GateWorld: What was the creative genesis for this story idea? Did the project start with the idea itself, or with the desire to do something and the specific story came later in the brainstorming process?
Mark Savela: The genesis really started with a story to tell and a really good time to tell it. I came up with the general premise for the show, the backdrop, the characters. I then approached Ken Kabatoff to write the pilot script with me. We broke down the pilot, where it was going and went so much further into the potential for a series. We saw right away that there wasn’t just a great idea for a pilot, we saw it truly was a great idea for an ongoing series as well. Ken did so much of the heavy lifting for the script and we just fell in love with the characters right away, they were so rich, so multi-dimensional.
We then approached our producing partners (Andrew Karr, owner of Atmosphere VFX, and Craig VandenBiggelaar, owner of Darkroom Digital) to see if it could be done. We then got the location we were writing for (the Watchmen set in Vancouver) on a certain date and we basically had two weeks to pull it all together.
What we did was shoot four adapted scenes (because of time constraints and location) from the pilot script. We really wanted to show the versatility and range of the show so we picked four very different scenes in terms of tone. 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. Mike Dopud, Victoria Pratt and Lochlyn Munroe fly up from L.A. to come play with us for the weekend. That was incredible. I’m sure you’ve heard the Mike story already — I could never say enough about the guy, he is incredible.
GW: What have you and your team learned on Stargate that you are ready to put into practice on your own series?
MS: I think one of the things Stargate was amazing at was having such an amazing, well run production. 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. 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.
We (the four producers) were living and breathing this project day in, day out. We would text, call, e-mail each other 24 hours a day. It was easy to forget that not everyone was doing that. People were working and had paying gigs and were working in their spare time to help us out. It really was a testament to how amazing the film community is here in Vancouver. Everyone worked so hard so we had to have a well run, professional, fun shoot. It definitely was something we took from Stargate.
GW: Where do you hope the series would end up? Would Syfy Channel be your ideal broadcaster?
MS: It’s really hard to pinpoint a preferred destination for the series. We would hope that we would team up with a broadcaster who would support the show, see the vision of the show, see it’s potential. I think it’s kind of like a “soul mate” thing. I think we’ll just know when we talk to the right people. We are open to any broadcaster/network. We just want people to be able to get a chance to see the show and see the stories we are ready to create.
We have had some successful initial talks and people seem to “get” it right away which I think shows the strength of the premise and the vision we have for the series, so we shall see.
GW: Also, are you planning to release the promo piece to viewers online when it is complete, in addition to showing it to networks?
MS: We will definitely be releasing something in some form online for the fans. 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. 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.