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Nikita Ignatiev
Nikita Ignatiev

Battlestar Galactica: Blood Chrome Image

Executive produced by David Eick, the first two chapters of Blood & Chrome have premiered on the YouTube channel, Machinima Prime, with new episodes being added each week, until November 30th. This highly anticipated chapter in the Battlestar Galactica saga takes place in the midst of the first Cylon war, as the battle between humans and the robotic Cylons rages across the 12 colonial worlds. Gifted fighter pilot, William Adama (Luke Pasqualino), finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet – the Galactica – but he quickly finds himself at odds with his co-pilot, Coker (Ben Cotton). Once those 10 episodes have all been made available, a two-hour movie will air on Syfy, sometime in the first quarter of 2013, with a release on DVD/Blu-ray on sale on February 19th.During this recent interview about the unique new project, executive producer David Eick talked about how this was always intended as an online project, planning out the entire story arc, having future ideas already developed for further episodes, what it’s like to produce a series like this for the web, why Battlestar Galactica/Caprica executive producer Ronald D. Moore is not involved this time, how big of a role the Cylons will play, and the relationship between Adama and Coker, while actor Luke Pasqualino talked about how grateful he is for this opportunity, his auditioning process for the role, and finding the emotional core of his performance while being surrounded by virtual sets and green screen. Check out what they had so say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.Question: Did you have an entire season-long arc planned out for this?DAVID EICK: There was an entire 10-episode arc planned out. This was originally developed as an online project. I feel like there’s a certain record to set straight, which was a little bit frustrating to me, a few months ago, when I saw the headlines that the Blood & Chrome project had somehow been rejected, or was a failed pilot, or wasn’t going to make it on the air. It was never intended to be a traditional pilot, so to speak, such that Syfy not picking it up in a traditional manner to an episodic series was some kind of a rejection or failure. It was always developed, at least from my point of view, as a project for an online environment. It was something that we built as a 10-part serial, kind of in the style of the 1930's style movie serials, where you have 10 minutes of story and a cliffhanger, followed by 10 minutes of story and a cliffhanger. And then, after 10 of those episodes, it would all resolve itself in a pre-act structure, as a whole movie. So, when I set out to develop this, my thinking was to design a mission. Of course, once the characters and the overall idea had been approved by the network, missions in the military sense are often divided into 10 smaller missions. That’s really what we wound up with, and what the audience is going to see. The confusion happened when, after seeing the script, the network said, “Gee, we don’t want to rule out the possibility of just advocating the online venture and throwing this up as a pilot for a traditional Syfy series.” There were discussions about that, but for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was because there was a genuine feeling that we had really designed something groundbreaking from a visual effects standpoint, we decided to stick with the original plan. Its future may be online, it may be on air, it may be DVD, in terms of subsequent future episodes or stories. Who knows? But, it was never any kind of rejection or failure that it didn’t wind op as another Syfy pilot. It was always designed to be something much more unique and special than that, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally reaching its distribution and it’s going to be seen by the people it was intended for.Do you have another story planned, once this one is done?EICK: Yes. In fact, as an exercise which is not uncommon with these things, we’ve hatched a next mission for what the next leg of this character study would involve, should we be fortunate enough to go forward. It’s very organic evolution of where we leave the characters, at the end of this story, and what we would pursue as our next tale. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that we’ll be doing that soon. What are the differences in producing a show as a web series, compared to producing a show for television?EICK: We did nothing differently because it was geared for online versus broadcast. Absolutely nothing was decided or managed to accommodate that difference. The only choices that were made, aesthetically, creatively and narratively, that were different from Battlestar were purely driven by a desire to reinvent this franchise and this title, for a new audience. If we were doing this for broadcast or as a feature film, or any other reason, for any other outlet, we would have elected the exact methodology that we employed for this online exhibition. It was not driven, at all, by a change in environment. It was only driven by our desire to do something unique, and that would feel familiar and evocative of the first remake of Battlestar. There are a number of ways in which we shifted and changed our approach to production to accommodate that agenda, but it was in no way driven by doing it for online versus on air.What’s been the most challenging aspect of getting this project made?EICK: Well, we made this a green screen composite universe. We literally had a green screen stage with a massive lighting configuration, that was something you’d see at a Rolling Stones rock show, that could accommodate a variety of different looks and environments, and then we painstakingly put a creative army together by Gary Hutzel and Mike Gibson – our visual effects guys from the earliest Battlestar days – to achieve a look and a level of 3D immersive compositing detail that you would compare much more easily to what you see in cutting edge feature films than to anything you would see on television. The reason we were able to achieve that, and I’m not bragging, but just giving a reasonable assessment of what’s different, is that we’ve spent the last 10 years since the first Battlestar mini-series that we did in 2003, building this assembly of artists, experts, engineers and geniuses, who have nothing but love for the product. We don’t use a visual effects house. We don’t go outside the boundaries of our own four-wall in-house unit where we handcraft these shots. By doing that, and by combining that expertise and those artists with old-fashioned, ancient, in-camera filmmaking techniques, we have the craftsman with the know-how to employ. We were able to create digital environments that are completely arresting, totally real and tactile and immersive, and yet never require us to leave that green screen stage. And when I say old fashioned techniques, I mean diffusion, darkness, shadow, snow storms, and things that don’t cost anything except your ingenuity. Because of those factors, we’ve been able to create something that feels completely different from the Battlestar that people may have seen, three and four years ago, but that nevertheless retains a certain echo of what we had done, so the fans feel like they’re still immersed in that same universe.Can you explain the absence of Ronald D. Moore and whether, if the project ever goes to series on Syfy, he might come back, or does he just not want to be a part of the show anymore?EICK: There’s no story, honestly. You’d have to ask Ron that question. I believe he got wrapped up in another deal when this idea was hatched. He was at Sony. You’d have to ask him about that. I don’t know all the details, but there is no dramatic or exciting answer to that question. He was just busy doing other stuff, and we’ve been able to proceed forward. But, the great thing about my partnership with Ron is that we were always existing in the same mind-set and finishing each other’s sentences. I feel like there’s a proprietary Ron Moore-ness that co-exists with my approach to Battlestar, as I’d like to think there will be a David Eick-ness that will accompany his approach. Battlestar was a child we gave birth to together, and this new grandchild of it naturally has his genetic imprint on it. I wouldn’t ever claim otherwise. But, the factual answer as to why he’s not involved now or won’t be involved in the future is really just a matter of him having other irons in the fire, and these deals that we make in show business tend to be exclusive, so it’s hard to get to work on other stuff once you sign them.Did Bear McCreary score the entirety of Blood & Chrome, and will there be a soundtrack available when the DVD comes out?EICK: I don’t know the answer to the soundtrack question. Every episode of Blood & Chrome is simply a 10-minute chunk of a larger movie that we made, so Bear’s score is, of course, prevalent in all the episodes, and I’m hopeful that, if we continue on, we’ll get Bear back for more.Why was the show delayed in premiering, and why hasn’t there been much fanfare? EICK: Well, this was an unorthodox and unusual distribution approach because this was not a pilot. This is not a project that was ever designed to air on Syfy, as its initial presentation or distribution. When you have a pilot that’s going to premiere as a first episode of the series, we’re all accustomed to billboards and on air and online, and we’re all bombarded with a multi-million dollar advertising budget. This was always intended and designed to be something that would premiere in a much more unusual way, in a different environment and a different space. I don’t know what the expectations are for an online premiere. I look on Machina and see this really impressive-looking Halo 4 series and I’m quite impressed with their production values, with the writing, and with the visual effects. I had never heard of it. No one ever told me about it, and it’s getting well over a million hits. I just think it’s a different universe for them. We’re in a much more diversified, much more nuanced viewing landscape now, and things are marketed and distributed in different ways, depending on what their intended venues are going to be. But, I think the delay had to do more with Syfy finding a digital partner that made sense for a project and title like Battlestar Galactica. Which outlet is going to be able to carry your brand and make good on your investment becomes a huge decision. We won’t know if the launch is in any way insufficient until we know what the numbers are, in this universe. In terms of how I understand the online world, it doesn’t just work in the old-fashioned way. You’re not going to see billboards and a bunch of commercials. It’s all viral.Where did the idea for doing another prequel come from?EICK: I was asked by the network to think about a concept that would be under the umbrella or the rubric of the Battlestar Galactica canon, that would make sense as an online series. I was on an airplane, thinking about the character of William Adama and the fact that we had seen him depicted as a very stoic, strong and very uncompromisingly anti-Cylon admiral and commander in Battlestar Galactica. And then, we saw him as a child, really being exposed to an alternate kind of immoral world on the show Caprica. So, I thought it might be interesting for an audience to see what that character might have been like when he was Lee Adama’s age. Where did this hatred of Cylons come from? Why was this man that we will later meet, as Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica, so uniformly and uncomprisingly committed to the utter eradication and disillusion of this race of robot people? Where did that come from? Was it because he was a prisoner of war? Was it because he was involved in some horrible conflict? He wants to incinerate them, but why? And the more I thought about it, the more I finally came up with an answer that I thought was emotionally driven. For me, it seemed like maybe the most interesting answer might be that it was because of a broken heart, and that it came from a very personal place where he’d been betrayed by someone he loved, and that through that experience came to feel that the Cylons were an unforgivable race of creatures responsible for our genocide and for attacking us, so they needed to be gotten rid of. But beyond that, there was something much more deep and personal driving him, and that was the nucleus of the genesis of it. I just proceeded from there.Luke, had you seen the original series? How excited are you to be part of this?LUKE PASQUALINO: Actually, before I even got sent the pilot, I’d always heard of Battlestar Galactica and the phenomenon it was, but never actually sat down and watched anything. So, when I found that I’d been offered the role of Adama, in this early, 20-year-old period of his life, the furthest thing from my mind was watching anything that Edward James Olmos had done because it’s two completely different ages and two completely different stages in his life. I didn’t want anything that Eddie did to influence my interpretation of the material, so I tried to steer away from watching any of his stuff, but I did watch seasons of Caprica. Mr. David Eick made that a priority. It was homework for me, and I loved it. To be part of the Battlestar franchise now, and to be welcomed on board as this young William Adama character, it’s truly an honor, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. How important was it for you to continue this story, and to keep telling stories in this universe?EICK: I consider myself terribly fortunate and uniquely blessed to have been given the opportunity to jump into this world, and to re-invent and re-imagine, as the phrase became this title in this universe. It’s been my number one vocation, entering into a second decade, and it remains my very favorite thing to do, to work on, write, create, produce, be on the sets, be in cutting rooms and casting rooms and visual effects rooms, and do all things Battlestar. It’s where I’m happiest, and it’s where I think I do my best work, in all humility. It’s something that I hope I’ll have a chance to continue to do.Are viewers going to learn anything about what happened to this character, between Caprica and now?EICK: I certainly think we had every intention of exploring that interesting conflict, between the William Adama who’s committed himself to fighting in a war that his father, who we came to know in Caprica, might have a very strong opinion against. In the Blood & Chrome pilot, we see an off-hand reference to this idea that William’s father was a mob lawyer, and that maybe strings were pulled to create certain opportunities for Adama. Those are definitely interesting and complex relationship trends that we want to explore. We’ve gone to great lengths, with Blood & Chrome, to not be cute about too many nods and winks to characters from Battlestar and Caprica. At one point, there was a discussion about having young William Adama in the hangar deck, bump into some young school teacher who is getting a tour of the Battlestar Galactica, and she would introduce herself as Laura, but we didn’t want to be that cute. I don’t want to be that literal with it. If we’re going to do stuff like that, we’ll save that kind of thing for later. There are a number of little Easter-egging nods to the Battlestar faithful, that anyone watching the DVD’s or seeing this online will be able to recognize. But, we did ask Esai Morales, who played William Adama’s father, to reprise his role, in some capacity, in a future episode. That way, we can show some of that conflict and strain between father and son, and some of the uniquely contradictory impulses that a mob lifestyle and military lifestyle present. That’s all really rich storytelling top soil for us to pursue, if we get the chance to go forward.How big of a part will the Cylons play in Blood & Chrome? PASQUALINO: I think me and David both have different views on this, but it does have quite a lot to do with the Cylons and the birth of the Cylons. You actually find things out about the Cylons, in these earlier stages. In Caprica, we saw the complete birth of the Cylons. I don’t think Battlestar would really be Battlestar without the Cylon element in there. To see them from a young Adama’s point of view is something completely different. There are so many different stories that come together to make a big family. There’s the Battlestar story, there’s the Adama story, there’s the Coker storyline, and there’s the Adama and Coker element to it. To see the progression of the Cylons, in that story, throughout Blood & Chrome, is quite magical, really. EICK: For sure. Very well put. The only thing that I would add is that I think what the viewers of the 10 segments of this Blood & Chrome story will discover is that, as the Cylons embark on their decision to mimic and surpass human beings, which is a storyline that those who watched Battlestar Galactica know all too well, they didn’t do it overnight. It’s not like they were machines with gears and rivets one day, and then had soft skin the next day. They took time to attempt to approximate an evolution. Human beings went through the fish stage, amphibious stage, a bird stage and a reptile stage, before finally becoming mammals. Throughout this story, we will see examples of those approximations of evolution, and how the Cylons were attempting to push through their evolutionary process in becoming more human-like. Those results can be terrifying and unexpected.Will viewers get a chance to see them team up with the final five Cylons, and could you bring back any those actors? EICK: Well, those actors are stuck in a finite timeline. I think it might be confusing for the audience if, suddenly, they were to see Michael Hogan in an episode of the show, even with the minutiae of that mythos apparent to the Battlestar faithful. That underscores the larger point here, which is that we really are making Blood & Chrome for a new audience, as well as the Battlestar faithful. As adherent and faithful as we are to the mythology and history of the Battlestar universe, we’re not slavish to it, to the point where only the nine people on the message boards are going to get a kick out of it and 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