Andy Mikita Interview - Stargate Magazine #34Stargate Magazine, May 28th, 2010
An interview with Andy Mikita featured in issue #34 of The Official Stargate SG-1/Atlantis/SGU Magazine.
Andy Mikita started his Stargate voyage as a first assistant director on Stargate SG-1’s pilot Children of the Gods, over a decade ago. He’s come a long way since then, working his way up through second unit director and production manager before he made his directorial debut with Stargate SG-1’s season three adventure Foothold. Mikita then went on to direct and produce dozens of Stargate SG-1 episodes as well as instalments of Stargate Atlantis, and he is now heavily involved with the show’s current incarnation as a director and co-producer on Stargate Universe.
With all his experience and involvement on Stargate, it came as no surprise that he was given the honor of directing Universe’s three-hour opener Air. However, unlike his previous adventures through the Stargate, this one started out a little differently.
“Although our official prep date for Universe was still way off, as soon as I knew I’d be directing Air, I wanted to be involved as early as possible, which was terrific,” says the director. “That allowed me the opportunity to be here when they were designing and building the set. Normally, a director isn’t around for that sort of thing, so I had the luxury of being able to throw out the odd suggestion or idea to James Robbins (production designer) and Scott Wellenbrink (construction coordinator).
“I also got to fly down to Los Angeles in December (2008) for all the cast callbacks. I had never been a part of that process before. I got to sit in the room where all the final decisions were being made. Typically, that’s the domain of the executive producers. I’m sure for a pilot director that’s normal, but having never directed a pilot, that was new to me.”
In Air, Stargate Command’s off-world Icarus Base is attacked and its personnel must abandon it and escape through the Stargate. However, instead of returning home, they end up stranded onboard an Ancient starship, called Destiny. With the ship locked on a pre-set course and our heroes unable to dial the Stargate back to Earth, they must quickly find ways to replenish basic needs like food and water. Topping that list, though, is air, given that Destiny’s life support systems are failing and atmosphere is venting into space.
“For me, one of the most memorable sequences in Air is when Senator Armstrong (Christopher McDonald), who is very unwell, decides to sacrifice his life for the benefit of the crew,” says Mikita. “There’s a breach onboard the ship, and the only way to remedy that is to seal off one of Destiny’s shuttles. However, that can only be done from the driver’s seat of the shuttle. So we filmed a sequence where the senator did just that, and it was a huge emotional moment, obviously, for his daughter Chloe (Elyse Levesque) and the rest of our characters.
“That was an especially tough sequence to do insofar as being able to articulate it properly and make it feel as moving as it did on the page. Of course, the cast was fantastic, which made it a lot easier to do than I first anticipated. In general, the entire shoot for Air ended up going smoother than I first thought it would just because everything was falling into place so well and so quickly. A lot of that had to do with having Rob Cooper on-set with me all the time. If any issues came up, we would deal with them instantly, and if something wasn’t working for him, Rob would jump right in and we would fix it.”
Read the full interview in issue 34 of The Official Stargate SG-1/Atlantis/SGU Magazine - on newsstands now!
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