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Stargate, STEM, and Swearing on Netflix: Brad Wright Bonus Questions and AMA Transcript | Stargate

We were absolutely gobsmacked by the response to our call for Brad Wright AMA questions and although we had an amazing time, it still stung a bit that we were unable to get through them all. Gracious in the extreme Brad stayed behind after class and answered a further 14 bonus questions covering everything from his golden rule of casting to the responsibility of bringing a STEM femme like Sam Carter to the screen.

Also, if you would prefer to read the AMA transcript for reasons of accessibility, habit or personal preference, I’ve just finished tidying up a staggering 12,718 words – which is basically me saying ‘Please forgive any typos’ and let me sleep’. Website users can download it here:

Anyway, on with the bonus questions.

Matt F: How did you go from wanting to be a writer, to being staffed on your first TV Show?

Brad: I wrote a couple of spec screenplays and tried to get them into the hands of producers and directors. One of them was read by a producer who was in desperate need of a young writer with an ear for dialogue who would work very very cheaply. Unfortunately, it was across the country from where I lived and my wife was due with our first child in two weeks. I took the job anyway and it paid off. I wrote five of the last ten scripts of that season. But that was over 30 years ago.  

Corinne Crook: When you are producing a show, what are your top three things you feel must be included?”

Brad: I could just say casting, casting, casting. But… good casting is definitely number one. I have a ‘no assholes’ rule now.  Sometimes it takes a while to root them out but you must. It is corrosive.   

Life is too short. By that, I mean nothing in the scope of production should make people resent, regret or fear being at work. I try to protect people from absurd hours, ridiculous demands and unpreparedness. It’s stressful enough when it’s running smoothly. It doesn’t have to be a root canal. It can be fun. It can be a joy.  

Brett Jordan: Which of your three Stargate series did you have the most fun creating and watching come to life?

Brad: They were all in different times of my life, but I probably enjoyed SGU the most, even though in many ways it was the hardest. Maybe because I was better at my job by then.   

Lawrence: I have a follow-up question, in your article on the Rules of Sci-Fi, you start to go into all the ways Rise of Skywalker breaks the rules and you just kind of stop, with ‘Oh Nevermind’, haha like it broke you. Which broken rule tipped you over the edge?

Brad: The most offensive thing of all to me I didn’t even mention: The fact that Han Solo and Princess Lea, guided by Luke fucking Skywalker, created offspring that became one of the most evil people in the universe. Nice work, heroes. Good parenting and mentoring.      

Lawrence: Brad, what’s it like landing a Netflix Original? 

Brad: A moment of joy, immediately followed by weeks of stressful negotiation.    

What were the differences in your experiences and growth as a writer and producer between working on Stargate and working on Travelers?

Brad: With Travelers, I was essentially the studio in partnership with my producing partner Carrie Mudd, with whom I had developed other projects. There was no MGM or Lionsgate, or Universal, just us, through Carrie’s company Peacock Alley. We trust each other and respect each other’s skills sets. It was risky, but the tradeoff was worth it. We had enormous creative control over important things like casting, directors, etc, that would have otherwise required time-consuming studio approval. That was freeing. Our cast was exceptional. We were essentially the approvals process for those big decisions. Netflix gave notes but essentially let us do our thing.   

As a writer, Travelers is simply a more modern show. That was challenging, but one has to keep up with the times. Otherwise, this business has a tendency to retire you.

Harry Eastwell: What are some of your regrets in Stargate story wise? Are there ones you wished you’d done differently, ones you didn’t get to do, or ones that you didn’t get to finish or come back to?”

Brad: I would have lost the nudity and the frankly exploitive scenes associated with it in the pilot. I said it was a mistake at the time. We weren’t making that show. Eventually, I won the argument with MGM and Showtime.

There were also episodes that were frankly too ambitious for our budget that we tried to do anyway. Some just weren’t very good.  But we made well over 200 episodes. Must have been doing something right in the long run. 

Sarah May: What was the casting process of Eric McCormack in Travelers, most people know him from the sitcom Will and Grace, and then to cast him in this dramatic role? 

Brad: I had worked with Eric on an episode of The Outer Limits and knew he had the acting chops. I also knew he had the natural sense of humor I wanted the character to have. Most importantly, I knew he would be a great partner in making a show and he felt the same, I think. It was a blast.

Mark Rae: “What was the biggest challenge adapting SG for a TV series?”

Brad: Scale. We were a fairly low budget show and it showed, especially at first. We ran around a lot in the forest. I mean, I can type, “The massive Jaffa army crests the snowy mountain top” but it’s another thing to shoot that.

Barney Neild: How did Stargate: Origins come about without you and what’s your opinion of it as a spin off from the original film?”

Brad: Yes, I had nothing to do with Origins. While I respect MGM’s motive of keeping the franchise alive for their audience, the execution fell short of that goal. I’ll leave it at that.    

Sarah May: With Covid still impacting so many studios and productions, how do you see it impacting film and television?

Brad: Covid is making production more difficult, slower and thus more expensive. I will be happy when we are rid of it in several months when I am hopefully back in production with something.   

Tommy: Do you prefer the Netflix model of dropping an entire season for a binge or the week-to-week format of traditional TV?

Brad: I prefer the Netflix model. Bingeing means I don’t have to constantly remind the audience of what they just saw last episode. Commercial breaks are a pain in the ass too.  And the ability to use profanity is fucking great. Having said that, I would happily work again in the weekly broadcast model again! 

Franklin K: Stargate aired against the background of womens’ changing roles in the military – how aware were you of that debate and how did it inform the way you depicted the likes of Sam Carter?

Brad: I am happy to have helped create a strong female character many have held up as a role model. I’ve been told by people she inspired them to pursue careers both in STEM and/or in the military. That character wasn’t easy to portray. Credit to Amanda for creating a believable character with an almost unbelievable skills set.

Barney Neild: I’m sure many Stargate fans want to know what your thoughts are on the third shot of a Zat gun disintegrating enemies?

Brad: Haven’t you read my essay in The Companion? They should too!

Thanks Brad, we couldn’t be more excited about your next piece so watch this space Companions!

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