There is life after Stargate — not only for the franchise’s talented actors, but also for the talented behind-the-scenes crew. SGU and Atlantis visual effects supervisor Mark Savela is currently working on pitching a new science fiction series, along with help from his former Stargate comrades.
Echoes filmed (on the set of Watchmen, still standing in Vancouver) in March and April as a 12-minute pitch, making up four scenes and about 15 pages of the pilot script. Based on a concept from Savela and Ken Kabatoff (a production assistant on SGU), the show would tell the story of humans trying to survive after an alien apocalypse on Earth.
That concept has been done plenty, but the creators insist they have an interesting take on it. “We’ve always seen these aliens-attacking-the-planet [stories], and it’s always the aliens attacking the humans,” Kabatoff told Show Patrol. “Having aliens against another alien race basically leaves the humans as collateral on their own planet. Many of the Earth’s citizens have been wiped out already. It’s not us against them, it’s them against each other, and we’re just trying to stay alive.”
“It’s kind of like two superpowers fighting in Australia, and destroying the Australians,” Savela added.
Starring in the pitch video for Echoes is Jennifer Spence (SGU‘s “Lisa Park”), who plays Sonya, who leads a group of survivors two years after an alien conflict has ravaged our planet. The survivors are attempting to discover why Earth was decimated by the alien war. “It’s basically her journey from a shy, unassuming kind of wall flower into a kind of Sarah Connor-type character,” Savela said.
Also starring as Nolan is Mike Dopud, who has a long list of Stargate credits but is now best known as the Lucian Alliance soldier Varro on Universe. Victoria Pratt (Mutant X), Lochlyn Munro (Charmed), and Jarod Joseph (V) also co-star.
Long-time Stargate director Will Waring is also on board the project, along with director of photography Michael Blundell, production designer James Robbins, and stunt coordinator James Bamford. Joel Goldsmith is also scoring the presentation video.
“Everybody just loved working together [on SGU] so much and nobody wanted it to end,” Savela told Show Patrol. “When we came up with this project, people said ‘Oh, we all get to work together again? That’s really cool.’ Everybody jumped on board.”
“We really wanted to show the versatility and range of the show so we picked four very different scenes in terms of tone,” Savela told GateWorld. “We sent out the the teaser and Act 1 of the pilot to the cast and crew we wanted involved and were just overwhelmed by the response to the script. A lot of people got on board right away based on the strength of initial tease and first act.”
The creators plan to add score and visual effects to what they are shooting now, and then shop the show to various networks. It will also be released in some form to viewers online, starting with a teaser trailer around mid-summer.
“We are planning on finishing the four scenes completely (VFX, CC, sound mix, score), which is a perfect companion for the scripts for the first two episodes,” Savela told GateWorld. “We are also in the process of cutting a more trailer-like sequence that we will release. It’s going to be very cool, very dynamic. I think it will really show the tone and style of the show.
“We also have a lot of behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew that we are cutting together. It really shows how people got involved with the project and how much they believe in it and their commitment. So, we do have a lot of material so far. We just can’t wait for people to see it.”
Savela said that he certainly learned a lot during his years on Stargate — things that he and his teammates are taking with them into this new project.
“When you work with Brad Wright, Robert Cooper, Carl Binder, John Lenic, Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie for so long you learn a lot about how a great show is run,” he told us. “It’s one of the things we really tried so hard to do, because everyone was volunteering their time, was make the shoot fun and have it be well run. There was such a family atmosphere to the shoot, to the whole production in general. Everyone walked away and said they had a really good time and really enjoyed the shoot, and that was so important to us.”
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NEXT: Read our full Q&A with Mark Savela