The second week of the writers’ room has drawn to a close and not only have we made great progress, but we’re picking up steam. Following a week of world building, we started talking stories and managed to get the first three episodes broken. I’m trying to complete all three outlines for Monday (two revisions and one first pass), but find myself struggling with a short fourth act. It’s always the way: You distribute an outline, receive great notes, then sit down to implement them only discover your fourth act is now short.
And it’s ALWAYS the fourth act!
So, I’ve been pretty cryptic about this new series to date simply because we’re in the early stages, the production company has yet to establish a social media campaign, and, admittedly, I like to maintain an air of mystery. But today, it gives me great pleasure to reveal the man behind the show: director, writer, producer, and just one of the smartest, most collaborative, good-natured individuals you could ever hope to work with on a new science fiction series: R.T. Thorne.
In the room.
On the road.
Always grasping for that ever-elusive je ne sais quoi. Call it inspiration, ethereal epiphanies, or floating ghost marshmallows. He will NOT be denied.
And it turns out we have a mutual friend – none other than Writer/Executive Producer (Stargates SG-1, Atlantis, Universe, L.A. Complex, Bored to Death, Blindspot, etc.) Golden Boy Martin Gero. Small world!
Anyway, just a good, good guy – and a major part of what drew me to this project. Can’t wait for you to get to know him.
In the meantime, head on over to twitter and follow him: @directedbyRT
Who knows? Maybe he’ll offer a few hints on what we’ve been working on…
Ivon focuses on that third act twist. That or his fantasy football team.
Everyone pretending to get along.
Sam with the kugel assist.
Birthday gal Courtney gets some donut love from Natalia.
Alex under pressure to come up with some good ideas.
And now the hunter has become the hunted!
We’re all out to lunch!
Researching for our Harlem Shake video.
That’s a Friday wrap. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
Story Architects At Work!
R.T. has the floor. And table.
Lakna, not paying attention to the crucial fourth act discussion.
Ivon and Andrew offer insights on characters journeys, story arcs, and fantasy football.
Natalia seems be having fun. Let’s revisit her in three weeks, shall we?
A concerned Sam checks his notes. It’s not looking good for that third act out.
R.T. with the deep thoughts.
Courtney, all numbered up and ready to roll.
Alejandro is just humoring you.
Alex pitches his Dachshund Detective spinoff.
Nicole throws Courtney her patented “your second act is going to be short” look.
Go ahead. Pitch us your “brilliant” idea.
These were my favorites…
Amazing Spider-Man: Red Goblin (cover art by Alex Ross)
Aphrodite V #3 (cover art by Jeff Spokes)
FutureQuake vol. 25 (cover art by Conor Boyle, Bruno Stahl)
Mister Miracle #11 (cover art by Nick Derington)
Multiple Man #4 (cover art by Marcos Martin)
Nightwing #49 (cover art by Dave McCaig, Mike Perkins)
September Mourning vol. 1 (cover art by Marc Silvestri)
Seven To Eternity #11 (cover art by Bengal, Matt Hollingsworth, Jerome Opena)
Star Wars: Lando – Double Or Nothing #5 (cover art by W. Scott Forbes)
So, which were YOUR favorites?
This, is exhausting.
I spend all day in the writers’ room, breaking episodes, then come home at night to flesh out the stories so that I can deliver outlines in the morning. I know, I know, this isn’t how it’s done. But, in all fairness, it saves so much time in the long run, allowing all of the writers to weigh in so that we can, ultimately, end up with a (hopefully) bulletproof outline ready to go to script. And once this room is over and we give the writers the green light, those scripts are going to be coming fast and furious come November. The plan is to have all ten scripts in play in October, and all final drafts in place by January. The only variance I’m willing to brook is a possible delay on the finale – only insofar as a later version can be informed by any production developments.
Anyway, I’m off to complete tonight’s outline.
Tonight, I leave you with the insane medley of desserts we’ve been enjoying in the room including Italian cookies, fancy donuts, decadent chocolate chip cookies, custard-filled almond pastries, egg tarts, Akemi’s rum cake, Ivon’s brownies, and Sam’s grandmother’s honey cake (sadly, not all pictured, but believe me when I say they were all deeeeeelicious!)…
Two of my favorite things.
On Sunday, we hit the Toronto Garlic Festival, THE place to go if you’re looking to stock up on garlic – fresh, powdered, pickled, and in ice cream or popsicle form.
There were fewer vendors and food options this year, but we made the best of things, sampling some Syrian eats and Trinidanian doubles…
I’m as big a fan of spicy as Akemi is not, so I asked for a 50/50 split on the doubles – half with ghost chili pepper sauce, the other half mild. Interestingly, Akemi found her mild side crazy spicy while I found the entire dish not all that spicy at all. I wonder if my general insensitivity has extended to chili peppers now.
The haul: assorted garlic, black garlic, hot sauces, jellies, jams, and spreads. Enough to tide us over to November!
Then, for dessert, we happened by a chocolate-themed pop-up by Cove Crafted, a collaboration between B.C.’s Cove Cannabis and Beta 5 Chocolates. The chocolates on display were non-infused, no cannabis was on sale on-site, but there was plenty of chocolate to be had…
You have your choice of three blunts: 66% dark chocolate with cocoa beans, milk chocolate and lavender, and, surprisingly my favorite, white chocolate with matcha and green mango.
Adam Chandler, the chocolatier behind Vancouver’s award-winning Beta 5 Chocolates. I miss this place.
A peek inside Akemi’s emergency chocolate drawer.
Alright. Off to work on an outline. But, before I do, some shout-outs to a few blog regulars. Sending best wishes to MaggieMayDay, positive thoughts to Hilda for a speedy recovery, and Happy Birthday tidings to gforce!
Squeezing in as much fun (aka food) as humanly possible ahead of this Monday when I will be swallowed by the black hole known as The Writers’ Room. Read more
Well well well. Look at who Akemi and I ran into on our way to lunch today. None other than celebrated auteur, director, producer, writer, amateur boxer, and avid cyclist Cowboy Bruce McDonald! He’s jetting off to Luxembourg for a week to finish post-production on his latest movie, then returns to Toronto for more work – and lunch with yours truly. As most of you blog regulars know, I am a huge fan. He is immensely talented, a true professional, and a genuinely nice and thoughtful guy. Why, just check out these perfect pencils he sent me on the heels of Dark Matter‘s third season wrap –
Truer words have never been spoken – or printed on the body of a writing instrument. He knows me sooooooooooo well.
Running into him was a bit of a coincidence as I happened to come across his name plate during yesterday pre-pre-PRE-production location tour of a nearby studio. The place has a lot to offer – maybe a little too much as we’ll have to pick our spots, write to them, and then let our Production Designer do their thing. The premise of this sci-fi series offers plenty of room for visual interpretation of its retro-future feel.
Went to Portland Variety the other day for lunch to try out their $19 burger. Great bun but, damn, they cooked the shit out of that patty! I could only manage three bites before giving up and heading over to the nearby Burgers Priest for a deliciously superior cheeseburger at one third the price!
Today, Akemi and I had lunch at a place called Egg Bae in Toronto’s Kensington Market. It offers about a half dozen egg-themed sandwiches served on a peculiar house-made egg bun. Quite good. I remain unconvinced by that bun however.
Then, it was off to the newly-opened Pappa Roti cafe for their trademark Malaysian specialty – “delicate, coffee caramel coated crunchy on the outside pastry with its rich buttery filling”. We were frequent customers back in Vancouver. Akemi is a huge fan of their simple bun, while I prefer their version of the ice cream sandwich –
Today, I sit down to review potential series, story, and character arcs for one series, complete the pass on that polish for another, and wrack my brain over the series pitch for yet another and seriously wonder whether I’m just beating my head against a wall on this one. It’s like every time I near the finish line, it gets moved back a half mile. And, after this latest setback at the end of a lengthy marathon session, I’ve just stopped seeing it. Do I suck it up for one final burst, or pack it in and move onto the next race? I’m taking the weekend to think about it.
Also, I’ve got books to read and review!
You spent all weekend studying those sides, preparing for that audition – hours upon hours upon hours. And then, when the day comes, you are in the zone. You NAIL IT! You head home feeling great, certain you got the role. You tell your friends, your mom (She’s been a longtime fan), your significant other (Looks like you’ll have to reschedule that trip!). You’re feeling GOOD!
Until the following day when your agent calls you to inform you the role went to someone else.
You’re shocked, then angered, then depressed. Perhaps this is the final straw and you’re considering throwing in the towel, giving up those dreams of stage and screen for that full-time position in the accounting department of your uncle’s wholesale-retail-import-export company.
But wait! Before you make any rash decisions, I want you to know that, in all likelihood, you weren’t to blame for not getting that role. From my 22+ experience in casting, I can honestly say that the majority of the time, my final decision hinged NOT on what an actor didn’t deliver, but what other actor DID. So don’t beat yourself up. More than likely, you didn’t come up short. Someone else just happened to deliver the perfect audition.
It’s not you; it’s us. Or the other guy/gal.
THAT’s the case 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, it IS you. So please try to avoid these auditioning faux pas:
1 – Don’t show up high or drunk.
I know, I know. It seems like a big ask. And while you may think that smelling like a medical marijuana dispensary is a small price to pay for mental acuity, the reality is you come across as unfocused and meandering or, in one memorable instant, so stoned out of your gourd you stared off blankly into space for a full minute before being prompted into action with a “Whenever you’re ready!”
2 – Don’t gesticulate wildly.
Are you also signing your audition for the hearing impaired? If the answer is no, then calm the fuck down. Nothing diffuses a performance faster than windmilling arms and frenetic hand gestures. On the other hand, nothing quite impresses like a composed, controlled delivery. As my old friend director Peter DeLuise used to say: “Use the stillness.”
3 – Pronunciation is key.
I don’t necessarily expect you to have watched the show you’re auditioning for or, failing that, use your mind reading abilities to guess the correct pronunciation of names, places, and varied alien species – but if you’re not going to do either of the aforementioned, might I suggest you simply ask for clarification before launching into that soliloquy. “Oh that this too sullied feltch would malt.”
4 – Please, no funny accents.
Unless the role calls for one, or you are asked to do one on the day, please avoid the Clouseau-esque delivery – especially if you’re auditioning for the part of the extraterrestrial curator of some alien world. Trust me on this one.
5 – Go back in time and reconsider your decision to get those tattoos.
Perhaps, back then, you didn’t envision an onscreen career in which you might have to audition for a historical drama or the role of “Dreamcatcher Tattoo-less Entrepreneur”. Maybe, at the time, those finger tats, misfit skulls, and Chinese characters (actual literal translation: “Contents may have shifted during flight”) would have been just fine for that bank job (and I mean that in both possible senses). Fortunately, this isn’t a dealbreaker as the magic of make-up has come a long way in its ability to transform elaborately inked skin to its unblemished original state. Witness this wizardry firsthand – as you undergo the process at approximately 4:00 a.m., a good two hours before your call time.
Off the top of my head, that’s it. But I’m sure more will come to me after I publish this entry.
Or the next time I’m casting a show.
10:45 a.m.: Marc Bendavid, Dark Matter’s ONE, was in town for a limited time only. Fortunately, I was able to book early to avoid disappointment. We discussed ailments, pending projects, and early retirement. Also, the fact that there’s better eating in Rome than Budapest!
12:00 a.m.: Lunch with the gang from Company A. About a month ago, I pitched them a half dozen ideas and, today, they made their selection. A little surprised yet no less delighted by their choice – and you will be too if you were a fan of THAT episode. We made plans to get together next week and commence the development process.
1:21 p.m.: Received the list of prospective candidates (and supporting materials) for the writers’ room of that pending sci-fi series. Lots to get through tonight.
1:45 p.m.: Rumblings the deal is almost done on securing the film & television rights to that horror novel.
3:00 p.m.: Lattes with the gang from Broadcaster A to discuss their notes on the last draft of the sci-fi pilot. We decided to keep the final reveal and revisit
if once the show gets picked up.
4:23 p.m.: Received more notes on the series overview for that horror series. Hmmmm. Honestly thought we’d be on our way to script by this point. At this point, beginning to question whether I’m the guy for this particular job. Conference call tomorrow – which should shed some light on the situation.
6:15 p.m.: Arrange departure time with Ivon (driver and future on-set producer?) for tomorrow’s pre-pre-PRE-production location scout with Project A’s creator/director.
7:05 p.m.: Take the dogs out for their last walk of the night.
Who is this handsome clean-shaven devil holding up the two flavors of soft serve: salted maple rosemary and pistachio? Yes! It’s none other than Anthony Lemke, Dark Matter’s THREE/Marcus Boone, who was in town shooting…something. Given his love for cider, I figured a few glasses would loosen his lips and have him reveal everything about the production and his role in it.
Six cider flights later – and he revealed all!
Now YOU have to buy me six flights to get ME to talk.
Pictured above – the batch of hot sauce I made today. Ingredients include tomatoes, sweet onion, shallots, garlic, maple sugar, maple syrup, cherry-apple butter, apple cider vinegar, mango, and hot peppers. Actually, a medley of hot peppers that, without a doubt, included carolina reapers. I know because the sauce is not just hot, it’s kick you in the back of the throat hot.
Hmmmm. After months of actively avoiding the wordpress upgrade, I’ve fallen victim to it and am now unable to adjust the size of the photos I upload. I may have to switch out of this antiquated theme background. Stay tuned for a new look blog in the coming days!
Update on the project front = There is no update on the project front. No word on that option, that pilot, that overview and pilot pitch, those comic book ideas, or that deal. I am making progress on the polish and, later this week, I have two broadcaster meetings lined up AND a visit to some potential standing sets for the show I may or may not be doing.
Today, I leave you with more Dark Matter-themed artwork from Andy W. Clift (follow him on twitter – @AndyWClift)
Raza vs Black Ship (black and white)
Raza vs Black Ship (color)
I first came across Andy W. Clift’s work while perusing Comixology’s new release section, taking notice of the lovely retro cover for the first issue of his Captain Cosmic comic book –
I ordered that first issue, loved its fun sensibility, and followed him on twitter. Recently, I reached out to Andy to find out if he’d be interested in rendering Dark Matter in that same lively style. Well, he was more than happy to oblige and here is an initial sampling of his take on the The Raza and its crew…
The Raza in FTL (black and white).
The Raza in FTL (color).
Our favorite gunslinger, THREE (black and white).
Our favorite gunslinger, THREE (color).
Our resident swordsman, FOUR (black and white)
Our resident swordsman, FOUR (color).
More of Andy’s work in the coming days. In the meantime, if you want to check out his creator-owned comic book, The Adventures of Captain Cosmic, you can do see by purchasing it here.
Tomorrow: Answers, answers, answers!
Ideally. But problem more questions.
Oh, and dinner with Dark Matter’s THREE, Anthony Lemke.