Questions and Answers on Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming

[ Producer Johnnie J. Young assisted in Richard Hatch's trailer, Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming (BSG:TSC), and previously worked with Richard in the films "Iron Thunder", and "Unseen". Between July 6 and 13, 1999, Mr. Young spent a week on the BSG mailing list, taking the time to answer list members questions on the trailer. ]

About the September 6, 1998 shoot and subsequent shoots

I produced some films in the past that Richard starred in and he asked me if I wanted to come on board and help him with his Battlestar trailer. Richard had a script that he had co-written with Sophie LaPorte. We had some production meetings regarding the shooting schedule and locations. But then the Reunion convention was fast approaching and Richard indicated that Terry Carter (who lives in Norway) and John Colicos (who lives in Canada) would be there and it would be great if we could get some shots of them in case they were unavailable during the regular shoot. So at the last minute, I assembled a team that consisted of director Jay Woelfel and cinematographer Scott Spears to come down that weekend and shoot John and Terry against a blue screen. And that's what we did. But it was one of the worst cirumstances for shooting a movie. We were not on a closed set and we had a loud band playing next door. We shot what we could when the band took its breaks and then we went up to John Colicos' hotel room and had him re-dub all of his lines and do some voice-over. We shot nothing with Jack Stauffer that weekend...

I don't know what deals Richard, or more likely Sophie, made with anyone to get that dealer's room for us to shoot in, but that shoot had so little to do with the main shoot on this project that it hardly deserves to be made an example of the shoot as a whole or what money was spent on it... That wasn't even part of our regular shoot... We shot many days on many soundstages after that with a full cast and crew...

The scenes shot after the Reunion convention with John Colicos and Terry Carter are in the trailer. Jack Stauffer is also in the trailer. There are tons of special effects. More than half of the trailer includes special effects. Other name actors in the trailer include George Murdock, Richard Lynch, Phil Brown and a special appearance by Lorne Green. The rest of the actors are all professional actors that we chose through a series of casting sessions... The trailer does open with Richard recording what could be considered something like a captain's log and then that voiceover continues to play over some of the beginning shots. But after that, it goes right into the action and there is no more Richard voiceover...

Szilvia Naray played Athena in the BSG:TSC trailer -- she is the one who says to Apollo "If you leave, I will replace you". We would like to get Maren Jensen to play Athena in any film or TV series -- if she is free by then.

About the trailer's sound quality at the DragonCon showing on July 3

I do know that this trailer we have made is kick-ass and the sound will blow you away if you play it on a decent sound system. I sent Richard to that convention with a professional Beta SP videotape. Then it was played through some Beta deck provided by the convention, then run through a mixing board provided by the convention and piped out some speakers provided by the convention. Richard and others said the sound mix sounded bad in that room. After Richard told me that, we took the same tape and popped it into another machine after the convention and hit play. It sounded absolutely beautiful. I asked Richard if that's what it sounded like at the convention -- he said "no, it sounds perfect now, but in that room, on those speakers, it sounded terrible"

About the length of the trailer and the script

The finished BSG:TSC trailer that was cut on July 1, 1999 and is being shown at conventions is exactly three minutes long... This version of the trailer has never been any longer... The original cut of the trailer is thirty minutes long -- it includes the full story, but with no special effects... For these showings [DragonCon] and the meetings with Universal, we cut it down to a three minute promotional trailer and added full special effects, music, sound effects, etc., like you would see at the theater...

When we originally shot the footage for BSG:TSC, we came off of a thirty page script. Typically, when you film a movie, one script page equals approximately one minute of finished screen time. When we first began the filming, we weren't neccesarily filming a three minute trailer, we were filming a thirty page script that followed a specific storyline. Taking into consideration all of the multiple takes that are required for filming, we ended up with over three hours of footage. We edited this down into the assembly edit where we used all of the best takes and wound up with a cut that was a little less than thirty minutes long. This assembly edit contained no special effects, sound effects or music. I do believe that at one time Richard wanted to finish this thirty minute version with full effects, etc., to show to everyone, but with time and money constraints, it was decided to just concentrate on making a kick-ass under five minute trailer to sell the project. The current three minute version is not finished yet and will definitely be longer when all of the shots are added in -- but not much longer.

On the version of the trailer shown at DragonCon

When you film a movie and edit the footage together, there are no special effects, sound effects or music. When Richard said he wanted to show a version of the trailer at DragonCon, we still needed to go into a mixing studio and put sound and music on it even if it was not the final version. The trailer that we cut and added effects and sound to on July 1, 1999 -- we have labeled Trailer Version 1. We finished Trailer Version 1 with effects, sound and music -- it is not raw footage -- this version was completed as professionally as any trailer would have been before being shown to the public. That does not mean that the ultimate BSG:TSC trailer -- Trailer Version 2 -- will have those same effects, sound and music. In fact, Trailer Version 2 will definitely have different effects, sound and music, because we will have a different cut of the trailer with the added special effects sequences and we will need to go back into the mixing studio and cut the sound effects and music to the new version. When Trailer Version 2 is complete, I am sure Richard will never show Trailer Version 1 again.

Financing of the trailer

It is not my business to tell you how much money Richard spent on this trailer, but I want all of you to know that he spent everything out of his own pocket and it wasn't cheap. Richard did this with the great possibility that he may never see that money again and that he wasn't guaranteed a production deal with Universal. Richard did it for the sole reason that he loves this show and he wants to bring it back -- and he did it for you, the fans of the show, to try to bring back a version of BSG that would be true to the show that you all remember and love. Richard may not be perfect, but he has put his heart and soul and pocketbook into this project, and I hope everyone appreciates what he is trying to do...

Richard Hatch paid for every hard cost expense for this project out of his own pocket. These costs included sound stage rentals, camera rentals, lighting rentals, grip equiment rentals, sound equipment rentals, dolly rentals, scissor lift rentals, vehicle rentals, production insurance, film permit costs, fire marshal fees, fuel expenses, generator rentals, craft service and meals, raw film stock, film processing costs, telecine video transfer costs, editing costs, special effects costs, sound mixing costs, etc.

Yes, many people gave their time and labor to this project -- including me. I have produced many films and if I charged Richard Hatch my regular rate, it would have been a great deal more money than you're talking about. Many of us waived our regular fees to get this project completed. We called in a lot of favors. Dean Cundey who shot Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, Back to the Future, etc., usually gets paid $200,000 to work on a film, and he waived his fee for us. So what are you trying to say? That Richard didn't pay for the costs of this project, because some people waived their regular fees? Of course, he did. I was there, every day, on every shoot. I have no reason to lie for Richard, but facts are facts.

On the length of time it took to assemble the trailer

Why did it take so long to complete a three minute trailer? Here is the scoop... If you are filming a feature film, there are four phases -- development, pre-production, production and post-production. Development takes as long as it takes, until you get the financing in place -- then you can set a start date. Depending on the size of the production, pre-production can be from four to eight weeks, production can be from four to sixteen weeks, and post-production can be from four to twelve weeks. These time periods can greatly increase if we are talking about huge studio films. As for BSG:TSC, we couldn't follow the normal procedure, because we never got any financing in the development stage. Richard funded the whole thing out of his own pocket. Typically, doing a thirty minute production like this can cost well over a million dollars -- we didn't have that. If we did, the film would have been finished on a normal schedule. As it was, we had to wait to get deals on so many things, that we were put on the low priority list at all the production houses and special effects companies that were working on this with us. This is not the typical way to make a film, but it was the only way to get this done with no outside financing.

Richard may have made promises at conventions about when this would be done that didn't come to pass, but he wasn't lying to any of you -- he really hoped and thought that it would be done sooner, as did we all. But there's no telling how long things can take when you are trying to get deals or freebies out of people -- when people made us promises that they were going to have something for us by a certain date and then pulled out at the last minute because they got a higher paying deal to work on Muppets From Space, that really screwed our schedule. The point is that we had a lot of promises from a lot of people that flaked on us at the last minute and we had to scramble around and find new people -- but through all of it, Richard never gave up on this project, and I hope eveyone realizes that.

About promises Richard Hatch has made

I cannot comment on Richard's internal thought process or what he has said at conventions, because I was not there with him. But my personal feelings are that he may sometimes get a little overzealous about something like this and jump the gun a bit with announcements that aren't realistic. Richard has never produced a film before -- I have. And I have been telling him since the beginning that his timetable probably wasn't very realistic under the circumstances that we were producing this film under. But the point I was trying to make is that Richard is not trying to cheat or mislead anyone -- he is really doing this out of the love for this show and its fans. If you have ever seen Richard talk about BSG, and seen the passion and fire in his eyes, you already know this to be true.

But if Richard misrepresented anything to anyone at any convention about this film, I apologize. If anyone is upset that the trailer was not finished earlier, I apologize. But it is being shown now -- so I hope everyone doesn't continue being upset over not getting to see it a few months ago -- go watch it now and see what you think. I think you will like it.