introduced himself.  I stood by and watched as Anthony thoroughly charmed her, inquiring about her future plans, her interests, engaging her in conversation like an old friend.  And the look on her face made one thing abundantly clear: he had just made a fan for life.

I have a feeling that’s going to happen A LOT when the show premieres in June.

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Check ’em out.  A day too late for the wrap party, but pretty awesome nevertheless – my custom-made Hieronymous Bosch Garden of Earthly Delights tie suit from The Knotty Tie Company (http://www.knottytie.com).  I think I may follow up with a round of Salvador Dali this summer.

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Yes, last night was the Dark Matter season one wrap party.  I live tweeted the event here (https://twitter.com/BaronDestructo) and uploaded pics here (https://instagram.com/joemallozzi/), but in case you missed it, here are the amazing people I responsible for bringing you what will no doubt become your new favorite scifi series…

Roxanne with her guest, David.

Roxanne with her guest, David.

Melissa and Daniel

Melissa and Daniel

Jesse

Jesse

Alice

Alice

Anna, Jessie, and Eric

Anna, Jessie, and Eric

A Student Bodies reunion: Jamie Elman and me!

A Student Bodies reunion: Jamie Elman and me!

Alex and Allie

Alex and Allie

Mackenzie and Megan

Mackenzie and Megan

Jamie, Stephany, and Robbie

Jamie, Stephany, and Robbie

Craig and Rachelle

Craig and Rachelle

Ivon, Lawren, Zoie, and Vanessa

Ivon, Lawren, Zoie, and Vanessa

Frank and Alison

Frank and Alison

Marc

Marc

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Norman and Terry

Norman and Terry

Jay and I

Jay and I

Kevin and Lisa

Kevin and Lisa

Ivon and Jodelle

Ivon and Jodelle

Jessica and Lawren

Jessica and Lawren

Jean and Rowena

Jean and Rowena

Alas, there were many, many more crew members in attendance – but between all the drinking and snacking and execution of awesome dance moves, I didn’t have a chance to snap them all.  But I’ll miss them no less!

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The Dark Matter gang.  I'm going to miss them!

The Dark Matter gang. I’m going to miss them!

Annnnnnd we’re done!  More or less.  I’ve still got my producer cuts of episode #112 and #113 to complete, all the mixes to sit through, and visual effects to approve but, for all intents and purposes, production on Dark Matter’s first season is complete.  It’s hard to believe that this time last year, I honestly didn’t think the show was going to happen.  And yet here I now sit, with 13 episodes under my belt, putting together a game plan for season 2.

Photo(s) by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

Photo(s) by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

I know, I know.  I should take some time off.  And I will.  Eventually.  I just want to be as prepared for season 2 as I was for season 1 – which allowed us to break all thirteen episodes inside of three weeks and have 12 of 13 scripts by the time we went to camera.  I already have beat sheets for our two part opener (#201 and #202), plus all eleven stories for the rest of the season, including all major arcs, character developments, twists, turns, and the BIG season 2 finale!

A message on my office whiteboard from...Melissa O'Neil?

A message on my office whiteboard from…Melissa O’Neil?

But I get ahead of myself.  First things first.  I have to finish up on season 1 and continue to get the word out in the lead up to the premiere.  To that end, I’ve been coordinating with the gang at SyFy to release all sorts of interesting Dark Matter-related tidbits.  For instance, just yesterday, i09’s Meredith Woerner showcased some of the show’s designs, including ships and space stations…

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1Plenty of pics – with accompanying commentary by yours truly!  Head on over and check it out:

http://io9.com/exclusive-dark-matter-concept-art-is-loaded-with-glorio-1705562602

More to come in the coming days including goodies from the Dark Matter VFX department, another trailer, and sneak peek scenes from our series premiere!

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Photo by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

Photo by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

“Zoie!!!” is the reaction the Android elicits from my girlfriend every time she pops up on my laptop.  I’ve screened 11 of 13 prod cuts for Akemi and, to date, she loves the show, loves all of the characters, but is especially fond of Zoie’s Android – which leads me to believe that #zobot is going to be BIG in Japan when the show airs on SyFyAsia in June!

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This was the breakdown that went out for the role when we started the casting process:

“CLOSER TO A WRY BUTLER THAN YOUR TYPICAL SCI-FI ANDROID/ROBOT. CONCISE, IMPASSIVE, YET SURPRISINGLY POSSESSED OF A SUBTLY WRY SENSE OF HUMOUR, he is an indispensable member of the crew since he can exercise control over all the ship’s systems. He’ll prove a loyal supporter of his fellow shipmates, risking destruction to secure their safety. IN TIME, HE WILL ASSUME A DOTING CARETAKER POSITION OVER THE YOUTHFUL FIVE. ALL GENDERS AND ETHNICITIES.”

Yes, “he” because, in the original pitch, the Android was male.  We ended up diverging from the source material by casting a very wide net in our search.  And, as it turned out, it was a wise choice because some of the very best candidates for the part were women.

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One such candidate was actress Zoie Palmer.  She delivered a great first round audition and then, in her callback, wowed us with three very different, very impressive reads: first her original interpretation, then with a British accent, and finally with a Jamaican accent (let’s file that last one away for future discussion).

One of the biggest compliments I can give Zoie is that, in many ways, she reminds me of Amanda Tapping.  Amanda, as Stargate’s Samantha Carter, had one of the toughest roles in the franchise’s run, tasked with delivering all the technobabble in believable yet entertaining fashion.  And she did, time and again.  She was so good at it that she made it look easy – but as anyone who has tried casting actors for similar roles will tell you (like, say, me for instance), it’s anything but easy.  And yet, like Amanda, Zoie made it seem effortless.  She was informative, convincing, and delightfully compelling.

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After she was cast, Zoie took the role and made it her own, fashioning a character that is highly intelligent and powerful yet, at the time same, marked by some very human, occasionally adolescent foibles.  Her Android is  more Marvin (Hitchhiker’s Guide) or Kryten (Red Dwarf) than Data (ST:TNG) – in many ways, more emotionally flawed than her human charges.  But, if I had to pick one word to describe Zoie’s Android, it would be “endearing”.  I have no doubt she is going to be a fan favorite.

1Working with Zoie has been a dream.  She is uber-talented, incredibly professional, and just a lovely, LOVELY human being. And possibly one of the funniest people I know.  Over the course of the season, I received more texts from her than any other cast member.  Some where script-related but most were simply weird and wonderful missives sent my way to, I suspect, keep me off-balance.  Some of my favorites…

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Here’s hoping that, five years from now, I’ll be looking back on these photos of how it all began…

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Dark Matter Executive Producer, President of Prodigy Pictures, and our show’s #1 fan Jay Firestone surprises the Dark Matter Whisky/ey Club with its most impressive bottle to date: a sublime Balvenie 21 year old PortWood Finish Whisky.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Our proud accomplishments: one for every episode in Dark Matter’s first season.  And, hey, we even got a jump start on season 2!

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Dark Matter Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza and Dark Matter Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok – best of buds.

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Fellow Dark Matter EP Paul Mullie and I pose for a pic with one of our favorite guest stars: Boxy!  We’ve already contacted his rep and started negotiations to bring him back for season 2.

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Watching the blocking!

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Akemi bakes up a final batch of bourbon-brown butter cookies for the cast and crew.

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Director Andy Mikita thanks everyone with a return visit of The Gelato Spot!

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And that’s a main unit wrap!

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And a fond farewell to Dark Matter sound recordist Dan Daniels who heads sails off on an around-the-world excursion July 1st.  All prepped and ready to go!

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Dark Matter VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson is left to steer the ship home.

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