Somewhere on the planet are ten-year-olds who will likely be the first people to set foot on Mars. Race to Mars, a landmark four-hour expedition miniseries, imagines and simulates with breathtaking realism what astronauts will experience on the first human mission to Mars.
Based on contemporary, international research, the Race to Mars mini-series is a key element in this groundbreaking multi-platform television and interactive event that tells the story of the first human mission to the planet Mars. This unprecedented project includes the ambitious miniseries and a six-hour companion documentary series, Mars Rising. The broadcast event will be complemented by an extensive multi-platform Mars Interactive created by QuickPlay Media, and the lushly-illustrated Race to Mars book by Barrons and Madison Press. With a combined budget of approximately CDN $20-million, this original Canadian endeavour is the most expensive science television project in production this year worldwide.
ABOUT RACE TO MARS: THE MINISERIES
Born out of exhaustive scientific research and consultation, the four-hour mini-series Race to Mars captures every exhilarating detail, from lift-off through touchdown on Mars to return to Earth, drawing viewers into the heart of this amazing journey. In the year 2030, the race to be the first to reach the Red Planet is on. China has stunned the world by leapfrogging over America’s long-term plans and has landed a series of advanced rovers and robotic landers in their quest to make the most important discovery in history – extraterrestrial life on Mars. Once again, America and its partners, Canada, France and Japan, are thrust into a winner-take-all space race – but the stakes are much higher than the race to the Moon nearly seven decades earlier.
Six extraordinary individuals from the United States, Canada, France, Russia, and Japan are selected for this grueling two-year mission. These four men and two women must work together as a team, rise above their secret fears and struggle with the sacrifice of leaving friends and family behind. Training and determination will get them only so far, and when this crew sets out on humanity’s first expedition to another world, nothing can prepare them for the unexpected danger and staggering wonder of what they will experience.
Bringing the remarkable story to life are Michael Riley as Captain Rick Irwin, Pascale Bussières (Ma vie en cinémascope) as astronaut Jackie Decelles; Lothaire Bluteau (24) as flight engineer Antoine Hebert; Claudia Ferri (Mambo Italiano, Hunt for Justice) as Flight Surgeon Lucia Alarcon; Frank Schorpion (One Dead Indian, Human Trafficking) as flight engineer Mikhail Cerenkov and Kevan Ohtsji (Stargate SG-1) as astronaut Hiromi Okuda.
“Just as Captain Rick Erwin assembled the ‘best of the best’ for his pioneering mission to Mars, so too have we gathered the most comprehensive research, technologically accurate effects, strongest cast and most compelling writing team for this Race to Mars,” said Phyllis Platt, Executive Producer for Galafilm Inc.
The visual effects created for Race to Mars will transport viewers 56-million kilometers away from home to the outer limits of human ingenuity. Shot in High Definition, the simulated 2030 mission to Mars will be supported by hard science – from the props and costumes to the Martian environment and spaceship/rover models – and each aspect is designed in consultation with an expert panel of scientists and space engineers. Visual effects include on-set stunt work, digital post-production animation and sophisticated CGI created by the Montreal-based SFX teams behind feature film blockbusters such as The Aviator, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and The Day After Tomorrow.
Canadian writing team Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens wrote the script for Race to Mars. The Reeves-Stevens’ have extensive writing and producing credits to their names, including Star Trek: Enterprise (story editors and co-producers for season four), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (staff writers and supervising producers); have developed series with Dreamworks, Film Roman and Universal Television among others; and are accomplished fiction writers, with political/military thrillers earning them a place on the New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller list. The Reeves-Stevens’ were invited by NASA’s Chief Administrator to become members of an ongoing Space Policy Workshop of “distinguished forward-thinking individuals to bring new perspectives and ideas into the debate” to produce a new vision for America’s future goals in space. Their extensive knowledge of science, technology and political policy – not to mention exceptional storytelling skills – have resulted in a script that is both full of compelling human drama and faultless technical accuracy.
ABOUT THE ADVISORS
The scientific advisory panel, comprised of experts of varied space-related backgrounds and nationalities, consulted extensively on Race to Mars. In addition to providing in-depth research, panel members have reviewed the scripts and provided valuable comments and suggestions that have contributed to the accuracy of the mission depicted in the mini-series. Over 275 experts in fields such as planetary geology and mining, crew selection and training, mission and space suit engineering, medicine, life support systems and robotics contributed their knowledge to the series. Among them are:
|Jerry Linenger, retired NASA astronaut. In 1994 he flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Having trained at the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, in 1997, Dr. Linenger launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis and docked with the International Space Station.
Alain Berinstain, Director of Planetary Exploration and Space Astronomy at the Canadian Space Agency.
Bob Parkinson, one of Britain’s leading space engineers, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, a vice-president of the International Astronautical Federation, a vice-president British Interplanetary Society, and a visiting professor at the University of London.
Darlene Lim, researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center in California is currently conducting Mars analogue research in the Atacama Desert, Chile. In 2000 and 2001, Canadian Dr. Lim inhabited the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, the world’s first Mars simulation base, at Haughton Crater, Devon Island.
Kevin Fong, anaesthesiologist and honorary lecturer in physiology at the University College London. He holds degrees in medicine and astrophysics. He also chairs the United Kingdom Space Biomedical Advisory Committee.
Kurt Micheels, architect and co-founder of NEXTERRA, a non-profit organization composed of design professionals dedicated to disseminating information and inspiring the general public about space exploration through a web-based Mars Simulator.
ABOUT MARS RISING
Mars Rising is a six-part documentary series detailing the significant challenges facing a mission to Mars and explores the efforts being made by contemporary international scientists, engineers and planners to bring the mission to fruition.
Over 300 experts with diverse backgrounds and nationalities contributed their knowledge to the series – experts in fields such as rocket fuel and lifeforms, crew selection and training, mission and space suit engineering, medicine, life support systems and robotics.
Shot in HD in over 90 locations and narrated by William Shatner, Mars Rising explores how the challenges being grappled with today will lead to a manned mission to Mars in the next 20 years
ABOUT MARS INTERACTIVE
Produced by QuickPlay Media, Mars Interactive is a fully immersive and integrated web experience that connects Race to Mars and Mars Rising material, allowing for online gaming and a deeper exploration of the science and technology involved in the Mars mission. Mars Interactive uses retail-quality games, interactive articles, curriculum resources and a vibrant community website to bring viewers right into the mission. The material draws upon the great research and production for both series to bring science-programming and entertainment to a completely new level. “We’ve used the latest gaming technology to bring the series to life,” notes Interactive Producer Richard Lachman. “Every game is inspired by actual training, research or mission-plans, and we’ve put together a great community-hub for Mars enthusiasts, students, or people who just want to share their thoughts and opinions.”
ABOUT THE BOOK: RACE TO MARS
Published by the highly respected Madison Press and educational publisher Barron’s and written by Dana Berry, the Race to Mars Book shows us how a human mission to Mars could happen. Taking the reader from the work of early astronomers to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to experiments conducted in the harsh environs of the Arctic, author Berry constructs a detailed portrait – in words and dramatic visuals – of the entire mission and it’s place in the history of Mars exploration: the spacecraft, the crew and the dangerous yet irresistible planet itself. The book draws from extensive interviews and exhaustive research conducted for Race to Mars and Mars Rising, and illustrates examples using dozens of images from the Race to Mars series.
Dana Berry has worked at the Chandra X-ray Observatory and NASA and is a former art director for the Hubble Space Telescope. He contributes to Sky and Telescope, National Geographic and the BBC and is the author and illustrator of New Cosmos.
ABOUT MARS MINUTES:
Mars Minutes are youth-oriented mini-documentaries, drawn from the larger scope of the Mars Rising series. Each addresses a single topic about a human mission to Mars, and the 12 one-minute episodes will air as interstials as well as being made available on the Race to Mars website.
ABOUT RACE TO MARS: THE PRODUCTION
Here’s how the design team created such exceptional work for the Race to Mars production:
While in university, production designer Sylvain Gingras (The Reagans, Maelstrom) studied astronomy as well as film. His two interests come together in Race to Mars. “This has been a unique project for me,” Gingras explains. “Normally you draw what you imagine and then you build it. This was a much longer and more detailed process. With this series, we did hours of research before putting a pencil to paper. Our designs had to be approved by our consultants. Everything we built is in preparation in labs right now. So, the final craft, control panels, suits, vehicles that go to Mars may not be an exact replica of what we’re putting on screen but they’ll be very, very close.
“The crew’s living quarters and the Mars ascent/decent vehicle Gagarin were designed by Kurt Micheels, architect and project manager of the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, the world’s first Mars simulation base located in the Canadian Arctic. Our mission design is based on the Bi-Modal Nuclear Thermal Rocket mission design developed by Stanley Borowski, a senior research engineer and Advanced Concepts Manager at NASA’s John Glenn Research Center.
“We could have filmed Mars in studio or in Chile’s Atacama Desert which is one of NASA’s test sites,” the production designer explained. “We chose the studio for a number of reasons. It would have been a logistical nightmare getting our vehicles to the driest place on earth. But more importantly, the Atacama’s atmosphere is too clear, too light. There is always dust in Mars’ atmosphere. And, the planet isn’t really red. It’s more of a butterscotch colour. We mixed traditional and new technology to create our planet. One studio wall was a painted backdrop, the other was green screen. This gave us complete flexibility.”
“Race to Mars is not about eye candy” says visual effects supervisor Jacques Levesque (The Man in the Iron Mask, Judgement Day). “The series is about human exploration. It’s always more satisfying for me when effects support the storytelling and are not the ‘star’. Many CGI driven blockbusters are all whiz-bang. But this is on a human scale.
“There is no magic in what we have created. We have detailed, precise research for everything you see on screen – all 200 CGI shots, all 115 images of moving spacecraft,” Levesque continues. “The rovers are being built now. Our jeep is based on NASA designs. The laptop computers our astronauts use are PC 486s. This is as real as anything set in 2034 can possibly be.”
Director of Photography Norayr Kaspar (Trudeau, St. Urbain’s Horseman) had different challenges. “It was critical to me that I capture the relationship between man and machine. I treated the walls of the spacecraft like a seventh character. It became a barometer of the crew’s health. My composition reflected their journey – stationary, static, restricted when they were on the spacecraft and expansive as they step out onto Mars. I really think that with Race to Mars we stretched the language of filmmaking – blending imagined reality and research.
“The costumes were truly a challenge. Other productions set in space have dressed astronauts in helmets with flat surfaces. This limits glare and distortion. But our costumes, like everything else, are accurate. Our helmets are bubble shaped and capturing the actors’ expressions behind that rounded surface was, well, as difficult as lighting their white suits.”
Ah, the suits – they are the purview of costume designer – Denis Sperdouklis (The Barbarian Invasions, The Hunger). “Making the space suits was as difficult, as time consuming and as expensive as making any period costume. I loved it,” chuckles Sperdouklis. “The gloves were all made by hand – 12 pairs. That alone took a week.
“The suits are both military uniforms and technical equipment. We had to be very careful about details. When we first started shooting it would take the actors about an hour to get into their costumes – and that was with four people helping them. By the end of production we had that time cut in half. The suits were heavy because the back pack had to contain batteries for light and ventilation, microphones. For the actors, it was like carrying the crew around on their backs.”
RACE TO MARS: PRODUCTION NOTES – ON SET
“I was a child in Hungary when Sputnik was launched. It was really the coolest thing. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on my birthday, well, it was joyous. I now feel that I have a degree in space travel and that my professor was space scientist Simone Garneau,” chuckles director George Mihalka. “We were lucky that Simone was with us on set and in the CGI edit suites. Constant access to someone with a Masters of Space Studies from the International Space University helped keep us grounded in space. And her father Marc, Canada’s first man in space, was generous enough to spend time with us sharing his experiences. Everything, everything had to be vetted. Of course, the spacecraft and the suits but also the tee-shirts and the cups. But “Race to Mars” is a story of the astronauts’ voyage, their victory and their losses. It is not about the supporting technology.
“The most difficult test for us was to find the Rosetta stone, the delicate balance between how we imagine that future expedition and today’s scientific realities. Although television actors are skilled at playing large stories on small screens, we threw them a special challenge – play the full range of emotions which astronauts would have but play them as the astronauts would express them: small, small, small. We were building a delicate eco-system between human emotions and technical demands.
“Astronauts and actors are in a constant state of self-examination. ‘Did I perform that task properly? What is my responsibility here?’ We had the luxury of two weeks of rehearsal during which time the actors became a crew. But it was boot camp. They went through training with wires to simulate weightlessness. This is the kind of thing that the Cirque du Soleil does; it’s not what you learn at the National Theatre School. Our cast had to master navigating in those heavy, hot space suits and they had to interact on a set that was the size of two school buses – because that’s all the space six astronauts would have to live in.
“In order to reinforce the feeling of isolation, when the actors were on board, we used either handheld or steadicam. They were wired for sound. I wanted the film crew to be as unobtrusive as possible. And, I was blessed with a great crew – confident, experienced people who loved to experiment,” Mihalka concludes.
Winner of the 2005 Gemini for his lead performance in the series ‘This is Wonderland,’ Michael Riley (Commander Rick Erwin) also remembers watching the moon landing. “I was seven years old and glued to my grandmother’s black and white television set.” The actor recalls. “My daughter is 11 and I hope that she experiences the same kind of wonder when we land on Mars. The space program is galvanizing our planet. For us to achieve this splendid goal, scientists from across the world must share their knowledge. The side benefits of this international co-operation are being seen already in the fields of medicine and technology.”
Riley’s fascination with space has propelled him to travel widely. In 2006, he went to Libya to see a total eclipse of the sun. “It was thrilling. We slept in tents in the dessert. I was both claustrophobic and euphoric. It was a ‘Close Encounter’ experience,” Riley relates.
Riley brings this sense of wonder as well as extensive research to his role as Commander. “None of my research prepared me for meeting astronauts Marc Garneau and Jerry Linenger,” Riley explains. “I understood them as father figures for the crew, as stoic and slightly apart. I knew they were scientists and athletes with a romantic explorer gene. But until I met them, I didn’t really understand that at their core is stillness. They are like Pointillist paintings – specific individual colours and strengths melding into a beautiful whole. I admire their drive, tenacity and passion. And I envy what they’ve seen. Once, before I die, I’d love to see Earth from space. When the astronauts talk about that experience, something crosses their eyes, something profound.
“One thing I don’t envy is time in those space suits,” Riley continues. “It’s like being in a 65lb snowsuit that takes 45 minutes to get into. They are hot and claustrophobic. And, it’s not easy to be graceful or precise in one of those things. During rehearsal, we practiced opening doors with hockey gloves. Try it. It’s a humbling task.”
“I had to control my panic when the helmet descended on me,” confirms Pascale Bussiï¿½res (2005 Genie and Jutra Best Actress Awards for ‘Ma vie en cinï¿½mascope’) who plays Canadian flight engineer Jackie Decelles. “But when Lothaire (Bluteau) fell over backwards while wearing his suit and, like a turtle, he couldn’t right himself, we all collapsed with laughter.
“Having Simone Garneau on set was invaluable to me,” Bussiï¿½res says. “She led me into the world of astronauts and helped me understand the critical nature of the checklists they must continually revisit. She made those blinking lights meaningful. As a director, George is masterful at taking reality and transforming it into a compelling story. In rehearsal, he encouraged us to play and allowed us to become partners, companions. But Michael (Riley) was clearly our captain. Simone told me that, of all of us, his personality was most like that of an astronaut – focused, determined, a little distant and definitely our leader.
“What I really loved was the zero gravity wire work. It’s like flying. Although being in the harness is very uncomfortable, we were like kids full of joy and wonderment as we swam and danced through the air,” the actress remembers.”
Special effects supervisor Louis Craig (‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ‘Catch Me if You Can’) explains that the audience has an understanding of the experience of zero gravity. “We’ve all seen images of astronauts floating in zero g. They seem delighted by it. Our job is not to make the actors fly but to make them comfortable enough to act while they are trapped in a harness, dangling from wires 40 feet above the floor,” Craig explains. “The most demanding scene – Michael and Lothaire repairing the exterior of the spacecraft – was done on our last day of shooting and took until 3 a.m. It was a tense, difficult moment. I was very proud of them. I think that the astronauts will be as well.”
“My character Antoine was a last minute replacement on the flight,” explains Genie Award-winning Lothaire Bluteau (’24,’ ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent,’ ‘Jï¿½sus de Montrï¿½al’). “There is real tension between him and the rest of the crew. He presents as cynical and harsh but his commitment to science and discovery are as strong as that of his colleagues.
“As a kid I dreamed of being abducted by aliens. This may be as close as I get to realizing that dream. At least, I learned how to speak ‘space’. Simone Garneau was our guide in this new universe. We all respected her. And we all found our perfect match in George Mihalka. He’s a strong yet comforting director.
“Astronauts are people to be greatly admired. They obviously possess brilliant minds but they must also master the art of diplomacy and put the success of the mission before all other concerns. They are surprisingly humble, constantly questioning their work. In that way, they are not unlike actors – although I don’t know any actors who can play mental chess.
“We all hope that ‘Race to Mars‘ will engage audiences in the thrill of space travel and deepen their understanding of the fear, the isolation and the triumph of these scientist/pioneers.”
RACE TO MARS: CAST BIOGRAPHIES
Michael Riley as Rick Erwin
Winner of the 2005 Gemini for his lead performance in the series ‘This is Wonderland,’ Michael Riley is one of Toronto’s hallmark actors. He has won Geminis for his performance in ‘The Interrogation of Michael Crowe’ (2003), ‘Power Play’ (1999 and 2000) and for ‘The Helsinki Roccamatios’ (1996). He has been honoured with Gemini nominations for his work in ‘This is Wonderland’ (2004), ‘The Associates’ (2002), ‘Win, Again!’ (1999), ‘Due South’ (1996) and ‘To Catch a Killer’ (1993). Among Riley’s other television credits are ‘The Perfect Husband,’ ‘Saving Emily,’ ‘100 Days in the Jungle’ (Gemini, Best Television Movie, 2003). He starred in the recently released feature films ‘Cube Zero’ and BBC/Discovery Channel’s critically acclaimed ‘Supervolcano.’ He stars in the up-coming drama special ‘St Urbain’s Horseman,’ a Galafilm production.
Pascal Bussiers as Jackie Decelles
One of Quebec’s most celebrated actresses, Pascale Bussiï¿½res received both the 2005 Genie and Jutra Best Actress Awards for her stunning performance in ‘Ma vie en cinï¿½mascope.’ She captured her first Jutra Award in 2000 (Best Supporting Actress) for Lï¿½a Pool’s ‘Emporte-moi.’ In 1996, she was nominated for two Genies for Best Actress – one for her role in Charles Binamï¿½’s ‘Eldorado,’ the other for Patricia Rozema’s ‘When Night is Falling.’ She was named both Actress of the Year and Artist of the Year in 1994 by Metrostar and two years earlier, Bussiï¿½res won the Best Actress Award at Montreal’s World Film Festival for her role in Jacques Leduc’s ‘La Vie fantï¿½me.’ She has worked with some of our best-known directors including Bruce Macdonald (‘Platinum’), Carole Laure (‘La Capture’), Jeremy Podeswa (‘The Five Senses’) and Guy Maddin (‘Twilight of the Ice Nymphs’).
Lothaire Bluteau as Antoine Hebert
Lothaire Bluteau burst onto the international scene in the lead role of Denys Arcand’s ‘Jï¿½sus de Montreal.’ A sampling of the film’s awards and nominations include the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Oscar nomination (Best Foreign Language Film), Golden Globe nomination (Best Foreign Film) and Genie for Best Film and Best Actor. His other feature credits include ‘I Shot Andy Warhol,’ ‘Other Voices Other Rooms,’ and ‘Orlando.’ Since moving to Los Angeles, the Montreal-native has starred in some of America’s most successful television series including ’24,’ ‘Law & Order: Trial By Jury,’ ‘Law & Order-Criminal Intent,’ ‘Law & Order: SVU,’ ‘Oz’ and ‘Dead Aviators.’
Frank Schorpion as Mikhail Cerenkov
Winner of the 2002 Gemeaux as Best Supporting Actor for ‘La Derniï¿½re Chapitre,’ Frank Schorpion moves with ease between French and English television and films. Among his television credits are the BAFTA Award-winning and Emmy nominated ‘Human Trafficking,’ Gemini-winning ‘One Dead Indian,’ the French-English co-production ‘Renï¿½ Lï¿½vesque,’ the series ‘Naked Josh,’ ‘Omertï¿½ and Diva.’ His movies for television include ‘Hiroshima,’ ‘The Boys of St. Vincent: 15 years later’ and the soon-to-be telecast Galafilm production ‘St. Urbain’s Horseman.’
Claudia Ferri as Lucia Alarcon
Winner of the 2005 ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance in a Television Series (‘Ciao Bella!’), Claudia Ferri was nominated for a 2004 Jutra for her performance in the audience favourite ‘Mambo Italiano.’ She has worked with some of our most respected directors including Denys Arcand (‘Stardom’), Bruce MacDonald (‘Hard Core Logo’) Charles Binamï¿½ (‘End Game in Kosovo’) and Christian Duguay (‘The Assignment’).
Kevan Ohtsji as Hiromi Okuda
A trained sushi chef, Kevan Ohtsji has been seen in some of today’s most popular television series including ‘Andromeda,’ ‘Stargate SG-1,’ ‘Traffic,’ ‘Smallville,’ ‘DaVinci’s Inquest’ and ‘The Outer Limits.’ Among his film credits are ‘Live Feed,’ ‘Too Cool for Christmas,’ ‘Hell Hath no Fury,’ ‘Eighteen,’ ‘Dreamcatcher,’ ‘The Undivided’ and ‘The Butterfly Effect.’
RACE TO MARS: PRODUCTION BIOGRAPHIES
Arnie Gelbart – Executive Producer
Arnie Gelbart is the CEO of Galafilm, the internationally renowned independent film and television production company which he founded in 1990. One of the country’s most respected documentary producers, Gelbart has produced commercially and artistically successful Galafilm documentaries including the Primetime Emmy Award-winning series ‘Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within,’ the Prix Europa-winning ‘The Origins of AIDS’ and Gemeaux Award-winning ‘Big Sugar.’ Among his many acclaimed and award-winning documentary specials and series are ‘The Great War,’ ‘The Valour and the Horror,’ ‘The War of 1812’, ‘Korea: The Unfinished War’ and ‘Chiefs,’ all directed by Brian McKenna, as well as ‘In the Crossfire: Louise Arbour and the Battle for Human Rights,’ ‘To Kill or to Cure,’ ‘Marchï¿½ Jean-Talon,’ ‘Road Stories for the Flesh-Eating Future,’ ‘ï¿½cole de Danse.’
Galafilm has produced and co-produced feature-length award-winning films with internationally acclaimed Canadian directors: John Greyson’s ‘Lilies’ (1996 Genie, Best Picture), Thom Fitzgerald’s ‘The Hanging Garden’ (1997 Toronto International Film Festival – Best Canadian Feature and People’s Choice Award), Arto Paragamian’s ‘Two Thousand and None’ (2000 Taormina International Film Festival – FIPRESCI Prize – Special Mention), 2003 Gemini Award-winner ‘Agent of Influence’ directed by Michel Poulette, Lï¿½a Pool’s ‘The Blue Butterfly’ (2004 Directors Guild of Canada nominations – Best Direction, Team Achievement in a Family Feature), Stephen Surjik ‘Tripping the Wire’ (2005 Gemini Award Best TV Movie), Charles Binamï¿½’s ‘Hunt for Justice: The Louise Arbour Story’ (2006 Gemini Award Best TV Movie), Dan Bigras’ Genie-nominated ‘La Rage de l’Ange,’ Sylvie Groulx’s Jutra-Award-winning ‘La Classe de Madame Lise’ and ‘Steel Toes,’ directed by David Gow and starring Oscar-nominated David Strathairn. Galafilm has also had great success with children’s programming: ‘Tale of Tika’ won the 1998 Gemeaux and Banff Television Festival’s Best Children’s Program and the Gemini Award-winning ’15/Love’ and ‘The Worst Witch’ which delighted kids for four seasons.
In 2007, Galafilm will release the event television drama series ‘St. Urbain’s Horseman,’ based on Mordecai Richler’s Governor General’s Award-winning novel.
Arnie Gelbart is a member of the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association, as well as a member of the APFTQ.
Phyllis Platt – Executive Producer
As magazine editor, a radio producer, a CBC Television executive and now, independent film producer, Phyllis Platt has an enviable career in Canadian media. With Arnie Gelbart, she is the executive producer of “Race to Mars” and the companion documentary series “Mars Rising.” After editing the respected film criticism magazine Take One, Platt, who is fluent in French, spent five years as a producer at CBC Radio in Montreal and later was promoted to various positions at CBC Television Montreal, most notably as Executive Producer of News and Director of Television. Her wealth of experience in Montreal led her to CBC’s national headquarters in Toronto where, as Executive Director of Arts and Entertainment, she supervised the development and production of some of Canada’s most popular and award-winning television including ‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes,’ ‘The Newsroom,’ ‘DaVinci’s Inquest,’ ‘Made in Canada,’ ‘Twitch City,’ ‘Wind At My Back,’ ‘Million Dollar Babies,’ ‘The Arrow,’ ‘Net Worth,’ ‘Butterbox Babies’ and ‘Little Criminals.’
Platt left CBC in 2000 to found her own independent production and consultation company. She has acted as a consultant to CBC with regard to the Canadian Television Fund and other policy issues and advised several independent companies on re-structuring and strategic planning. Platt Production’s first independent television project ‘Betrayed,’ an MOW inspired by the water contamination tragedies in Walkerton, Ontario, and North Battleford, Saskatchewan, drew the largest audience of any drama that aired on CBC Television during the 2002-2003 season, and was nominated for three Gemini Awards. ‘Open Heart,’ an exploration of a courageous nurse’s attempts to confront a full-blown crisis in paediatric cardiac care, was nominated for five Geminis including Best Television Movie. She produced the acclaimed family television movie ‘Booky Makes Her Mark’ and acted as executive producer on ‘Shania: A Life in Eight Albums.’
George Mihalka – Director
Hungarian-born George Mihalka has a winning touch in both French and English language productions. His television movie ‘Dr. Lucille: The Lucille Teasdale Story’ starring Marina Orsini and produced by Galafilm won five 2000 Gemini Awards including Best TV Movie. It was nominated in four other categories Best Director among them. His feature ‘La Florida’ starring Rï¿½my Girard won the 1993 Genie Golden Reel Award and received eight Genie nominations including Best Director. He was also nominated for the 2004 Gemini for his direction of the ‘DaVinci’s Inquest’ episode ‘A Man When He’s Down.’ His other television credits include the Gemeaux Award winning ‘Omertï¿½,’ ‘Jose-H,’ the Gemini Award winning ‘Charlie Jade’, ‘Les Boys IV’ starring Rï¿½my Girard, ‘Haute surveillance’ and ‘Galidor, Defenders of the Outer Limits.’
Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens – Screenwriters
With their ability to envision the future, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens are members of a Space Policy Workshop of “distinguished forward-thinking individuals to bring new perspectives and new ideas into the debate” to produce a new vision for America’s future goals in space. The group’s initial function was to examine and develop a wide range of possible goals from which President Bush then selected the elements that form NASA’s new Vision for Space Exploration to return astronauts to the Moon and prepare for the first human missions to Mars. Fans of ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ will know them as co-producers of the wildly successful series.
The Reeves-Stevenses are New York Times bestselling novelists whose most recent book, Freefall, is a startling conspiracy thriller set against the next international race to the Moon. Freefall is a sequel to the Canadian writing team’s Los Angeles Times bestseller, Icefire. Their latest non-fiction book: GOING TO MARS: The Stories of the People Behind NASA’s Mars Missions, Past, Present, and Future was co-written with Brian Muirhead of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Flight Systems Manager for the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission, and now JPL’s Chief Engineer.
In the world of ‘Star Trek,’ the Reeves-Stevenses are among the franchise’s biggest selling original book writers. Their novel, Federation, is one of the top-selling original ‘Star Trek’ novels ever published. In addition to five other ‘Star Trek’ novels and four acclaimed non-fiction volumes chronicling the franchise’s production history, the Reeves-Stevenses are William Shatner’s co-writers for an ongoing bestselling series of novels based on the character of Captain Kirk. The ninth novel in the series, Captain’s Glory, was published on September 8, 2006, to commemorate ‘Star Trek’s 40th anniversary. Their 10th and 11th novels with William Shatner will appear in 2007 and 2008, and tell the story of how teenage Kirk and Spock became Starfleet officers.
Norayr Kasper – Director of Photography
Born in Armenia, Kasper grew up in Italy and studied architecture in Venice. Having fallen in love with light, he switched his studies to photography, and then moved to Montreal in 1987 to enroll in Concordia University’s film program.
Kasper was director of photography on the highly acclaimed miniseries ‘Trudeau’ and ‘The Life and Death of Nancy Eaton,” Shania: A Life in Eight Albums,’ ‘The Life Before This,’ all directed by Jerry Ciccoritti. He was the DOP on the family movie ‘Booky Makes Her Mark,’ Atom Egoyan’s ‘Calendar’ and ‘Sarabande,’ showcasing Yo-Yo Ma. John Badham (‘Saturday Night Fever,’ ‘War Games’) called on Kasper for ‘The Last Debate,’ starring James Garner and Peter Gallagher. With Arto Paragamian, he lensed the comedy ‘Two Thousand and None’ starring John Turturro. Most recently, he completed filming of ‘St. Urbain’s Horseman.’
Sylvain Gingras – Production Designer
Currently working on ‘The Fringe,’ a musical drama set in South Africa, Sylvain Gingras created Washington for the Emmy Award winning ‘The Reagans’. With “Race to Mars” costume designer Denis Sperdouklis, he shared the Best Art Direction Jutra for ‘Maelstrom,’ a story told by a fish out of the water (Best Canadian Film, 2000 Montreal Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, FIPRESCI Prize, Berlin Film Festival). Gingras was the production designer on the television series ‘The Hunger, Live Through This’ and ‘Lathe to Heaven.’ He won the Yorkton Golden Sheaf Best Art Direction for the short ‘Zie 37 Stagen.’
Jacques Levesque – Visual Effects Supervisor
It is the visual wizardry of Emmy-nominated (‘Extreme Engineering,’ 2004) Jacques Levesque and his team that creates the magic of space flight and the mystery of the planet Mars. As the digital compositor on such films as ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ with Leonard DiCaprio, ‘Dr Dolittle’ with Eddie Murphy, ‘What Dreams May Come’ (1999 Oscar Best Visual Effects), the smash hit ‘Judgement Day,’ ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ with Will Farrell, ‘Catwoman’ with Halle Berry and ‘Fantastic Four,’ he makes the impossible real.
His television credits include ‘Alien Planet,’ ‘The Librarian: Quest for the Spear,” Dinosaur Planet’ and ‘Before We Ruled the Earth.’
Denis Sperdouklis – Costume Designer
Denis Sperdouklis’ passion and precision have been recognized by his peers. He was nominated for a 1998 Emmy for ‘More Tales of the City’). His design for ‘Boys of St. Vincent’ garnered a Gemini nomination. His list of Genie nominations include ‘Ma vie en cinï¿½mascope,’ ‘Vie aprï¿½s l’amour,’ ‘Pudding chï¿½meur’ and ‘Le Frï¿½re Andrï¿½.’ He shared the Best Art Direction Jutra for ‘Maelstrom’ with “Race to Mars” production designer Sylvain Gingras. He also won the Genie for Best Costume Design for ‘Karmina.’ Among his other credits are Denys Arcand’s films The ‘Barbarian Invasions,’ ‘The Decline of the American Empire,’ ‘Love & Human Remains’ and ‘Gina.’
Paul Lewis – President & General Manager, Discovery Channel Concept Creator, “Race to Mars” and “Mars Rising”
Paul Lewis, as President and General Manager of Discovery Channel Canada, oversees all of the network’s day-to-day operations including programming, production and marketing. In addition, he oversees Discovery Civilization, Animal Planet, Travel + Escape, Discovery HD, Exploration Production Inc. and Exploration Distribution Inc.
Lewis joined Discovery Channel in 1994 as Executive Producer of in-house programming and helped to create the world’s first daily science magazine show, ‘@discovery.ca,’ which was re-introduced in Fall 2002 as ‘Daily Planet.’
In addition to his Discovery responsibilities, Lewis has been involved in numerous industry organizations, including Director of the World Congress of Science Producers, an organization dedicated to the sharing of programming ideas and productions with international broadcasters, independent producers and distributors as well as The Canadian Association of Broadcasters. He is a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson University and has completed the Alliance Atlantis Banff Television Executive Program.
Ken MacDonald – Vice President, Programming, Discovery Channel Production Executive, “Race to Mars” and “Mars Rising”
Ken MacDonald, as Vice- President of Programming for Discovery Channel (Canada), is responsible for the strategic programming direction for Discovery Channel, Discovery HD, and three digital specialty services: Animal Planet, Discovery Civilization Channel and Travel + Escape.
In this role, he oversees the Discovery programming team in all aspects of programming and production, ranging from acquisitions and schedules to international co-productions. He is also responsible for Discovery’s Interactive department.
MacDonald, joined Discovery in January 2004, as Executive Producer In-House Programming.
Prior to joining Discovery, MacDonald held the position of National Vice President, News at Global Television, where he oversaw the expansion of news and current affairs operations across Canada and the design and launch of that network’s first national newscast, ‘Global National.’ He is also a former national television journalist who covered Parliament Hill for 10 years.
Scientists have set their sights on the human exploration of Mars within a generation – but Race to Mars brings the Red Planet experience to audiences today. Enjoy the site!