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Lt. Colonel Ryu Gaia
March 8th, 2007, 08:16 AM
Part I!


An interview with Alex Rubit! After a brief ‘hello, how are you’ exchange, as well as discussing the state of the V.S. community briefly, we got down to the questions:

(Beware of spoilers for more or less everything.)

Ryu Gaia: Here's one thing I've been wondering: do the Nebulan have definitive genders?

Alex: Nope. The Nebulan Woman just chose to make herself a female when appearing to Grant. But they actually don't have any genders at all.

Ryu Gaia: I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the Nebulan Woman is Nosah'trah. But of course... you can't say anything to that effect. So don't. :D

Alex: :D It's true. I can't say anything about that.

Ryu Gaia: Alex, what do you think is the point at which you can tell you honestly know a character?

Alex: I think it depends on how much you know about a character, and if you think you know how they'll react to a certain situation. We'll be getting to know all of our characters much more in the second half of the season, I have to say. There's some great things coming up for all of them. I think some of my favorite Sivea moments would have to be in "Adrift." We find out some things that we never knew about her. Same goes for Chase in "The Inner Voice."

Ryu Gaia: Will "Adrift"'s title be changing because of the Atlantis episode? Or no?

Alex: Mike and I were just talking about that again last night. We'd like to just to avoid having the same titles, but to be perfectly honest we haven't really found anything else that we like so far. The problem really is that when you read it, Adrift just really seems to be the perfect title. So we'll have to see. I'm not sure at this point.

Ryu Gaia: So, do you ever see Horizon's regular cast actually getting smaller?

Alex: Not at the moment. But that doesn't mean I'd rule out any cast changes.

Ryu Gaia: Do you ever listen to music while writing? If so, what?

Alex: I don't listen to any music while writing actually. I know some writers tend to do that, but I'm one of those people who work best when it's absolutely quiet. That way I'm able to completely focus on the scene, go through the dialogue and kind of play it in my mind.

Ryu Gaia: How is it that you're able to write so much every season?

Alex: That's a good question. And I think the honest answer is... I have no choice. :D I'm always very ambitious about it, and not willing to fall way behind schedule. So very often I tend to be the only one available to write the episode, and so I'll often jump in to do an episode that I wasn't originally going to be writing. It's definitely a challenge all the time. But that's the way it would be if this were a TV show. You have to get those episodes done on time, no matter what. So I take that very seriously, for one because I plan to be working on TV shows in the not so distant future, but also because there's fans out there who are counting on us releasing the episodes. But it's very hard sometimes. But at the same time it's a great deal of fun, as strange as it sounds. And very rewarding to be looking at the finisehed product at the end.

Ryu Gaia: How many episodes do you generally find yourself writing at once?

Alex: If I'm writing the episode, I'll try to only be writing one at a time. But often I'll be revising another episode while writing my own; that's nothing uncomon actually. But as far as actually writing it, I try to only be doing one at a time.

Ryu Gaia: How long do you see yourself working on Horizon?

Alex: Well, we know for a fact that there'll be a Season Four. After that we just take it season by season. I'd say there's a very good chance for a fifth season, and even beyond that. But just like on a TV show, no specific number of seasons has been decided. You could say that the show is booked by the network for another season (Season Four), and after that we're up for renewal. That is if we were a TV show. But it's really not too much different from that. The only difference is we're the ones kind of renewing ourselves, rather than a network.

Ryu Gaia: So, you're basically saying that you're going to be working on this 'till the very end?

Alex: Oh yeah, definitely. I have no plans to be leaving the show while it's still running.

Ryu Gaia: How well would you say you know Horizon's characters?

Alex: I know them pretty well actually. They're like a part of me that I can turn on and off when writing a script, you could say. lol When writing for the same characters for such a long time you just start to develop an instinctive feel for how they talk, think and act. Often you'll still spend some time figuring out how exactly they'll react to a specific situation, which is what we'll often talk about in the online writer's room. But you do kind of have a feel for all of them to the point where it's easy to say when something's not in character. A lot of rewrites that are done on scripts written by first time writers are just dialogue tweaks to make the lines sound more like the way the characters talk. And that is really greatly influenced by the actors in the virtual cast. They're the voices that I hear, and they really do sometimes have an influence on how a character is written. They probably don't know that, but that's the truth.

Ryu Gaia: At what point would you say a character ceases to be a character and starts to be a real person?

Alex: I think that just has to do with how a character is written. The focus is always on making them seem like real people. But I also think the more complex and three dimensional a character becomes, the more real they feel.

Ryu Gaia: What would you say, by that definition, Horizon's strongest character is? Most real character?

Alex: That's a very good question. I don't really have any favorite characters. But there's aspects of the certain characters that I really like. For example what I really like about Sivea is that she has a great blend between being a very strong character (in that she can kick someone else's but, which she will in some upcoming episodes :D), but she can also be very vulnerable at the same time, if you look at moments between her and Sonak, for example. Or if you look at "Adrift," and I can't really say anything more about that. And that's definitely an example of a character being influenced by the actor "virtually" portraying them. It's something I've noticed about Ashley Scott in previous roles, and ultimately we started purposely giving her that kind of scenes.] But they all have these great blends. Callen is the strong and decisive leader, and at the same time he's a loving father, who worries greatly about his son. And David is a really tough guy on occasion, but as we found out this season he's also quite the family man. I think there's probably examples like that for most of the characters. And in some cases we're actually working on giving them more of that.

Ryu Gaia: By contrast, who would you say is Horizon's weakest character?

Alex: I don't think there's any "weak" characters, to be perfectly honest. But the least developed character is definitely Chase. I think that will change with "The Inner Voice," where we basically find out about his life from when he was eight years old leading up to when he joined the Air Force. And by least developed character, I really just mean we don't know as much about his past as we do about say Callen's past. We'll also be seeing more of Grant's backstory in both Mediation and Adrift. I think we know a little more about him, but there's also still room for a lot more.

Ryu Gaia: This is going to seem like a bit of an off-track jump, but what would you say is your favorite Stargate SG-1 episode? Or favorites, as the case may be.

Alex: Hmmm. I don't think I have any favorite episodes. But there's a lot of great ones, like "Abyss," which I think has some of the best moments between O'Neill and Daniel. I also like the lighter episodes a lot, like "Window of Opportunity," or "Duett" on Atlantis. Just because they're a fun break from what the shows normally are. For the same reason I enjoy doing episodes like that on Horizon. But there's really too many great ones for me to name a couple of favorites; a lot of the best ones I probably can't even think of off the top of my head right now. I also really like both Seasons Nine and Ten, which seem to be controversial among fans. But I think the writers did a great job with re-inventing the show at the beginning of Season Nine and introducing all the new characters...and villians. Both "The Powers That Be" and "Beachhead" are some great S9 episodes. I'm thinking of those because I just saw them recently. But I have to say, I'm really bad at having favorites on anything. I couldn't tell what my favorite season of 24 would be, because I like them all for different reasons. Same goes for the majority of SG-1 and Atlantis episodes.

Ryu Gaia: This may be a difficult question to answer, then - what would you say are Horizon's best episodes?

Alex: There's also too many that I really like to be choosing favorites. But there's some great ones that come to mind like "The Devil To Pay," which I liked a lot, or "The Cold And Distant Stars." I thought "Amazing Grace" was really great. When Mike first pitched the idea of doing a "Grace episode" I wasn't sure about it, because I didn't want to come across as if we were copying things that had been done on SG-1 and Atlantis. But the moment he had worked out the details, and pitched what the story would be, I remember just thinking: "We have to do this episode!" And it really turned out great. Out of what's aired of Season Three so far, I'd say that "Trepidation," "My Enemy's Enemy" and "A Pleasant Little Trip" would probably be some of our best. But overall I'm happy with all of the first nine. There's just one episode of which I thought it didn't turn out as well as we all hoped it would. The problem with it was that it had to juggle too many different things, and in the end I think..

Ryu Gaia: "Preservation."

Alex: some of it dragged on a bit. You get episodes like that on every show, though, on any season. The ones where everyone involved kind of knows: "well, this isn't really the way we imagined it would turn out" So all you can do is just move on, and go to the next episodes. Everything's alright, as long as the number of the ones you're not completely happy with is lower than the ones you love. If it's the other way around, you might have a problem. lol But as long as that's not the case, I think it can't be avoided. As to what episode it is, I'll just leave that to the fans to figure out. But it's quite possible you're onto something there. ;) But in all fairness, I don't think it's a bad episode at all. I think it would have just worked better with less. But the problem was always that everything that the episode addresses kind of needs to be addressed at that point. It was a problem even while we were working on it. There's some parts of it that I think are great actually, like the David and Tom scene where they're in the gym and talking about movies. Or Lenori's development regarding the Tok'ra and Kayla. But overall it's not one of my favorites, which is no secret though.


(I'd been hoping to get this up on SGU, but unfortunately, circumstances conspire against that; I've forgotten my log-in/password, and as such have needed to ask Aaron for a while about that. But each time I see him, we wind up talking about Destiny, and it seems to completely escape my mind.)

Lt. Colonel Ryu Gaia
March 8th, 2007, 08:19 AM
Part II!



Ryu Gaia: Going back a bit, though, I've got to say that it's a very good thing you went through with the "Grace" episode. It set a precedent for all virtual Stargate series, I think. On top of the fact that it was a really, really good episode.

Alex: Yeah, it definitely was a great episode. I thought the episode worked very well with regard to being a different version of a similiar concept; for the same reason I thought Atlantis' "Grace Under Pressure" worked really well. And I think it was just a fun way to introduce Julia as a character before we actually get to see the real version of her.

Ryu Gaia: So, I'm aware that while you don't say very much in the threads of other virtual Stargate series - or outside the Horizon forum in general - but what have you read of, oh, I'm randomly picking one... Destiny? It certainly wasn't randomly picked because it also takes place in the Horizon universe and is a series for which I work. :D

Alex: Unfortunately I just never get the time to read any series on a regular basis, or even watch too many TV shows on a regular basis for that matter. But I've read some of Destiny, like "Lonely Echos," which I thought was great. I'll also say that I'm planning to read more of it eventually, just like I plan to catch up with a couple of TV shows one of these days. I don't want to make it sound like I hardly have time for anything, but the truth really is with working a full time job and working on Horizon (which is kind of like my second job), and occasionally maybe even trying to have something that resembles a life, there's not always time for too many other things. But it's great. :D So yeah, there's a couple of virtual shows as well as TV shows that I'm looking forward to catching up with one of these days. I have to say, though, I've read enough of Destiny to know that it's a great show. I remember having talked to Geoff about it almost from the moment he started working on it, and I was very happy to see that it came to be, and it's already going into its second season.

Ryu Gaia: Yeah, its second season is going to be spectacular. I think I can safely say that. :D

Alex: Yeah. I have read what was posted on the forum about it, and it sounds like it will be great.

(Beware of spoilers about Atlantis season 3! If you wish to be kept spoiler free of that, skip ahead a bit.)

Ryu Gaia: Among shows that you do keep up with, though, how far have you seen into Atlantis season 3?

Alex: I've seen it up to "Phantoms." I haven't seen "The Return, Part One" unfortunately. And I also haven't seen "The Quest, Part One." The night they aired I was working late. I had had programmed the video recorder to tape them, but there was a bit of a technical problem, and I don't think they've aired on Sci-Fi again since. The great thing is, though, I won't have to wait six months between parts one and two. :D

Ryu Gaia: What do you think of the notion of a 'day off' episode with no conflict whatsoever?

Alex: I think it's a great concept, that can be very interesting if it's done the right way. I can see how it would be challenging coming up with a good way of doing it. But I'm looking forward to seeing that one. And yes, I do know a few spoilers regarding that particular episode. I usually try to stay away from major spoilers of shows that I'm watching, but I know about a few things regarding some upcoming Atlantis and SG-1 episodes. I kind of wish I didn't, though. Because the best way to watch a show, in my oppinion, is to not know what's coming next. But sometimes these evil spoilers just pop up everywhere.

Ryu Gaia: Yeah. Particularly in peoples' signatures.

Alex: Oh yeah. I've seen that before.

Ryu Gaia: So, should I take it that you're aware of the fate of Carson Beckett?

Alex: Yeah, I definitely am. But not all people who'll be reading this interview might be, so I'm not sure if we can talk too much about it.

Ryu Gaia: I'll put up a spoiler warning. (THIS IS A SECOND SPOILER WARNING! IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HEAR SPOILERS ABOUT ATLANTIS SEASON THREE, PARTICULARLY EPISODE 3.17 “SUNDAY,” PLEASE SKIP OVER THIS PORTION OF THE INTERVIEW.) But I'd like to know your opinion: what do you think of what happenned in "Sunday?" Granted, you haven't seen the episode, but although you don't know the means, you do know the end result.

Alex: I know that it's also a rather controversial subject among fans. But I usually reserve judgment until after I've seen an episode. I think the writers on SG-1 and Atlantis have done a great job so far, and I know they're experienced enough to know what they're doing. So I can't really say anything without having seen the episode. That said, I also know enough about how productions of TV shows work to realize that sometimes not all elements that factor into desicions can be addressed publicly.

Ryu Gaia: Paul McGillion actually commented on it, and provided some sort of explanation.

Alex: Oh really? I didn't know. What did he say?
Ryu Gaia: He said that more or less, the decision was made because the producers wanted to shake things up, given that the ratings were going down. But, I'm not going to touch that with a stick. This is about your opinions, not mine, right? :D

Alex: I didn't know that. I can see though that sometimes you might want to do something that kind of shows that things are unpredictable. But often what's not addressed publicly is if it was the writers/producers who felt something needed to be shaken up, or if it was something that came from the network. I remember watching an interview with Don S. Davis where he indicated that the desicion to kill off Dr. Frasier on SG-1 came out of something that the network had been wanting to do. That's just what I heard from that interview, and it's possible, I think. And at the same time, the writers thought it was going to be the last season, of course. So one might have lead to the other. Usually, from what I know, the networks will stay out of any creative desicions. But sometimes they'll just say they want to see some kind of change that sort of shakes things up, and the writers/producers can then come up with something that lives up to that. But that's just generally speaking. I don't know enough about what's been going on behind the scenes of Atlantis to make any valid statement. So this is just me talking. :D

Ryu Gaia: So onwards back to the actual topic at hand... Horizon. Do you anticipate that Hoizon will have moments that fans will think were 'jump the shark' moments?

Alex: I would hope not. But ultimately that's left for the fans to decide. All we can do is try and make the best show we can episode after episode.

Ryu Gaia: How much of Horizon is influenced by what the staff want for the series and what the fans want?

Alex: Ultimately we always try to be diverse enough to satisfy all of the different fans. You can't always do that, because one group might love one thing while another group prefers the something else. It's not always too obvious here because only a small number of fans post on the message boards. But at the end of the day we try to do all kinds of different episodes that keep the show fresh. It keeps it interesting for the fans, as well as for us as writers.

Ryu Gaia: Can you give any exact figures for how many downloads each episode gets? I'm rather interested.

Alex: I only have the average amount of PDF downloads per month, when we're releasing new episodes. The system at the moment doesn't show it for the individual episodes. But taking into account those numbers, it's really just a very small amount of fans who talk about the episodes. I guess I could reveal the number, which would be a first. I don't think we ever stated our ratings publicly.

Ryu Gaia: Please, by all means: reveal!

Alex: :D Well, judging from the latest numbers, the average of PDF downloads a month is about 10000. It's how many times PDF files are downloaded from the site.

Ryu Gaia: Wow. Ten thousand. …wow.

Alex: Yeah, it's the average number. It's pretty amazing.

Ryu Gaia: I think you need to stick a link to the forum at the end of each episode. Just a little "Post your opinions here! <Horizon forum link.>" But that's just me.

Alex: I was thinking about that actually. That might be something we'll consider.

Ryu Gaia: So, what do you expect from upcoming Stargate virtual series? Vista and Andromeda, particularly.

Alex: From what I've heard about them, they sound like they'll be great. I just wish them the best of luck, knowing how challenging it can be to do this. But as long as you enjoy doing it, it's a wonderful experience.

Elite Anubis Guard
March 9th, 2007, 09:53 AM
You know...*cough*SG-U interviews section*cough* Coulda sent it me :P