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It’s a relaxing Sunday, so why don’t we open up the mailbag and see if we can find some answers to your burning questions…

Cathy L. writes: “Question will you continue to film in Toronto or will you try and change your base to Vancouver?”

Answer: That all depends on whether or not the show gets picked up for a second season.  If it does, then I have some decisions to make regarding my house, the show, and my career in general.  As much as I love my home in Vancouver, it does feel a lot emptier with fewer dogs – and I honestly don’t need this much space.  All options are on the table, including a move east – or even further west!

ivonbartokfans writes: “I’m sure that somewhere I’ve seen an image of the completed Bridge of Raza but I can’t find it. Not the one with production staff, but with the actors. Am I imagining this? Can anyone point me in the direction please?”

Answer: Although there are plenty of designs of the bridge and some pics of the crew, there are no official photos of the cast on the bridge.  In the coming weeks, I will be releasing some behind the scenes photos and videos of our cast on the set – along with a terrific video walk-thru of the bridge created by Set Designer Doug Slater.

Ponytail writes: “Are you going to wait for feedback before writing season 2?”

Answer: I already have the major arcs for season 2 including our various character through-lines.  Paul and I have outlines for the first two episodes and stories – in varying details – for all 13 episodes.  It’s all subject to change or adjustment of course.

SGW1 writes: “For Dark Matter, what reasons made you guys get rid of the titles?”

Answer: The simple, numbered episode titles reflect the numerical designations adopted by our crew.

SGW1 also writes: “After those years now and with the reboot to come, it’s pretty sure we won’t get any official ending to SGU. So could you finally reveal the planned SGU ending? Or at least give some hints to what was planned? You once said it was up to Brad, hoping that you guys got a chance to tell the full story at some time, but that those chances are around zero right now. :( So, if it’s still up to Brad, how can we ask him?”

Answer: SGU was Brad and Robert’s baby so, really, they should be the one to answer this questions – and any other the fans may have about any of the three Stargate shows.  My best advice would be to see that he gets invited to a con – and then ask him when he’s fielding questions.  I’m sure he’s got a lot of interesting insights and surprising tidbits for you all.

gforce writes: “Have you noticed any increase in blog visits since the start of Dark Matter?”

Answer: Yes, I’ve noticed an increase in blog traffic since the show premiered, but nothing crazy.  That distinction goes to the last few days of SGU.

Steve writes: “Just out of curiosity, how much of the obliteration did Zoie Palmer do for the fight scene between Zobot and the guys?”

Answer: Zoie did quite a bit, but her stunt double did all the heavy lifting.

Airelle writes: “Who is the voice of the computer?”

Answer: If you re-listen closely, you’ll recognize the voice of the Android (Zoie’s Palmer) alerting the crew to the diminishing life support.

arcticgoddess writes: “Joe, what did you learn on the Stargate Series(s) that you have used in Dark Matter?”

Answer: Audiences like team scenes.

ShadowGlass writes: “Hi, are you hoping for a back 9 episode order for a 20-22 ep season, or 13 episodes per season was what you had planned?”

Answer: Creatively, we approached the season as a 13 part arc.

CathyL writes: “. I just rewatched episode 1 for the umpteenth time, and I just realized when they Zero-g everyone floated with the exception of The Android why?”

Answer: She was seated, was expecting the loss of gravity and, essentially, “locked in”.

John M. writes: “I’ve noticed that Dark Horse Comics (Entertainment?) is listed in the end credits as (?). What is their relationship with the show? Yes I know they published the comic book series, but do they have a continued interest in the show?”

Answer: Dark Horse Comics have been a supportive force throughout production.  We’ve been coordinating with them with regard to Dark Matter’s presence at San Diego Comic Con that will include a panel, press roundtable, and a signing!

dasndanger writes: Anyway, what I’d like to know is how it made you feel to see your creation come to life on the screen? And has Paul shared any thoughts on the matter?”

Answer: Paul and I are both very proud of the show.  Proud and relieved.  I’m incredibly appreciative of everyone who helped bring it to the small screen, from the gang at Dark Horse Comics and SyFy to the cast and crew to Executive Producers Jay Firestone and Vanessa Piazza.

2cats writes: “I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the “save” Three did when they were sitting with the miners, and One started to spill that they don’t know who they are.  My question is: did Three do this to deflect suspicion away from themselves so the miners would be more forthcoming or to garner sympathy from the miners?”

Answer: The former.  It was a cover story THREE created on the spur of the moment.

Winst writes: “Whatever happened to that post show “show” idea that was discussed?  To much work?..too much bother?…not worth the efforts involved?”

Answer: I’m not sure.  Ultimately, this would be up to the networks.  Space Channel here in Canada has Interspace – hosted by Ajay Fry, Morgan Hoffman, and Teddy Wilson – which covers Dark Matter in addition to a whole slew of SF-related t.v. and film.

Candice writes: “As someone who has so much experience working with SyFy, what would you say is the best way to pitch ideas to SyFy? Is it even possible to pitch ideas to them if you’re not in the industry?”

Answer: Even if you’re in the industry, it’s a tough go – which is why we went the comic book route first, teaming up with Dark Horse to create the comic first and then use that as a launch pad and visual pitch for the show.

JW Smythe writes: “Am I wrong to think I’m seeing a resemblance to the Firefly’s crew in the Raza’s crew?”

Answer: As the series develops, our crew’s varied personalities will evolve and stand out, each in their own unique way.

Shana writes: “Any chance you guys will be coming to the Salt Lake City Comic-Con?”

Answer: That’s all dependent on timing.  And whether or not we receive an invite!

Tam Dixon writes: “Loved the picture of Bubba and Lulu! Sweet and a little confused look on their faces. ;) Still thinking of taking in another senior?”

Answer: I check out the senior pug rescues every day.

Sylvia writes: “Does Zoie have to wear special contact lenses for when you guys “blank” her out? Or, is it special effects?”

Answer: The eye blacking is all Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and his amazing VFX team.

glenda writes: “Will get to see the Android’s room or does she just stay on the bridge?”

Answer: The Android doesn’t have a room like the rest of the crew and, generally, prefers to spend her downtime on the bridge.

dasndager writes: “Question Joe – what book is ONE reading? I can’t make it out.”

Answer: No way to tell from watching, you’ll just have to guess.  Guess correctly and I’ll send you a copy.  The title will be revealed in an upcoming episode.

dasndanger also writes: “It’s been five days – has anyone taken a shower yet? Do they have deodorant? Soap? Clean underpants? These are very important things to know.”

Answer: Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  Underpants in their quarters and toiletries through that opaque door in the back of the room.

2cats writes: “Okay, what is a fish tank doing in the background when the Android is performing the lie detector bit? Is it meant to be a playback, a rather large one?”

Answer: It’s a triptych that offers rotating Earth-based video displays, a little touch of nature and home in the dark, cramped confines of the ship.

2cats also writes: “Who is giving the “scientific” advice on the show? ”

Answer: That would be series co-creator and Exec Producer Paul Mullie.

Ponytail writes: “Is Akemi happy to be back in Vancouver? Are the dogs? Are you?”

Answer: Akemi was loving Toronto and was sad to come back – until we actually came back at which point she said she greatly missed Vancouver and was happy to be home.  The dogs have settled back in nicely but Lulu still seems a little despondent.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “Goblin Emperor has been on you “currently readling” list for a very long time. Did you ever finish it? What did you think of it?”

Answer: I really have to update that sidebar.  Yes, finished it. It was fine fantasy – but, in all fairness, fantasy is a very hard sell for me.  I hear others loved it.

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What's behind the big metal door?  Executive Producer Jay Firestone is about to find out!

What’s behind the big metal door? Executive Producer Jay Firestone is about to find out!

THANK YOU to everyone who tuned in for our Dark Matter North American and Australian premieres.  I was madly live tweeting throughout the night along with many of you and I’m pleased to report we were trending in Canada and worldwide (also San Francisco and New York when I checked!).  Judging from your reactions on the various message boards, you seemed to really enjoy episode #101.  All I can say is: Wait until episode #102!

So, thank you all for supporting the show.  Thanks to David Howe, Tom Vitale, Chris Regina and the gang at SyFy PR & Marketing for all of their support as well. Thanks to the Dark Matter cast, crew, and everyone else involved in the production.  And a BIG thanks to…

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Executive Producer (and Prodigy Pictures President) who deserves the lion’s share of the accolades for not only putting together the seemingly impossible deals that got this show to air, but assembled the pieces of the puzzle, oversaw prep, production, and post, and delivered a show that has defied expectations: when all is said and done, a fun, character-driven, ship-based scifi series.  And, judging from your feedback so far, it’s EXACTLY what you’ve been looking for.

As some of you know from my days on Stargate, I would often invite members of the production (cast and crew) to take part in Q&A sessions here on this blog.  My blog readers would post their questions in the comments section of this blog and then our guest would stop by to answer them in a dedicated blog entry.  I’d like to do the same for Dark Matter, and I think it only appropriate that our first guest be none other than Jay himself.  Having said that however, I know Jay is a busy guy and I’ve yet to clear it with him first – but with a little prodding, I’m sure we can convince him to drop by.

Soooo, start thinking about what you’d like to ask Dark Matter Executive Producer Jay Firestone.  I’ll make the Q&A official sometime this week and you can start posting your questions!

Missed Dark Matter’s first episode in the U.S.?  Go here: http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/videos/101-episode-one

Missed Dark Matter’s first episode in Canada?  Go here: http://www.space.ca/video/player?vid=611325

Missed Dark Matter’s first episode in Australia?  Go here: http://www.syfy.com.au/video/dark-matter-s01e01

Check out the links, then check out the mailbag…

Some reactions to our opener:

http://screenrant.com/dark-matter-syfy-series-premiere-review/

http://www.threeifbyspace.net/2015/06/dark-matter-premiere-episode-review-who-are-you-i-dont-know/

http://scifipulse.net/?p=8927

http://www.thetvjunkies.com/dark-matter-pilot/

http://www.channelguidemagblog.com/index.php/2015/06/12/dark-matter-series-premiere-recap/

http://io9.com/yeah-dark-matter-is-predictable-its-still-fun-as-hell-1711082420?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_twitter&utm_source=io9_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Previewing the show:

http://www.tvgoodness.com/2015/06/12/dark-matter-series-premiere-preview-interview/

ONE, TWO, THREE and me talk Dark Matter:

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/59787/20150612/interview-how-syfys-dark-matter-delves-into-the-horror-of-not-knowing-who-you-are.htm

Melissa O’Neil chats with eTalk:

http://www.etalk.ca/News/Q-A-Canadian-Idol-alum-Melissa-O-Neil-on-helming-n

And another Q&A:

http://www.noreruns.net/2015/06/12/dark-matter-qa-with-joe-mallozzi-melissa-oneil-marc-bendavid-anthony-lemke/

Dishing on Dark Matter:

http://www.threeifbyspace.net/2015/06/joseph-mallozzi-dishes-dark-matter/

Let’s hit the mailbag:

spalog writes: “The fan response to the show has been really great. But there have been some criticisms. Could you address them?  1. The characters feel too generic and stereotypical.”

Answer: Over the course of our 43 minute pilot, we establish the premise, establish our world, establish several mysteries (the memory wipe, the deleted data, the big metal door, the puzzle box, etc.), and introduce seven (!) different characters, none of who have any recollection of who they are or how they got on board – and thus possess no frame of reference from which to draw from.  So, yes, our crew may seem a little “sketchy” at first blush (perhaps purposely so?), but this show is all about subverting expectations and surprising the audience.  Nothing is ever as it seems.  And we have 12 more episodes to start peeling the onions on these characters.  And throw a slew of surprises your way!

“2. The Asian character has to be the one who can handle the swords.”

Answer: I’ve addressed this elsewhere but will repeat my response here.

I’ve been very up front about the inspirations for Dark Matter: comics, SF literature, film, television, and anime. The latter, Japanese cartoons for those not in the know, was a particularly big influence on the show’s development, specifically, a show called CowBoy Bebop that offered a wonderful mix of humor and scifi in it’s all too brief 26 episode run.

The sword-wielding character of FOUR is a tip of the hat to SF-themed anime, from classics like Gundam to more contemporary titles like Code Geass. Fans of the genre will no doubt recognize many familiar elements.

In creating the character, and his storyline, I consulted with many of my friends in Japan (I visit every year, am a student of Japanese culture and history, and speak Japanese – albeit like a four year old boy) and girlfriend (who also happens to be Japanese) who were absolutely thrilled at the prospect of a North American scifi series with recognizable anime trappings.

So, all this to say, the creation of this character actually came from a place of respect.

But why, you may ask, does he have a sword in space?  Illogical?  Maybe.  And then again, maybe that question will be answered in time as well…

“3. Why did you cast a Filipino actor to play a Japanese character?”

Answer: As someone else already pointed out, Alex was cast because he was the best actor for the role.  I felt comfortable  doing so because the show is not a historical drama that, I would agree, would require a Japanese actor.  Our show is set some 200 years in the future, a future in which I envision an increasingly more inclusive Japan thriving as an intergalactic player.  In this setting, a “Japanese citizen” of Filipino heritage would be as common as, say, an “American citizen” of Chinese or Italian heritage.

4. The Three character is too much like Jayne from Firefly.

Answer: I’m sure all of the characters remind someone of some pre-existing character or other.  Again, we’re talking about first episode impressions (and that’s fine), but all of these characters have a long way to develop and evolve over the course of the show’s first season.  A couple of months from now, I have no doubt that each member of the crew will have established their unique personalities in the eyes of our viewers.  And, next year, when the next big SF series comes out, someone somewhere will undoubtedly say: “Hey!  That character is too much like THREE from Dark Matter!”.

scott writes: “what were into figuring out the different types of weapons/shields/armor each ship has?”

Answer: Paul and I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to see in our hero ship.  We wanted a tough, battle-scarred vessel  with plenty of retro-fitted weaponry – compact and maneuverable to suggest it could hold its own against much larger ships.  We left artist Bartol Rendulic the freedom to design the ship based on these specifications, and he came up with a beauty.

tealc writes: “And of course like the last two seasons of sga and the only seasons of sgu the atmosphere is dark can not see anything.”

Answer: I think you need to check the settings on your t.v.  Throughout production, I worked with Director of Photography Craig Wright to ensure the darks were not oppressively so.

Joan001 writes: “But how did you get them into the “no gravity” situation?”

Answer: Oh, I’ll be sharing some videos with you in the coming days that will answer that question.

cat444 writes: “Parts of the FTL travel reminds me of how Moya travelled in Farscape. Was that intentional?”

Answer: No, our goal was to create an FTL jump, travel, and drop-out we hadn’t seen before.  The only similarity I can see to Moya’s starburst is the shield playing over the ship prior to jump.

sylvia writes: “Any Plans for more presence by Dark Matter cast, crew, writers at Dragon Con?”

Answer: Unless someone invited the cast, I don’t believe they’ll be going.

Ponytail writes: “What are the beds made of? Plywood or actual mattress?”

Answer: Oh, it’s an actual mattress.  Every time we’d be in there, Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza would be eyeing that bed, eager for nap time.

More mailbag coming your way in tomorrow’s blog entry…

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Inspired by Jodelle/Dark Matter’s FIVE, Akemi decided to try something a little different…

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So, whaddya think?  Who should she be cosplaying at the San Diego Comic Con?

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Maybe.

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Before heading in for her 8 hour hair sessions, Akemi and I entertained our friend Jessie – Canada’s future Prime Minster!

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Alas, I think this phage treatment may come too late for my gal.  Like yesterday, she slept through most of the day (Bubba, above, offers up a sympathy nap).  She didn’t have much of an appetite so I rectified that by picking her up a tasty burger, bypassing the Wahlburgers next door (I said “tasty” after all) for the Burgers Priest four blocks up and three blocks over.  Worth the trip!  She ate the entire patty (minus Bubba and Lulu’s cut).

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Continuing our Dark Matter rollout – today, we turn the spotlight to actress Jodelle Ferland and her character, FIVE.

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This was part of the casting breakdown that went out for the role:

“AKA The Kid. THE SHIP’S PIXIE-ISH MASCOT WITH MYSTERIOUS ABILITIES – SHE’S THE KID WITH ALL THE SECRETS. And a propensity for getting into trouble. EASILY BORED, QUICK TO MOUTH OFF, she is nevertheless innocent among her unsavoury company.”

In the comic book, the character is a tomboy and a lot younger (I originally envisioned her as about 12) but production considerations made the casting of a minor very difficult. We would have had to provide schooling in the form of a tutor and limited her hours on set. I suggested we circumvent the problem by hiring a high school dropout, but that brilliant idea was roundly refused. And so, we decided to cast older to play younger.

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I had plenty of requests for the general auditions, actors I’d worked with over the years who I wanted to see read. And, when it came time to find a FIVE, actress Jodelle Ferland was at the top of my wish list. I’d had the pleasure of working with her eight years ago on an episode of Stargate: Atlantis on which she’d played a bratty princess. She was, far and away, one of the greatest guest stars I’d ever worked with. At only 12 years of age, she’d known her dialogue down pat – and even prompted our leads whenever they forgot their lines. She was brilliant.

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So when it came time for the FIVE auditions, Jodelle sent in a self-tape from Vancouver, made the second round, and, ultimately, won the role on the strength of her adorably quirky performance.

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So what is Jodelle Ferland like? Well, surprisingly – or not! – a lot like the character she plays. Cute, perky, wide-eyed and animated, funny, excitable, and suuuuuuper sweet. I sometimes imagine her as an anime character come to life!

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And yet, at the same time, she is professional, focused, and possessed of astounding onscreen instincts. I’m always amazed because I have never walked onto set and asked her to readjust her performance. It’s as if she reads my mind, offering up the perfect interpretation of the character beats EVERY SINGLE TIME. And, I supposed it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that, at 20, this former child actor is the most seasoned member of our entire cast! The editors LOVE her because she always delivers great reactions on her off-camera moments, another sign of a wily veteran.

One on one, she’s delightfully normal – but when the camera is on her, she POPS. As more than one person has said: “When she’s onscreen, you can’t take your eyes off her.”

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SyFy offers up a sneak peek of Dark Matter in this awesome video highlighting the show, the crew and – finally! – some of the visual effects: http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/videos/dark-matter-season-one-sneak-peek

Geo-blocked…but here’s hoping it gets uploaded to youtube soon!

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 2.32.42 PMHey, Canadians!  We finally have an air date!  Dark Matter premieres Friday, June 12th at 10:00 p.m. on Space Channel.

Other Dark Matter premiere dates:

U.S.: Friday, June 12th at 10:00 p.m. on SyFy

Germany: Saturday, June 13th on SyFy Germany

U.K.: Monday, June 15th at 8:00 p.m. on SyFy UK

France: Monday, June 15th at 9:00 p.m. on SyFy France

Spain: Monday, June 15th on SyFy Spain

Ever closer!  Excited?  We sure are!  Yesterday, I attended the mix for #101 and got the chance to watch the near-finished episode on the big screen.  It looked like a feature film – gorgeous, riveting, with dazzling visual effects.  I can’t wait for you to see it.

Probably sooner than later as we’re making plans to offer up a sneak peek of our first episode in the coming week.  Our first teaser trailer was fantastic (https://youtu.be/1TqwBlTQfTg – 151k+ views and counting, thanks!) despite the fact that contained no visual effects.  The scene I have in mind, however, will highlight what you all can look forward to in the months to come: action, adventure, kick-ass visuals, and humor!  Stay tuned.

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The above image adorned the tryptic in the ship’s mess hall compliments of Dark Matter playback operator Greg Whiteside.  Pictured: SIX (Roger Cross) pilots the phantom class marauder.

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Anthony Lemke (THREE) and Melissa O’Neil (TWO) running lines on the bridge.

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Yep.  Creepy.  And perfect.

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Time to tuck in the guns.  It’s way past their bed times!

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Walked onto set the other day to find the above adorning the triptych in the mess hall.  From left to right: Anthony Lemke as Han/THREE, Marc Bendavid as Luke/ONE, Melissa O’Neil as Leia/TWO, Alex Mallari Jr. as Chewbacca/FOUR, Zoie Palmer as C3PO/The Android, and Roger Cross as R2D2/SIX.

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Greg Whiteside, in charge of Futurama and Family Guy triptychs.  Also the Dark Matter playback operator.

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Andy Mikita directs a mess hall scene.

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Actor Anthony Lemke (Dark Matter’s nefarious bad boy, THREE) and actress Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter’s kick-ass commander) share some downtime.

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The latest meeting of the Dark Matter Whisky/ey Club.  We’ve come a long way from that one guy sitting alone in his office drinking Jameson’s.

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13 bottles down – one for every episode in our first season.  Time to get started on season 2!

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“You’re as busy as a chocolate shop on Valentine’s Day!”

– Akemi this morning after I told her I’d be going to set next Saturday as well.

“Tell Ivon that too much riding bicycle will damage his cincin.”

– Akemi this afternoon after hearing about my friend Ivon’s affinity for spin class.

“No more poppylocky.”

– A disappointed Akemi this afternoon upon discovering the corner shop was out of popsicles.

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A rare respite from the frenzy of amped up production.  Today was the calm in the eye of the storm, an opportunity to relax and tend to personal matters like bill payments, emails, mail…

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And, of course, the dogs.

Anti-social Bubba on the outside looking in at the local dog park.

Anti-social Bubba on the outside looking in at the local dog park.

Then tomorrow, we do it all over again, starting with three successive location days and culminating in yet another Saturday shoot.

Uh oh.  Enjoy it while you can, kids.  Apparently, in about ten years from now, we’ll be going back to hand-written letters and actually interacting with real live people: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3064915/The-Internet-reach-limit-just-eight-years-warn-engineers.html

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