I was actually developing Dark Matter as far back as 2007.  That year comes to mind because, in 2007, we were producing Stargate: Atlantis’s fourth season and I remember walking the corridors of the ship we constructed for episode #405, Travelers, and saying to Paul: “We’ve got to find a way to keep these sets. They’d be perfect for Dark Matter!”  In retrospect, it was probably a good thing we didn’t hold on to those sets.  The storage costs over seven years would have no doubt eclipsed the price tag of our spanking new sets.

The nice thing about waiting seven years for your show to get green lit is that it gives you plenty of time to develop the hell out of it.  Characters, their journeys, seasonal and series arcs – you’d be surprised how much you can flesh out over the course of 84+ months.

With a more than fully fleshed out show on our hands,  the plan was to roll right into Dark Matter if and when Stargate ever ended.  I’d been preparing myself for Stargate’s eventual end since Stargate: SG-1’s fifth season, back in early 2000, so I’d grown inured to the dread of cancellation.  As a result, when the end did come, and Stargate: Universe was cancelled in 2011, I was taken by surprise.  I wasn’t ready!

This business is funny sometimes.  Given the fact that Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had effectively established MGM’s t.v. division and made the studio TONS of money with Stargate, I imagined they be set.  A studio deal.  A couple of blind pilots.  Offers to use their years of experience to help shepherd or run whatever other productions the studio had in the pipeline.  No?  A letter of reference?   A hearty handshake?  A “Thanks for multi millions?” scribbled on a post-it?

If they weren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the guys that had earned them enough cash to purchase a tiny country (something modest with a lot of beachfront property), I figured my chances were…slimmer…

“I’m sorry.  What department did you say you used to work in?”

“Uh, television.  A t.v. show actually.  We ran for seventeen seasons, produced over three hundred episodes and two movies?   Stargate?  STARGATE?!”

“Could you spell that?”

Even with a writing/producing background on one of the most successful franchises in television history, the chances of selling a pitch are slim.  People love great ideas.  They love great scripts.  But, usually, not enough to buy them.  Established properties on the other hand…well, that’s a different story.  And that’s something I was well aware of from my days working development.

And so, rather than roll the dice on a pitch tour, I made a single call – to Keith Goldberg at Dark Horse Comics and presented him my idea for Dark Matter.  He loved it and, in no time, we were in business with publisher Mike Richardson on a four-issue SF comic book series.  That would eventually be collected into a trade paperback.  Which would be used as a visual aid and sales document to help Prodigy Pictures President Jay Firestone sell the show.

So, much respect for Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg, artist Garry Brown, colorist Ryan Hill, editor Patrick Thorpe and the rest of the gang at Dark Horse Comics (Kari Yadro, Aub Driver, Spencer Cushing et al.)

And much respect for Executive Producers Jay Firestone and Vanessa Piazza for getting the show to air.

And much respect for my terrific cast, crew, VFX, and post personnel helped me produce one hell of an awesome SF series.  And a ship-based SF series no less!

21 thoughts on “April 12, 2015: Dark Matter – A 7+ year journey!

  1. I love hearing about how you managed to sell Dark Matter. It goes to show just how hard it is to get into television. It seems that if you are not already “in” your next bet would be to write a very popular series of books, like Game of Thrones, or to hit it big in a series of comics like, Walking Dead. Then, there is also your way – Masters of English from some fancy pants college. In other words…don’t hold your breath. For your mailbag question, I’d like to ask, is there any other way to get into television besides the above mentioned methods?

  2. Taking time out of my annual Thai adventure to read the blog-enjoy that much. I had always felt SG was a victum of the times. Despite it’s obvios successes and out lasting the other competative programs, the studio wanted the next fresh idea. I think that was the time the vampire series and non dead series were taking off. Yes, “Buffy” had been on for a while, which I watched because of Sarah Michelle G. Space based shows got pushed aside. Just my running theory.

    Martin Wood and Dan Shaes(?). Who’s got wrench? A bit of an homage, from “Stop Making Sense” to Martin, and the anticipated day of “Dark Matter’s” airing.

  3. Joe you forgot one person behind your success…the one who keeps the home fires burning, offering endless support, taking care of the kids, a culinary expert, flying companion and dog escort, a constant source of amusement and delight, beautiful partner, perfect distraction from job stresses, ideal Tokyo sidekick and personal translator, equally talented with endless energy, and beloved by all. Where would you be without Akemi.

    1. “Joe you forgot one person behind your success…the one who keeps the home fires burning, offering endless support, taking care of the kids, a culinary expert, flying companion and dog escort, a constant source of amusement and delight, beautiful partner, perfect distraction from job stresses, ideal Tokyo sidekick and personal translator, equally talented with endless energy, and beloved by all. Where would you be without Akemi.”

      You made Akemi cry. 🙂

  4. It takes a village…to bring a ship-based Sci-Fi show to TV. The village is probably on a distant planet that looks a lot like Earth where everyone speaks English and no one uses contractions. Those are the perfect villages for such a venture.

  5. Great things come to those who wait.

    I second Ponytail’s post about Akemi. Where would you be without her!

    Headed into the Canyon tomorrow morning. See y’all one Saturday!

  6. You’re the best Joe and as a space based science fiction fan I sincerely thank you for your hard work and a great upcoming show.

  7. For the mailbag: Joe, do you think that it would be better to read the comic books before watching the show, or to wait and read them after getting to know the TV show?

  8. Nous avons le canal SPACE au Québec. Sauf erreur de ma part, rien ne semble annoncer Dark Matter. Et SyFy n’est pas diffusé au Canada si je ne me trompe.
    Pouvez-vous nous rassurer sur le fait que nous ne manquerons pas le 12 juin ?

  9. Wow, TV is a rough place to work. I’m glad you have thick skin. I’m so happy for you and Mr. Paul for the new show. June can’t come quickly enough!

    Loved Ponytail’s post! Having Akemi makes your life and the pups lives much nicer, doesn’t it? She smooth’s the way. Is there a Japanese word for that?

    I do have a question for Akemi, if I may? Have you found any new hobbies since moving to Toronto?

    One question for you: What are you doing with your summer hiatus?

    I’ve been at the beach with the ladies for a few days and have to catch up. It’s probably a bad sign when I need at nap at 9:30 a.m..

    I hope all of you have a wonderful day!!!!

  10. A bit busy here with moving to a new appartment, But I’m loving all the dark matter stuff, The trailer has convinced me that this will probably be one of my favorite series this summer (heck, 2015 and hopefully onward). Can’t wait to see the cgi fx! And the cast looks awesome! And David Frikkin Hewlett!!! Can’t wait till June! 😀

  11. Agree with everyone about Akemi. Without her your blog would be…well, boy seven years. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. And thank you so much for having us all along for the ride. I feel truly privileged to be privy to the inner workings (and frustrations) of your TV productions. And your food adventures. And your dogs, of course. And Akemi, you’re the best. Joe’s okay, too.

  12. It’s unbelievable that it takes so long to create a space-based sci-fi tv show. You’d think that in this day and age, with the technology we have in comparison to the 1970s, that development and production would take maybe half the time it used to, but I guess it again depends on getting a network to back it and buy the idea, like you said earlier.

    Probably the reason why Star Trek isn’t back on television yet, and the same reason the revival of Space 1999 is also taking an eternity.

    Makes you wonder. For every space based sci-fi television series put into production, we see the major networks pick up about 20 other comedy or police cop dramas, which is ridiculous, since most of them end up being cancelled anyway within a season or two at most. All the money wasted on these cheap sitcoms could be better spent producing a quality big budget sci-fi program, but instead the networks seem to have the mentality that instead of producing something of quality, they should produce 20 cheap sitcoms/CSI programs and then one of them will have decent enough ratings to make up for the other 19 that fail miserably.

    Thank God there are people like you still in the business Joe. If I only get to watch a handful of these spaceship sci-fi series in my life, I’d rather watch them from people who know how to create and produce them properly.

  13. Watched the trailer I think five of six times. I really like the cast, liked everything I saw, and loved that little goosebumpy twist at the end of the trailer. Can’t wait to see it all come together. I’m sad though that you won’t have that cool made up language from Cloud Atlas, I true-true wanted to yibber on it.

  14. I was thinking of DMs journey while watching doc The Showrunners on Ntflx. The writers interviewed had interesting backgrounds; the showrunner for Rizzoli & Isles was a network reporter and the showrunner for Fringe was one of the hip kidz on Catwalk of all things, and Jane Espenson won a Warner Bros or ABC Disney screenwriting fellowship: http://www.showrunnersthemovie.com/

  15. Late catching up again here, but I agree with the Akemi love. But let’s not forget about the puppies. (And I did not forget Maximus’ birthday was on April 1 and I thought about him with much love and affection). Although they do not speak, your love for them rounds out the person you are. And your loving family with Andria and your mom and all the cousins and aunts and uncles, etc.

  16. Hi, Joe! I know it’s somehow off topic but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you a few questions about Stargate. Yes, it’s history but I still love it.
    1. Could you please enlight me about the Asgard home galaxy? I mean it’s just ida or they moved to othalla after season 6? Is even existing this othalla galaxy or is just a writing mistake?
    2. Is the supergate still functional?
    3. Are they rebuilding the intergalactic bridge between milky way and pegasus?
    4. What about the antarctic outpost? Is there any chance to find another control chair? To replace the one destroyed by the wraith. May be from Tria or even from the Tower? They could negotiate with the locals for it.
    5. Who is the supreme leader of the system lords after Ra’s demise? the show is not so helpful in figuring that out. My thought is about Cronus being this next leader then Apophis after double jeopardy. From season 5 onwards it’s hard to determine. Anyway if you could tell me something about this leadership I would be in your debt :).
    6. What about Furling? Are they ascended beings along with the ancients? Are they the second of the four great races in terms of tecnological development, with the ancients being the first of course?
    7. I know you said some things about the planet builders aliens from sgu, but are they more powerful than the ancients?
    I hope you’ll read this and you’ll answer. Thank you!

  17. Apropos of nothing at all…. thank you so much for Stargate, Mr. Mallozzi.

    I liked all of the various iterations but Stargate SG-1 surpassed the original Star Trek as my favorite program ages ago, something I would have thought impossible. My wife and I still have occasional SG-1 Friday nights with Stargate friends for dinner and episode viewing. I find that I still enjoy seeing the episodes, some of which I’ve not seen in over ten years.

    Knowing that you are connected to Dark Matter, I now have a reason to watch it.

    Brian

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