Another weekend come and gone. Between the demands of writing, plotting, chores, and bills, a little on-couch therapy with the new girl.
Bubba, bundled up, ears tucked in, ready for the winter weather.
Suji is one tough cookie.
Any guest to our apartment automatically forfeits all rights to self-respect and become defacto dog beds.
Let’s hit the mailbag!
Alex writes: “How do you decide if an idea (be it for a show or an episode) is worth pursuing? Can you share one that you dropped and tell us why?”
Answer: In terms of show ideas, it’s really a personal preference. If I find the premise fresh and exciting, or if I think it will be fun to write, then that motivates me to develop a concept. In the case of specific episode ideas, I’m always looking for the heart at the core of the story, the character-centered revelation or moments that make it all worthwhile. If it’s missing that, then I have a hard time mustering up much interest.
“What is it like to write in collaboration with others? How does that exactly work?”
Answer: Ah, it depends. In the case of Dark Matter, the writers convene prior to the season and I pitch out where we’re going to go in terms of overall arc and stories, then we sit down and spin ideas and break the stories together. When the outlines are done, they go through (series co-creator) Paul Mullie and I who will provide notes before sending the writer off to script. After a first draft, we’ll also provide notes after which, once the writer delivers a second draft, I’ll do my pass, send it to Paul for any tweaks, and then deliver it for production. When it comes to Paul and I, we simply provide notes on each other’s scripts. Paul’s scripts are always tightly written, so it’s rare I’ll do a significant pass on them unless there’s a production concern (ie. the estimated run time is short and we need a couple of extra scenes).
“What did you want to become as a child?”
Answer: Detective first, then comedian, and finally writer.
“If you could thank someone who influenced/ helped you regarding your career, who would that be?”
Answer: Hmmmm. I’d like to say all the writers I read growing up, from novelist to comic book authors.
“Do you have any advice on writing in general?”
Answer: Yes. Write! If you don’t feel like writing, force yourself to write! Try to write every day. And turn off the t.v. and read.
KathyC writes: “If we want to send you something, where should we mail it to?”
Answer: The production offices would probably be your best bet.
glowyzoey writes: “Did you always want to be a writer?”
Answer: Ever since I was writing those short SF and horror stories in grade 4, yes.
“How young were you when you first wrote fiction and in what form?”
Answer: See above. I think I worried my mother.
“Do you remember what it was?”
Answer: I was heavily influenced by the works of Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, and O. Henry so my work tended toward the macabre with that unforeseen twist. In 6th grade, I wrote my first attempt at a novel – “The Robot Revolution” – 200+ pages carefully printed in ballpoint on double-sided looseleaf.
“When did you first aspire to be a producer?”
Answer: When it became clear to me that the producers are the decision-makers and the ones with the creative control in television.
Line Noise writes: “Ice cream: Particulates or no particulates?”
Answer: Depends on the particulates. I like subtle textural additions like shaved chocolates.
Alex writes: “I’m currently an undergrad student aspiring to be a screenwriter and director. What advice would you give to someone like me to be successful? And how can I set myself apart from others?”
Answer: You’ll often hear “Write what you know” but I think a fairer bit of advice would be “Write what you love”. If you enjoy SF, then that may well be the place for you. Just be sure to find a fresh take or a spin on a concept that makes it your own. When I was pitching Dark Matter, some people criticized it as being “too much like Pandora“. Sure, it has the same basic premise, but it’s the execution that sets it apart. “Window of Opportunity” remains one of fandom’s favorite Stargate episodes. Sure, it was very similar to Groundhog Day, but it was the exception, what made the story unique to OUR characters, that made it work. In both of the aforementioned examples, it was the script that made believers out of the doubters. And so, the best advice I can give you is to write a kick-ass script that can serve as your calling card. Even if it doesn’t get produced, like our Pizza Man 2017 script, it will get you noticed.
Tinyiy writes: “Will we see any furry friends in dark matter?”
Answer: Ha. Melissa O’Neil (TWO) just texted me yesterday, saying her character should get a dog.
Randomness writes: “Would a device similar to the Attero device from SGA be required if Blink drives were ever to be mass produced? And do you think a corporation would research one as a counter measure?”
Answer: That was something unique to Stargate so, no, I can’t see that entering the Dark Matter universe. Still, corporations would certainly see mass-produced Blink Drives as a threat if their rivals had sole possession so they probably would seek out counter-measures.
“Although the Code Geass reference likely flew over some peoples heads with the eye thing, you know when Truffaut transferred info to Three about the prison layout(early Season 2). Any plans to progress that technology she’s using some more?”
Answer: The corps will have more than a few tricks up their sleeves this upcoming season.
“Could you ever see Four using a Naginata?”
Answer: Absolutely. FOUR trained her in both hand to hand combat and blade work.
Das writes: “You’re a writer, so explain to me why I fall for mistreated, misunderstood, and/or abused (male) characters? Mind you, they can’t be snivellers, no, no, no…rather they have to strong and determined to overcome whatever cards life deals them. (This goes back to my childhood, watching A Fistful of Dollars, and the moment Clint Eastwood had to heal and fight back after he was beaten to a pulp. This happened a lot to Eastwood in his various westerns…and I watched a lot of westerns back in the day. lol.) There must be some psychology behind it…one writers are well aware of.”
Answer: It’s the dichotomy of the vulnerable yet capable anti-hero. In a way, they reflect the very best and worst in us, individuals who must come obstacles greater than we would ever have to face, yet manage to persevere and reach heights greater than we could ever hope to attain.
“I need that guy in Dark Matter. Will I see him? (Three showed promise in this regard last season (2.11) – can we beat him up some more…? lol.)”
Answer, Yes, THREE is definitely your guy. We’re going to put his through the wringer this season.
“I would like more intrigue and mystery in S3 – will I get it?”
Answer: Oh, yes. Keeping with Dark Matter’s tradition of twists, turns, shocks, surprises – and some pretty astounding revelations.
“I really miss your more personal, less work-related, entries…especially the funny ones about your misadventures and misfortunes. You make me smile (and laugh!) when I read them, usually right when I need it most. Will we get more of those in the future?”
Answer: Yes. Weekdays, I’m going to feature the show and, weekends, I’m going to focus on my personal life. And the dogs.
“Have you ever considered dropping drama to take up writing a comedy show?”
Answer: Nope. Like Stargate, Dark Matter offers me the best of both worlds: drama with heavy doses of humor.
“How about writing a humorous novel? Perhaps it could be about blogging, and readers coming out of the woodwork to pester you about their personal preferences?”
Answer: I don’t have the patience to write a novel. “Downfall”, the short story I wrote for Masked, the anthology of superhero fiction edited by Lou Anders, took me 9 months to write – and paid approximately 1% of a script fee. It was an incredibly satisfying experience but I’m not sure I’m up to a larger commitment.
Answer: As a matter of fact – yes!
Annie Wauters writes: “I would like to offer to put on a class for your female cast/crew. ”
Answer: That’s very kind of you to offer. This is something I would have to take up with them once production wraps.
Keith writes: “Out of the main shows that you’ve worked on (SG-1, SGA, SGU, T———-, DM), which one would you say has given you the most creative freedom from higher up executives (whether or not that’s a bad thing)?”
Answer: Definitely Dark Matter. Executive Producer and Prodigy Pictures President Jay Firestone has created a dream environment which allows me to tell the stories I want without having to compromise my vision.
“Is this the season where we finally find out more about the mystery guy in the hospital bed from the end of Season One?”
Answer: Check out Episode 310.
bambamfans writes: “Does Toronto have a great taco place?”
Answer. Yes. Toronto has the best taco place I’ve ever visited – Campechano.
“I’m not sure if you can say, but are the main characters separated throughout the first episode?”
Answer: It’s a good bet that whoever makes it off that space station will be separated from their fellow crew members -and have to find a way back to The Raza.
“Will me see any costume changes in the main cast for Season 3?”
Len Weaver writes: “You’ve often remarked that Dark Matter has a planned 5 year arc… what if the powers that be ask for a 6th season?”
Answer: Heh. That would be a question for them.