The Sci Fi Channel recently hosted key niche Sci Fi bloggers and invited Monsters and Critics along as well to meet the casts of their shows filmed in Langley and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The trip opened up a lot of eyes to the collaborative efforts and craftsmanship that the unseen and often overlooked crews give day after day, and afforded us an opportunity to break bread with the showrunners and writers of these series and get a bit of insight to where the story arcs are headed.
The event was spectacular, as we got to touch, see and experience life on the Battlestar with our tour guides, production designer Richard Hudolin and art director Doug McLean.
We explored the off-kilter town of Eureka, where Fargo (Neil Grayston) took us on a tour of the Smart House, Henry’s Garage, the Sheriff’s office and the Cafe Diem.
Stargate writers Paul Mullie and Joe Mallozzi joined David Hewlett (Dr. McKay) and expecting Rachel Luttrell (Teyla) as they answered questions while wrangling David Hewlett’s “Stargate broken” dog Mars as he wandered in and out of the imposing erect Stargate, which is designed similarly to a Murphy bed, so it can lay flat into the floor behind it with special carved-out panels for scene changes.
The last day of the tour found us in Langley, the greenest, prettiest place in beautiful British Columbia. En route, Andrew Mack from Twitch regaled us with his childhood memories of the Game Farm he used to visit as a lad. Lions, tigers and moose all frolicking together, with elephant rides to boot. We all took his “pretty mouth” warnings pretty seriously as we ventured further into the deeper and more isolated B.C. countryside.
The Langley soundstages, once horse stables and possibly a working farm have been morphed into filming workspace and now house the deco-inspired sets of Flash Gordon – all assembled and currently in use as the season is being filmed. Their crews were working under tighter budget restraints; despite that the standing sets were flawless. Costume designer Heidi Samuda and her team knocked themselves out scavenging unique textiles and materials to make the costuming for the characters texturally and visually rich.
All the crews are talented and devoted to their respective shows and really love their work. Everywhere we went we noticed a family feeling among the people building and dressing the sets, and that same esprit de corps runs up the Sci Fi chain.
Passion, intelligence and respect define the overall sense that we took away from this behind-the-scenes experience. Science Fiction fans are said to be the nicest and most engaged fans of any genre, and the same can be said for the people who develop and produce the series that feeds so many imaginations.
The Sci Fi executives, crew and writers included Head honcho Bonnie Hammer (who was responsible for Zoom at WGBH – wicked awesome), Executive VP of original programming Mark Stern, executive VP David Howe, communications director Lana Kim and multimedia director Matthew Chiavelli, who all accompanied us and had an unpretentious and accessible way about them.
Writers Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie from Stargate were generous of their time. Pug-loving epicurean Mallozzi is engaging and a great lunch date! He spilled a few secrets, we’ll discuss in another article. Mullie is a bit of a luddite and avoids the Internets altogether. read-Joe’s-take-on-us
This was no Hollywood schmoozathon with layers of egocentric twits that come and go depending on the ratings numbers. All the parties involved in Sci Fi’s line up are proud of their efforts and even their casts expressed a genuine sense of gratefulness for the opportunities for their series roles.
In Langley, after “Flash” we were treated to previews of the network’s upcoming “Tin Man” mini series starring Richard Dreyfuss and Zooey Deschanel. The story is a modern retelling of a children’s classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s darker and has science fiction elements included (Toto can shape shift). What we saw was excellent and it is something to watch for this December when it airs.
Sci Fi understands that its audience cannot be neatly tallied by conventional methods for assessing ratings, with TiVo and DVR’s obfuscating real numbers. So many people watch these shows from every age group and background.
Sci Fi has cleverly tapped into the viral power of genre site blogging and websites like Monsters and Critics to promote its current lineup of programming.
Some of the people who were with me came from the following websites:
* IGN http://www.ign.com/
* Sci Fi Meshes http://www.scifi-meshes.com/
* Sy Fy Portal http://syfyportal.com/
* TV Addict
* TVaholic http://www.tvaholic.com/
* DVD Verdict http://www.dvdverdict.com/
* TV Squad http://www.tvsquad.com/
* Eclipse Magazine http://eclipsemagazine.com/
* Zap2It http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/
* Twitch Film http://twitchfilm.net/
* Media Blvd.
* ACED Magazine
* SCI FI.com
* IESB http://www.iesb.net/
These sites are all staffed by dedicated writers from every part of the States and Canada, many who balance their blogging with day jobs and other endeavors. The unifying component for all of us was a mutual respect and enjoyment of the programming that Sci Fi puts out.
In the next week Monsters will be posting video interviews of all the casts from behind the scenes of such Sci Fi shows as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Eureka,” “Stargate Atlantis” -
“Flash Gordon” is our first video cast interview up for your enjoyment.