I can’t believe September is almost done and, in a few weeks, I’ll be making the BIG move to Toronto – just in time for what’s predicted to be (and I quote) “the T-Rex of winters” (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/t-rex-of-winters-in-store-for-canada-old-farmer-s-almanac-1.2012804#). Of course, I’ll be spending most of it on a nice, cozy spaceship set. Or, in a nice, cozy car on my way to a nice, cozy spaceship set. On the one hand, the highway driving may be icy and treacherous; on the other hand, all of the lane shutdowns happening in Toronto will ensure that nobody will be going fast enough to suffer any real damage.
The plan is for Paul and I to fly over to Toronto the week of October 6th for some meetings covering everything from casting and scheduling to DOP’s and editors. I’m going to try to pack everything I’ll need for my 7 month Toronto stay into two suitcases I’ll be bringing with me on that initial trip. Just the bare essentials: shirts, suits, ties, cufflinks, laptop. I’ll try to buy everything else I’ll need – towels, toiletries, dog beds, workout wear – while I’m there that first week. Between approving ship designs and interviewing Directors of Photography, I’ll be hitting the Eaton Center for dress socks and warm underwear!
We fly back to Vancouver at the end of that week and then I’ll have all of the following week to get my local affairs in order, hand off the house keys to my former dog sitter who will become a house sitter until May of next year, and then make the final trip eastward (for 2014 anyway), dogs in tow the weekend of October 18th. Our friend Jeff has kindly offered to help transport the pooches so, once we firm up a date, I’ll get on the phone with the airline and book the flight with the roomiest under-seats. I believe the rules allow for only one dog (as carry-on) per person, and limit pets to a mere two in business class and two in coach. If that’s the case, Jeff (and Lulu) will be flying in style while Akemi, Bubba, Jelly and I squeeze into economy. I’m considering purchasing extra seats, just in case. I have to admit, getting my dogs cross-country is the most stressful aspect of this whole Toronto production.
I’m aiming to have 9 of our 13 first season scripts completed by the time we land in Toronto, October 6th. Paul did a brilliant job on the delightfully creepy episode #5 that went out today and is presently revising episode #6. Rob is working on his first draft of episode #7 while I do a pass on Trevor’s draft of episode #8. And, of course, I already completed episode #9 which sits, patiently waiting to be read.
We’ve approached the first season like a book, the thirteen episodes the equivalent to chapters in an extended story. We set up a big mystery in the opener, one we’ll develop over the course of the first year and, eventually, pay off BIG in the finale. The great thing about having all 13 episodes in advance (besides the obvious production advantages) is that we’ll be able to read the entire first season from beginning to end, tweaking where necessary to ensure a gripping, well-developed narrative layered with intriguing set-ups and surprising/satisfying pay-offs. It also allows our Visual Effects team (lead by former Stargate VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and this show’s VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson) and Playback department to get a jump start on those visual effects and awesome onscreen images. And having those nine episodes in the bank for early October also allows us to choose the perfect sides for each character audition – and there will be plenty: six crew members plus that, uh, non-human character.
We’ve got half our directors in place and you’ll, no doubt, recognize a few familiar names. Very much looking forward to working with them again. It’s been WAY too long.
My biggest point of focus from now until mid-December will be those sets. Construction begins on the ship, shuttle, and space station in late October and I need them to look truly awesome. Also, I’ll need to make sure the shuttle is heated, with a roll-out bed and working bathroom because chances are, if the shoots run late, that’s where I’ll be spending most of my nights.