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Feature: Stargate: Atlantis

Deep Deep Trouble

The new team

Stargate SG-1 co-producer and resident director Martin Wood takes the helm for the pilot of new spin-off Stargate: Atlantis. We took the tour…

This June, fans of Stargate SG-1 have twice as much to look forward to. Not only will Jack O’Neill and the rest of SG-1 be back for an eighth season, but another intrepid team will also venture out to explore the unknown in the highly anticipated spin-off series Stargate: Atlantis. Audiences will be taken to Atlantis, an island city on a planet in the distant Pegasus galaxy. Abandoned long ago by the Ancients, the race who created the Stargate, it holds secrets that can help defend the Earth against an attack by the Goa’uld.

In the Atlantis pilot episode, Rising, Dr Elizabeth Weir (first seen in the Stargate Season Seven finale The Lost City), travels with an international group of 100 men and women through the SGC’s Stargate to Atlantis. Their mission is to uncover the city’s technological treasures and figure out how they work. Weir also assigns a small military and scientific contingent to use the Atlantis Stargate to explore worlds in the Pegasus system. Commanded by Major John Sheppard, the team makes some new friends as well as meets a deadly adversary. Sound exciting? Veteran Stargate director Martin Wood, who directed Rising, thinks so.

“This pilot is the biggest, and hopefully the best, thing I’ve ever done,” enthuses Wood. “It was an absolutely massive project. Last weekend [early April 2004] we were in helicopters and up on a glacier filming the opening scenes. In it Colonel O’Neill [Richard Dean Anderson, who guest-stars along with Michael Shanks in Rising] and Major Sheppard [Joe Flanigan] are being chased by one of Anubis’s drones from The Lost City. The helicopter carrying both men lands, Sheppard jumps out and dives into the snow. As O’Neill follows, he turns and looks at this drone that is advancing towards them.

“It was a glorious day and not very Stargate-like for us because we don’t usually have that kind of money to play around with. We took four helicopters up with us, one just for all our gear. There was a ‘hero’ helicopter and Richard sat in the front passenger seat. You can see him in all the scenes where the helicopter is bobbing, weaving and whipping around in the air. At one point we were talking on the radio and he was like, ‘Come on, have us do more loops.’ Richard had a ball,” chuckles the director.

“I remember walking into the editing room when Brad Wright and Robert Cooper [Atlantis creators and executive producers] were doing a producers cut of the pilot. They had composer Joel Goldsmith’s music playing over the opening titles, which were these huge sweeping Antarctic-like shots of the mountains and glaciers I had done days before. Brad called me over to look at the footage and I got a little misty. You sometimes get to a point when you’re directing a story that big that you lose sight of it and forget just how good it’s going to be. In fact, I’ve watched the entire pilot and it turned out even better than I thought it would. However, it’s not just because of what I did but what everyone did. This was a real team effort and it continues to be.”

by Steve Eramo

Get the full interview in
TV Zone #177

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

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TV Zone #177, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #177
Summer 2004
ships from May 27 2004
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