Behind The Scenes, Of Outcast

Season four has seen some truly stunning thrills and spills for the Atlantis crew, from battling the Asurans to teaming up with their arch-enemies, the Wraith. But ‘Outcast’ reveals an entirely different challenge for John Sheppard, as some sad family news brings him back to Earth – and delivers a few unexpected bumps once he’s there.

With the majority of the action set on Earth, director Andy Mikita was given the opportunity to create something truly different in the Stargate Atlantis arc. Despite the Replicator theme, ‘Outcast’ is almost entirely free of science fiction set-pieces. It’s primarily a story that provides a way of exploring Sheppard’s past, and opens up a few aspects of his character that have previously remained hidden.

“For me it was great because it’s a diversion,” Mikita says of bringing Alan McCullough’s script to the screen. “We’re on Earth, in a non science-fiction environment, exploring Sheppard’s back story, which for me was wonderful. It’s something that was long overdue. So we explore his history and his family – we meet his ex-wife, his brother. It was a nice change of pace. I thought Joe [Flanigan] did a great job with it. It was a story idea he had pitched in the first place, so it was very close to him. He obviously had quite a bit invested in it.”

Being on Earth meant an opportunity to film in some very different locations in and around Vancouver, B.C. The settings, particularly for the scenes that take place at the wake, were in themselves a very important part of the story. Seeing John Sheppard in his home environment was a major plot point in the episode, so it was vital to find the right location. Finding places to film in Vancouver that haven’t already been used either by the Stargate franchise itself or by the many other productions shooting in the city is difficult, but the crew rose to the challenge admirably.

“We’ve got an awesome locations department here,” says the director. “They had come up with this house in the Southlands area of Vancouver. It was one that had just come onto the market in terms of being used as a filming location. Kudos to them for finding it on short notice – we’re always prepping so quickly, and it was great that they were able to find it in such short order. It was a very film-friendly house, and the [owners] were wonderful. The Southlands area is really quite impressive. There’s not a lot of places like that for filming, so we were fortunate to get a house where we were allowed to photograph wherever we wanted outside. Everyone that lives down there has stables and horses, and we tried to incorporate the stables to give it the air of that old-school money that Sheppard would have come from, which is something that people would not be expecting.”

The production also made use of Vancouver’s strong maritime connections for the filming of the Replicator chase scenes. The warehouse district and waterside dockyards belong to BC Sugar Refinery Ltd. It’s a working area, and so film crews are generally restricted in their movements even when granted permission to shoot.

“Actually, thanks to our locations department, and our strong reputation as a responsible crew, we got much more access than would normally be provided for a film company,” Mikita reveals. “They bent over backwards and allowed us to shoot, on certain provisions. Again, it was neat to do something that was almost more like a contemporary action drama.”

The Replicator pursuit itself was a heart-stopping race reminiscent of big-screen action in films such as the recent Casino Royale. Since Sheppard, Ronon and Bates are chasing a super-human Replicator, the role needed an actor capable of delivering something unique. The answer was Adrien Heine, who brought his own athletic passion to the part.

“He is a stunt man and he belongs to a group called the Vancouver Freerunners Society,” the director explains, of Heine’s particular skill. “It’s called parkour, and it’s all based on forward momentum. They can literally come to a 10ft vertical wall and with one bounce they’re up to the next level, to grab a pipe, do a backflip, and they’re on to the next thing. It’s really, really cool.

“We brought him out on location scouts and asked him, ‘Okay, what do you think you could do here?’ It was perfect for him, he was just vibrating with excitement. For instance, the climbing of the shipping crane – we were just having a conversation about the shoot and it was like, ‘Hey, where’s Adrien?’ And we looked up and he’s already at the top, 100ft up. It was just crazy!”

Ironically, though Heine is himself a stunt man, the one stunt he couldn’t perform himself was the climax of the chase, the water plunge.

“James Bamford did that,” Mikita reveals. “He was the stunt double for the stunt man! Because Adrian was acting in the role as well, I couldn’t risk him getting injured and knocking himself out for work the next day.”

It’s clear that Mikita greatly enjoyed filming the episode, despite the usual stresses of fitting such an ambitious shoot into a television schedule. The results are impressive, and the director reveals that had he been graced with more time, he would have loved to get more on screen.

“The shoot wasn’t actually that difficult, it was more resisting the temptation to do a whole lot more. That was the issue, paring it down so that we did what needed to be done. It was really just making sure that the nuts and the bolts were taken care of first and not getting carried away with trying to do cool stuff. That was the biggest challenge by far.”

News Article Courtesy Of The Official Stargate Web Site