EPISODE NOTES 209 – “Long Ago, Not Far Away”
With this episode we delve into Demerzel’s backstory – specifically, how she came to be a captive of Empire. Curious to see how people feel about Demerzel once they’ve viewed this episode. Demerzel, of course, has lived for millennia prior to falling into Empire’s hands (at least 18,000 years). If the show goes on long enough, I’d love to fill in the story of Demerzel walking the Spiral, why she chose this current face/skin to wear, her participation in the Robot Wars, and her actual origin story – but we’ll have to run at least 7 seasons to get there, so who knows?
From the get-go (as evidenced by this episode’s title) we wanted this short film to have a dark fairytale feel, so we were deliberately evoking Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights. (Note how more classically feminine Demerzel’s dress is here – how less robotic she looks when Cleon1 gives robes her.)
This sequence was very difficult to lock down visually. I had a very specific picture in my mind as to how Demerzel should be sliced and how Young Cleon would interact with her. I made some very primitive sketches, which were then rendered by a concept artist. From there we came up with the idea of printing a series of textured, metallic slides, which would then be mounted on glass.
Rory and the art department then built a scale model of the Demerzel slices. Once approved, we built a full-sized version. We then made a full-body cast of Laura Birn and used sliced, full-body prosthetics for the slides at either end. VFX were used to fuse all the pieces together.
For the Salvor/Loron fight, Leah Harvey, Dan Macpherson (Hugo), and Michael Akinsulire (who plays Loron) spent weeks learning the choreography and then days rolling around in the rain and mud. (You can see one of Leah’s stunt doubles frame-left.)
I was adamant that we take Day to Terminus this season – so that was something we “wrote towards” (a way of working I learned from James Cameron). Simply put; if you have an idea you love, but have no idea how to get there, just commit to it and have faith that you will be able to work out the mechanics. We did and I think the whole sequence is a barn-burner.
We knew we were building toward a “face to holo” confrontation between Day and Seldon in the Vault and we were really excited for that scene. Jared, Lee, and Laura didn’t disappoint. It was a long scene, filmed over 2 days and we were able to rehearse it at the location the week before (which is critical for scenes like this). These scenes end with Dr. Seldon giving Demerzel the Prime Radiant, which will have massive repercussions for Season 3.
Once Day decides to destroy Terminus, we spent a few days filming on our exterior sets in Fuerteventura (which we’d kept standing since Season 1). On our final day there, which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day (we have a lot of Irish crew) there was a massive rainbow arcing over “Terminus”.
In the Four Moons Pub (which we saw a bit of in 208), there are some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it micro-brew vats of ale. As we were filming, I turned around and noticed that the art department had named one of the ales “Goyer”. Just a detail I’d been around for weeks and not even noticed.
For the scenes showing the various citizens of Terminus reacting to their impending doom, we had about 300 extras and brought in extra cameras. Mother nature helped by providing a dramatic sunset.
Normally, we have stand-ins that will allow us to set up a shot while the actors are finishing their hair and makeup. For whatever reason on this particular day, we didn’t have anyone on hand to stand in for Sermak and Pater, so Owen McPolin (one of our directors of photography) and Roxann Dawson (who directed this and many other episodes) took a Pietà position for the cameras.
This particular day was our last day of filming in the Canary Islands, so we had a celebration on and off the set.
Me with Tyler Holmes, my former assistant and now associate producer on Foundation.
Jared Harris wasn’t filming that day, but came by to celebrate and posed by the Seldon statue, alongside Tricia McLeod, one of our crewmembers.