Wright: "Stargate Belongs on the Big Screen"

In Part 2 of his interview with MGM’s Official Stargate website, producer and writer Brad Wright talked about how he believes that his direct-to-video story Stargate: Continuum belongs on the big screen by discussing three major creative choices that he felt had a major impact on the feature-film quality of the movie: the building of a 1939 cargo ship by production designer James Robbins, the soundtrack written by composer Joel Goldsmith, and the film’s look and feel provided by director Martin Wood.

1939 Cargo Ship: The Achilles

Front of 1939 Cargo Ship Achilles (Continuum; picture by Joseph Mallozzi)

“We actually built the bridge and several decks of a 1939 cargo ship, and it looks pretty damn good on the screen,” Wright observed. “Rather than just doing a cargo hold, we did a gimballed cargo hold, and rather than just saying it’s cold, we refrigerated the set.

“I had originally thought that we could maybe find an old ship in the harbour that we could shoot the deck scenes in, and we would have to just build the bridge. But marine technology has gone so far that there just aren’t any ships around that have [that style] – wooden decks, wireless and portholes. Even the slightly newer ships have technology that would have had to have been swapped out, and it would have cost almost as much to refit an existing ship with 1939 level technology as it would to build one on the stage. It would have cost a fortune to shoot it on location and it might have even been dangerous. So, since we knew we had to build the cargo hold anyway, we decided to build the front of the ship, which was costly but it gave us a lot of fun.”

Joseph Mallozzi published the front set of the cargo ship, named Achilles, while it was being constructed in his personal blog back on May 21, 2007 (pictured above). Production designer James Robbins recently talked about designing and building the ship’s sets in an interview published in the March/April issue of the Official Magazine. “We did a lot of research looking into ships and what I thought would be the right kind of vessel. Actually, I worked backwards. I sat down one afternoon and did a rendering of the Achilles, just from the description — I know nothing about ships. Then I went out and looked at references to the period, and it was almost scary, because with the exception of a couple of details, my original rendering was so close to what we wound up filming, it kind of spooks me out!

Radio room on the Achilles (Continuum; image from set tour video)

“We did a lot of work and I had a very good team for the movies doing the measured drawings and whatnot, and they just really got into it. I mean, if you look at the radio room — it’s just in one scene — the operator gives the SOS, gets shot and falls on the equipment. It’s all exact period stuff. I have a photograph from 1922 of the interior of a radio room, and a picture of ours, and if you held them both up and you couldn’t tell which one is which!”

For a video tour of the Achilles set, including the radio room (the image above is a snapshot taken from the video), visit RTL2: Das Set von “Stargate Continuum”. (The website is in German, but the tour is in English. Click on “ton an” for audio.)

Exterior of gimballed cargo ship hold set (Continuum; image by Joseph Mallozzi)

Even though the gimballed set was built for Continuum, Stargate Atlantis fans got to see it first in the Season Four episode “Trio”. Mallozzi visited the set and liked it so much that the writers wrote the episode specifically so that they could use it. Visit his May 22, 2007, entry for details about his tour and a few pictures (one is included here).

Joel Goldsmith’s Movie Soundtrack

Wright spoke about composer Joel Goldsmith’s work for his movie with great enthusiasm. “I wasn’t going to do it because I didn’t think we were going to be able to afford it, and then when I heard the Ark of Truth score we found ways to make it happen. Honestly, Joel Goldsmith is so good. He elevates our work. It’s astounding. I listen to his soundtrack to Continuum in the car. I’ve already heard it a thousand times, but I love it so much I still listen to it! I got to drive down to Seattle and watch the orchestra perform it, and to see Joel and Nicholas, his conductor, at work, and obviously the performers. It makes you realize that our music is at the highest level. Joel could do a $100 million dollar feature without blinking in terms of the quality of his music.”

Goldsmith talked with SCI FI WIRE about his musical scores for the movies. “I could use a symphony orchestra rather than electronics that simulate an orchestra,” he explained. Goldsmith was able to draw upon the familiar themes from the many seasons of Stargate SG-1 and still give Continuum its own distinct sound. Having been with the production since the show’s debut in 1997, he appreciated the movie’s storyline. “It is a great, old-fashioned SG-1 film,” he told SCI FI WIRE. “It is more retro-Stargate, and, without giving away too much, it’s going back to some more things from the past.”

The Film

Wright told MGM that director Martin Wood was able to capture his vision perfectly in the movie. Like Goldsmith, Wood has been with the production since Season One. Wright said, “Martin and I have kind of developed this style together as director and producer, so I feel very connected with what he does. I feel very much a part of how he approaches a scene. I don’t go, ‘What the hell is that? I would never do it that way.’ I go, ‘That’s exactly how I wanted it,’ or more often, ‘It’s even better than I wanted.'”

Wright is proud of the work everyone did to make his story a reality. The resulting product, according to him, is something that could have been shown on the big screen. “I wanted to prove to MGM and to the rest of the world that Stargate belongs on the big screen. And I think we’ve done that.”

To read the rest of the interview with Wright, visit MGM: The Making of Continuum (Part 2).

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.

[Thanks to Joseph Mallozzi and RTL2 for the images used in this article.]

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