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John Richards

John Richards writer for SF TV show Outland talks to Nalini Haynes of Dark Matter.  This interview was in a very noisy coffee shop; the recorded sound was so bad I struggled to transcribe the interview.  This interview is available as text only.

Adam Richard and John Richards, co-creators of Outland
Adam Richard and John Richards
co-creators of Outland

John Richards is a co-writer and co-creator of Outland, the new sit-com on ABC TV, starting on 8 February 2012 at 9:30pm on ABC1.

Nalini: Thank you for agreeing to talk to Dark Matter. How did you get into all of this geeky nerdy stuff? Your interest seems to be beyond sci-fi but it also has a sci-fi focus, how did you get into this?

John: I think there’s a fannish instinct. I really do, because Lee Zachariah from the Bazura project –

Nalini: I heard that podcast yesterday. 

John: He’s such a great guy. He’s a big Doctor Who fan as well. Again he has that thing of the obsessive nature wanting to know stuff, we want to be right all the time. It’s really important that we are right. I wonder if you start off thinking ‘well, I’m a fan of Doctor Who’, but that also means you’re going to become a fan of virtually everything else. The creeping thing is we need to know everything.

Nalini: On the subject of Doctor Who, what’s your first Doctor Who memory?

John: It’s probably Jon Pertwee. But then when I was growing up they just repeated them constantly so it’s hard to really know because it was on all the time.

Nalini: So you connected with Doctor Who when you were a kid.

John: Absolutely. It’s funny that the Android Invasion just came out on DVD, which is not considered to be a classic by anyone. But I loved it so much because it’s quintessentially what I remember Doctor Who being. It’s a Tom Baker, with Sarah Jane, where there’s a copy of an English village. There’s a small village they land in and it turns out that everyone’s a robot.

Nalini: Is that finger loaded?

John: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the most archetypal Doctor Who story for me. Recently someone pointed out to me that the plot makes no sense. It had never occurred to me. I’d never noticed that the plot makes no sense before because I watched that as a five-year-old. It’s a bunch of cool stuff that happens. But I’m a fan. I grew up in a country in a small town in WA. Doctor Who was so glamorous, so exciting. Anything set in a city was glamorous and exciting, so anything that was science fiction was even more glamorous. I remember never being allowed to watch Blake’s 7 because it was a bit too late. I think it was showing at 10:30 or something like that.

Nalini: Yeah, some of the episodes were showing at 11 o’clock at night. I was in high school and living with my grandmother and I had to beg to sit up late.

John: I remember every time I was allowed to, the very few occasions, it was always Star One. It was the same episode every time. It was the only episode I got to see and that was over and over again.  Science fiction was all about the world outside – the bigger universe, especially when you live in a small country town.

Nalini: Yes. Recently I interviewed Rob Lloyd who is from a small country town and he fell in love with Doctor Who – well, he came to Doctor Who late. Dare I say it: I actually spent quite a few years growing up in a small country town too. Maybe that’s part of what shaped some of us into sci-fi fans.

John: Doctor Who, back then, was all about running away from your family and never going back to them, ever. The Doctor would take you away from that. Now you’re on the mobile phone calling home every three episodes and crying, but back then you would leave that behind and you would never go back. Leela is not going back to her home planet.

Nalini: I never thought of it like that before.

John: Lots of orphans too. Orphans in the original Doctor Who, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough… If you go back far enough… I’ve forgotten her name, she replaced Susan After Susan leaves… from the planet Dido… Before Ben and Polly… I’ve gone blank on her name. Not many of her stories still exist… again, she’s an orphan. The Doctor goes around picking up orphans and going: ‘Let’s go somewhere crazy.’ So that’s quite different, whereas now it’s about home, about coming home. Back then it was about leaving home.

Nalini: Yeah, that’s really interesting.

John: I miss that. I’m more a fan of classic Who than the new Who because I like that idea that it’s all about you leaving your home, becoming a better person and going on to find your destiny. A lot of them go on to do something bigger or more dramatic – except for Leela who randomly stays to marry a guard on Gallifrey – but there’s that sense of a bigger thing to be achieved.

Nalini: Do you feel that you’ve done that, you’ve followed in the footsteps of the Doctor’s companions?

John: Maybe. Maybe to a degree. The show said you can leave and the life that you’re in doesn’t have to be the one that you’re going to be in forever, you can make your own.

Nalini: Make your own life and your own family.

John: Exactly. Yes. And it’s all about building your own family as well, whereas the new series is much more nuclear family oriented.

Nalini: Yes, especially with Amy and Rory. And Rose.

John: And Rose’s mum. That’s something we hadn’t seen before, and Martha’s mum. And Donna’s. That was quite unusual to bring a family in.

Nalini: That was a real shift. Were you in one of these country towns where ABC was the only station?

John: There were two stations. There was ABC and there was the Golden West Network. I remember the Golden West Network was mostly Channel Nine, I think, but with slightly random local stuff. I remember them showing the Beatles cartoons in the late 80s.

Nalini: The yellow submarine?

John: No, the actual cartoon TV series from the 60s. And Crusader Rabbit, and all these other shows from the 50s and 60s that I’m fairly certain would have disappeared off normal television but, for some reason, they’ve had a copy. They had the regional news too, the great 15 minute regional news that was mostly filler because nothing really happened. Golden West Network covered almost the entirety of Western Australia so you never knew when an ad was for a product that you could actually buy or not. You’d see an ad for a pizza shop that turned out to be in Kalgoorlie or something like that. That’s 12 hours’ drive away – that had better be a pretty good pizza. So, yeah, there was ABC and GWN.

Nalini: How did you get from there to here?

John: Geographically, we didn’t have a high school where I grew up, so I went to high school in Perth. I got involved in stand-up comedy in Perth, which was the very end of the 80s early 90s.

Nalini: Oh, so you’re a baby… [laughing]

John: You know that thing on IMDB – do I want my year of birth showing or is that going to do me out of work?

Nalini: I remember that thing on the Boxcutters episode that I listened to yesterday, where someone was saying ‘I’m the youngest one in the studio’ and I’m thinking ‘hmmm’.

outland logo

John: Oh, that was Lee Zachariah. Brett always tries to claim that he is the youngest, but he’s actually the oldest…

So I went to do stand-up. Then the obvious step was to move to Melbourne, because that’s where comedy lives. So I moved over here and did sketch comedy on RRR. In the 90s I did some stuff for ABC TV and it kind of staggered on from there. Then I lived overseas for about five years from 99, I was in Canada and then the UK. I came back because I got some money from Film Victoria to work on a feature film script about a fictional gay and lesbian radio station in Melbourne. No relation to any real gay and lesbian radio stations in Melbourne.

Nalini: Is there a real gay and lesbian radio station?

John: Yeah, it’s about three blocks from where we are at the moment. That one’s called Joy, mine was called Happy Happy Radio. Nothing to do with each other. I came back and worked on that. And then, because I know Adam Richard, and I’ve known him off and on for many years through things like Channel 31 and the comedy scene, I said we should write you a thing, “we should write you a vehicle”. We went through all these different ideas. I do remember he had this great idea for this thing called ‘The Kylie Show’. It was good but it was so complicated and complex and difficult to write that I went ‘No. What else? A gay science fiction fan club – let’s do that one.’

We wrote a pilot, with a friend of Adam’s called Troy. We wrote this pilot script and we sent it off: no-one was interested. We thought: let’s make our own pilot, as a short film that we could put in festivals. Festival short films have to be under 15 minutes long but we knew if we did that people would go ‘That’s fine, but it won’t stretch to be a TV show.’ So we made it 25 minutes just like a normal TV show and we still got into a whole stack of festivals, which was quite amazing really. That eventually got back to the ABC and that’s when they kind of went ‘Oh, yeah, we kind of get it now.’ We needed to find a production company so we went to Princess Pictures and that took a little while. So that was about 2007 I think.

Outland the cast
Outland the cast

Nalini: So how many years has it taken now?

John: The short film we wrote in 2005 and it was shot in 2006. We took it to festivals in 2006. So 2007-ish I think was when the ABC came on board. It was kind of odd because there would be money to write a draft of something and then it would go quiet again for months. I thought the show was over twice in that period, thinking ‘Oh, that’s a shame,’ and then we’d get a call going ‘Can you write another episode?’ I have this theory that it’s to do with momentum. I think someone pushed our show very gently at the beginning and it just kept creeping along. No-one actually got out the front and stopped it, so eventually it got made. It’s kind of weird. It just kept creeping along.

Nalini: Do you think the success of shows like The Big Bang Theory have helped your show get off the ground?

John: I don’t know because I think none of us even saw the connection until io9. io9 said it’s the gay Big Bang Theory, which I thought was odd. I don’t think it is.

Nalini: From the ad that would be the connection that I would make, but it’s the gay Australian Big Bang Theory.

John: I see it as the gay Spaced, so I think I’m ripping off someone completely different. It’s quite an interesting show because Australian comedy generally is more observational: people do things and we laugh at them. Outland actually has deliberate jokes, which is a fairly rare thing for us culturally. I don’t know why, you’re often laughing at the characters rather than with them. You’re laughing at what people do rather than what they say.

Nalini: I think it’s really good if we can laugh at ourselves. Correct me if I am wrong but I think all the characters are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual in the show. I watched the ad and I don’t care about their sexuality, I can still identify with this.

John: That is meant to be the point too: it is not niche because I wanted a show where every character is gay but that’s almost irrelevant. I’ve always wanted to see a show where the head cop has a boyfriend who every so often you see in the home scenes, but that’s it. That is what I would like, where there is a world in which that can just be such a matter of fact without it being an important plot point.

Nalini: That’s like Grey’s Anatomy – I heard when it was first cast, everybody was white. Then somebody said ‘No, we’ve got to change this’, and that’s when they brought in all the diversity. What you’re talking about is just increasing that diversity to a new level.

John: I had an idea that these characters have all these things that we think might be the thing that is their problem, their issue, but in fact science-fiction fandom is the one thing that they’re a little bit nervous about. They’re openly gay. Rae is a character who’s in a wheelchair, she’s a lesbian, she’s a Torres Strait Islander, but none of that’s an issue for her. It’s her love of unicorns.
There are at least two or three of them who are still nervous about going out in public together, because they don’t want to be seen as fans. So it’s actually them having to embrace their fannishness and their geekness.

Nalini: How gorgeous.

John: There is a bit in the first episode that was probably more highlighted in the short film, which came entirely from when I was in a party in London. Someone made a joke about Daleks going upstairs. And part of my head went: ‘oh for god’s sake, in 1988, in Remembrance of the Daleks, they were doing it back then.’ While another part of my head went: ‘Don’t say that out loud. Don’t. Say. It.’ We incorporated that into the show, this thing about censoring yourself. And that can be about anything. It almost doesn’t have to be fannishness really, but it’s gay and it’s fans because Adam and I happen to be gay and fans. Therefore there’s no research.

Nalini: All your life is research.

John: Exactly. That’s what I tell my tax agent. But it could easily be… The short film played at a festival in London. A guy came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I’m not a science-fiction fan but I’m a train spotter.’ He was coming out of his closet as a train spotter. So there’s that sense that everyone’s got something they’re a bit funny about. The whole show is about, ‘well, this is me… and all of this is me, and that’s good.’

People think it’s niche but it’s not niche. It’s everyone – everyone’s like that.

Nalini: You just have to sit down and soak it up. Just the ad got to me it’s like – no, that’s not niche, that’s global. I just hope that people can see that.

John: It’s a very handsome show, it is beautifully shot, it is beautifully directed by Kev Carlin, it’s a lovely cast. It’s got a lot of heart in as well. There is more emotion in there, which is what Princess Pictures kept saying, “put more emotion into it”. We just wanted gags about Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. ‘No, no, no. A couple of jokes and then put more heart into it.’ I think there’s actually quite a lot in it.

Nalini: You’re a fan of The Almighty Johnsons; you’ve talked about this New Zealand comedy TV series on Boxcutters. How much do you think the current style of Outland has been influenced by The Almighty Johnsons? I realise you started Outland before it was released.

John: We were working on Outland before Doctor Who came back, that’s how long it’s been. We’ve been through three prime ministers.

Nalini: True. 2005 to 2011, wow. I’m just wondering how much you think The Almighty Johnsons has influenced the character of Outland because it’s a drama and it’s a comedy, but you can’t pigeonhole it. It sounds to me like Outland is a bit the same.

John: It’s weird though, because by the time I saw the Almighty Johnsons, we were pretty much done. We’d shot Outland in 2010. Although I did write a fan letter to the Almighty Johnsons’ production company saying ‘It’s so good, please let me write on it.’ No reply. It is interesting with New Zealand television they’re so much more open to genre than we are. Australia is so realistic: we’re so obsessed with realism, whereas in New Zealand they’ll make the Almighty Johnsons, or they’ll make The Cult, or Mataku, they’ll make strange little science-fiction tinged shows. I think as a nation we’re quite hard core: ‘that’s not real, that’ll never happen.’

Nalini: Do you think that’s because we expect funding from overseas to make anything that is not strictly realistic?

John: I think that partly comes out of the whole national characteristic: I think we’re very no-nonsense. The weirder stuff in Outland we actually toned down a little. It’s interesting when you write something like, say, the room is full of dildos, and you show up and the room has a realistic number of dildos. But I meant an unrealistic number of dildos, so there’s this kind of sense that everyone in Australia makes reality. It is interesting, especially when you come in from a slightly sideways view. It’s a national characteristic.

Nalini: I wonder how much it really is because I’ve heard Ben Browder saying that they were working on Farscape and they didn’t even get awards for costume design. Soapies like Blue Heelers got them instead. The Farscape cast practically had to gate crash the Channel 9 awards because Channel 9 just didn’t know what to do with them.

John: Farscape was an export; it wasn’t made for us. If they made it for us, they’d be told ‘It has to be a kid show, it has to have children in it.’ But they were making it for overseas, so it’s like ‘Oh, okay then.’ There is interest in the ABC now in some form of a science-fiction drama. Because of the success of Doctor Who, they’re actually looking at that kind of thing. But as a nation we just don’t make it. Even things like Game of Thrones… With Game of Thrones, it’s almost like people who love it are going ‘It’s fantasy but it’s okay.’

Nalini: Like they’re coming out of the closet a little bit?

John: It’s like they have to excuse it. The Green Guide in particular seems to have this tradition that either people just hate all science-fiction, so it’s ‘I hate this show because it’s science-fiction, and I hate science-fiction,’ which is not terribly useful as a review. Or they’ll say ‘I know it’s fantasy but that’s all right, there’s not much of it. It’s okay, and it’s still good.’ So I don’t know, it seems to be built into us somehow. I don’t know why. We all grew up watching Doctor Who.

Nalini: We all grew up watching Doctor Who: it’s kind of like we have a special place in our hearts for Doctor Who.

John: We make awesome kids’ science-fiction, we make great kids’ stuff. I don’t know why it stops there and doesn’t get to be for adults. It’s a bit sad isn’t it?

Nalini: You finally managed to get Outland up and running with the ABC: did you actually work on the actual set while it was being filmed?

John: Oh, yes. Princess Pictures were amazing. Adam and I were involved with casting decisions. We may not have been at the top of all these decision-making hierarchies but we were definitely involved, we had a lot of input. It was great, and I was there for the entire filming as well. I was a director’s attachment on the show so I was there to watch them and to observe and learn. It was also quite fun because Kev’s a great director. He is a very Aussie bloke, and he’s not a science-fiction fan. So every so often I would have to do that geek checking of pronunciations or explain the reference or that sort of thing, so that was kind of fun.

Nalini: So you were story consultants as well.

John: We were both geek consultants. We had quite a lot of involvement so they were great to work with.

Nalini: Do you think it’s likely that there will be a second season?

John: I hope that there’s a second series. I have ideas for one that are different enough so they’re a continuation without being a repeat. I imagine we’ll have to wait and see how it goes on air. Fingers crossed.

Nalini: Are there plans in place to export it?

John: I think so. The ABC has an export section, and I believe we’ve been in discussion with people from other countries. That’s the bit that concerns the adults, and I’m at the kids’ table. So I just wait to hear. It did play at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, the whole series got played there. I went over for it. They went crazy, they loved it. American audiences are just mad. They would laugh and just keep laughing at the next three or four lines. I’d think, ‘shut up, it’s a funny joke. Listen carefully.’ And they get everything, they get all the references. I had a Norwegian tell me how much he thinks the Norwegians will enjoy it. Which is clearly my target market.

The geek thing, being a science-fiction fan, it’s so international. We have our own language. If we meet each other, there’s always something we can talk about. Breaking the ice is going to be easy. But it went down so well in Seattle, I’m kind of hoping – maybe they can re-make it, with Debbie Gibson in all the roles.

Nalini: I’m not usually a fan of the US remakes but at times it can be good. And if it does take off in America, well that’s great.
John: I don’t mind the idea of a remake. I haven’t watched the remake of Being Human because I love the original of Being Human. But the thing is, I don’t mind there being a US remake because it’s not for me, and that’s fine. The original one is so good, and I can watch that whenever I want. I’m happy with that. And I think our Outland is fantastic, if they want to remake it, well, that’s fine.

Nalini: With the universal nature of it, you make a comment about the Daleks and the stairs. Have you read Equations of life by Simon Morden?

John: No.

Nalini: He actually said that one of his dreams is to make an encyclopaedia of references that he puts into his Metrozone trilogy. One of the references is about machines going up –

John: Stairs. It is funny; it has always stuck in my mind, as it is a joke people would make. Even after the show itself had dismissed it, it was almost like – you know when people believe things, and they’re going to believe that regardless of how much evidence or proof there is. Somehow that is like a tiny tiny example of that. The show itself, since the 80s, has dismissed your joke. Even now, when we’ve seen hundreds of CGI flying Daleks, you still find ‘Daleks going upstairs’ jokes.

Nalini: But that’s what we grew up with. In the 70s, I remember, I was in primary school watching – was it the Dalek invasion? They crashed into a planet because the power was being sucked out –

John: Err… Death to the Daleks? Was it with Jon Pertwee?

Nalini: Yes, with Sarah Jane, and there was a beacon on top of the city. I remember sitting there thinking it would be so easy to defeat these monsters because they’ve got tunnel vision and they can only go where the ground is smooth. And yet, when I had to take the scraps out to the chooks when it was dusk, I was terrified because there was a Dalek behind every tree.

John: [laughing] That’s the thing though, isn’t it? You have to decide you’re going with it. You either make the decision that, yes I’m going to go with it, these are the most terrifying things in the world. Or you sit there going: Ergh, they can’t go upstairs. You go where it’s more interesting. It’s a better life if you engage with it rather than sitting back and making fun of it.

Nalini: Yes. It’s about suspending disbelief and getting into it. Someone made a comment about the episode where three Daleks surround a building; well, you know, budget constraints. You just pretend.

John: [laughing] You have to pretend. Robert Shearman said in an interview about theatre, you know how you go to the theatre and you’ll see some sand on the stage? That represents the beach. If you just got up and went: ‘that’s not a beach: that’s just some sand,’ people would think you are an absolute Philistine. And yet somehow with television, there is this idea of –

Nalini: There are different standards.

John: Yeah. People are going: ‘Oh, that spaceship is not quite as realistic as I imagined a spaceship could be.’ Go with it.

Nalini: Yes. Doctor Who in the 80s was very theatrical in a way. You wouldn’t have people hiding and whispering, they’d throw the cover off, sit up and have a loud conversation, as if they were on stage. But that was the style in which it was produced.

John: Television generally seemed to have that. I kind of miss that in a way. Even the original Star Trek, look at the design. It is so bold and quite simple in a way; everything is a bit bigger.

Nalini: And they’d leave things to your imagination. This is all good.

John: I totally agree.

Nalini: That’s the beauty of some of these fan films because they can actually be made cheaply. They’ve got stories that people can get into it. And the beauty of the Internet – you can find these things, like Pink five, a series of Star Wars fan films, there’s this girl and she is one of the pilots.

John: There is a series on SBS called Danger 5 and it’s made to look like those 60s UK shows. All the exteriors are models, just like the Gerry Anderson series. The interiors are these large grey rooms. It’s set either in the 1960s when World War II is still going, or it’s set in World War II which looks like the 60s. I’m not quite sure. It’s almost disappointing that it’s a parody, it’s a joke series. If they’d done it for real, it would be one of these things where you’d go: ‘I love this show.’ You’d love the show so much, and they’ve got the guts to say ‘let’s make a show that looks like that. You have to come with us rather than us going to you.’ I’ll still watch it, though, when it comes up.

Nalini: So what are you doing apart from Outland?

John: There are a few other projects, almost all of which are at the ABC. It seems to be that’s my world. There are a couple more projects: two of them have a science fiction tinge. Actually all four of them do.

Nalini: This is good. I need more science fiction in my diet.

John: Two of which are dramas and the other two are comedies, so we’ll see how they go.

Nalini: Any release dates? Can you give us any further information?

John: No. I don’t want to jinx it. They’re just ideas out there at the moment, so we’ll see if any of them go into development. There is certainly room for a second series of Outland. And I’m doing a lot of performance-y bits, there’s a talk at ACMI coming up about sex and violence on television. And I’m doing more Boxcutters podcasts.

Nalini: Boxcutters seems to be getting bigger and better.

John: They’re going off to Austin Texas, that’s insane.

Nalini: I heard that you are going to WorldCon next year.

John: No. That was Terry Cross, I think he got confused and said it was WorldCon. It’s actually the SXSW festival in Austin Texas, which is massive.

Nalini: What is the festival about?

John: It started off as a music festival. It’s one of the biggest music festivals in the world but they’ve added an interactive festival as well. It is probably the biggest Internet podcasting festival. You have to be invited to go and they invited us.

Nalini: Wow.

John: I’m actually not going but it’s just incredible to be invited to this massive event.

Nalini: I got the impression from that episode of Boxcutters I listened to yesterday that you cited work as your reason for not going.

John: It’s more because my TV show’s going on air. I thought I should hang around here and see how that goes, rather than toddling off to Austin.

Nalini: You have to watch TV so you’re not going to Austin.

John: I’m going to watch my TV. [Laughing]

Nalini: Well, I can understand that. Are you still doing stand-up comedy at all?

John: No.

Nalini: So you are not doing anything for the Fringe or the comedy festival?

John: I’m doing one spoken word piece for Midsummer, an event called Queer Nerd, they invited me to that for some reason.

Nalini: I sense a theme.

John: [chuckling] There’s a theme here, yeah. I’m going to give a talk about The Apple which is a 1980 disco musical, shot in Germany and set in New York. It stars a Scotsman as a Canadian.

Nalini: Is that easy to get hold of?

John: Ahhh…. I think it’s on DVD. It’s terrible. It’s very loosely based on the Book of Revelation from the Bible. And Joss Ackland plays God. It is very very strange.

Nalini: What’s your take on this?

John: I’m just talking about growing up, basically, and the idea that, in most of the future worlds I like, there were no gay people in the future. Even things like Blakes 7 and Doctor Who, there were no queers in the future. This particular film, which is from 1980 – so I would have been eight when it came out – is a film that is meant to be heterosexual but fails. It’s got this weird sensuality bubbling through it. It’s very camp, but not by design. I don’t think it’s meant to be camp; it’s not meant to be Flash Gordon. Somehow it’s become that, and that’s what I’m talking about. It’s the idea of how there are many different ways of viewing things and how these things can appear to us now. So that’s my only performance comedy piece. I’m happy doing Boxcutters and the occasional talk.

Stand-up comedy is a bit too much like standing up in front of an audience and shouting ‘please love me’ over and over. It gets a bit desperate after a while.

Nalini: I can see that you probably want to move on, and what you’re doing is really exciting. I’m just trying to build up a picture of who you are and what you’re doing now.

John: I’m much happier as a writer.

Nalini: Outland starts on the eighth of February.

John: We have the Facebook page, that is our only really official online thing www.facebook.com/outlandtv. Have you seen the tumbler Where’s Outland

Nalini: No.

John: It’s hilarious. It’s actually created anonymously. We didn’t know who it was for quite a while but we eventually worked out who it is. Our first two publicity shots were that very standard ABC ‘five-people-on-a-white-background’ thing, the kind of shot you automatically have to do. Someone realised you can put it into Photoshop and easily Photoshop them into other locations. Then this blog called ‘Where’s Outland?’ started – because people have been waiting for this show for quite a while – in which every day is a new image of them. So it’ll be them on Blakes’ 7 or our five characters at the Kennedy assassination; every day they’re somewhere else. It’s just these two images. It’s hilarious, it’s very fun.

Nalini: It sounds it. It sounds like a bit of Where’s Wally.

John: Someone just started it as a joke. It took us ages to work out who it was, which was also really funny. We were going ‘Who the hell is doing this?’

Nalini: Is it someone associated with the program or is it someone out in the audience?

John: I think it’s a friend of mine, but it’s never been quite clear.

Nalini: So it’s kind of a friend who is supporting you and is a fan.

John: Yeah. I like the fact we’ve got our own crazy fan before the show has even gone to air.

Nalini: That’s good. Spaced Out is the local LGBT science-fiction fan club. Have you had an official or unofficial response from them?

John: Absolutely. The funny thing is, when we started running this, Adam knew about them but I didn’t. I didn’t know about the group at all, when we started. Adam went to a couple of meetings but I didn’t go until later, until after the short film had been made. You can spot them in episode six. We invited them to come down and be on camera in episode six, in the Gay Pride March. You’ll see at least three or four of the members there. And you’ll see their banners, they lent us their banners as well. We invited them into a special screening we had at the ABC as well, and I popped into their Christmas party. So we try to keep those bonds as strong as we can.

Nalini: That’s awesome. You’ve got Cathy Larsen who is in publishing, but I can’t think of anybody else.

John: Cathy’s in episode six, she is spottable.

Nalini: Cool. I interviewed Cathy last year.

John: She’s great. She’s mad, but she’s great.

Nalini: I was just amazed. All the book covers. Forget the cat lady, she is the book cover lady.

John: Oh, yeah. I love it. She’s got some stuff on her wall, I think, different stages of the artwork. It must be difficult making art work like that, then they go and put words all over it.

Nalini: I really like her original cover for the Obernewtyn chronicles that she painted. That was actually one of the covers for Dark Matter, for issue 4, I think.

John: It’s a lovely ad. Princess cut that themselves, it came from within the production company. They kind of went: ‘Let’s sell it how we want it sold,’ so people see such a good representation of what the show is, what it’s really like.

Nalini: So many ads just don’t grab me, especially when they’re a sound bite intended to suck you in, but that ad really did. I’m looking forward to watching Outland.  Thank you for talking to Dark Matter.

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Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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