Aug 042012
martin firrell company

Martin Firrell has launched today what seems to be a preview of the project, promising more to come. Not only the bit we saw is amazingly atmospheric and rather unexpected, but it opens up with Joe Flanigan:

I think it helps to embrace these iconic figures and these mythologies and apply them to your life, because your life is as rogue as anybody’s. I mean, they’re your struggles, and they’re your fights.

Post updated on 5 April 2015

You can watch it on your computer, tablet or phone. Truly art for the IT era.

We really love it and we’re eagerly waiting for more. We get to see also glimpses of David Hewlett, Torri Higginson, David Nykl and Chris Judge. From a previous announcement of Mr. Firrell, the full project is going to be shown on 28 September.

See the project here, at

Update 6 August 2012

A brief interview with Martin Firrell was uploaded today on sfx website. Here’s an excerpt:

Kell: “Working on this project you’ve spent time with so many amazing performers! Being a sci-fi geek yourself, do you have a favourite geek-out moment you can tell us about?”

Martin: “Yes! The amazing thing is that the kinds of things I noticed that struck me was how close to John Sheppard that Joe Flanigan is – he’s really is like John Sheppard himself! He’s really kind of cool and funny like John Sheppard… He really is like John Sheppard and that’s kind of amazing because most of the other performers aren’t. I found most people are very different. Like Nathan is not Malcolm Reynolds. And Nathan has said in lots of interviews, ‘I’m not that guy.’ But that really struck me, because if you meet Joe Flanigan, you really are with John Sheppard! And it is quite exciting because he is this sort of duty heroic, so I had a bit of a geek-out bromance moment because he really is that cool!

Update 7 August 2012

From the same sfx interview with Mr Firrell, we learn the project will be shown for the first time @rewirelondon Unconference at the Google Building in London on 28 September, then presented again at BAFTA on 30 September 2012. We’re also told there’s going to be a metascifi app, available in stores in time for Christmas. In the author’s own words:

“My hope for it is that it’s really big. The app itself is big so there’s a lot of material: there are about 180 video clips. So if I’ve gotten it right it should be like having a little feature film, but all in tiny little pieces so that you can spend a couple of minutes with it, or in theory you can spend 90 minutes with it. [...] I hope it’s like a new animal, like we’ve invented a new species of science fiction.”

In search for more on Joe, we’ve listened to the video interview and transcripted another one of Mr Firrell’s memories from the metascifi making of:

Joe Flanigan says a lovely thing, in metascifi he talks about… of course you should take those mythologies from the science fiction you enjoy and apply them to your life, because whose’s to say your life isn’t as exciting, as interesting, as bold as the life shown in the science fiction. And actually all of us are heroic, and brave, and out there…

Update 5 April 2015

After a very long wait, Martin announced today the public launch of the project, which is available as an iTunes app or via subscription on his website.

The iTunes description of the app reads as follows:

Metascifi is a practical guide to life inspired by the commanders, diplomats, scientists and aliens of American television science fiction. 100 minutes of unique interview footage – searchable by topic – tackle the big questions of any human life like love, evil, sex, violence, death, prejudice, power, and regret.

Use Metascifi as a daily guide to find better answers to questions like, ‘how do I really fall in love?’, ‘what is my life’s purpose?’, ‘how do I express truly who I am?’ ‘how do I live as fully as possible?’

The Metascifi app collates wisdom inspired by Star Trek, Stargate, Firefly, Farscape and Warehouse 13. 

Hear advice for living well from Nathan Fillion (Capt Mal Reynolds, Firefly), Jonathan Frakes (Cmdr Will Riker, Star Trek Next Generation), Gates McFadden (Dr Beverly Crusher, Star Trek Next Generation), David Hewlett (Dr Rodney McKay, Stargate Atlantis), Eddie McClintock (Agent Pete Lattimer, Warehouse 13), Christopher Judge (Jaffa Warrior Teal’c, Stargate SG-1), Joe Flanigan (Col John Sheppard, Stargate Atlantis), Kate Mulgrew (Capt Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek Voyager), Claudia Black (Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun, Farscape and Vala Mal Doran, Stargate SG-1), David Nykl (Dr. Radek Zelenka, Stargate Atlantis), Torri Higginson (Dr Elizabeth Weir, Stargate Atlantis), Ben Browder (John Crichton, Farscape and Col Cameron Mitchell Stargate SG-1), Alice Krige (Borq Queen, Star Trek Voyager).

Metascifi is created by British public artist Martin Firrell as a work of digital public art and philosophical enquiry.



metascifi facebook page

Jul 022011
sheppardmasculinity screenshot square cut

Martin Firrell’s Hero Remixed project is slowly piling up new material. Mr. Firrell likes to do his work well and judging by “teasers” it will well be worth the effort. Answering to fans’ impatience, the master offered a time estimate for project completion: March 2012

Latest update: 24 June 2012. Scroll down for recent info.

Dunnia1 Susanne Pelzer

@martinfirrell …the pieces we’ve seen you did with him,such an awesome and gorgeous work you did,so can you tell us when we’ll see it all?

9 Jun 2011

Martin Firrell @martinfirrell Martin Firrell

@Dunnia1 The plan is Mar 2012 to release the whole project… Thanks for kind words!

9 Jun 2011

Meanwhile, Martin Firrell generously shares with us, from time to time, bits and pieces of the work in progress. The latest snipped featuring Joe Flanigan was offered to the public in early June and it’s a longer version of the previously displayed “SheppardMasculinity” video, offering us a glimpse of what’s behind Joe’s constant crave for motion.

Martin Firrell's SheppardMasculinity (longer version) video screenshot

Martin Firrell's SheppardMasculinity (longer version) video screenshot


Transcript of the longer version of “SheppardMasculinity” video:

Men are going through a very hard time.

A lot of talk about women, let’s talk about men, they are going through a really hard time.

They don’t have the outlets that [they] were built for, for hundreds of thousands of years.

We are warriors, for the most part. We create battles, we need confrontation.

That physicality, the connection you have with the natural world, the connection you have with physical activity has been reduced to sports.

I know that I, in particular, I live a physical life, I’m outside as often as possible, I’m in the water, I’m gardening, I’m riding bikes, I’m surfing. I have to have physical action and I’ve to have contact with nature once a day, then I’m ok, and then I can handle things.

You can find our more about this project in our earlier post on the subject and on AlaVita’s Entertainment blog.


Update 7 January 2012

After having announced the short postponement of the release date from March to April 2012 with this tweet, Mr Firrell decided it’s “too much good stuff not to include it all”, so the Metascifi project is now due this summer.

@martinfirrell Martin Firrell
Metascifi launch put back to Summer 2012 – too much good stuff not to include it all

The “SheppardMasculinity” video on is also back to its shorter version.

Update 11 January 2012

The project’s got a new name: Metascifi, and an estimated release date: end of summer 2012. Most importantly, it will be downloadable, so no need to travel to the UK to enjoy it. Meantime, Mr Firrell is teasing the twitterworld with quotes and other little bits:

9 Jan: 3 months more editing at least on my project Metascifi. What wonders will be revealed! Oh and Nose meet grindstone.
9 Jan: ‘take these mythologies and apply them to your own life’ as Joe Flanigan has so eloquently put it!
11 Jan: ‘you gotta come equipped; if your well’s empty, you’re not going to get much out of anything.’ Joe Flanigan, Metascifi.
11 Jan: @indielynne Metascifi will be downloadable so you can see it wherever you are in the world… no need to travel to the UK for this one :)
11 Jan: Digital, technotastic, downloadable sci fi goodness – that’ll be Metascifi! provided I work work work etc
Update 13 January 2012
13 Jan: Taking my eyes to bed so they are fresh and glinty for tomorrow’s Metascifi edit. Have calc’ed I need 56 editing days to finish. Night all!


Update 8 April 2012

The project is constantly evolving, judging from its new appearance: the video available now on Martin Firrell’s website has changed, and it’s one of those initially uploaded, while the background is also different. With every new tease, Mr Firrell is positively building up tension in anticipation of this summer’s display!

A screen capture with the new look and the transcript of the video are to be found here below:

Character showed up as a soloist, doing his own thing, and then he became a team guy. So he got involved. He’s the type of guy who feels more than he’s comfortable showing, for sure. Like a lot of people. Especially guys. But not like me; I’m comfortable with my feelings, yeah.

Update 22 May 2012

New project? Joe attended FedCon for the second time this year (after his first participation in Bonn in May 2010), and after the event he apparently met again Mr. Firrell, as per his today’s tweet:

Delicious night out with @JoeFlanigan and friends, hatching new Joe-centric project and saving the world in the 43rd minute :)

Update 24 June 2012

According to Mr Firrell’s latest tweets, the project will be available for public in London in September.

@martinfirrel, 23 June 10:28 PM: I’m going to present my scifi project Metascifi @rewirelondon Unconference at Google Campus on 28 Sept. Come along!

@martinfirrell, 23 June 11:50 PM@ladygeeke Metascifi lands on Sep 28 at Unconference, Google Campus & then 30 Sep at BAFTA (which is instead of 1 Sep). Have fix 4U 4 BAFTA



Jun 272010
Joe Flanigan Nova intro

Martin Firrell, a London photographer, posted on his website four video snippets allowing us to preview his work in progress on the Hero project Sci-Fi series with Joe Flanigan, the photo and video shoot session for which took place on May 10th, 2010, in London.

Latest update of this post: 22 May 2012. Scroll down for new resources & info.

Martin Firrell – SciFi series – Joe Flanigan


The first video is called JoeNova3:

JoeNova3 video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

JoeNova3 video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

It is a silent intro with Joe’s face lit by a stylized nova star glare. The face is static with minimal glare movement, which creates a suspense effect together with a sci-fi eerie sound, and empowers the moment when he finally turns towards the viewer at the end.


The second video is called JFProtect3:

JFprotect3 video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

JFprotect3 video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

It is a snippet of the interview where Joe talks about the impact of action heroes on women:

An action hero, I think, makes all of that genetic predisposition percolate in women. That sounds pretty sexual… But it does! It stirs something up that I think is very… primitive, and it says: “That man can protect me from a dangerous world.”


The third video is called JFSheppard:

JFSheppard video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

JFSheppard video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

This must be the answer to the question about best and worst qualities of John Sheppard character asked on twitter of fans, many of which indicated his emotional distancing as the main shortcoming.

He hides! He hides. Doesn’t want to get too involved. But he does! Character showed up as a soloist, doing his own thing, and then he became a team guy. So he got involved. He’s the type of guy who feels more than he’s comfortable showing, for sure. Like a lot of people. Especially guys. But not like me; I’m comfortable with my feelings, yeah.


The fourth and final video is called JFparenting:

JFparenting video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

JFparenting video screenshot from Martin Firrell's Hero project draft

In this video Joe Flanigan talks about the impact of becoming a father on a man:

You just kinda have your head up your ass for a long time, and then you have kids and you’re like: uhm, better pull my head out of my ass. [you know... really] You’re like… very exposed! Coz each kid is like your heart crawling across the floor. Unprotected. You’re like: [ my god! wha... what are you doing!] And I think that’s… The truest state of humanity is that you’re living for other people.


The videos not only have excellent lighting work but also show us the best of Joe Flanigan shining with an open smile in the soft relaxed atmosphere with beautiful insights on life basic aspects. Martin Firrell is definitely succeeding in his project’s goal to show the viewer what’s really worth of admiration in fictional or real life heroes.


Some screen captures (88):


Update 22 May 2012 / additional background info and sources
Interview from 11 May 2010 with Martin Firrell, offering valuable info on the project concept and its first developments.

. <”h4″ class="collapseomatic " id="”interview”" tabindex="0" title="”Martin">”Martin

Blogger Kelly Harker finds out what the Stargate actor has been doing with artist Martin Firrell

When my good friend and hero, cultural activist/artist/writer Martin Firrell told me that he was working withStargate Atlantis‘s Joe Flanigan for a new public art project, I had to find out more! Here in my interview with Martin, he talks about his art, the importance of science fiction, what it was like to work with Nathan Fillion and Joe Flanigan, and what sci-fi inspired projects he has planned for the future:

Science fiction seems to have really influenced you as an artist and writer – Complete Hero and King Of My Heart featured Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Serenity) – and you just did a shoot with Joe Flanigan (Stargate Atlantis). Why do you think sci-fi is so important?

Martin: “I love that science fiction asks huge and important questions in an accessible and confident way. Sci-fi speaks to everyone (not just academics and philosophers) but takes on huge academic and philosophic questions. I have decided to get closer to sci-fi in my art practice over the coming year, so expect lots more on this. I also love that shows like Firefly and Stargate have committed, clever, huge followings of intelligent and questioning fans who are powerful in their interest and understanding. Gertrude Stein said the trick was to have a small audience that made a lot of noise, and sci-fi fandoms tend to be self-contained and very vigorous, noisy, brilliant places. I also think there is something about outsidership and exclusion. So much of sci-fi deals with those themes, and is inclusive and generous. The classic example is the bridge of the original Enterprise: whilst parts of America were still segregated, the bridge was mixed in race and gender and all the more powerful because of the talents of all involved.”

“I also rather like that sci fi is this hidden ‘jewel’ – some people dismiss it because they do not understand it, whereas we know its true worth.”

If aliens were to visit our planet, what do you think they would consider to be the best characteristic of humanity?

Martin: “I think the aliens would watch us solve problems and be altruistic towards one another and think that was an enormous achievement for a sentient primate.”

What do you think they would consider to be the worst characteristic of humanity?

Martin: “Then they would see us be sadistic and violent towards each other and think to themselves, ‘what do you expect from a sentient primate?’”

The Complete Hero projections were this past November in London (SFX‘s Dave B and Stuart were there!). Will we be seeing anything more from this project in the future?

Martin: “The project has never really gone away. One of my interests in working with Joe Flanigan was to extend the reach of Complete Hero to reach the Atlantis fandom, just as Nathan is the great figure in theFirefly/Serenity fandom, but I am also interested in moving closer to science fiction – the next incarnation of Complete Hero will be very sci-fi centric.”

What was it like working with Nathan Fillion?

Martin: “Working with Nathan is a dream – he is as charming, smart, funny and thoughtful as everyone imagines, but might secretly suspect can’t possibly be true. He is that Good Man!”

I certainly believe it! You’ve spent a lot of time with him. Is there any juicy gossip about Nathan that you’d like to share with SFX website visitors? Maybe… how he likes his coffee?

Martin: “The brilliant thing about Nathan is that he is entirely undemanding – becomes one of the art team and really joins in. So to be honest, I don’t know how he likes his coffee! But I do know, when me, the crew and Nathan went for lunch, he insisted on paying which was very stylish, generous and elegant.”

Nathan really seems to be your muse! Do you have any other future projects with him planned? Maybe more of him in Complete Hero?

Martin: “Arrhh! Now Nathan and I have been talking recently about shooting again. I asked him if we could look at Firefly‘s Captain Mal again in more detail because I would like to make an expression ofComplete Hero which is entirely centered on the richness of Mal’s character, and the world of Firefly. I believe these cult cultural artifacts have blazing truths in them, and now I have the confidence to voyage deeply into that territory. So I asked if Nathan would shoot with me again and he replied: ‘you already know the answer to that question, sir!’ Nathan really is the muse of my practice right now, a creative rock on which my own sense of my practice is built.”

You’ve been teasing on Facebook that you just did a shoot with Joe Flanigan. It’d be great to know more about what you’re working on with him, or is it a bit of a secret like your project with Nathan initially was?

Martin: “With Joe we talked about Col John Sheppard of course, his heroism, his character, but also the wider genre of sci-fi – all part of my decision and desire to enter more deeply into that world, having had such a wonderful early experience with Nathan and the first online work for Complete Hero back in 2007. The final form and ‘shape’ of this work is not so much secret as still unknown to me. But today in the studio we did some familiar stuff – some beautiful studies by candlelight of Joe’s face (in a direct parallel with the portraiture of Nathan) and some new stuff, some green screen work, and I am interested in the idea of video ‘noise’ as part of the ‘look’ of this new work. I also experimented with a computer program which created a kind of starburst for projection onto Joe’s face which worked well.”

Why did you want to work with Joe?

Martin: “I have been wanting to work with Joe for a couple of years. But sometimes it’s difficult to make contact with an artist’s management in the right way. In the end, I gave up. Then Wendy Scott (the Webwych of Sending A Wave podcast) said she was going to a convention where Joe was appearing and she was happy to let him know I was trying to make contact. She gave Joe my email address, Joe emailed, then we spoke on the phone and agreed to work together – that was about six months ago or so, and then it was just a question of waiting for the timing to work out. I really admire Joe’s work, and the character of Sheppard is very seductive because he is so playful.”

What do like best about the Stargate franchise?

Martin: “You’ve got to love Richard Dean Anderson (Jack O’Neill). And for me, the relationship between John Sheppard and Dr Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) in the early years of Stargate Atlantis is sublime. I asked Joe during the shoot if he thought it was significant that the principal authority figure in Atlantis is a woman, and he said that he did think it was significant. I also have to admit to a small Torri Higginson crush, and I will ask her if she would like to contribute to Complete Hero.”

Besides sci-fi, what or who has also inspired you as an artist and writer?

Martin: “My big inspirations going way back, are Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and Anais Nin – I did once write that only woman and gay men can really write fiction – then got all uncertain when someone brought up the topic of Hemingway… I particularly like his late novel Across The River And Into The Trees, but I might be a minority in that. Paris inspires me because it is so beautiful and so French and home to that great flowering of experimentalism in modern art and literature in the early 20th Century.”

Who would you most like to do a project with, and why?

Martin: “Well, I definitely do want to work with Torri Higginson. And I think Star Trek is the big daddy of our genre, so Bill Shatner is on my list. Who knows if he wants to be in a fine art work? But we are about to ask him…”

Which sci-fi and fantasy magazine do you consider to be the best magazine in the universe?

Martin: “Kelly, you’re very funny! But on a serious note, I do want to move my art practice closer to science fiction, and so of course I want to work with, involve, stay close to the fandoms and also those clever people at SFX!

Thank you, Martin!

Thanks Martin and Kell for this interview. Visit Martin Firrell’s official website to find out more about his work. Read more contributions by Kell and our other bloggers by clicking on the blogs category at the top. 

Interview with Martin Firrell from 21 Sept 2010 posted by Atlantis:Revolutions.

. <”h4″ class="collapseomatic " id="”ATLinterview”" tabindex="0" title="”Martin">”Martin

[Atlantis : Revolutions] What inspired you to do this project, and why did you want to concentrate on actors and actresses from sci-fi?

[Martin Firrell] I started investigating the meaning and significance of heroism in 2007. I was very fortunate to interview Nathan Fillion about his creation of Mal Reynolds in Firefly, and I also interviewed a large number of people from different walks of life – scientists, philosophers, writers, soldiers, and individuals whose lives had taken them on challenging journeys. This work was shown in 2009 in collaboration with the Household Division of the British Army (the division that guards the Queen) and was a great success. So looking at heroism had been good for me. I then realised that I could create a new work which looked at a very specific portrayal of heroism by investigating the sub culture of science fiction. The more I looked, the more I realised there was more value and richness in sci fi than simply depictions of heroism. So I decided to widen the search to include any philosophical truth that could be inferred from popular American television science fiction. I am interested in works that help us to live more fruitifully and it seems to me that valuable life lessons can be inferred from sci fi and shared between us to the benefit of all.

[A:R] Even now, at the relative beginning of your project, you have chosen a wide variety of subjects. Have you discovered anything that surprises you, either about the characters and how the actor sees them, or about the actors themselves?

[MF] I have found many similarities between contributors when they talk about the practical stresses of making television sci fi – very long days and long weeks, the need to be quick, to memorise lots, no time to waste, the need for stamina and a highly developed sense of humour!

[A:R] “Star Trek” was a building block that helped perpetrate ideals of equality for the people, and encouraged the desire to better ones self through education. Do you think the “Stargate” franchise has some of those same attributes?

[MF] I do think Stargate can be viewed as the natural successor to Star Trek – not that Gate replaces Trek – but it can be seen to continue the work Trek began. If you look at the original bridge of the Enterprise, ‘difference’ or ‘otherness’ was regarded as valuable rather than menacing: mixed cultures, races and even aliens worked harmoniously together in order to ‘boldly go…’ The same can be seen In Stargate. And I believe this is important work. It becomes more and more important for us to embrace ideas of difference and otherness as more and more of us crowd onto the earth. We need to get along, and life is better when we do.

[A:R] These characters you’ve chosen to focus on – do you see them as a global representation of humanity’s endeavour to explore the unknown, or more of a singular will to survive the odds? Not every man, woman, or child is made of the same stuff these particular people are, yet they are just your everyday heroes. Put in their shoes, do you think – or hope – you’d be able to face the same adversity with just as much courage?

[MF] I think the characters I have chosen so far express a very Western sensibility about the endeavour to explore – I decided to concentrate on American television sci fi so this is hardly a surprise, but it’s important to be clear that these examples are culturally specific. If I looked at Russian, Indian, or Asian programme-making, everything would have a different cultural tone. Of course the characters represent something we can relate to, so in that sense they are similar to us. And who’s to say what is a daring and bold thing to do? I imagine raising one child well is far more heroic than anything depicted in sci fi. As far as my own sense of adventure goes – I’d be useless in any challenging situation – an important part of my own fandom is watching from the safety of my own bed as people venture into space and encounter intriguing alien races!

[A:R] As you’ve focused on the heroism of these characters, it seems they are mostly reluctant heroes who feel compelled to step up and do what is right. Do you think that is a major component in a real hero or simply makes a good fictional character?

[MF] I have interviewed some very heroic people in real life – April Ashley who was one of the first people ever to change gender / soldiers who have been decorated for extreme valour in the face of great physical danger, and they all decline to regard themselves as heroic. So I think it’s safe to infer that this kind of reticence is the mark of a true hero.

[A:R] Though many heroes seem to be maverick loners at heart, they usually end up with at least a sidekick or ‘gang’. How do you think the role of a sidekick betters the hero and do you think they would be an independent who might develop into a hero or are they a non entity without the lead character?

[MF] We like hierarchies, they work well for us as human beings. So we’re keen to understand who the big hero – the lead – is in any work. Then we fall in love with the sidekick for being more like us and less like the hero. We can identify easily with the less-than-perfect person. Of course, if the sidekick becomes the hero, they lose that special place in our hearts, but gain another perhaps.

[A:R] Each of the characters you have focused on so far have inherent flaws – they are very much “human”, as opposed to the stereotypical comic-book type characters who so often seem to populate current sci-fi shows. What is it that drew you to these characters in particular, and not some of the more obvious subjects?

[MF] I have chosen the subjects for the Sci Fi Series on a purely subjective basis. So these characters and the actors who created them appeal to me personally – Kate Mulgrew for being the first ‘girl in the seat’ as she puts it, and showing how powerful and different female command can be – Joe Flanigan for his character’s fierce loyalty to the authority and wisdom of Weir, and at the same time, his reluctance simply to obey authority. I see the characters as helpful roots into more fundamental ideas like the loneliness of command, the sacrifices women make in a male-dominated world, our relationship with authority, ideas of security, surveillance and paranoia, and so on. I did take a decision to focus on the biggest franchises for this work, so Star Trek and Stargate in all their flavours are the foundation of the project, with cult additions like Farscape, and Firefly. And now Warehouse 13 because I am about to work with Eddie McClintock, which we are looking forward to very much.

[A:R] Have you ever considered introducing the concept of string theory into your character profiles? It might be interesting to see ‘the man in the mirror’, alongside the characters and heroes we know so well. Sort of like a kaleidoscope of personalities, all rolled into one. ‘Rainbow Realities’, if you like.

[MF] I don’t understand string theory and so I don’t understand this question. I don’t understand M theory either, but because it has my initial in it, I like the sound of it.

[A:R] We tend to use art as a means of interpreting the unknown, and when looking at the universe, there’s an awful lot of it out there that needs translating. You’ve successfully managed to marry the two, but what sparked the initial idea? Do you have a particular hero/character you’d like to explore more in depth? Maybe something that doesn’t quite ‘make it’ on the TV screen, but you can see and feel within a story?

[MF] The initial idea for the Sci Fi Series project was sparked by meeting Nathan Fillion. I worked with Nathan on Complete Hero which took a broad view of heroism, in association with the British Army. The extraordinary thing about Nathan is that he is as smart, funny, kind, considerate and supportive as he seems on television. I have come to regard Nathan as my muse (and he has kindly taken on that job!) and so he has been immensely instrumental in the development of this project. I believe that art should be useful in the sense that it should give us helpful ideas about how to live. After all, none of us has done this before, so we are all as puzzled as each other – any helpful ideas that make life kinder, richer, and more fulfilling have to be welcome. And I am coming to the conclusion that it is popular culture rather than ‘high’ culture that has the answers and the power to deliver them – if we only know how to look. There is one particular hero I would like to explore further and that is Capt Mal Reynolds. Nathan and I discussed Reynolds but as part of a wider conversation about heroes and heroism and I would relish the opportunity to spend time with Nathan digging deeper into Mal’s character, his love of his crew, he determination to do the right thing however impossible the odds or powerful the opposing regime.

[A:R] Joseph Mallozzi (former producer for SG1 and SGA) was recently quoted as saying “I was inspired by my lifelong appreciation for ‘bad guys,’ and a deep-seeded disdain for heroes.” Your inspiration seems quite the opposite. Can you elaborate on that at all, seeing as Joe Flanigan and Ben Browder are both in the hutch?

[MF] Our heroes show the kinds of people we think are admirable and so presumeably we’d like to be more like them and we’d like other people to be more like them. If you follow this argument to its logical conclusion, our heroes suggest the kind of society we’d like to live in. So heroes, rather than bad guys, strike me as more useful when it comes to looking at good ways to live. That said, I am absolutely in thrall to the Borg Queen, and whilst she was pretty dreadful, not all her ideas were heinous. If Janeway rose to the top of her profession as Captain of the Federation Starship Voyager, then we can also see that the Borg Queen was at the top of her ‘profession’ as leader of the hive mind in the Borg’s quest to assimilate everything! And I think it’s interesting to see the good and the bad embodied by two powerful female characters.

[A:R] This isn’t your first piece of work to focus on heroism. What is it that intrigues and inspires you on the topic? What keeps you coming back to explore it in different ways?

[MF] Heroes are like signposts saying ‘this way to a better world’ – and I want to go to that better world! Each time I look at the topic of heroism, I find something new, so I think of it as a mineshaft: if gold and diamonds are still being discovered in the rock, it makes sense to keep digging!

[A:R] Are there any literary or historic heroes you’d like to be able to explore? If so, who? Why would you choose them and what do you think they might say about their own antics?

[MF] Next up, I would like to look at sci fi in the cinema (currently I am focusing on television only to give the project some sharpness and discipline). I would like to work with Carrie-Anne Moss, exploring her creation of Trinity in The Matrix, and Shane Carruth who made and appeared in Primer. Because cinema is so huge, I would like to focus on the most enigmatic creations from that world – I’d like to look where most people don’t, hence Trinity rather than Neo, Primer rather than 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example. Beyond that I am not yet sure. I am very keen on interviewing people who are connected to these cultural phenomena because it creates a way for us to relate to ideas through the human, through personality, and that’s not possible with historical or literary figures because they are obviously either imaginary or dead.

[A:R] Is it hard to get the subjects of the videos to talk naturally, or does the fact that most of them are actors/public speakers make them appear more open than ‘normal’ people would?

[MF] Sometimes, it can be more difficult to interview an actor because actors are usually very polished and able to give a performance. How do you know when you are receiving a performance, and when you are actually meeting the person behind the performance? In an attempt to get down to the truth, I interview by candlelight and sit close to the subject so the experience feels welcoming and intimate – and so encourages intimacy. I also work in very long takes – so just roll the camera and keep speaking and gradually we forget we’re in an interview. By not stopping and starting, I think it becomes possible to get deeper and deeper into the conversation and behind the ‘surfaces’ of things. It is also very important to prepare well. Typically I will work for several days preparing for an interview, writing questions, reviewing performances, really getting to know the material. Interestingly I have found that it is one thing being a fan and enjoying a show, and quite another to watch it in preparation for an interview.

[A:R] You’re clearly very much a sci-fi fan – your passion comes across in the snippets you’ve put on your website. Would you go so far as to call yourself a geek, and what inspired your passion for the genre?

[MF] I have always loved the look of space, from when I was a very small boy: those great curvatures of distant worlds, the colour, the haloes of atmosphere, the immense contrasts between light and dark. I love the way up is sometimes down and vice versa. But my first great sci fi love was Planet of the Apes, the tv series with James Naughton and Ron Harper made in 1974. It ran for one season only, but absolutely captured my imagination because it was so simple – the world was merely ’tilted’ slightly, and everything was different! When Star Wars appeared in 1977, it opened up the whole galaxy for me, in particular those great interplanetary landscapes and the expression of scale. The great opening shot of the first movie, with the great prairie of the planet beneath, and the unending imperial cruiser that just keeps coming and coming and coming. I am probably not cool enough to be a geek, although I am obsessive about detail in my own work. There was a time when geeks were sad fellows, and now I meet people who proudly declare themselves to be geeks – they are usually very young and very groovy and so now I associate geekdom with being groovy, wearing funny hats and trousers that don’t fit properly. My trousers fit properly so clearly I cannot be a geek.

[A:R] Whilst your work is very visual you obviously appreciate words and the power they hold. How do you prefer your sci-fi to be – visual or written?

[MF] Like most people, I am seduced by Ray Bradbury. His writing is so simple, direct, and so limpid. Because of that directness and simplicity, I find the experience of reading Bradbury more pictorial than anything else. For me, being a fine product of the 20th Century, science fiction IS television. I am of the great television generation! Those epic sagas like Trek and Stargate are immense cultural phenomena. My sister, who is a painter, wrote me a note about the Sci Fi Series saying how much she like the project because ‘Star Trek and Star Gate are like sagas handed down through generations’. Much is said of the Norse sagas and their importance as feats of story-telling. But I see Trek and Gate as no different – merely of their time. So I favour the visual. And I favour television because of its power to reach so many of us, reach into our homes, and give us windows onto other worlds. The Sci Fi Series project aims to honour television science fiction, the stories, characters and people behind those shows, and to help us look more deeply into the truths that lie coded in the genre.

[A:R] Dystopia or utopia? Which, in your opinion, seems to be our likely future?

[MF] I hope for the second and, unfortunately, expect the first.

[A:R] What would you tell someone who wants to pursue art as a livelihood? What are the pros and cons? Heck, how does one pay the rent or medical bills?

[MF] I’d say you can’t pursue art as a livelihood. Art can only be pursued because you have something to say. If you want to pursue a good living become a banker or a bank robber. If you are an artist you will find you have no choice but to make works, regardless of the material return, because you are driven to it. The rest of it, the rent and the bills, you’ll have to figure out some way. But it is not the main event, and never will be. You will most probably be poor for a good amount of time. And you will most probably not mind that much because there is nothing richer than following your own passion.

[A:R] Do you think the United States would be ready for art like yours? If not, why not?

[MF] I get loads of emails from people from the US saying they like the work and inviting me over – so it seems like folk are ready, and I am very appreciative of the encouragement.

[A:R] Now for a couple of short, fun questions, if you don’t mind?

If asked to accompany Dr Weir and her team through the stargate, what would your one chosen item from home be?
[MF] My sister because she much braver and more resourceful than I am.

[A:R] Cheese or chocolate?
[MF] Neither – I’d prefer cake.

[A:R] Wine or beer?
[MF] Kir which is white wine with a little creme de cassis added to it.

[A:R] Trek or ‘Gate?
[MF] Both – I think they are related.

[A:R] Jack O’Neill or John Sheppard?
[MF] Jack – just because he was the first.

[A:R] Sam Carter or Elizabeth Weir?
[MF] Elizabeth Weir – the seminal female authority figure of our times, in my opinion, diplomat and academic.

[A:R] Skiing or sunbathing?
[MF] Skiiing would make me fear for my bones, sunbathing would make me fear for my skin. And I aim at all times to be as pale as possible, like an uncooked prawn.

[A:R] Dogs or cats?
[MF] Cats.

[A:R] Pizza or Chinese?
[MF] Neither.

[A:R] What shows are you watching at the moment?
[MF] Warehouse 13 – in anticipation of interviewing Eddie McClintock; Fringe – Anna Torv’s character seems like a huge soul for the show, Joshua Jackson is touching, John Noble is a genius, and Walter Bishop is a wild ride that makes an enormous amount of sense.

[A:R] What shows do you wish had never finished?
[MF] Stargate SG1, Star Trek Voyager

[A:R] In response to your request for potential future characters, fans submitted a number of names for the “Sci-Fi Series”:

  • David Hewlett
  • David Tennant
  • Rachel Luttrell
  • Paul McGillion
  • Robert Picardo
  • Dan Payne
  • Richard Dean Anderson
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • Joe Morton
  • Adam Baldwin
  • Zachary Levi
  • Chris Kramer

It would be interesting to see something from the “bad guys’” point of view as well, almost as a counterweight to the power of the heroism pieces – perhaps exploring the perceived heroism from the point of view of the “other side”, as it were? Some suggestions:

  • Robert Davi
  • Cliff Simon
  • Connor Trinneer
  • Christopher Heyerdahl
  • John De Lancie

[MF] I really love the idea of the bad guys – we are currently working on interviewing Alice Krige – ain’t no one badder than the Borg Queen!

[A:R] Is there anything else you’d like to say regarding your project?

[MF] Thanks for great questions and support for the project. Really appreciate it. Thanks for the suggested contributors – interesting how we seem to agree on so many. I have great ambition for this project – to make it encyclopaedic in its depth – and I want to thank Nathan Fillion, Kate Mulgrew, Joe Flanigan. David Nykl, Ben Browder and Eddie McClintock for taking part so far – and I am so looking forward to working with Torri Higginson, Jonathan Frakes and Connor Trinneer.


Many thanks go to Martin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Also, an extra big thank-you for the exclusive line-up shot he provided us with. We wish him the very best of luck with his continuing endeavour to explore our favourite sci-fi characters, and hope he keeps us up to date with the results of his work. You can view the ongoing “Sci-Fi Series” as it unfolds at or follow him on Twitter at @martinfirrell.

Also, thanks to the following people for submitting questions & suggestions:

And thanks to everyone who promoted and re-tweeted the announcement!

If you want to comment on the interview, go HERE - guest posts welcome!

Interview: © Atlantis : Revolutions 2010. Photo: © Martin Firrell 2010. If you want to use, that’s fine – just let us know!