Showing posts with label syfy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label syfy. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 August 2021


With the return of The Walking Dead this week, our resident US-based stellar scribe and comic book aficionado, Nick Smith, takes a well-earned break from reviewing all the things to talk about the inherent challenges of making a zombie horror B-movie during a pandemic.

It's not as easy as you might think.

Guest post by Nick Smith

It’s easy to watch a B-movie and ridicule the low budget, DIY production techniques. But making one is no laughing matter, as I was reminded when I agreed to produce a feature film about flesh-eating zombie bees called ZomBeez.

Executive Producer-Director-lead actress Elesia Marie had a good script that didn’t take itself too seriously, a strong cast and a determination to get her project picked up by the SyFy channel. There was only one drawback – we had no money.

While that salient fact has scuppered many movie projects, we soldiered stubbornly on, seeking funding and locations like a barn in the middle of nowhere (we found a farm specializing in ecotourism) and a school that wouldn’t mind being devastated by giant mutant anthophila (we secured an old school office building that was due to be torn down anyway).

Next, we jumped through a carnival’s worth of hoops dealing with the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), a union that has many rules to protect its actors from making movies. Er, I mean, to make sure they’re taken care of properly, with plenty of tea breaks, pensions and benefits, and fair billing in the credits.

SAG’s paperwork was tougher to take care of than any movie monster but we completed it while working on our next step – filming a proof of concept, in this case, a sequence from ZomBeez that we could use as a teaser trailer, showing the tone and basic concept of the film.

We got a permit to film in a woodland location where we could tell our mini-story about strange bees chasing a pair of hapless joggers. But before the running could happen, there was another unanticipated hurdle.

Our camera didn’t work.

Without a way to repair our Black Magic camera on site, we had to return it to the manufacturer and they couldn’t tell us how long it would be until we got it back. The only proof we would have for our Proof of Concept was proof that we were screwed.

We could have given up. We could have gone home and left the trees to the bees. Instead, a kind colleague lent us his gear and we were able to make our day.

We were almost ready to release our Proof of Concept to an impatient public with our rough footage, bloody makeup, and ‘bee’s eye view’ shots using a Ronin and a superimposed swarm. We needed one more ingredient – and that came from local rock band Nik Flagstar and his Dirty Mangy Dogs, best known for the theme tune to the show Nightmare Theatre. They created a super catchy original song for us and it added to the whole impression we wanted to make with the raw teaser sequence.

There was a lot more work to do. After we completed principal production of the movie this summer, Elesia got stuck into the editing process, rough-cutting a two-and-a-half-hour version of the film. We have to trim that down to 90 minutes, colour grade the footage, add digital effects and clean up the sound.

Only then will we have a finished product to show to distributors and channels like SyFy. We’re starting to talk to sales agents, the first of whom says he’s ‘a sucker for films like Zombeavers and Big Bad Bugs.’

There certainly seems to be an audience for this kind of B-movie.

I’ve focused on our challenges while making this movie but there have been many highlights too – the camaraderie of our cast and crew, the excitement of making a feature in our own neighbourhood instead of having to travel to a different state, the kindness of local businesses and organizations as we looked for locations. All this helps to motivate us as much – if not more – than any A-list movie buzz.

Monday, 11 September 2017

SyFy celebrates 25 years with Battlestar Galactica

The SyFy channel began in 1992, but I didn't take much notice until the early part of this century.

The series that inspired this lifelong sci-fi geek to become a true believer was the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. Showrunner Ronald D. Moore's tech noir spin on a camp classic from Glen A. Larson cashing in on the success of Star Wars in 1977. This was in the wake of 9/11.

In 2005 I imported a copy of the mini-series on R1 DVD. Expecting very little, I was instantly gripped by its chilling tale of humanity on the brink of extinction. All but wiped out by its sentient machine servants, the Cylons, in a quest for supremacy. A sci-fi trope that has not lost its edge in recent years.

Much was made of Starbuck's recasting as a female - years before Jodie Whittaker would takeover as Doctor Who - and Katee Sackhoff's stellar performance, alongside an amazing cast, soon put this to rest.

Tricia Helfer's iconic portrayal as Six remains a genre great. The actress would go on to voice EDI in the original Mass Effect trilogy to startling effect and move this videogamer to tears in Mass Effect 3.

The late Richard Hatch, who portrayed Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica and became a childhood hero alongside Luke Skywalker and The Six Million Dollar Man, played Tom Zarek in Ronald D. Moore's lauded reboot.

Battlestar Galactica has left a lasting legacy in popular culture from The Big Bang Theory to Portlandia.

SyFy will be celebrating the channel's silver anniversary with a Battlestar Galactica marathon this month. Earlier this year the cast and crew reunited for an ATX Festival panel to reminisce about their time on the series.

Season one opener 33 remains a dramatic touchstone, a masterclass in tension, never bettered. What's your favourite episode of Battlestar Galactica? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Microsoft rebooting Blake's 7 for Xbox LIVE!

Microsoft will be bringing 1970s cult sci-fi television series Blake's 7 back, with Casino Royale director Martin Campbell at the helm, according to the Financial Times!

Series creator Terry Nation (mastermind behind the Daleks) cashed in on the success of Star Wars with a weekly, brightly lit, space opera that ran between 1978 and 1981.

This deal would replace SyFy's proposed remake and mirrors Netflix and LOVEFiLM Instant's move into original programming. Netflix has enjoyed critical success with House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.

Xbox Entertainment Studios has already announced a live-action Halo series with Steven Spielberg. Blake's 7 may beat it to the punch...

Monday, 5 August 2013

"We're gonna need a bigger chopper."

SyFy's Sharknado, a cult monster movie and social media phenomenon, premieres on UK television this Wednesday.

Unlike Steven Spielberg's seminal blockbuster Jaws. This shark tale is best viewed with copious amounts of alcohol and fast food.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Continuum comment read out on SyFy!

During last night's high-octane episode of Continuum S2, on SyFy UK, I was surprised and delighted to hear my tweet read out on air during an ad break:

"... Continuum evokes fond memories of watching The X-Files..."

This typifies social media engagement at its best. Viewers can use the hashtag #Continuum during and after the show to continue the conversation with actors, producers and fans of the series.

For the uninitiated, Continuum is a Canadian science fiction series, which centres on the conflict between a group of rebels from the year 2077 who time travel to Vancouver, BC, in 2012, and a police officer who accidentally accompanies them.

On Twitter? Follow @johnhood.