Archive for the ‘television production’ Category

I happened across the photobucket website earlier today and recalled “Hey, I think I actually had a bunch of videos uploaded there at one point.”  After several failed attempts, I finally succeeded in haphazardly inputting the correct password and – voila!  I was greeted with a slew of poor quality videos dating back from days on the Stargate.  Here are a few for posterity’s sake (or, if you prefer, as one of my ex-girlfriend’s used to say “For prosperity’s sake”):

SGA “The Last Man”.  The sand in the sandstorm was actually powdered oatmeal.

Real sand would have hurt more.  And been harder to clean up.

Wraith loose on the lot!

SGA “The Last Man”.  The Keller-McKay walk and talk was shot right outside The Bridge Studios lot.

Good times.  Good times.

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At the end of every season, there was one thing I especially looked forward to.  In addition to the wrap party.  I refer, of course, to the annual focus group research packages that neatly summed up the likes and dislikes of a very small sampling of our overall audience.  From what I could tell, the methodology involved gathering viewer opinions via online questionnaire, engaging roughly 1000 respondents, about 200 of who actually watched our show (I was always quick to point out that they could gather a broader sampling by simply hitting up twitter, but my suggestion went largely ignored).  Their answers were carefully tallied up and revealed in colorful fashion: pages of graphs, percentage tallies, multi-colored boxes, and venn diagrams.  The result were distilled into a cover summary that would offer helpful direction for the next season.  Thanks to these surveys, for example, we learned –

Our series regulars and likable characters, TWO and the Android chiefest among them, were the most popular while the character of the lecherous/murderous Wexler – who at the time had appeared in all of two episodes – was decidedly less popular.  Hell, I would even go so far as to describe him as “unpopular”.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Alicia Reynaud, who also appeared in all of two episodes, was not a fan favorite either.

On the one hand, audiences really enjoyed the complexity of the season 2 storylines but, on the other hand, they found a lot of the second season storylines too complex.  They also simultaneously loved the show’s unpredictable twists and turns yet found these twists and turns somewhat predictable.  They loved the fact that the season was action-driven and exciting, however they were disappointed in the slow pacing.  They preferred instances in which the crew worked together as a team over technical explanations of space travel.

My favorite takeaways, however, were the conclusions that derived from cherry-picked responses and contextless feedback.  For instance, audiences were asked to rate the importance of certain aspects of the show, say: relationships, space battles, and fight sequences.  Relationships were of the greatest importance with space battles coming in second and fight sequences in third place.  “See!”I’d be told.  “Audiences don’t care about fight sequences!”

Another great example was “the great Android voice debate”.  Amidst all the feedback we received on the show’s first season was some criticism of the Android’s voice as a handful respondents found it lacked the authority of classic android’s of yore.  I guess.  So a request was made to make sure the Android spoke in a more authoritative manner in season 2.  My response: “GTFO!”.  Never mind the fact that the Android character ranked either #1 or #2 in popularity across most categories, why the hell would you change a beloved character midstream?  It’s not as if people who weren’t watching the show were going to see a preview and say: “Holy shit!  That android character speaks with authority!  I’m going to start watching this show!”   More likely, fans of the Android will watch and wonder: “What the fuck did they do to the Android?”

It was on the heels of one of these yearly cross-network fact-finding summations that I found myself at a nameless network, looking to pitch.  I sat down and started to roll into my first show, a horror-comedy in the spirit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  “Look, I’m going to have to stop you right there,”said the senior executive in the room.  “We’ve found that our audience doesn’t respond well to horror so horror is definitely not something we’re looking for.  No horror.”  As I shifted gears to my next pitch, the junior started talking about one of their upcoming new productions, a monster-themed show with, uh, comedic elements. “It’s great,”he enthused.  “It’s alternately terrifying and horrifying.”  And then, catching a look from the senior executive, he quickly added: “But more terrifying than horrifying.”

Uh, right.

7 Great Movie Endings Demolished By Test Audiences

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Okay.  I’ve pulled the trigger.  I’m all in.  Next up, the negotiations.  Meanwhile, I’ve already started discussions about series structure with the show’s insanely talented creator.  Good good guy.  You’re gonna love him.

In answer to the obvious question – Yes, sci-fi, but very different from the type of shows I’ve worked on in the past.  Very exciting.

If all goes as planned, we should convene the writer’s room in early August after which it’ll be smoooooooooth sailing!

This is definitely going to put a crimp in my record-setting reading pace.

Oh, thanks to everyone asking about the move.  We’re all settled in.  Akemi successfully assembled both the bar and bar cart.  By the time the book and liquor shelving arrive in 5-6 weeks, I’ll have all 65 bottles of whiskey on display. Meanwhile, we accepted delivery of the new coffee table, bar stools, dining room chairs, and living room couch (albeit with the wrong legs).  Once we get a t.v. in here for moderate background noise, it’ll truly feel like home.

The dogs, meanwhile, are already fully settled.  Lulu has already claimed the couch (with the wrong legs) as her own.

But that sunny spot by the window remains a favorite.

Suji meanwhile, not quite as chill, too a little longer to adapt.  Pictured above facing one of her many existential moments.

The nice thing is we’re now only a short 5 minute walk from my favorite place with the fancy coffees.  Pictured above, me on a date with my gal.

Tomorrow, it’s lunch with former Dark Matter Visual Effects Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, possibly an anime matinee, some more research for this upcoming project.  Official news to come…

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Oh, teasers are teasers and spoilers are spoilers and never the twain shall meet.

The subject of spoilers came up the other day after a New York Times article essentially spoiled the ending to DC Comics’ big Batman/Catwoman wedding storyline.  Not only did they spoil it, they spoiled it in the damn headline!  Fan response was…heated.  Comic shops that had pre-ordered copies were suddenly left holding the bag (and board to ensure its contents remain in mint condition!) as readers responded by cancelling their planned purchases.  Twitter was ablaze with a furious fandom who felt betrayed by either the book’s ending and/or the decision to reveal said ending days before the title dropped.

To be fair, it was a curious PR call.  I mean, I understand the great buzz that would follow a feature profile in the New York Times, but surely that could have been achieved without ruining the ending.  It’s not like you’re going to convince new readers to check out a movie, t.v. show, or book by saving them the trouble of actually watching/reading.  I honestly don’t get it.

On the other hand, there are productions that guard against any and all pre-release reveals with merciless determination.  Many an extra and crew member has been fired, publicly pilloried, and, on occasion, even sued for posting what they deemed a perfectly innocent pic on their instagram page, or made mention of a seemingly innocuous onscreen development on twitter.  In some cases, I get it.  In others, not really.  For me, it comes down to the difference between a spoiler and a teaser.

And what is that difference?  Oh, that’s easy.  A spoiler spoils viewers while a teaser simply teases them.  I know, I know.  Where to draw the line?  It varies from production to production, viewer to viewer, but I’ve personally always been very forgiving when it comes to on-set posts and pictures so long as they don’t reveal any major plot twists or surprises.  For example, a photo of a presumably deceased character on set would, by my definition, be considered a spoiler.  Photos of our series regulars in action would not.  Yes to sneak peeks of most concept art, costumes, visual effects designs and props because I want to get viewers excited in the lead-up to the episodes – and hopefully intrigue some new viewers as well – rather than wait until after the episode airs at which point these visual tidbits are rendered mere points of interest for the hardcore fans.  No to major reveals – like that new Android costume or a shot of SIX back on the ship after his apparent departure in Episode 303.

I think that’s reasonable.

Inciting a full-scale rebellion among your fandom probably isn’t.  But then again, I’m not the one with the marketing degree.

My Top 5 Stargate Spoilers

#5 – The Curse: Dr. Daniel Jackson reconnects with some people from his past, one of who, it turns out, has been taken over by a goa’uld.  Who could it be?  Well, if you watched the broadcast promo, you’d note a fiery-eyed Anna-Louise Plowman using a goa’uld hand device to blast our heroes.  A dead giveaway.

#4 – Apophis episode: Don’t recall which episode, but the network aired a promo that included a scene of Apophis actor, the amazing Peter Williams, snapping orders.  Only problem was they inexplicably used raw footage in which the actor’s voice had yet to be flanged to achieve that ominous goa’uld delivery.  As a result, mystified viewers were treated to a uniquely terrestrial-sounding System Lord with a slight Jamaican lilt.

#3 – Solitudes: A gate mishaps strands Sam and Jack on an icy wasteland.  Stargate Command races to locate them.  Where could they be?  Well, if the SGC had merely consulted TV Guide before the episode aired, they would have learned Antarctica and saved themselves the time and effort.

#2 – Kindred I: Another network promo totally ruins a surprise the production had kept under careful wraps for almost a year.  “You won’t believe the last five minutes!”says the voice-over, at which point we are treated to a shot of a once-dead, now very much alive Carson Beckett asking Sheppard and his team: “What took you so long?!”.

#1 – Forever In A Day: The German title for this episode is “Sha’re Ist Tod”.  Translation: Sha’re Is Dead.  But maybe not!  Ah, who am I trying to kid?

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Our virtual season premiere concludes…

And there you have it.  Everything I had planned for Dark Matter’s fourth season premiere.  It would have been a blast.

Well, I feel much better having gotten that off my chest.  Of course, it’s just 1 of the 26 episodes I had burning a hole in the back of my mind since the show’s cancellation.  Still, it was a most satisfying exercise and, who knows, should I ever again have the urge, the motivation, and the fan support, I may well offer up a second installment of Dark Matter’s Virtual Season 4 – Episode 4.02 – somewhere down the line.


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Our story continues!

Tomorrow = the conclusion to our Virtual Season 4 Premiere!

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Our story continues…

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