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Archive for the ‘Stargate’ Category

Actor Anthony Lemke (Dark Matter’s Three), forwarded me a terrific podcast about gendered robots and stereotypes.  The participants point out that female androids tend to be sexualized entities while their male counterparts are usually powerful forces.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-april-24-2015-1.3047057/ex-machina-s-portrayal-of-gendered-robot-perpetuates-stereotypes-1.3047064

It’s an interesting listen and it made me think of our ship’s android, played by the awesome Zoie Palmer, who is clearly atypical from the normal: a female android who isn’t sexualized but a force to be reckoned with.  On the surface, she is your standard logic-based robot but, as the first season progresses, viewers will come to realize there’s much, much more to our android.  In describing her the other day, I said she was much closer to Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Marvin and Red Dwarf’s Kryten than TNG’s Data.  Zoie has done a great job fashioning an incredibly endearing character.  Every time she pops up on screen, Akemi gleefully shouts “Zoie!”.  The Android scenes are her favorites!

Anyway, sometime soon, I’m going to start offering an introduction to the world of Dark Matter, covering everything from currency to intergalactic politics, ships to the characters and the amazing cast who will bring them to life.  Behind the scenes pics and anecdotes to come!

While you’re waiting, check out some of the early construction work done on our ship in late 2014, back when I was still wondering how we were ever going to pull this off…

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The door to the quarters.  No, lime green isn’t the final color.

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Nor is the ceiling orange.

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The exterior bridge.  I love it because it’s so damn unique.

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And early interior.  Check out the windows on top.

In the beginning…

Laying down the corridor’s running lights.

Mailbag:

arcticgoddess writes: “I love hearing about how you managed to sell Dark Matter. It goes to show just how hard it is to get into television. […] For your mailbag question, I’d like to ask, is there any other way to get into television besides the above mentioned methods?”

Answer: Several possibilities come to mind… 1. Have a really good agent or connection who can get your work in front of the right people, or 2. Use the momentum coming off your last hit project [note: prior to this, create a hit project], 3. Be related to or friends with someone who can push your project through, 4. Be very lucky.

riss writes: ” Joe, do you think that it would be better to read the comic books before watching the show, or to wait and read them after getting to know the TV show?”

Answer: Nope.  Tune in June 12th at 10 p.m. and enjoy the ride.

FargateOne writes: “Nous avons le canal SPACE au Québec. Sauf erreur de ma part, rien ne semble annoncer Dark Matter. Et SyFy n’est pas diffusé au Canada si je ne me trompe.  Pouvez-vous nous rassurer sur le fait que nous ne manquerons pas le 12 juin ?”

Answer: Je vous rassure que vous ne manqueriez pas Dark Matter.

Tam Dixon writes: ” What are you doing with your summer hiatus?”

Answer: Working on season 2.  Trying to set up a few more shows.

alexf85 writes: “Hi, Joe! I know it’s somehow off topic but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you a few questions about Stargate. Yes, it’s history but I still love it.  1. Could you please enlight me about the Asgard home galaxy? I mean it’s just ida or they moved to othalla after season 6? Is even existing this othalla galaxy or is just a writing mistake?”

Answer: From what I recall, one is the name of their home galaxy, the other the name of their home world.

“2. Is the supergate still functional?”

Answer: Last time I checked, it was.

“3. Are they rebuilding the intergalactic bridge between milky way and pegasus?”

Answer: I’d imagine that the midway station and any component gates were reassembled and rebuilt not long after the events of Mideway.

“4. What about the antarctic outpost? Is there any chance to find another control chair? To replace the one destroyed by the wraith. May be from Tria or even from the Tower? They could negotiate with the locals for it.”

Answer:  It’s a possibility but, last I heard, it has yet to be replaced.

“5. Who is the supreme leader of the system lords after Ra’s demise? the show is not so helpful in figuring that out. My thought is about Cronus being this next leader then Apophis after double jeopardy. From season 5 onwards it’s hard to determine. Anyway if you could tell me something about this leadership I would be in your debt :).”

Answer: SG-1 and Earth’s forces destabilized the System Lord Alliance, resulting in a fracturing and infighting amongst the various factions.

“6. What about Furling? Are they ascended beings along with the ancients? Are they the second of the four great races in terms of tecnological development, with the ancients being the first of course?”

Answer: I believe the latter.

“7. I know you said some things about the planet builders aliens from sgu, but are they more powerful than the ancients?”

Answer: Ancients past or present?

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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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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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Well, well, well.  Look who it is.  Director Martin Wood (Stargates SG-1 and Atlantis) hits the streets of Toronto – in his trademark shorts.  Yes, if there are two thing I remember about Martin Wood from our days on Stargate, it’s: 1) His penchant for wearing shorts year round, and 2) His onscreen cameo character, Major Wood, always lugged around a giant wrench.

Alas, no giant wrench on Dark Matter (but who knows?  We’ve yet to shoot his episode, #111) but the shorts are still in full effect!

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We had our final (?) notes session with Executive Producer Jay Firestone the other day.  Soon after, we made the necessary changes and released our season finale, episode #113.  As I may have mentioned, I want to approach each season as a instalment in a book series.  And so, #113 offers answers to many of the questions we set up over the course of our initial 13 episode journey and includes one HUGE reveal.  But I made a point of scripting it in a way that keeps the mystery reveal a secret…until our very last day of production.  A LOT of theories swirling around set right now…

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B 1st Assistant Camera Marcel Janisse enjoys lunch in the infirmary’s isolation chamber.

I’m thinking it’s high time for another mailbag.  If you’ve got questions about the show, post away.  I’ll answer later in the week.

I’m also thinking of doing one of those reddit AMA’s.  How do they work?

Finally, here’s another look at the Dark Matter teaser trailer:

Over 47k+ views and counting!  Share!  Share!  Share!

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It’s here!  It’s here!  The Dark Matter teaser trailer is finally out!  Share!  Share!  Share!

Head on over to IGN.com for the write-up and links:

http://www.ign.com/videos/2015/04/10/dark-matter-trailer

When SyFy told us they wanted to produce a one minute teaser trailer for the show, my initial response was “Impossible!”.  We only had two locked episodes with no finished visual effects.  How could they possibly produce a compelling trailer?

Well, I stand corrected.  This first teaser trailer is pretty darn terrific.  A big thanks to Gary Morgenstein, Katherine Nelson, Bill Trojanowski, Samantha Agnoff and the rest of the gang at SyFy Publicity & Marketing!  Great job on this one and I look forward to the next VFX-laden trailers to come!

SyFyFridays returns to SyFy June 12th with an SF triple header!  A two part premiere of Defiance kicks things off at 8:00 p.m.  And Dark Matter has the 10:00 p.m. slot.

Circle the date on your calendars and SHARE THE HELL out of our trailer!

And here’s a little behind-the-scenes pic to tide you over until tomorrow.  Locked and loaded.

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Allow me to end today’s entry with a shout out for my long-time buddy, Lou Anders, who is about to publish the second book in his Thrones & Bones series (Nightborn hits the shelves July 14, 2015).  Meanwhile, Lou’s been keeping busy, touring.  And, apparently, his characters are going places as well: http://louanders.blogspot.com/2015/04/thrones-bones-characters-for-fate.html

Thanks, all.  And get the word out.  We’ve already got over 22k views and counting.  I want to reach 50k by Sunday!

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I admire people who dress like they just don’t care – what other people think. Lady Gaga.  Don Cherry.  And, of course, Dark Matter‘s Tabor Calchek.  I knew the gang in wardrobe was going to have a lot of fun dressing him – maybe, I suspected, a little too much fun.  So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I made my way down to the costume department last month for a sneak peek at Tabor’s outfits. I was treated to a lot of comfy wear (see previous blog instalments) and then a bit of flash in the form of the type of shirt usually reserved for disco enthusiasts or East European gangsters.  I loved it, but had only one small request.  Instead of just having him in his underwear, lets give Tabor pants. Pleather pants!

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And, voila!  He’s ready for business.  Or a night out on the town!

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I was up at 4:30 this morning so that I could prepare my breakfast, see to the dogs, and then take the hour long drive to Hamilton for today’s 7:00 a.m. main unit call.  It was still dark by the time I rolled into the crew park.

Hell, it was so early, it was late!

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Shooting in the woods today.  And I mean that in two senses of the word.

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Also, occasional slashing and stabbing.

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“A” 2nd Assistant Camera, Michael Purdon, color codes sticks for blocking.

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Okay, what I mean is, when the actors come to set, the director will “block” a scene with them, deciding who moves where and when.  Once that has been decided, “marks” are placed on the floor (usually tape, color coded for each performer, but, in today’s case, sticks) so that everyone knows exactly where they should be standing and/or moving to in order to “hit their mark”.

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It was, thankfully, our final location day for episode #109.  I suppose it could’ve been worse.  It could’ve been raining.  On the other hand, it could’ve been just slightly better with the addition of snow.  Ah, I suppose I can just get Lawren, our VFX Supervisor, to add some in post.  How hard can it be?

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Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok and actress Melissa O’Neil (TWO) try to stay warm.  Hey!  It’s winter again!

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In many ways, I envy the crew’s handler, Tabor, and his ability to get in a good day’s work – without ever having to change out of his pyjamas.  It’s one of the perks of a freelance career, especially one that affords a comfy home office and the convenience of interstellar communications.

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Happy Easter!  Sadly, I couldn’t join my family in Montreal for our annual feast due to my tight production schedule.  Happily, I was able to do the next best thing: join someone else’s family for a feast.

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And that someone was Dark Matter Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok who kindly invited Akemi and me to a tasty banquet with his mother, sister, several guests, and sticky toffee pudding!  Sarah Bartok, Ivon’s sister, was visiting from Montreal where she is the co-host of the city’s most popular radio show (read all about her here: http://www.thebeat925.ca/an/sarah-bartok-1060.html).  She was kind enough to bring me back a jar of Au Pied de Cochon Tomato Jam!  A taste of home.

My other home.

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We kicked things off with two tourtieres (meat pies), one from local Toronto gourmet shop Pusatieri’s, the other from one of my all-time favorite restaurants Au Pied de Cochon.  The former was good but the latter was outstanding.

Then, it was on to the main course: perfectly cooked roast lamb chops, mashed and baked potatoes, candied sweet potatoes,  roasted parsnips, and brussel sprouts.

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And, for dessert: individual sticky toffee puddings, a flourless chocolate cake, and a lemon pie so tart I think I may have sprained a salivary gland eating it.  All delicious.

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Many thanks to my new adopted family, the Bartoks: mom, brother Ivon, and sister Sarah.  I’m moving in this weekend!

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Stay tuned!  You’ll finally get a sneak peek at Dark Matter this week when SyFy releases our very first teaser trailer.    #BecauseWe’reDangerous

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