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Feature: Farscape

Master of Puppets

Henson and friends

Who better to oversee Farscape’s final fling than one of the men who funded its very existence? Brian Henson tells us about directing the end of an era

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars begins with a shot of an injured John Crichton, and, as the camera slowly tracks through a deserted Moya, we hear the voice of Aeryn saying, “You did it, John; all the fighting has stopped.” Viewers were instantly hooked, even though they would have to wait until the final minutes of the mini-series to find out what had actually happened.

It was that kind of creative juxtaposition that director/producer Brian Henson enjoyed most. “We actually thought of that way after we finished shooting,” explains Henson, who was instrumental in bringing back Farscape two years after its aborted fifth season. “We sort of conceived of that while we were editing, but it’s been a highly creative process all the way through. The script was never locked down, which was often infuriating, because we were re-conceiving scenes while we were shooting them and re-conceiving characters while we were shooting. When we finally got to editing, we completely restructured it all, creating new scenes that had to be bridged with brand new visual FX that nobody knew about, so it’s been that way all the way through. It was an open work in progress all the way up until the final visual effect and sound effect went in, but I’ve got to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with the final result.”

Henson had been actively negotiating a Farscape follow-up project ever since the original series was cancelled at the end of Season Four. By the summer of 2003, he managed to put together the financing for a mini-series that would finally tie up the series, as well as providing a springboard for future Farscape. Not surprisingly, when the call went out to cast and crew members a few months before shooting was scheduled to begin, virtually everyone dropped what they were doing to come back.

“I’ve never been with a group of people that were so personally invested as the Farscape crew,” notes Henson, who jokingly claims to have made a number of enemies within the Sydney-based production community when their key people suddenly jumped ship for Peacekeeper Wars. “Part of it is that the way the show was produced was always so ambitious. Everything was always in flux, so the crew had to come up with solutions for impossible problems, and I think everyone felt so stimulated by that. I’m sure everybody feels it’s absolutely the hardest job they’ve ever had, but at the same time, it was also the most rewarding because people had to do their best work to survive.”

With so many of the character arcs left unresolved at the end of Season Four, all the principal cast members wanted to gain a sense of closure. “Absolutely everyone had very strong opinions,” says Henson. “Ben, Wayne, Claudia definitely, Gigi, Anthony, Raelee, Ben’s wife Fran; they had very strong feelings about a lot of stuff in the script, and wherever possible we tried to integrate what they felt strongly about for their character or the scene.”

by Joe Nazzaro

Get the full interview in
Cult Times #112

Photo © Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #112
January 2005
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