Friday, 24 July 2015

Meeting Up: Dominion Serves a Vignette

Dreadnought Dominion premiered just over two months ago with its 20 minute first episode Haunted and now has returned with a prequel of sorts.

Filmed before that already released episode, this vignette picks up the story as Commodore Grissom is cleared of any wrong-doing in relation to the Cromwell Nebula incident and is given two weeks to prepare the Dominion for departure following her lengthy repairs.

Explained Gary Davis, who plays first officer Commander Jason Brousseau; "We met over a weekend during "Farragut Fest", a mini-convention at the Farragut Films Studio in Georgia and knocked out this one-set scene in two days. Then we met again in January for a four day shoot and completed Haunted. We felt that the latter was a much better production, so it was decided to edit it, work on the visual FX, sound, and score to present it first to the public. After we completed Haunted, we then started editing Anchors Aweigh. We even did a sneak preview at the premiere of Haunted to cast and crew, then went back and smoothed it out more before finally releasing it to the public."

The episode brings the senior staff of the Dominion together over a drink aboard the Starbase for the first time and actually stays away from the ship completely, focusing solely on the characters' first interactions. In a way this does work to give us a flashback in a sense but maybe it could have been held back for a little longer and some clashes and other traits could have been seen in later episodes with some explanation then given by taking us back to these moments prior to departure. Admittedly there are a couple of uncomfortable meetings here, particularly between the commodore and Chief Brooks whose father was killed during the Cromwell Nebula incident.

My thoughts on Anchors Aweigh? It's not as good as Haunted by some miles and that episode did impress me as you'll see from the post I dropped at the beginning of June. It's easy to see this was produced fairly quickly with only two settings required and the key actors. There are no effects shots, only one use of a viewer for Grissom's conversation with Admiral Bennett very early on so it does heavily rely on your engagement with the characters rather than any inclusion of fancy tech or CG.

The challenge with the scene is that, well, nothing really happens and it all feels a bit stilted. The characters don't get a lot of room to breathe here and the dialogue does, at times, seem very bland. I know from watching Haunted that the team are much, much better than this and I came away a little disappointed. It was OK but there was nothing here that would, if I was a casual viewer, keep me interested in this show. Even the small amount of backstory sprinkled for each character didn't perk that much interest but having seen Haunted first I know that this was very much the water-test.

Now, I like Frank Parker as Grissom but again, here he's very much finding his way in the role and was a lot more convincing in Haunted. There was more depth to the commodore and it was a lot more personal. The rest of the senior staff we see here in Anchors Aweigh are given a few lines and some brief background and I hope that they are given more screentime and exploration in the third episode which has yet to be filmed.

It is the first time these characters have met and are, for the most part, feeling out the first tentative steps of what could be long-term working relationships and friendships during their time onboard the Dominion. I do want to see where this goes and having Haunted premiere first was a very good move in retrospect. It's easily the stronger segment produced to date, the acting is much better and the story worked more successfully. I definitely felt the writing in that episode was a marked improvement over Anchors Aweigh. Having Grissom step aboard the Dominion and lay his ghosts to rest made a more solid opening, almost negating the need for this flashback, bar-talk episode.

"The premise around Anchors Aweigh was simply to get "our feet wet" with our characters." said Gary (pictured right), "Starship Farragut had a vignette that they shot called Just Passing Through. It was simply in a bar on a starbase with different characters there as they reminisced about past meetings. Frank Parker Jr. envisioned Anchors Aweigh with the same premise. So this was pitched as a single set, one shot vignette that introduced the characters, and set the tone for the rest of the story. We've taken both Anchors Aweigh and Haunted and combined them and will be releasing it as a "Producer's Cut".. making it one episode. The combined offering makes it a "normal" length episode and I think Haunted compliments it and balances it out as an introduction to the action."

Maybe that's something I'll try - combining the two and watching it through as a full length episode. Thing is I think that even though only a month passed between the two shoots, there does seem to be a noticable improvement in standards from all involved. 

So not a huge review for this little installment but I like to keep my eye on this new arrival on the scene and am certainly keenly awaiting the arrival of their next story which I believe will be Redemption at Red Medusa which will see us revisiting the events that led to the near-destruction of the USS Dominion at the Cromwell Nebula incident.

Said Gary; "Episode three will be a "normal" length episode of hopefully 45 minutes or maybe longer. It is a "full blown" episode unto itself. Episode three is written and scripted and we are getting everyone's schedules and suggestions for when we may journey to our studio to film the ship scenes. 

"We will also have one or two off-site filming segments that don't involve the ship sets that we could shoot where the actors are already home based."

Excellent news from Dreadnought Dominion then that they will be giving more. Gary did note that they will be getting episode three completed before even considering embarking on a fourth story. What that might be is still open to suggestions I would believe.

You can watch the first two episodes of Dreadnought Dominion now via their website 

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