By Marty Mulrooney
Marc Scott Zicree is an award-winning writer/producer/director whose credits include such prestigious science fiction television shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 and Sliders. He is also the author of The Twilight Zone Companion. Marc was recently kind enough to join AMO for an exclusive online interview where we discussed his latest project – Space Command.
Hello Mr Zicree, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!
Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I heard Ray Bradbury speak at a library when I was ten. Watching Star Trek, Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, and reading science fiction and comics voraciously as a kid sealed the deal. I sold my first short story at 19, was writing my first book (The Twilight Zone Companion) when I was 22, and was writing network TV shows by the time I was 22 or 23.
Since then, I’ve written for all the major studios and networks, have hundreds of hours of produced credits on such shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 and Sliders – and now am embarking on Space Command.
What have been your favourite projects to work on over the years?
“World Enough and Time,” the Star Trek New Voyages episode I did with George Takei that was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula, was a real high point. And of course I’m very proud to have come up with “Far Beyond the Stars” for Deep Space Nine and “First Contact” for Star Trek – The Next Generation.
I had great fun writing and producing “Slidecage” and “World Killer” for Sliders. I’m very glad I got to write “Pipe Dream” for Friday The 13th – The Series, which was about my relationship with my father. There have been many other shows I’m very proud of and happy to have done – most of the scripts I’ve written, in fact. And of course researching and writing The Twilight Zone Companion was the experience of a lifetime.
I have to use this opportunity to give a big shout-out to Sliders – what a great TV show! You were a producer on that series, right?
Yes, for the entire fourth season, when we got to reinvent the show and really explore its full science fiction potential. I had a terrific time on that show.
Moving on to Space Command in 2012 – what is this project all about?
Space Command is an epic series of full-length films and half-hour episodes set over several generations of two families – the Kemmers and the Sekanders – as they take part in mankind’s great exploration and colonisation, first of our solar system and then out into the stars.
There are some truly amazing people involved with the project. Who will be acting in the films?
I’m currently writing roles for Armin Shimerman of Deep Space Nine and Buffy, Ethan Phillips of Star Trek Voyager, Doug Jones of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, Christina Moses, who played Sulu’s daughter in “World Enough in Time,” Katharine McEwan, who starred in my partner Neil Johnson’s film Alien Armageddon, Brian Hegland of X-Files and George Noory, host of Coast To Coast.
I’m also hoping to include and have reached out to Bill Mumy (Lost In Space, Babylon 5), Robert Picardo (Star Trek Voyager) and Rachel Luttrell (Stargate Atlantis). I’m also talking to Amber Benson (Buffy) and James Hong (Blade Runner) and would really love to work with them.
Is it true that Doug Drexler (most recently known as the CG supervisor on Battlestar Galactica) is involved with the visual effects for Space Command?
He’s a producer on the project and is heading up art design and special effects. He’s simply terrific and has been generating breath-taking images and effects shots.
Who’s in charge of the music?
David Raiklen is our composer and is also aboard as our co-producer. He’s been invaluable during the Kickstarter phase of our campaign.
There has been very little revealed about the story so far – who will be writing the scripts and can you give AMO’s reader any further insight into the plot of Space Command?
I’m currently writing the initial scripts and will be collaborating on several of the later ones with Michael Reaves (Star Trek – The Next Generation, Batman – The Animated Series) and Mark Haynes, a writer whose work includes the comic book versions of Battlestar Galactica and 24.
As far as stories, I mentioned in a previous answer that Space Command covers two centuries over several generations of the Kemmer and Sekander families as Mankind explores and colonizes our solar system and then the stars. Essentially, it’s How The Solar System Was Won – and Beyond. But while Space Command follows a future chronology, it’s not linear; various stories take place at different points along the timeline.
Many members of the Kemmer family belong to Space Command, the military, exploratory and sometimes-diplomatic arm of The United Planets. Over the two-century span of our story, several of the Kemmer clan (including John, his son Ed and Ed’s grandson Matt) command various incarnations of the spaceship Paladin.
We are currently in active pre-production of our first half-hour episode and first two-hour episode.
Our first half-hour episode, “Shakedown,” follows John’s first shakedown cruise of the Clipper Ship Paladin on its maiden voyage from Earth to the Red Sands Proving Grounds on Mars (with the planet in the early stages of being terraformed).
Our first full-length film, “Empire,” is a grand interstellar adventure of the starship Paladin, Commander Matt Kemmer and his crew, consisting of First Officer Odara T’Lynn (Katharine McEwan), the alien Alten Phenulus (Ethan Phillips), so-called “synthetic” Dor Neven (Doug Jones), and headstrong young Cadet Bradbury as they encounter and come to terms with Derian Sekander (Armin Shimerman), ruler of twelve outlying systems, and his beautiful daughter Lianna (Christina Moses), who stands in opposition to him.
What makes good science fiction?
Passion and vision – and the ability to craft a good story. But more than that, I think involving characters and a universe that invites the reader or viewer to be part of it are essential to truly important, engaging and lasting science fiction stories.
What do you think makes bad science fiction?
Something with no originality and a creative team trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I think to create something of merit you have to aim as high as you can and bring your very best game. You also have to create something that has emotional truth – in other words, that’s true to life as you’ve experienced it. Beyond this, a hopeful vision is really important, as it can inspire readers and viewers to build bigger, more connected and rewarding lives for themselves.
How many films will there be and what will be the approximate length of each?
We’re starting out with four full-length films and three half-hour stories, but our goal is to be in continuous production on Space Command episodes for a long time. It’s a big canvas.
You’ve had some amazing celebrity endorsements so far – who is supporting you and how did they become aware of the project?
Neil Gaiman, Brannon Braga, Jane Espenson, Guillermo del Toro, Amber Benson, Rockne O’Bannon, Glen Mazarra, David Brin and many others have praised us and put out the word. In some cases, they were friends and co-workers; in other cases, they just heard about it and dug it. I’m hugely grateful for their encouragement.
The $150,000 goal is to make the first film – will the sequels also be Kickstarter funded?
Our main goal is to fund the films while maintaining total creative freedom. Our sole obligation and responsibility is to our audience and backers. So we’ll pursue whatever funding options allow for those requirements.
Will $150,000 go further than usual due to the talent involved?
I’d never have undertaken this project without the enormous talent and inventiveness of my partners, particularly Doug Drexler and Neil Johnson. The amazing team we’re building is what makes it possible to do such an ambitious project for such a modest budget.
How can AMO’s readers/science fiction fans show their support of the project?
Log onto www.spacecommandmovie.com and pledge whatever you can. The campaign ends Saturday July 14th at midnight Eastern Standard Time.
Beyond that, spread the word and let everyone know what we’re up to, so they can be a part of it.
Thank you for your time Mr Zicree and good luck with making Space Command!
Thanks so much. I really appreciate your interest.