October 21, 2014: Introducing Jay Firestone!  Notes!  And Carpet Heaven!
Executive Producer Jay Firestone sits on my garish orange office couch in this undated photograph (Okay, it was this morning).

As we head into prep on the first season of Dark Matter, I thought it might be nice to introduce you to some of the people who work behind the scenes to bring you (what will no doubt become) your new favorite new scifi series.  Now people have often asked me: “Joe, what does a producer do?”.  My answer: “It depends.” Nothing and everything, and a whole lot in between.  At the worst of times, a “producer” is someone who receives a vanity credit by virtue of being at the right at place at the right time (ie. He lent someone a pen that allowed them to sign the contract that closed the deal).  At the best of times, it’s someone who plays a crucial role in bringing the production to life, either by assembling the elusive pieces of the financial puzzle or coordinating the technical aspects of a production or helping to shape the creative.  In Jay’s case, it’s all three.  The only reason we’re moving forward on Dark Matter is because he was able to hustle his ass off and close the deals that got us the money we needed to make the show.  We’re moving smoothly into prep because of the infrastructure he’s already put in place (talented personnel and valuable resources), the result of the many years of television he’s produced here in Toronto – most recently the series Lost Girl whose stages we’ll be moving into in the coming weeks.  And, finally, Jay is involved in the creative, from scripts through prep to editing.  Now, normally, this would be a cause for concern for me.  While I’m not precious with my ideas and am open to ideas that will make a script better, experience has taught me that, a lot of the time, notes can actually make a script worse.

Actual notes/suggestions/requests we received on Stargate:

“Can we do a final shot where he wiggles his ears so that we know he’s an alien?” (On the character of Martin Lloyd in Stargate: SG-1‘s Point of No Return).

“Don’t know if he’s right for the show.” (On making the character of Dr. Rodney McKay a member of the Atlantis expedition, Stargate: Atlantis).

“I’d love for them to have a mascot.  Maybe a golden retriever!” (On Stargate: Atlantis‘s second season).

I’m a “worst case” scenario type of guy, so when someone tells me they have notes on my script, my response is akin to cresting the top of a roller coaster and starting the plummeting descent.  In a nutshell: “Nononono!  Aaaaaaah, SHIIIIIIIIIIIT!”. Sure, it might be considered an overreaction.  Much of the time, the notes aren’t THAT bad.  But they can be.  I always go in, prepared for the worst, and spend much of these sessions thinking “I can’t address these notes.  I’m dooooomed!” This in contrast to my writing partner, Paul, who is super positive and accommodating during notes sessions (“You want to make his love interest a platypus.  Sure, we can do that.”) only to discover, when he sits down to incorporate the changes, that he’s dooooooomed!

Anyway, we started working with Jay about a year and a half ago when he hired us to develop one of his ideas for television.  We wrote a pilot script and, when we sat down with him for that first note session, I was, of course, expecting the worst. And ended up shocked.  For a number of reasons.  First of all, his approach was collaborative rather than confrontational.  Secondly, he was perfectly reasonable, happy to discuss his notes and, on occasion, willing to reconsider.  Thirdly, and most importantly, his notes were actually good.  Smart and well thought-out.  Paul and I may have disagreed with some, but there was never a moment when I wondered: “What was this guy smoking?!”.  And, believe it or not, that happens a lot more than you’d think.

Anyway, Jay dropped by my office today to offer his thoughts on the first six scripts.  He had a couple of suggestions regarding the character voices (We agreed that we would make adjustments once we had our cast and the first 12 scripts) and a couple of bumps (that, after some thought, I realized could be addressed easily enough).  All good.

Speaking of casting, I just got off the phone with Paul who is finally making his way through all the Toronto auditions.  About two hours in, he’s sounding a little punch drunk.  I’ll check in with him in an hour.

Meanwhile, our casting director, Lisa Parasyn, has her work cut out for her this week as she heads west to take in some more auditions.  Her Vancouver schedule has her starting at 9:00 a.m. and, with five minutes allotted to each audition, and an hour off for lunch, she’ll be done a little after 4:00 p.m.  Her second Vancouver session is, thankfully, only half as long.  And then she’s off to L.A. to do it all over again.

Anyway, I’m hoping we’ll have our decisions for round #2 by early next week.  This weekend, I’ll choose another set of sides (scenes they’ll use in their auditions) for each of the seven characters.  And, hopefully by the week after, we’ll be down to our round #3 finalists.  It’s sort of like American Idol, but with less singing and more Androids.

After another D.O.P. interview, I moved on to the most important part of my day – picking out some dog carpets for the new place:

October 21, 2014: Introducing Jay Firestone!  Notes!  And Carpet Heaven!
It’s like carpet heaven!

With Lost Girl wrapped, their inventory awaits a discerning purveyor of fine carpets – such as myself.  With the help of Exec Producer’s Assistant Alison Hepburn (who, in addition to picking out carpets, making sure I don’t get lost, and chewing my food like a mother bird for me because I’m now a busy Show Runner and don’t have time to do it myself), I picked up a wonderful selection that will ensure the hardwood floors remain scratch-free, and Jelly upright and mobile.

October 21, 2014: Introducing Jay Firestone!  Notes!  And Carpet Heaven!

It was an awesome day.  Until Jay informed me that, because of snafu in my writer’s contract, I would actually be getting paid in carpets.

18 thoughts on “October 21, 2014: Introducing Jay Firestone! Notes! And carpet heaven!

  1. I like how Jay Firestone looks. He reminds me of Robert Cooper with a little bit of Martin Gero thrown in. He sure does have a great background.

    Oh, and hey, can Dark Matter have a mascot? I love golden retrievers!! Or maybe a smaller, less conspicuous French bulldog?

    @ Tam – I have a prayer list a mile long. Adding your family and husband to it. Hope he finds something quickly. And PBMom, there is room for animals too.

    How is the Bubbaman doing? Better?

  2. Merci de nous faire vivre de l’intérieur la création d’une série. C’est passionnant!

  3. LOLs all over the place,,,especially for that last line. Fascinating to me to see the work one must do to make a new series real. Thanks, Joseph…

  4. Casting must be the biggest bug-a-beat’ to deal with, your internal concept of the character vs what will best sell this character to the audience. The casting director has a true finger to the pulse of selling this character (an therefor the series) than the writer may have in his/her initial concept. Hard idea to deal with, but better having the best actor In the role than having your dream actor which doesn’t fit the team chemistry and then sinks the show

  5. Carpets? I’d be in trouble, I’m a carpet addict. Moths got at my good Persians though, but I still love and use them. Life is too short for shag.

    Jay Firestone… magnificent moniker.

  6. Ponytail: Thanks! Yes, my prayer list is growing too. Lots of terrible things going on. On a bright note, I agree, Bubba would make a great mascot for the show!

    If Mr. Firestone is an example of your new co-workers…you should have great time!

    How are the pups adjusting? Are you renting an apartment or a condo? If the show runs for years, will you buy in Toronto? A condo might make a good investment because of the filming going on there.

  7. I just know that if one day I’m lost in the Pacific on a wooden raft I want one of those who are with me is Jay, I’m sure in a few hours we are aboard a yacht with mojitos. >-I
    I think its humorous concept also suits this series. Many thanks for your effort Jay.
    Alison the other hand can be a good Nemesis to counter your diabolical plans for world domination. On breaks ask him to advise you on your figure skating.
    Nice carpets. 👿

  8. Well, I guess the big question hovering in the back of your mind is actually: How dog-friendly will these new offices and stages be?

    I don’t know how normal it is to have people bring their dogs to work in the TV world, but you do have to the chance to make sure that your new show’s sets are very dog-inclusive. It was always fun to see all the pooches hangin’ around the offices and sets in years previous on your blog. I guess once the crew starts to gel and really become friends, they’ll feel more at ease about bringing their dogs in to work.

    Another question I’m sure you’re pondering: What decorating theme will I give my new office?

    Are you going to go with a new lineup of supervillian figures? Perhaps a set of Cowboy Bebop figures? Are you keeping the Cheeto couch? Decisions, decisions!

    -Mike A.

  9. But yeah, I was following the Ottawa stuff as it was being reported on TV, it sounded really bad.

  10. Um, this is how I found out Lost Girl was canceled; because Joe was ransacking their abandoned sets for carpets, sniff. Lost Girl movie?! Ksenia Solo is a tiny comic genius, and Anna Silk is so funny and gorgeous that I would be jealous if she wasn’t so damn cool. I’ll miss the show, I wish my apartment looked like the Dal.

  11. Welcome Jay and thanks for your hard work and making this possible. I loved the comic series so I look forward to seeing it come to life.

    Now Joe, the third note about a golden retriever being a mascot would have been all sorts of AWESOME. You know how I feel about golden retrievers.

    Here is a note: “Maybe you can have Aladdin pop in for a magic carpet ride? No?”

    Boomer went in today for the 1st part of his treatment. He has thickening in his lungs but the vet is not sure if it is pneumonia or heartworm related. His creatinine is also elevated and he has struvite crystals in his urine. I have to take him back in 3 weeks for a recheck on that. He starts doxycycline and prednisone tonight. On the Monday before Thanksgiving he will get his first injection and they’ll keep him for the full day and we’ll take him home that night if everything is okay.

  12. @Randomness: I live in Ottawa. Everyone’s feeling very tense, especially since there may be another shooter. Many schools and the downtown core were on lockdown. In fact, the lockdown has been extended on Parliament Hill, so there is still a threat.

  13. Hi Joe

    @randomness I got home and my daughter called, I thought she was in Kingston for school but, no, she was back in Ottawa and downtown when the shooting began. Her and the boyfriend where in lockdown for a few hours.
    What kind of special mentality does it take to shoot the person guarding the War Memorial?


  14. Hi Joe, hope you don’t mind…

    @Ganymede you’re in Ottawa too, are you not? Hope all is well.


  15. Pretty sure I have that same exact smaller rug in my house. Make sure to put an anti-slip mat under it – I don’t have one and my cats use it as a ‘magic carpet’, jumping on it at high speed and zoooooming across the floor. It’s one of their favorite things to do at four in the morning…right outside the bedroom door… 😛


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