Asking MARC SCOTT ZICREE the tough questions about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)

I love interviewing MARC ZICREE (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) a.k.a. Marc Zicree of SPACE COMMAND. He always has a LOT of very interesting things to say, and he says it all with such enthusiasm and excitement. In fact, I usually have to listen to Marc’s interviews a second time to fully process everything!

Today’s interview is actually the fourth I’ve done with Marc over the past three years, and the first wasn’t even about his current passion project Space Command. Along with writing more than a thousand television scripts, Marc also wrote, directed and produced the Star Trek: New Voyages episode “World Enough and Time,” which featured GEORGE TAKEI as a guest star and remains one of the finest Star Trek fan films ever made. (Here’s my interview with Marc about that production.)

More recently, Marc has been tackling the incredibly ambitious Space Command, a sprawling, original sci-fi epic with six 2-hour episodes in the first season alone. The pilot episode, “Redemption” features Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Doug Jones (Pan’s LabyrinthHellboy, and now Star Trek: Discovery’s Saru), Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5), Mira Furlan (Babylon 5), Bill Mumy (Babylon 5 and Lost In Space), and others.

Crowd-funding for Redemption began way back in 2012 with $221,000 raised from nearly 3,000 backers. Subsequent crowd-funders and sales of investment shares increased that total to over a million dollars! Last summer, after more than six years, the first half hour of the pilot was finally released. You can view it below…

In February of this year, Marc released the full first hour of the pilot, with improvements to the initial half hour included. It’s actually interesting to compare the two versions, so I’m posting both if you’re interested in watching side-by-side…

With the last hour of “Redemption” currently in post-production and scheduled for release later on this year (hopefully!), Marc just announced a new Kickstarter campaign for the second 2-hour episode, “Forgiveness,” which already has 40 minutes of live action filmed. The campaign quickly exploded past its $35K goal and is currently hovering at around $70K as I write this…with 10 days left to go.

When I first published a blog spotlighting the new campaign two weeks ago, some fans were dubious. If it’s been seven years and episode one isn’t done yet, why start funding episode two? Why not finish one full episode before starting on another?

So for this interview, and with Marc’s permission, I hit him with that tough question…along with a several others. Among the things I wanted to know were what actually happens during all of those meetings he has with executives from Netflix and Amazon and ABC? What if one of those networks wants to give him $50 million but demands he throw out everything he’s done and start over with a decent budget? And finally, with all of these projects Marc is developing and pitching right now, how do donors know he’s spending enough time on Space Command itself?

Listen to his eye-opening answers below…

And of course, there’s still time to donate:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/58936338/space-command-forgiveness

10 thoughts on “Asking MARC SCOTT ZICREE the tough questions about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)”

  1. I am sorry, but at this stage this is nothing but a blatant money grab.
    Back in 2011(!), Space Command had a very successful crow founding campaign. But we never got what the campaign actually promised to deliver. Just an endless stream of more campaigns asking for even more money, and happy go lucky vlog style updates full of not so subtle name droppings and “any day now” promises. And the production quality of what little we have gotten, has been questionable to put it mildly. So I have to ask. Where has all the money gone?

    – John

    1. I’m just curious, John, since you’ve seen the first completed hour of the pilot: how much do you think it should have cost to produce that (including the 900 visual effects CGI shot, which are usually $500-$1,000 each when done at standard rates)? Also include the cost of building sets, renting a studio, props, costumes, crew, and the actors. And please remember to take away an additional $50,000 for the Kickstarter fees, too.

      If a million dollars is a “money grab,” could yo please estimate (round number is fine) how much money you think is being grabbed?

  2. Take a look at Kung Fury for an example of what you can make with $630K. Not only did they deliver on time, but the production quality is on another level entirely.

    1. Absolutely, but it’s apples-to-oranges in terms of…well…just about everything.

      First of all, if that was $630K for a half-hour film, then wouldn’t you assume a 2-hour “Kung Fury” would have cost well over $2 million?

      Second of all, there were almost no custom-built sets on Kung Fury. Most of the scenes appeared to be filmed on on in existing locations like office space. What wasn’t filmed on location seemed to be shot in front of green screen (as Space Command has also done).

      Then there’s the cast. “Space Command” has a larger cast made up of bigger named actors. Also, there are more custom costumes that were needed in Space Command.

      Don’t get me wrong. “Kung Fury” is EXCELLENT and shouldn’t be diminished in any way. But even stripping away everything else I said, the basic point is that producing 30 minutes of a film costs a lot less in terms of time and resources than producing two hours. If anything, John, you’ve proven my point…not yours.

  3. First, Thank you for posting this film. I had neither heard of it nor seen any of it before. That said, I turned it off about halfway through. Waaaay to slow. I was about to dump and move on then I saw your posted a second version, which I did watch until the end. Much better cut, more prominent actors (and general improvement in the acting as a result). Definitely a step up. But still – at the end I was like- Meh… The synthetic steals the ship. So what. I didn’t care. The story didn’t leave me wanting any more and it was a long hour, though well acted, with nothing really going on.
    IMHO – the best sci series, and the best story lines lines within those series, are based on conflict. This is true of Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Battlestar galactic etc. If a filmmaker wants me to consider their project, then their project needs to address that, early, as a main point of the story line. But that’s just me and my personal tastes. Everyone likes something different. I just won’t wait several episodes before that becomes a focus. My A.D.D. can’t stand it. LOL .

    1. Well, Jim, I am glad that you gave the second half hour a chance, at least. I agree about conflict, but I think Marc is still setting that up in the first hour. It’s starting to happen with a few characters. Might it reach more? We shall see…or not, if you choose to stop here. Me? I’m still hooked and eager to see the full results of my crowd-funding donations.

  4. I am wary to admit this, but I am internally conflicted. First off, Marc has always been incredibly supportive of my wife Madeleine’s steampunk comic and novels (Boston Metaphysical Society) every time she attends a Table meeting. She’s run 6 successful Kickstarters and the universe keeps getting bigger with the 6 issues, trade paperback, two follow-on 34 page issues, novel, and short stories/novellas. He’s been nice to us every time we see him, be it at World Con or ComicCon.

    Watching Space Command, the Jones/Picardo scene was AWESOME. Phenomenal acting. Amazing.

    The other stuff? Oh boy. Let me just say that, sometimes, maybe the studio’s notes have some validity to them? (Case in point: George Lucas original script had Luke moping and whining at the cantina on Tatooine before the droids showed up. Made him completely unlikable. The studio cut that out and Star Wars was a lot better off for it. Lucas whined about studio notes and made so much that he could afford to ignore their notes, but the sequels, IMHO, suffered for it.) Granted, in the second edit of Space Command there was some editing done, but I’m going to very, very, very reluctantly agree with Jim and John that conflict could be improved. And I think the trouble is that other shows have raised the bar since SC’s inception and we (the audience) have raised our standards to a higher level accordingly and SC, started so many years ago, hasn’t kept up.

    But what’s a polite way of saying that to Marc? He’s worked so hard on SC, he’s incredibly supportive, we all want to give notes on how we feel SC could be made better, but would they be received in the spirit and intent that we offered them?

    1. I think Marc is open to feedback, but he’s also a speeding train. It’s hard to make too many direction changes when you’re riding on rails. Remember that all of the footage is in the can. Editing can help quite a bit, but there’s only so much there to work with.

      That said, I am enjoying not only watching Space Command but also seeing it evolve. The second cut was considerably better than the first, and Marc is still tweaking. Let’s see how the third cut and last hour comes out.

  5. I have an idea as to how hard it is to do what Marc is doing. In 1987 (with zero training other than having watched TV and knowing ads pay the bills), I did my first project – twenty 1/2 hr shows (creation to completion) that ended up on TLC from 1987-1990. I presold ads and ad time to my sponsors to fund the project and every project is always behind schedule and over budget. I had total control over my show but the network did have me delete / replace some stuff (the male and female models in swimwear segments).

    What Marc is doing is amazing as is the result of the first hour. That is amazing alone but add that to everything else he does 24/7 from posting tons of videos keeping everyone in the loop to marketing the series to writing and even reading while on his treadmill etc… and WOW, when does this guy sleep? He is doing a great job and I will stick with him to the end. What is the worst that could happen? Failure lol 🙂 He already gave us the first great hour. That alone is worth my few bucks indeed!

    I do get your pont, wanting things faster but hey, welcome to the film industry where things take years more often than not. I believe Marc will eventually get a sponsor (Space Soda or ?) or a network sponsor in the end so enjoy this ride while we can and lets be thankful for how far we have come thus far.

    That’s my 2 cents.

    1. I suspect a lot of my readers don’t fully understand what it takes to make something as complex as Mark has for “only” a million dollars. A million dollars sounds like so much, but when you’re creating a film, money disappears so quickly…and not at all frivolously.

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