Series 1: Pilot – Ones and Zeros

Walrus and Mandrake are on the run from Galactipol’s Avery Veil, who’s spaceship they’ve stolen! Avery has commandeered a Space Freighter from the Miner’s guild and tries to chase down our gruesome twosome before they can reach the asteroid belt and escape!

The Making of Ones And Zeros

Ones and Zeros was a hard episode to write because I was completely rebooting my previous attempt at making Chan Walrus. I liked the idea of Chan and Mandrake being criminals because I loved the original concept in Blake’s 7 of the crew of the Liberator being on the run from Servalan and the Federation. I decided to make sure that at the beginning of this series they were already on the run so it would fit my ideals!

I rewrote Chan Walrus as a character, like me, he is dyslexic and suffers from a number of different psychological issues which are a major distraction. Above all, he wants to have fun, explore and take over the universe. The original Chan Walrus was pretty much the same, however I feel he generally lacked character.

Mandrake was as always a steadfast, loyal and very tolerant friend. As Walrus mirrors me, Mandrake mirrors Rikki in his friendship with me. He’s always been there for me when it comes to making my silly films and helping with my insane projects, no matter how hard they are, so naturally he was happy to reprise the role of Christopher T. Mandrake.

I contacted Will who had been the villain of the old science fiction series and asked him if he was up for reprising the role of Avery Guido Veil, (or A Very Evil Guy) and he was happy to help me get the series back on it’s feet.

Will as Avery Veil

Building the set was complicated because I had very little space to work with, I had to completely destroy the cockpit I built for the series and make it so I could easily reassemble it later. Will helped me and got this great photo of me being a Walrus!

Will as Avery Veil

Story Design

The story for this episode had to do a number of things, and I like to think that I succeeded. The episode began with action, a confrontation between Walrus, Mandrake and their enemy Avery. I needed to show a few things with this: Avery had to be smart and know his stuff, whilst being fallible. Walrus and Mandrake had to show their friendship so I had them working as a team in this episode. My build for their friendship is one of general irritation. Walrus loves to annoy Mandrake, Mandrake tries to tolerate Walrus, but in risky situations they do what they have to to survive!

Will as Avery Veil

I devised the idea that they were on the run because they’d stolen Avery’s spaceship. Avery, an officer of the law had stolen a Space Freighter from the Mining Corps (Though I didn’t mention that in the episode) in order to chase Chan down. I wanted to show that Avery was a bit of a risk taker and he wasn’t afraid to go against the law in order to be the law. I have great plans for his character in the series. There had to be risk in the story so I decided to make it so that Avery is very happy to bring in Walrus dead or alive…

Will as Avery Veil

Avery had to be a threat so he has to have a higher level of intelligence than Chan and Mandrake. He also has to know his old ship quite well. This kind of knowledge would give him the advantage over Chan and Mandrake. I thought about how things would work. The police ship would have a superior engine and allow Chan and Mandrake to escape from Avery, at which point it’d give me a chance to get them away from the control panel and talk. As they’d only just taken the ship it made sense to have them argue a little about their overall plans.

Will as Avery Veil

All autopilot systems are pretty terrible so it made sense for Avery to catch up as he is flying manually. This sets off the red alert systems, and they run back to the cockpit and see a screen saver, which Avery claims is a virus that he has infected their computer with. He was able to tell that they ran a system reset on the ship because the ship began broadcasting it’s emergency radio signal again. This shows Avery’s competence against Walrus and Mandrake’s ignorance as neither of them try and even reach for the controls.

Will as Avery Veil

Avery presses on and explains that anything they do will be futile, because if they touch the console, they will “Experience Binary hell!” Walrus and Mandrake go out of earshot so they can come up with a tactical decision. With insurmountable odds stacked against them, Mandrake makes the decision to take a risk and try and save them… Then realises it’s a screensaver.

Will as Avery Veil

Mandrake turns the ship around and opens fire on Avery’s much weaker Spaceship, causing him to bail out in an escape pod, threatening that one day in the far future, he will return and get his revenge.

Pointless Trivia

• The Cargo the Police Ship was carrying is actually Aubergines, if you look closely you can see them!
• “Little” Will Grantham who plays Avery Veil is actually the creator of the Absorbaloff in Doctor Who.
• I nearly set Will on fire making this episode – Twice.
• All the fire is real and we nearly burned down the garage the first time we shot it.
• I havn’t killed any of my actors… -Yet.
• The line that begins: “How Wonderful” was inspired by the Thraddash from The Ur-Quan Masters.
• The title effects were made by A Luna Blue They are really cool cats!
• The music for this episode was mainly written by Dan Pound who makes weird shamanistic music. The battle music was written by Erick McNerney.
• Sair Feather did the artwork of the sci-fi backgrounds for the ending titles.
• My associate producers for the episodes are James O’Neil, Pippa Thomas, Steve Heath and Kirk Humphris.
• The space I had to shoot in in the garage is 1.5 by 1 metre. This is not enough space to film.
• The helmet will wears at the end of the episode is NOT meant to be a space helmet, it’s actually a crash helmet as the miners didn’t have a space suit on board. I had a proper space helmet at the time of shooting and elected to get a different type of helmet that could be worn by miners in future episodes.
• Most of the episode was filmed in 4k allowing me to get dynamic action. I actually detested it and decided to go back to 1080p which gives a better picture.

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