Exclusive Interview: Mike Sizemore – Writer of Slingers, the Oceans 11 in space TV show
Posted by LiveFor on December 10, 2009
Slingers is the sci-fi show that doesn’t exist yet. However, the sizzle reel for it was all over the internet a few days ago.
It stars Sean Pertwee, Adrian Bower, Tom Mison, Margo Stilley, Haruka Abe, GUN and JUNIOR.
Steve Barron directs and Mike Sizemore is the man who wrote it. Here is a quick synopsis.
Slingers is set in the year 2960 A.D., following mankind’s first interplanetary war. Humanity is now clustered into a finite, but still vast section of the universe known as Enclosed Space. Humanity won the war with an aggressive alien enemy, but at a cost. The way back to Earth is now cut off by an impassable barrier – a side effect of the blast that finally pushed the enemy back.
The show takes its name from a group of people thrown together on board an experimental spacecraft that is capable of Slinging itself to any point in space. In theory it’s the only craft capable of getting home. In reality the crew are using it to carry out a series of high tech heists and get even with those who are now exploiting their positions in the post war hierarchy.
Dominic ‘DM’ Monroe, a special ops war veteran becomes the de facto leader of this small team of thieves who rail against the decision by military command to just ‘stay where they are and make the best of it’. They’re determined to get home and if that means breaking a few rules and picking up a lot of enemies along the way then so be it.
Mike was nice enough to take the time to do an interview with me about the show and I want to see it more than ever after what he has to say. TV people give them money now!
Oceans 11 meets Firefly is the vibe I get from watching the promo – How have you been pitching it?
Almost exactly like that. As an elevator pitch its always been ‘Ocean’s 11 in space’. People just get that. When they ask us to expand we can talk them through what we hope amounts to three seasons of television. At the core it’s a heist show, but we’ve worked very hard to make sure the concept is not going to run out of steam anytime soon.
How did Sean Pertwee become involved?
We’d already secured Steve Barron as the director which was a huge deal in itself. When he asked me for casting ideas, Sean was at the top of the list. Steve got in touch, told him what we were up to and he was on board immediately. I then sent Sean a character profile for his character. When I met him for the first time he remarked at how surprised he’d been at the level of detail I’d gone into for Colonel Hall. Because he knew where we intended to take the character over at least three seasons he got more involved and once he’d read the first pilot script he was in love with the project. It helped that we’re both old-school 2000AD fans. I dropped some references in the script and he was the first to pick them out.
Slingers – Explain the name for the viewing public.
Originally, in the very first draft of the pilot script, the ship they
steal has sling-shot technology so it was a no-brainer. At this stage we’ve actually managed to find a far better way for the crew to get around, but now the name has stuck.
Give us a quick rundown on the characters we see in the promo.
Would love to. But here’s the thing about the video. It was shot so we could show what Slingers was capable of for MIPCOM in Cannes in October and the DVDs we took over had an accompanying promo booklet, so it was never meant to be seen ‘cold’ like this. That it’s had over 56,000 views since, means it seems to work without too much hand holding. Which is great, because I’d rather an audience worked something out and had fun. But here’s some detail.
DM played by Adrian Bower is the defacto leader. He’s the guy you see do the sleight of hand with the poker chip to lift the security guard’s badge.
Frank played by Tom Mison is the guy having a problem with his gun. He and DM are best friends, ex war buddies and have a certain skill set they decide to keep using now that peace time isn’t all it was promised to be. DM is the calm collected one who prefers to think his way out of situations. Frank is the lovable idiot who throws himself into situations he then has to fight his way out of. DM is kinda broken. Frank we try and break each and every week if we can.
Marti is the girl we see at the opening in the casino and later in the
space suit, played by Haruka Abe. She’s the youngest member of the
crew, but its also her ship. The military would disagree with that,
but her father built it and she’s decided its not a good idea for
anyone else to have it.
Junior is the robot we see with the BOOM. He plays himself. There’s a fair bit of CGI involved in the sizzle, but Junior is real. He’s a MECH 5 – basically a bad ass robot that should have been decommissioned. He has his own agenda for throwing in with the crew. There’s more to him than meets the eye but he doesn’t transform into Michael Bay or anything.
The woman who appears at the very end of the sizzle is Jeannie, played by Margo Stilley. She’s the holographic pilot of the ship and in the sizzle is rescued electronically by DM. He steals her back. He has a history with her, or at least the real person she was based on. It’s a complicated relationship.
The weapon that Frank is arguing with is GUN. She’s actually a very special weapon, but tends not to always agree with Frank. Again it’s a
The one thing you don’t see much of is the ship. We have some interesting plans for her.
And of course we have Sean Pertwee as Colonel Hall. He’s the military guy tasked with getting the ship back. He kinda takes it seriously. The poor bastard he’s not blaming for anything is played by Dalip Tahil. I feel sorry for what we did to him because he was brilliant on set.
What will happen in the first few episodes? Will there be an arc?
Yes indeedy. We have some interesting character arcs for each character and the show is plotted out for three seasons at the moment.
We have some big reveals, and surprises in store for the crew and hopefully the audience. We didn’t want to make this up as we went along so we know exactly how these characters got to the first scene of the pilot and how they all end up. But the first few episodes are concerned with getting the ship, learning what it can do and then deciding what to do with it.
How many episodes and series do you have planned out and are there any aliens in it?
Good question. 22 episodes a season, three seasons. With scope for a few side stories along the way. Aliens. Yes and no. Aliens are history by the time we get to the pilot. But they do play a huge part in the show one way or another. And we’ve got something worse too. Wait until you meet her.
Favourite science-fiction film and fave sci-fi TV show?
Jesus. Just one? Tough question. I may hack your blog and change the answer daily. Right now at almost 4am my favourite sci fi movie is Moon. I’ve been watching it over and over on Blu Ray trying to work out how Duncan Jones and Sam Rockwell pulled it off. Simply incredible film making. It taps into the films I’d love to have added if you’d have allowed it – like Alien, Silent Running and Bladerunner.
Favourite sci fi TV show? The Invaders. I caught it when I was a kid in that weird 6pm slot on BBC2. Being 12 or so and being able to watch Monkey, The Water Margin, old Republic serials like King of the Rocket Men, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, not to mention Laurel & Hardy and Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies was life changing. And of course David Vincent knowing that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form and that somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.
Judge Dredd is heading towards the big screen again. Who would you like to see playing Dredd and who or what should he be up against in the new film?
I wouldn’t like to see anyone play Dredd. We cast the jaw and then keep the poor bastard attached to it drugged up between takes. We find the right guy and we KEEP him. Then you forget about the film idea. You get HBO on board to do it like The Wire and you throw the entire Mega City against Dredd for seven years or so. I grew up watching him crack heads – he can take it.
Best film of 2009?
I’m gonna look like a fanboy if I saw Moon again, so let’s go with
Inglourious Basterds. Ballsy film making at its best. Or maybe The Road because it reminded me children can still act. You know what, fuck it. I’m a fanboy and it was Moon.
Favourite science fiction gadget?
Peter Davison’s fifth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. For exactly the same reason that I loathe the new one that seems to do every bloody thing under the sun – none of them memorable. The only thing I remember Peter Davison’s screwdriver doing is dying. I remember the line “I feel like you’ve just killed an old friend” and I still get a pang over it. I’m not sure what it says about me that I list that over the Buffy-bot.
If you were to be killed by a movie monster which one would it be and what would your final words be?
Brilliant question. I’m working with a friend on a side project where we get to kill another friend and we’re using a classic monster. But not that way.
I’m really trying *not* to think of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and it’s really hard.
I think it’d be an American Werewolf In London because I’m a messy bastard in life so it’d be good go out of it messily too. Last words: “See You Next Wednesday”
I particularly like the talking Gun. Was that inspired by Rogue Trooper’s Gunnar or do you just like talking weaponry?
I like any ‘thing’ that can be a really meaningful character in its own right. We live in a world with movies where they can’t get the fucking human beings right, so I have a soft spot for any writer who can make me fall in love with an object. Gonna mention Moon again so brace yourself. They made me tear up over what was basically an upside down photocopier. The drones in Silent Running I miss more than dead relatives. The trailing off of Daisy Daisy by HAL in 2001 haunts me. Hell, even the Alzheimer suffering Nell in Battle Beyond The Stars makes my lip tremble. And not because she looks like a sex toy.
Rouge Trooper and Gunnar? You bethca that was an inspiration. I wasn’t the only kid drawing biochips on my arm in school, right? Right?
What film do you first remember watching?
The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Basil Rathbone. My gran’s house and it was on the TV one afternoon. I think I fell in love there and then. With Olivia de Havilland. Not my gran. Although I guess the age difference was similar. I’ve loved old movies ever since. One of the best emails I got recently was from a production manager (Hi Kelli!) over at Turner Classic Movies. Well, that and a call from Sam Raimi’s office.
Best ever spaceship?
The Eagles from SPACE: 1999. I’ll fight anyone who says different.
If you got the chance to make a film or series based on an established comic book character which one would it be…apart from Dredd?
The Ballad of Halo Jones just to get Alan Moore on my back.
When I was a kid being blown away by all the fun stuff in 2000AD along came this story that just aimed higher. It trusted the 12 year old I was to understand something that wasn’t just guns and explosions. It was a girl with a real life and she wanted OUT. Reading 2000AD was an obvious way out I guess. But suddenly finding a character that wasn’t content and did something about it made me want to do EVERYTHING too.
Of course she had a talking robotic dog as well so that helped. But I read it again recently and it’s just fucking beautiful. I have a masters degree in literature so I’m pretty well read outside of the genre stuff and hand-on-heart I think Alan Moore gave us a masterpiece.
And that’s also the reason why I would never go near it.
I’d write the living fuck out of Doctor Who though.
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Check out some previous sci-fi related interviews on Live for Films:
– David Sullivan – Star of Primer and Skateland
– Duncan Jones – Director of Moon
–Andrew Barker – Director of Straw Man
– Michael Marshall Smith – Author of Only Forward, Spares, One of Us, Straw Man and many more
– Alejandro Adams – Director of Canary
– Neal Asher – Author of Gridlinked, Line of Polity, Shadow of the Scorpion, Orbus, Brass Man and many more