Jane Espenson: Writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica and consulting producer on Once Upon a Time.
Amy Berg: Writer of The 4400, Eureka and Person of Interest.
Moderated by Simon Davis Barry: Creator and showrunner of Continuum.
Sci fi has always been huge in movies but not in television until recently.
Jane Espenson: “Games of Thrones has helped a lot…the word genre has ceased being a dirty word…science fiction isn’t the dirty shameful corner of television anymore which is about damn time.” “Genre is everywhere.” “The fact that Once Upon a Time — total genre show — nobody says that. Everybody says big mainstream hit — ABC — in the tradition of Disney [but] it’s totally genre.”
“TV increasingly can deliver spectacle….there’s a shot in Once Upon a Time that kills me every time where Emma’s catching her breath…[but the] wall she’s standing behind is a massive body of a dragon and the dragon’s eye opens…later on it bursts into flames.” “Eye blinking open is the best thing.”
Jane Espenson: “Sci fi women rock. Buffy, Starbuck, President Roslyn. Have there been more wonderful heroines than have shown up on sci-fi recently?..Snow White’s good. She’s kicking ass. ..Starting to get gay characters in sci-fi too which has been a long time in coming . . . Sci-fi is built for diversity but have to be eternally vigilant.”
Jane Espenson: “On Once Upon a Time, women dominate our call sheet. We got the Queen, we got Emma, we got Snow White.
Amy Berg: wrote for two strong independent women on Eureka- Alison & Joe. “Science fiction more than any other genre allows for strong, independent-thinking intelligent women and hopefully that will trickle down to the other genres.
Amy Berg: “Regular show . . . there’s a box you’re writing into….like Person of Interest…With science fiction show can start from anywhere…so much more difficult…Eureka was a pain in the butt..only limitation was our imaginations and our budget….[and the line producer was a wizard with the budget] …. allowed to do anything we could think of…in Eureka there’s a sheriff and something is going to go horribly wrong…[solution to make each season] a closed end arc.”
Moderator Simon Barry: “Male lead [Carlos – Victor Webster] on my show [Continuum] is the traditional female lead on every other show….second banana position…[but] can’t do same things with a male character…that we’ve become accustomed to doing with a female character.”
Note: This is the first panel I attended at VIFF Industry, formerly VIFF Forum.