Sunday August 6, 2000

Charity Breakfast

They served a help yourself all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast that was quite good. Virginia and Gigi came in at about 11:00 and stayed for over an hour visiting tables of fans, chatting and getting their pictures taken. Anthony took time from backstage interviews to pop in for a few minutes to say hi.

Brian Henson, David Kemper, Rockne S. O’Bannon, Ricky Manning, Lily Taylor

AHRPanel.jpg (36715 bytes)A couple of hints for the future episodes were given out at the beginning of the panel discussion: 1) The panel described  “Won’t Get Fooled Again”  as “Farscape on acid”. It was written by Ricky Manning and 2) Story editor Lily Taylor wrote the upcoming episode in which the Nebari return.

They showed us a video of the rest of this season’s episodes. Unfortunately, it was only 1 minute long. Everything went by so fast it was hard to pick out any specifics but the audience begged and they consented to show it again later, which they did. I remember seeing Luxans, Vorkarian Blood Trackers, Sheyangs, a bleeding Chiana, Zenetan pirates, some weird thing with spikes (?) sticking out of its head, Aeryn in what looked like a nurse’s uniform, and a very sweet look between John and Aeryn.

We learned that the DVDs will be out in January. They’ll have commentary which is in the process of being recorded right now, so it seems they’ll be more goodie-filled than the UK versions. David Kemper joked (at least I think he was joking) that the comments will be in the various characters’ native tongues and that translator microbes will be on sale for thousands of dollars.

Brian Henson was asked how his late father, Jim Henson, got started. Brian said he began his career in late night puppet theater. Of course, David Kemper immediately wanted to know exactly “WHAT is late night puppet theater?” It turned out to be a short commercial on a small local TV station. Wilkins Coffee, I think.

During the Q&A, a fan asked: If the Peacekeepers are such badasses, why do they always seem to be beaten by Moya’s bunch? David Kemper said that most extras aren’t SEAL trained! He also said that, because these particular PKs are so far out in the Uncharted Territories, their paychecks are always late. That’s why they’re such losers.

We were told that the look of the show will change again next year. Something (we weren’t told what) happens to them and they undergo a “phase shift”. They want to make it creative and new each year, and they said we should be able to tell what season a show is from just by looking at the episode.

Brian was asked about “Dark Crystal” and told us that his father originally wanted to make the movie more adult oriented, but for various reasons wasn’t able to. This, of course, gave rise to another David Kemper comment about “late night adult puppet theater”

Recreation of a Scene from “The Flax”

The eight fans chosen yesterday came on stage to strut their stuff. Director Rowan Woods was called up from the audience to make it as realistic as possible and to give them some, well, some direction. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of all four performances. Each pair took a very different approach to the scene (one even had Aeryn being played by the male lead and John by the female). They used the applause method to chose the winners, who got Scorpy Hawaiian shirts.

Anthony Simcoe 

Anth01.jpg (34442 bytes)Wow! Anthony leaped onto the stage and immediately fell down about 20 times, each flop being a little bit different from the others. It was one of the most inventive and entertaining entrances I’ve ever seen.

We were told how D'Argo learned to talk like a Luxan, from the accent (American) to the tone (very deep). A little “gravel” was added and the last step was putting emphasis on one word in every phrase. He demonstrated by saying the D’Argo catch phrase, “I vow, I will never be taken prisoner again”. Then he had the audience repeat the phrase (so now I’m sure that if I’m ever chased by Vorkarian blood trackers I’ll know what to say). He also gave us a sampling of the softer voice he uses, especially when talking to Chiana.

And then he became D'Argo-looking-like-Anthony-acting-like-Chiana. That alone was worth the price of the convention.

The first set of prosthetics covered him to the ankles and he could barely move. He couldn’t turn his head to look at someone but would have to turn his whole body. There was a problem with bathroom breaks, too. There weren’t any!

During his Easter break, he made a film with Gigi and Jonathan Hardy but he didn’t give us its name or when it’ll be released.

Farscape True/False Competition

Thirty audience members were chosen to come up on stage for a T/F contest. Each was given two signs, a blue “TRUE” to be held in the right hand and a yellow “FALSE” for the left. Statements were read by the Creation MC and the correct sign had to be held up within a couple of seconds or you had to leave the stage. Yours truly got dumped really early. The questions started out fairly simple and got progressively more difficult. The one that eliminated the most people was: John Crichton’s father missed his 9th birthday party. (It was his 10th) When only two contestants were left, the deciding question was: Subvision does the CGI for Farscape. (They do the sound.)

Making a Human Reaction with David Kemper, Rowan Woods, Rockne O'Bannon, and Dave Elsey

AHRPanel2.jpg (8748 bytes)Dave Elsey was added to this panel at the last minute and when Rockne introduced him, we learned that Lucas wanted to hire him to do the creatures for their Episode 2 (which is currently being filmed), but he elected to remain with “Farscape”!

Rowan Woods had wanted to film in a particular facility in Sydney for years, but the cost was prohibitive until Farscape came along and said “go for it”. So, “A Human Reaction” was filmed in a garbage and sewage treatment plant in Sidney. David Kemper said that he was a little leery of telling people that Farscape was shot in the “crapper”!

The cottage scene was shot in Pete Coogan’s house (he was the producer for the first season). They moved his wife and kids out and Farscape moved in.

Elsey01.jpg (34300 bytes)Dave Elsey talked about the design of the pod aliens and the decision to light them from within. It was one of those “I can do that. How’m I gonna do that?” type of things. He said that when you put the lights inside it makes it very difficult to hide the puppetry mechanism. There was a huge hail storm that wiped out the Creature Shop’s indoor workshop and they lost 2 weeks of production.

They told us that scenes aren’t cut for the Sci Fi channel but that they are added to make up extra minutes in other parts of the world. The scenes are usually between two characters and are relatively cheap to make.

Rowan Woods talked about some of his decisions regarding the sound in AHR. It was a very important aspect to him in this episode, and some of the things he spoke about were:

The alien languages that were being heard in English on one side of the glass and in the characters native tongues by the earthlings.

John screaming soundlessly on the other side of the glass.

The music choices.

Someone asked if the group on the stage would sign autographs at the end and they said yes!

Salute to Chiana

Another super music video. I hope everyone will get a chance to see these because they were a lot of fun.

Gigi Edgley

Gigi01.jpg (21774 bytes)One of the first things Gigi did when she came onstage was yank off her outer shirt (while doing a great Chiana move) and toss it to the audience. Well, that got everyone’s attention!

Gigi wrote a poem for us and  I wish I could remember all the words. I do remember that it was very sweet and the whole feeling it conveyed was “She likes us! She really likes us!”

She told us that in the beginning she had white hands too, but there were little white paw prints all over the set, hence the gloves. She said she had no formal training for her moves, but that she does all kinds of dance and they just sort of evolved.

A fan asked her to tell us when she first realized that Farscape is catching on and  Gigi answered, “Right about now”.

Why did she have the control collar on in Durka Returns? Because Chiana did bad things that she thought were good. She also said to keep an eye on Chiana.

How did she go about playing D'Argo? Like this, she said, and then just stood still with her arms by her sides and a deadpan expression on her face.

Fascape Bloopers

They showed the blooper reel for a second time and it was just as enjoyable as the first time.

A Musical Salute to Zhaan

Beautiful!

Virginia Hey

Virginia’s hair is beginning to grow out and she says she feels like a toothbrush! She sat in a chair on the stage and talked with us for a little while about being Virginia and about being Zhaan. Virginia was a “Bond Girl”. Originally she was up for the lead, but she was too tall so they cast her as one of the other girls in the movie. She’s the oldest regular member of the cast, but she didn’t say how old she is.

Then the fans got a chance to ask questions. When asked about Zhaan’s nekkid scene in TFAL and how difficult was it to play that, she said she used a body double.

Another question: “Zhaan’s character seems so subtle and calm but has some very violent moments. Are you really like that?” “No”, said Virginia very sweetly. “But come up here and I’ll kick your ass!”

She’s going to move her web page to another site. She wants to learn how to do it herself so she can have closer contact with her fans.

Brian Henson

Brian asked us if we wanted to do questions and answers or should he just talk. Talk won, hands down. He’s a wonderful speaker, and he gave us some good insights into Farscape’s beginnings.

A long time ago (can’t remember exactly when, maybe 1993) his agent suggested that The Henson Company do a show modeled on the bar scene from Star Wars. Brian talked to Rockne, who had the idea of a regular guy in a strange place. They wrote a pilot script and pitched the design to FOX. They did a lot of production and character design at the Creature Shop, wrote the extra 5 episodes and then learned that there was a management shuffle at FOX, who would only commit to 5 episodes. Syndication was seriously considered, but apparently that’s a nightmare process, so they took it to Rod Perth at Sci Fi. The channel had never done an original series, but they took the budget they had for two or three shows and put it into Farscape. And the rest is history. Well, I guess it’s all history, but you know what I mean.

Brian talked about some of the ideas they worked on during development of the show. Be daring. Make the aliens more alien. Characters like Rygel and Pilot can’t be subtle. You have to dial up the personality and drama.

The Grand Finale

And it was grand! Everyone came out onto the stage, one at a time starting with Rockne. The applause was fantastic, and as each person came out they hugged everyone who was already on the stage. Until Ben, who came out, jumped off the stage and hugged several members of the audience!

Autographs

Sunday’s autographs were signed by Anthony, Gigi, Virginia and, at a separate table, Ricky Manning, David Kemper (who signed Rygel’s pictures), Rockne O’Bannon, Brian Henson and Rowan Woods. 

The Auction

I forgot to mention the charity (Nightlight Foundation and Save the Children) auction that took place on Saturday afternoon. Several props from the show were put out for bid, including a Peacekeeper grenade, a pulse pistol, a pulse rifle and D'Argo’s sword. And, in the non-prop category, a limited edition test shot (only ten ever made) of the Toy Vault Chiana action figure made of black, unpainted plastic. After the auction Toy Vault was kind enough to print up a certificate of authenticity, have Gigi sign it, find out where the lucky owner was sitting and present it to me.

Merchandise

The Farscape merchandise on sale was first class. Just to give you an idea of what was now, or soon to become, available, here is a list of what I remember: T-shirts (black with a choice of several pictures on the front), hats (again, black, with two different designs, one stitched and one metal Farscape logo), key rings (a couple of different ones), magnets, DVDs (January), shot glasses, mugs, glasses, the fantastic cards from Rittenhouse Archives, and the unbelievably beautiful action figures from Toy Vault due out later this year. The Farscape Fan Club was signing up members and they had a bunch of goodies that come with a membership.

Some Thoughts

I hope I’ve been able to convey to you the wonderful “look and feel” of this convention. Everyone involved worked very hard to make it an unforgettable experience. It was quite obvious that the cast, writers, directors, designers and everyone else who works on Farscape, takes tremendous pride in what they’ve accomplished. The Creation Entertainment people that I came in contact with were both helpful and friendly, sometimes going out of their way to assist me. And next year? Oh yeah, I’ll be back!

 

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