If you're going to launch your own film project, why not reach for the stars? That's the thinking of science fiction veteran Marc Scott Zicree, who has banded together a team of artists and loyal fans for Space Command, an entire franchise of sci-fi films. BFTV recently sat down with the TV scribe of Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Sliders fame to get the briefing on Space Command and what fantastic stories we can look forward to exploring.
"What's got me excited about doing it, I grew up with Star Trek and Twilight Zone and Outer Limits," explained Marc, who co-created the project with Neil Johnson. "With all of them there was often a sense that good people could band together and actually accomplish something for the common good. A lot of the current crop of sci-fi, it's very bleak, very dark. It's very, very grim, whether it's Defiance or Battlestar Galactica or Elysium. I wanted to go back to a hopeful vision of the future."
What he came up with was not only a sci-fi epic in terms of starships and aliens, but a multigenerational story about multiple families involved in the exploration of the solar system and beyond. It wasn't going to be one movie, but a half-dozen of them. Why aim for such large-scale storytelling where most would be content with one arc or two? "Because I come out of television," he continued. "Because having written for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, I like a big canvas. I like to be able to really cover some ground.
"In television, it's about the characters, it's about taking a journey with specific people. In my own life, I never met my grandfather. So then that had a ripple effect on my dad, and that had an effect on me. I was interested in the cause and effect between generations.
"And also, when you create something, you're following in the tradition of great sci-fi movies and shows, but you're looking to see what hasn't been done before, and what will make this something people will want to watch and be engaged in. There hadn't been a generational story. The closest would be in Star Wars, with Vader and Luke."
He took his sprawling vision directly to science-fiction fans, who pledged more than $200,000 via Kickstarter to help make the series of films. Yet unlike many crowd-funded projects, Marc and his team took several extra steps to make their backers an actual part of the franchise. "I've always been very collaborative and I've always liked that two-way communication," he said. "Then once we started succeeding, I thought, 'How can we build on this?'
"Some people who are backers are part of our team in terms of visual effects. And then I had this wacky idea of having a talent search where people anywhere in the world could audition for two of the lead roles. In the end, I ended up casting four [people]. And one of the actresses, she auditioned for a male role and she was so terrific that we created a female captain of a sister ship [for her]."