What can you expect from Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome? According to executive producer David Eick, the new 10-episode web series, which just premiered on Machinima Prime, is going to take the franchise to edgy new heights while deepening the character of William Adama.
"What we intended to do was to tell a story that would thrill and enchant the fans of Battlestar, but also be entirely accessible to a brand-new audience," said Eick in an exclusive interview with Blastr. "The fact that we're going with younger characters separates it from the original Battlestar."
In fact, while there are nods to Caprica and Battlestar Galactica, you won't see Battlestar faves like Edward James Olmos, who played an older Adama, or Mary McDonnell popping up in the series.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place during the first Cylon war as a young, hotshot pilot named William Adama (Luke Pasqualino) reports for duty on the newest battleship in the fleet, the Galactica. After he meets his battle-weary co-pilot, Coker (Ben Cotton), the two are given a "milk run" involving a young woman, but the mission turns dangerous as Adama and Coker find themselves in the middle of the action and facing the Cylons.
When it came to taking on a web series, Blood & Chrome not only had to work in short installments with cliffhanger endings, but also needed to work as a whole. It will be aired as a movie in early 2013 and then released on DVD in February.
"I mapped out this concept that would be like a Saturday morning serial. Kind of like what inspired Raiders of the Lost Ark. A Saturday morning serial, like back in the '30s and '40s, when you go to the movie theater, you watch a 10-minute movie, and it would end with a cliffhanger. And then you come back next week or a couple weeks later and see the next chapter. And so I thought, along those terms, if we could craft a Battlestar story that lends itself to 10 cliffhangers and then kind of resolves itself like a movie would with a big ending," he said.
"With Battlestar obviously we had the paterfamilias, Admiral Adama, and with Caprica we had him as a little boy. And I thought, well, let's see what he might have been like when he was Lee Adama's age, when he was the cocksure top gun pilot. And that seemed to fit. If you had that conceit and you had a really rich tale involving friendship and romance and love and betrayal and Cylons, it sort of lends itself to this style of, 'Well, okay, all you need is a big, fat, cool mission,' and we had done those kinds of episodes of Battlestar in the past. You could break those into 10 chapters, and each one could have their own little mini-cliffhanger. It sort of came together from there," said Eick.
The Caprica sequel and Battlestar Galactica prequel was directed by Jonas Pate. The first two episodes are up on Machinima now, with two or three new episodes airing every week through November. Each episode averages about 10 minutes.
The primary thing Eick wanted to do was give the new series a different look. He and his team delved into the visual aesthetic to see how they could really push that envelope.
"From a creative standpoint, the biggest departure aesthetically is that we shot Blood & Chrome entirely on green-screen stages, whereas on Battlestar we used certainly a tremendous amount of green screen for the space battles and that kind of thing, but we built all those sets. When we're outside on a mountainside, we went to a mountainside. When we were by a lake, we went and found a lake, and that kind of thing. Everyone who watches science fiction who enjoys visual effects knows that a tremendous amount can be achieved on a green screen. But typically it's done in a very cheap way, where the compositing is done in a more traditional way in order to contain costs. It isn't what we call in the visual effects world necessarily 3D. It's not the style of animation and green screen technology that you would see, for example, in a Lord of the Rings movie. And in this case, it really is, and that's not because we had some exorbitant budget. It's because we spent 10 years, really, when you go back to the Battlestar miniseries, it was about 10 years, basically putting together brick by brick this all-star team of visual effects gurus and geniuses. They were able to access the tools, software tools, and the artistic know-how," said Eick.
"It's a very edgy look. It's extraordinarily unrepresented on television, although in feature films this look has become quite prevalent and very modern. That high-contrast, crushed blacks, hotspot kind of popping imagery where light blasts are blinding you for a second as things go by and you really feel like you're just in a high-tech, very contemporary environment. That's just not on television right now. It's very aggressive, and on broadcast networks you'd be sent back to your room if you tried something like this. It's definitely not going to look like anything else that anyone might watch on TV," he said.
While Eick is thrilled with the result, all things considered, the development of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome didn't work out the way he initially hoped.
"I have to admit, it was sort of perplexing to me that we didn't get the green light that we were hoping for on the network, but I also know that there were certain blessings and curses that went along with pursuing the Battlestar franchise. On the one hand, it's got its fan base and it's got its credibility and it's got its street cred and all that. But on the other hand, it may have looked at the time perhaps like not moving forward for the network, 'cause I know that they were looking to branch out into other areas of programming that would prove that they didn't need Battlestar to be in the scripted entertainment business. And so I always knew it was a bit of a double-edged sword. But I really did hope that it would get an on-air order and it would wind up on Syfy Channel as a series.
"So this remarkable development with Machinima has been quite this pleasant surprise, because I was beginning to believe that maybe the two-hour pilot would kind of get thrown up on the schedule as a movie, and that would be that. But with this distribution platform, I think it's positioned to be a contender for another Battlestar series in success. Whether it's online or on the network. And so that there's always that silver lining. Sometimes your glass really is half full, and I think this really is an indication that the Battlestar franchise has a hell of a shot at living on," said Eick.
Here's a look at the Blood & Chrome trailer:
Are you going to check out the first two episodes at YouTube.com/MachinimaPrime?