Some might say it was the most disastrous convention ever; the guest registry at the Sutton Place hotel in downtown Vancouver read like a who’s who of Battlestar Galactica – the writers, producers, cast and many behind-the-scenes artisans were on hand, ready to mingle and reminisce about their experiences on the show. But where were the fans?
I’m not sure who did the promotion for this “Wrap Party” convention we all went to, but man, they must have lost their shirts. Admission was free, the food and drinks were complimentary and we were even given some lovely gifts; I would have expected the fans to be lined up around the block! How could they have not known about this thing? Oh well, we made the most of it – since everyone was already there, we used the opportunity to get to know each other better and turned this “Wrap Party” convention into a literal cast & crew wrap party for the series. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here – the wrap party was on Saturday night (that’s June 28th – as usual I’m writing from the future) but many of Galactica’s all-stars played hooky for a few days, arriving in Great White North a little early for some pre-show adventure…
GETTING THERE IS NOT HALF THE FUN
My flight was at 9am Thursday, for which the airport shuttle wanted to pick me up at 5am. Since I live about half an hour from the airport, I questioned the logic of such an early pickup. “Well sir,” they tried to explain, “since it’s an international flight you need to be at the airport two hours early, and we also need to take any possible traffic into consideration.” Whoa, wait a second… Canada? International? I told that clown to look at a map. “Do you see any water in between the Unites States and Canada? No? Want to know why? Because it’s the same damn country!” How much do they pay these clowns? And since the only traffic at 5am consists of ravers on the way home and die-hard McDonalds junkies rushing for that first Egg McMuffin off the grill, I told them I’d take my chances with a 6:30am pickup. They told me they couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t miss my flight if I was picked up at that hour, and I informed them I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t poop in their van if they tried to pick me up any earlier, so they were cool with the 6:30 thing.
I arrived at LAX at 7:15am, and after the long, arduous process of my “international” check-in (LOL), I had to do some serious sprinting in order to just barely make it to the gate an hour before my flight took off. Whew, that was close!
The flight itself was mercifully uneventful. I never understand people who ask “how was your flight?” I mean, if it didn’t crash, it was fine. How often is ANY flight different from all the rest? Ok, I guess there was the time Valerie Bertanelli got me drunk and dragged me into the first class lavatory for a quickie, but chances are you won’t have to ask “how was your flight?” to get information like that out of someone. From now on, just ask people “was your flight anything out of the ordinary?” At least that will get something other than “fine” out of them.
As luck would have it, I got through customs just in time to hitch a ride with a car full of fellow post-production personnel, Jute, Mikey Melissa and Jason. The first thing we noticed was the cold and rainy weather. Now I know I shouldn’t be surprised, since Vancouver is very well known for this sort of climate – but I specifically checked the forecast for the few days I would be in town and it said sunny and eighty degrees – thus, I packed no jacket (Jute is convinced the city of Vancouver slips a few bucks to the weather bureau for favorable weather reports when they want an increase in tourism). Sneaky Canadians!
We soon arrived at the hotel, unpacked, vegged for a few and then made our way across the street for some food. The hotel recommended a placed called “Joey’s,” but I was a little nervous about noshing at a place named after the ill-fated Friends spin-off. Luckily the name was just a coincidence – the food and drinks were quite tasty and no one managed to get the hot waitress’ phone number. Just like home!
No one got her number
READY, GO, SETS!
Tummies full and brains slightly buzzed, it was time to make our way to what was sure to be one of the highlights of the trip – the sets. I’ve been working on this frakkin’ show for four years and it was time to finally go sit in a Viper!
From the outside, the studio doesn’t look like much; you’d never guess from staring at those plain, white walls that inside lies the ultimate, soul-satisfying experience (kind of like White Castle).
Fortunately for us, they were shooting a scene from the finale, so all the sets were fully lit (which means your pictures come out looking like you’re on the show). It’s funny how even people who work for the series are such fans of it – the minute we hit that very first A-shaped corridor, every last scrap of professionalism went out the airlock; we ran up and down the halls, took turns sitting in Adama’s chair, played with the Vipers and pretended we were pilots getting briefed for a mission.
FROM L-R: Mikey, Melissa, Jute, Jason, Mojo
I’d say we were like kids in a candy store but, to be honest, a handful of gummi bears can’t really compare to sitting in Viper! For the entire afternoon we basically “lived” on the Galactica and had a chance to meet much of the cast, in full costume and makeup. Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh) was kind enough to pose for a group photo:
The Post Production Posse with special guest Michael Hogan
ONE BIG, HAPPY FLEET
One of the most unique things about Battlestar Galactica is that just about everyone who works for program also enjoys watching it; believe it or not, this is rare in Hollywood! All too often, people look at their work as “just a job” and seldom watch the shows they work for; the prevailing attitude is that professionals are “above” being fans (this was especially true at Star Trek, where being a fan was actually frowned upon).
On Galactica, everyone is a fan – and proud of it!
As I walked around the sets, meeting the crew and watching people work, there was absolutely an air of joy and enthusiasm about the place – you can just feel that everyone knows they’re contributing to something special. A perfect example is what happened during actual shooting – on many productions, after setting up a shot the crew gets bored and goes off to chat or play cards or raid the craft service table while the actors do their thing; on this day, everyone not actually holding up a light was gathered around the monitors, absolutely transfixed as they watched the scene unfold. It was truly a moving experience to see just how much everyone on this show cares (ok to be fair there were some delicious samosas placed by the monitors but I swear people were drawn to the drama and not just the tantalizing scent of spicy beef and potato).
Watching a scene live on set
YES WE HAVE NO TACOS
When shooting wrapped for the day, the post-production posse all saddled up and headed back to the hotel for a little freshening up. A short while later, we hit the streets in search of dinner, hoofing our way to a small micro-brewery that was rumored to serve up notoriously good suds and top-notch chow. To be honest, I’m usually not a big fan of pub food (I mean how good can a burger and cheese-fries be?) but much to my surprise and delight I also spotted a curry soup and yakisoba on the menu!
What? Curry and Yakisoba at a micro-brew? Had I died and gone to Japan? Nope – just Vancouver. See, in Los Angeles, the predominant ethnic population are Mexican, so just about any restaurant you visit has some sort of Mexican fare on the menu (which is of little use when tacos and burritos are pretty far down your favorites list). However, Vancouver (aka Hongcouver or Japanada) has a booming Asian population, so even the French restaurants have Ramen Noodles hidden somewhere on the menu. Score!
Of course, no one was really paying much attention to the food – we were all too busy comparing photos and sharing star-studded stories. As it turned out, the other team from post (we split up into two groups) ran into Edward James Olmos, who spent almost an hour talking to them about everything from Blade Runner to BSG (did you know that Harrison Ford was staunchly against the idea of being a Replicant?). An interesting perspective Olmos shared was not only how grateful he is to have worked on Galactica, but that the role of Adama came to him later in his career; he feels younger actors (“the kids” as he calls them), may not have the experience to fully appreciate just how special this show is. Olmos truly loves Galactica; he feels that playing Adama is the highlight of his career and he encourages the rest of cast and crew to savor the moment – it may never get better than this.
As the hands on the clock both approached twelve, we decided to call it a night. After all, most of us had been up since about 5am and there were still three days of fun ahead on our little excursion.
And, of course, the wrap party!
(Look for part II real soon)