Gary Jones – Chief Mst Sgt. Walter Harriman from Stargate! Part Two!
And now it’s part two of our interview with Chief Mst Sgt. Walter Harriman from Stargate himself, Mr. Gary Jones! Don’t forget to check out part one!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Ardus
Gary Jones Part 2 video interview
Jeff: . [00:00:00] So, I read somewhere that the character of Walter was inspired or at least influenced by the character radar on mash and something that you’ve heard of. Is that true? Can you tell me about that?
Gary Jones: I don’t think, I think it was to be honest, I think it was just a coincidence because the, the character.
My character when I first started was like basically entitled technician. That was it. I didn’t have a rank. I didn’t have a name, but just technician and. Back in the day when you, when you’re just, when, you know, when you’re just, when you have like a generic title, you can be killed off, you know, it’s like they have, you can just kill you off and replace you with another technician.
Right? So the more that people were watching the show, they, and they, they started to see me quite a bit. [00:01:00] Fans started referring to me as Chevron guy. Right. I was all, look, it’s the Chevron guy and I have no control over that. Like I would just kind of be happy to be working. Oh, I’m on another episode. All that’s awesome.
That’s so great. And and then at some point they, they changed it to in the script. To Sergeant Davis, right? I, I was like, oh, okay. So now I’ve gone from technician to Sergeant Davis. The minute they give you a name, that’s a different deal. It’s like now they would have to kind of give a reason why you’re no longer.
If you, if they’re going to take you off the shelf, they’ve got to go, go, go. He was either killed or transferred or make some kind of reference to you that your, your, your character is no longer there. So. That was good. That was a good sign. And I was just I was a Sergeant and then I became I can’t remember when [00:02:00] exactly, but over the course of some episodes of some seasons.
Cause it was on for 10 seasons. I became a master Sergeant. So then I was, then I was master Sergeant and then they gave me, then they gave me a name like Norman. They gave me the name master Sergeant Norman Davis. And I thought, oh, this is getting better and better. That, that they’re being way more specific with who I am.
So next, next thing I know I come in and now I’m a chief master Sergeant. They keep promoting me and I keep asking them, why, why are you promoting me? Why am I getting promoted? And they’re like, oh yeah, You just do, we just, you know, that’s just our decision. So it’s like, okay, fine. And so I was chief master Sergeant Norman, Norman Davis, and then in one episode called 2010 where the, the, the team goes sort of like into the, into the future a little bit, and the star gates at a tourist [00:03:00] attraction.
And I was like a tour guide, my character. I meet them in the future. And we sort of look at each other and, and Richard and I look at Richard Dean Anderson and I go Colonel, like, you know, what are you doing here in the, you know, what are you doing here? I go, Colonel. And he looks at me and he goes, and he goes, Walter.
And I just keep going. Right. Because my name’s not Walter. So I go, I think, okay, wasn’t in the script. Keep going. They filmed that scene. They come up to Richard Dean after the scenes over and they go, oh, Rick I think we have to shoot that again because he’s like, why, what was wrong with it? And I said, well, his name’s not Walter.
And he said, well, it is now. So, so that was the, kind of the power of Richard Dean Anderson. And he so they now they’re like, oh, so now Norman Davis is also Walter. How are we gonna, how are we going to do this? [00:04:00] So then I became, and I’m not kidding you, chief master Sergeant Norman, Walter Davis. Right. And that’s, I don’t know what season that was in.
Right. But it was late, was in the later seasons. Then, and this is one of my favorite things is that Don Davis bless his heart when he was still alive. Dawn lovely Don Davis. What a great guy that he was Dawn had to deliver a line to me where I’m sitting at, I’m sitting at my console. And he’s and because we’re in the air force, right?
I mean, we’re, we’re that, that’s what the branch of the military was running. Stargate was the American air force. And so sometimes air force personnel guys can get referred to as airmen, right. Airman. Makes sense, but the way Don pronounced it, because he was from Missouri
[00:05:00] and, and so we did the scene a few times and, you know, just did the same that I didn’t think, I didn’t think twice about it because I knew in the script, it said open the Iris airman and Don was just saying his lines, but he was doing it in his particular accent. And there open the RS airman. And so after they shot it, they were like, I heard them saying, God, can’t shoot it again, because now it’s in the can.
But didn’t sounded like Don said, was he, what was he saying? Was he saying airman sounded like heroine. My name then got changed to heroin because of Don Davis has mangled, Missouri an accident. And then they just went, okay, well, he can’t be chief master Sergeant Norman, Walter Davis Harriman, because that’s insane.
So they cut out the Norman Davis. They just like changed it. So I started out as technician went [00:06:00] to Sergeant, went to master Sergeant chief master Sergeant Davis. Chief master Sergeant Walter Davis, chief master Sergeant Norman, Walter Davis, chief master Sergeant Walter Harriman. And that, and that was the arc of my name over 10 years.
So I N I, so I started out as a technician, ended up as you know, started out as, as basically when I got a name, it was Norman Davis and ended up as well. And I have, I have a eight by 10 promo shots. That I signed at conventions early ones have a name tag that says Davis, the later ones say heroin, and it’s the same care.
Jeff: I was so surprised. They never even bothered to explain it. I
Gary Jones: don’t know. Nobody in the show. None of the characters ever said anything, but they, but that, but they did because in the early days, nobody ever referred to me as Norman, but they did call me Walter. Right. They did say [00:07:00] Walter, but, but here’s the thing too.
You’re just sort of the long-winded way to get back to your question. Is that, is that Walter O’Reilly radar O’Reilly. What if a mash was, you know, he was called his real name was Walter, but it just turned out that when Rick’s character. Became the general and stayed on the base and didn’t go out and do any adventures because the real Richard Dean Anderson had like massive back problems and was like, you know, he just couldn’t jump around and do all the action sequences.
So they just made Rick the general and and then they brought in other people, you know, like, Ben Browder and all, I love those guys. And Koren, Nemick. And so when Rick was REL not relegated, but like, you know, stationed then at, at the base, at, at the SGC, he said to them, I want to have a fun relationship with Walter.
I w I want Jack O’Neil to have [00:08:00] to have an interesting, fun, slightly comedic Relationship with Walter. And so that’s, that’s how that came about. But, but, you know, it’s, it looks very coincidental because I was kind of like, I was like the non-com the non-commissioned officer that knew how to run the place.
And, and and he, and, and he needed my help. I was, I always had a clipboard. I knew exactly what was happening. I became more probably administrative than, than I used to be, you know? I was like his sort of right right-hand man in the, in the SGC. And then they just wrote it so that we so that he, and I kind of had some fun scenes and it was great.
It was great. I mean, I was, I got to tell you, it was like, well, I’m so grateful for that show and how appreciative I am of the writers and the producers that actually took note of any kind of acting and comedic skills that I had. And they [00:09:00] said, we think Gary and they started feeding me more and more lines and giving me more stuff to do.
And, and and, and, and I got I’m indebted to those guys because they made. My time on star gate, way more fun and interesting, rather than just a guy who delivers exposition and says, oh, you know, we’re back from this planet and we’re going to this planet and let me open the gate and let me close the gate.
That kind of thing, which is like more, it was more like that in the early days, but in the later days, it was way more kind of fun stuff happening. And I, I, I really, really. Have fond memories of my time on the show because that place was, was a huge, big family. What was great about a lot of people don’t know this, but uh, but, but they used to just bring people up from inside from, from the lower levels.
Like when I got there guys, like, guys like Martin wood and and Andy Makita and [00:10:00] Peter Delouis, those guys were all assistant directors. They were, they were not producers. They ended up being produced, was on the show and consultants and and they just were, they just, they script writers and they just worked their way up.
It, within the hierarchy of the of the show and basically Brad Wright and Rob Cooper promoted from within. You know, much, like I got my fake promotions, those guys got, those guys got actual promotions and and then it became like super fun because somebody like Andy Makita, who’s who’s a, is a pretty good buddy of mine.
He was just like, Andy’s the greatest guy. And he directed heroes part one and two that I was in with Saul. Rubinic where Saul Rubinic comes in as a like a. Documentarian, you know, like who was documenting the inner workings of the SGC for government archival purposes. And and that’s that there’s a famous.
Well, among famous as in amongst the Stargate fans [00:11:00] where he, where solves camera crew is, is, is interviewing me in the SGC. And he’s saying he sets up the camera. He’s like, okay, tell us about what you do for a job. And I go, well, I open the open the Iris and I closed the Iris and he’s like, okay.
And what else? And I don’t know, it’s pretty much my job. And and I say, Chevron money coded. And I say, then I get to the end and I say, Chevron seven, seven lock, just to kind of shaken up a bit. Yeah. I like, I’m kind of full of myself and I’m thinking, yeah. You know, I’m being interviewed and like, and the writing that would the writers.
When I read that I laughed my ass off because I thought I can’t wait to do this scene because it’s so funny, but what you have to understand and what, what. What allowed me not allowed me, but like enabled me really to, to, to stay on the show and, and and be part of like any kind of comedic strain was to be able to figure out what the comedy was.
I had to figure out [00:12:00] okay. Above and beyond, no matter what, no matter how funny my lines are. The funniest guy on the show is going to be Richard Dean Anderson. And you do not. Trump RDA. You just don’t. You know what I mean? So I had to figure out, okay, what is the, what is the, the humor here? What is the tone of it?
And where do I fit in? And because my background was in comedy. I was able to do that. I was able to, I had the ability to go, oh, okay. I see where I fit in. And then I could just deliver my lines and have fun with my life without taking anything away from RDA or, you know, the fact that he, he was like the main star.
And then you just got to know that it’s like that on set. You cannot go in and Trump the star. So, I just played the comedy as kind of real and as. Kind of, you know, low key as I could and, and, and deadpan and I, and the fans just ate it up. The fans went nuts for it and [00:13:00] they, to this day, I still get people, you know, remember me on the show.
And so it’s, I I’m indebted to that show. It’s fun. You know,
Jeff: I, I also find that the character of, of, of Walter or Norman, however you want to call them Was kind of like identifiable as the audience surrogate, cause he was often reacting to what was happening. Did you find that as the character as well, that you were kind of viewed as almost like the audience in that moment, trying to react to kind of like the action that was happening?
Gary Jones: I have to say that I have to say that in the moment. I wouldn’t have known that. I would have no sense of that because I was just trying to, so not thinking, oh, I know what I am. I’m this I’m the audience is surrogate. I oh, okay. Okay. I know what I am. I’m like their eye on this. No, I just like, I’m just in it.
What, what you’re telling me, what you’re saying is what I got told years later. [00:14:00] Bye bye fans at conventions who would come up to me and say, and say, you were the, every man who we related to. And I was a I and my character was a non-commissioned officer. And if you know anything about the military, And any military people will tell you this, not officers, not officers, but any non-commissioned people.
Not non-commissioned you know, members of the military, they will tell you that the noncoms as they call them, run the show and that the officers don’t know anything. They’re like the officer’s dumb as a bag of hammers, you know, and, and but they run the show and, and if it wasn’t for the coms like Walter.
The, like the, the army and the military would just grind to a halt and they think, oh, the opposite. Just think they’re so great. And so smart, blah, blah, blah, blah. We’re the ones who run the show. So when I first [00:15:00] started hearing that, I was like, oh, really? You’re kidding. And they’re like, trust me. So they They would tell me that all the time I would meet, I would meet with with, with guys no, not just guys, but just the, you know, all male and female, military personnel.
And they were all telling me the same thing. They were, they all told me the same thing. They said. They said you were the guy, your character was the guy that ran the show. And you know, it was like when Beau bridges came on, like, he was like how, how, how do I do this? Like, you know, it’s like, sorry, you gotta press the Intercom button on your phone.
Like he had no clue. Right. And then, and then, and even Rick works like what’s going on, you know? And I would tell him, right. So that’s why they brought me in live so that they could show that these people were new to the SGC and that I had been around forever and I knew the inner workings and how it all ran.
So they, so they, they just wrote it that way, [00:16:00] but I can go up to sorry to interrupt Jeff for one sec, but I also just to sort of underscore that they, they had somebody at the air force down in the states who they would send scripts to. And that person vetted all the scripts. So if there was anything in any of the scripts that, that, that from a military standpoint didn’t make sense or, or like, you know, he’d go, no, no, he wouldn’t do that.
You know, he’s, you know that guy’s a Sergeant that guy’s a Lieutenant. No, they wouldn’t talk like that. So, so they, they would, they would tell the producers and the writers this, and they’d sort of go through it and they’d red line. It. So that I re I have in my possession, I have an email from somebody in the, in the military, in the air force from when Ben Browder was on the show.
So that would have been somewhere between season eight and 10. And I think more than likely season eight, because he was just new to the gig, but [00:17:00] he came into a scene once and called me he called me Sarge. Call me Sarge, they filmed it. And then they sent it down to, to the, for the, for the airport the air force to vet and they, they, the email came back and said, no, he cannot, he cannot call Walter Sarge.
There’s no way that’s not part of the hierarchy. He can only call him either chief or Walter. So they had to change that. Oh, wow. They had to edit around that so that Ben did not call me Sarge and I had no clue. I, to me, it was like, oh yeah, I’m not going to say, yeah, Ben, I don’t think you call me Sarge in the scene.
You know, I had no idea, but sure enough emails there. And they said, you’ve got to, you’ve got to change that to the point where I’ve had. I’ve had I remember this one couple came up to me at at a convention, the husband and wife [00:18:00] and the, the husband was ex-military. I guess maybe ex air force or whatever.
And his wife said that he was a nightmare to watch procedural shows with like, like cops or especially military shows. He just the Washington cook bullshit. That didn’t happen. There’s no way. Oh yeah. Right. And she said, Yeah, like a running commentary, whenever you sit down to watch a military centric show with him and she said it just over crazy.
And she goes to Stargate was the only show where he said nothing. She goes, he just watched the show. He’s like, yup. That’s yeah. That’s that’s right. They do that. Yup. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. You know what I mean? And that blew my mind because I thought, wow. That’s to the point where, where. Stargate has really, really invested in sort of doing their homework to make it right.
And like I said, just that example of, of Ben Browder, just being able to, you know, him [00:19:00] thinking, oh, I’ll just, I’ll casually call him Sarge. And then they’re like no. It’s not happening.
Jeff: And what else? I think people just notice, but how you perform your character is that he just seemed such an honorable character.
Seemed like a very like loyal, dedicated character. Was that something you brought to the character or world? There’s something they told you about him that, you know, play him this way. Play him. This is like a backstory for him. Anything?
Gary Jones: No, they didn’t give me this. They gave me nothing. They gave me nothing, whatever you see on screen.
And thank you for noticing or saying that they gave me anything. I remember like you well, well into the show, probably probably like in the later, my later seasons, I remember just as a joke. Peter Delouis was was directing. And we would always joke around all the time. And he said, okay, we’re going to shoot this scene.
Gary, you’re going to say your line and dah, dah, dah. And [00:20:00] I go yeah, Peter, you know what? I’m not sure if Walter would say, and he just goes, yeah. He just goes, shut up and just sit down and save a line. We just all had a big laugh about it, you know, because it was like, I was playing it up. Like, like when would I ever say Walter would say that?
He’s like, yeah, he would say the line, shut up, sit down. So, They didn’t give me anything. I just, all I did was I, I think the only decision I made that I, that I think impacted how I played Walter, was that I decided that I would treat the star gate like a mechanic. Replacing an air filter in a Ford Taurus.
You get what I mean? Yeah. It’s like, can you imagine if by season eight, [00:21:00] I’m still sitting there. AUSTRAC by the star gate. Gotcha. Oh my God. This door again. Oh, it’s so, oh my God. I couldn’t do that. I had to treat it like, this is where I work. That thing’s broken again. We need to fix that. When did we get what’s the ETA on fixing that, you know, it’s like, what am I going to get my Ford Taurus back while we said Wednesday, but it’s looking like Thursday.
Oh man, I need my car. Yeah. I know. But like, whatever, you know, we can’t get the part yet, you know? How do you get parts for a Stargate? What do you mean? Yeah. It’s like, well, you can either wait and get the real thing or we can just like suicide some aftermarket Stargate stuff and it might break down again.
So it’s up to you when do you want it? You know, so my, that was my attitude of Of of play it as mundane and every day, not [00:22:00] mundane by being my character, cared about it, but more play it more everyday. Like I just show up for work and I go down, you know, X number of stories in Cheyenne mountain when I walk into the SGC and there’s the star gate, and that’s where I work.
So I think by doing that, that I was kind of unimpressed after awhile. You know, when the thing broke down, it was like, oh, for God’s sake, this piece of crap, like, oh, you know, and then Siler would come in with his giant wrench, you know? And and then we had our thing back and forth. But, but I think, I think that helped, I think that helped in the, in the portraying of that character, because it was like, well, You know what I mean?
Jeff: And I don’t know if this is true, but I read that we’re one of only two actors to show up in every season of SG one, every season of the Lantus and the first season of Stargate universe. Is that [00:23:00] accurate?
Gary Jones: Yeah. So that’s accurate. So
Jeff: is there a noticeable difference in production in being either the Atlantis show as one show our star Trek universe where it did it did feel distinctly different for you.
Gary Jones: How do you, how do you mean different?
Jeff: Did, did the atmosphere different how it was, I mean, the feeling among the actors, was it different how it was handled differently?
Gary Jones: I was more, I was way more used to SD wan obviously, just because I knew the actors and, you know, it’s Everybody just kind of knew each other.
They knew what they, they knew each other’s sort of rhythms and what to expect. So when I did anything, any kind of crossover with with Atlanta, with the Atlantis I didn’t know those guys. I knew Paul McGillion and he’s a, he’s a really good buddy of mine. Paul’s awesome. Funny, funny guy. Great actor.
Just love that guy. But I remember. Doing a scene. And you know, I had to, a couple of months ago, I had to put together put together a a demo reel for like an acting reel. And I [00:24:00] was thinking, well, what am I going to put? What am I going to put on it? I realized that I did a scene with Jason.
Mamoa being in Stargate of Lantus. And it’s just me and him and I, and and this guy that I know who, who puts together, my demo reels, he dug it up. And I, and it’s hilarious. It’s, it’s not very long, but it’s pretty funny. And I, and, and it’s just me talking at him and he’s just bored out of his mind, but I’m in a scene I’m like, oh yeah, I’ll put that on my real me to be acting with Aqua man.
So the only, the only difference with oh, and the other thing was, is that, is that if you think it was Stargate, SD, one was shot on soundstage five and, and and that Atlantis was showed on sound stage six. They were like next door to each other on the MGM lot. And And so you would just go from one to the other, but, but all the, all the directors and the, and the, you know, the [00:25:00] ads, they were all the same.
So we, so you would have Peter Delouis shooting an episode of of Stargate Stu on and you’d have Martin would shooting an episode of Atlantis. So. So if I went, so if I went on set, if I went on to Atlanta, it’s not like I was walking into like, oh my God, who are these people? It was like, it was like everybody, there was like a door between the two studios and everything.
Jeff: That’s also, I mean, what do the family extend to these other shows where that was there? Was there a lot of intermingling among the cast members of the different shows because you’re that close to each other? We
Gary Jones: weren’t that close to each other. I mean, that, that, that’s that’s kind of like a fallacy.
I mean, I was, I became pretty good friends with Amanda tapping. And still am. She’s great. She was one of the first people who really kind of welcomed me into the show on SG one. And we both discovered that we were from Toronto and [00:26:00] we’d both been in comedy troupes and we both knew a couple of the same people.
That was really cool. And Amanda’s fantastic. I have nothing but love and respect for that woman. She’s like awesome. But she was also really warm to me when I came in and just would talk to me because it’s very much like. You know, in the early days I was just like, wow. Yeah, he goes, I’m part of this too, you know?
And like nobody paid any attention to me. That’s why I kinda thought that’s what I kind of thought when they first asked me when some people first asked me to come to a convention in Vancouver, I was like why do you want me there? And they were like, well, because you’re like, you know, the fans want to meet you.
And I was like I don’t think so. I, I think you got that wrong. They’re like, no, no, no. You’re the Chevron guy. And I’m like, what are you talking about? The Chevron guy? They’re like, yeah, nobody knows your name. So they just go, the vans, just call you the Chevron guy. And I was like, you’re kidding. I had no idea.
I thought the camera just would kind of pass me like that. You know, I, I’d kind of like this, I’d say my life Chevron morning coded [00:27:00] and then, you know, just go and nobody paid any attention to me. And it was like, not the case. I thought, oh my God, wow, this is mind blowing. So when I, when I walked into this convention into the lobby of the hotel, they went, oh my God, it’s the Chevron guy.
I was like, What shocked? Well,
Jeff: well, that’s the first time you realized just how big of a fan base that Stargate had.
Gary Jones: Yeah. Yep. I started to kind of like it’s like people are actually gathering hotels to like, I didn’t even know. I sort of heard a little bit about conventions from the, from the other cast members, but of course they were in great demand.
To to, to, to show up in these conventions, you know, because the people want to meet the leads of the show and I’m like, fair enough. But for a character like me, that was like a secondary character. I thought there’s no way that I’m on. Anybody’s like convention wishlist, but [00:28:00] apparently I was so. You know,
Jeff: I don’t always think that Stargate gets the the credit that some other fan base shows like star Trek guests, but the fan base for Stargate, I think it’s every bit as dedicated every bit as strong as a lot of these other major franchise, like star gates, the star wars fan base, some of these others as well.
Would you agree with me?
Gary Jones: Oh, it’s huge. It’s huge. Not only that, like I’ve done conventions so much now that, that People bring their kids and they’ve introduced their kids to start games. So they’ve watched all 10 episodes, all 10 seasons, and then they make their kids watch it. Then they rewatch it with their kids and now their kids are into it.
And it’s like levels of it’s generational, which is mind blowing to me. I, I have traveled around the world. I’ve gone to many different countries and surprisingly seen many of the same fans. Oh yeah. [00:29:00] Oh yeah. I’ve gone to Jew. I’ve gone to, I could see somebody in Chicago and see them in Germany. Oh, wow.
Oh yeah. No, it’s like, I’m like, don’t I know you, I haven’t, I met you before you look familiar to me and they’re like, yeah, yeah. I saw you with the, you know what, in France. Like, what, what are you doing here? They’re like, oh, I just want to come to this convention. So, so people will, that’s another thing that, that became really evident to me that, that it’s a community.
You know, the fat, the Stargate fan base is a, is a community. And at first I had a really hard time with that. I was like, I can’t get my head around this. And it was only when I realized that I started really like the more conventions I did, the more I noticed that it’s a very nonjudgmental, supportive environment for all these people.
And They’re just lovely. They’re just really, really, really nice people. And they just happened to be obsessed with Stargate [00:30:00] and, and they have a great love for it. Yeah. You know, they just loved star gate and they just loved meeting the actors and, and. When I started doing the conventions, they, they said, well, can you get up on stage and take questions and talk about the show?
And because I have the comedy background and because that, you know, I came from an improv improvisational background, I was like, oh yeah. And then I just started telling stories. I started telling these stargates stories and the fans went crazy for it because. I’m not just one of those guys who shows up as, okay.
I’m a lead in a show, you know, here I am. Okay. Do you have any questions? No, I, I try to, I like, I consider myself to be like a, like a value added guest, you know, like the value added guests to not just show, not just shows up, but you know, to sign autographs, but also as an entertainer. And how can [00:31:00] I, how can I entertain the fans?
That’s my that’s, that’s my main thing. And so, so yeah, so,
Jeff: well, I mean, I’ve heard rumors that’s has been discussions of a revival to Stargate is something that you’ve heard as
Gary Jones: well. I hear all these rumors I saw, I saw something on Twitter, maybe like a couple of like maybe last month and it, and it said something like.
Amanda tapping has been signed or agreed to be in the next Stargate iteration of the revival of SG one. And And I wrote her, but I wrote her in immediately. I said, Hey, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’ve signed on don’t you need Walter. And like, I have to pull out the flight suit and she just laughed. And she said, no, it was just a crock.
It was just stuff made up stuff. And I was like, oh, okay. I said, but you know, I said, if it does happen, Walter will be happy to come out retirement and sell his bowling alley and [00:32:00] come back and come back to the SGC. And she said, okay, great. That would be awesome.
Jeff: You know, the thing with, I always wonder about star because Stargate is great because of the stories are great, but the actors in it are great.
Do you think it’s starting when you have an SD wan is repeatable. Like if they try to redo it, do you think they could ever match what was already there or do you think
Gary Jones: don’t
Jeff: yeah. Cause I can’t imagine to be another Richard Dean Anderson is not another cause for judge and another, you did another tapping in all these other characters.
I feel like. It
Gary Jones: would just, it would have to be okay. You know, let’s say, okay, just, just for sake of argument here, like, let’s say Amanda came back, they did start getting revival and let’s say Amanda came back as a general, right. And ran the SGC. And let’s say I had retired, but she. Brought me back said, I, I want, I want Walter back here.
Cause he knows how to run [00:33:00] this kind of thing. Right. And then they might get like three other leads who have a completely different chemistry, but you would have to allow that chemistry to be what it is because nobody knew the kind of chemistry that was gonna occur between those four leads. Nobody had a clue.
I mean, it’s great that they auditioned them and they’re good actors and all this, this will look good. Like damn, you know, you know, Michael shanks is perfect for Daniel Jackson and then Amanda’s wonderful and blah, blah, blah. But even, even by hiring them before the show even started shot, started shooting.
You still have no idea what their chemistry is going to be, or who’s going to be like the. You know, the odd wheel or if something’s not going to gel, you just don’t know, you know, and if that were the case, then you might have to like, get rid of that person and replace them. And hopefully that chemistry works.
So I would just say that, you know, that chemistry [00:34:00] was what it was. It was of the day. It was of a certain kind of you know, it had a certain, well. It had a certain kind of relevancy for for the time that it took place. And I don’t know how you repeat that. It would literally be. Can you imagine saying let’s revive Seinfeld?
But we’re going to do it with George, Elaine, Jerry, but not Kramer like a different guy. You know, it’s the same thing. You just, that they were the show and Richard Dean, Michael, Chris. And Amanda, you know, that they, they were SD wan. How do you, how do you, how do you do, how do you top that there was a chemistry and you can’t create, you can’t recreate, you can’t manufacture that chemistry.
It was completely organic. Ooh, and
Jeff: yeah. And that’s always what I wonder when they’re talking about redoing it. It’s like, I mean, it’d be nice as a fan to have Stargate back on the airwaves, [00:35:00] but it would never be the same Stargate you, it would, it would be almost like watching. The star Trek movie that they’d redid with like the new captain Clark, the new Spock.
I mean, it was a good movie, but it was Shatner. It wasn’t anymore. It didn’t feel, it never will feel the
Gary Jones: same, like ever. And I mean, I mean, you could, it’s the same thing that when you go, people say, who’s your favorite James Bond? It’s like, well, what, whichever James Bond you grew up with, you know? Right.
It’s like, that’s your favorite bond? So. You know, when they change bonds, it’s like, oh no, no way. Come on. You know, oh, you’re going from like Sean Connery to Roger Moore, no way. But of course he was in for like seven films. I feel like an insane amount of films. And he was Sean. He was, he was James Vaughan for like the longest time.
And then that generation of people grew up on origin. Morris said would say, well, no, Roger Morris, James Bond, you know, Sean Connery is kind of old school. No. I
Jeff: agree with you. Absolutely. A hundred percent. So moving just a little bit, I also read [00:36:00] that. So you teach not only improv, but also how to create pitches.
Gary Jones: Yeah, I do that. I do that at the Vancouver film school. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, because I’m someone who as someone I do combat, right. I always try to the word, the thing that’s the hardest for me to always do is running a pit. So what advice would you give to, to novice writers on how to create a pitch that really sells.
Gary Jones: Oh, you just have to you gotta be yourself. You don’t try to be anybody other than who you are. And and you’ve gotta be excited about your pitch. And you’ve gotta, I would say more than anything, you’ve got to figure out what your theme is and also why this project is so personal to you. What’s the person I ankle for you, particularly because that will actually end up being more interesting to people talking to you than just talking about the plot of your book or movie.
Jeff: Well, what do you think [00:37:00] is the most common mistake that pitch writers make that, that either they may not realize they’re
Gary Jones: making? Yeah. Th this is, this is probably the most common thing. Is when, say you’ve written a save written a film, right. You’ve written a script and people will always say to you, what’s it about what’s it about the answer to that should be the theme.
So in other words, what’s it about? It’s about revenge, right? That’s the theme. Oh yeah. It’s about revenge. Oh, okay. So, so what happens in it? That people, when people get asked, what’s it about they answer what happens? They tell the plot. What’s it about, oh, it’s about this guy who meets another guy and they go on this, you know, it turns out that they’re both the Sassons working for blah, blah, blah.
And then they meet. Then they meet this girl and then they travel here and there. [00:38:00] Oh, I forgot. I forgot. Oh yeah. I forgot. The other guy is the, is the one guy’s a brother, but he doesn’t know it. And then, oh, and he’s married too. And you’re already lost, like, I, I heard so many pitches and I’m like, okay, I’m lost.
I don’t know what’s happening. No, because they’re always talking about flood because the people who pitched think that their plot is more interesting than the idea of the theme that they’re, they want to explore. Oh, well, I would say so. I would say, I tell this to my students all the time, and I’ve learned this over teaching like four years now.
I go, ah, if you tell me what the plot is or why it’s very important to you, like where it lives in, you. I just find that really interesting. And then you can tell me about what the plot is, because if you, because if you tell me that you want to explore a certain theme, you can explore that theme in any John Wright could be a [00:39:00] raw, a romantic comedy could be a Western scifi does matter, but imagine if it’s like, if you go, oh my, my the theme of my film is revenge and I’m doing it through a romantic comedy.
Be like, oh, tell me. Okay. So how does that work? You know, as opposed to just launching right into the plot. Cause nobody cares and people get bored and they get lost. So if I was going to give any advice to anybody is when you pitch start with a theme, start with why it’s important to you, start with why you’re passionate about it and go from there.
Jeff: Is there a certain. Maybe either like the length that you should be hitting on it. Like, are you talking about like thinking a sentence, two sentences, how much should you have it with? Will you
Gary Jones: have to learn? You have to learn to write a log line. Okay. You can just go, you can just go online and learn how to read a log line.
A log line is like what a young boy meets his you [00:40:00] know, The ex the high school buddy, you know, like, and they go on a they go on a crime spree, they turn, you know, they find out that blah, blah, blah. You know, they learn the lesson of that out of that. Like, that’s, it that’s enough. A log line, well for the godfather would be, would be.
And I think I read this, it’s like, mafia, a mafia crime Don, you know, like a mafia Dawn, an aging mafia, Dawn struggles to hand his criminal empire over to one of his three sons. That’s it. Oh. And then you watch the film and it’s like, way more complicated than that, but the gist of it, you know, the logline is the gist of what, of, what of what happens in the film.
Jeff: would you say for a pitch for Stargate? If you were thinking about your shoulder, how would you have put that into a sentence? Logline?
Gary Jones: Hmm. [00:41:00] Oh God, I don’t know. I’d have to give that some thought, but it would basically be about four military, you know, three military personnel and an alien traveled through a time space, continuum portal to to visit other. Cultures w you know, like it could be like that.
Jeff: W w when you’re doing something like that, do you think about the character first or do you already, or is it more important to talk about the character in a pitch or a long line or the action of like, what
Gary Jones: I think it, I think you want to mostly say the action, that, of what, of what people are going to see.
You’re going to see in the godfather, you’re going to see this mafia, Don struggled to hand his hand his criminal empire over to one of his sons. You’re going to see that, but you don’t need to say Don Vito, Corleone aging, the criminal, the mafia patriarch has three sons. One is a hothead. One is weak and the other [00:42:00] one is perfect, but doesn’t want it.
It’s like, okay. Yeah, that explains it more, but you just don’t need to go down that road.
Jeff: Well, what, why do you think so many people struggle with pitches? I mean, it seems like even like, no matter how good of a writer you think you are, it feels like the pitch is always a weakness for a lot of people.
Like why do you think that is such a difficult thing for
Gary Jones: writers to do? Because a lot of times they, they’re not confident in there. They, if anything, the trap that writers pitching ideas getting to is overselling something. That’s why the elevator pitches is so perfect for in my class. I teach, I teach the elevator pitch, like.
Which is about two minutes long. It’s like, you have to, you have to learn to pitch in two minutes. If you can pitch in two minutes, you can pitch in five or 10 minutes. But if you can’t, if you, if you can only pitch in 10 minutes, sometimes you don’t have [00:43:00] the time. Like sometimes within that two minutes is the logline is like to be able to say the log line so that the person you’ve mentioned who goes, all right.
Let’s talk about this further. It’s like a conversation starter, you know, to be able to pitch. But I think, I think if anything, people oversell their ideas, they get caught up immediately entailing plot, and it’s not important. It’s not, you can talk about the plot later, but if you can intrigue people with the theme or kind of like a human can, how can people relate to it?
You know, because think of it this way. If you start out by saying. My, my film is about revenge. People will go, people automatically go, oh yeah, I know what that is. I’ve kind of experienced that in my life. I’ve been vengeful. I’ve tried to get revenge on somebody, you know, on a, on a, kind of a human just everyday level.
That’s something that people can, are more likely to relate to. And then they say, so what did you do? [00:44:00] Okay. So your films about revenge. What, what, what happens in it? And you go, well, it’s about two alien assassins. Right. Yeah. People go, oh, okay. Now if you started out by saying, they said where they say, what’s your film about you go and about to alien assassins.
Who’ve done it. Nobody can relate to an alien assassin. Like how can you, you can’t relate to that. So you’ve got to re you’ve got to pitch out of the gate with what is the most relatable thing. That people can go. Okay. I’m on board so far, but if you come at them with like your, your really cool, clever idea, trying to pull them over and go guess what it’s about to alien assassins.
I guarantee you, I don’t care if it’s about alien absence. If you start talking about the plot, you’re going to bore them. They’ll be like, they’ll still feel like, yeah, I’m okay. But what’s it about though? Like what, why are, why are you writing this? Like what, [00:45:00] what is making you write this? And I’ve I’ve, I’ve met countless writers when they told me about their project and I go, what’s it.
What’s the theme. What’s the theme of it. They go, oh, the theme. Oh, uh Hmm. The theme. Well, I guess the theme would be, and I’m thinking, holy shit, you haven’t thought your theme up. You don’t know what this is. Like, you don’t know what you’re writing to. And that always blows my mind. I go, I go, well, you have to have a theme.
And they’re like, I guess, well, maybe it’s like revenge plus requited love plus this plus that plus this. And I guess it’s a bit of that. I’m like, no, you can’t have six themes in a, in a, in a film. You know, it’s like, no, what you’re trying to do right now is you’re trying to come up with themes on the spot that cover every base.
It’s like, well, if I don’t get the revenge thing, I will at least get the unrequited [00:46:00] love thing, you know, it’s you know, and meanwhile, you’re sort of going back and forth between him and your knee and you’re canceling out whatever, all of them. So you got to you got to kind of, Do it like that, that’s what I say is to, is to actually is to do the thing first.
Jeff: I really appreciate that. That’s I think fantastic advice, because like I said, that’s something I always have issues with. I always went when it’s time that submit that pitch. It’s always the one that gets me the cold sweats. It’s like, oh shit.
Gary Jones: I’m telling I’m telling you that you will lose the cold sweats when you start figuring out before anything.
What is the theme? What’s the tone. What is like, don’t talk about what happens. That’s last that’s the last one. It’s it’s it’s it’s it would be the equivalent of writing the outline before you write the script, you know how many people sit down to just write a script? I just don’t write an outline. I’m by page 30, they’ve like run out of they, they, they go, why is this?
[00:47:00] I’ve run out of like the story. I don’t know what I’m writing it’s because they don’t have an outline. Well, I’m going to have to have an outline.
Jeff: Well, I want to thank you so much, Mr. Jones for talking with me. I think that’s incredible advice. And how can we
Gary Jones: call me instead of Mr. Jones?
Jeff: Oh, Gary blitz, certainly.
Sorry. I’ve always used to go with the with, with Mr. It was a great pleasure talking with you and I think that’s great advice and I think,
Gary Jones: Awesome talking to you, Jeff. Thank you for having me on the show is wonderful. It was like, this is a really, I mean, This was a, like a really fun conversation that, that kind of had some breathing room, you know, like we, we, we got to talk about lots of, kind of cool things.
It was great.
Jeff: Thank you so much. And like I said, it was totally worth being canceled on a few times to get to it.
Gary Jones: Yeah. So if any, if I cancel in the future with anybody else and they get upset, I’ll be like, well, you’re now Jeff Haas. Yeah,
Jeff: it’ll be totally [00:48:00] worth it. Trust me the more cancellations, the better the show that will eventually happen. But once again, thank you so much. I hope you have a great night and if they ever bring back Stargate, you better be on it.
Gary Jones: That’s a great ender, Jeff. Thanks a lot, man. Take care.