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Jodelle Ferland does Goth Chick chic.

Line Producer Norman Denver and Roger Cross strategize over the big screen.

The Ferrous Corp guns are red.  The Mikkei guards are blue.  So who have the green guns?

Blocking on the bridge with director Melanie Orr.

Dr. Shaw’s secret lab.

Wait.  Who’s Dr. Shaw?

What (or who?) resides within this storage unit.  The answer will surprise!

Only four weeks to go before wrap!  This week, Melanie Orr finishes up on Episode 310 while Steve DiMarco helms Episode 311 and Bruce McDonald preps Episode 312.  I’ll be receiving John Stead’s director’s cut of Episode 308 on Tuesday night, then Craig David Wallace’s director’s cut of 309 on Thursday.  Wrote an additional scene for Episode 311 today and received some as-always-wonderful input from Zoie Palmer, did a pass on the Episode 312 script, AND started putting together the game plan for season 4.  Ideally, I’d like to convene the writers’ room in June for  a few weeks.  An early pick-up sure would be great!

Hey!  I make this list twice (although, in all fairness, the all-inclusive “franchise” designation makes it more like four times)!

9 Best Sci-Fi Space Operas To Stream Right Now

It’s been a while.  Let’s hit the mailbag:

Jessica writes: “Your day-to-day schedule is filled to the brim with tasks, work, activities, etc galore. How do you maintain such a strict schedule of managing your time to accomplish everything, including writing this blog?”

Answer: I get asked this question a lot and the honest answer is: “I just find the time to make it work.”  It’s quite amazing how adaptable human beings can be.  It’s hard to believe that, back in the day, Brad, Robert, Carl, Martin, Paul, Alan and I wrote and produced 40 episodes of television (SG1 and SGA) a year for two years.  And yet we managed to get it done.  It’s no different with Dark Matter.  I have a lot on my plate but the reality is that NOT getting it done isn’t an option.  Also, I’ve yet to miss a day of blogging in 10+ years and, in similar fashion, I feel there are a lot of readers out there depending on me.  I can’t let them down!

“Does it come easy for you (as in, natural planner and organizer) or have you disciplined yourself to maintain such a schedule?”

Answer: Having little choice in the matter helps a lot.  At the end of the day, if a script isn’t delivered, issues aren’t addressed, or a deadline missed, I’d have no one to blame but myself.  Which is why I just can’t allow it to happen. I can’t say it’s ever easy – but certainly very fulfilling when it’s all said and done.

maggmayday writes: “Would you ever have a cat?”

Answer: I love cats too but I love dogs more so I’m much more likely to adopt another dog (or two) before I’d get a cat.

TheOtherOne writes: “Who was your favourite teacher at school? Why? And how did they influence your life?”

Answer: My old high school English (and drama) teacher, John Whitman, inspired my passion for literature and help make me a better writer by pointing out some of the narrative techniques I used to fall back on in high school.

“Have you ever written a character with that person in mind?”

Answer: Never a character, but his lessons continue to influence my daily writing.

“Again, at school (either junior or high) … Were you a sporty or booky person or a bit of both?”

Answer: Oh, definitely booky.  As much as I enjoyed watching NFL Sunday football, my sporting ventures were limited to marathon sessions of D&D.

“What sort of friends did you have and do you still have contact with any of them?”

Answer: I’d say my friends were a varied mix back then and I don’t really keep in touch with many.  A couple of notable exceptions, among them my best friend in high school, Cas Anvar, who is presently tearing it up as Alex Kamal on The Expanse.

“Please could you list 5 of your top/favourite films of all time?”

Answer: Aliens, Blade Runner, A Christmas Story, The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“Would Akemi like to do a mailbag for us sometime?”

Answer: I asked Akemi.  Her response: “Depends on the questions.”

Alabaster55 writes: “Is there any way you could get your art department to through together a size comparison chart if the ships in Dark Matter?”

Answer: This would be more a request for VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.  I’ll ask him.

MaggieL80 writes: “A favorite expression or quote?”

Answer: Smooooooooth sailing!

“A favorite poet?”

Answer: Sorry.

“A favorite poem?”

Answer: Sorry again.

“Favorite vacation spot?”

Answer: Tokyo of course.

“Favorite go to comfort food?”

Answer: Chocolate!

ivonbartokfans writes: “How long did it take Ivon to write the script for 307?”

Answer: I’ll save this question for Ivon’s mailbag.

“Do you think you could foster dogs or would it be too painful to give them up when a forever home was found?”

Answer: We had intended to try fostering but, upon laying eyes on Suji, Akemi reconsidered and suggested we adopt instead.  I’d be happy to foster, but am reluctant to commit for the reasons you outlined.

“How did the cast photoshoot go?”

Answer: From what I hear, Alison Hepburn did a fantastic job running the show.

Tinyiy writes: “How do you audition for dark matter?”

Answer: Have your agent submit you.  We cast everything from recurring to the occasional one-line parts.

Daniel Watson writes: “Did Eli fix his pod and survive the jump?”

Answer: In my mind, yes, Eli did fix his pod and the Destiny crew is still out there, somewhere, safe in stasis.

darkmatter writes: “when are the answers from that Jodelle Ferland q&a gonna be on here?”

Answer: Whenever she finishes them.  We keep her busy on the show so I told her she didn’t have a deadline on turning them around.

Bailey writes: “1. Do you know when the casts’ photoshoot pictures will be out?”

Answer: I imagine the new cast photos should start hitting the internet approximately a month before the season 3 premiere.  Say May or June?

“2. Will you guys be at San Diego Comic Con?”

Answer: I, personally, will not be at San Diego Comic Con but some of the cast certainly will.

ceresis64 writes: “Did my triptych idea for a contest seem feasible?”

Answer: You’ll have to refresh my memory…

“Is 8 March the most popular birth date that members of the cast/crew celebrate together? If not, what date is? And how many celebrate that day?”

Answer: No idea.

“What’s the latest news about your military sci-fi series?”

Answer: No news really.  There was some interest but it would have required us to go into production immediately which, given my present commitments, would have been impossible.

“Would you consider a future contest to make a Season 3 poster?”

Answer: Sure.

Kyle Toth writes: “What is the best way to get a chance to audition for Dark Matter? I know Alex Mallari Jr. attended IMTA; would this be a way to get in front of the right people?”

Answer: As I answered earlier, all you need is an agent who will recommend you for a specific role.  And, no, you don’t have to be a seasoned performer to land an agent.

cat4444 writes: “What does a production do if one of the main cast shows up for work sick? Shooting schedules are set, it’s not as if a main cast member can be replaced, and the rest of the cast getting sick is not a desirable option. So what do you do?”

Answer: Usually, the cast member pushes through.  On rare occasions (It’s only happened once on Dark Matter that I can remember) I will write said cast member out of that day’s scenes and send them home to recuperate.

Jackie May writes: “is the dark matter crew going to dragon con this year….i hope so!”

Answer: I’m not privy to the individual cast members’ convention plans but I’d safe it’s a safe bet that at least some of them will be there.

bolo writes: “Any more romantic interludes for 3?”

Answer: Oh, it’s possible.

“Also any Canadian dates for cast?”

Answer: If you mean a premiere date on Space Channel, not yet!

Sandy writes: “Was it always your plan to kill off One?”

Answer: Even the best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition.  Once you start production, you’re no longer working in a bubble and have to contend with numerous unforeseen developments, surprises, and outside influences that may force a course change.

profmadmax writes: “Who is typically in charge of TV season DVD packaging and title menus artwork?”

Answer: In the case of Dark Matter, it’s Funimation.

“What is your least favorite Stargate SG-1 episode?”

Answer: Emancipation, Hathor, Seth.  Hard to choose.

Do you like series crossover characters like Munch(Homicide,X-Files,Law&Order) & have you ever considered a DM/SG scenario? Is it complicated copyright-wise? For instance, if another show wanted to use a character which you created, is it a simple yes/no from you, or do you forfeit the rights to the production company?”

Answer: As much as I’d love to do a crossover, it would be incredibly complicated and extremely unlikely.  The rights to Stargate and all of its characters rest with MGM.

Sandy writes: “Do you already know if you are guaranteed 5 seasons of Dark Matter? Or is it reviewed yearly despite your 5 year story line?”

Answer: Although I do have a 5 year storyline planned, the fate of the show rests with the broadcasters.  Like most every show out there, we await word of a potential pick-up from the moment our new season premieres.

Tinyiy writes: “Will Dark Matter be at Fan Expo Canada or Toronto comicon?”

Answer: Hmmm.  I’m not sure.  If the show was invited, I’m sure we would arrange for cast members to show.

“Where do you film?”

Answer: Mostly in Etobicoke and Hamilton.

“Have you ever come across the town of Richmond Hill?”

Answer: No.  Would you recommend I visit?

TheOtherOne writes: “Joe, how do you choose the ‘Related’ section to the blog? Sometimes it has very recent blog links and sometimes blog links to the distant past – which are a real treat to read  Thanks for these!”

Answer: They’re automatically generated by the blog.  I’m as surprised as you are.

 

(illustration by Juanita Nakamura)

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reach out via posts, texts, emails, phone, and personally to offer condolences on Bubba’s passing.  Akemi and I are truly touched by the kind words and gestures of friends, co-workers, and strangers alike. It’s been an exhausting week and it has meant a lot – to hear from you all and then, to get home late last night to find a lovely bouquet awaiting us compliments of Dark Matter Executive Producer Jay Firestone.

Akemi has been surprisingly strong – sad but strengthened by the fact his condition has deteriorated so much that we’d had little choice in the end.  She was telling me that her favorite memories of Bubba included the time he first learned to “shake” (She taught him when he was 10.  The next day, his arm was so sore he could barely lift it).  And his passion for art –

Also the way he would patiently sit down on the sidewalk after crossing a street in full expectation of the treat he would receive for the herculean effort.

For me, it was the time he ate a bag of chocolate-covered almonds sitting on the kitchen table and then had explosive diarrhea.  Having Lulu and Suji around has certainly brightened our spirits.  Lulu clearly misses Bubba and has been quite reserved.  Suji, on the other hand, continues to be her lovable clownish self.

And finally tonight, a get-together with one of my favorite people ever.  Dinner with The Doctor –

Robert Picardo was in town for a con appearance, but nevertheless found time for a little get-together.  Love this guy.

First Star Trek, then Stargate.  And chances are you’ll be seeing him on Dark Matter.  Eventually.

He was supposed to be a present for my ex’s brother but, after having him for two weeks, I decided to keep him and got  her brother a toaster oven instead. 

He was unlike my other two pugs at the time.  Whereas Jelly was a bossy bitch and Maximus a laid back lover, Bubba was a furry ball of anxiety, easily spooked by cyclists and skateboards, wary of strangers, parking entrances, and animatronic Christmas decorations.  He was, quite simply, a goof.

And yet, despite his adorable stiff-legged gait and furrowed brow that seemed to hint at some perpetual deep-seeded worries, he was never the one people were drawn to when they met the pack.  It was either Jelly or Maximus or, later, Lulu who would get all the attention while Bubba would warily hang back, hesitant to commit, his tail doing a slow noncommittal wag as he surveyed the situation.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to seek out the relative remote security of the laundry hamper, his toy box, the tiniest dog bed in the house.

He was in many ways a wallflower, the highschool equivalent of an outcast nerd – always self-conscious, always awkward.  But always happy.

And then, Akemi joined the family.  She’d never had much experience with dogs back in Japan but in short time, she and Bubba hit it off.  And over the next seven years, they developed a bond that would rival any relationship, human or otherwise.

She doted on him and he grew infatuated with her.  In time, they became inseparable.  I’d come home from work to find him sitting on her lap while she surfed the net, or parked comfortably beside her while she watched t.v.  He would sit by her feet whenever she cooked and nothing would make him happier than to join her on their extended walks, just the two of them, strolling for blocks on end.

When my television series, Dark Matter, was picked up, I granted Bubba a certain immortality by naming THREE’s big-ass gun after him.  Larger than life, unwieldy, sometimes comical – it was the perfect tribute.

In his later years, he lost his hearing and his ability to hop up to claim his favorite spot perched atop the living room couch, but he never slowed down – unless he sensed a walk was coming to an end in which case he’d draw out that final block for all he was worth.

Nothing made Akemi prouder than to have passersby mistake him for a puppy.  At the time, it seemed he would live forever.  Or, at least, close to.

When he developed a growth near his ear, we had it checked out and then, erring on the side of caution, had it surgically removed.  The tumor, it turned out, was cancerous. Months later, when Bubba developed a cough, we had x-rays taken. They came back all clear.  We ran further tests.  He was diagnosed with bronchitis and given antibiotics.

But even though the cough seemed to get better, it never really left.  And then, suddenly, a couple of months ago, it worsened.  To the point that we brought him in again.  This time, x-rays showed abnormalities in his lungs.  What at first was suspected to be an enlarged heart turned out to be lung cancer.

In his last months, perhaps sensing his time was limited, Bubba grew even more attached to Akemi, following her around the apartment, crying when he would lose sight of her.  He was at his happiest, as always, seated on her lap or right beside her, the feel of her reassuring hand on him.

We tried various treatments to save him, from acupuncture and astragalus to Palladia and Prednisone.  None of them had any effect.  X-rays taken two weeks later showed his situation had worsened.  But we never gave up hope.  And, I like to think that neither did Bubba.  Until yesterday.

His coughing worsened and his breathing grew more labored.  He stopped eating and could barely support himself.  I was at work when I received the text from Akemi.  It was time.

I drove back home, picked them up, and traveled to the 24 hour emergency clinic (twice actually because I realized I’d forgotten my wallet the first time).  There, late last night, we said goodbye to our goofy, needy, happy, wonderful boy.

I hope that somehow, somewhere out there, that old pug gang of mine has been reunited

Today, I ate lunch at 6:30 p.m., but that’s what happens when crew call is at 12:30 p.m.  And it looks like we’re only halfway there.  Rumour has it we’ll be wrapping at 2:30 a.m. tonight which means we’ll probably be kicking things off at about 2:30 p.m. tomorrow.  With a few more production days under our belts, I feel we can push all the way back to our original starting time of 7:30 a.m. and come full circle!

On set shooting Episode 310 with director Melanie Orr.

While taking a break to head back to the production offices and complete prep on Episode 311 with director Steve DiMarco…

Finalizing the pods.

Mr. DiMarco.

On the home front, my poor boy’s condition appears to be worsening.  He coughed through most of the night, barely sleeping at all, and this morning didn’t have an appetite for his breakfast.

According to Akemi he slept most of the day and has yet to regain his appetite.

Akemi did manage to feed him a little but said he was very weak.  Sadly, I think we’re going to have to make the decision soon.

 

The people have spoken and we have a brand new episode title.  Aint democracy wonderful?  Your winner…

“Episode 33: Wish I Could Believe You”

Thanks to everyone who made Operation Name-Another-Episode a great success. But special thanks goes to YOU.  Yes, YOU!

Today was Bring Your Daughter To Work (And Leave Her With Key Hair Expert Renee Chan While You Go Watch Blocking) Day!  Suji was a hit on set.  Thanks to Renee for dog-sitting her while I was taking in the action in the core room.

Speaking of which – here is director Melanie Orr’s – uh – blueprint for today’s first blocking.  Note the details including camera placement and pod.

Director Melanie Orr all smiles with Director of Photography Craig Wright and 1st Assistant Director Josh Gray.  The calm before the storm.

One big-ass charger.

Just sitting in the underbelly gathering dust.

Or are they…?

Bubba appreciates the well-wishes and wants you to know he’s hanging in there.

Another week means another opportunity to make a contribution to television history.  I mean, what other show gives you the opportunity to help choose episode titles?

Today, it’s Episode 307 on deck.  And your episode title choices are:

While Co-Executive Producer Ivon Bartok and the crew were burning the midnight (well, 9 p.m.) oil on set, I was back home watching director Paul Day’s cut of Episode 307 (script compliments of Ivon Bartok).  This one is a real head spinner. Akemi actually jumped up off the couch in disbelief several times during the first screening.  Then, I went through it for notes.  Meticulous notes.  Started at 6:00 and finished at 9:30.

Tomorrow, it’s the Episode 311 cast read-thru – which means we’re a day away from the Episode 311 production meeting – which means we’re only two days away from the start of production on Episode 311 AND the start of prep on Episode 312. 312!  After reading the script, Paul said the same thing he said after reading last season’s penultimate episode (featuring that bloody family reunion at the Ishida Palace): “How are we going to top this one?”.  Oh, don’t you worry.  We will.

What’s this?  What does it do?  Who possesses one in the Dark Matter universe? What fictional universe also makes use of one (or variation thereof)?  What fictional universe will be making use of one (or variation thereof)?

Hey, it’s been ages since I’ve done a mailbag.  If you have any questions for me, Dark Matter-related or not, fire away.  I’m feeling refreshingly honest this week!

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