Anderson Entertainment has announced the launch of Firestorm on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter this morning (30th September 2014). Fans of iconic Gerry Anderson shows like Space: 1999, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, UFO and Thunderbirds will be able to back the project to help fund the pilot episode in return for special limited edition rewards from props and collector edition DVDs, to set visits and film credits.
Two names among the team busy behind the scenes on the production familiar to downthetubes readers will be comics artists Steve Kyte and Lee Sullivan, perhaps best known for his work on Transformers and his stunning Dalek strips for Doctor Who Magazine.
Firestorm is a Gerry Anderson concept that was originally produced and released by a Japanese company as an anime series across Japan and South East Asia in 2003. This new version of the Gerry Anderson concept has been redeveloped from Gerry’s original synopsis and story outline documents.
Firestorm is set at the end of the 22nd century, when humankind has pulled itself up by its bootstraps. The wars and political disputes that were so common throughout the 21st century are long behind us, and hummankind has finally taken responsibility for its own actions. The Earth in 2200 is very different from the one we worried about in 2014 – environmental, social and humanitarian crises are a thing of the past, and things have been that way for nearly 50 years. But in 2202, a new threat emerges.
Terrorist activity surfaces on several continents. At first the world governments deal with them quietly, without any real public awareness but the activity becomes better and better co-ordinated and more widespread. Soon the Continental senates decide to take action, and they invest vast amounts of resources into forming Storm Force – an organisation designed specifically to investigate and neutralise this new threat.
Supplied with the most advanced technology available, Storm Force begin Operation Firestorm to bring down the terrorist group known as Black Orchid. But as the 9th division of Storm Force (SF9) begin to make progress, they discover that Black Orchid is only a very small part of the picture, and that they themselves have had to make an impossible choice…
This Kickstarter project’s aim is to raise enough funding to make the necessary models, sets, and puppets, and to pay for the production of a pilot minisode of Firestorm – in all its Ultramarionation glory! At it’s lowest level – that amount is £49,280.
Firestorm was originally conceived and developed by Gerry Anderson in 2001 under the title ‘Storm Force’. The series was eventually bought by a Japanese production company and developed as an anime series. By the time it reached the screen it was quite different to the original series Gerry Anderson had put together, and Anderson Entertainment want to go back to those original concepts and develop them as a true Gerry Anderson production.
Once funding from the Kickstarter campaign has been successfully raised, a pilot episode will be made with a new filming technique called ‘Ultramarionation’, the next stage in evolution from the famous ‘Supermarionation’ technique of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, using a combination of puppetry, practical effects, physical props and sets, and model miniatures.
The production team includes BAFTA award winning effects supervisor Steve Begg – Effects Supervisor, best known for his recent work on the Bond films (Skyfall, Casino Royale, Goldeneye), Wolfman, Tomb Raider, Batman, Batman Begins, and Aliens but also as a long-time Gerry Anderson regular – working on everything from Terrahawks to Space Precinct and New Captain Scarlet. Steve is the original concept artist and designer of almost all the craft in Firestorm.
Also on board are Eric Chu – Concept and Design – best known for his beautiful redesigns of the spacecraft and Cylons in the new Battlestar Galactica; and BAFTA award winning, and Emmy nominated model effects artist Mike Tucker – Model Effects – best known for his work on Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. Mike’s “Model Unit” was responsible for the BAFTA award winning effects on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode in 2013.
With over 30 years of experience Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders’ talented team, who are supplying puppets, have had the privilege of bringing some of the world’s best known animated characters to life – from Bob the Builder, Postman Pat and Fifi and the Flowertots, to Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox.
Their Gerry Anderson connection runs deep – Ian Mackinnon had his very first paid job working on the 1980s pilot show Space Police, and the company was also responsible for the puppets in Gerry Anderson’s Lavender Castle. From concept maquettes, mould making and armatures to costume, hair and paint, their team will always go the extra mile to ensure the characters that are produced create the maximum impact on screen.
Mark Woollard will be Director of the pilot, who worked with Gerry from the early 1980s right up until his last project, New Captain Scarlet and beyond – working with Gerry to develop his new ideas until Gerry’s Alzheimer’s Disease stopped him working in 2011. Mark’s Anderson credits include Terrahawks, Dick Spanner, Space Police, Space Precinct, and New Captain Scarlet. Mark is also an experienced animation director – recently directing Little Charlie Bear for Annix Studios.
Also involved are David Elliott as Consultant Director, one of the original members of the AP Films team – best known for directing on Thunderbirds. He returns as a consultant on the Firestorm project.
Steve Kyte is the project’s Character Designer, his name is inextricably linked with Gerry Anderson productions, and in particular Firestorm. His work includes strips and covers for Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and many more. He was also the original character designer selected by Gerry Anderson in 2001.
Star Trek designer Michael Okuda is also involved, best known for his contributions to the Star Trek Universe (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager). Michael is the man behind LCARS – the famous fictional computer system used throughout the Enterprise D and other starships.
Andy Rolfe, who will deliver the set construction, is a lifelong fan of Gerry Anderson’s work, and worked with Gerry on several projects. Fans may have seen his work on Captain Scarlet: SIG, and the recent documentary – Filmed in Supermarionation – where Andy was responsible for some incredible recreations of the original Supermarionation sets. He has also built incredibly detailed 1/3 scale props and sets for films like Wolfman, Casino Royale, and Skyfall.
Jamie Anderson is Series Producer, Gerry Anderson’s younger son, and managing director of Anderson Entertainment. He is the man charged with carrying on the legacy of the UK’s Walt Disney. His recent successes include a publishing deal with Orion for Gerry’s final novel series – Gemini Force One, and the production of a new audio drama series of the cult 1980s Anderson title – Terrahawks.
“Developing Firestorm ready to be filmed in Ultramarionation has been an absolute joy,” says Jamie. “Film-making methods like practical effects, the expert use of miniatures and puppetry were pioneered by the incredibly talented teams at AP Films and Century 21 on shows like Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999 and Thunderbirds and it will be my pleasure to bring them back to the screen for a 21st century audience.”
The campaign is aiming to raise a minimum of £49,000 to produce a 5-8 minute minisode introducing some of the characters and storyline elements of the series. It also features various ‘stretch goals’, so if more money is raised, it will allow for further development of characters and storyline, introducing further scenes and explosions up to a 22 minute pilot episode if £135,000 is raised and a full 45 minute feature episode if £342,000 is raised.
As Mr Anderson sums it up, “It’s my hope that generations of Gerry Anderson fans from all over the world will join us for this project on Kickstarter and help us bring the UK’s own Walt Disney’s next project – Firestorm – to TV screens in the very near future!”
• For further information visit: www.GerryAnderson.co.uk/Firestorm