Directors Cut – Stargate Continuum, Part 1

The whole thing for us was to make the biggest Stargate that’s ever been made aside from the original feature,” says Wood, of what exactly he wanted to achieve in making Stargate Continuum. “The biggest that we could in the time and with the money that we had.”

Few could argue that the veteran director has failed to achieve his ambition. After all, Continuum stretches from the icy expanses of the Arctic ocean right into the farthest reaches of the stars – and also gives viewers a very definite idea of ‘what might have been’, if not for SG-1 as we know it. Continuum is a classic Stargate SG-1 adventure, and the director is in no doubt as to what makes it such.

“The team that we had,” he says immediately. “Having Richard Dean Anderson in the show, having our core team, and getting to have everybody back. It was so funny because all the people that I’ve worked with for 11 years were standing on the set and I was saying, ‘I did three shows with you and five shows with you and a season with you…’ It was such a classic Brad Wright run-and-jump-and -sit-and-cry type of story, that makes it classic SG-1 immediately, and then having that team and all those characters back – it will remind everybody what’s happened over the last eleven years. I think that’s part of the brilliance of Brad Wright and Robert Cooper when they write these things – Brad is so intimately aware of 11 years of evolution.”

Besides showing the sheer grandeur of the story, Martin Wood also wanted to reward fans that have been tuning into SG-1‘s adventures since the very beginning. And, with the extra screen time granted him by the feature format, the director set out to do just that. Take, for example, the very opening shot, which plunges viewers directly into the heart of Stargate Command. It’s a long parade of familiar faces, buzzing with energy.

“I wanted the very first thing that people saw to be home,” Wood explains. “This is where we’ve lived for 11 years, look at this place, and give you a little tour around it. Everybody’s there, and what’s funny is that they’re sprinkled in weird little ways. I just had this thought in my head, ‘You know what? I am missing one element, I need someone to come out of this elevator.’ What’s funny is that all the people you see in there are regular background extras that have been there for 11 years of the show. So they’re all very familiar and I needed somebody that the audience would go ‘Oh!’ There were a lot of different choices that we could have made, and Lexa [Doig] busted me on it. She said, ‘Why didn’t you ask me?’ And I should have done. I should have had them both.”

As it happened, Wood chose another character that disappeared from our screens long ago. “Major Davis comes walking out of an elevator,” he laughs. “I asked Colin (Cunningham, Major Davis) if he would do it for me as a favour, and he very kindly said yes. In that whole shot, we see Beau Bridges, he doesn’t say anything as he walks by the camera, and there’s Siler and one of the technicians. It’s all saying, ‘This is a day in the life’ and then Major Davis comes out and then we see our team and we land back at the end of our shot, back where we started.”

As a re-introduction to the hectic world of Stargate Command, it was a masterstroke, though Wood confesses that pulling off the shot wasn’t as easy as it may have looked.

“It’s all one shot,” he reveals, “13 takes worth! Steve Asner, our steadycam operator, said to me ‘How many times do you think I’m going to have to do this?’ And I said 11. He said 15, so we split it right down the middle. The hardest part of that shot for me was pulling a wall back in front. There are no visual effects involved in that shot except for the very first puddle disappearing. It’s all practical after that. I started with the camera on a crane and we hid the crane behind a wall that was rolling into place as we were walking down a hall, in the opposite direction. So when you look back towards the gate you see hey, there’s a wall there.”

Despite the challenges of production – for example, Wood had just 19 days to shoot the film, which was less time available than for the pilot of Stargate Atlantis, ‘Rising’ – the director would do it all again.

“I had so much fun,” he says. “Because the cast, the crew I was working with was so tight, and having Brad Wright on the set every day was the most fun I’ve had doing a Stargate in my life. He was there and he was there as the director’s best producer. If you needed to change something, he changed it. If you didn’t need to change it and you thought you might, he would say no, don’t. If you were hesitant – things I would normally shoot just for the producer’s to be able to have choices, he’d say, ‘Don’t waste the time – move on’. Because he knew that he had what he wanted. And we sat down and did the director’s cut together. It was just, from the beginning to the end, the most brilliant Stargate I’ve had a chance to do. And I have lots of favorites, but Continuum is my favorite.”

In the next installment, Martin Wood tells us about filming in the Arctic circle for those memorable icy scenes!

News Article Courtesy Of The Official Stargate Website