This document is ©2005, John Larocque. All rights reserved.
4/1/2005 -- It's an anti-sci fi show. It's reinvented the genre, much in the way Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah reinvented the western in the 1960s by turning all the set pieces and iconic characters inside out. Peckinpah deconstructeded the western by demolishing the clichéd phony romanticism, then reclaimed its mythic power by finding a new level of reality. Just as "The Wild Bunch" reverberated off of the Vietnam War, this show reverberates off of post-9/11 America. We shed the antiseptic freeze-dried dialogue of "Star Trek," the hokey rubber-headed aliens and juvenile melodrama of space anomalies and time warps and made it a show about people grappling with the very real problems of survival, faith, or the loss of faith, love or the inability to sustain love... I think of sci fi as classic, mythic storytelling. "Battlestar" and "DS9" have a lot in common with "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" -- which are on the bookshelf in our office. Brad and I refer to them all the time. In those texts, the gods are always interfering with the affairs of man and manipulating human beings. So it seems organic to the genre that spirituality and religious myths would be a big part of the larger story. (source: Chicago Tribune)
4/1/2005 -- As a group we outline the broad strokes. Then the writer of that episode goes off and develops a story outline, which is like a synopsis of the show. Many of us also develop scene-by-scene outlines. Ron reads all of this and gives us notes and the stories are further developed and refined. Then we write the scripts. But we may deviate from an outline if we feel it isn't working or could be improved. Sometimes we tell Ron about changes we are making, sometimes we surprise him by letting him discover them when he reads the script.... We do a very detailed scene-by-scene outline together. Then we usually write a draft of the teaser and first act of the show. In this first draft we each write separate scenes. Brad will often do the first draft of particular characters' story lines and I fill follow other characters. Then we trade the scenes and rewrite each other. Then we come together for a final "negotiation pass" in which we do the final refining of the scenes together. After teaser and one are locked, we move on to Act 2, then 3 & 4. It's a weird process that nobody but us understands. By writing and rewriting separately, we are both free to bring nuances and elements to scenes that are difficult to verbally negotiate. The final result are scripts that are much richer and more textured than we would have written on our own. It works kind of like a jazz combo. (source: Chicago Tribune)
7/6/2005 -- On the issue of websites posting script spoilers, this is something we ADAMANTLY DISAPPROVE OF. We put so much effort into writing these episodes and delivering innovative and surprising drama, the last thing we want is for these scripts to show up on the web months before the episodes air. As you have no doubt noticed, the final shows differ significantly from the scripts appearing on these websites. This is because the scripts are constantly evolving, often undergoing radical changes, right up to the day of shooting, and then again in editorial. SO DON'T TRUST WHAT YOU READ! We had this same problem of scripts showing up on the web at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I can tell you with utter certainty no one on the writing staff is providing them. But the scripts pass through many hands and there is always someone who doesn't give a damn how it impacts the show and is willing to hand this stuff out for.... What? Money? Feeling like a "confidential source?" I can't imagine the motivation.
8/31/2005 -- Sharon is a crucial character because she forces several members of Galactica's crew to confront the fact that the Cylons are more complex than they'd like to think, and full of the same passions and emotions that we have. This could cause the whole edifice of rationalization that some of Galactica's soldiers use to justify their actions to crumble like a house of cards. Or maybe not. I, for one, can't wait to see how the Sharon-Tyrol-Helo-Adama story unfolds in future episodes. (source: SyFy Portal)
4/1/2005 -- Every team works differently. David and I will hammer out a very detailed outline together, then split up the scenes to write separately. "Battlestar's" multiple storyline structure helps this considerably -- perhaps David will take the episode's Baltar line for a first pass and I'll do the Lee [Apollo] thing. We'll go act by act -- once we finish an act (and Teaser-1 is one act to us), we swap scenes, discuss what we like and what we want to change, then go off and rewrite them. Once we have that pass done, we come together and negotiate out any differences we still have. Often we'll be pounding away, and David will come up with a new take on a scene and shout it out, and it'll be better than what we talked about and I'll ask him to run with it. Or he'll make a change that sparks things more powerfully in a related scene that I'm working on and I'll adjust what I'm doing to fit the new stuff. Many other teams will actually work together on every word, but we find that having the time to go off and attack scenes on our own allows us to tap deeper creative wells that we wouldn't be able to reach if we're negotiating from the start. (source: Chicago Tribune)
4/3/2006 -- Once we come up with an idea, it's about a week/week and half developing a 4 to 9 page story document which is essentially a pitch to the studio and network. Once they give you the go ahead to write you have about two weeks to turn around a draft of the teleplay. Then all the writers will look at and give you notes on the script, which is about a three-day process. Then you have about seven days to come up with the second draft. There will be a third or fourth draft that then goes to production. Production then compares script to budget. This is the "Come to Jesus" meeting where we realize what we can produce and what we can't. Of course this order changes depending on the episode. Then there is another draft written during the pre-production phase. There are three other drafts that go up to studio and network have notes, and we address those before the production draft. Then they shoot the script. The biggest time variable is the stretch between the time you think of the idea and pitch it to Ronald D. Moore and David Eick and the time they decide they want to do it. Once they do, we have meetings about how the story would play, what elements would be involved and where it should fall in the schedule. Once that's settled, we start creating the story document and the process is as outlined above. (source: iF Magazine)
4/2005 -- Michael [Rymer] really favored keeping the Galactica almost exactly as it was, and his idea at the time was that we needed to appeal to the fans and let them know that we care about them and want to give them something that feels like this is their show. That was a very good philosophy but SciFi didn't agree with that; they just wanted a fresh look for the show. In getting into it, ultimately it was decided to do a facelift on the ship but keep a lot of the same elements... The reason I decided to keep everything kind of retro was because in looking at the art direction, the fact that the uniforms weren't particularly futuristic and the set design was very retro, it occurred to me that the perfect thing to do was hearken back to that period of model design, meaning that more so than designing the ships to match ships from the original series, it became "let's look at how models were made at that time and try and integrate that into the show." so that style and that period of sci-fi is brought back to life. (source: Cinéfantastique)
4/2005 -- The original directive from the Sci-Fi Channel was that they didn't want anything to have any resemblance to the original series.. The [main] ship is different but we tried to keep as much of the look of the original in there as we could. It definitely had differences because there was one side view that was signed off of by SciFi that we had to use. And if you look at it, it looks nothing like the Galactica, We had to make sure that looking at it from the side, our Galactica matched that graphic -- from the top and other angles it looks much more like the original. With the Galactica we had a lot of freedom to put in our own concepts and I was very particular about wanting to ensure that things would actually fit, that the hangar would actually go in under there and the launch tubes would line up here with the outside of the ship and all of the detailing and coloring and texture, we did what we wanted to see and most of the time they liked it...
Going back and forth between the producers and SciFi we did get the idea that they liked the original Vipers and then other elements were retained. We were always referring back to the original both for the models and certain shots we knew we had to do -- the launch tube shot of the Viper going down the tube and shots like that... We got designs for about four or five ships from the fleet that they needed in the show, like the President's ship and this ringship they had done that was a liner. We got sketches for those and we built those as they were, and for the rest it was whatever we wanted to do. And what I wanted to do was put in as many of the original ships as I could. So through a combination of people I knew and resources I had and research, the background ships were recreated as accurate to the original miniatures as we could get. (source: Cinéfantastique)
12/15/2003 -- We all loved the original Galactica. We tied in as many visual aspects as we could to hit on the elements of the original model. Many of the nurnies on it are exact copies of the ones on the original Galactica so we could tie it into the first one. In fact in the first pass of the museum, we had a model of the original Galactica hanging from the ceiling to imply there were previous versions. Unfortunately the powers that be thought this opened up a can of worms, so we removed it. (source: galactica.tv)
12/15/2003 -- We wanted to make sure this could not be a "guy in a suit" so we made sure [the Cylons] had aspects that would preclude this from happening, and allow it to have a distinct look. Eric [Chu] gave us some great concepts and we stayed very, very close to what he supplied. I guess chrome toasters were cool in the 70's, now its stainless steel, so we hit that kind of a look with a hint of pewter. I also had this underlying idea that I wanted them to have a practical means of stability, so in their center, while very subtle, is a fast spinning gyroscope that would provide their balance, etc. to give them a little more realism. (source: galactica.tv)
6/22/2004 -- I think the greatest work I have done was evenly split between the work I did on Firefly and the work on Galactica. They were both in the same style of camera work which was a handheld look, documentary style. Firefly was more of a real world lighting and FX scenario, where Galactica was more of a practical model look in lighting and FX, but they both fed off each other, and now that we are doing the feature, "Serenity," as well as the TV series for Galactica, the teams that have been put together for the shows feed off one another very well to keep up the unique style of both shows, and push each other to do innovative FX... For 3d work we are a split house using Lightwave and Maya. For Serenity and Galactica we used 99% Lightwave and it worked very well for us. For our compositing department, we use After Effects, Combustion and Flame. (source: Rendernode)
5/7/2003 -- At first, we were mainly designing updated versions of the original designs. Then, about one third of the way into the design process, it was decided by the producers to put aside the old designs and to find a new look. As soon as a design for the Galactica was locked in, the rest of the show was adapted to fit that style. (source: galactica.tv)
9/24/2003 -- If you look at the new design, much of it is based on human musculature, more so than the original Cylons. However, the producers stressed that the new look must be mean and threatening. Hence, certain "insect-like" qualities were introduced (i.e. exo-skeletal details, long sharp fingers, etc.) It was not necessarily a logical robot-to-human progression, but more of an attempt to create characters that looked inherently evil. Otherwise, we would have run the risk of it looking too much like the Terminator. (source: Cylon Alliance)
1/10/2004 -- I especially enjoyed writing the more emotional cues, all of which appeared in the second night. The reunion scene (I utilized a Sanskrit chant suggested by Edward James Olmos) and the reconciliation scene between Adama and Apollo spring immediately to mind.
1/29/2004 -- My sidekick on this project, a gentleman named Bear McCreary, actually wrote most of the battle cues I handed over to him. Those are more him than me, and we did split TV credits on that using my themes, but there was no way I could write everything so I tended to throw those his way. Some of them are mine but most of them are his... The two vocalists were local singers here in town. One is a woman named Mamak. She's a Persian singer. And the other woman is named Deborah Dietrich who is a session singer here in LA, does a little bit of everything. When I first met her she sang with a choral ensemble up in San Francisco named Kitka. Kitka specialized in performing pieces in the style of the Bulgarian womens' choir... And she sang this one cue that is playing towards the end of the miniseries where everyone reunites and they kiss, and there's all these couples coming together. That was written as a Sanskrit chant that was supplied to me actually from Edward James Olmos, via our director, Michael Rymer. (source: galactica.tv)
1/29/2004 -- I have to give Michael credit for the direction of the score, and I don't know if he'd turn around and give it to the producers, I only dealt directly with Michael and his editor Dany Cooper and they were both playing around with the temp track before I even came on board and they were throwing in ethnic elements wherever they could, they were using pieces of music from "The Last Temptation of Christ" which is also a favorite score of mine. And then they were also using some Kodo drum tracks that they got somewhere, in the battle scenes and that's where that started... We didn't want to make it seem that we were anywhere. We wanted it to feel very warm and human but on the other hand we didn't want it to sound like this is Western Europe circa 1975, we didn't want to give it one time and one place. I played around a lot with odd time signatures for the same reason. I didn't want it to sound like it had a home here and now. That was kind of the trick to make it seem unfamiliar yet comfortable too. (source: galactica.tv)
4/9/2004 -- The entire score was sequenced, recorded and mixed in Protools. All the synths, percussion, and vocals were recorded in L.A. and the orchestra was recorded in Seattle. Debra [Dietrich] worked with me on the Queen of the Damned score, and Mamak was a recommendation from a friend.
9/12/2004 -- I wrote four different themes before the producers signed off and that the last one they liked is pretty cool. We should know more next week... The mantra is called Gayatri. Pretty easy to track down on the Internet. By the way I also used it in the new as yet unapproved main title music (per the producers' request.)
9/19/2004 -- My original attempts did involve the theme from the mini, but the powers that be desired the Gayatri mantra -- which is what they now have. I hired two singers, male and female, for the first half of the theme (which is the mantra) and then the second half is a massive taiko drum piece by yours truly as well. Actually all of the episodes will open with three pieces of mine -- first, an amped up version of the Number Six theme for the introduction of the show where we learn the Cylon rules; second, a version of the mini theme for the recap of the previous episode; third, the main title described above. It was a long hellacious process but I think the result is worth it. I did score episodes 2 and 3 -- 1 wasn't ready. I was also busy with the main theme so Bear helped with my eps as well. He has scored ep. 1 and will take over from here.
12/24/2004 -- When the producers first came up with the idea for the opening of the show they told me that they definitely wanted the music to reflect the sadness and horror of genocide, not the glory of war in space. So far, so good. I liked the idea of going against the standard sci-fi grain as well. Then an editor threw together a quick draft of the visuals and put in temporary music using a Sanskrit chant piece and a bit of a Peter Gabriel track. This is where things began to go south... My first draft was in keeping with the music from the miniseries -- struck down as not emotional (read: sad) enough. I then hired a singer and wrote a very cool orchestral piece with her incredible wailing over it -- also a no go. What became obvious was that anything that varied from their crudely edited temp was a problem for them. My next challenge was to write something as close as possible to the temp without incurring copyright issues. Fortunately the chant was public domain, but nevertheless simply aping a previous piece of music takes the fun out of my job. I did what was requested, under protest.
After many revisions of this track, David and Ron were finally happy enough to present the music to the SciFi brass. At that point I received further notes from nameless, faceless people at the network via David. Once again I revised further until all parties were satisfied (except yours truly.) I was not able to do much work on the series because I was spending so much time dealing with all of the above -- all told, I think it came to around 15 or 17 drafts, depending on how you count it. I was relieved to think that I was finally done at least. But no, the saga continued. Apparently no one had involved Bonnie Hammer (SciFi head honcho) during this process -- I don't know why. When she finally saw and heard the main title, word came down to me that she hated it. When I asked why I was told that it was "too sad"!! Sheesh! So I said, okay, what now? At this point the show was already airing in England with my last draft attached. Months went by. Word again filtered down to me that SciFi wanted me to write a new main title, something more hopeful...
Last week I was given a new cut to write to and told again to copy the temp! This time the temp consisted of a piece of Bear's underscore going into my taiko drum piece from the main title. The visuals had only changed slightly -- they had removed a cut of mushroom clouds and a shot of a pilot being blown out of his ship into space. Bear is an excellent composer, but the piece this faceless editor had cut in was not written to be a theme -- it was purely background music for a scene in the show. I pointed out that we were going in the wrong direction and that all life was being sucked out of the opening. No avail. At that point I finally bailed out and Bear has picked up the ball... I just regret that I was never given a true shot at writing what I thought would be a grand theme for the show. (source: James Iaccino)
12/24/2004 -- I wanted to help establish the sound for a show that I loved and to work with my compatriot Michael Rymer again. I offered to score the first two episodes and then shepherd Bear into the lead composer's chair. The first episode was directed by Michael, but it wasn't ready for scoring first. So, ironically, I ended up scoring eps. 2 and 3 and didn't get to work with Michael at all. However the first minute or so of every episode before the main title is mine (the Cylon rules bit and the recap bit.) As mentioned above, the main title will be a split between myself and Bear -- I think. And scattered throughout the series there are pieces of mine from the miniseries that are being used because an editor temped them in. (source: James Iaccino)
1/19/2005 -- Why [was] the music was changed [between U.S. and U.K. versions]? In a nutshell, because Bonnie Hammer wanted it changed. I know that neither Ron Moore or David Eick wanted to change it... I remember that there was quite a fuss made about not using Stu's theme from the original series -- in fact, I know there is a sizable contingent who still feels it should be used. So I guess what goes around comes around.
5/20/2005 -- The reason that the series is easier, and the reason the miniseries was simultaneously harder, is that we were inventing the musical language... Michael [Rymer], Ron [Moore] and David [Eick], had a really clear idea of what they wanted -- it was kind of a detective game for Richard and me to take what Michael was using as temp music, in combination with his input, and realize his vision in music... The editors lay in temp scores for every episode, just to make sure the cut is working. Some of the temp tracks are from the miniseries, and sometimes they're from other things... For me, the challenge is two-fold. Just getting all the music done on time -- there's considerably less time to get one episode done. And finding out what they want when they want to deviate from the sound of the miniseries... Every episode or every other episode, they throw a curveball at me -- Gaelic music, big band music, hip-hop background music. In fact, many of the most interesting cues are actually from when I deviated from the sound of the miniseries... There are synths, but a lot of live tracks too. Synthetic scores just drive me nuts. Nothing on Battlestar Galactica is entirely synthesized. Everything is mixed with acoustic instruments and vocalists... There was a different main title for the UK, composed by Richard Gibbs, but the Sci-Fi Channel ultimately wanted to change the direction of the music. Both pieces are actually very similar. (source: TheLogBook)
7/27/2005 -- From the very beginning, the producers always wanted the music to be subliminal, psychological. In general, I try not to score specific action and moments, but rather concepts, story lines, character arcs -- let the music speak for the subtext of the story and not necessarily the obvious actions happening on screen. They wanted to avoid the typical orchestral bombast of Star Trek and Star Wars so my challenge is to create a score that is emotional, subtle, at times grand and sweeping, all without the tried and true instrumentation of the "Hollywood Orchestra." While challenging, this constraint ultimately led to many fun musical experiments. How do you take something that back in the day would have been scored with strings and blaring French horns and get the same emotional impact using Taiko Drums, a balalaika, a bagpipe and a Duduk? The score features a lot of live instruments, and working with the talented musicians who can perform on so many ethnic and traditional instruments is a real joy... Sci-Fi Channel wanted to change directions on [the opening theme] after it started airing in the UK, so we altered the first half, leaving the second half (drum montage) virtually the same. This season, the second half has gone back to the original UK version and now the drum montage is gone. There are a lot of people involved in making decisions regarding the MT, so sometimes it takes longer to make up their minds. (source: SciFi Dimension)
8/3/2005 --I was originally planning on staying loyal to Richard's sound. I wasn't going to evolve it at all. However, as the season went on, the producers encouraged me to adapt the music, and I quickly realized that both the show and the score would be going in some new directions, developing and expanding ideas from the miniseries. It became my job to figure out how to make all these new musical ideas fit with the ideas Richard and I introduced in the miniseries and have it all make sense. (source: SyFy Portal)