Marc Zicree [Interview]

Today’s interview subject is a writer who has had such varied and successful career, it almost seems made up. Is it truly possible that one man can be the voice behind everything from a legendary children’s cartoon series, to a cult classic horror television series, right down to a new age epic science fiction saga? Well, I am here today to say YES! Yes it is possible. And Marc Zicree is the man who can make all of this possible.

Marc Zicree’s early days were spent penning stories for the world renowned and now legendary cartoon series The Smurfs which is forever engrained in my mind as the best animated series of my youth, and the youth of so many of us out there, for generations in fact. He is also another part of the creative force behind a series that we have mentioned here at Trainwreck’d Society at lengths, the legendary Friday The 13th: The Series, a brilliant yet short lived series that was related to the film series in name only and was a truly unique experience in the world of television. Yes, the same guy who made us laugh our smurfing asses off as children was also responsible for scaring the shit out of us years later.

And recently, Marc is part of the guiding force behind Space Command, a science fiction that is gaining momentum and a hardcore following after and extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, which we will discuss in the words below. Basically, this is a guy who has done it all, and was kind enough to share some stories and words of wisdom with you fine readers here today. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some great words from legendary writer Marc Zicree!

What was the first bit of your writing that you can remember seeing performed on screen? Can you recall how you felt in that moment?

I can’t remember the first thing I saw on screen, but television and movies were a big influence as long as I can remember. I watched all the major shows on television as a kid and the original versions of Star Trek, Twilight Zone and Outer Limits were a huge influence.

Additionally this was a great time for science-fiction and fantasy in movies and I love the films of George Pal and Ray Harryhausen. Also 2001: A Space Odyssey came out when I was a kid and that was just astonishing.

At the same time, I was reading science fiction novels and comic books voraciously. It was a great era for both of those, the silver age comics with Marvel and DC and gold key etc. In terms of novels I was reading Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clarke, Heinlein and all the other major writers.

Smurfs was hands down my favorite cartoon when I was a kid. And I have recently become aware that you were a major factor in those early days of the show. What was it like to write for a show like this? And what are some of your favorite moments that you manage to write into the show?

I broke into television writing animation in my early 20’s and Smurfs was the second show I wrote for (the first was Space Ghost).

At that point, none of the animation had yet been done by Hanna-Barbera and none of us had heard of the Smurfs. We were told it was a huge sensation in Europe and were shown some of the graphic novels. Peyo and Delaport, the creators of the Smurfs, flew in from Belgium to meet with us writers and explain to us what the Smurfs were.

Then we started coming up with stories and writing scripts. It was great fun, because the characters were so very distinctive and the look was unique. They were also really funny and it was fun writing comedy. Plus Gargamel was voiced by Paul Winschel, who had a television show in Los Angeles as a ventriloquist when I was a kid and was one of my idols.

Of the Smurfs scripts I wrote, my favorite was “It Came From Outer Smurf,” because that was a science-fiction story about an alien landing in a flying saucer in the Smurf Village and disguising himself as a Smurf. Very much in my ballpark.

You did a great amount of work on the highly underrated and now cult favorite show Friday The 13th: The Series. The horror genre seems a bit of a stretch from the stuff you were doing previous to the shows release, so what made you want to become a part of the Friday franchise? Were you a fan of the films prior to working on the show?

Friday the 13th: The Series was my first job as a story editor and I enjoyed it greatly. I had an office on the Paramount lot and it was the same time they were shooting Star Trek: The Next Generation, so it was all very exciting.

The show had nothing in common with the movies, which I found sadistic, other than the title, which is what helped sell the show. In fact, the show had what I found to be a moral core, as it was about two young people and a friend helping to undo the wrongs their late uncle had done. I had grown up with horror movies such as Frankenstein and The Haunting and it was a genre I loved, when it was done well.

I’m very proud of the work I did on that show, and I enjoyed finding the balance between writing a story that would have meaning and writing something that would be scary. I’m most proud of an episode I wrote called “Pipe Dream,” which was about Ryan and his father and their very troubled relationship, which was a very autobiographical piece.

I also think it’s amusing that I’m the only writer who wrote for both Smurfs and Friday the 13th: The Series. I often tell people that they were very similar in that the phrase most often said by the characters in both was, “Oh, no!”.

Marc and his writing/life partner Elaine.

While you have worked in so many different genres, it seems as though you have quite the preference for the science fiction world. What is it that has made you work so much in the science fiction genre?

The shows that made me want to be a writer  were the original Outer Limits, the original Star Trek and the original Twilight Zone.

I also was avidly reading science fiction, including the works of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon.  So it was only natural that would be the genre I would gravitate toward.

One of the things I love about science fiction  is that it allows you to look deeply within yourself and comment profoundly on life and the world around us. Taking it one step away from the current moment and events of the day allows you to be both more specific and more universal.

I also love world building, projecting a possible future and also offering a tantalizing possibility of going beyond the specific story or characters and out into a much wider universe that I’ve created.this allows for the man’s number of storylines and also collaboration with others to expand that fictional world.

And yes, while I have written westerns and horror and comedy and other genres, my heart belongs mostly in science fiction.

Additionally, my mentors have all been in the genre, in one way or another,  including Ray Bradbury. So again I was learning from the best and then striving to create high-quality work of my own.

How great did it feel when your Kickstarter campaign for Space Command absolutely CRUSHED its goal? Had you anticipated such a turn out?

I was very gratified when we raised over $221,000 on our original Kickstarter campaign. Since then, I’ve sold  investment shares in Space Command and raised over half a million more. In fact, we’re still selling shares until we sell the series itself, so it’s a great opportunity for investors.

I’ve always felt I’ve shared the same enthusiasms and aesthetic as my audience, so it was a pleasant surprise but not wholly unexpected.

What is the latest news in the world of Space Command? What should fans be expecting next?

We’ve shot the first two-hour story and are now in post production on that, have also shot 35 minutes of the second two hour story, and the opening scene of the third two-hour story — essentially a good representative sample of what will be a first season representing twelve one-hour episodes.

Our VFX team is now working full-time on the 1,900 VFX shots in the first two hour story — essentially our Space Command pilot.  I’ve written the first eight hours of the twelve-hour first season, and have outlined hours nine through twelve, plus a prequel.

I’m now actively pitching the show to major networks and platforms, both here and in England and France.  So hopefully Space Command will be available soon.  I can’t wait to share it with the world.

I’m thrilled with what we’ve produced so far.  You can check out our trailers and more at http://www.spacecommandseries.com and also my YouTube Channel Mr. Sci-Fi at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkKt7gHnZpcY0nreBdPhwmQ

And of course there’s my Facebook and Twitter posts, and also http://www.marczicree.com

What else do you have going on? Anything else coming up that you would like to plug to our readers?

The new Twilight Zone Companion comes out at Christmas, with tons of new material, including links to audio and video rarities, plus new interviews with Rod’s daughter Jodi and George Takei.

Beyond this, we’ve founded a new company called Better Angels Productions, with our studio here in LA, an Executive VP of Business Affairs in Dallas and a presence in London.  We’ll be doing three features in the next two years, and have a slate of nine movie and TV projects.  So lots of exciting times ahead.

I’ve also just finished a memoir about my mom and am writing three new books:

My Ray Bradbury, about my friendship with Ray Bradbury; My Televised Life, about growing up watching TV and then making television, in all its past and current permutations; and The Making of Space Command.

Star Wars novelist Maya Bohnhoff has also written the first Space Command novel, which will be coming out soon.

Oh, and Elaine and I also mentor writers, directors, actors and producers.  You can find out all about that at http://www.marczicree.com too.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

When the money came through a few days ago for my wife Elaine to be hired to write the feature Subversive, based on current member of Parliament Lord Peter Hain’s memoir about this apartheid-era activist parents in South Africa.  We’re aboard that movie as producers, along with two producers in the UK, and we’ll be leaving in a couple weeks for England, Wales and South Africa to research the film so Elaine can jump in writing the script.  I can’t wait.

Advertisements

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: