I was cleaning out my inbox today when I happened across a bunch of old prep schedules and call sheets.

For those of you who are wondering, “prep” is, of course, short for “preparation” and “prepping” an episode involves (in my t.v. producing experience) a little over a week of meetings with director and departments heads in which an episode is detailed, drawn up and discussed.  Here, for example, is the prep schedule for the Stargate: Universe episode “The Hunt” –

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

Even though it was prep week on “The Hunt”, early prep work began on later episodes.  There’s a preliminary art department meeting for “Common Descent” and “Epilogue” (suggesting BIG plans for what would turn out to be our final two episodes) followed by a prosthetics life cast with actor Louis Ferreira (to help him achieve that “Old Young” look, as Akemi coined it).

Director Andy Mikita was away and, with the director away, the meetings are pushed to other days.  Note that, while a director begins prep on one episode, another director starts shooting another – in this case, Episode 215, “Seizure”. Also, 2nd unit shoots scenes for Episode 214, “Hope”.  2nd unit usually involves a scaled down crew shooting smaller scenes from a given episode. Also on this day – a casting session!  I remember heading down to the lot and watching auditions in the casting trailer, trying to ignore the trucks that would rumble by at the most inopportune times.

Finally, prep begins early Monday morning with the concept meeting.  With all of the department heads in attendance, we would go through the script, page by page, and break down each scene.  We followed with an art department meeting in which we no doubt discussed the builds for this episode (as I recall, a cave set and a design for the creature)…

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

…then headed over to props to discuss what was required from them (besides our standard guns, there’s that makeshift spear one of the character wields late in the episode) –

  • January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
    And, oh yeah, that severed arm.

    …followed by a sit-down with the costumes department (we would need to get our uniforms dirty and, in some instances, torn and bloodstained), and, finally, a field trip to scout out some suitably rough terrain in Lynn Canyon where we planned to shoot some of the exteriors.

  • January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
    Nice day for a field trip.

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

Prep week continued full force on Tuesday with some of our biggest meetings: stunts and SPFX (there was that stunt sequence off the top where our camp is attacked by the creature), a playback (not too many big onscreen elements in this one if I recall correctly), and visual effects (the creature was pure CG as was that space deer we see in the tease).

The following day was the extras meeting (always a number of background players in every episode), and then hair & make-up (cuts, bruises, and general disarray).

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
That’s an ouchy.

Preliminary budgets from the various departments were due to give us a sense of how the episode was costing out.

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

No meeting scheduled for the Friday, but that didn’t mean we weren’t busy having discussions, finalizing the details.  A tech survey in the a.m. to Lynn Canyon during which we all sign off on the location and the director finalizes his visual game plan for the exterior sequences.  

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
Hmmm. Seemed a lot warmer and dryer on the scout.

And then, finally, the production meeting which is a mirror image of the concept meeting except that, by this point, the director and all of the departments know exactly what they’re doing and are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their work.  And, of course, final budgets are due and we find out where our budget stands on the year (which, of course, has a direct effect on ensuing episodes).

Speaking of prep, prep week kicks off on Dark Matter Episode 204 tomorrow with a 10:00 a.m. concept meeting headed by director John Stead.  It’s gonna be fun!

19 thoughts on “January 17, 2016: A Sunday afternoon stroll down Stargate memory lane!

  1. Neat! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prep schedule, not to this extent. So many meetings but how fun!

  2. It boggles my mind how complicated the whole process is in getting a TV show to the screen. And this stuff is just where the whole thing gets going!

    Love the shots of Lynn Canyon. I really enjoy that area of Vanc. Did you cross the suspension bridge there?? 🙂

  3. neat! loved to read this break-down. As a seasoned SG fan, this is a gem for me :). But, please please, can you tell me the destiny of the … Destiny! What needs to happen for the series to continue? Thank you!

  4. Speaking of Stargate… I’m still enjoying my first viewing(s), I’m starting s4 of SG-1 tomorrow. The reason I’ve never watched Stargate before is that back when first appeared on tv I was a huge Star Trek, and was very… snobbish, I guess, about what I thought was “good sci-fi” and didn’t give SG a chance. After they stopped making ST for tv I became more open-minded. Even so, it wasn’t until after I’d seen DM and learned that you, Jodelle and Roger had all been involved with SG that I finally decided to watch it – and I’m enjoying it.

  5. Have loved the Stargate verse from it’s beginning from Kurt Russell & James Spader to RDA & Micheal Shanks and all that was to follow. I was devastated when SGA was cancelled. I know there were more stories to tell! Thanks for giving us a little insight into “the prepping world”. It takes so much to get the final product on screen. I, for one, appreciate all the hard work. I’d imagine all those meetings can be mind numbing!

    Would love to see a prep schedule from this season, after the episode has aired of course. Have a great day tomorrow.

  6. I stayed up late last night/early this morning rearranging my dorm room for an all-important reshooting of some particular scenes for Preflight Launch (my webseries), which was initially going to be reshot this morning, but thanks to late-running Sunday city transit here in Winnipeg, my actor/co-star Evan and I decided we’d push the shoot to tomorrow night, after his classes are done. Admittedly, my dorm room is STUFFED more than it should be, but I got the bed put against a different wall to (thankfully!) make it appear that it’s NOT the same location used as 3 different locations in season one, lol. Of course, with my injuries that have prevented me from having a normal (or art all predictable) REM cycle, it resulted in my neighbour telling me it was “mind over matter” with my not sleeping at night. My “mind” organ is injured, so that’s an impossibility for me at the moment. I had planned on having a friend help with the shuffling the furniture part, but I realized I needed to know where little things like my cameras, tripods, SD cards, and lamps were located, so I did it myself. 6 hours later, it was all moved. PLUS I found some props that will work nicely for a short film assignment due on Tuesday night (yes, shooting on Monday and madly editing Tuesday, lol).

    So that was my film prep here in wild, wild Winterpeg, Manisnowba. 😉

  7. And the episode we’ll be shooting the all-important scenes for is the one following this one: https://youtu.be/XieNa__lBK8

    Basically, we’ve shot the majority of the action, the scenes we’ll shoot will be the ones that stitch it all together. All the costumes are in place, and the “cheat sheets” have been strategically placed on set so we won’t need a prompter, lol.

  8. Thanks for sharing your memories of SG Universe with us, Joe! The production side is like an alternative universe to the one we see on the screen …. So much detailed work with so many talented people involved (and almost certainly, so many more stories to be told…!)
    …. And it continues on to the present day with Dark Matter ….. Yeay!

  9. Thank you, loved reading what’s what on a Prep schedule – there’s always so much to do, and in a timeframe.
    Looks something similar to organising a NATO military exercise!

    Would love to see the DM schedule for Eps 12 & 13 😊

  10. Thank you for the stroll along SGU Memory Lane, and your educational insights. I loved Stargate, and adored SGU. Thank you very much. 🙂

  11. I’d feel sorry for your insane schedule but for the fact you get a few months off later. Thanks for sharing all the cool stuff!

    My cat update: I watched Sammy all weekend and he feels great. Of course, his mouth has been bugging him but not enough to stop him from eating soft food. I took him to the vet today and the tumors are on the side of his mouth. She thinks taking the tumors out (sending them off for biopsy) will make a big difference. Since he’s feeling great, we’re going to see how it goes from there. If it’s cancer (95% sure that it is), I’ll wait until it makes him feel bad to let him go.
    We always have several nicknames for our cats. Ruby had the most colorful ones because she was so bitchy. In retrospect, Sammy’s nickname of “the Tumor” was unfortunate. We called him the tumor because he was always attached to Harry. Sammy thought of Harry as his mother or something. Thanks to All for the support through this!

    As for the vet, she said something about going to Texas for treatment next weekend. I’ll be housesitting for her, I’m sure. Hubby is trying to get a wired internet connection in her bedroom (so she can watch Netflix while she recovers). That’s not going so well because of the configuration of her walls. He’s working on it though. Does anyone here have pros and cons for a power line network?

    I found a new binge worthy show on Netflix,”The River”. Has anyone else watched it?

  12. Another cat update: When the vet got Sammy under, the cancer was more extensive than they thought. He was going to get bad fast and they recommended we let him go, while he was under. 🙁

  13. I always amazes me how much it takes to get the show on the air. Thanks for sharing.

    @Tam.. sorry for your loss.

  14. So that’s what producers do. Moving parts indeed.

    Thanks for this “Day in a Life” particularly interesting for us Stargate fans.

  15. Production of a TV show reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner but magnified. Hours and hours of prep for the meal that lasts only X amount of minutes. But so much love goes into that meal and it is remembered for a lifetime.

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