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Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

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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I was actually developing Dark Matter as far back as 2007.  That year comes to mind because, in 2007, we were producing Stargate: Atlantis’s fourth season and I remember walking the corridors of the ship we constructed for episode #405, Travelers, and saying to Paul: “We’ve got to find a way to keep these sets. They’d be perfect for Dark Matter!”  In retrospect, it was probably a good thing we didn’t hold on to those sets.  The storage costs over seven years would have no doubt eclipsed the price tag of our spanking new sets.

The nice thing about waiting seven years for your show to get green lit is that it gives you plenty of time to develop the hell out of it.  Characters, their journeys, seasonal and series arcs – you’d be surprised how much you can flesh out over the course of 84+ months.

With a more than fully fleshed out show on our hands,  the plan was to roll right into Dark Matter if and when Stargate ever ended.  I’d been preparing myself for Stargate’s eventual end since Stargate: SG-1’s fifth season, back in early 2000, so I’d grown inured to the dread of cancellation.  As a result, when the end did come, and Stargate: Universe was cancelled in 2011, I was taken by surprise.  I wasn’t ready!

This business is funny sometimes.  Given the fact that Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had effectively established MGM’s t.v. division and made the studio TONS of money with Stargate, I imagined they be set.  A studio deal.  A couple of blind pilots.  Offers to use their years of experience to help shepherd or run whatever other productions the studio had in the pipeline.  No?  A letter of reference?   A hearty handshake?  A “Thanks for multi millions?” scribbled on a post-it?

If they weren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the guys that had earned them enough cash to purchase a tiny country (something modest with a lot of beachfront property), I figured my chances were…slimmer…

“I’m sorry.  What department did you say you used to work in?”

“Uh, television.  A t.v. show actually.  We ran for seventeen seasons, produced over three hundred episodes and two movies?   Stargate?  STARGATE?!”

“Could you spell that?”

Even with a writing/producing background on one of the most successful franchises in television history, the chances of selling a pitch are slim.  People love great ideas.  They love great scripts.  But, usually, not enough to buy them.  Established properties on the other hand…well, that’s a different story.  And that’s something I was well aware of from my days working development.

And so, rather than roll the dice on a pitch tour, I made a single call – to Keith Goldberg at Dark Horse Comics and presented him my idea for Dark Matter.  He loved it and, in no time, we were in business with publisher Mike Richardson on a four-issue SF comic book series.  That would eventually be collected into a trade paperback.  Which would be used as a visual aid and sales document to help Prodigy Pictures President Jay Firestone sell the show.

So, much respect for Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg, artist Garry Brown, colorist Ryan Hill, editor Patrick Thorpe and the rest of the gang at Dark Horse Comics (Kari Yadro, Aub Driver, Spencer Cushing et al.)

And much respect for Executive Producers Jay Firestone and Vanessa Piazza for getting the show to air.

And much respect for my terrific cast, crew, VFX, and post personnel helped me produce one hell of an awesome SF series.  And a ship-based SF series no less!

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With the cast reveals right around the corner, it’s time to ramp up the big visual reveals as we count down towards our early summer premiere.  So let’s kick things off with a mini blog feature I’m calling The Four Days of Tabor Calchek.

Introducing the crew’s handler, their de facto agent, the guy who gets them their freelance assignments.  He’s smug; he’s smarmy; he’s swank and laid-back.   Day #1: Let’s call this one “Home Office Casual”.

Hey, speaking of Dark Matter’s summer premiere, we’ve got an official airdate:

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That’s Friday, June 12th at 10:00 p.m.  Ah, this takes me back.  Do you remember the glorious Friday SF triple header of days gone by: Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG-1, and Battlestar Galactica running back to back to back?  Well, rumour has it science fiction fans are in for a real treat this summer as SyFy brings back SciFi Fridays.  I, for one, can’t wait.

But I’m going to have to because Atmosphere is still working on those visual effects.

Hey, continuing my ongoing series of “Who’s who on the Dark Matter crew?” – it is with great pleasure that, today, I introduce to you the awesome Jean Brophey, On Set Dresser extraordinaire.  It’s her job to make sure things look good before the director yells “Action!”, and she takes her job pretty seriously, scrambling onto set to switch out cargo crates, flip bed covers, and whisk away weird background elements that she, the eagle-eyed expert, will catch before anyone else.

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And when she’s not ensuring on set continuity on the rotating quarters sets (She has a visual overview of each crew member’s room hanging on the far wall for easy referral) or pointing out potential visual miscues, she’s moving stuff whether it be chairs, tables, weapons or…

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…a pile of giant rocks.

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Need that grand piano moved?  Well contact Jean c/o Dark Matter!

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Check out the cool slot box label outside my office door.  “Executive Producer” would have been fine, but they went ahead and included “Showrunner” – which is nice, but I would’ve preferred “The Commodore”.  In fact, that’s how I’d like to be referred to moving forward.

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It wasn’t my first choice, but Natalie Cooper already snagged that.

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Hey, check it out!  Revised versions of episodes #1 and #2, just in time for the Art Department meeting…which also included props, costumes, and construction.

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2:00 p.m.  I arrived promptly, eager to get started.

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2:10 p.m.  Who called this meeting?  Beginning to suspect I’m the victim of some elaborate practical joke.

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2:27 p.m.  I’m overcome with concern for the other attendees.  Have they been kidnapped?  Accidentally locked themselves in the linen closet?  Worry gives way to panic and, ultimately, sleepiness.

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2:43 p.m.  I doze off but eventually wake up feeling refreshed.  Only to discover it’s the next day.  And someone took my wallet.

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Random point of discussion.  We’re going projectiles over lasers and blasters.  For the most part.

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Our awesome Supervising Art Director, the amazing Kimberly Zaharko, generating these handy preliminary set lists for episodes 1-3.  Color-coded to boot!  Dark blue for VFX, light brown for Construction and Paint, dark green for Playback, light green for Graphics, grey for Props, white for Special Effects, and invisible ink for the Subliminal Message Department.

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I came in this morning to discover that Alison and Trevor had redecorated, turning their desks around to face out toward the windows and daylight (and freedom) instead of facing the walls and dreary grey bulletin board.  Not sure how I feel about this.  I thought the scattering of lone thumbtacks was a nice touch, holding the promise of something more – an Art Department schematic, a colorful print, a Tiger Beat centrefold of Robby Benson – while simultaneously crushing their spirits. Also, this makes it much harder for me to sneak up on them whenever the mood strikes. :(

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The enigmatic Kim

She’s like a shadow in the night – dark, mysterious, silent and stealthy.  One second she’s there, the next she’s gone.  Then, she’s sitting behind you, sipping her coffee!  I’ve never seen her come or go and yet, somehow, whenever I turn a corner, she’a there – appearing as if by magic.  Her name is Kim Morrison and her title is Executive Producer’s Assistant, that much I know – but little more.  She remains enticingly enigmatic, her past and predilections as elusive as a ninja panther in ballet slippers.

After almost two weeks, let’s review what I know about Kim: 1. She enjoys flavored coffees.  2. Her eyes are like two Infinity Mind Gems set in Silmarils.  3. She’s a writer!

Intriguing, no?

This begs further research.

Meanwhile, construction continues on our standing sets and I’m pleased to report that the bridge of our ship, The Raza, is taking shape.  Work has also started on the lower decks and the main section of our recurring space station set.  The latter will serve as a port of call for wary travellers, offering food, comfort, and occasional trouble.

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Plans, plans, plans!

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I plan to amass a library of EVERYTHING, from amazing Art Department designs to photos and video tours of the finished sets.   By the time we’re done, you’ll all have the know-how to design your own home spaceships!

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The bridge taking shape.

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Alison having a hard time deciding where she wants to put her Captain’s Assistant’s chair.

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The space station concourse – presently exposed to the vacuum of space.

They’re moving quickly.  And noisily!

A final batch of auditions to review.  Tomorrow, we make our second round selects!

Oh, and I’ve got to finish up my pass on episodes #1 and #2.  I’ll be sitting down with the Art Department to discuss our two-part opener next week.

Check out and share our twitter: https://twitter.com/Dark_MatterTV

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

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After a seemingly endless wait for the show to get green the light, we’re now charging full speed ahead toward our January production dates.  This week, construction began on our standing sets.  First up, our ship, The Raza, which will include the bridge, corridors, an infirmary, mess hall, training room, various corridors and airlocks.  The design work looks pretty awesome, and I fully intend to share the specs and pics with you in the coming days and weeks.  Also, our Set Designer Doug Slater has put together a terrific 3D walk-thru of our soon-to-bridge – which you’ll also get a chance to check out very soon.

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Craig, our Head Carpenter, oversees the action

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And so it begins!

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Our set is raised to allow for stashing of loot and offer hiding places for the director. 

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The layout for this stage

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It’s all happening in the Hello Kitty Pavilion

Meanwhile, our first round of auditions is finally complete and, all told, we’ll have seen A LOT of very talented people.  Still a few redirects to come in (“re-do’s” that incorporate suggested adjustments) and then, by Friday, we’ll finally have our short list.  Well, shortER list.  The sides (scenes) for the second round have been chosen and are ready to go.

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My wardrobe assistants

So last week, I helped myself to some carpets from the recently wrapped Lost Girl set (I had my heart set on a staff of righteousness or a twig of Zamora, but somebody – I suspect Nat Cooper – beat me to ’em).  This week, I came to work to discover four shirts hanging in my office.  Apparently, Jay and Vanessa picked them out for me.  It was avery nice gesture and, when you think about it, unbelievably kind of them to take the time to go to wardrobe, peruse the selection, and pick out some shirts they thought would suit me.

Last night, had drinks with the Exec Producers of SyFy’s other new production, The Expanse.  Very nice group and their show sounds like it’s going to be awesome.

Lots of terrific SF to look forward to in 2015!

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“So what does Caitlin do?”I asked as part of my first day bid to know absolutely everything about absolutely everyone.

“She’s Head of Business Affairs,”I was told.

“No, really.”

“Really.”

Really?  Caitlin Brown was one of the very first people I’d met.  She’d come into my office and chatted about film, television, and books (she’s going to recommend some of her Scandinavian favorites).  I’d found her super pleasant, incredibly engaging, instantly likeable – and. thus, thoroughly atypical of most of the Business Affairs Execs I’d dealt with over the years.  I almost didn’t believe it at first but, upon closer scrutiny, the tell-tale signs were there: the closed office door, the authoritative phone voice, the occasional no nonsense attitude.  She meant business.  Business Affairs business!  And further internal research revealed that she, in fact, holds sway over two departments as Executive in Charge of Business Affairs AND Development.  A most unlikely combination.  But then, Caitlin is full of surprises.

Yes, she’s a delightfully grounded, perfectly sociable Executive in Charge of Business Affairs.

Who also DJ’s under the name DJ Mizz Brown.

Plays competitive basketball in two leagues.

And, by all accounts, is a bit of a music aficionado with one hell of an impressive collection of Jazz records.

These head-spinning revelations were almost too incredible to process when they were delivered this morning – but Caitlin kindly brought me back down to Earth by delivering yet another surprise –

Writer's contract, producer's contract, kidney relinquishment contract - wait.  What?

Writer’s contract, producer’s contract, kidney relinquishment contract – wait. What?

In the form of a stack of contracts that required my signature.  Can’t get more Business Affairs than that!

I spent much of the day working my way through all of the L.A. auditions.   A LOT of familiar faces.  Also got in touch with some old online friends about promoting the show as we gear up prep.  Discussed some tweaks to the first four scripts.  Oh, and Nat Cooper stopped by the office to discuss Harry Potter and helpfully put together a To Do list on my whiteboard.  I’ve got my work cut out for me in the next few days:

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Which reminds me – the Dark Matter Facebook page is up: https://www.facebook.com/darkmatterseries.  Spread the word!

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