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Feature: Stargate: Continuum

Martin Wood at -55ºF, outside for about 20 seconds

Would the filming of a direct-to-DVD story be a small-scale event? The director who came in from the cold, Martin Wood, recalls making Stargate: Continuum

Not many people start their workday off with a warning like, ‘Watch out for polar bears, because next to the cold they’re what will most likely kill you,’ unless, of course, it’s Stargate SG-1 director Martin Wood. Back in March 2007, he along with a handful of SG-1 cast, crew and producers braved such dangers when they took a trip to the Arctic to film on location in collaboration with the US Navy’s Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station (APLIS). The scenes, which include those on board the Navy submarine USS Alexandria, will be seen in the upcoming SG-1 DVD movie Stargate: Continuum. Not surprisingly, the director came home with enough memories to last him a lifetime.

“It was one of the best film-making experiences I’ve ever had,” smiles Wood. “We were approximately 200 miles straight north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and actually living on the ice at a camp that the US Navy built for us as well as the APLIS group. It was astounding, and a big part of what made it so was that I handpicked the crew I had with me. There were other people who I also would have loved to have taken, but we had limited space.

“Fourteen of us were up there, including Ben Browder [Colonel Cameron Mitchell], Amanda Tapping [Colonel Samantha Carter] and Richard Dean Anderson [General Jack O’Neill]. When we arrived it was minus 41º Fahrenheit, and the first day we began shooting, the thermometer read -53. I took our actors out in costume on the ice and we filmed for four hours. Over the next seven days I never heard one of them say, ‘I’m cold. I want to go in. I don’t want to do this.’ Sometimes we were out on the ice for seven hours, and yet they never complained. None of the crew did either. When it came time to go home, without exception, everyone said, ‘Can you think of something else for us to film’. No one wanted to leave.

“We had the best times imaginable, and it was all about the work as well as being able to do the job in those types of impossible conditions. The cast and crew rose to the challenge, and whenever you get that kind of camaraderie from a group of people it’s always a thrill.”

One of the trickiest scenes for Wood to get on film was where the USS Alexandria crashes through the ice in order to save our heroes. “The first day the submarine came up, but in a spot different from the one we expected,” recalls the director. “We could see it, but it wasn’t on the axis that I needed for the cameras.

“On Day Two we were told the submarine would surface at 10am, so we left camp around 8:45am, flew to the location and began unloading the equipment. Suddenly, Travis, who’s the guy controlling the Arctic sub lab, said, ‘They’re coming up.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ and Travis said, ‘We hear the shot clock on the hydrophone.’

by Steven Eramo

Read more on Stargate: Continuum, 10 years of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis in
TV Zone Special #77

Photo © Martin Wood
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone Special #77
Stargates 2007
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