With over two decades in the entertainment industry, Joseph Mallozzi worked on a myriad of shows before joining the Stargate franchise as a writer and later becoming the Executive Producer of the Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe. He is now the co-creator of Dark Matter. In addition to all this, he’s so awesome he allowed me to interview him about his career, his thoughts on Stargate’s legacy, and Dark Matter.
Nicholas Yanes: As a foodie who has lived in Montreal and Vancouver, what are some restaurants that you love to go to?
Joseph Mallozzi: As much as I love checking out new openings, I do like the familiarity and consistency of some old favorites. In Montreal, it’s Au Pied de Cochon and Smoked Meat Petes. In Vancouver, it’s Mission, Tacqueria, Meat & Bread, Vij’s and Red Cafe.
Yanes: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry? Were there any classic shows or movies that you think influenced you the most?
Mallozzi: I always enjoyed writing when I was a kid and aspired to be a novelist but, as I grew up, I realized that it would be very hard to make a living writing prose fiction. And so, I took that terrible first novel I was working on and turned it into an equally terrible script. Yeah, the quality was suspect but it was a first step. As for film influences…hmmmm. To be honest, no.
Yanes: With this in mind, what advice would you offer to people trying to get their foot in the door of the entertainment industry?
Mallozzi: Write two scripts as your calling cards – a spec of an established show to demonstrate your ability to work within established parameters and an original pilot. Get out there and make connections. I got my start in animation and would highly recommend it as a great starting off point for young writers. Animation tends to be more receptive to newbies, offers a great training ground on which to hone your craft and, best of all, it actually pays!
Yanes: The last episode of Stargate aired on May 2011. How happy are you that this franchise is still finding new fans? On this topic, what are you hoping Stargate’s impact will be on future science-fiction shows?
Mallozzi: The best thing about working on Stargate is hearing from fans, years later, who tell me the show was such a formative influence on them growing up, or in connecting with their fellow family members. I hope that those viewers who grew up, watching the show with their parents will, in turn, take the time to introduce their children to franchise.
Yanes: A show that you are currently working on as a creator, producer, and writer is Dark Matter. What is the thesis for this show? By this, what was your goal for the series when it was first being developed?
Mallozzi: I’ve always been fascinated with certain themes (that recur in much of my writing): redemption, the darkness in good people and the light in the bad ones. I wanted to explore this whole notion of nature vs. nurture. Are people born bad or are they product of their environments. Can people truly change or is there a point of no return?
Yanes: Dark Matter was originally a comic book series. How does the show differ from the comic book series? When you were writing the comic book, were you thinking of it as just a comic book series or as a pitch for a TV show?
Mallozzi: Actually, Dark Matter was originally developed as a television series but I partnered with Dark Horse Comics to launch it as a comic book first in order to establish the IP. Proven properties are always much more attractive than original ideas, and having the trade paperback as a visual guide to the series helped clinch the sale.
Yanes: How does your approach to writing a comic book differ from writing a show? Are there any plans to tell another Dark Matter as a comic book?
Mallozzi: When you write for comic books, you’re both the writer and the director as you must offer the artist panel by panel specifics of how you envision each shot in the narrative. It’s a whole other interesting but challenging world. No plans to continue Dark Matter as a comic book as I have my hands full with the television series, but who knows what the future holds.
Yanes: When setting up the overall story arc for the show, was there a character that worked so well that you tweaked the series to further highlight them? On a personal level, which character is your favorite?
Mallozzi: The Android (played by the wonderful Zoie Palmer) was originally envisioned as a more background character but we ended up short in some early episodes and I ended up having to write some extra scenes. Zoie did such a magnificent job with her character that, as the season progressed, I ended up fleshing out a whole new story arc for our lovable android. As for which character is my favorite, as I tell everyone who asks me this question – They’re not like children. It’s impossible to have a favorite.
Yanes: Given the nature of the show, many of the episodes deal with heists. What are some steps you take toward creating a heist for the show? Are there certain rules that writers have to follow when developing these scenes?
Mallozzi: There are no hard and fast rules but the challenge will always be to make it clever, make it different – and you do that by making it personal, finding some sort of connection to our characters, throwing in the occasional surprise, and, of course, humor always helps.
Yanes: Finally, what are some other projects that you are working on that people can look forward to?
Mallozzi: I have about a half dozen pilots rarin’ to go. I may have word on a new SF series in the coming months. Stay tuned!