Prep week invariably begins with the concept meeting, the preliminary pre-production assembly attending by all of the department heads. We all sit around the long conference room table as the First A.D. goes through the script, scene by scene. “Scene one,”he’ll say, “A puddle jumper flies through space. This is a visual effects shot.” – and wait for the director or visual effects supervisor to chime in. Is there anything special about this shot? Has the director envisioned something he wants to run by us? No? Okay. “Scene two,”says the First A.D., “We’re interior jumper. Sheppard is alone. He gets a radio message from McKay.” Anything? No. Moving onto – “Scene three. McKay is in the control room, talking to Sheppard…” And so on. We all sit in our respective seats, flipping the pages and following along, weighing in when necessary (“Let’s use rear-screen projection on that shot.” or “Let’s put the detectors on the wrist bands and let’s make them flash red instead.” or “What say we make the drinking glasses actually easy to drink out of unlike those unwieldy, counter-intuitive “alien” glasses we used in The Other Side.”). It’s a grueling process that usually runs about an hour and a half (God help you if you’re prepping a two-parter) in which the preliminary concepts are discussed, occasionally in some detail (although the really detailed discussions are reserved for individual department meetings) to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Once satisfied that we are all, in fact, progressing in sync, the director orders the door unlocked and everyone is allowed to leave.

On this day, we started prep on Travelers, finishing the concept meeting at around 10:30 a.m. and heading right into the Art Department meeting where we discussed ship interiors, auxiliary control rooms, and blasted door panels. From the Art Department meeting to the costumes meeting and from the costumes meeting to lunch – Carl’s favorite – Dominos! I went barbecue chicken, regular crust, thanks.

Fortified, we head into the props meeting. Alas, our props master Kenny, a.k.a. Evil, is up north fending off polar bears, so his temporary replacement takes the reins. “Should I go through it scene by scene or should I just highlight the hero props?”asks the sub. “Just the hero props,”replies director Wil Waring (pictured). After all, we’ve already done the excruciating scene by scene overview. Let’s cut to the chase. “Alright,”says the sub, flipping the cover page. “Scene one. A puddle jumper flies through space. This is a visual effects shot. No props here. Scene two. Interior jumper…” I can actually feel myself getting older. As we progress through what for all intents and purposes is a repeat of the concept meeting, I notice John Smith getting squirrely in his seat, shifting this way and that while, in contrast, D.O.P. Jim Menard sits slumped and unmoving. Although his eyes are open he is unusually stone still and I briefly consider shouting his name, just to be sure. But eventually Jim blinks, confirming that he is, in fact, alive. Half an hour in, John Lenic has apparently had enough and, feigning some pressing business, leaves the room. On we go. I’m reminded of a former props master who used to preside over equally torturous sessions in which he would cover the tiniest of details. “Scene thirty-six,”he’d say. “Daniel sits in the chair. What kind of shoes? Do you want laces? Velcro?” “Laces,”I’d respond. “Laces,”he’d repeat, noting my choice in the script. “What kind of laces? Black laces? Brown laces?” “Black is fine,”I’d say. “Black,”he’d repeat, marking down my choice. “Do you want the laces tipped or plain?” “Tipped!”I’d answer him, growing frustrated. “Tipped,”he’d echo, writing it down. Fine. Then – “Okay, we’re done with the laces, now onto the shoes themselves…” And on we go. After another twenty minutes spent cursing John Lenic and his transparent ploy to get out of the meeting, I finally think “Ah, fuck this”, feign an urgent phone call, and leave the meeting. It’s instances like these when writing partners come in handy.

My apologies to Arctic Goddess and the organizers of the chocolate party. After schnitzel last night, I was so tired I went home and even skipped t.v. night with the wife. I hope everyone had a great time and were suitably chocolated-out by night’s end.

Hope everyone in town for the Whosits Con is enjoying themselves and following up on my past restaurants suggestions. Let me know.

26 thoughts on “March 23, 2007

  1. thanks joe, for revealing that the race in travelers is indeed the furlings…. the writing in the top right hand corner of the picture gave it away….when compared to the furling writing in the Torment of Tantalus SG1.


  2. “After another twenty minutes spent cursing John Lenic and his transparent ploy to get out of the meeting, I finally think “Ah, fuck this”, feign an urgent phone call, and leave the meeting.”

    Aw, poor Joe. Would you like a tissue for your issue? Heh.

    Board room meetings suck. Universal constant. Ditch the suit and wear jeans next time. It won’t help with the boring, but it’ll sure as heck make things more comfortable while you’re faking catatonia. And who knows, you might find people less apt to babble and fall all over minutia in an effort to impress you, too.

    The everyman gets the short meeting, as they say.

    Lighten up. Loosen the tie. And for god’s sake lay off the heavy carbs at lunch; that’ll put anyone into a coma.


    No sympathy from the doc on this one, ya whiner. Get thee back in those offices and make the cool stuff happen. Lord knows if those laces are the wrong damn color, SOMEBODY out here is going to notice…

  3. Thanks for the little insight into show development. I think it’s easy for us all to imagine it’s some grand, glorious adventure, all fun all the time, but in many ways, it’s just like a lot of our jobs.

    You know, I was thinking about the deal you made with the demonstrators, about writing Carson into two eps if they got a mention ET or something. Could it be that you’re already planning to have him in two eps (hence the specific number) and just want to make it seem like you’re making a concession? Could this be the guest actor “pending availability” that you’ve mentioned? Then again, you’ve said that fans don’t really effect the way the show turns out, so why would you want to encourage us to thinking our voices matter? You’re a wiley one, Joe Mallozzi. Wiley.

  4. Thanks for the great behind the scenes info. Laces? Now I won’t be able to stop thinking about them whenever I see a pair of boots on SG-1!

    Question, do you ever read any Asimov? If so, any favorite short stories?


  5. You said the travelers found a ship similar to an aurora class that they wanted shepard to activate, will it be the other variant of lantian battle cruisers we saw briefly in Progeny. thanks and good luck with the prep week and boring meeting you have to endure.

  6. Huh.
    Isn’t that Chris Judge?
    Either that’s an old picture, or it’s a pretty fabulous spoiler that I’m gonna be darn gleeful about.

  7. laces ?! … oh my the things people worry about … now if it were question such as … why is there a pic of a white fluffy cat in McKay’s room in Duet when we all know he had a tabby cat 😉

    totally unrelated, but who else to bug with these questions …
    the “I’m with genius”-shirt – was this specifically designed for McKay or did someone just stumble on this in some shop ?!

  8. One of today’s photos says the working title of an episode was “Doppleganger”. Have you and the other producers already decided what name/spelling you will use in the end? I.e. Doppleganger, Doppelganger, or maybe even the original German version Doppelgänger (with umlauts)?

  9. Anonymous said…
    thanks joe, for revealing that the race in travelers is indeed the furlings…. the writing in the top right hand corner of the picture gave it away….when compared to the furling writing in the Torment of Tantalus SG1.

    Actually, if you look closely at that picture and the writing in the top right hand corner, it has a note underneath it saying, “I was bored so started playing with ideas for some “standby” alien fonts. This is the first one I have finished. Use it as you see fit. XOXO. Boyd.” 🙂

    Chiming in late here Joe to say I thoroughly enjoyed your retelling of the SCB rally… you made me laugh out loud in an open plan office.. okay, so probably not a good thing there… 😉

    Here’s an utterly random question for you – what kind of car do you drive? After seeing your sinister attire for the rally, I have visions of you pulling up to the studio gates in something large, black and dangerous-looking… possibly the batmobile… 😀

  10. Does Bridge Studios normally look like Guantanamo Bay or is it just when the Scots are coming?

  11. UMMMMMMM chocolate…

    in your opinion..what were the top 5 stand out movies of the year??

  12. Hey Joe, is there any chance that we will see some McKay/Sheppard episode like Defiant one or Trinity?

  13. Shawna has a point, you wily coyote. When the Carsonites have successfully beaten your challenge, Atlantis would be getting even more press…wily trickster >)

    Those production meeting sound a little rough, but I’m one of those people who could do that hours upon end ^_^; I give you some of my energy to use and divide amongst your co-workers! (and you have probably written the good Doctor into two episodes already. We know you couldn’t have resisted) 😉

  14. Ooooh, Oooooh, Is Teal’c gonna be on Atlantis?!! Plz tell me it’s true! I hope he becomes like Bra’tac and is in it a lot.

  15. Thanks for your suffering! The end products are great!

    Where do you like to do most of your writing for episdoes?

  16. What’s your least favorite episode that you have ever written for Stargate SG-1? Whats your favorite that you didn’t write (not counting moebius part 2)? Do you like more serial episodes or more one-offy?

  17. Intersting day you had there Joe – was that last pic of Chris Judge? (And does that mean he’s not up in the Arctic? – Can you elaborate on why he was there today?) I’ll be looking at the cast members’ shoes from now on! I don’t think some of us realize how much work goes into making our favorite show! I remember a long time ago at local city meetings, there was a board member who always fell asleep during meetings – maybe you should try it sometime!
    Better luck next meeting!

  18. Some things to do whilst in a boring meeting. you get points for each one you do 😀

    1.When someone hands you a piece of paper, caress it, and whisper huskily “Mmmmm, that feels soooooo good!”
    2.In the middle of a meeting, suddenly shout out “Yahtzee!”
    3.Babble incoherently at a fellow employee then ask “Did you get all that, I don’t want to have to repeat it”
    4.Shout random numbers while someone is counting.
    5.Repeat the following conversation 10 times to the same person: “Do you hear that?” “What?” “Never mind, it’s gone now”


  19. I’ve been perusing some livejournal stuff and damn do people hate Landry. Anyway, it got me thinking about a question I wanted to ask. Joe, what was the thinking behind Landry being a Patton-like hardass? Something different? Anti-Hammond? I’m curious.

  20. Thanks for the yummies on Travelers. They really were scrumdidlyumpcious 😀

    Just a little question or three 😀 Given that we know the ATA gene works as part of a mental componant, will the ‘Travelers’ be exploring Sheppard’s mind to find out what that mental componant is?

    Also is the interface alive? And last one I promise. How do you feel about infirmary scenes? Do you think they add anything to an ep? MG mentioned in the conversion ep that he really enjoyed how it worked out, because of the team bonding. So I wondered if you felt the same, or do you prefer the action sequences more?

  21. criz asked
    … oh my the things people worry about … now if it were question such as … why is there a pic of a white fluffy cat in McKay’s room in Duet when we all know he had a tabby cat 😉

    Now the sad truth on why Rodney really took the Atlantis gig.. he was cheatintg on his tabby with the white cat. Nothing worse than a jealous cat (I’ve got scars to prove it!)

  22. Re: the micromanaging props master…I used to do props in a theater. You have my sympathies, but so does the fellow you were discussing. Time and again I’d have all of the props ready for opening night and the director would come up to me and say something like, “I wanted the inkwell to have blue ink in it, not black.”

    “Oh,” I’d say. “I thought it wouldn’t matter.”

    And he’d say, “Everything matters!”

    Anyway, I love hearing about how an episode takes shape, from script to pre-production to post. Most fascinating. I hope you will continue to write about this. The set design drawings and other visuals for the show that you let us see are as cool as they are teasing about we can expect in season 4.


  23. Schnitzel? YUM! Most of the food you mention is a bit rich for my blood. Did you have brochen (sp) with butter? (I am *such* a bread fan…)

    By the way Joe I am super-impressed with your responses (or sometimes lack of them)during this last “war”. 🙂

    Couldn’t you just tell the props guy to ignore the scenes with no props? I was getting a sympathy headache!

    My best wishes for S4!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.