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The Dark Matter gang.  I'm going to miss them!

The Dark Matter gang. I’m going to miss them!

Annnnnnd we’re done!  More or less.  I’ve still got my producer cuts of episode #112 and #113 to complete, all the mixes to sit through, and visual effects to approve but, for all intents and purposes, production on Dark Matter’s first season is complete.  It’s hard to believe that this time last year, I honestly didn’t think the show was going to happen.  And yet here I now sit, with 13 episodes under my belt, putting together a game plan for season 2.

Photo(s) by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

Photo(s) by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

I know, I know.  I should take some time off.  And I will.  Eventually.  I just want to be as prepared for season 2 as I was for season 1 – which allowed us to break all thirteen episodes inside of three weeks and have 12 of 13 scripts by the time we went to camera.  I already have beat sheets for our two part opener (#201 and #202), plus all eleven stories for the rest of the season, including all major arcs, character developments, twists, turns, and the BIG season 2 finale!

A message on my office whiteboard from...Melissa O'Neil?

A message on my office whiteboard from…Melissa O’Neil?

But I get ahead of myself.  First things first.  I have to finish up on season 1 and continue to get the word out in the lead up to the premiere.  To that end, I’ve been coordinating with the gang at SyFy to release all sorts of interesting Dark Matter-related tidbits.  For instance, just yesterday, i09’s Meredith Woerner showcased some of the show’s designs, including ships and space stations…

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1Plenty of pics – with accompanying commentary by yours truly!  Head on over and check it out:

http://io9.com/exclusive-dark-matter-concept-art-is-loaded-with-glorio-1705562602

More to come in the coming days including goodies from the Dark Matter VFX department, another trailer, and sneak peek scenes from our series premiere!

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Thanks to everyone who took the time to offer well wishes and words of support for my gal Jelly.  She seems to be back to her old sleepy/hungry/cantankerous self. Sadly, however, this rebound will be short-lived.  According to her latest rest results, she’s suffering from an antibiotic resistant infection that has spread through her intestines and kidneys.  The doctors suggest we consider end of life before she develops septic shock.

Very disappointing news.

Capping this blog with some of the highlights from this past long weekend…

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Dinner with actor Roger Cross.

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Rum cake and ice cream from Don’t Call Me Cupcake!

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The gang working on their tans.

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Lulu, all laughs.

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A visit from cousin Clover.

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Thai fried chicken.

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Jodelle steals my Thai iced tea.

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A selection of SOMA Chocolates.

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Akemi out and about.

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Vancouver swag compliments of my foodie friend Nicole.

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Nicole gives Buca Restaurant the thumbs up.

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Preserved tomato, truffled burrata cheese, basil, fresh scorzone truffle pizza.

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Braised pork, 34 year old red wine vinegar, rosemary pizza.

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Gelato trio.

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Tiramisu.

Jelly shares Akemi’s ice cream.

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to some of the blog readars who need some positive thoughts sent their way: paloosa, tinamarlin, phil, Tam Dixon, and Das!

Photo by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

Photo by Dennys Ilic (http://www.dennysilic.com)

“Zoie!!!” is the reaction the Android elicits from my girlfriend every time she pops up on my laptop.  I’ve screened 11 of 13 prod cuts for Akemi and, to date, she loves the show, loves all of the characters, but is especially fond of Zoie’s Android – which leads me to believe that #zobot is going to be BIG in Japan when the show airs on SyFyAsia in June!

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This was the breakdown that went out for the role when we started the casting process:

“CLOSER TO A WRY BUTLER THAN YOUR TYPICAL SCI-FI ANDROID/ROBOT. CONCISE, IMPASSIVE, YET SURPRISINGLY POSSESSED OF A SUBTLY WRY SENSE OF HUMOUR, he is an indispensable member of the crew since he can exercise control over all the ship’s systems. He’ll prove a loyal supporter of his fellow shipmates, risking destruction to secure their safety. IN TIME, HE WILL ASSUME A DOTING CARETAKER POSITION OVER THE YOUTHFUL FIVE. ALL GENDERS AND ETHNICITIES.”

Yes, “he” because, in the original pitch, the Android was male.  We ended up diverging from the source material by casting a very wide net in our search.  And, as it turned out, it was a wise choice because some of the very best candidates for the part were women.

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One such candidate was actress Zoie Palmer.  She delivered a great first round audition and then, in her callback, wowed us with three very different, very impressive reads: first her original interpretation, then with a British accent, and finally with a Jamaican accent (let’s file that last one away for future discussion).

One of the biggest compliments I can give Zoie is that, in many ways, she reminds me of Amanda Tapping.  Amanda, as Stargate’s Samantha Carter, had one of the toughest roles in the franchise’s run, tasked with delivering all the technobabble in believable yet entertaining fashion.  And she did, time and again.  She was so good at it that she made it look easy – but as anyone who has tried casting actors for similar roles will tell you (like, say, me for instance), it’s anything but easy.  And yet, like Amanda, Zoie made it seem effortless.  She was informative, convincing, and delightfully compelling.

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After she was cast, Zoie took the role and made it her own, fashioning a character that is highly intelligent and powerful yet, at the time same, marked by some very human, occasionally adolescent foibles.  Her Android is  more Marvin (Hitchhiker’s Guide) or Kryten (Red Dwarf) than Data (ST:TNG) – in many ways, more emotionally flawed than her human charges.  But, if I had to pick one word to describe Zoie’s Android, it would be “endearing”.  I have no doubt she is going to be a fan favorite.

1Working with Zoie has been a dream.  She is uber-talented, incredibly professional, and just a lovely, LOVELY human being. And possibly one of the funniest people I know.  Over the course of the season, I received more texts from her than any other cast member.  Some where script-related but most were simply weird and wonderful missives sent my way to, I suspect, keep me off-balance.  Some of my favorites…

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I was on set Tuesday night when I received a text from Akemi:  “Jelly’s very very sick.”

That was one “very” too many.  I jumped in the car and rushed home, bundled Jelly up and delivered her to the emergency 24 hour animal hospital.  There she remained, overnight, while they ran a battery of tests.  The following morning came the bad news.  Jelly was suffering from a host of maladies: extreme arthritis, internal bleeding, antibiotic-resistant infection,dehydration, and kidney failure.  She was not going to get better. Euthanasia was recommended.

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Akemi and I went into visit her that night after work.  She was atypically quiet. Her appetite was non-existent.  A second doctor who also examined her informed us that she wasn’t going to get any better and that we should consider euthanasia as the humane option.

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We visited her the next night and she was still unresponsive, lethargic, and not at all interested in eating.  Over the past months, she’d been going downhill and had all but lost the ability to walk, managing the briefest of carpet runs (covering the distance from our apartment door the elevators in a blazing five full minutes) with the assistance of a harness for her gimpy hind legs – but I held out hope because she seemed to be in good spirits and she was still enjoying her food.  But that was no longer the case.  And so, after much agonizing, I made the decision.

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Word had gotten around set and the response was swift.  Melissa (TWO) texted me, Marc (ONE) called, and I even received an unexpected hug from resident Dark Matter bad boy Anthony (THREE).  It was all very touching – but, of course, didn’t make what I was about to do any easier.

I picked Jelly up after main unit wrap on Friday night and brought her home for her last weekend with us.  But I had decided that I would make it her best weekend ever!  Akemi got her ground beef and vanilla ice cream and, Saturday, she joined us for a patio brunch and enjoyed mini blueberry muffins and the attention of a dozen passersby who stopped to shower her with attention.

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I looked up a mobile veterinary service that would come to the house so that Jelly could leave us surrounded by the comforts of home (away from home).  I was ready.  Akemi was ready.

IMG_7565However, Jelly, it turns out, was not.  She rallied.  Like the Boston Red Sox in the ALC Championship series, she came back from certain death.  She perked up.  Her appetite returned.  And suddenly, miraculously, she was back to her normal self. Today, she spent the afternoon sunning herself and chowing down on fresh chicken breast.

Hey, what's all the fuss?

Hey, what’s all the fuss?

I’m sure she’s still suffering from the arthritis and the kidney failure and who knows what else – but so long as she’s clearly happy, why not let her enjoy her ground beef, blueberry muffins and vanilla ice cream just a little longer?

She’s in no hurry to go anywhere so who am I to rush her?

Here’s hoping that, five years from now, I’ll be looking back on these photos of how it all began…

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Dark Matter Executive Producer, President of Prodigy Pictures, and our show’s #1 fan Jay Firestone surprises the Dark Matter Whisky/ey Club with its most impressive bottle to date: a sublime Balvenie 21 year old PortWood Finish Whisky.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Our proud accomplishments: one for every episode in Dark Matter’s first season.  And, hey, we even got a jump start on season 2!

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Dark Matter Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza and Dark Matter Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok – best of buds.

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Fellow Dark Matter EP Paul Mullie and I pose for a pic with one of our favorite guest stars: Boxy!  We’ve already contacted his rep and started negotiations to bring him back for season 2.

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Watching the blocking!

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Akemi bakes up a final batch of bourbon-brown butter cookies for the cast and crew.

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Director Andy Mikita thanks everyone with a return visit of The Gelato Spot!

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And that’s a main unit wrap!

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And a fond farewell to Dark Matter sound recordist Dan Daniels who heads sails off on an around-the-world excursion July 1st.  All prepped and ready to go!

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Dark Matter VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson is left to steer the ship home.

I can’t believe it.  After ten years developing it, several years trying to set it up, over ten months of prep and four months of production, we are finally done.  Today was our last main unit day on Dark Matter’s first season.  We’re off for the long weekend, come back to shoot a final day of second unit, then cap it all off with our wrap party Wednesday night.  I deliver my final prod cut at the end of May and then head back to Vancouver where I’ll weigh in on the mixes, color corrects, and visual effects.  Oh, and start work on Dark Matter’s second season.  Yes, I’m that confident.  Because the show is THAT good.

But you all get to be the judges when we premiere in a little less than a month!

So who’s who on the Dark Matter crew?  Follow this link to find out:

http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/cast/1

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Then check out some of the first official behind-the-scenes photos:

http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/photos/dark-matter-season-1-preview-gallery

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As the Dark Matter premiere draws ever closer, allow me to introduce you to our cast – and the characters they’ll be playing.  Today, let’s talk about Alex Mallari Jr., Dark Matter’s FOUR.

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

“Possessed of a quiet strength and dignity that belies an exacting ruthlessness. The part is written as male but could be female.  Written as Asian but can be open to all ethnicities.”

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This character pays tribute to the many inspirations that helped shape the creation and development of the series: comics, t.v., film, and directly, in this case, anime.  The latter was a particularly big influence, 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.  FOUR is Lupin III’s Goeman, Berserk’s Griffith, One Piece’s Rorona Zoro.

In creating the character, and his storyline, I consulted with many of my friends in Japan 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.    FOUR was as much a tribute to them as it was a nod to those early inspirations.

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As stated above, we opened the role up to all ethnicities and genders.  One of the early front runners was a young actor named Alex Mallari Jr.  What really made him stand out was his performance in what I dubbed “the interrogation scene”.  Unlike a lot of the other actors who came in to audition, his read was incredibly cool and controlled.  There was a sense of quiet menace about him I found wholly enthralling.

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When it came time for the call-backs, I got on the phone with each and every actor to prepare them, talking them through the context of the scene and what we would be looking for.  It was also a great opportunity for me to learn a little about the actors – and after my conversation with Alex, I knew we could have something special in him.  He was intelligent, humble, and very enthusiastic.  I wanted him to succeed.  But it would all come down to that second round audition.

Which he nailed.

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You’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated individual.  Here’s a guy who’ll wake up at 3:00 a.m. to get in a workout before his early call.  Under the tutelage of our fantastic stunt coordinator, John Stead, Alex has trained and become proficient in almost every weapon in the training room, from swords to sai’s.

This tweet from Alex nicely sums up who he is:

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 12.05.24 PM Humble, grounded, and extremely appreciative.  A hard guy not to like.

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