"Continuum": Wood on the Opening Scene

Control Room at Stargate Command

In a recent interview conducted by MGM’s Official Stargate website, director Martin Wood talked about how the opening scene of Brad Wright’s Stargate: Continuum introduces Stargate Command to a possibly new audience at the same time it makes the fan feel the comfort of “home.”

The series itself lasted ten years, and there is plenty of history into which to delve, but one of the goals of Wright and Wood was to prove that this movie—and any future Stargate movie—belongs on the big screen and could appeal to a wider audience, including those who might not be as familiar with the characters as fans are.

Wood explains how the opening scene to the movie goes through this history in an elaborately executed camera shot that shows viewers the people of Stargate Command. “I wanted the very first thing that people saw to be home. This is where we’ve lived for 11 years, look at this place, and give you a little tour around it. Everybody’s there, and what’s funny is that they’re sprinkled in weird little ways.

“I just had this thought in my head, ‘You know what? I am missing one element, I need someone to come out of this elevator.’ What’s funny is that all the people you see in there are regular background extras that have been there for 11 years of the show. So they’re all very familiar and I needed somebody that the audience would go ‘Oh!’ There were a lot of different choices that we could have made, and Lexa [Doig] busted me on it. She said, ‘Why didn’t you ask me?’ And I should have done. I should have had them both.”

Major Paul Davis in Season Six's "Descent"

Whom did Wood choose? “Major Davis comes walking out of an elevator,” he reveals with a laugh. “I asked Colin (Cunningham, Major Davis) if he would do it for me as a favour, and he very kindly said yes.”

Major Paul Davis was introduced in Season Two’s “A Matter of Time” as the liaison with the Office of the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon. He sometimes had to be the messenger delivering unpleasant news, and sometimes, he was caught in the middle of tense negotiations, but always, he presented himself as an officer and a gentleman. He even got to share on a grand adventure with SG-1 in outer space! Some of his latest exploits included negotiations with a pair of bickering alien representatives and instruction in the creation of a democratic government with the fledgling Free Jaffa Nation.

Like Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell, Major Davis has read every mission report that has come out of the Stargate Program. He hasn’t been seen in the base since Season Eight, but his name was dropped in Season Nine.

“In that whole shot,” Wood continues to explain Davis’ appearance, “we see Beau Bridges, he doesn’t say anything as he walks by the camera, and there’s Siler and one of the technicians. It’s all saying, ‘This is a day in the life’ and then Major Davis comes out and then we see our team and we land back at the end of our shot, back where we started.”

Cunningham’s appearance in the elevator sounds like a brief cameo, but even so, he was glad to do it. He explained in a Stargate Planet interview, “It was an absolute blast. Martin Wood was actually helping me put together my own project at the time, Centigrade. He was kind of mentoring me through the process of directing. And so, when he called and said that he and John Smith has a little something for me, if I was willing to help them out, it was a no brainer. I owe many people over at Stargate a lot. I truly do. Deluise, Martin Wood, John Smith, Michael Greenburg, Brad Wright, all those guys. And when I needed help, they were there.”

Gate Room

The opening scene Wood envisioned brings the viewer, whether new to Stargate or a seasoned fan, into the story right from the start, giving him the point of view of someone who is walking along the corridors just as Stargate Command’s personnel do every day.

To read the full interview in which Wood provides more details about the technical aspects of the opening shot, visit MGM: Director’s Cut: Continuum (Part 1).

Release dates for the movie (DVD and Blu-ray) are as follows:

  • July 29, 2008: North America
  • August 6, 2008: Australia
  • August 18, 2008: UK
  • September 10, 2008: France

If you know of other dates, please leave them in our comment section below, and we’ll update our list. Thanks.

NOTE: Wood’s mentoring of Cunningham paid off: Centigrade recently won five Leo Awards out of its seven nominations, including those given to Cunningham personally as the film’s director and lead actor. The short is also now eligible for an Academy Award nomination since it took home an award at Cinequest. To read more about the film visit Cunningham’s Centigrade the Movie blog.