January 19, 2015: Shooting In Sunny Hamilton!  Let’s Check The Mailbag!

Shooting in Hamilton today and it’s been c-c-c-cold!  Although it could be colder I suppose.  The problem with shooting in these warehouses is that it’s actually chillier indoors.  The last time we were here for a location scout, we encountered a delay and, instead of sticking around, we elected to wait outside…where it was warmer!

January 19, 2015: Shooting In Sunny Hamilton!  Let’s Check The Mailbag!

Back in Vancouver, whenever we shot on location, there would be big signs with the production’s name and arrows pointing the way.  Plenty of them.  Not so here. This morning, I encountered a single sign, a little smaller than a sandwich board, with the name of the production followed by an occasional parking cone.  Well, not so occasional.  I drove ten minutes up a winding roadway with absolutely no indication that I was traveling the right way before deciding “This can’t be right!” and turning back.  As it turned out, I WAS right.

I think we’re going to have to trim our VFX budget in order to increase our sign budget.

January 19, 2015: Shooting In Sunny Hamilton!  Let’s Check The Mailbag!

Our sock of the day (as always, compliments of the lovely Natalie Cooper):

January 19, 2015: Shooting In Sunny Hamilton!  Let’s Check The Mailbag!
Peanut butter and jelly amidst a backdrop of pink and white!

And our screen grab of the day:

January 19, 2015: Shooting In Sunny Hamilton!  Let’s Check The Mailbag!


At long last!  Time for a mailbag:

Ponytail writes: “Did 1st Assistant Director Brandon Tataryn “come with” Director T.J. Scott or was he just “paired” with him?”

Answer: Nope.  Brandon actually came with the building.  The fine print in the lease requires us to use him for fully half of our produced episodes.

Ponytail also writes: “He’ll call you out – no matter who YOU are (which I learned firsthand on the first day of production).  You got in trouble?? What’d ya do?? Step into his shot to take a picture for your blog? Talking too loud on set? Making faces at the actors, distracting them?”

Answer: In all fairness, I’m probably guilty of all of the aforementioned, but the incident I was referring to occurred while the actors were waiting for the next shot.  I approached them to discuss some dialogue variations, then the conversation turned from professional to private, we shared a laugh – at which point Brandon marched over and moved things along.  “See, this is the kind of stuff that slows things down,”he said.  And then, as an after-thought: “Not that it’s your fault.”

Kathy C. writes: “How do you order scene shooting? Do you shoot all scenes in one location at once, then move to another location, or do you shoot in order? Or some other way? Is it hard on the actors to shoot out of order?”

Answer: When drafting a schedule, the main objective is to make sure the episode can be shot in the days allotted.  To achieve that, efficiency is key.  Locations dictate the day.  So, for example, yesterday saw us shooting a chunk of bridge scenes while this Monday-Wednesday will see us shoot all of our Hamilton location days.  This is standard for television productions so it shouldn’t be that hard on the actors – provided they’ve read the scripts!

Whoviantrish writes: ” I recently discovered one of my bestest friends is quite the accomplished musician. I mean I keep begging him for more songs because he’s literally THAT good. My question is, does anyone working on the show have a secret talent that has surprised you? And what about you? Can you speak whale or recite Shakespeare from memory or anything randomly cool?”

Answer: Well, obviously Alex Mallari Jr.’s dance moves are a sight to behold.  That came as a surprise.  Though not surprising, I’ve heard great things about Melissa O’Neil’s singing voice.  According to Alex, she was belting out Ariel’s “Part of Your World” on set the other day.  I can neither sing nor dance, but I am incredibly impatient.  Does that count?

Purple- Ultra SG Fan and Sci fi nut writes: ” Wondering when the last season of Lost Girls will air in the

Answer: Alas, I’m the wrong guy to ask.  Post the question to their official twitter account.  I’m sure they’d know.

DP writes: “Is there any chance of a free edition of the Kindle version of Dark Matter being released sometime before or during the release of the Dark Matter TV episodes?”

Answer: That’ll be up to Dark Horse Comics to decide.  I do believe we’ll be doing a comic book signing at Comic Con in July.

DP also writes: “How many Dark Matter TV episodes will it take to cover the material presented in the comic?”

Answer: The first two episodes will cover the first four issues (and the full trade paperback).  More or less.  But much more than less.

Elminster writes: “…what channel do I want to make sure I have up here in Canada?”

Answer: For some reason, our Canadian broadcaster is being a little coy and hasn’t made the official announcement.  But fear not.  You should be able to watch it here.

Ganymede writes: “so… Will the DANCES-OF-THE-DAY Collection be included in the “Special Features” section when the Season goes to DVD?”

Answer: I think it should have its dedicated disc.

Carol writes: “Any news on any special guest stars for Dark Matter?”

Answer: As some eagle-eyed blog viewers have already pointed out, guest stars for episodes #101-#102 will include David Richmond Peck, Rob Stewart, Chloe Rose, Amanda Brugel, Pat Mastroianni, and the lovely Torri Higginson.

Ponytail writes: “Is director T.J. Scott responsible for all those fantastic looking shots in your Screen Grab of The Day?”

Answer: Every one.

Tam Dixon writes: “Are you doing a chocolate party this year?”

Answer: I was thinking about it…

jimfromjersey writes: “Joe, IS there a target air date yet?”

Answer: There is, but it has yet to be officially announced.

2cats writes: “Jodelle’s character is supposed to be a kid compared to all other cast, right? IMDB says she is 20 yrs. old. Does she mind playing a kid?”

Answer: In the comic book, “the kid” is around 12 years old.  In the series, she’s more like 16.  It was highly unlikely we were going to find an 18 year old who could pull off 12 and, since casting anyone under the age of 18 would have resulted in certain complications (a shorter work day, the hiring of a tutor, etc.), and since no one liked my idea of just casting a high school drop-out, we decided to adjust the character’s age.  Which, in the end, was perfect since I’ve been wanting to work with Jodelle (again) for years now: https://josephmallozzi.com/2009/06/17/june-17-2009-dear-casting-directors-producers-studio-people-and-network-execs-do-yourself-a-favor-and-hire-these-actors/

Line Noise writes: “Are you shooting in 4K? 4K TVs are getting cheaper and cheaper and Netflix even has a 4K feed now. It would be good if Dark Matter was future proof.”

Answer: Alas no, not shooting in 4K.  But the show WILL look awesome.

Line Noise also writes: “As an adjunct to that, I’d be keen to hear about the camera gear being used. Can we get some Q&As with some of the crew?”

Answer: Yes.  Once we settle in, I’d like to organize Q&A features with the cast and crew.

Ponytail writes: ” How does it feel to see your ideas made into a television show? Is this the biggest thing you have ever done?”

Answer: Although SGU was a bigger production, I consider Dark Matter “the biggest” because it’s my baby.  It feels great – in large part thanks to the infinitely talented people who are making it happen.  Makes my job SOOO much easier.

DP writes: “In what year of our Lord do the events of Dark Matter take place?”

Answer: I’d say roughly a couple of hundred years into the future.

dasndanger writes: “Why don’t we ever see SyFy tv actors on late night talk shows? Isn’t it a good way to sell the show to new audiences?”

Answer: The honest answer?  Because SF television gets very little respect.

gforce writes: “How did you decide on the actual name “Dark Matter” for the concept? Will that substance actually play some role in the series development sometime? Is it a metaphor for something that has a large influence, but always remains unseen? Or did it just sound cool?”

Answer: It’s more thematic than literal.  But…who knows what season 3 will bring.

Mike A. writes: “Have you thought about putting in any kind of easter eggs in the show?”

Answer: Oh, sure.  There’ll be a few in Dark Matter‘s first season.  Let’s see if you can spot ’em.

Sylvia writes: “I know it’s really early in filming, so it might be premature to ask this, but what the heck: now that your character creations are in the hands (and bodies) of live actors and actresses, has your view of them changed? Have their interactions altered the way you plan to tell their stories?”

Answer: Adjustments will be made, but there will be no major changes to the narrative.  We’re approaching our 13-epsiode first season as an extended mini-series.  We’ve got our story detailed and most of our scripts (12 of 13) written.  It would be much easier to make wholesale changes if we were less prepared, didn’t know where we were going with our story and characters, or writing standalone episodes.  Fortunately, that’s not the case.

Sylvia also writes: “Will there be any transition from the original “portrayal” in the Graphic Novel to what we will see on screen?”

Answer: Yes, there will be some transition from the graphic novel to the screen.  Casting, locations, budget, and specific production concerns have lead us to make changes that have, frankly, improved the material.

lise writes: “When was the decision made to gender swap the android? How did you come to cast Zoie Palmer in particular, I’m a big fan of hers from stuff like Cold Blooded, so I’m really curious about her version of the character.”

Answer: Early in the casting process, we opened the roles up to all ethnicities and in a couple of cases – the role of FOUR and the role of the Android – all genders.  We wanted to stray a little from the source material and offer a more balanced crew.  There were some terrific auditions for The Android but there was something about Zoie’s take that really resonated – composed and decisive yet, at the same time, displaying flashes of innocence, insolence, and humor.  Very hard to do in a couple of three minute auditions

JustLookAtTheFlowers writes:”You mentioned before that if you were to choose a series Dark Matter is similar to, it would be Cowboy Bebop. That show was well-known for the great music. Can you give any hints about the music of Dark Matter? Has a composer been chosen yet? Will there be a theme song that plays during the opening credits, or will it just be a quick flash of the title? One thing missing in a lot of shows is a proper opening title credits — long enough to get the song in your head and get you amped up for the show.”

Answer: While I couldn’t agree more about the series’ theme song getting viewers amped up, I’m in the minority as, increasingly, shows are moving away from extended opening titles in favour of short, ten second intros.  Which is the way we’ll probably end up going.  In terms of music – there has been some discussion and I’m awaiting samples which were apparently sent to the office weeks ago…but never found their way to my desk.  Yet.

Patricia Bertrand writes: ” You will obviously need special effects for Dark Matter. Do you have a company in mind for this?”

Answer: By special effects, I assume you mean visual effects.  And, yes, we’re already working with our old friends at Atmosphere, among them former Stargate VFX Supervisor Mark Savela, and present Dark Matter VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.

Duptiang writes: “In a unrelated episode of a unrelated series the stage setting was dark which had a focusing effect of the character’s story setting. Your stage settings seem to be reminiscent of a previous series. How did you and your fellow creators come to decide on a state setting?And, How do the DP and Directors feel about its effects in filming compared to other types of background colorization?”

Answer: I wanted the show’s sets and lighting to reflect its theme and that was something I made clear from the get-go.  The Art Department and our Director or Photography used that idea as a springboard to creating what is a fantastic-looking show.

Pennylynn writes: “1) What has been the hardest part about the last few days (not your rib, that’s a given)”

Answer: No question.  Waking up at 5:30 a.m.

“2) What has been the biggest surprise or something that worked out that you were not expecting.”

Answer: I’m amazed that there have been so few hiccups early in the process.  And that’s due to the enormously talented people who are working on the production.

“3) Can I get a Q&A with you eventually for my blog?”

Answer: Of course.

2 cats writes: “#1 – Will the guest cast list possibly include anyone from SG-1, ST Atlantis or SGU?”

Answer: Yep.  Torri Higginson will be appearing early in the show…and possibly later.

“#2 – Do any of your fuzzy kids come to work with you on a regular basis?”

Answer: Nope.  I wouldn’t trust them on set.

Mark Bennett writes: “I commented a while back on weather you had any information regarding the Stargate address used to dial Destiny from Icarus base – anymore info on that?”

Answer: Hey Mark – unfortunately I couldn’t find anything in my files.

Stacy writes: “I was wondering if the network has figured out a way to acount for all the online viewing of a show.”

Answer: You think they would have by this point.

mylhibug writes: “Also, I’m sure you’ve answered this somewhere, but were you ever going to write any more Dark Matter comics?”

Answer: I’d love to continue the comic book series but, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be busy – producing a t.v. show!  🙂

paloosa writes: ” Since you were involved in practically every aspect of Stargate throughout its many years, are you finding it easier to produce Dark Matter? Are you a little more relaxed?”

Answer: In the case of Stargate, we joined a show in its fourth year, one that had already worked out all the bugs and was, as we so often liked to put it, a “well-oiled machine”.  Starting off a brand new production is definitely NOT easier to produce nor more relaxing.  Pressure’s on!

31 thoughts on “January 19, 2015: Shooting in sunny Hamilton! Let’s check the mailbag!

  1. I totally thought you were talking about a gun shooting – ya know, bang-bang – and my heart stopped for a moment. Thanks for the scare. 😛

    And thanks for the frank answer! 🙂


  2. dasndanger writes: “Why don’t we ever see SyFy tv actors on late night talk shows? Isn’t it a good way to sell the show to new audiences?”

    Answer: The honest answer? Because SF television gets very little respect.
    so true. unless the host of the show is a fan or knows some of the people involved.
    even sci-fi movies don’t get much respect, unless they’re big-budget productions with a couple of “name” stars.

    as for the theme/opening title credits, you could maybe do a longer one for the first couple of episodes, then do the title card with a piece of the theme bit later.

  3. Brrr. And here in the Maritimes it’s very warm (9C) today and pouring rain. More like Vancouver! 🙂 But it’s supposed to get cold again tonight, but only a little below freezing for a while. Nothing too bad.

    It being so cold there got me wondering how you handle that when taping the scenes – I assume they dress in “normal” (for the show) clothes, but it must be *freezing*!

    These shots of the day are pretty underexposed – the more to tease us with, I suppose! 🙂

    Thanks for the mailbag! I’m so grateful that you’re able to field our questions like that and kind of bring us in to the process.

    Is Lulu doing any better?

  4. Also, Natalie’s socks look like they’re covered in WordPress default avatars! How appropriate!

  5. @Because SF television gets very little respect.

    I think the fact ship in space Science fiction shows have been relegated to cable says it all. Broadcast networks seem more happy with cop shows.

  6. Thanks for the Q&A answers, Joe!

    I just wanted to pass along to you that my daughter is pleased that you selected a female to be your android. She is seriously into gender equality in media and applauds your open casting policy (though I’ve got to tell you it would have been a serious shock to me if Four had been cast as a woman). 😉

    She has been teaching me about gender bias in media and introduced me to the Bechdel test;

    The Bechdel test asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.

    I’m betting that Dark Matter will have no problems meeting those criteria.

  7. Joe,
    Heard about your mailbag questions kinda late. But when does Roger start shooting Continuum???? By the way I was rooting for Greenbay>>>:(

  8. Thanks for the great mailbag sir! And along with gforce, how is Lulu doing? Has the original eye meds helped her enough to avoid surgery?

    I may have said this before but it bears repeating. You have amazing energy and perseverance to first get this show made and second, to ride herd over it with such dedication and care.

    Congratulations to you and Paul and to all who are working so diligently on this show.
    Please know that there awaits a very eager, loyal and excited viewership! Go Dark Matter!

    2cats =^-^=

  9. Unless I overlooked it, I didn’t see an answer about Four’s hair.

    So, lemme say just one thing…

    You know what’s worse than not having a long-locked wig on his Four’s head?

    Having a BAD long-locked wig on Four’s head.



  10. That screen grab o’ the day looks dangerous 😉 with lots of sharp shiny things! It’s sad that sci fi television gets so little respect – hopefully the fact that it has more loyal and supportive fans helps make a difference.

    Q for future thought: Dark Matter, like other shows you’ve worked on, shoots pairs of episodes rather than one-at-a-time. Does this help get more out of the budget? Or is it actually harder to prepare for 2 episodes concurrently? Just curious. 🙂

  11. I blame all typos on eating nothing but jello for two days straight. 😛


  12. Thanks for the mailbag…and actually the first question was by Sparrow Hawk who stated it very well. Part 2 was my add on to that.

    Love the way things are unfolding….we are ready to start the ride!

  13. Thanks for the answer, I think. Now I’m going to have to watch each episode like three times! Once to take in the story, once to take in all the special/visual effects, and now(at least) once to try and find the easter eggs!

    What should I bone up on to be ready: Stargate, Cowboy Bebop, traditional Japanese tea ceremonies….? 😉

    -Mike A.

  14. @Das – Just think of how weird your 10 year old self would think you were for complaining about eating nothing but Jello for two days straight!

    -Mike A.

  15. Well, waddya know joe! It actually is smooth sailing. Good to hear. I’m also pleased to hear that Tori Higginson is going to appear. I saw her in a SF flick a couple of years ago and I think that her acting saved the movie in my opinion or at least raised it a couple of notches. I thought it was very obvious. So, yes. Looking forward to seeing Tori again…. And others as well, but I can only hope til the cows come home….

  16. You know, someday I hope someone adapts Infinite Ryvius or comes up with an idea similar. The show was quite compelling, and the drama onboard the ship mixed with the fact the crew(teenage and older) were being hunted down and forced to do battle with vastly experienced crews was another thing. Pretty much everyone calls it Lord of the flies in space. The general idea would work in live action tv format.

  17. Joe, I feel your pain regarding getting up very early. My job necessitates working a constantly fluctuating schedule, but those early mornings are the most difficult. Today, for instance, I woke up at 3:30am to be at work at 5am. The up side is that there is very little traffic. The downsides are obvious. Thank you for making the sleep sacrifice now so that we can enjoy your show both now and later.

  18. “Early in the casting process, we opened the roles up to all ethnicities and in a couple of cases – the role of FOUR and the role of the Android – all genders.”

    I am soooo glad you let Four be a guy! I would have been very disappointed if it was a girl. And Alex seems to be a perfect choice. I think a girl android is going to be very interesting and fun. And remember in the comic, the kid was drawn as a boy. Jodelle was a very nice surprise and awesome choice. She is going to be great! Everyone cast seems like the perfect choice.

  19. Oh, I almost forgot (it’s my age!), thank you Joe for the great Q&A!

    “Answer: Yes, there will be some transition from the graphic novel to the screen.”

    Like… we won’t see their thoughts popping out of their heads, and One, Three, Four, and Six won’t have to yell “Wham!”, “Whap!”, “Phoom!”, or “Eewoo!” when they are kicking someone’s butt!

  20. “Answer: Nope. Brandon actually came with the building.”

    Ohhhhhh, I see. Kinda like the carpet? (just kidding Mr. Tataryn) 🙂

    “…we shared a laugh – at which point Brandon marched over and moved things along.”

    “Things” = Joseph Mallozzi. No loitering! Move along now!

    I am wondering why you don’t shoot in the spring/summer for a fall release. It would be much nicer weather. Use to, a long time ago, (the 70’s) all new and returning shows started in the fall. It was a big deal. The summer was for reruns.

  21. “While I couldn’t agree more about the series’ theme song getting viewers amped up, I’m in the minority as, increasingly, shows are moving away from extended opening titles in favour of short, ten second intros.”

    Well, maybe not a horrible idea. Fraiser has 4 piano notes as their opening theme. I hear those 4 notes and know exactly what is on. Recently Honda had just 2 piano notes at the start of their commercials. I heard those 2 notes and immediately hit the mute button. The commercials were a little irritating at the time. Thanks Honda for the 2 note warning!

    “Mark Savela”. You’re in good hands.

  22. @ Mike A. – My ten-year old self preferred chocolate pudding. 😉 😀

    @ Ponytail – Probably not enough. I’m not much of a ‘grazer’ – both with food and with water. I forget to eat/drink except at mealtimes. There is no reason for me to be fat! I am trying to carry water with me so that I remember to drink, but I’m still not very good at it except for when it’s very hot, or I am REALLY thirsty.


  23. Thank you for including me in your Q&A. It is like a pre-post dvd commentary. I like to hear what the creator has in mind.

  24. Great Q & A! The chocolate party seems to always bring the cast/crew together. How long does one take to put together? I know you gather chocolate from all over.

    Hubby’s new job gets him up at 5ish. It could be worse my dad used to get up at 3:30 every morning for years. After he retired, he’d still get up that early and watch TV/drink his morning coffee.

    Jenny Horn: Swing shift would be rough!

    How’s Lulu doing? Are they going to sew her third eye lid together? That works but it’s not pretty. Seeing the Nictitating Membrane always reminds me of Spock. Remember when he was blinded? Yes, I’m weird that way. Anyway, I hope she doesn’t need the surgery but if she does, I’m sure she’ll do fine!

    Das: I’m glad you’re on the mend! You sound like your old self, too. I have to drink a lot of water too (because of kidney stones). Pain is a great motivator! You can mix things in your water to change it up. They make all kinds of drink mixes.

  25. Nice screen grab. Until I read Ponytail’s comment, I wasn’t quit sure what all those back-lit shadows were. But now I do!

    @das: I’m glad you’re back home. Now behave yourself. I’ve got to admit that I have a hard time with drinking enough water, too. I find tea easier to get down, so I have green tea and Black Cherry Berry herbal tea in my desk at work. And I guess we’ll just have to be patient and wait until “the big reveal” to find out about Four’s hair and what the android looks like.

    @Sylvia: Thanks! I’m just glad the question was answered.

    And it’s very exciting that the comic books are only the first two episodes and that the next 11 episodes will all be new material!

  26. Lots of great questions, I do hope my favorite he-wolf from Lost Girl will pop in; they do have were-hotties in space, don’t they?

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