There are those who believe.......the original series of Battlestar Galactica deserves a Continuation.
One of those people, original series actor Richard "Apollo" Hatch, was kind enough spend time on Christmas Eve 2007 answering questions for an exclusive interview for BattlestarFanfilms.com
Richard became a hero to the original series fanbase when he re-mortgaged his own home to finance the making of a Continuation trailer "The Second Coming" Fans who saw it at conventions were blown away by its intense and modern take on the original series, yet how it also still kept true to the spirit of the classic series we knew and loved. Richard saw and understood what a major sci-fi fanbase wanted.
(Dr. Who has since been brought back as an updated continuation - its a UK ratings hit, proving it is possible !)
Telephone Interview with Richard Hatch on the 24th December 2007 by Daniel Earnshaw. All images from The Second Coming unless otherwise noted. The interview covers Richard's own attempts to bring about a Continuation, other possibilities that have been raised recently...and fanfilms.
Daniel : Please can you give us an update on where your "The Second Coming" Continuation project currently stands ?
Richard : We created The Second Coming almost ten years ago as a way to promote a return of Battlestar Galactica when no-one seemed to be interested and it started out as a very simple storyboard and fully evolved 4 minute trailer and ultimately we got so much interest from so many different companies we really thought we were going to be able to put together a brand new Battlestar Galactica series or film. Obviously the main intention initially was to encourage Universal to bring back the series and do a Continuation series, but as we all know that didn't happen, things changed and the network seemed more interested in doing something new than doing a Continuation and they created the re-imagined version.
Like Star Trek, there is room for many different interpretations of Battlestar not just one, there's many people who have a vision and there's no one way of doing anything, so I ultimately had my vision of doing a continuation series for which I've written a series of 7 books and obviously the trailer as a way to promote that idea, but if I'm honest and open and realistic, at the end of the day Universal owns the rights so they're ultimately going to make the final decision.
But sooner or later, when fans fall in love with a story, and I'm very much a fan of Battlestar, we all get our own ideas and creative thoughts and feelings about where the story could go. What's wonderful today is that we can all explore our own ideas either through writing fan fiction, or writing a book or even put ting together fan films. But with The Second Coming trailer unfortunately we're not able to go out as a series or a movie because we don't have the license to do that. Hopefully in the future the powers that be will change their minds and be more open to a Continuation, but at this time, they're just wrapping up the re-imagined version so I don't think they're going be too open to doing a Battlestar anything for a while, in the same way with Paramount and Star Trek are kinda taking a break.
Daniel : Its understood there was as much as 30 minutes of Continuation era footage shot, as well as the Trailer, during the filming sessions for The Second Coming. Please can you describe what else was filmed ?
Richard : Well, we filmed a whole bunch of things such as scenes around the The Council of the Twelve. We filmed in downtown LA at Centre Studios where we created the council chamber. We had it filled up with some wonderful actors and we did a whole bunch of sequences in there dealing with the Colonies, debating the issue of what should we do, where should we go, should we attempt to return to the Colonies or continue our search for the 13th Tribe. We also shot a whole bunch of things around the training of cadets and they were filmed inside a big warehouse where they used to house the Spruce Goose.
We followed the cadets going through what was essentially intense training that we put them through in order to prepare them for life and death circumstances and decision making, which is what Battlestar is all about. So we filmed a whole bunch of scenes there that we had to cut out as well unfortunately.
Also if your filming something that turns out to be more than 30 minutes as was our case, its very extensive to do all the post on it and especially all the CGI. Ultimately we had to pair the whole thing down to 3 or 4 minutes because I wasn't getting enough high quality CGI scenes that I was willing to leave in and also many of the scenes needed a lot of rotoscoping to make them look right due to our budget and filming challenges.. If a CGI sequence or any scene is not believable I don't put it in.
So ultimately I cut it down to the very best that we had to work with and obviously as they say less is more. At some point I'd love to put some of the shots we had to leave out and some of the behind the scenes stuff in a DVD so fans they can see what we had to go through and all the stuff that we couldn't leave in. We had a great crew about 100 people and we had a great ball putting it together, we had a lot of fun.
Daniel : The reported cost of The Second Coming filming sessions was around $20,000 and a lot of goodwill from professional fans. If this is accurate and that led to 30 minutes, could raising $100,000 deliver a low budget but still well made Continuation movie ?
Richard : You know, with the proper resources and people helping and a hundred thousand dollars, and if you had everybody doing the CGI for free, it would take a long time to get it all done, but its do-able. But if you did it on a professional level having to use union people, a hundred thousand dollars would not go very far for a Battlestar film. I struggled to get high quality CGI 10 years ago. It's very hard when people are not being paid to work that hard to create a sequence that is effective and believable. Obviously things have changed dramatically with CGI and the technical know-how on computer generated effects has evolved since 10 years ago. Nevertheless, just to get high quality sequences that really are believable takes a lot of time and effort and most people are not willing to do that for free.
But again it is do-able. I've always thought that if I just got enough of the right people together, we could make an incredible film for very little money, but I know the struggles of people following through, finishing what they promised to do, getting it done in a reasonable time. You many times end up pulling your hair out, because when their not being paid or are not in the industry on a full time basis they either lose interested or have other priorities that get in the way and they end up moving onto something else and your left with something that's half finished.
It can be very hard working with people who are not making a living out of it or not really committed full time to it. A lot of people have an interest and have a passion, but like I said, its very hard to find people who are willing to follow through and are willing to put in the time necessary to create the sort of effects that can be effective in this day and age. But again it is possible. You just have to find the right people and that's rare. . And starting off, it takes more than just writing a story. Directing it, having wonderful actors play it; to really create something good takes time to find the right people who are willing to put in all that effort in for very little money, almost no money.
So, its doable but it would be a monumental challenge. But I do love challenges!!
Daniel : Do you think the original Battlestar could return as an animated series or movie ?
Richard : I think you could do an animated version using the original actors, like Final Fantasy, like Beowulf, letting the real actors come into a sound stage and be hooked up and digitally re-create themselves in such a way you can make them any age or way you want and you could also take original stuff of John Colicos and Lorne Greene and possibly digitally re-create those characters in an animated version.
But if the studios own the rights to something and they're not interested in doing it, they usually don't want anyone else doing it. The only way you can get away with it is if you create a fanfilm which you put out for free and don't charge for it. But because of unions, actors are not able to do things unless there is some kind of union dispensation to allow them to, its a question either of how much money you can spend to get quality anything or if you have the ability to get the right resources and people together at the right time and place. Than, anything is possible. But right now, I don't know what we could do. With The Second Coming or any other concept, I would almost want to go to a really high quality animated version that you could do really incredible things with. Either a continuation or the Classic version through animation because it wouldn't be limited by the age of the actors or the fact that some of them have passed away. You can almost do anything, today. I think it's possible to create a really powerful BG movie through animation and motion capture. I would love to see that. But hay, who wouldn't want to see a Battlestar Movie period. Save me a seat!!
Daniel : Do you ever think you would return to do a sequel trailer to The Second Coming ?
Richard : Well, anything is possible! It took a lot of my time energy and money to produce that and at this point because of Battlestar being owned by Universal and obviously because of the new show coming out I don't think that's possible. I had to make my peace with the fact that I don't own Battlestar and also the point that Networks don't plan on producing more space show, so at this point in time, I want to create and get involved in creating new sci-fi fantasy stories and projects that are not owned by a network or studio. But to do that effectively and to give a new sci-fi series the chance to succeed I really want to find a new business model that will support producing the kinds of series the networks are no longer interested in. There are business models that would let the public makes their decision as to whether they love a series or not and then these new series could continue as long as the public supports it as opposed to having networks and studios heads make that decision. As we all know they have continually taken great shows of the air way before their time. I want to find a new way of funding and presenting movies and television series that can serve the sci-fi niche market in a more fan-friendly way.
Daniel : Do you think a crossover with another scifi show, such as Buck Rogers or Star Trek would help a continuation become a reality or might this risk the integrity of Battlestar Galactica ?
Richard : I think certain shows like Firefly; Star Wars etc have a crossover fanbase. In fan fiction you can do most anything as we all know. Characters and stories can merge together in interesting and unique ways so there are multiple ways to play with creative ideas in this day and age. Alien vs. Predator is an example. It was interesting to see the 2 species come together and challenge each other and they found a way to do that. I actually thought it was a lot better than I expected it was going to be. It's very hard to mix two series together in some kind of creative way that actually works but on occasion it possible in science fiction to accomplish that. And it can be a lot of fun.
Daniel : Has working on the new series (of Battlestar Galactica) given you the opportunity to promote a Continuation of original from the inside and have you played The Second Coming to any of the new series cast or crew and what did they think about it ?
Richard : Not really but to tell the truth many of the people I know on the new BG series love the original series and a lot of them have seen The Second Coming trailer. They loved the original series and now 30 years later they've gotten to be a part of Battlestar. That's exciting! I don't think most of the people working on the new show take sides as many fans do. As for me, I love both series of different reasons. Besides you can't really compare 2 series done 30 years apart in two totally different worlds.
Daniel : When you were working on The Second Coming, why didn't you and Glen Larson work together, since you were making Battlestar Galactica and he had the movie rights ?
Richard : I did The Second Coming because nobody was interested in moving forward with Battlestar Galactica at that time. Glen Larson at a slightly later point wanted to do the Pegasus story but Universal wasn't interested at all at that time. Fact is nobody seemed to want to do anything with Battlestar, so I was left all to my own devices, I had no choice but to basically go it on my own!
Daniel : Do you know if Glen Larson has seen The Second Coming and do you know what he thinks about it ?
Richard : I have no clue. But I do understand that it's difficult to see anyone else take your creative baby and do something with it. All artists feel that way. I just wanted to see BG come back and I was willing to put my time, energy and money into it.
Daniel : Looking at how you wrote Apollo in your Continuation, as a strong and dedicated leader, compared to how Tom DeSanto wrote Apollo, as a Cylon drone without freewill in the need of a journey of rescue and redemption, which of the two as an actor would you prefer to play ?
Richard : (Laughs) I don't think there's a choice there, I mean they are two wonderful ways to go. I mean, the way I was developing things in my book stories (was one way) but I never read the Tom DeSanto version because the only version I read didn't even have me in the story for the most part. I wasn't even in the 2 hour pilot, I was basically at the very end of the story where you see me as a Cylon and that's it. I know Tom wanted to create a story around that and I know a little bit about where he wanted to go, but I never saw a story arc so I don't know exactly what he was going to do with me. I'm sure knowing Tom it would have been very very interesting and as an actor would have been very fun and challenging the play. Obviously there are different ways to go and I love playing any challenging and complex character. Characters are fun to play when you make them more conflicted and put them in very challenging life or death circumstances that test their metal and make them face their issues and flaws.. The more challenging, the more interesting it is for the actor to play, and the more flawed and conflicted the character the more rewarding it is to play. Black and white characters are not fun to play. They are not very challenging.
Daniel : What do you think of the original series Cylons and ships appearing in Razor ?
Richard : I thought that was really nice, I thought it was nice that they tied in the original classic series into the new show. I thought it was nice that they did that. I thought it was a nice tip of the hat to the original series, and I think it just shows that there was an appreciation from Ron Moore and company.
Daniel : How do you feel the 2007 CGI Raiders and Cylon Centurions came across in Razor ?
Richard : I liked the classic Cylons in Razor. I really liked the CGI version of the original Cylons. I thought the original Cylons in Razor looked really cool and scary.. They made them more powerful looking, less stiff. We kinda did that in my The Second Coming trailer 10 years ago as well. Our Cylons were far more buff, far more agile; they were not those clinkers that were in the original show. You know with the original Cylons they were actually two versions made by artist Ralph McQuarrie: the more ornate version that they actually used and the other version with the blue eyes that was actually more fluid and agile, which I happened to like more myself.
We all inspire each other and the CGI artists; they watched the original show and maybe even my Second coming trailer, and I just think that we all influence and inspire each other in some way. One of the ships that was created by one of our CGI guys in The Second Coming, the Cylon ship with the head, was basically used for the new Cylon fighter. The head CGI guy at the beginning of the new BG series was the same guy who worked on The Second Coming trailer, so there's crossovers everywhere, I think we all inspire each other and than evolve the concepts we like.
Daniel : At a June 2005 convention in the UK, Glen Larson stated that he planned to have Battlestar on the big screen in a year and a half. Were you ever approached about that idea ?
Richard : I think Glen's favorite character was Starbuck. I think I was more an afterthought for Glen as he generally loves characters that have more of a sense of humor. I actually tried to get Glen to give Capt Apollo more of that and sometimes that came through but in the end it's hard not to love a rogue like Starbuck who always get the woman and becomes the reluctant hero. We all would like to have a little Starbuck in us right!!
Daniel : Were you approached about this in 2005 ?
Richard : No I was not.
Daniel : A while ago I proposed a project to edit out the Dr. Zee aspects of the Galactica 1980 episode 'The Return of Starbuck', and replace it with Continuation era scenes, 30 yahrens later, where Starbuck makes it back to the fleet and looks back on happened in that episode. This would involve filming new scenes, just a few minutes, with the original series cast as Starbuck looks back. Do you think that would be a constructive project ?
Richard : Why not ! If its done right, there's no reason why that wouldn't be an interesting project. I wasn't a particular fan of 1980 but I certainly liked the episode with Dirk that was the best episode in it. I think that was a really interesting story. There are so many creative ideas that would be interesting. If only...
Daniel : What do you think the future might hold for Battlestar Galactica fanfilms ?
Richard : Over at battlestargalactica.com we're going to be creating a new exciting area for our online site, creating 'Battlestar Galactica TV' for playing fanfilms, interviews, convention videos, satirical takes on Battlestar and any kind of thing that people want to put together. We want to create programming on there that will be play on a loop that anybody can watch day or night. So there are going to be all kinds of places to preview your new Battlestar projects and fanfilms. People should get out there and put something together. I'm in the process of putting together some new ideas. We're willing to put up excerpts from new BG stories; we're looking for great new ideas to develop and we want to help promote new artists, new directors and any new fan clubs any way we can. I've discovered anything is possible these days, with the technology we have, if you have a passion and a will and more importantly the courage!!
(Above : Images from various osBSG fanfilms)
Daniel : Several professional actors have appeared in fanfilms, including the recent high profile appearances of Walter Koenig and George Takei in Star Trek:New Voyages. If you saw an original series Battlestar Galactica fanfilm being made to a professional standard with challenging and creative script ideas, would you be tempted to participate ?
Richard : Yeah, if there was something that I could contribute to and be of value for. If there was something interesting and challenging for me to do, of course. Whether its a new movie or a television series, if its an idea that's interesting, I'd like to do it. I've seen very high quality fanfilms done; I've seen very talented gifted people putting together projects that they filmed in their backyard. For me its all about the project, its all about the people, if its something interesting and worthwhile, I'm always interested. They just asked me to do one of the New Voyages series, so I may be playing a character in one of those shows, I've been asked and I said "yes" so yeah if everything follows through and works out I'll definitely be doing it.
(Above : Images from various osBSG fanfilms)
Richard's Closing Comments : I think its great for young filmmakers and talented and creative people to get involved in developing their skills within the universe their comfortable with and they love, whether its Star Trek, Firefly, Battlestar: Fanfilms are a wonderful way to not only explore further a universe that we all love, but also a way to develop your skills and abilities and confidence. Ultimately we have to take those skills when they reach that certain level, and develop new ideas. So often talented people stay stuck in the same universe they love, but at some point you have to have the courage and take that leap of faith to develop a new idea and story concept. On www.battlestargalactica.com I want to encourage new Battlestar Galactica shorts and films that will take these stories further and even explore your favorite universe and characters sideways, backwards and maybe go into an alternate version of Battlestar. There are many things to explore in the BG universe. But I also want to encourage fanfilm makers to step into developing new wonderful sci-fi stories that we will also play on battlestargalactica.com TV. Anyone got new and creative ideas?
BattlestarGalactica.com is owned by Richard Hatch :