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Space Command: An Apology

I hate when I make mistakes and I think I've made a big one in putting you all onto the Space Command project. Although it appears to be a going project, it is not what it was sold as. I think the problem is that it raised almost three times what its Kickstarter goal was and the money went to Marc Zicree's head. He's been changing what Space Command is and some of the best people have already left the project because of it.

Several people have told me that Zicree purposefully misled them to keep them on long enough to close the deal. As I understand it Doug Drexler came up with the original idea, but when Zicree's script was written, it pretty much ignored everything they had planned together. The main reason I got so excited about this project in the first place was because Doug, a talented and experienced VFX Supervisor, was on board. Doug has since left the crew over disagreements with Zicree surrounding the changes in direction and a fair amount of dishonesty.

Now, Zicree has stopped any pretense that this was a group vision and is imposing his own ideas. From what I can tell as an investor, he's now trying to make it into a TV series, or at least a Web series, to showcase his writing and directing talents. The project, whatever it will become, will be co-directed by Zicree and Neil Johnson. So who is he? I looked up Johnson's directorial work and was appalled by it. He is at best a one-star director. Zicree himself seems to be lacking the director's eye as well. His directing of World Enough and Time for the Web was high school amateur-hour quality, in spite of some excellent actors.

I went out to meet with Zicree at his roundtable meeting in the San Fernando Valley. It's a wonderful group that he and his wife started about 20 years ago. Various talents in film, from steady-cam operators to screen writers, actors and DPs meet and help each other out with readings and in creating killer demo reels and on other projects. Unfortunately, I left that meeting not at all comfortable about the direction the Space Command project was headed in, especially as Zicree presented it at that particular meeting.

So here's my take: The project continues on and Zicree plans to make at least three-to-four low budget/low production value videos to showcase his writing and directing. There will be no high-quality, well-directed feature film as originally promised. I feel Zicree duped many of us and I apologize for touting the project to my readers. One great sadness is, having met some of the very talented actors that have been cast, I feel they, too, were duped. With inept direction, even the best of actors can't give the performances they intend to deliver.

If I'm wrong about any this, please enlighten me by posting below.

17 Comments

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tonyewhitehead Tony Whitehead

    If this remains on its current trajectory, I am wondering if the could be some legal action brought forward as a result of the aforementioned producer taking money intended for certain purposes if he has clearly gone off the course of what the initial pitch was. Certainly, there are times when storylines, characters, etc. have to be ammended to help fulfill a vision, but from how this appears, this seems not to be the case. Hopefully, the differences can be resolved, as this project has a lot of potential to be very luctrative financially. It’s not too late to create a brand new universe for Space Command.

    • Peter Plantec

      I doubt that there will be any legal action Tony. You are right, the original vision was quite good and potentially could have produced a lucrative franchise. Marc is not a bad writer at all…quite excellent in fact. If he could have held to the original vision and kept the original team in tact I would have been a happy camper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.renfro.90 Mark Renfro

    Really sad that you would erase my last message because I criticized the way the article was reported. It seems that this is insightful into how you conduct yourself professionally. Feel free to erase this message also. Was hoping that you would be accepting of criticism, because you certainly like to criticize others.

    • Peter Plantec

      I didn’t erase anything Mark. I didn’t see it please repost. I’ve never erased any comments. I invite criticism. I’m not infallible. This is a forum where all sides get aired and your option is as valid as mine.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidSimkins1 David Simkins

    To quote you, “I think the problem is…” “…as I understand it…” “I feel they, too, were duped…” Peter, contact Marc Zicree directly and get his perspective on all your concerns. I’ve known Marc for almost 20 years. His goals are honorable. Don’t throw spitballs from the sidelines because your man-on-the-team Mr. Drexler was dismissed and you weren’t consulted. But I guess you already did.

    Sincerely,

    David Simkins

    • Peter Plantec

      David, these are my opinions, not Doug’s. I invested in and promoted this project based on the original sales videos produced by Marc. I hope the project is successful…honestly. But I feel I was mislead and I then mislead my readers. Doug doesn’t approve of my writing this. It is purely my opinion after meeting with Mark, watching what has been going on. Instead of making one good feature, he now wants to stretch that meager budget to several super low budget productions. The sales pitch was all about quality and high production values. I also feel he’s been treating investors like pre-teens with his razzle dazzle updates and premiums. It’s embarrassing. There is more, but that is the gist of it David. I will be surprised if the project is successful, but happy for the outstanding actors and other support people who are working on it. I want my readers to know that I mislead them unintentionally, and feel that I was definitely mislead by Marc.

    • Doug Drexler

      Hi David. I’d never met Peter before SC, so you really couldn’t call me his “man on the team”. I wasn’t “dismissed” from Space Command. I left the project of my own volition. Best wishes – Doug Drexler

  • Doug Drexler

    While I agree with some points in this article, I would not go so far as
    to characterize Marc as dishonest. Peter is entitled to his opinions. I
    am not a part of SC due to rather strong creative differences with
    Marc. No, I’m not really happy about the way things turned out, but I
    will not badmouth Marc or SC in print. I’m sure they will do a fine job,
    and I wish them the best.

    • Peter Plantec

      Sorry Doug, these are my own opinions and I knew you might disagree with me. But I feel strongly that I was mislead as to the purpose of the kickstarter effort. The videos hyped it as a chance to sidestep the studio system and create a rip roaring crowd funded old school sci-fi feature film. Now suddenly it’s something completely different and IMHO, something significantly diminished. Why he has to write four or five scripts, rather than one good one is very telling. I personally feel I was duped and that I in turn mislead my readers, some of whom invested in the project. I’m quite angry about it.

  • Eric Nyquist

    As an investor (mid-level – I plunked down about $300), I’ve definitely had a bit of “the wind taken out of my sails” in the past couple of months.

    Originally, back in the spring and early summer, it seemed that Mr. Zicree was building an talented community of artists in various fields to produce a great new project that would reinvigorate TV S.F. New artists seemed to be being added weekly, and there was a great arena of ideas going back and forth between the creators and the fans/supporters…

    As soon as the Kickstarter drive ended, communication dried up almost entirely. The excitement and creative energy one could see and feel in the early months vanished. Then, “the band broke up” with the production team shakeups. Talk of changed premises and story focus popped up. Doug Drexler (the source of my original interest in the project) was no longer a key creator. Steve Neill was shown the door, etc.

    I’m trying NOT to be pessimistic, but just recently my confidence took another hit when several days ago, Mr. Zicree put a posting on Facebook about his completion of his first script (good news) and that supporters should look in their e-mail inboxes for a special message…

    It’s been a few days, and nothing.

    As a certain genre TV character is famous for saying, “I want to believe.” Unfortunately it is getting more and more difficult.

    • Peter Plantec

      Thanks for pitching in Eric. I was feeling like I was standing alone here. $300.00 is a significant chunk to invest and then have this happen. Being a huge fan of golden age Scifi, I was very excited about this great sounding feature project. You apparently thought of it as a TV project. I never got that until after the funding closed. It was definitely sold to me as a feature film project. I have no idea what it is now. I got worried when Marc finally answered my question: “Do you have a distribution deal?” It took a while to get sort of a “no” but they could distribute it via download. At my last inquiry Marc wanted to make this movie with no real place to put it when it was done. That was not a satisfactory answer. I hope he finds a good way to distribute it. I would certainly take care of that before writing the forth or fifth script! The only person who has answers to these fuzzy parts is Marc Zicree. I hope he has good ones and isn’t just playing around with nearly a quarter million in investor money.

  • Peter Plantec

    Pony, we appear to have a genuine difference of opinion. IMHO World enough and Time is a well written piece with interesting characters. The directing was amateurish because even with the high quality of some of the actors, most of the performances were not believable. It was more like a table reading with virtually no affect. It was like actors going through the motions and Marc not noticing. Facial expressions were ether missing, over exaggerated or at times seemingly inappropriate. The performances for the most part were not believable. Christina Moses did well, but not nearly up to her best work. Okay Snarky…maybe, in the sense of irascible. Yes. I am angry at Marc for pulling this. But my purpose in pointing out his ineptitude in directing and his unwillingness to let anyone else direct was to warn investors that he was making bad self centered decisions. Otherwise he wold have found a better director. As for jealous, no. I would rather pour battery acid in my eyes than direct a major motion picture. I live an idyllic life in the mountains and would not care to trade it for anything Hollywood might have to offer.

  • Mark Gantt

    I have know Marc for two years now and have nothing bad I could say about him. In terms of you feeling like you were mislead with what the project was going to be and what it is turning into, I think as a filmmaker I can understand that the in the creative process of developing a project, sometimes what you first envisioned becomes something completely different. I think it’s a natural for thinks to change and morph into what they are organically turning in to. I’m sure that the product that they will create will be the best they can make with the money they’ve raised.

  • James Hornsby

    I’ve read this article with some reservation as I do have a huge amount of respect for Marc. With that being said, I worked in areas of entertainment that respected the works of the other people involved with SC including Marc. Since Doug and Peter have raised their collective disappointing views on the direction of where SC is going, I fear that Marc, is in a sense seeing himself as a showrunner, and that SC will have people breaking down his door to get a crack at it. With what I’ve feared based upon the promo video which barely watchable, and the recent requests Marc is making (ergo a request for a Videographer at San Diego Comic Con without any form of compensation whatsoever for their coverage of Marc through the day leads me to believe that Marc isn’t dealing with reality. I do remember hearing the statement made that he had some 12 new episodes written for SC (and granted this was probably early this year or late last year s I have not attended Table in some time), but I pondered on the question WHY? regarding new episodes. The amount stated would have been more than enough for a top notch pilot that could really grab attention. Instead, there is this whimsical fantasy of being able to shoot a series, or a mini with the budget he has, and not paying people along the way for helping by providing their respected talents?

    This seems tragic, and granted I’m not at the level of the recent poster’s, however I have sat in meetings with the likes of Ken Kamens, Amy Ferris, Frank Wuliger, Richard Arlook, and Aaron Meyerson and can tell the difference between a pitch and a haymaker.

  • SciFi_C

    I too was an investor during the Kick-starter campaign… Certain levels where offered special items… I have yet to see any of the promised items shipped. My money (I thought) was well spent for a sound project.. knowing the artistic works of both gentlemen… (and extra funds for me are hard to come by).. but.. Now I have alot of disappointment in the way things have turned out with the project….

  • Fred Fighter

    While there is no accounting for taste, Marc Scott ZIcree’s script for “World Enough, and Time” was good enough for a third place finish in the 2007 Nebula Awards and his directing didn’t stop the episode from winning TV Guides’ Best Sci Web Series.

  • http://batman-news.com Bill Hughes

    I’m not sure where SC will go or what will be the result of the efforts put to it, but I do know that there isn’t a lot of good Sci-Fi anywhere these days. We who love it are going to have to step up to the plate and make it ourselves! I certainly believe that you are obligated to produce what you’ve promised when you’re taking in money from investors. We’ve done a Kickstarter on an animated Cartoon Cowboy film and are beholden to our investors to be sure! We’re also doing another Sci-Fi project that’s not crowd-funded. Either way, bottom line is these are exciting days when fans can become creators! There’s also a responsibility to do great work and not grind out the same old junk or armature work. Fresh visions are the name of the game! I hope some of these films catch fire and build a loyal audience (especially ours). I also personally look forward to the day when Doug does make his film.

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