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!