I’m watching way too much Top Chef…
max writes: “Do you need an agent to get invited to pitch an idea?”
Answer: In almost all cases, yes.
max also writes: “Did the staff or actors of SG series ever get together with the competition (BG for example) for a BBQ or drinks?”
Answer: BSG was never the competition. Quite the opposite in fact, especially during the SciFi Friday era. The better genre shows perform in general, the more receptive networks will be to taking a chance on new SF, fantasy, and horror-themed productions. That being said, I know that the various productions around town have taken part in friendly hockey games. Off the top of my head, I remember Stargate playing a very tough and talented Smallville team.
PoorOldEdgarDerby writes: “Obviously if they pitch something that’s similar to something that’s already aired you can’t tell much about them. But if they pitch something that’s only still in development are you likely to give them another chance since they’ve demonstrated an ability to independently create something you’re already set on producing?”
Answer: Yes (and I believe that was the point of my final statement – #10). Those freelancers were always invited back.
PoorOldEdgarDerby also writes: “If I’m pitching an idea, should I avoid resorting to the stereotypical scifi episodes, leaving it to the staff writers to do the “fighting to the death while out of phase in bizarro world” stories?”
Answer: If you’re asking me if you should avoid cliches, I would answer yes. If, on the other hand, you’re asking if you should avoid common SF themes like time travel, cloning, etc., I would say no. The challenge would be to give those ideas a new spin and make them unique to your show, your characters. Take Window of Opportunity for instance. When we first pitched the time loop episode, it was much darker. After talking to Robert Cooper, he steered us in a more comedic direction. It came to be known as our Groundhog Day episode because it was, structurally and tonally, very similar to the movie of the same name – and yet, it remains a fan favorite because it was so enjoyable to watch our characters react to the bizarre scenario.
PoorOldEdgarDerby also writes: “It sounds like freelancers should try for one-off episodes and not insert themselves into a main story arc. Thoughts?”
Answer: Absolutely, and this should be rule #11: Pitch a one-off. Since you’re not privy to the ongoing writers’ room discussions, you’ll always be several steps bheind if you’re trying to come up with a more serialized story. The pitch that landed us a staff position on Stargate was a stand-alone episode, Scorched Earth. Marty G.’s golden ticket was a one-off as well, Childhood’s End. The same goes for Damian Kindler, The Other Guys, and Ken Cuperus, Common Ground.
Jack B. writes: “You can never get a production company to even look at the idea. They almost always ignore these emails.”
Answer: That’s because accepting unsolicited submissions opens them up to all sorts of legal hassles. A great idea will help you get a foot in the door, but you’ll need an agent to knock first.
scott_land writes: “In your opinion what season do you think was THE golden season for SG1 and Atlantis?”
Answer: Depends what you mean by golden. My personal faves were seasons 10 of SG-1 and season 4 of Atlantis.
Thornyrose writes: “Isn’t it defeating the purpose if you’re modifying the reader recipes right from the start?”
Answer: Only if I’m modifying the recipes entered in the competition.
Michael Simpson writes: “What are your favourite classic stories, Joe?”
Answer: My favorite classic stories? Probably the ones that left such an enormous impression on me the first time I read them when I was very young. The stories of Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery left a huge impression.
antonio chavez writes: “hey Joe,I was just wondering where can we the fans get all that exclusive information (which I desire to posses) such as artworks,planets information,creatures pre and post artworks and all of that stuff that you sometimes post on the blog????”
Answer: Sorry. As far as I know, they’re otherwise unavailable for public consumption.
Ulrike Tannenberg writes: “Some of the songs in SGU I really love and in most cases I could find the singer and songtitle mentioned somewhere in the internet. But I could not find it for the 1.season episode “Divided” and would very much appreciate it, if you could let me know.”
Answer: Hmmm. Not sure off the top of my head. When, during the episode, does the song play?
Bloomgate writes: “Anyway, it appears that the brightness has been cranked up for syndication. Do you know if that was an intentional decision by someone or if, perhaps, it’s just part of the process of what happens when an HD show is converted for a low def channel?”
Answer: No idea. I’ve never noticed before.
PJR writes: “Favourite ‘Spooks’ episodes? And why?”
Answer: Season one, the “deep-fryer” episode, because it was so unexpected and shocking.
PJR also writes: “Would you pitch to UK, or is US/Canada the only places to play because of market size, or other factors that appeal?”
Answer: Of course I’d pitch to the UK. In fact, one of the projects presently on the stack is a potential Canadian-UK co-production.
Sean D. writes: “Regarding “Window of Opportunity” and Dr. Jackson’s loop-back phrase, “Anyway, I’m sorry but that just happens to be how I feel about it. What do you think?” What was Daniel talking about?”
Answer: Believe it or not, I have no idea.
Chief6309 writes: “At the risk of being totally off topic for today’s blog, has anyone, thought to pitch SGU to Directv channel 101?”
Answer: All avenues have and are being considered.
Luis writes: “Ever thought of getting a Nook from Barnes and Nobles and reading books that way?..saves alot of bookself space.”
Answer: I own a kindle which is great for travel, but nothing beats the feel of a real book or the look a well-stocked bookshelf.
Lyle writes: “What are you top 5 or 10 favorite TV series of all time?”
Answer: The Sopranos, Rome, The Shield, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Simpsons, South Park, Seinfeld, Top Chef, and Monday Night Football.
JYS writes: ““maria writes: “If you could have one thing to eat before you die, what would it be?” Answer: The heart of my greatest enemy.”
how would you like that heart prepared? Raw? Braised? Roasted?”
Answer: Raw of course, and preferably still beating.
Deni writes: “Hey Joe? Remember you were going to have Joel Goldsmith do a Q & A ages ago? Whatever happened?”
Answer: That’s a question for the very-busy Mr. Goldsmith.
Escyos writes: “How important is Destiny to the Lucian Alliance. Did they supply all resources and personnel to this, or was it a side project that Kiva managed to convince them to do?”
Answer: It was very important to the Lucian Alliance (Ginn says as much in conversation with Camille early in season 2).
Cody writes: “Hey Joe I have a question for you… At what point in the process is a title assigned to a given script? Does it vary by the habits of the author?”
Answer: It varies from script to script, writer to writer.
DeanGrr writes: “How do you balance the intimacy of writing (to me it would seem like sharing a deep part of yourself with the audience), and dealing with criticism from others and realities of show biz?”
Answer: Criticism is a part of the job and, in many cases, so is maintaing and online presence. My blog is admittedly a grey area between work and play.
DeanGrr also writes: “Is there merit to the idea that scifi fans need to get a life, and that making a work of fiction part of who you are, or how you think, wrong/harmful on some level?”
Answer: Depends. Enjoying a television show is no different than enjoying a book, a hobby, or vacationing in a particular city. If it makes you happy, why the heck not pursue related side interests be they writing fan fiction, attending cons, picking up the next book in a series, or making a morning swim part of your daily routine? On the other hand, putting time and effort into actively hating something, be it a t.v. show, a group, or is borderline psychotic in my books.
Sean writes: ” Hey Joe – hope you make this mandatory reading for your fans and critics alike! http://blastr.com/2011/01/the-truth-about-tv-ratings-online-viewing-and-sci-fi-shows.php Fascinating read – if you have any differences of opinion I’d be curious to hear them.
Answer: An excellent article. Nothing there we didn’t already know but it offers a terrific overview for those unfamiliar with how ratings works. That being said, the article introduces the notion that SF shows are at a disadvantage (because their audiences tend to be more tech-savvy) and seems to set out to dispel this idea, but ultimately doesn’t offer evidence to the contrary. It clearly delineates why television ratings matter to the networks (because they make their money off advertisers who want viewers to watch ads for their products) and why less emphasis is placed on DVD and online sales (although I feel the need to point out that they only count insofar as the network benefits from these sales through ownership of the show which isn’t always the case), but the criticism that kicks off the article remains. Craig is right though. It’s not a matter of making sure all viewers are counted because, at the end of the day, not all viewers are created equal. It’s the viewers who watch the commercials that the networks are interested in because they pay the bills. Ultimately, it’s a matter of finding a way to make these alternate viewing methods equally meaningful in the decisionmaking process when it comes time for a show’s renewal.
Tenacious D. writes: “My question after reading the comment from hal ehrlich, is that if you suspected that SyFy was gonna screw you guys over anyway, why not give Atlantis the ending it deserved, i.e. one more season, put the Stargate cap to rest, let the money start pouring in from sci-fi fans that will only purchase a complete franchise, and move on with your lives?”
Bailey writes: “What possible reason would Syfy have for wanting to screw over Joe M and Co? So they could have a series they paid tons of money for fail to make a profit? And then write it off as a tax deduction in a truly brilliant accounting move? What?”
Answer: Thank you.
enectrixx writes: “Have you or anyone in the Stargate staff ever considered doing a Stargate SG-2/SG-3/SG-anything series?”
Montrealer writes: “Folks don’t expect SGU be back anytime soon in the current incarnation. Since Skiffy (AKA SyFy) held the first broadcast rights to any new SGU episodes.”
Answer: You are incorrect, sir. That certainly was the case with SG-1 (which is why we were stymied when given the opportunity to move forward on an eleventh season of the show) but it’s not the case with SGU.