Warning! (Or, Good News! depending on your point of view). The next Syfy Original Movie is not about a monster or a cataclysmic event. It’s a movie based on the Red Faction video game series, and it looks really promising, so mark your calendars: Red Faction: Origins will be airing this Saturday, June 4, at 9 pm. On May 31, Syfy hosted a Q&A panel with four of the principals from the movie. During the panel, stars Brian J. Smith (SGU) and Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica), director Michael Nankin (Caprica, Battlestar Galactica) and executive producer and writer Andrew Kreisberg (Fringe, Warehouse 13) shed light on the production, and what might be in store for the franchise.
Those who love the Red Faction games will be relieved to know that writer Kreisberg had played Red Faction: Guerrilla, and jumped on the chance to write this movie when approached by Syfy.
Troy Rogers from Deadbolt.com asked:
How closely did you work with THQ in developing the film based on the video game franchise?
(Andrew Kreisberg) Fairly closely in the beginning. The original story proposal was developed by Paul Demayo and Danny Bilson who are the creative heads at THQ. They wrote the movie, The Rocketeer, and the Flash television series. So I’d actually been a big fan of them. It was kind of cool to get to sit down with them. You know, and we talked initially, you know, just about the world and the characters. Then after that, they really sent me off and really put a great deal of trust in me which I was very grateful for, having expanded the franchise in letting me sort of run wild with it. And then all along the way they would chime in with, “Hey, here’s a good idea,” or you know, “That didn’t quite fit in the game mythology,” but it was really a great partnership. They were very supportive, very open to new ideas and yet they have a really keen sense of what makes Red Faction work. And I hope that I’ve inherited some of that keen sense.
Though the movie bridges the gap between the Red Faction: Guerrilla and Red Faction: Armageddon games, it is its own story. Kreisberg has promised that fans of the games will see a lot of familiar references, but for people new to the Red Faction world, “it won’t be so inside that you won’t be able to step in and experience… the amazing world that the Red Faction game has created.” He also reported that his orders from Syfy were to write the movie he wanted to see, not the movie they could afford to make. There is therefore a fair amount of material that was never shot but could be included in future work.
Joseph Timmons of Groove Studio One Magazine asked:
Is Syfy and THQ considering turning this into an ongoing series on Syfy?
Andrew Kreisberg: We’re certainly hopeful that if the movie performs as well as we hope, that there could either be future movies or a future series. I think all of us feel like there’re a lot more stories to tell. Red Faction: Origins isn’t a specific adaptation of a video game. It’s a brand new original story that takes place in the universe of Red Faction and there are plenty more stories to tell. So whether we get to tell them through a further movie or a possible television series, you know, that’ll all depend on the fan base coming out and watch- hopefully watching the film.
Brian Smith: See, the way that the film ends really seems to beg some kind of continuance with the storyline. It does a really great job of wrapping up what the film is about but also sort of asks a lot of questions about what could possibly happen next. And, of course, there’s still some ground to cover between the way we end the film and Red Faction Armageddon. It would be interesting to see what happens.
Michael Nankin: We totally agree.
Kate Vernon: We are all in agreement with that.
Looks like the principals are up for more, if the fans are. This movie and the Red Faction: Armageddon game are the product of a new partnership between Syfy and THQ so it’s clear that Syfy has a lot invested in the idea of a video game/tv production combo, but of course they’ll drop it like a a molten piece of shrapnel if the ratings aren’t there.
When I asked the panel if any of them approached their work on sci-fi differently than they do with other genres, they all replied that they each felt their job was to find the humanity in the story and in each scene and character, regardless of setting or genre.
Andrew Kreisberg: I actually – when I started this project, when I went in to meet with Syfy about it, my first line to them was, “How do I get my wife to watch a television show set on Mars?” So, I think the best sci-fi doesn’t start from spaceships or anomalies or lasers, they start from simple stories about people. And then, whether it’s set on Mars or set in Los Angeles or New York or wherever over the past, that’s all the icing on the cake. But at the end of the day, at the other side, it really is about people and the paces that we put our characters through in Red Faction, whether it is family issues or survivor guilt or alcoholism, those are all universal stories that doesn’t matter whether they’re being told in a sci-fi setting.
Michael Nankin: I mean, as a matter of fact, if you try to make it different, you’re sunk. It’s not going to work.
Along those same lines, when first discussing the role of Andrew told Brian, “Just substitute the Red Faction militia for the LA police department and play it the exact same way.” Brian said that, unlike Lt. Scott (his character on SGU) who “just kind of took it” when things would happen to him, this character will “go out there and make stuff happen… So that was just incredibly exciting for me to play after … a lot of crying.” He also said that one of the things he liked about this movie is that none of the characters are victims, that they each take their fate into their own hands and actually do something about their situations.
So kids, if you’re only watching because you want to be amazed with continuous flash-bang effects, you may be disappointed, though it looks pretty cool in the trailer. If, however, you love a well-written, well-acted and well-produced story, reportedly with no whining, it looks like we may be in luck. I was already looking forward to this movie, but what locked it for me? It was revealed during this panel that the writer of this movie is the person who came up with the idea of the final visual of the season 1 finale of Fringe. You know what I mean. That, um, certain building? That idea came from the writer of this movie. I am SO IN.
Those who love the Red Faction game series, or Battlestar Gallactica (Ellen!) or SGU (Lt. Scott!), or are frustrated with some of the directions Syfy has taken lately, need to check out this movie. If it’s as good as I’m hoping it will be, we will be wanting more. That will only happen, though, if the viewers show up Saturday night. And hey! Gareth David-Lloyd – Ianto from Torchwood! – plays the villain! NOW are you in?
Red Faction: Origins airs Saturday, June 4 at 9 pm on Syfy.