Solutions Interview with Torsten Dewi
Torstenis the writer of Michael Shanks' upcoming sci-fi fantasy movie "Sumuru". We sent Torsten a Q&A and he kindly took time out of his weekend to answer all of our questions. We hope you enjoy as much as we did reading all the news and information Torsten was able to share with us.
Character: Adam Wade
SOLUTIONS: What is it about Adam Wade which makes him special among all those male slaves on Antares? Which of his qualities persuade Sumuru that Adam is her equal, someone with whom she can fall in love?
TORSTEN: Adam and his pal Jake arrive on Antares, so that makes them strangers to the culture. And it makes Sumuru curious. Adam and Jake are unlike any men she has seen before - headstrong, intelligent, with a sense of humour. Remember - on Antares, men have been held as slaves for centuries - they don't amount to much.
At the end of the day, I think it's the fact that Adam openly opposes Sumuru's society that wins her over. She is used to people agreeing with everything she wants/says, but deep down, it's boring and unfullfilling.
Character: Queen Sumuru
SOLUTIONS: Sumuru rules over a world of free women warriors and male slaves. She's been described as benevolent, firm, educated and surprisingly liberal. What is it about Sumuru which allows Adam to find common ground with her when to him slavery must be abhorrent?
Of course, Adam is stunned by her beauty at first. Next thing you know, he
is angry because of her stubbornness. But he realizes that she is a product
of her environment, and in contrast to Taxan, willing to learn.
Actor: Michael Shanks
SOLUTIONS: As creator of the character of Adam Wade, did Michael Shanks' portrayal of Adam meet your expectations?
TORSTEN: 120 per cent. He brought a lightness to it that wasn't planned, but helped immensely. He added little bits and pieces that really fleshed out the character - like using Bones McCoy's accent when doing a Trek reference ("dammit, Jake, I am a pilot, not a doctor!").
SOLUTIONS: Which qualities as an actor did Michael particularly bring to the role of Adam? You've referred to his talent for comedy as an example.
TORSTEN: Apart from being very good looking (definitely leading man material),Michael is a very competent actor. And his humour is also a big help on the set, because it is an important factor in keeping the spirit up. Michael and the director are two VERY funny guys. There is a reason why we have 12 hours of behind the scenes material...
SOLUTIONS: You mentioned in another interview that you're a fan of "Stargate SG-1" and this was one of the reasons you were drawn to Michael for the role of Adam. Which episode of "Stargate" do you feel is Michael's strongest as his character Dr. Daniel Jackson?
TORSTEN: I was never a fan of the first season of "Stargate SG-1", and I felt the show took off when they finally started to trust their characters. It started to gel, and the chemistry between the actors is amazing. I can't say that there is a specific episode that made me suggest Michael for the part of Adam. I noticed how he buffed up during the course of the show, and I always felt "here is a potential leading man stuck in second banana hell". I usually make mental notes when I think something like this, in case I have to get back to it at one point. In the case of "Sumuru", we needed a good looking actor with sci-fi credentials, and I immediately remembered Michael.
SOLUTIONS: At his convention appearances in 2002, Michael spoke of his wish to travel and to see more of the world. From your experiences of filming "Sumuru", how did Michael react to your stunning South African locations?
TORSTEN: According to an interview he did for our "behind the scenes" material, he really loves South Africa, and was sad that he didn 't have the time to really travel around. Well, if he signs up for the series, he can catch up ;-)
SOLUTIONS: What was it like to work with Michael on "Sumuru"?
TORSTEN: Being the writer, I didn't work with Michael, but from the material I have seen, it was very easy and friendly. I only dealt with him directly on one occasion: He spotted a continuity error in the script (due to changes during shooting), and pointed it out to the producer - suggesting a new scene with a solution for the problem right away! I took his suggestion, tweaked it a bit, and it was shot.
SOLUTIONS: You've stated that if Michael wants to be on board for a TV series, principal photography can wait until Stargate wraps. How important to "Sumuru" is his participation as Adam Wade?
TORSTEN: That's difficult to say. Creatively, it would be great to have him. And it might help us sell the show in some territories. But you can't always get what you want, and if he is unavailable, we will find a replacement.
SOLUTIONS: What makes the "Sumuru" movie special to you?
TORSTEN: The fact that I co-wrote it...
Just kidding. At the end of the day, I am a sucker for classic "B movies", and I am sad that there are so few around these days. There is a lot of direct to video trash, and brain dead Hollywood blockbusters, but decent well-made B product is nearly non-existent. I mean, making a fun, entertaining movie can't be dependent solely on the budget. It's in the script, in the enthusiasm of the people involved. I wanted to bring the lighthearted spirit of the B's back.
SOLUTIONS: How have you chosen to update "Sumuru" and its characters from the original concepts and ideas of the novels?
TORSTEN: Easy - nothing is left, except that Sumuru is a woman :-) We have totally changed the story from present day gangster plot to future fantasy flick.
SOLUTIONS: Did you enjoy your experiences of writing and filimg "Sumuru"? Does the movie live up to your imagination?
TORSTEN: Whether "Sumuru" will live up to my expectations, I can tell you once I have seen the rough cut (sometime this month). Judging from the rushes and the "behind the scenes" material, it should actually exceed my expectations. I was amazed at what Darrell and Giulio (the DOP) did. Overall, it was the most fun and hassle-free shoot I have ever been involved in. If every production was like this, I'D pay to write scripts!
SOLUTIONS: You've stated that "Sumuru" is guaranteed a theatrical release in the UK and Germany. Is the movie something we'll be seeing in our multiplexes or will be the release be limited to independent 'art house' cinemas? Do you have a release date for the movie in the UK and Germany?
TORSTEN: That is not exactly true. I have said that the movie will have a limited theatrical release in these countries. What is considered a "limited release"? I can't say. But "Sumuru" was produced mainly for television and DVD, so don't get your hopes up high about seeing right next to "Lord of the Rings 3" and "Matrix 2". No release dates yet, either.
SOLUTIONS: In the US, will "Sumuru" be a theatrical release, straight-to-DVD or a TV movie-of-the-week?
TORSTEN: Probably a TV movie and DVD release. No info yet.
SOLUTIONS: You mention your hopes of developing "Sumuru" as a TV series. Can you tell us more? Do you see potential for "Sumuru" as an ongoing weekly drama or series of made-for-TV movies? Are any of the US networks interested in picking up "Sumuru" as a pilot? Fans have heard mention of SCI FI Channel parent-network USA.
TORSTEN: We have interest from several sides for "Sumuru". However, selling a movie after it is done is more profitable (the network pays more if it can see the finished product, since the risk is smaller). Thus, we haven't really started selling it in the States. Sci-Fi would be nice.
If it went to series, "Sumuru" would be a weekly show, with a completely new direction. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it takes our heroes "far beyond the world they've known" (to paraphrase the title song for the "Buck Rogers" TV series).
SOLUTIONS: Why was the production filmed in South Africa? If "Sumuru" is picked up as a TV series, would production continue in South Africa or would you relocate to e.g. Vancouver?
TORSTEN: No. You'll understand it once you've seen the movie. South Africa has breathtaking locations, and setting never captured on film before. It is production value in itself. In my personal opinion, too many shows have been shot in Canada already, and they have a hard time of finding a distinctive look. South Africa has everything - snowy mountains as well as jungles, deserts as well as beach resorts.
SOLUTIONS: Is there any way fans can help to promote and publicise "Sumuru" as a movie and potential TV series?
TORSTEN: Yes, there is. But it is too early. Let's make a deal right here and now - if you see "Sumuru" in whatever way, shape or form, and you TRULY like it (I don't want pity votes, you hear?!), let the network know that you'd like to see more. Fan support can achieve a lot of things, and together, we might just make this work.
SOLUTIONS: Fans love 'inside scoops.' Is there any chance of a DVD re: "The Making of Sumuru" with behind-the-scenes footage, bloopers and interviews?
TORSTEN: Name it, we have it - deleted scenes, bloopers, behind the scenes (12 hours), interviews, design sketches, artwork, props to give away, candid shots, audio commentaries, etc. If this is released on DVD, and if I have ANY input - this will SO kick ass...
SOLUTIONS: Do you have anything special planned for the Official Sumuru website?
TORSTEN: Right now, we have put the finishing touches on the "first stage" of the official site. It's in German, and has info, interviews, lots of pictures, and an eight minute promo video for the movie (in English). Once all of the content is approved, it'll go online. If the partners are willing to support it, we can do everything - games, giveaways, goodies galore. Watch this space.
I have said this in an interview for the official site, and I'll say it again here - the support from the fans is nothing short of amazing, and I am humbled by the experience. If there is one thing that I hope to get out of all this - then it's making "Sumuru" the movie you hope it will be.