APRIL 15, 2005 - - A CONVERSATION WITH GARY DAVIDSON
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On March 26th, 2005 we announced in the TITAN-RAINBOW FORUM that APRIL 15th was our 7th Anniversary on the web and to celebrate we'd be sitting down with the creative head of TITAN RAINBOW Media Productions, Executive Producer Gary Davidson, for another TITAN INTERVIEW.
We also petitioned members of the TITAN FORUM to submit questions we could ask Gary because he was tired of the ones we had. Here is the transcript of that interview...
GARY DAVIDSON: Dive right in. Let's hear what they've had to say.
TITAN NEWS: Will this be the first time you see these questions?
GARY DAVIDSON: Was that one of the Forum questions?
TITAN NEWS: No, I'm just trying to establish things for people.
GARY DAVIDSON: I haven't had much time to get on the internet for anything lately, and have made an effort not to go to that thread, so unless these topics have been repeated to me by other means this will be my first time hearing or seeing them.
TITAN NEWS: Alright then. Let's start with a posting by First Leftenant from Mar 28th, 2005, @ 9:43pm "Why hasn't Finn shown up yet in Buffalo Commons?" Let's start with that.
GARY DAVIDSON: At that point in the story we were still setting things up, laying the foundation of the story, taking our time. Something you can't do in Television.
TITAN NEWS: But we're now on Chapter Five, "EQUUS" and Finn still hasn't shown up. How much longer do we have to wait?
GARY DAVIDSON: Well, he comes in before "PARTITIONS" but I'm not saying exactly when.
TITAN NEWS: Does he play a major part in this book? Because so far it seems to be about Tremblay and Task Force Cimarron.
GARY DAVIDSON: Now that's not true because Tremblay and Cimarron didn't show up until Chapter Four.
TITAN NEWS: And by the end of EQUUS that'll be 19 segments. It seems like its pretty much their story already.
GARY DAVIDSON: Yes, well, DAM and EQUUS is their story. Just as BUREAUCRACY and CALGARY was the story of Fiche and Victoria Wells.
TITAN NEWS: So pardon my insistence, but does FINN play a major part in this book or not?
GARY DAVIDSON: He'll play his part, which is the beauty of TOBC, it's more a story about the UNIVERSE they're in than any one person or squad. And it's not to say that once Finn shows up the focus will shift to him right away either, but yes, we're taking our time with it and thats the biggest reason why TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS will never be filmed.
TITAN NEWS: 'Never' is a pretty strong statement.
GARY DAVIDSON: If we had the budget to do it I'd rather do other stories. This story is best served by this medium. Other stories are best suited by other media.
TITAN NEWS: Is that because its taking so long to get to the story?
GARY DAVIDSON: No. I think the story is there from the first moment. The opening chapter AZIMUTH can't be clearer at setting down the primary conflict, and at hinting at the secondary conflicts. Both sides believe they have right to this land, and that's my kind of conflict. Who's right, who's wrong? You could argue it either way, and even a Judge couldn't get it right because the legal rights of ownership are so hard to establish for one side in this story.
TITAN NEWS: Would you like to dive right into the Forum questions, or shall we work up to that?
But I felt we had to explore and establish a lot of characters, agendas and conflict before getting to the meat of this story. The FINN of it, if you will. You don't initiate a full-scale Peace Keeping mission because one kid faces off against a family of homesteaders. But if this were an episode of Television we'd have to do that, and then come back from commercial just implying the rest.
TITAN NEWS: So you couldn't do TOBC as a series?
GARY DAVIDSON: We could, we talked about it because originally we were going to. But in order to best serve each arc properly, and get to the meat fastest, we'd probably isolate each arc in its own episode.
TITAN NEWS: You've lost me there.
GARY DAVIDSON: When we first did the story strategy session for BUFFALO COMMONS I was thinking of doing it as the first season of FINNEGAN'S SQUAD or as a separate series, which we're pitching side by side with FSQ.
TITAN NEWS: Which was one of the questions Miss Kitka asked.
GARY DAVIDSON: Oh yeah? Cool. (pause) Yeah, we thought about it. It was very budget friendly, lots of open space, country shots, very little CGI, just soldiers in the wilds.
TITAN NEWS: With HORNET spacecraft flying overhead...
GARY DAVIDSON: Yeah, but once you've created the CGI model the rest is just rendering and the HORNETS are pretty basic creations.
TITAN NEWS: Right...
GARY DAVIDSON: So if we were translating TOBC to television then we'd have to isolate each of the various threads to their own episode, for example, most of VICTORIA WELLS story, in the book its spread out over many chapters, but in a television show we'd probably tell her story near the end of the run, on its own.
TITAN NEWS: And her part in the beginning?
GARY DAVIDSON: You'd see her in the background, but when she's first introduced she would be only a background character of that arc. When we got to her arc we'd repeat the relevant moments, but show it from her Point Of View.
TITAN NEWS: And with Commander Tass?
GARY DAVIDSON: Same thing. We'd tell the story first with her just being on the screen talking to Fiche and Topper, as we were telling the story of the backroom conflict. Later on, when the bulk of her story occurs we'd show that first bit again, this time from her perspective. That way we retain the episodic nature of the story, IE: someone could watch just the TASS episode and see a proper beginning, middle and end, of her story, but if they watched the whole season they'd see how her story contributes to the big picture.
The problem with too many of the shows that attempt season wide story arcs is that they forget to provide for the infrequent viewer, the person who might not arrive until episode three, or who misses episode four and five for whatever reason. If they aren't made comfortable that they can pick up the story line without having missed too much then they give up on the show and you've lost someone you could've retained.
And since most shows are interupted by month long breaks at least twice a season that's a very dangerous thing to do. People have too many demands on their time and brain-power to retain all the subtlies in a multi-episode story arc on a TV show.
TITAN NEWS: But isn't that the nature of the beast?
GARY DAVIDSON: How is that the first SURVIVOR was able to-week over week-increase it's audience? Someone starting at week five had already missed how it began, how the conflict had developed that far, they've missed essential story points for those characters, and yet that didn't stop them. Why start now?
It wasn't because so many people were watching, because at first that wasn't true. And even when it was the numbers continued to increase. No matter how good the talk at work was we're talking a game where each week there are fewer players, huge bits of the "story" is done, never to be repeated. So how is it people were able to come in, even in week ten, and start watching?
Well, they couldn't unless each episode had it's own story arc, it's own beginning, middle and end. And it does. That's the brilliance of Mark Burnett (Survivor creator), you could start with any SURVIVOR, even the final episode, the two hour finale and still get not only what's happened but follow what's coming up. They have one of the best recap formulas on television, but even without that they re-introduce excellently, and most importantly each show has its own arc.
Survivor, The Amazing Race, any good "reality show" is inherantly episodic. It drives me crazy that some reality shows can do episodic television better than most narrative series do!
TITAN NEWS: OK, I get that. But how does that fit with FSQ? What makes a typical FINNEGAN'S SQUAD story?
GARY DAVIDSON: Each season starts with its own "first episode". The basis of the story arc, the season's dynamic and conflict, is established there. TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS is a great example of that. For FSQ "THE PILOT" (the first episode of Season One) is the same, as is "TERMS AND CONDITIONS" (1st of Season Two) and "ARCADIAN ADVENTURES" (1st of Season Three).
Every story, with the exception of one or two "two-parters", is completely episodic. They stand alone. To ensure this we arbitrarily move the sequence around in the year just to make sure. The final three episodes of each season build to a conclusion, a climax. Not a cliffhanger but a resolution. That way each season stands as its own "book".
When we adapt Season One to novel form it will be called TALES OF THE ASTRAL CORPS, season two will be called TALES OF INFORMATION MANAGEMENT, and so on.
TITAN NEWS: How many seasons have you plotted?
GARY DAVIDSON: At least five. I like five.
TITAN NEWS: And you have a "TALES" title for each?
GARY DAVIDSON: Yes.
TITAN NEWS: So what about season three?
GARY DAVIDSON: I can't tell you because it'll definitely give something away.
TITAN NEWS: Really?
GARY DAVIDSON: Now, within that season each episode tells its story in the way that best suits it. Not to be gimmicky, although there are some gimmicks involved, but because you don't do a farce style on a murder mystery. And that's another thing we're trying to do with FINNEGAN'S SQUAD.
TITAN NEWS: What?
GARY DAVIDSON: The original Star Trek could run the spectrum on stories. "Trouble with Tribbles" and "Piece of the Action" were farcical; "Doomsday Machine" and "Arena" were action stories; "City on the Edge of Forever" was high drama. FSQ returns to that range. Some stories are more playful than others, some are plain energy, others are mostly thought. All of them are predicaments and sometimes there aren't happy endings.
TITAN NEWS: And sometimes there are, right?
GARY DAVIDSON: Maybe. [laughs] Our style of story telling is an amalgam of various other styles. And we jump styles to fit the story best. Someone watching the first episode of season one for FINNEGAN'S SQUAD is going to see a different pace of show when they tune in for the last episode of the same season, because both stories require a different tempo.
TITAN NEWS: But that seems dangerous. Don't most networks want consistency?
GARY DAVIDSON: Define consistency? Seriously, the stories all fit together. Someone watching Episode 12 after missing Episode 2 through 11 isn't going to think they're watching a different series. Again STAR TREK is a great example. My favourite episodes in any series, were the ones that slipped a bit outside of their norm. It was STAR TREK but it was different.
And I love it when characters are forced to try their normalcy in a place or circumstance where it won't fit right, at least not at first. It's why the good Kirk to the Mirror Universe is such an great story.
But our stories are like dressing up for the weather, the style adapts to the needs of the story just as you dress differently for rain than you do snow. I think TOBC demonstrates that very well. AZIMUTH, BUREAUCRACY and CALGARY were one type of story. They fit well together, but DAM and EQUUS have a different tempo and tone. They're definitely part of the same over-all arc, but they're different. You see?
TITAN NEWS: Yes.
GARY DAVIDSON: Now the same is true of FINESE, another story that fits into the overall but has a different tone and style than we've seen sor far. It even has its own plot.
TITAN NEWS: Care to elaborate on that?
GARY DAVIDSON: I'm accused of cavalierly giving out spoilers all the time. Do you really think I'm walking into that one? (LAUGHS) No, I think when the last chapter of BUFFALO COMMONS has been posted anyone who has read it will have a solid understanding of the dynamics at play in this universe, and of the characters, some of who will be visitors (or guest-stars), and others who are background players and regulars. Its also a chance to give some characters, who will meet their demise too soon in the series, their time in the spotlight.
TITAN NEWS: So does that mean the first season will not have any surprises?
GARY DAVIDSON: Hopefully we've been very careful about that. I know of a few characters that we are deliberately not going to introduce in TOBC because it would spoil their episode later on. In other cases we're introducing characters here that are just for this story, and others still are red herrings for certain stories in the series, we'll never see them again, or if we do they'll be so far in the background that only the Super fans will know what their purpose is in the story is.
TITAN NEWS: Which brings me to Angeleia's question (Posted April 3rd, 2005), "How do you feel about spoilers and is Finn Friday's one?"
GARY DAVIDSON: I think the context of that question is that it was asked just after Topper posted comments about TOBC Chapter Five elsewhere on the Forum.
TITAN NEWS: Which comments were those?
GARY DAVIDSON: That the completed Chapter Five (Equus) had just been delivered and that Chapter Six (Finese) promised not only to be quite different but would have a spoiler warning.
TITAN NEWS: And will it?
GARY DAVIDSON: Yes, FINESE will have a spoiler warning and for a very good reason.
TITAN NEWS: Which is...?
GARY DAVIDSON: Because it directly refers to events in SHUTTLEDOWN, and if read before viewing SHUTTLEDOWN will spoil some of that story.
TITAN NEWS: So people are supposed to skip over it and read the next story?
GARY DAVIDSON: The next story, GUILT, will also have a spoiler warning, but after that they're fine.
TITAN NEWS: How many weeks are we talking about?
GARY DAVIDSON: I don't know yet. FINESE hasn't been delivered but already I know its going to be at least seven parts, and GUILT hasn't been assigned (pun intended), but I'd be surprised if that can be resolved in less than three weeks.
Personally, I don't think it matters. The performances in SHUTTLEDOWN make it worthwhile regardless, but for some people knowing certain outcomes, one way or the other, make the story less enjoyable. Each reader will have to decide for themselves what their tolerances are. I guarantee though, if you've read FINESE and GUILT you'll have information that would help you figure out the twist in the SHUTTLEDOWN story.
TITAN NEWS: Is there any way around that?
GARY DAVIDSON: We'll see when the story is delivered. Its possible we might be able to edit it toward the vague, but I suspect otherwise. Personally, I think FINESE adds to one's appreciation of SHUTTLEDOWN, and GUILT wraps up some of the lose ends from SHUTTLEDOWN (it takes place afterwards) but I suppose only those who have seen it first will be able to confirm or deny that.
TITAN NEWS: How much of SHUTTLEDOWN will be in FINESE and GUILT?
GARY DAVIDSON: None of it. If we were watching TOBC rather than reading it then the end of FINESE would immediately preceed SHUTTLEDOWN and GUILT would immediately follow. And that's why there will be a spoiler warning. I can't see anyway to avoid leaking something one way or the other.
TITAN NEWS: Does that mean that FINESE, SHUTTLEDOWN and GUILT have the same thematic feeling or tone?
GARY DAVIDSON: Not at all. SHUTTLEDOWN was written to be a tight, confined piece. Most of FINESE has a tone that will be more familiar to fans of 1940 movies or some of the Coen Brother's films. GUILT is something entirely different again.
TITAN NEWS: And what about SHUTTLEDOWN, it's a "tight, confined piece", not your typical video?
GARY DAVIDSON: Yeah, some people will sit down and watch SHUTTLEDOWN and say "its boring", certainly a few broadcasters have been quick to dismiss it that way. It's a niche piece, for sure, and the difficulty is that isn't not indicative of the series. When we tested it the majority of the responses we got found it very intense, even though most of it is just two guys talking, but they were paying attention. Its what is being said and how its affecting each of them that makes the drama.
TITAN NEWS: So are most FINNEGAN'S SQUAD episodes just "talking"?
GARY DAVIDSON: No. By the end of SHUTTLEDOWN its all been said, from then on it's all show. The surest sign of that is that most of the scripts are description, not dialogue. Actually its the same with TOBC which has surprisingly few conversations in it. But that's why SHUTTLEDOWN is a support piece, its background, its the prologue.
TITAN NEWS: On April 1st, 2005 SIMON posted the following: "When will this show air? Is it in production yet? It seems like it from the [web] pages."
GARY DAVIDSON: It will air when a broadcaster decides to put it on their schedule, but don't count on that anytime soon. No matter how we try to edit SHUTTLEDOWN it feels like the opening act for something, and that's because it IS the opening act for something. Without a firm commitment on the follow-up few broadcasters are going to want to show the opening act. It's too much of a tease.
So we're meeting with people. We're meeting with broadcasters and we're meeting with production companies. We've been able to pitch to some pretty big players in the past year. Some are too heavily invested in other projects to go ahead with something this size, others are scared of the budget, but those are people who think you have to have ground breaking visuals to make sci-fi.
TITAN NEWS: And you don't?
GARY DAVIDSON: I don't think so. Certainly the shows I enjoy the most are rather simple. I'll take an episode of the original Star Trek over any repeat of any other Trek series. The effects are laughable, my nephew can do better with his video camera.
But any effects are going to look odd in five years because the bar is always shifting and worse still, certain companies are defining a 'look' that isn't necessarily better, or more realistic, but because its so prelevant any other look seems out of place.
Fact is real sci-fi isn't about the effects; its about the story and the characters, its about the ideas. All an effect is suppose to do is short hand the audience visually so they know what is going on. I haven't seen a single movie in the last three years that didn't have cheesy effects, even STAR WARS blew it with cartoony long shots of Jedi fighting or blurry moments that just blow the illusion. But then my eye is trained for that. Maybe other people look at these shows and think they're flawless, either way I guarantee you that in five years even the best of them is going to look pretty cheesy by comparison to what's out there at the time.
TITAN NEWS: But isn't the goal to heighten the reality of the show?
GARY DAVIDSON: Maybe, but it isn't necessary. Take a movie like SIN CITY, here's a film that abandons reality. Every effect looked unreal, and cheesy, but the movie is consistent about it. That's what makes it work.
One of the episodes in the recent Dr. Who series made a simple mistake. They had these aliens who were somewhat goofily menacing when the actors were in costume. I bought the premise, forgave the bobbling heads, I was fine with it. Premise sold.
Then during a chase they cut to a CGI version of these same aliens chasing our heroes, only this time they're moving with the fluid grace of a Velocaraptor from Jurassic Park. It destroyed the illusion for me. Why? Because it wasn't consistent with the rest of the show.
As long as all the effects match then the viewer will accept it, even if they're low budget, and that's the key. The audience will buy the conceit, so long as its consistent.
TITAN NEWS: So you think cheap effects could work, even today?
GARY DAVIDSON: Honestly, if your financial model is based on lower return then you can tolerate lower risk. Sci-Fi is a niche market and the sooner the niche broadcasters get that the sooner they'll start capitalizing on it. We could make ten hours of television for what they spend on one hour of CSI.
Which would benefit the Sci-Fi Channel more, ten original hours with a story that'll be watchable decades later, or one hour of kick-ass effects that'll look cheesy in a few years?
So some companies have passed on FSQ because they think the budget would be too high to even consider moving forward with and a few other companies just don't get the premise. But this is an industry of a thousand NO's, and one YES. All we need is the one YES. So we're just moving along to the next group, and then the group after that, and so on, and so on.
TITAN NEWS: So that's it? If you don't find a partner then nothing will happen?
GARY DAVIDSON: Hardly. We got the funds to produce SHUTTLEDOWN and we did it. We're working on another project right now whose budget is a third what we'd expect FSQ to be. We'll use the revenue from SHUTTLEDOWN to help with that and the revenue from that to help with FSQ. It's a staircase approach. We'll get to the top floor eventually, but we're working toward the first landing right now.
TITAN NEWS: But if a broadcaster won't buy SHUTTLEDOWN how do you expect to get revenues to help pay for the next project?
GARY DAVIDSON: There are numerous other revenue streams available. We live in a very exciting time that way. Take the internet for example. It offers us the option of supplying our audience directly no matter where they are. If the interest is there then we don't need broadcasters to recoup expenses. Soon we'll be offering SHUTTLEDOWN directly for purchase through our website. We'll set a target number of copies and if we get to that number within a preset period of time then we'll know we've got the revenue stream to carry on. As I said, the second project is cheaper than FSQ to produce.
TITAN NEWS: Which I think brings us to the question Miss Kitka Posted on: Apr 8th, 2005, "What's the hold up releasing SHUTTLEDOWN?"
GARY DAVIDSON: Two things. One we're reworking the website. Partly to include a STOREFRONT and partly because we haven't done any maintenance to it for years so there are quite a few reduncandcies and some dead links. Also because we haven't been using a very efficient structure and its starting to cause some problems.
TITAN NEWS: The relaunch?
GARY DAVIDSON: Exactly. But it won't radically change the site. We like the lay-out and the branding it creates. We like the functionality of it, the fact that few of the pages take excessive bandwith or time to load. We like the structure, we're just trying to streamline it more. Make it more consistent and open up some revenue streams. SHUTTLEDOWN can't be put up for sale until that's done.
But the second thing is that we recently received a request from the holy grail of broadcasters to submit a copy of SHUTTLEDOWN for preview. We want to give them a chance to respond before releasing the copy. If they see the same potential we do, and initial responses are quite favourable, then we could see a lot of things happen very quickly. Fortunately we're ready.
TITAN NEWS: Who is the Holy Grail for you?
GARY DAVIDSON: We're not naming names yet. But we're talking about someone who doesn't have the financial problems of a lot of people we've approached. These people have stability and a desire to build a profit based franchise. They're also looking for a tent-pole series like FSQ not some flash-in-the-pan high-concept show.
TITAN NEWS: Let's go with one from CYNS, posted April 2nd, 2005. She asks "Why haven't I seen any of your shows on TV?"
GARY DAVIDSON: Because your local broadcasters haven't shown them. And some of them haven't been made. We're breaking that mold each time we post a new series idea and sometimes it backfires.
Let's see if I can exlain. Each year hundreds of production companies submit proposals for thousands of series ideas. Each year all but a few get shot down.
TITAN NEWS: Right.
GARY DAVIDSON: But in this industry there's money in ideas and we're an idea company. Few people understand you can make a decent living in this industry just selling ideas, even if they never get made. Any time something is optioned, an outline or first draft is commissioned, someone has to get paid for that. And our people specialize in that while we continue to work towards developing our own product.
We've also got the other talent needed to make these things happen without outside involvement. Our goal is always to deliver beyond expectations. But first and foremost we're idea people. Unlike most other companies we don't hide our ideas, we post them and TITANRAINBOW.COM is the place we post them.
TITAN NEWS: But you're posting ideas that no one has bought yet!
GARY DAVIDSON: We always post the ideas before we get greenlights. That way we get feedback before we pitch, we already know which ideas have an audience, what they respond to, etc. We throw the ideas against the wall and pursue the ones that stick, and we do it in the open.
And because we can, each year we develop many of these ideas to first draft of script. We do that for as many series as we can afford to while we're out there beating the bushes looking for deals to go further. Sometimes we sell the premise or plot of the story for another show, sometimes we don't, but we get meetings because the people we're pitching to know we've got an endless supply of ideas. And if we really like the idea we'll find ways to produce it ourselves.
TITAN NEWS: Is that possible?
GARY DAVIDSON: Thankfully because alternative revenue streams are opening up this is happening more and more, which is great because these streams are giving us more creative control, which is highly desirable.
TITAN NEWS: Can you do that with FINNEGAN'S SQUAD?
GARY DAVIDSON: Not directly. We produced SHUTTLEDOWN so that the return could fund something else, which we could use to fund something else still, and so on until we can fund FSQ.
Trust me, the sooner we release the DVD for SHUTTLEDOWN the sooner we're going to make our way up that second step.
TITAN NEWS: What sort of features will the DVD have?
GARY DAVIDSON: We're trying to decide that now. We have a DIRECTOR's VERSION and a BROADCAST VERSION of SHUTTLEDOWN, we might include both. There's the video from last year's TORONTO TREK panel, our first ever, and that's historically interesting. And there will be a photo gallery from SHUTTLEDOWN. We're working on the FSQ TRAILER so we can include it, and I think the crew has come up with some other things. Oh and each copy will have a unique number on it.
TITAN NEWS: How much will you be charging for this?
GARY DAVIDSON: A thirty one minute prologue with almost two hours of bonus material that's uniquely numbered... we're currently thinking $15 plus $5 for shipping and handling.
TITAN NEWS: That's all?
GARY DAVIDSON: That's how it's looking right now.
TITAN NEWS: What do you mean by uniquely numbered?
GARY DAVIDSON: We're using a process that inserts a different number in each copy. Actually puts it on screen. Every copy we've made has this number in at least two places and one of them is random. We also keep track of who gets what number, that way if illegal downloads start appearing we'll know who to sue.
TITAN NEWS: Seriously?
GARY DAVIDSON: In this day and age you can't pass out digital quality product without some protection. Of all the anti-piracy methods we've investigated this is the best. The law supports it and its easy to enforce. It also makes each copy unique, a collectable. The person who has the first preview copy has a piece of history. If we're lucky we hope its value increases greatly over the next few years.
TITAN NEWS: ladytass2001 Posted on: Mar 29th, 2005 the following: "Are we going to get to see the first faster than light experiments in FSQ, or is that going to stay strictly in the SO realm?"
GARY DAVIDSON: SO meaning SPACE ODDITY?
TITAN NEWS: Yes.
GARY DAVIDSON: I ask because our internal code is "SPO" for that. [pause] Um... OK... "are we going to see the first faster than light experiments in FSQ?" [pause]
Yes, starting with the second season on there will be many faster than light experiments in FSQ, there will also be Teleporter experiments and all sorts of other wonderful things. FINNEGAN'S SQUAD will become an elite force, assigned to protect the most sensitive of missions, and from time to time those will include experiements and research labs.
Are any of these experiments going to be successful? You'll have to wait and see.
TITAN NEWS: CYNS Posted on April 2nd, 2005: "What is Quicksilver?"
GARY DAVIDSON: QUICKSILVER is that first landing of the self-funded production schedule that I mentioned earlier. The monies received from sales of SHUTTLEDOWN DVDs will pay for the production of Quicksilver (QKS in TITAN code). The premise is simple: Thirteen weeks, Six People, One very fast Ship.
TITAN NEWS: What happens in thirteen weeks?
GARY DAVIDSON: The enemy surges forward, think Pearl Harbour, only they don't stop there, they carry on toward... San Francisco. Inter-Galactic Communications are knocked out and the only way to warn people what's coming is with this very fast courier ship, Quicksilver.
TITAN NEWS: Sounds intense.
GARY DAVIDSON: The idea came from a brainstorming session where we were trying to figure out how to shoot a Sci-Fi reality show, in the end we decided it would make a better series. It'll be shot mostly from the perspective of the ship, like HAL in 2001 only without the fish-eye lens, and it'll deal with these six people as they try to survive each other in a very small spacecraft while trying to race ahead of these invaders and save everyone.
It's all about the peril and each person's way of handling it. And most importantly we've got a real set of shockers for the final episode. One of our writers said it had a "24" (a FOX TV action series staring Keifer Sutherland) feeling to it. I tend to think it's got more of a "LOST" (an ABC TV drama) feeling to it. The best part is that production techniques developed for SHUTTLEDOWN will ensure we stay under budget.
TITAN NEWS: When is that set to start?
GARY DAVIDSON: Four weeks after we reach our sales target on SHUTTLEDOWN copies.
TITAN NEWS: So the one is definitely dependant on the other?
GARY DAVIDSON: Yes.
TITAN NEWS: And what is the sales target?
GARY DAVIDSON: If we can sell 500 copies of SHUTTLEDOWN within 90 days of offering it then QUICKSILVER gets the greenlight.
TITAN NEWS: Just 500 copies?
GARY DAVIDSON: Yes.
TITAN NEWS: Can you make Quicksilver for that little?
GARY DAVIDSON: No. But we can greenlight it for that little. It's all very complicated, don't make me explain.
TITAN NEWS: OK, onto other matters. Here's a technical manual one, First Leftenant posted on April 4th, 2005 "posters on another board have notieced that http://www.titanrainbow.com/techunscrank.html has changed. 'general' used to equal 'commander' but now it equals admiral and you've added 'brigadier'. why the change?"
GARY DAVIDSON: Yikes! OK. Let's see that again? [re-reads the question] OK, the change in ranks. First off, the Technical Manual is a work in progress. Until the series airs it's just reference and subject to change. Like I said earlier we like to throw our ideas up and see if they stick.
So as we're working through stories we're seeing where something would be more dramtic if it was different. In the case of the ranks there was a sub-plot in TOBC that we wanted to explore and it was thought it would be more dramatic if a certain circumstance occurred, but that circumstance wouldn't make sense until the rank of GENERAL was at the same level as ADMIRAL.
Now, originally I wanted GENERALs equal to COMMANDERs and both reporting to ADMIRALs, because of the Fleet bias in the Network, but that meant you couldn't ever have a GENERAL of any variety telling an ADMIRAL what to do. Someone came up with a way to satisfy what I wanted and what the story needed so I gave the approval to change it.
Looking back we had to change it because of a line in SHUTTLEDOWN, which, because we have shot SHUTTLEDOWN is now cannon.
We went with Brigadier because I insisted the rank below FLAG OFFICER (ie ADMIRAL) on the Ground Ops side couldn't be a GENERAL but had to be higher than LEFTENANT COLONEL. After a lot of research we found the stand alone rank of BRIGADIER in a "know your Allies" booklet from World War II. It was visibly less than General even though commonly considered the most junior of General ranks now a days. I was satisfied we were following at least one historical precendent and so approved the change.
TITAN NEWS: Miss Kitka Posted on April 1st, 2005: "what's it like working with Malcolm ~swoon~". Her swoon not ours.
GARY DAVIDSON: Hell, I'll swoon over Malcolm. (Laughs) He's one sexy beast! (Laughs) Seriously Malcolm is one of the best people I've ever worked with and I don't know if that's just because our temperments and approach are so compatible or not. I'm sure Malcolm COULD be difficult, if he were working with or for someone who was also difficult, or say... didn't know what they wanted and couldn't communicate well, but I have a hard time imaginging it. He's playful and very sharp and always the perfect gentleman. He's also delivered a thousand percent more than was expected and I couldn't conceive of moving forward without him.
TITAN NEWS: The next comment was posted by Sirona on April 2nd, 2005, "My question for Monsuier Davidson is: When are we going to have another contest? If it is possible the winner could receive a 11"x17" still autographed by everyone involved with Finnegan's Squad or a life-sized cardboard cut out of Malcolm?"
GARY DAVIDSON: You know, we failed to take one of those [a group shot] while filming SHUTTLEDOWN and I regret that. Some of those people have already moved onto other projects, one of them is no longer in the Country! It's not a mistake I'll allow repeating. As for upcoming contests: We're looking into something for this year's TORONTO TREK, and because not everyone is in the "Big Smoke" [local slang for Toronto], we'll need something for the web. That one will be later in the year and probably involve trivia on TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS.
As for the cardboard cut-out of Malcolm, hold out for the real thing Sirona!
TITAN NEWS: First Leftenant posted on April 9th, 2005 (and ladytass2001 seconded) "2 in one, #1 Are you planning on releasing any actual Blue Prints of the Different Ships of the fleet? and #2 What about Model Kits for the different types of ships (the Hornets,Cimarron, and Enterprise in specific)".
GARY DAVIDSON: None of those items will happen until we're actually in production and then the first quality supplier to show up will get the rights. The mid-sized mock-up of the HORNET arrived from the manufacturer recently and we're still playing with it like a bunch of kids. There's no doubt this would be a very popular toy for our fans. The plans we sent off led to the writing of "EQUUS", we can only imagine what that story would've been like if the writer had seen the mock-up first.
TITAN NEWS: Well, thank you for the time. It took a bit longer than we expected. Is there anything you'd like say before we wrap things up?
GARY DAVIDSON: We're leaving the thread "QUESTIONS FOR THE BIG MAN" up. Any questions posted after this interview goes up will be answered there.
TITAN NEWS: And on that, we're done.