A couple of weeks ago fans of Battlestar Galactica were treated to the long awaited release of Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. Set during the first Cylon war Blood and Chrome follows a young William Adama on his first mission on board the Galactica.
On the day of the premiere, Executive Producer David Eick and star Luke Pasqualino (William Adama) took some time for a conference call with reporters. This is the transcript of that call.
Sharon Liggins: Good afternoon, everyone. This is Sharon Liggins from Universal Cable Productions Publicity. I want to welcome you to the Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Conference Call.
The first two chapters of Blood & Chrome have premiered on Machinima’s YouTube channel earlier this morning. So, they’re definitely up and available for you to view. We’ll be rolling out a couple of episodes once a week between now and November 30 and then a two hour movie of Blood & Chrome will air on Syfy somewhere in the first quarter of 2013. We don’t have an air date yet.
And then DVD release on Blu-ray DVD, random material unrated will be on sale beginning February 19. So we have with us right now executive producer David Eick. We’re waiting for Luke Pasqualino to join. He’s over in the UK, so we’ll start off with David and then we will bring Luke on once he joins.
So, thank you everyone for participating. Again there will be a transcript available of the calls in a day or two. But here we go.
Operator: Thank you. Ladies and gentleman, if you would like to register a question please press the one (1) followed by the four (4) on your telephone. You’ll hear a three-tone prompt to acknowledge your request.
If your question has been answered and you would like to withdraw your registration please press the one (1) followed by the three (3). If you’re using a speaker phone, please lift your handset before entering your request.
One moment please for the first question.
And our first question comes from the line of Erin Willard from Sci-Fi Mafia. Please proceed with your question.
Erin Willard: Hi, thanks so much for being on the call today and congratulations on finally getting the show out to the public.
Can you hear me?
David Eick: Oh yes, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize we were speaking live. Hi, how are you?
Erin Willard: Okay. I’m great, thanks. I’ve seen the first two parts; they’re terrific and I can’t wait to see the rest. The opening four minutes in particular are just so cool.
David Eick: Oh great, glad to hear that. Glad to hear that.
Erin Willard: Absolutely. Now did you have an entire 13-episode arc planned out?
David Eick: No, there was an entire 10-episode arc planned out because this was originally developed as an online project.
And I’m so happy to have such a great and comprehensive cross-section of the press today because 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. And there’s something that we would develop and structurally, narratively build as a ten-part sort of a series.
Kind of like the Raiders of the Lost Ark style, adapted to the 1930s style movie serials where you have ten minutes of story and a cliffhanger followed by ten minutes of story and the cliffhanger. And then after ten of these episodes, it would all kind of resolve itself in a pre-act structure as a whole movie. And so when I set out to develop this, my thinking was to design a mission, so to speak.
Of course, once the characters and the overall idea had been approved by the network, a mission that could be, as missions often are, in the military sense divided into ten smaller missions. And that’s really what we wound up with and what the audience is going to see. I think where the confusion in is that for a moment the network after seeing the script said, “Gee, we don’t want to rule out the possibility of just advocating the online venture altogether and throwing this up as a pilot for a traditional series to Syfy.”
And there were discussions about that, but for a variety of reasons I think not the least of which was because there was a genuine feeling that we had really designed something altogether of groundbreaking from a visual effects standpoint to stick with the original plan and its future may be online, may be on air, maybe DVD in terms of subsequent future episodes or stories—who knows? But it was never any kind of rejection or failure that this didn’t wind up as another Syfy pilot.
That was always designed to be something much more unique and special than that and I’m thrilled that it’s finally reached its distribution and it’s going to be seen by the people it was intended for.
Erin Willard: Great; yes, because that’s definitely not the story that was told and we’ll definitely make sure to get that story that’s so interesting. So, you have another one plan hopefully after this series?
David Eick: Well yes, in fact, as an exercise, which is not uncommon with these things we, myself, Michael Taylor, David Bradley and – I’m sorry, kind of David Weddle and Bradley Thompson got together and with Jonas Pate, our director, hatched a next mission. Sort of what the next leg of this character study would involve and should we be fortunate to go forward.
There was absolutely the kind of very organic kind of evolution of where we leave the characters at the end of this story and what we would pursue as our next tale. And I’m very hopeful and optimistic that we’ll be doing that soon.
Erin Willard: That is so great. Thank you so much for all this great information.
David Eick: Great, thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision. Please proceed with your question.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, thanks for doing the call today. Can you talk about kind of the differences in producing a show for web series compared to television? Obviously, you have to, from a production standpoint, do things differently.
David Eick: We did nothing differently because it was geared for online versus broadcast. Absolutely nothing was decided or complicated 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 once again this franchise and this title for a new audience.
So, if we were doing this for broadcast or we’re doing this as a future film or we we’re doing this for any other reason, or for any other outlet, we would have elected the site and exact methodology that we employed for this online exhibition as we did. 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 original Battlestar.
I should say the first remake of Battlestar for our audience and yet would feel at the same time new and accessible and fresh for a new audience. And 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 now we’re doing it for online versus on air.
Jamie Ruby: Okay. I didn’t realize that. Interesting. So, what was the most challenging though just in general since you started developing it?
David Eick: Just to stay on track with your original question, what we decided to do differently to make it fresh and accessible and evocative, but not duplicative of the last Battlestar was to make this a green screen composite universe.
You 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 using a painstakingly built creative army put together by Gary Hutzel and Mike Gibson, our visual effects guys from the earliest in the Battlestar days. We were able to achieve a look and a level of 3-D immersive compositing detail that I think you would compare much more easily to what you see in cutting edge feature films than to anything you would see on television.
And I include, by the way, shows that have ten times the budget that we had. And then the reason we were able to achieve that, and I’m not bragging, I’m just giving a reasonable assessment of what’s different, is that where you spent the last ten years since the first Battlestar mini-series that we did in ’03: building brick by brick this assembly of artists and experts and 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 and we sort of handcraft these shots. And so, by doing that and by combining that expertise and those artists with old fashioned sort of ancient in camera filmmaking techniques, which because of Jonas Pate and our Director of Photography Lukas Ettlin, 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 Eisenstein would’ve done 100 years ago. That doesn’t cost anything except your ingenuity.
I think 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 still feel like they’re immersed in that same universe.
Jamie Ruby: That’s why I wondered, because it looks really good like it was fully budgeted. That’s why I thought maybe you did something differently. But, thank you.
David Eick: Yes it was definitely different, but there’s no reason why anyone couldn’t do it this way. You just have to have the artist and the people and person that’ll do it.
Jamie Ruby: Right, well it’s great so far. Thank you.
David Eick: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Tim Oakland) of Oh Entertainment. Please proceed with your question.
(Tim Oakland): Hi David, it’s great to get to speak with you today.
David Eick: Hey man, how are you? Thank you.
(Tim Oakland): I’m well, thanks. I watched the first two episodes and was blown away. You’re right that it feels new, but it also felt like home and largely also in part to Ralph McQuarrie’s awesome theme and scoring work.
But one thing I’m curious about, I don’t know if the story’s been out there, but can you explain the absence of Ronald D. Moore and if the project ever goes to series on the Syfy network, do you think he’ll come back or he doesn’t want to do the part in the show anymore? What’s the story there?
David Eick: No story, honestly. You’d have to ask Ron that question. I believe he got caught up in another deal or was wrapped up in another deal when this idea was hatched. He was at Sony. You’d have to ask him. I don’t know all the details, but unfortunately no dramatic or exciting answer to that question.
He was just busy doing other stuff and we’ve been able to proceed forward. But I think the great thing about my partnership with Ron is that we were always kind of existing in the same mindset and, as I used to say, finishing each other’s sentences. I feel like there’s a proprietary Ron Mooreness that coexists with my approach to Battlestar, as I’d like to think there’d be a David Eickness accompany his approach if I was gone.
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 in terms of his, 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 his having other irons in the fire and these deals that we make in show business tend to be exclusive. It’s hard to get to work on other stuff once you sign them.
(Tim Oakland): Okay. Thanks a lot for explaining that. And just a pre-follow up; did Bear McCreary score the entirety of Blood & Chrome or was that found out different episodes to different composers? And will there be a soundtrack available also when the DVD comes out?
David Eick: I don’t know the answer to the soundtrack question. Naturally every episode of Blood & Chrome is simply a ten minute chunk of a larger movie that we made. And so Bear’s score is of course prevalent in all the episodes and I’m hopeful if we continue on we’ll get Bear back even more.
(Tim Oakland): Thank you very much. I’m a big fan of his and of yours and this was great.
David Eick: Thanks so much. Appreciate that.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of James Hamilton from Geekstronomy. Please proceed with your question.
James Hamilton: Good afternoon Mr. Eick. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.
David Eick: Thank you so much for your interest and time.
James Hamilton: Oh, no problem. I personally feel that four years of Battlestar Galactica is better than 40+ years of Star Trek and I felt that Syfy channel didn’t give Blood & Chrome the respect it deserved. What was the delay in the show actually premiering and why wasn’t there fanfare?
It was announced on Monday, shown on Friday. Can you explain any of that?
David Eick: Well, once again, this was an unorthodox and unusual distribution approach because this was not a pilot air. This is not a project that was ever designed originally to air on Syfy as its initial presentation or distribution.
In those circumstances, when you have a pilot that’s going to premiere as a first episode of the series, we’re all accustomed to billboards 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 in a different space.
I don’t know what sort of expectations are for an online premiere. I see on Machinima this really impressive looking Halo 4 series that’s on and I have to say I’m quite impressed with their production values, with the writing, with the visual effects. I never heard of it; no one ever told me about it and it’s getting well over a million hits.
So I just think it’s a different universe for them. We’re in a much more diversified, much more nuanced viewing landscape now and I just think things are marketed and distributed in different ways depending on what their intended venues are going to be. But as I said earlier I think the delay as it were had to do more with Syfy finding an online partner, a digital partner that made sense for a project and a title like Battlestar Galactica.
And of course as well all know there are a million of them out there and what 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 and what they’re called in this universe. They’re not called ratings; whatever they’re called.
We won’t know if the launch was insufficient until we see the results, but, to my way of thinking, or in terms of how I understand the online world, it just doesn’t work in the old-fashioned way. You’re not going to see billboards and a bunch of commercials; it’s all much more, as they call it, viral.
James Hamilton: Okay. And one other quick question; where did the idea for doing another prequel come from?
David 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 cannon that would make sense as an online series. And I was on an airplane and I was thinking about the character 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’ve seen him as a child being exposed to an alternate, immoral world on the show Caprica. I though it might be interesting for an audience to see what that character might’ve been like when he was Lee Adama’s age, the character that portrayed his son in Battlestar when he was the young, crackerjack hot-gun pilot, fresh out of the academy.
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..
That [his hatred] came from a very personal place. Through that experience, [he] came to feel that the Cylons were [an] unforgivable race of creatures that, of course being responsible for our genocide and being responsible for attacking us, needed to be gotten rid of. But beyond that there was something much more deep and personal driving him and that was the sort of nucleus of the genesis of it. And I just proceeded from there.
James Hamilton: Thank you very much.
David Eick: Thank you, sir.
Operator: And this is the operator just letting you know that we have a Luke Pasqualino on the line. Your line is open as well Mr. Pasqualino.
Luke Pasqualino: Hi guys.
David Eick: Hey Luke, David Eick here. Long time no talk buddy.
Luke Pasqualino: I know. How have you been? Real good.
David Eick: Oh good, sir. I hope you’re excited about the premiere.
David Eick: Yes I know. It feels like a generation ago at this point, doesn’t it?
Luke Pasqualino: I know. I remember what (Frank) was saying, we’re going to do some press. Oh, yes I remember that.
David Eick: It’s like a high school reunion.
Luke Pasqualino: It was, yes. Good to hear your voice bud.
David Eick: You too, man.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Curt Wagner of RedEye. Please proceed with your question.
Curt Wagner: All right, congratulations guys. I watched the first episode so it’s good stuff.
Luke Pasqualino: Thank you.
Curt Wagner: For David, I was wondering how important it was for you to continue this story and to keep telling Galactica’s stories? And then Luke, I was just wondering if you’d seen the original and how excited you are to be part of it – or to have been part of it?
Luke Pasqualino: David, you want to go first?
David Eick: Why don’t you go first Luke? I’ve been talking everyone’s ear off.
Luke Pasqualino: Okay, buddy. 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.
And 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 I think you’re seeing this guy, this William Adama character, [at] 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 Eddie’s stuff, but I did watch seasons of Caprica. Mr. David Eick made that a priority, kind of homework for me really and I loved it. To be part of the Battlestar franchise now and to be welcomed on board as this young William Adama character [is] truly, truly an honor and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
David Eick: So are we. I think the answer to the question of was it important to me to continue this?
Yes I am; I consider myself terribly fortunate and uniquely blessed to have been given the opportunity to jump into this world and to reinvent and sort of re-imagine as the phrase became this title in this universe. It has been my number one vocation, now entering into a second decade of all things, and remains my very favorite thing to do; that is, to work on and write and create and produce and be on sets and be in cutting rooms, visual effect rooms and casting rooms and 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 I hope I’ll have a chance to continue to do.
Curt Wagner: Okay. Now my follow-up for both of you is now [that] we’re seeing William, this will be the third age that we’ve seen him. When I was watching the two episodes of him this morning my first thought was, ‘I wonder what happened to him between Caprica and now.’ Are we going to learn anything about that?
Luke Pasqualino: I think that’s more for you, David.
David 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, whose father we’ve come to know in Caprica, might have a very strong opinion against.
And in the show that we’re watching now in Blood & Chrome, [in] the 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.
In fact, we’ve gone to great lengths – we went 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 maybe bump into some young school teacher who is getting a tour of the Battlestar Galactica. And she introduced herself as Laura and they sort of move past each other and then I just thought, ‘I don’t want to be that cute.’ I don’t want to be that literal with it, and 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 DVDs or seeing this online will be able to recognize. But I think one of the things that will be less resistance to is to think about, do we Esai Morales who played William Adama’s father, to reprise his role in some capacity in a future episode? Do we show some of that conflict and strain between father and son and some of the uniquely kind of contradictory impulses that a mob lifestyle and military lifestyle sort of present?
That’s all really rich storytelling—top soil for us—to pursue if we get the chance to go forward.
Curt Wagner: All right, I hope you do.
Luke Pasqualino: So do I, bud.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Terri Schwartz from Spinoff Online. Please, proceed with your question.
Terri Schwartz: Hi, thanks so much for talking with us today. The mythology of Battlestar Galactica is obviously we all really care about. We’re so excited about Blood & Chrome premiering. So I was just curious if the series is like the Cylons and the history of the Cylons? How big a part of Blood & Chrome are the Cylons going to be?
Luke Pasqualino: I think me and David both have different views on this really, but I think being there in front of the camera, Michael Taylor’s writing and David’s input, ha[s] quite a lot to do with the kind of Cylons and the birth of the Cylons.
And you actually find things out about the Cylons in these earlier stages. In Caprica, we saw the complete birth of the Cylons and to know that they exist. But, to tackle them in a different angle in this Cylon war and for us to tackle those questions [like], ‘[Are] there Cylons involved?’
I think, yes, there definitely is; it’s a big part of [Blood & Chrome] because in any kind of Battlestar show you’ll see Edward James Olmos’ work on Caprica, or even Blood & Chrome, I don’t think Battlestar would be Battlestar really—correct me if I’m wrong, David—without the kind of the Cylon element in there.
So, you do see them. I think to see them from a young Adama’s point of view is something completely different. I mentioned yesterday to another woman that to see there’s so many different stories that come together to make a big family. There’s the Battlestar story; there’s the Adama’s story; there’s the Coker storyline. And then there’s definitely the big fourth one—the Cylons. To see their progression in that story throughout Blood & Chrome is quite magical really.
David Eick: For sure. Very well put. The only thing I would add is that I think what the viewers of this Blood & Chrome story, these ten segments, will discover is that as the Cylons embark on their decision to mimic and surpass human beings, which is a storyline that those who watch Battlestar Galactica knows all too well, they didn’t do it overnight.
It’s not like they were machines with gears and rivets one day and then have soft skin the next day. They took time to attempt to approximate an evolution. If they’d done their homework, they wouldn’t know the human beings didn’t start out as human beings because they went through [a] fish stage, [an] 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.
How the Cylons were attempting to push through their evolutionary process in becoming more human-like and the results can be terrifying and unexpected.
Terri Schwartz: Well, that actually ties into my next question. We know at some point during the Cylon war that the Clyons teamed up with the Final Five. So I was just curious if we were going to get a chance to see any of that either soon or in the future. See them team up with the Final Five or potentially bring back those actors?
David Eick: Well those actors are stuck in a timeline. They’re just in a finite time frame, so 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, I think it underscores the larger point here which is that we really are making Blood & Chrome for a new audience as well as Battlestar faithful.
And as adherent and faithful as we are to the mythology into the 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 everyone else is confused.
Terri Schwartz: Right.
David Eick: That’s not our intent or our agenda.
Terri Schwarz: Okay. Great, thank you.
David Eick: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Joe Nazzaro of SciFi Now Magazine. Please, proceed with your question.
Joe Nazzaro: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. I hope you can hear me okay; I’ve got a bit of a crackly line on this side.
Luke Pasqualino: I can hear you.
Joe Nazzaro: Great. David, I want to follow up on something that you touched upon before which was the use of visual effects and new technology in the franchise. Could you talk a little bit about some of the more recent innovations that you were able to incorporate into Blood & Chrome that maybe didn’t exist when you started out with Battlestar Galactica some years ago?
Or maybe some of those technologies were still in their infancy and have recently come into their own because having watched the first two episodes I thought, ‘This is a very cool, looking very high-techy show.’ And it looks great and expensive and I suspect you probably didn’t have huge piles of money to do it, but maybe that technology really did come into its own for you.
David Eick: You’ve answered most of the question with that astutely put question.
Joe Nazzaro: Sorry about that.
David Eick: Because the truth is it’s not [that] the technology didn’t exist, but it has always been cost-prohibitive and remains cost-prohibitive, frankly, if you watch a lot of the expensive digital effect shows on broadcast networks that have five, eight, ten times our budget.
I don’t know these people personally. I’m not intimately involved in their process, but I have to imagine that bureaucracy and certain traditions of who visual effects are produced for television remain entrenched in old thinking because I look at shots that I know cost a lot more and took many more – much more resources on Fox or NBC than shots that we’re doing for Syfy or Machinima.
I know ours are better and I just know that we’re doing better work and that there’s a more tactical, immersive reality to our 3-D work. For the most part, the short answer is if you can find the artist, if you can build from within a uniform apparatus as, I say an army, that is accountable to production that does not have any overhead, that does not have any amortization necessary other than your show, [then] you’re not going to a visual effects house, you’re not going to ILM, you’re not going to some company or some house, but you’re just building it in house.
So you have a rag-tag fleet within your rag-tag fleet of visual effect experts and artists and professionals. If you have the time and the wherewithal to put together that kind of squad, you can do amazing things for an amazingly low number.
What you have to circumvent in modern television making is a bureaucracy that is attending to most major studios and networks which demand that you use these visual effect houses because they’re trusted, because the spews aren’t worried about shots not beings delivered on time or shots not being up to snuff. But it is that bureaucracy that costs so much more money and then, in my opinion, delivers so much inferior work.
If you can find an environment as we were fortunate enough to find during the earliest days of Battlestar where, despite some pressure and some resistance, we were able to win that fight to not be forced to go to a visual house outside, to dump out shots off on, and instead to create them in-house where we had total control of them. We were able to deliver better work as the technology advanced as it did in between Battlestar and Blood & Chrome.
We were able to build fewer sets and create more digitally. That’s the upside, like Blood & Chrome; it also lent an aesthetic distinction. It’s not just that we accomplished it differently, it’s that it looks and feels different from Battlestar and that makes Blood & Chrome feel new and unique and different for a new audience (sic).
Joe Nazzaro: Thanks, David. And Luke, if I could sort of follow that up in a way; I sometimes think there should be a green screen boot camp out there for actors to learn how to use all this technology when you work on virtual sets and green screen. And I’m just curious, as an actor, how do you retain your emotional core—your performance—when you’re surrounded by so many technical challenges?
Luke Pasqualino: When I first came onto set and I saw this huge sound studio just full of green, I thought I was in some kind of field somewhere.
But really, just trying; the hardest difficulties acting-wise [are] when we’re doing scenes within our raptor where Jonas, our director, will be saying, ‘Okay there’s going to be a bomb lying over top of you now,’ or, ‘Something’s going to hit the screen now.’ It is [in] trying to judge those points which are tough.
But I really, if I’m honest, didn’t find it difficult as you might think to get the emotions and the messages across just because the cast I was privileged to work with. Ben Cotton, who played Coker, was absolutely fantastic. He and I together, we overcame it. We had a chat; we had a minor conference ourselves and we sat down and realized how we needed to work how we overcome this green-screen difficulty.
And having people like David and Michael and Jonas all on board and involved together, pulling together the green screen was such a small factor of it. I think to try and pull yourself out of the fact that you’re actually working on a green screen and focus as much as you can on the material, the heart of the writing, just became so much more important that we didn’t even think about the green screen in the surroundings that we had.
I didn’t realize how lucky we were to be doing this all on green screen. It’s taking slightly longer to air, but we had this opportunity to take this journey anywhere we wanted because we could literally put any kind of backdrop we wanted into this kind of Syfy, Battlestar Galactica world.
We could take it anywhere we wanted to. So, it had its pros, it had its cons, but I think everything was overcame and we executed what we had to do and what was most important as well.
Joe Nazzaro: Great. Thanks guys for taking the time to talk. And Luke, a big shout out to the UK. It was a lot nicer riding out the hurricane in Brentford last week than here.
Luke Pasqualino: Oh, my thoughts are with you brother.
Joe Nazzaro: Cheers then.
Luke Pasqualino: Thank you, buddy.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Joseph Nicholson) with IGN. Please proceed with your question.
(Joseph Nicholson): Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.
Luke Pasqualino: You’re welcome.
David Eick: Yes.
(Joseph Nicholson): I saw the first two episodes this morning and they were really great. One of the more interesting dynamics we see in those first two is the relationship between Adama and Coker (sic). Can you guys talk a bit about the development of those characters as this web series progresses?
Luke Pasqualino: David?
David Eick: Well, as I was saying before, the decision to root Adama’s hatred and for the Cylons coming from an emotion place versus just a war scar place was very interesting to me at the beginning.
But what trumped that or what maybe was a way of accentuating that through this story, and this is where you guys have to be careful with spoilers, Adama will come to learn through a betrayal that he experiences, he learns that a more reliable and deeper and trustworthy relationship is with his partner Coker.
Through this experience, the audience of Battlestar might project that’s why Adama, Edward James Olmos’ character on Battlestar, has this relationship with Colonel Tigh, a relationship that seems to run deeper and be more impervious than even Adama’s relationship with his own sons or any woman.
Where did that come from? Why is that kind of relationship viewed by Adama as the more impervious to external factors, the one that he can rely on the most? And so it became very interesting to me to explore how what we would call a bromance usurps the romance and that bromance is, in our case, between Adama and Coker. And even though Coker is not Tigh, we might see the echo chamber effect of those ties that we’ll later find William Adama to the man Colonel Tigh in some later event.
But this story is in part to explain why Adama views that kind of male comradeship with such unyielding importance and depth.
(Joseph Nicholson): Great. And then, just as a quick follow-up; these two episodes also do an excellent job of establishing itself in that universe as we come to know, down [to] the set and costumes and even the dog tags.
You’ve been talking a bit about the production and how this was put together. How difficult was it to recapture that aesthetic we’re all familiar with from the last Battlestar Galactica series?
David Eick: Well, we were fortunate to have many of the same crew people involved in Blood & Chrome who were involved in Battlestar. So the Bubo’s and the dog tags and the helmets and all the things that seem to be the Battlestar show, had come to recognize and to associate with our design aesthetic.
We were able to bring back and to recreate and, in some cases, to buy back from the fans who had bought it at the auction at the end of the Battlestar. I think in one case we had to go to some fan who had acquired parts of the rafter so that we could use it to recreate the rafter on the set. So, there were some rather unexpected ways in which some of those items came back into play for Blood & Chrome.
But, it wasn’t really difficult at all. I think the bigger challenge was finding a way to then, while armed with those familiar kind of reminders of Battlestar, introduce an aesthetic that would feel different and new and not necessarily a reminder of the old show. And that was where Jonas Pate and Lukas Ettlin and guys who were newcomers to this franchise became so invaluable.
(Joseph Nicholson): Great, thank you very much.
David Eick: Thank you.
Luke Pasqualino: Thanks, bud. Thank you, David.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Reg Seeton of DeadBolt.com. Please proceed with your question.
Reg: Hi, my first question is for David. Between Battlestar and Caprica what did you learn from an accessible storytelling standpoint that you were playing in Blood & Chrome?
David Eick: That’s a wonderful question. As I was saying earlier, this was a story that came from a very personal place for me and it was really about exploring the root [of] what made Adama tick. This would be the Cylons and how that was informed by his love relationships, his understanding of the potential for betrayal despite love and the importance of a male figure in his life who he could depend on even above and beyond his own blood relations.
Beyond that, I also felt that there was an obligation if we were going to reintroduce Battlestar into the public that we tell stories that felt accessible. That we had done a tremendously thorough job of defining an elaborate and confluent mythology and that mythology would always stand intact. It would always be the subject of debate and they had an argument about what is Starbuck, all those kinds of questions.
But this would be something that would function on a different level and I wasn’t able to write the script because I was obligated to a couple other projects and I had this story that I wanted to tell. And I was so fortunate that I was able to go to Battlestar alumni who had done the kind of stories in Battlestar Galactica that evoke exactly what I was hoping Blood & Chrome would achieve.
Hard hitting, mission oriented, accessible stories that had depth and emotion and would be unusual in that it would extend into darker places and more human places than science fiction normally goes, which is always the hallmark of Battlestar. But it would air more on the side of missions and objectives that bend mythology. And so Michael Taylor and David Weddle and Bradley Thompson were at hand. God bless them.
Together we were able to break the story in detail. And then Michael Taylor wrote a gorgeous script that stunned everyone and got this thing green-lit. That’s really the tale of how it all came together, but the emphasis has always been on for fans of Battlestar episodes like Ties That Bind and Act of Contrition and, I’m missing one of the great titles—a Thompson/Weddle episode—but, these were hallmarks of great battles or episodes that if you’ve never seen an episode of the show before were still wonderfully thrilling and engaging. Oh I’m sorry; Hand of God was another big reference point for us which I think was Episode 10 of the first season.
Reg: Great. Luke, how did you approach William to really understand who he is in this time period as compared to what we saw later? Was that easy for you since he was already established?
Luke Pasqualino: I think, and I mentioned this before, to try and establish William Adama as an early 20-year-old when he’s already been established in his kind of 40s, 50s as Edward James Olmos portrayed him, and to see him now as the kid.
Being 22 myself, I know that being this early 20-year-old, especially when you’re going into something new like the flight school that he attended, can be quite a difficult time for a young man. But I think my main goal was to not let anything that Edward James Olmos did influence my interpretation of the material.
I wanted to go in there with a fresh head and I didn’t know too much about the franchise before I got the role. So, I did my research and knew Edward James Olmos’ and his character. David Eick gave me some great homework which was to watch both seasons of Caprica, which I did, and I thought just to take this on with only the Caprica theme in mind was key for me as an actor to try and get across the point.
And obviously you know that the producers like Michael Taylor, David, Jonas, my co-star Ben Cotton, all of us playing together on our little team helped us get the message across to bring out the valuable points in the script.
So, really it was. Yes, I mean it was tough. I did feel quite pressure doing an American accent. That was a big factor too, but to try and get as much of that out of your head—the technical aspects out of your head—as much as possible and just really trying to kind of connect with the material as much as possible was key for the final product.
Reg: Great. Thanks guys, wish you all the best.
Luke Pasqualino: You’re very welcome. Thank you, buddy.
Operator: And our last question is a follow-up question from the line of Jamie Ruby from Sci-Fi Vision. Please proceed with your question.
Jamie Ruby: Jamie Ruby, hi again. So, can you tell us a little bit, Luke, about how you got the part and, David, you can jump in with that, too.
Luke Pasqualino: Well, it was pilot season last year (2011). It must’ve been about February/March [that] I got the script from my team. Essentially, it was a new pilot for a Battlestar Galactica franchise called Blood & Chrome and when I got the script I was almost thrown; I was kind of scared. I obviously had no clue about the franchise. I didn’t have any idea what the premise was.
I was just completely out of my comfort zone. But as soon as I started reading, five pages in I just didn’t want to put the script down. And Lukas Ettlin is telling us as well that as soon as he read the script, he said you do really have to feel that you can kind of connect to the material. And that was one thing I really did feel.
I felt in Adama’s shoes before I even [had] been offered the role. And then, I flew to L.A. for the test, and to be offered the role [by Ben and David] two or three days after that experience was fantastic.
It was one of those things to me where it was more excitement than anything; the excitement of the opportunity of possibly having a show where I am the lead and I just really wanted this. When I finally got offered the part, I just got so thrilled I finally got to be a part of something. I wanted the responsibility of trying to make this what it was.
And, I think you did a good job. What do you think David?
David Eick: Well, what Luke may or may not know is that he was the only one who writes the role who did so on tape. He was in the UK and he sent an email with, or his people sent an email with, his audition done on tape without the benefit of our casting people to sort of adjust the reading and who knew what we were looking for [or] any of that.
Usually in the casting session, where you’re bringing actors to network, you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not in the room because people in the room are there and they’re physical and you can inter-relate with them. And then, anyone who’s not, you’re just watching on a screen. And we knew—me, myself, Jonas, and Michael—that we wanted Luke. But, we also knew we were at a disadvantage because he was on tape and everyone else was in the room in person.
I have to say, to the credit of the folks at Syfy channel, Mark Stern and his team, we put the tape on after these very qualified and wonderful actors—any one of [which] would’ve been great—but none of whom were as special and as unique we felt Luke was. Mark looked at the reading; I think Luke was maybe four or five sentences into it and Mark turns around and looked at us and said, ‘Oh my God we found it.’
It was just a huge sigh of relief that went out because we were so concerned that Luke may have been at a disadvantage because he wasn’t in the room. It’s just a testament to how precarious these things are.
You never really know how it’s going to go, but we were driving home that night on the phone with Jonas saying, ‘I’m so relieved. I’m so relieved. Whatever happens’—I was joking with Jonas—‘Whatever you do to screw this up, we know we’ve got our Adama.’
Jamie Ruby: All right, great. Well, thank you so much both of you.
Luke Pasqualino: I didn’t even know that, David, so thank you for putting a smile on my face as well.
David Eick: Good.
Operator: And there are no further questions at this time.
Luke Pasqualino: Beautiful.
David Eick: All right.
Luke Pasqualino: Thanks, buddy.
Sharon Liggins: Well, thank you everyone for joining.
David Eick: Yes, thank you everyone and we’ll talk soon.
Luke Pasqualino: Great, thank you, guys.
David Eick: Take care, Luke.
Luke Pasqualino: Thanks, take care buddy. Bye bye.
David Eick: Bye bye.