Whenever someone comes to visit the set for the first time, they are invariably excited about being there, looking forward to the prospect of bearing witness to the magical process of television production. Well, I’ve got news for any prospective on-set visitors. It aint that magical. In fact, it’s not really all that exciting. It’s mostly standing around, waiting for the shot to be set up after which the actors are called to set, shoot their bit, and then retire to their trailer while everyone goes to work on setting up the next shot. Fans don’t believe me but the truth is it’s far more interesting to visit the set when the show is away shooting on location. When there’s no one around, you don’t have to worry about creeping quietly onto Stage 5 during rehearsals or suppressing that cough during filming or mustering up the courage to tell the director that the hilariously garish prop hat in the background of the bedroom scene actually belongs to you. When the cast and crew are away, the sets are empty and you can tour them at will. Step through the gate, man one of the gate room guns, sit in the command chair of the Daedalus, pilot a jumper, check out the sets of an upcoming episode, try on the Carmen Miranda headdress from the episode Pretense and strut around pretending you’re the goa’uld Zipacna. A recent visit afforded just such an opportunity, a two-hour tour that took us through Stages 5 (the Atlantis standing sets including the gate room, conference room, control room, the balcony, Carter’s office, and various corridors), Stage 6 (SG-1’s standing sets including the gate room, control room, conference room, Landry’s office, the infirmary, the observation room, and various corridors), the FX stage (the village, more Atlantis corridors and rooms, the Ancient chair, pieces of the Daedalus), Stages 1-3 (the puddle jumper, a section of new Midway set, the gimbled set for Trio, the Daedalus/Apollo bridge and its various corridors), Post (where the editors reside, working on Miller’s Crossing and Quarantine during our last visit), Costumes, and our Visual Effects department.

Fortunately, I brought my camera along and snapped a few pics. Yes, the only thing better than visiting a set where something is being shot is visiting a set where nothing is being shot. And, even better than visiting a set where nothing is being shot = seeing pics instead. Think about it. I’ve just saved you two hours of walking.

Mailbag –

LadyConure writes: “I would like to know if you have had any of the candies from Punta Clara Kitchen in Point Clear, Alabama.”

Answer: I haven’t. Any good?

Nathan writes: “Italian place, nearish to HMV, do you recall?”

Answer: CinCin?

Rosie writes: “Will Daniel ever get the chance to go to Atlantis again?”

Answer: It make sense that he would make an appearance. Eventually.

Anonymous #1 writes: “Any chance of seeing Jaime Ray Newman back on Atlantis this season?”

Answer: No plans to bring Cadman back.

Alison 974 writes: “Any recommendations for someone who hasn’t read much of a variety of books?”

Answer: Depends. What do you like?

Anonymous #2 writes: “I read that Martin said at Comic Con that there was a scene in Continuum where Daniel is walking down the street and sees Janet’s parents, but then Martin said he was only kidding. (…) Was Martin really kidding?”

Answer: No, he wasn’t. Just kidding.

Majorsal writes: “In reading the blog posts, the gene therapy thinger was brought up; will Sam have this done too?”

Answer: Given how long the gene therapy has been available and that Ancient tech exists in both the Milky Way and the Pegasus Galaxy, it would make sense that Sam and the other members of SG-1 would have received the gene therapy – with negligible results.

Anonymous #3 writes: “Any plans for an ice planet for our Atlantis expedition members this year? Or any other really different sort of planet environment?”

Answer: Hmmmmmmmmmmm…

56 thoughts on “August 6, 2007

  1. Having had the opportunity to visit the set of a TV show a few times, I can say that when the show is off on location, yes, wandering the set and opening doors and drawers is a hoot (most doors lead into brick walls, it seems) but watching the actors can be fun too. I was on a set long enough the director turned to me and my friend and said, you want to be in the scene? Alas, never made the cut but my friend turned up as a blurred red person going past in the background. Ah, fame, so fleeting…. 😉

  2. Hello Joe,
    I am big visitior here, but i have been away for the last month or so because family vacations and business trips. But i am glad to be back and enjoy all the fun stuff that you.
    I have no questions as I know that you get so many and don’t really have the chance to answer all, but i just wanted to leave a little message. I just wanted to thank you for addition in season’s 10 special feature of deleted scenes. the commentary was really interesting and really helped to understand why some stuff is dropped. thank you so much for the good insight into the production of two of my favorite show franchise.
    I am telling all of my friends to watch season 4 of Atlantis to keep the show going.

    Blaine

  3. That sounds awesome. You know, it’s one of my dreams to run down the Atlantis stairway towards the Gate and just start spinning in front of it with my arms stretched out and my head held high and looking up at the ceiling, and smiling. It’s like that scene in Seinfeld where George got his fiance to postpone his wedding (before being almost hit by a car).

    So…what can a fan do to visit the sets anyway? I mean, besides buying the insanely priced tickets for Creation Con? Oh, and on a completely different note, is “Trio” the official name of that episode now?

  4. Hmmmmm. Wouldn’t it be more fun to follow the cast a crew to location and watch from the bushes?

    Er, not that I would do that. I did lean on a fence and watch some of the Riders of Rohan getting hit by arrows and falling off their horses during the filming of Return of the King though. That was fun.

    Oh, I have a question! Being around all these awesome people every day… do you ever get star struck? And I don’t mean when Jenna Jameson turned around too fast.

  5. So the SG-1 set is still standing, huh? That’s pretty cool to hear…

    No question today. Just a comment. I caught The Siege pts 1 and 2 for the first time last night. Very, very well done. The writing was great and the shots of Atlantis as the Wraith swarmed down on the city were just amazing. Just wanted to say thanks for almost two hours of some excellent television. 🙂

  6. Joe-

    So was the set quiet today due to the holiday (Happy BC Day by the way)or was it a location shoot day? If it was the former, I’m sorry you had to work on a holiday.

    And I meant to comment on the “therapy” comment on yesterday’s blog. If you think he’ll need therapy, my younger brother thought we were Jewish until he was 10. He had an indentity crisis when he found out we weren’t. Try getting over that.

  7. I always wanted to come visit the set, not sure how one ever gets to do that. Thoughi got to say i have this strange urge to want to pee behind the stargate, weird.

    Anyway if there is a season 5, any chance SGA gets trap in the stargate during transport. Just thought it would be cool to be stuck in the wormhole and being able to see out into space from that perspective.

  8. The plague that wiped out the Ancients in the milkyway, are we ever going to find out what the plague was or was it from the Ori and i just missed that episode?

  9. Answer: “No, he wasn’t. Just kidding.”

    LOL! I had a feeling after I asked the question that I still wouldn’t know. I think it would be a cute scene though. I could have easily been a Daniel/Janet shipper. *sigh*

    AHHHHH! Daniel. Atlantis. Eventually. Does that mean Daniel won’t stop by Atlantis in season 4?

  10. Good evening Mr. M,

    I forgot to post yesterday, but have you discovered the distinct resemblance between Lulu & Stitch (Lilo! & Stitch). She looks like such a character! Maybe she can make an appearance on SGA — a new race who kills w/ the cuteness?!

    http://snipurl.com/1p91l

  11. Personally, I do find being on set watching all the mundane stuff to be quite interesting. Sure, roaming around a cool set would be fun, too, but one is not always allowed to just touch things willy-nilly. But I like watching the process, even if it isn’t glamorous and exciting. It’s exciting for me, even when it’s boring.

  12. Mr. Mallozzi,

    One of the best times I have had was on the set of SGA when things were filming. Not only did I get to be on one of my favorite shows, but I got to pilot the Apollo (in “First Strike”). It was awesome. I have been asked if it ruins things for me as a fan knowing what the actual set looks like, how things are done, and how the story goes. For me, it takes nothing away from enjoying the show when the episodes air. As well, I love seeing all the blueprints and pictures that you snap at the studio. How you find time to do all the things you do boggles the mind.

    Have you ever made a cameo appearance on SGA? If so, when? If not, why? Also, being so involved with the show, do you enjoy watching the finished product, or are you so involved with producing each episode that watching the finished product is nothing more than part of a day’s work?

  13. Care to share on how one would go about getting one of these set tours? Besides you know, being a staff writer?

  14. One last thing for tonight — I was showing P-diddy some of Shep’s impressive gun collections … 😀

    So he wondered if he could have a fake P-90. What is it w/ men & firearms?

  15. Fans don’t believe me but the truth is it’s far more interesting to visit the set when the show is away shooting on location.

    Actually, I found it very interesting to be on set during filming, but I suppose, like anything else, that environment is your day job so it’s bound to be old hat to you. Yeah, it’s nice to poke around the empty sets but for people like me who enjoy learning how things work, it was great. The best way I can describe it, from my point of view:

    During one of their breaks, [David Hewlett] looks up and I wave… he waves back and then asks if they’re killing the magic for me. I told him that they weren’t. I didn’t have time to tell him that no, if anything this makes it more magical. Just because you know the technicalities of how a trick is done makes it no less stupendous when that trick is performed by a master magician; you just have a better appreciation of what it takes to make that trick look so real.

    If it weren’t for the fact that everyone was working, I’d have been pestering everybody from the director to the camera guy with questions.

    Although I’d have to agree, the ‘standing around to action’ ratio is kind of high. Still, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.

  16. Will we ever see another runner like Ronon, if not in season four, then possibly in season five?

  17. Lulu will have an inferiority complex – her picture in not included in the group photograph in your “About Me”.

    Or are you still trying to work out which little outfit to dress her in? Or is she refusing to wear a little outfit? A rebel!

  18. I’ve had the opportunity help build and create sets, props, make costumes for haunted houses, so visiting the set, any set is like a dream of mine. I would literally be poking things wondering how they were made, how long it took to put this together. Sure, it’s a bonus if an actor pops around the corner, but I’m all too giddy about the doohickies laying around. I’d be in the prop department going ‘omg. I could so make this. o.o’.

    *sigh*

  19. Hello Joe,

    Is it OK to “thunk” here? Just thinking about walking around the sets, with no one working on them, made me quite dizzy. Then next thing you know, I went *thunk*. 🙂

    Thanks yet again for the pics.

    Jill_Ion

  20. Let me guess.. there’ll be a gate malfunction and Elizabeth will be banished to an ice planet.

    Yeah, that would be original.

    Not.

  21. Hi Joe!
    I’m not sure if you remember me (and my incessant comments) but I’ve returned from France (absolutely amazing!) and have caught myself up with a few of your more recent blog entries. Congrats on the new puppy, she looks adorable!

    I just wanted to recommend a very quick (200 pages) and entertaining read called “Rats Saw God” by Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars fame, not the musician) that I think everybody needs to read!

    I was also wondering if you found yourself predicting the events of the final HP before they occurred? As a writer did you feel yourself connecting certain plot threads faster than a non-writing reader would?

  22. It’s great to hear that the SG-1 sets are still standing. So….when will we hear about the next two SG-1 movies to come??

  23. Comment from 8/6:
    “Anonymous #1 writes: “Any chance of seeing Jaime Ray Newman back on Atlantis this season?”

    Answer: No plans to bring Cadman back.”

    Darn…I thought her chemistry with McKay was SO much better than with Katie Brown. Katie is sweet but boring and I see no chemistry between them…it’s as though McKay is settling for her because no one else will have him.(McKay was very sweet and vulnerable in “Sunday” when he didn’t understand why Katie liked him). Once he gets used to her, McKay will walk all over a mousy woman like Katie. He would probably need a very intelligent one or he wouldn’t respect her. Katies got that…but that’s about it! (sorry to Brenda James, who I like a lot…but her character needs to change to be interesting)

  24. glennh73 said… “Though i got to say i have this strange urge to want to pee behind the stargate, weird.”

    Uh, please don’t let glenn on the set. That would be really gross! And would definately “ruin the magic” of Atlantis for me. Not to mention it’s gross…oh..I said that already…((shudders))

  25. Mags said…”I was also wondering if you found yourself predicting the events of the final HP before they occurred?”

    I was also wondering how you felt about the last HP book.
    I thought it was good overall, but the middle lagged and not enough dialogue after the big fight scene at the end. The epilogue wasn’t like J.K.’s normal writing style either…a bit romance bookish. But, I still really liked the book and how she tied everything together!

    What did you think?

  26. PG15 said… “So…what can a fan do to visit the sets anyway? I mean, besides buying the insanely priced tickets for Creation Con?”

    Yeah…I don’t think you talked any of us out of wanting to see a taping of Atlantis! What you find ho-hum and everyday boring, is VERY exciting and new to us. Too bad most of us fans aren’t as creative as Zach Selwyn. Of course it helps to already be an actor. Being a musician and having connections helps too!
    😉
    Being able to be an extra or watch a taping would be an extraordinary event in most of our boring lives. Although teaching challenging children, many of whom don’t want to learn, is not usually boring. It isn’t usually very exciting either.
    I do have one student in particular that loves your show. I try to use his fascination for it to fuel an interest in what I teach. So give yourself a pat on the back. You are helping teachers get students interested in science.

  27. Hey Joe, Just curious but if you guys ever had a script writing contest for fans to submit in a ‘possible it be used for an episode’ of Stargate Atlantis would you ever do it?

  28. Anonymous said…

    Let me guess.. there’ll be a gate malfunction and Elizabeth will be banished to an ice planet.

    Yeah, that would be original.

    Not.

    I hate poking my head in these wars, but THAT… was the lamest argument (or insult?) I’ve heard. Not only would McKay and Zelenka figure out how to fix the malfunctioned gate, but now they’ve got a third brain by the name of Carter, should McKay and Zelenka fail.

    Do you really think they would just shrug their shoulders and be like “Oh well! Gate’s dead. Let’s just leave her there!”?

  29. Any chance we’ll ever see any ‘specialist’ jumpers?

    I’ve had the thought for a while that it would be cool to see a specialist Medical Jumper or something, with bunk beds in the back and monitoring equipment!

  30. Hey Joseph, you skipped mentioning what is in Stage 4. *grin*
    That’s your secret lair for world domination right?

  31. Hi Joe

    Love your little puppy.. She doesn’t look too bullish at all. When do they start to pick up the snappy personality of their owner I wonder!!
    I was just wondering if you guys have ever use the physics concepts of dark matter , dark energy or point zero energy in your stories. This stuff is actually real and it blows the mind to think about all the power that is actually out there in the universe!!
    His Majesty’s Dragon is an enjoyable book.. It’s an interesting way to look at dragons. I wonder did they really exist? There seems to be a mention of them in almost every culture, particularly the Chinese and English ?

    Have a great day

    Dori

  32. I have to disagree with your views on visiting an empty set. I thought it was fascinating visiting the SGA set and seeing everyone working. From meeting Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett, to watching the director film and talking to other crew members, to seeing all the different shots that are taken, and seeing the actual sets that I see on TV – it only heightened the thrill of the show for me. Now I’m eager to see the finished produtt on the screen and I’m sure hubby will soon tire of me yelling “I was there” “I touched that” “I sat there” 🙂 And of course the other highlight of the visit was getting to eat at a restaurant you recommended 🙂

    I’m looking SO forward to Season 4!

  33. Thanks for the tour and pictures and so considerately saving us the time of visiting. Now we’ll have time to go kayaking in the San Juans.

    Speaking of tours, did you ever do similar tours of other sci fi shows’ sets in preparation for becoming a writer of sci fi television? Considering the fact that you studied Early Modern literature in school, how does one prepare for a career as a sci fi writer? Reading, obviously, is a major component. But, growing up, next to Star Wars, what were some of your favorite sci fi shows/movies?

  34. Hi Joe,

    I noticed you didn’t mention Sam’s lab/Daniel’s office as part of the SG1 sets. Has that been torn down, or is it the same set as possibly the infirmary? Sam and Daniel’s area was such a huge part of Stargate. I would hate to hear that it had been torn down.

  35. I was going to ask something but now I can’t remember what it was so I’ll just say hi! Hi!

    I will remain anonymous for this post.

  36. What is going to happen to the SG1 sets now? Do they have to keep them standing incase there are any more films, will they change them about (or not) to use for Atlantis episodes or will they just give the space to another show altogether? Or, will they be used for the third stargate show?

  37. All this “will there be moments between so and so” questions, the one I’m aching to know is will there be any sweet/tender/amusing/snarky/bitter/awkward moments between McKay and Weir??

    I think it would be worth the two hour walk around set to get a real close look at the costumes and stuff! I just love looking at the detail and design that goes into all the different kinds of artwork on set 😀

  38. Ah the joys of set visits. Which bring me to a question-How far in advance do they know when the show will be out “on location”?

    And still waiting on that autograph I asked for. 🙂 Guess I’ll have to send more chocolate.

  39. Hi Joe,

    is the whole, 5 people SG-1 team – VALA, DANIEL, TEAL’C, MITCHELL and CARTER – intact at the end of “Continuum”? If I’m going to buy this DVD eventually I’d like to be sure I’m not going to throw it out of the window if something bad happens to either of the first two, especially to the first one… And I still not forgave Brad Wright “Beachhead” and what he did to Vala in that episode.

  40. How’s it going Joe?

    LuLu is adorable!

    Got to watch “200” for the first time last night. When I saw all the writers….I started thinking….how was this episode written? Did you all write certain segments, was it one of those throw-it-out ideas writing session, how did it get on the page?

    I’ve never been to a set of any TV show. If I don’t win the “Get in the Gate” sweepstakes……guess I’m out of luck again! It does fascinate me however.

    Have a nice day.

  41. Not sure whether I used proper grammar, probably not. I was going to say that I still didn’t forgive Brad Wright “Beachhead” and what he did to Vala in that episode.

  42. *waves*

    A set visit not exciting? *passes Joe a bar of soap* Wash your mouth out young man!

    In reality it’s your job, as Strivaria said. So while the majority of us mere mortals will never experience the joys of the set, at least we get to live it vicariously through you. Tell you what, Joe, want to trade jobs for the day? Or better yet, a week! :o)Oh go on, you know you want to!

    I’d even let you borrow my whip to beat my lot into submission, get rid of some pent up frustrations i’m sure you’ve stored up over the last week. ;)Just don’t use it too much, they actually like it. 😉

    *hugs*

  43. Hi Joe, I can understand how years on the set might make you somewhat jaded about the process, but I think if I had the opportunity to watch the show being filmed, it would, in fact, be somewhat magical. Just to see how it is done would be quite fascinating. To be in Vancouver, at Bridge Studios, watching how my favorite show was made… there’s definitely a “wow” factor with that.

    And on a rather random tangent…Do you have any friends or relatives who find it odd that you take so many pictures of food? My brother (who is a fine photographer) does the same thing. We can’t have a meal with him without stopping to take food pictures, and I have always found it a bit peculiar. (You know, some people say grace before digging in, we always have a photo op.) I think it started when he moved to Tokyo, and he wanted to share the experience of all the unique foods there. But then it progressed…

    I find it oddly comforting to know that my brother is not the only person who does this (since I obviously don’t get it), so thank you for that. 🙂

  44. >>>farscapefan said

    Hi Joe,

    is the whole, 5 people SG-1 team – VALA, DANIEL, TEAL’C, MITCHELL and CARTER – intact at the end of “Continuum”? If I’m going to buy this DVD eventually I’d like to be sure I’m not going to throw it out of the window if something bad happens to either of the first two, especially to the first one… And I still not forgave Brad Wright “Beachhead” and what he did to Vala in that episode.<<<
    farscapefan, SK, FH or whatever avatar your using right now. I imagine Brad Wright has better things on his mind than you not forgiving him about that.

  45. In Martin Gero’s latest interview, released today by Gateworld, he speaks about Paul McGillion’s departure and the circumstances that lead to the decision to kill off his character during ‘Sunday’. Two things stand out. Firstly that Gero reiterates multiple times that it ‘had to happen’ and there was ‘no choice’. Similar things were originally said about Amanda Tapping’s transplant into the Atlantis cast, refuted by you, that there was always a choice. So why did this have to happen with McGillion’s character? Why was there ‘no choice’? I’m sure though not positive, that we’ve already been told it was not made because the network said ‘kill a character’. And I’m sure if this was a decree from above, (i.e. SCIFI felt the cast was too big and some had to go to make room for others…as speculated) that it would have been noted by now. After all it’s a reason that would take the heat for an unpopular decision off the producers. Everyone loves to blame the money men. Secondly, that it was a ‘political’ decision, which opens up a very large can of worms. He also speaks about the need to keep things real by creating a sense of jeopardy. If this were the case then I find it wholly unconvincing and actually counter productive. Killing off a lead, aka the characters constantly in jeopardy like McKay, Sheppard, Ronon or Teyla implies risk. Killing off a support character that rarely puts his life on the line, isn’t constantly defying odds is frankly, a cop out and seems pointless at best, and an excuse to get rid of the character at worst. Killing Carson actually got to prove what we all know, that you would never kill off the characters who are constantly in jeopardy like Sheppard or McKay, so where’s the risk? There is none.

  46. To “inquiring minds”….

    *sniff. sniff sniff. WAAAAAAA*

    Carson was one of my favorite characters, but I understand why he went. They decided to get rid of someone, and he was the best choice because he wasn’t tied down to any story arcs like all of the other characters. It made sense.

    By the way, starting in season 2 he wasn’t a support character anymore, he was a main character. He was in the opening credits for crying out loud!

  47. Anonymous said…
    We all know that it WEIR’S office, not Carter’s office and Carter knows it too!

    Oh anonymous, did you not take your happy pills today? Though it’s a nice little fantasy bubble you’ve wrapped yourself in.

    But you know what they say all good things must come to an end!

    *pop*

  48. Hi Joe,

    Were there any chances of Hailey being cast on SG-1 in season 9? I think Hailey and Sam on the same team would have been great. Thanks for the news regarding Trio and Sam.

  49. Hi, Joe.

    The citizens of the United States are in dire need of protection!

    It appears the the Chocolate Manufacturers Association has proposed to the FDA that they allow manufacturers to “use a vegetable fat in place of another vegetable fat named in the standard (e.g. cacao fat).”

    Here’s a link to the story:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070807/ap_on_re_us/chocolate_fat_spat

    This is a tapesty – a tapesty! – to the purity, sanctity and sacredness of chocolate.

    Could you please send a couple of Wraith to BOTH the FDA and to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and help them make the correct decision?

    Thank you.

    Thank you so much!

    Morjana

  50. My Name is Scott said:
    Carson was one of my favorite characters, but I understand why he went. They decided to get rid of someone, and he was the best choice because he wasn’t tied down to any story arcs like all of the other characters. It made sense.

    Beckett was also one of mine and therefore I find it strange that you forget one of the major story arcs from last year was the retrovirus, which Beckett was absolutely integral to. So integral in fact, that any episodes proceeding his death still featured the character heavily in the ‘previously on’ clips. This is a storyline that is still ongoing and has many unresolved facets without his inclusion. In fact, if any character was tied to season 3’s story arc, it was Beckett and Teyla. So I do not share your belief he was the ‘best to get rid of’. Besides being one of the most original and none stereotypical characters both in the show and the genre, he was by far the worst choice by your reasoning. And why did a character need to go? The simple answer is, in terms of story at least, they did not. A sense of jeopardy and personal loss can be created in more original ways then the easy route of randomly killing a supporting character. Gero himself said it was not story motivated but politically motivated. Take that as you will.

    By the way, starting in season 2 he wasn’t a support character anymore, he was a main character. He was in the opening credits for crying out loud!

    ‘Support’ does not preclude him from the main cast, far from it. The main cast has a mixed dynamic, like any show with leads i.e. Flanigan & Hewlett, and supporting cast i.e. Higginson, Luttrell, Momoa and McGillion. This is why they are nominated in awards as ‘supporting actors’, not ‘leading roles’. McGillion was promoted from recurring to main cast which was more a contractual issue then real change and his character was still a supporting role. Hence my disappointment with his death, any shock factor was minimal and it blatantly said to me the ‘no one is safe’ atmosphere is non-existent. You have to kill a lead to prove this and killing a support just emphasises to the contrary and helps to create a sense of predictability and complacency. It also goes to prove that they can’t afford or are unwilling to loose a lead.

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