Joss Whedon's SERENITY

by Jennifer Knighton


Joss Whedon came up to the microphone to a standing ovation on Sunday, March 20, 2005, at the Wizard World Los Angeles Convention. He promptly told us some bad news, Nathan had been shrunk. He presented a most entertaining display of both the Mal and Jayne action figures. Then one by one he introduced the actors who were joining him: Ron Glass (Shepherd Book), Morena Baccarin (Inara), Sean Maher (Doctor Simon Tam), Jewel Staite (Kaylee), and Nathan Fillion (Mal Reynolds)

After they had all taken their seats and the crowd had calmed down they showed a clip from the upcoming movie, Serenity, due for release in September with hopes of the trailer being in theatres by May.

The clip sent chills down my spine. The one simple word I can offer to describe how amazing this movie is going to be to anyone who knows the series is this, "Reavers." But there was so much more to the clip.

Picture if you will, River stepping calmly over people who are cowering from our gun- wielding crew. She stands in the middle of the circle and points at one man. Then picture Zoe pointing a gun to the man's head and saying, "You know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed," as the man returns the gun he was drawing to its hiding place. Time has clearly passed since the final episode of the original series.

The filming of the movie was done a bit differently from the series. Rather than a handheld camera for a majority of the shots, a steady-cam was employed. On a big screen, the rocky nature of handheld does not work as well as it does with television. That being said, Joss did point out that the handheld would resurface when the crew was not in complete control as they were in the part we watched.

When the lights came up, Nathan had broken the arm off of the Mal doll. It was given to the Doctor to save, but Sean quickly gave it to the Shepherd, much to Ron's amusement.

Then the question and answer session began.

Joss found that making a movie, after years making television, was a bit more difficult than he'd expected. The form is more fluid and less self-indulgent. He was able to bring the cast from the series with him, but not all of the crew. The focus group that the film was tested on was comprised of people who were not familiar with the series as well as fans. From both groups there was a positive response. So for all of you die-hards afraid that the movie will be simplified, don't worry. He's attempted to make it clearer while keeping the complexity.

When asked what he hoped this movie would allow him to do in the future, Joss responded quite simply that he would like to make more movies. If the option continuing the series becomes available, the cast members present would gladly sign on, and Joss merely said "Not without me."

The cast described coming to the movie after a break from creating the series as coming back to school from summer break. You got to see all your friends. It was emotionally gratifying. They found it easy to slip back into the characters.

They were all very tight-lipped about the movie itself. Except for Nathan. He let the secret of Book's past slip. He was a landscaper! So, sorry if you wanted spoilers, folks, but they weren't giving any. The only little bit I did catch was a look between Jewel and Sean, as their faces turned bright red, when an audience member asked what each actor felt was the most difficult scene they'd had to film. They both looked relieved when the words "in the series" were added to the question. Coupled with Nathan's revealing of Sean's nickname as "The Bod," I have to ask do these two finally get together in the film? I guess we'll have to wait to find out. Nathan specifically asked for Sean's nickname to be posted on the web, so I have obliged.

So what is everyone doing now that filming is done and the movie is in post production? Well, Ron and Jewel are auditioning and do not have anything going right now. Sean just finished filming a pilot. Summer is presently in Vancouver filming a pilot, which is why she wasn't at the panel. Morena's film Way Off Broadway just came out at a limited number of theatres and performing the voice of a character on the cartoon version of Justice League. Nathan is filming a zombie flick called Slither . Joss has signed on to work on the Wonder Woman movie which Jewel, Morena and Nathan all volunteered to star in when it was mentioned. And for those Buffy and Angel fans out there, Joss said if someone was interested in producing a Spike movie, he'd be up for it.

A story born out of a sleepless night in London after reading a book about Gettysburg evolved into a series that was both beautiful and intriguing, and is now becoming a movie that promises to be everything the series was and more. September will not come fast enough, in my opinion.



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