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If you are of a certain age and inclination, you have fond memories of Gerry Anderson’s numerous Supermarionation shows like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Stingray, Fireball XL5, and Terrahawks.

His son Jaime Anderson is the Director of Anderson Entertainment, the film production company set up by Gerry Anderson MBE and his wife Mary. Today the company continues to develop projects from Gerry Anderson’s personal archive as well as managing his estate and existing work.

The Kickstarter for Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm recently met its funding goals in four days, and a pilot for the show is heading into production.

We got to talk with Jamie about the project…

JEFF PATTERSON: Firestorm looks like an ambitious project. Can you give us a little history behind it?

JAMIE ANDERSON: It was originally conceived of by Dad and developed by him and an ex-business partner under the title Storm Force in 2001. By the end of 2002 a deal had been struck to sell the series to a Japanese production company. They developed the project for a Japanese audience as an anime series.

Fast forward to 2013 and after several meetings Firestorm was brought up in conversation. We began looking at redeveloping the project from the ground up – but using techniques that people consider to be inextricably linked with Gerry Anderson shows. Amazing models, puppets, and stunning practical effects.

We hawked it around a few investors and broadcasters, but they wanted to make changed to the project that took it too far away from our vision for keeping it a true Gerry Anderson project, so we turned to Kickstarter.

We have an amazing crew who are all incredibly excited to be getting the show off the ground and now we know the pilot minisode is green lit, everyone is revving up to get moving. We’re essentially already in pre-production!

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JP: The Kickstarter page shows a lot of model and miniature work being utilized, and it sometimes feels like that’s a forgotten art form. Has their been any challenge in finding specialists and technical staff to build and manipulate the practical effects?

JA: It’s strange – with the reduction in the use of practical visual effects, you might feel like it was a dying art with an ever reducing number of artisans. But actually, this isn’t the case at all. We have an immense amount of practical effects talent in the UK – and we’ve been inundated with offers of help from practical effects experts and talented model builders from all over the world. There’s clearly a lot of passion around for in-camera effects!

JP: Despite the return to a classic Supermarionation aesthetic, nothing in the designs looks particularly retro. Vehicles and uniforms have a nice contemporary feel. Was that a conscious choice?

JA: Absolutely – although I don’t think we’re leaving everything “Supermarionation” behind. There was a certain colour aesthetic which we’re trying to bring back. This series has a utopian feel to it, and we’re moving away from the totally utilitarian look of modern scifi ships and vehicles, which has become fairly ubiquitous. We don’t leave our cars with a bare metal paint job (nor our airliners, boats etc.) so why should everything be gray? It’s so dull!

Steve Begg’s vehicle designs, updated by Eric Chu and other concept artists will fit the 23rd century world that Firestorm is set in perfectly, while maintaining the exciting functional complexity and cool launches that everyone has come to expect from a Gerry Anderson series.

JP: You have names like Nick Tate, Nicholas Briggs, and Shane Rimmer attached to the project. How easy or difficult was it to recruit them?

JA: Surprisingly easy. Everyone involved in the project so far is an absolute joy to work with! Nick, Nicholas and Shane (and the rest of our voice cast) are all lovely, and all have strong positive feelings about Anderson shows – whether they’ve previously starred in them or just enjoyed them.
I’ve been working with Nicholas Briggs for some time on the Terrahawks audio series, and he’s been incredibly supportive of the whole process. I’m really grateful that the project seems to have attracted such lovely folk to the cast and crew!

JP: The name “Gerry Anderson” still illicits warm reactions from fans. His brand of science fiction adventure was iconic. Has it been tough stepping into that role?

JA: Yes. They’re bloody enormous shoes to fill, and I think if I can achieve just 5% of what Dad achieved in his lifetime, then I’ll be utterly thrilled. It’s a bit of a daunting task, and obviously I’m working hard not to get it wrong, but with such an amazing legacy, it’s pretty easy to feel excited and inspired every day. I’m very lucky to be doing what I’m doing.

JP: The project reached it’s funding goals in 4 days, which means there’s fan enthusiasm for the project. Do you have a long-term best-case plan for Firestorm being an ongoing property?

JA: Absolutely! This project absolutely must go to a full series, and I really hope that once we have the pilot in the can, it’ll be such a strong proof-of-concept piece that we’ll be able to get the series financed and underway before too long. The whole project just has a very exciting feel to it.

JP: The Kickstarter ecosystem tends to be fueled by extras and incentives. What kind of swag are you offering backers?

JA: All sorts! Of course we’re offering DVDs, Blu-Rays, and posters. But also behind-the-scenes materials like scripts and storyboards, as well as prototype props, miniatures and other goodies. If you’re feeling flush you can even have a character designed and named after you! Surely being a hero character in a Gerry Anderson series is worth a punt?

JP: Thanks so much!

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter page for Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm!

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