Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion and numerous episodes of SF television including Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Babylon 5, Sliders and many others is creating his own Science Fiction universe.
Space Command has been described as one of the most ambitious science fiction series ever attempted that is breaking the boundaries of how film and television are made. The series will feature a number of SF TV alumni including Mira Furlan (Babylon 5), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5), Billy Mumy (Lost in Space, Babylon 5) and Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery and most recently in Guillermo DelToro’s The Shape of Water).
I talked to Marc Zicree recently from his home in Los Angeles.
DWQ: So, what can you tell me about Space Command?
MSZ: I came up with the idea because there was a time a few years ago when all the Science Fiction was very dark and very dystopic. You had Elysium and After Earth and as much as I liked Battlestar Galactica, it was a very dark vision. But I grew up with Star Trek which is a very hopeful vision and Star Trek: The Next Generation was as well.
The visual aesthetic of Science Fiction in the 1950’s was quite wonderful. With Space Patrol and Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, Forbidden Planet and the wonderful writing of Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke and illustrators like Wally Wood and Chesley Bonestell. Virgil Finlay and Al Williamson. They were creating a vision of the future that was really incredible and wonderful. You had a future that was really hopeful and heroic. One that we could all subscribe to and believe in and actually feel like we were all going to be a part of. I wanted to create something that could be hopeful again. Something that could be positive and forward looking.
Space Command is not going to be nostalgic or tongue-in-cheek or quaint. It’s something where we could say: Look, there’s going to be challenges that lie ahead but we can reach cross boundaries. We can across borders. We can create a hopeful vision of the future. We can make a better tomorrow if we just have the will to do so and the courage to reach across to other people of good heart. It was basically that compassion and love and kindness are a counterweight against all of the darkness and destruction in the world. I don’t think that’s Pollyanna-ish. I think that’s real. It’s certainly real in my life.
A lot of my friends are showrunners and they said: “Let’s walk this into a studio and get a pilot deal. But I knew if I got a pilot deal I knew I could get cut off at the script or get a cut off at the pilot, or the notes from the network or the studio would wreck it.
I mentor a lot of people in Hollywood – a lot of young people. I’ve run a roundtable that’s made up of several thousand people – I’ve been running it for every Thursday night for 24 years – and I’ve been hearing about crowdfunding and I thought: Well, I’ve never raised money, but let me see if I can try. My target was to raise $75,000 in two months. We raised that three days. I kept going. I raised two hundred and twenty one thousand on the Kickstarter campaign. Then I sold investment shares to my backers and I raised over another half million. So that was enough to open my own studio and start shooting.
So I sat down and I wrote the first eight hours of Space Command. I outlined the rest of the season. We built a studio and shot the first two hours. I approached a lot of my friends who had starred on different TV shows. Robert Picardo (The Doctor on Voyager), Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Star Trek: Discovery), Mira Furlan (Babylon 5), Bill Mumy (Lost in Space, Babylon 5), Michael J Harney (Orange is the New Black) and James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner). They all said yes.
The lovely thing is that I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission at all. I just asked who I wanted to be in it and I wrote what I want to write. My wife, Elaine, and I wrote, directed and produced. There’s an army of people helping us. Now that we’ve shot it, we’re in post-production on the first two hours. We’ve shot 35 minutes of the second two hours and we’ve shot the opening scene of the third two-hour story.
Now we’re going to the different platforms and the networks to see who wants to buy the first season of the show. It could be the Syfy channel. It could be Amazon, It could be any number of people, but mainly were looking for executives who are going to be on our wavelength or going to have a similar vision. But the fact that I was able to greenlight myself, thanks to my audience, made it very liberating. I’m not disparaging the networks or the studios because all the hundreds of hours of TV that I’ve done were greenlit and financed by those those entities. I’ve had great artistic freedom on most of what I’ve done throughout my career but in this case I really wanted to see if I could try a new model. Fortunately it worked.
DWQ: So you’re not shopping a concept, but a completed show. One that you’ve been able to keep artistic control of.
MSZ: We’ve shot a two-hour pilot and 35 minutes of the second two-hours. There’s enough to show what the show is. That, along with the scripts… They’d have to order a 12 episode season. So it’s a win-win. I get to write with little or no limitations and no one is second-guessing me or insisting on something that I disagree with. So many of my friends who run shows, they talk about how shows get ruined by network notes or interference or bad casting choices that are imposed upon them. I’ve been very lucky in my career. Many of the shows I’ve written for have been shows that I have been very proud of. I don’t regret any of those choices. I’ve been really lucky and I’m happy to be doing things the way I’m doing them now.
DWQ: Space Command looks amazing. I’m really looking forward to seeing where it lands. If someone wants to know more about Space Command where would they go?
There is much. much more to this interview. Marc talks about the recently released new edition of The Twilight Zone Companion and some of the exciting new developments with that book. He also talks about his series of Magic Time novels and the audio adaptation as well as the potential television series. He also talks about the Star Trek: Phase II episode World Enough and Time which he wrote with Michael Reaves and for which he was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. Marc also has a lot to say about Star Trek and other science fiction shows, books, movies and writers.
The full interview can be found in Dark Worlds Quarterly issue # 3 which is a free download. Simply click on the Current Issue box at the top of this page or click on the box below: