Interviews

Published on September 17th, 2020 | by gareth

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We Talk Season 2 Of Pandora With Showrunner Mark A. Altman

Recently I spoke with Mark A. Altman who is the Showrunner for Pandora. The Show is gearing up for season two who will premiere in the U.S. on The CW Network on

Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

New episodes will stream the following day on the CW App. Viewers can enjoy all season one

episodes anytime on the CW App, iTunes, and Amazon.

Pandora can be seen in Canada on CTV’s Sci-Fi Channel. The show is also

running on channels in the U.K. and around the world.

 

What drew you into the Entertainment Industry?

I’d always wanted to pursue a career in TV and film since I was a young.

It was the double-pump of both Star Trek and Star Wars that inspired my

love of genre and desire to produce sci-fi. The original Star Trek wasn’t

just brilliantly prescient but was a story about family and loyalty and

that was something that was very important to me to bring to Pandora.

 

How did you get into directing/producing/writing, and which do you mind

most challenging and most rewarding?

I was very fortunate that my career as an entertainment journalist was

like film school for me and so when I did my first movie, Free Enterprise,

with William Shatner and Eric McCormack, I was incredibly prepared to make

the transition. Literally, my professors in producing for TV were people

like Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Dean Devlin, J. Michael Straczynski, and

others although they didn’t know it at the time.

All three things are different sides of the same coin, or 16-sided die

in this case. Writing, producer, directing all are satisfying in different

ways, but together they form the complete package.

 

 

PANDORA__Fact_Sheet_

Where did the idea for the series arise as it is a very interesting idea?

I knew I wanted to do a sci-fi series set in space although most of my

career had been procedurals, thrillers, and comedies. So I decided to write

the show on spec which I hadn’t done in a long time. Most of the pilots we

did we sold off pitches, but I knew this was unique. I was really inspired

by movies like The Paper Chase in which we see how formative a great

teacher can be on a young person’s life and I applied that to a space show.

Ultimately, as the series went on, I realized the show really wanted to be

more of a space adventure than “future college,” but that’s what helped

sell it and was the initial idea behind Pandora. And like TOS, Pandora

provides a metaphor for looking at contemporary social issues in a really

fresh and exciting way.

 

How did you go about casting and what did each of the leads bring to their

roles that made them ideal for their parts?

Casting was challenging as we didn’t have a lot of time. We were

greenlit in February and shooting in April for a July airdate so first

season was tight.

But we were very lucky with casting to discover the

amazing Priscilla Quintana and Oliver Dench and Ben Radcliffe. The movie

gods smiled on us as they say. First season we cast some really great guest

stars like Buck Rogers’ Erin Gray and Living Daylights’ Maryam D’Abo and

Arrow’s Manu Bennett, and of course the incomparable Jeffrey Combs, which

due to the pandemic we couldn’t do as much this year, but I think we have a

remarkable guest cast this season as well.

 

With the current world situation and lack of conventions; has it been

harder to publicize the show and has that changed any of your plans going

forward?

That’s a great question. It’s super challenging We had plans to do a big

roll out of season two at San Diego Comic-Con, but of course, the pandemic

put an end to that so it’s much harder to create buzz for the new season

given the lack of genre events happening and it has definitely affected our

ability to promote the show so it’s more important than ever that the

Boxers, our devoted fans, help spread the word.

And that’s why people like you writing about the show really mean so much so that people know it’s

coming and check us out on the CW on Sunday, October 4th at 8PM eastern and

pacific time.

 

How will filming change under the new Covid rules and has it changed your

story plans for the season?

It was incredibly challenging to film during the pandemic, but we were

testing multiple times a week and put very serious mitigation plans in

place so it was very hard, but if you take it seriously and listen to the

advice of doctors and scientists than you just hope you can get through

without anyone getting affected. We did adjust to having less location days

and extras to avoid the risk of COVID exposure as well.

 

Since you film in Eastern Europe; Are the cast forced to be in a bubble and

just go from work to home and if so; how do you keep up morale with the new

normal?

The plan had been to get a big D&D campaign going since Oliver is a big

D&D fan, but it ended up that in Sofia where we film, things aren’t nearly

as bad as in America so we were able to be out and about a little more in

terms of restaurants outside and hiking and bicycling.

It was definitely a concern, but I think the cast actually preferred to be over in Europe right

now than home as it was a very pleasant few months. Last year, we all went

to the premiere of Infinity War together. This year clearly we weren’t

doing movies or things like that though.

 

Anything you can share about what is to come in season 2?

We pick up six months after the end of season two and Jax is a much

bigger part of the Earth Intelligence Serivices (CIS), working with Xander.

They’re chasing the fugitive Tierney and Jax is still wrestling with her

discovery of who and what she is. Xander and Jax are in a good place and he

is now in command of a prototype spaceship, the Dauntless, which is an

exciting new set we have.

Given how much more time we spend in space, it’s

great to be on the bridge of a powerful starship that traverses the Galaxy

with Xander large and in charge. We also introduce some new characters

including the return of Jett, played wonderfully by Akshay Kumar, from last

season, who has a lot to prove if he’s going to be accepted into the group

and, of course, Roxanne McKee, from Game of Thrones, who plays a person

very close to Jax who we never thought we’d see again. It was very

important for us to make the show accessible to new viewers this year who

may not be familiar with the first season so I think in a way our premiere

is almost a re-pilot and gives viewers a new point of entry. I couldn’t be

happier with the way the second season turned out. It’s really a quantum

leap forward in terms of storytelling, performances, look, and everything

else from last year and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

 

How would you compare the FX on Pandora with your past work such as The

Librarians and what have been the biggest challenges?

They’re very different. I loved working on The Librarians, but those

effects are very much based in fantasy and the real world so it’s different

than our show which is much more space-based; spaceships and lasers and

planets. The people that worked on Librarians were all extraordinary and it

was the ultimate family show and I think could have gone a lot more

seasons. I’m so grateful to Dean Devlin for inviting me to be a part of the

show because it allowed me to meet the wonderful John Harlan Kim who has

now become a big part of the Pandora universe as well.

 

How have you been handling this time of Isolation?

For a writer, self-quarantine isn’t very different than any other time

to be honest. And we were able to use the extra months to spend more time

prepping and rewriting scripts which in the long run benefit the show

enormously strangely enough.

Although I must say it was very nice to be

around other people again on set and eating out again although when I

wasn’t on set, I did spend most of my time at my apartment.

 

 

Mark A. Altman’s Bio:

 

*BIO: MARK A. ALTMAN is a television and motion picture

writer/producer/director who is the Showrunner, Creator and Executive

Producer of Pandora, the hit new sci-fi action-adventure series for The CW

which Programming Insider lauded as “Stranger Things meets Riverdale.” He

most recently served as Co-Executive Producer of TNT’s hit series, The

Librarians, as well as such shows as Agent X (TNT), Castle (ABC) and

Necessary Roughness (USA) among others and has sold numerous pilots. *

 

*In addition to directing the comedy special, Aries Spears: Comedy

Blueprint for NBC/Univer- sal, Altman produced the $30 million film

adaptation of the bestselling video game, DOA: Dead Or Alive, which was

released by Dimension Films. His first film was the award winning, Free

Enterprise, starring William Shatner and Eric McCormack, which he wrote and

produced and for which he won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best

New Writer at the AFI Los Angeles Film Festival prior to its theatrical

release. He was also a producer of the House of the Dead series, based on

the videogame from Sega, released by Lionsgate. In addition, he produced

the Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) and James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)

comedy, The Specials. *

 

*His bestselling two-volume book, The 50 Year Mission: The Complete

Uncensored, Oral History of Star Trek, was released by St. Martin’s Press

in 2016 in hardcover to unanimous critical ac- claim including raves in The

Wall Street Journal, Booklist and Publishers Weekly. His follow- up on

Battlestar Galactica, So Say We All, was released in August 2018 and his

latest oral his- tory, Nobody Does It Better, chronicling the history of

the James Bond franchise, will be re- leased in hardcover in February

  1. *

*Altman is a former journalist and has contributed to such newspapers and

magazines as The Boston Globe, Written By, L’Cinefage, Geek, The Guardian,

and many others, including Cine- fantastique for which he launched their

independent film division, CFQ Films. He has also written numerous comic

books for DC and Malibu Comics. *

 

*In 2018, Altman launched the Electric Surge Video Podcast Network with

producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day, Stargate) and in addition to

producing numerous weekly podcasts for the network, they recently rolled

out video versions of their popular series on the Electric Now streaming

service. In addition to producing, Altman also co-hosts The 4:30 Movie, in

which a band of experts curate dream movie theme weeks as well as the

immensely popular Inglorious Treksperts, the only podcast for Star Trek

fans with a life, featuring numerous high profile guests from across the

Star Trek universe. *

 

*Altman has spoken at numerous industry events and conventions, including

ShowBiz Expo as well as the Variety/Final Draft Screenwriters Panel at the

Cannes Film Festival. He was a juror at the prestigious Sitges Film

Festival in Barcelona, Spain. He has been a frequent guest and panelist at

Comic-Con held annually in San Diego, CA and a two-time juror for the

Comic-Con Film Festival.He is also a graduate of the Writers Guild of

America Showrunners Training Pro- gram and a member of the Television

Academy. *

 

season two of Pandora premieres in the U.S. on The CW Network onSunday, October 4, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. New episodes willstream the following day on the CW App. Viewers can enjoy all season one episodes anytime on the CW App, iTunes, and Amazon.

 

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About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”.He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show.He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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