Watch the creepy trailer for Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House

Netflix has released its first trailer for its upcoming adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House. The adaptation is a reimagining of the series, following the five children who grew up in the house, flashing back and forth between the past and present. It looks like a really creepy binge, and it’ll hit your screen on October 12th.

Haunting of Hill House gets a Netflix Adaptation

One of Vermont’s most famous SF/F writers is Shirley Jackson, who lived in the Bennington area. She was a prolific author, and while she lived in Vermont, she wrote one of her more famous novels, The Haunting of Hill House inspired in part by Jennings Hall on the campus of Benningotn College.

The novel has gotten its share of adaptations — films in 1963 and in 1999, but a new adaptation is on its way: Netflix will release a TV show based on the novel, which will debut on October 12th on the service. According to Entertainment Weekly, it’ll follow a family in the past and in the modern day as “they deal with the ghosts, both literal and figurative, that have come to haunt them.”

1st Trailer for The Expanse

We’re huge fans of the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey, and we were pretty excited when news broke that the books would be adapted for television on SyFy. What got us even more excited was that Hawk Otsby, of the Burlington area (and who also wrote Iron Man and Children of Men) was attached as the lead writer.

Now, the show is headed for television this fall, and SyFy released their first trailer for the series:


What do you think?

Movies You Missed: ‘Black Mirror’

Margot Harrison over on Seven Days has a special edition of Movies You Missed, looking not at a movie, but television show Black Mirror. The Channel 4 show in the UK is possibly some of the best speculative fiction I’ve ever seen. It’s deeply satirical, very dark, and thought provoking.

In our year-end film wrap-up, I noted my dislike for films with curmudgeon characters who grouse about the internet and social media. (That goes for TV, too, Aaron Sorkin!) That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in questioning and satirizing internet culture. Far from it. I just think the critique needs to be done by people who understand the appeal of that culture in the first place, people who can get at it from the inside.

“Black Mirror” is powerful because its creators understand why people enjoy virtual reality. Technology isn’t the villain in this series, as the title indicates. Our many screens stay black until we program them to mirror back our own desires and fears. That’s when things can get out of control.

So far, not one episode has featured an independently malign artificial intelligence (e.g., Skynet). The emphasis is always on the human creator or user.

Read the reset of her thoughts here.

I’ll second everything she said: this was something I’ve heard a bit about over the last couple of years, and now that it’s on Netflix, it’s readily accessible. This isn’t a show that I’d recommend binging though: it’s something better to watch one at a time, with plenty of time to digest what you’ve seen.

South Burlington Writer Lands SyFy Show with The Expanse

News just broke: James S.A. Corey’s (Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) Expanse series is headed for the Syfy channel, written by South Burlington writer Hawk Ostby (co-writer with Children of Men and Iron Man).

This, needless to say, is awesome. The Expense series is composed of three books at the moment: Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate, with a fourth, Ciabola Burn, due out later this year. Here’s the short blurb from Entertainment Weekly:

A thriller set two hundred years in the future, The Expanse follows the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain together in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.

Read the full article here.

Syfy has greenlit a direct-to-order series with ten episodes in the first season. It looks like they’re going the Game of Thrones route, by adapting each volume as a season. This is excellent to see, because Syfy has been on the ropes for a couple of years now: this would bring them thundering back with a space show. They’ve done some good stuff in the past, such as Battlestar Galactica, and this could be just as excellent. Otsby is a fantastic writer, and he’s been attached to some of the best SF projects to hit the screen in a while.

Hopefully, they’ll keep the mention of Vermont Cheddar Cheese in the series.

Vermont Screenwriter on ‘The Expanse’

File this under AWESOME. Local screenwriter Hawk Otsby (Children of Men, Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens), along with screenwriting partner Mark Fergus will adapt the James S.A. Corey series The Expanse for television.

The Expanse, written by writing duo Ty Frank and Daniel Abraham (James S.A. Corey together), takes place in a populated solar system and deals with the inter-planetary fallout of alien contact. Three books have been published in the series: Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate, with three more expected in the next three years.

Vermont, incidentally, gets a nice name check in Leviathan Wakes, where Vermont Cheddar Cheese is mentioned as an expensive, smuggled commodity.

There’s no word on where The Expanse will appear on television, or when. Fingers crossed that it navigates the minefield of the television industry!

Star Trek: Best of Both Worlds at Palace 9

The Palace 9 theater in South Burlington will be screening the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Best of Both Worlds on April 25th at 7pm, as part of a national, special screening. Tickets will be on sale soon.

The episodes comprised the season finale of Season 3 and the first episode of Season 4 for the long-running Star Trek show and won two Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Art Direction for a Series” and “Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series” and have frequently appeared on best of lists for television episodes and is frequently cited as some of the top episodes in the entire series.

Details here. Facebook event.

BTV Radio Players present The Gloved Fox!

It started with a serendipitous discovery. Early in 2012, Andrew Liptak, the founder of Geek Mountain State, mentioned an upcoming performance by The Intergalactic Nemesis at the Flynn Theater. On a whim, my partner Andrew Rash and I decided to check out this unique, interesting-looking performance art that mixed live radio drama with Foley effects and comic book images projected onto a large screen.

Inspired by this experience, my partner Andrew developed an original superhero-esque character named the Gloved Fox, set her heroic exploits in a 30’s-era city, and started approaching friends and acquaintances with his idea of writing, producing, and directing a live radio drama complete with Foley effects. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Friends of friends asked how they could take part in this adventure. Actors, radio lovers, sound designers, and aspiring Foley artists all came together and asked, “How can we make this happen?”

Andrew approached Bill Simmon and the staff at VCAM to discuss using VCAM’s equipment to record the episodes with the intention of creating both a video and audio version. Though the episodes were to be designed primarily for the radio/Internet listener, Andrew also wanted to create something visually appealing to highlight the acting and skill that goes into radio theater and Foley artistry. Andrew’s ideas intrigued Bill, and he eagerly agreed to help us figure out how to make The Gloved Fox! possible.

Thus, The Gloved Fox! was born! As of today, we’ve recorded episode 1 – “The Thespian’s Revenge” – and made it available as a video version on Youtube and a downloadable audio version through Google docs. We learned quite a bit about on-the-fly sound mixing with this first episode, as you will hear when you listen/watch (since it was performed in one take without post-editing). Our technical issues revolved mostly around audio mixing and how different types of microphones pick up sounds – issues that we will iron out with future recordings (and the help of a more experienced audio engineer who has joined our team!).

Designing the Foley SFX has been one of the most geekilicious aspects of this project, and as lead of sound design and Foley artistry, I’ve learned a great deal about creating and performing SFX. Our goal is to perform most of the SFX live, relying on pre-recorded sound as little as possible. This goal has led to fantastic sound design meetings where we’ve played with a variety of objects and brainstormed ideas for needed sounds, lengthy research sessions of old-time radio drama Foley techniques, random experimentation with various objects that we encounter each day, and e-mails with the creators of The Intergalactic Nemesis for advice. Some of our happiest discoveries so far: using a large suitcase to simulate car door opening and closing; “random acts of fruit violence” to mimic knife stabbing and neck breaking; and the maker talents of our friends in creating a beautiful and functional “Foley door.” While we still struggle to make the microphones pick-up certain sounds effectively (i.e. the thunder in episode 1), we eagerly continue our experiments as Andrew’s scripts challenge us to explore new ground with each episode.

We are scheduled to record episode 2 “Victims of the Voracious Vamp” and episode 3 “Wrath of the Wraith” on February 1st. Andrew has mapped out 10 episodes for The Gloved Fox!, after which he will write a series of Old West/Cowboy stories followed by a serial adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Stay tuned for upcoming episodes – and more “lessons learned” as we explore the world of live radio drama!

Fringe: Welcome to Westfield

The fantastic television show Fringe has visited Vermont once again, with episode 12 of the 4th season, Welcome to Westfield. After investigating a strange event involving a plane crash and electronics problems in ‘Southern Vermont’, the Fringe team finds themselves trapped in a town from which they can’t escape.

This was one of my favorite episodes of the season, because if felt like a throwback to the Season 1 and 2 episodes, where there were a bit more standalone episodes: this one involved the core group, rather than with some of the characters that have been added on over the years.

The problem with this episode though is Westfield. There is actually a Westfield, Vermont, located just off of Rt 100, south of Troy… and just a handful of miles from the Canadian Border, NOT Southern Vermont, as the episode claims in the beginning. Of course, this discrepency can be down to it being an alternate universe, but given that everything else is pretty much the same, I think we might need to send the writers a map of the state.

Vermont was previously featured in another episode, the 12th episode of Season 3. Hm… If there’s a 5th Season of Fringe, maybe we’ll see Vermont once again, in Episode 512. But, given the ratings of the show, that might never come to be.

Vermonter in Ridley Scott’s ‘Prophets of Science Fiction’

Vermonter Josh Pellerin, a high school classmate of mine, mentioned something very interesting the other day on Facebook: he’s playing the part of a young and old Jules Verne in a television series called ‘Prophets of Science Fiction‘, a television series airing on the Science channel. Helmed by Ridley Scott, the show looks at some of the visionaries behind the genre and what influenced them:

What once was just imagination is now real; what was once the distant future is now around the corner. The “Science Fiction” of the past has now simply become “Science”. And the science of the future was strangely prophesied by a group of visionaries whose dreams once may have deemed them renegades and “mad scientists,” have become reality!
In 1950, the term “Robotics” was coined by author Isaac Asimov in his book I.ROBOT — and our collective imagination reeled. In the years since, literature, movies and television have allowed us to embrace the notion that the ideas of a few inspired visionaries could be made real. What is more astonishing is that these ideas have been, are currently and will be put to practice in our everyday lives. Each episode of the upcoming series PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION will focus on how the great minds of Science Fiction imagined our future for us, and how some, in turn, made their fantasies real.
In a dynamic hyper-stylized way that has never been seen before…we will take a tour of what was, and what will be through the eyes of the visionary authors, illustrators, filmmakers, and scientists who have become the PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION!

Josh let me know what his role was:

In August I saw that a production was looking for a young Jules Verne and an old Jules Verne… He was such an amazing visionary and I’m a big fan now. Anyways, upon looking at depictions of him on google images, I thought I kind of bear a resemblance to him. The casting director did to apparently, because the next day I got a phone call asking if I could play Young Jules Verne for “Prophets of Science Fiction”. It was really great to hear. I didn’t even have to audition!

The shoot took place on August 18th at the Hollywood American Legion Post 43. It had a beautiful antique feeling inside. The crew was smaller than I was expecting, being a Ridley Scott production, but they were all efficient and fun to hang around with. I was really impressed with the beautiful make-up ladies’ beard-making abilities. I had to shave off my beard and sideburns for my first scene, gazing out at the moon from French explorer Francois Arago’s study (I hope that’s the right explorer name). I believe I was playing Jules just out of college, eager to learn all I could. For my later scene, where Jules attended the world fair, I was playing about 10 years older. The make-up gal applied hairs to my face just a few strands at a time. No gluing on a single beard. I think it’s the oldschool way of applying beards for films. It took a while, but it looked way better than most fake beards I’ve seen.

The costumes from that time period were also very impressive and fun to wear for the day. It was great imagining myself as this legendary visionary at the start of his career; Sketching out a submarine at the world fair, perusing through Francois’ incredible artifacts and findings from around the world like a kid in a candy store.

He also mentioned that he’s got a small role in a film called Argo, helmed by Ben Affleck, which has some science fictional elements.

The Jules Verne episode of Prophets of Science Fiction airs next Wednesday, the 22nd of February. From the website:

He put a man on the Moon in the Victorian Era. He criticized the Internet…in the 1863. Jules Verne is the ultimate futurist, with a legacy of sci-fi stories predicting everything from fuel cell technology to viral advertising. The extraordinary voyages of Jules Verne span from the center of the Earth to the surface of the Moon, inspiring art, industry, culture, and technology with an enduring question: Where can science take us?

Want to catch up on the show? iTunes has all the episodes released so far.