A Snurcher's Guide to Farscape

Chat: Sean Masterson & Tim Mieville

HOMEFAQSearchReference IndexChat IndexConvention IndexEpisode IndexPeople IndexWriters IndexDirectors IndexCast IndexSnurchables

Related Links

Official URL

Chat: Sean Masterson & Tim Mieville

Subject(s): Sean Masterson & Tim Mieville, Farscape Puppeteers
Dated: December 20, 1999
Source: SciFi.com


Moderator: Tim? Sean?
Moderator: Can you type?

SeanMasterson: We're here!

TimMieville: Yes indeed

Moderator: Coolness!
Moderator: <truthseekr> to <Moderator>: Sean--while some of our guys on the board like to think they have 6 arms (sorry could resist)--what's it like to actually operate a creature that does?
Moderator: oops!
Moderator: Wait -- intro first!
Moderator: Hi everyone -- thanks for joining us here. You all know that saying about mice and men and best-laid plans, right? SCI FI _had_ been expecting to host Brian Henson tonight -- but unfortunately Mr. Henson had an emergency and has to reschedule. He sends his regrets -- and an introduction to Sean Masterson and Tim Mieville who are the unseen hands behind the character Pilot and Rygel on SCI FI's smash hit series FARSCAPE.
Moderator: This is just a warm-up for all the FARSCAPE chat programming SCI FI will be bringing you in January as well as the brand new FARSCAPE episodes you'll be watching on TV -- including four really spectacular shows that close out the season!

SeanMasterson: He's actually got four arms

Moderator: <truthseekr> : Sean--while some of our guys on the board like to think they have 6 arms (sorry could resist)--what's it like to actually operate a creature that does?

SeanMasterson: But it takes 7 puppeteers to make him move "naturally"
SeanMasterson: It'
SeanMasterson: s hatd sometimes

Moderator: <AerynSunVx> : This is for Mr. Masterson and Mr. Mieville, about how long does it take to rehearsh your parts for the shows?(ie-hand movements, timing)

TimMieville: Unless it requires dramatic action, very little
TimMieville: Especially this season
TimMieville: We're just keeping up with the scripts

SeanMasterson: Not enough time!

Moderator: <Gmmas> : Sean and Tim: do you do any of the other non-humanoid creatures on Farscape? Can we expect to see more non-humanoid characters?

SeanMasterson: Yes we do any of the animatronic characters

TimMieville: I was lucky enough to be inside Jothev in Four

SeanMasterson: Yes and there are new aliens coming up this season.

Moderator: <Kieriahn> : For Sean and Tim -- did you have any input in the overall design and/or feasibility of operating Pilot and Rygel?

SeanMasterson: Hi. No, we talk to the directors prior to a shot, but design is strictly from the creature shop

Moderator: <valleyofstags> : Mr. Masterson and Mr. Mieville... How much of the movements of your characters are generated by the puppeteers and how much (if any) by computer?

TimMieville: Any movement that you see starts with us. We use the computers to edit the head movements -- and the expressions

SeanMasterson: There's very little CGI except to erase us from a frame

Moderator: <WarriorWoman> : After a hard day of puppetiering, what do you guys do for fun?

SeanMasterson: We drink alot. I don't know. The pub!

Moderator: <ceallaig> : who came up with the idea of Pilot, and when did he become 'operational'?

TimMieville: Remember if you work with puppets you're probably pretty sick!

SeanMasterson: Pilot was always in the script I think. Rockne created him I believe
SeanMasterson: He was operation about a month before the first shoot

Moderator: <SciFi-Chic9> How do you guys get along with the rest of the cast? Do you speak with Ben, Anth, Claudia, etc?
Moderator: <iloveclaudiablack> : yo guys: first good work on the show, but what is it like to work woth claudia?
Moderator: (For those of you who are wondering... no, Sean and Tim don't work for the Georgia state tourism board! GA is short for "go ahead.)

TimMieville: Generally it's a pretty relaxed set. If you read the chatroom you may have some idea of the behind the scene atmosphere.

SeanMasterson: We all go outside for cigarettes togther and all

Moderator: <Sojushisan> : Is it heavy work operating a puppet like Pilot? He's a big guy!

SeanMasterson: Yes. Very heavy and very hot. Imagine how hot it is inside Pilot. Barry loses weight over the season

Moderator: <Sojushisan> : Settle a bet - Where is Pilots nose?

SeanMasterson: Approximately halfway between his mouth and eyes. Maybe he needs more close ups

Moderator: <Canis-Major> : Sirs, do your puppets operate by remote control like most "big" puppets?

SeanMasterson: No. Both of ours are connected by cable. We do have a few remote versions but the batteries drain quickly

Moderator: <Dabee> : Love your work, guys...I was wondering, if anyone plays pranks on each other..either the puppeteers with each other, or between the human cast and puppeteers.....also, has anyone been hurt working with the puppets..again, either the puppeteers or human cast (not that the puppeteers aren't human!! LOL) Thanks a lot! and Merry Christmas

SeanMasterson: No. We've been lucky. The most anyone has been hurt is toes run over when a puppet is on a dolly.

TimMieville: Pranks can cost you beer. We avoid that
TimMieville: We like drinking beer not paying for it

Moderator: <StarPaw> : what are those things on the underside of Pilot's claws for?

SeanMasterson: The biggest prankster is Anthony. But they aren't suitable for an all ages audience
SeanMasterson: R Rated

Moderator: <bache> : How does one get a job like yours and what does one need to learn beforehand

TimMieville: Patience is a virtue. Most of our crew started with puppets in theater.

SeanMasterson: We were approched after we worked on Babe.

TimMieville: Working in other studio jobs is a way in

Moderator: <dw-mckim> What characters have you operated in other productions? (Bravo on Pilot - my fave!)

SeanMasterson: We were all involved in Babe and a host of shows for kids down here. I'm pretty sure you haven't seen them.

Moderator: <thetas> tim,do you feel that making rygel urinate in one episode makes people realize one reason that puppets like the muppets aren't just for children?

TimMieville: Yeah. I'd have to say that we are very happy to do scenes like that
TimMieville: It gives our alien a human quality.

Moderator: <StarPaw> : and what about the brown Rygel snot?

TimMieville: He's waiting for his big love scene though...and waiting...and waiting
TimMieville: The snot...
TimMieville: It varies on what he's eating

SeanMasterson: He's doing alot more spitting this season!

Moderator: Uh oh...

SeanMasterson: We're spitting on Aaron this afternoon!

Moderator: <WolfOfTheMist> : I loved namtar. He seemed to be very complex in his movent movements. Was he harder to make that the other puppets?

SeanMasterson: As for movement, he had a person inside on a pair of stitlts. It was diificult for Adrian, but not for me, I just operated the face

Moderator: <PK3> : Rygel has been referred to as a slug. Is he suppose to be an ailen type of mollusk?

TimMieville: He'sa Hynerian period. A highly deveoped species. He strong, proud, and good looking. He may eat mollusks

Moderator: <PhantomComputer> : Are there any movements too difficult to attempt with Pilot or Rygel?

SeanMasterson: Working with any puppet there are limitations
SeanMasterson: We cheat alot
SeanMasterson: When something is out of Pilot's reach, we use fake arms

TimMieville: Rygel can't touch his toes, but he's out of shape I think

Moderator: <WarriorWoman> : I hear that chicks like guys who work with puppets because they are good with their hands. Any truth to that?

SeanMasterson: I have yet to meet them

Moderator: Some of them are in this very audience...

TimMieville: We've both gots wives and kids and they love us using our hands around the house. Especially vacuuming

Moderator: <SciFi-Chic9> : Hi guys! okay, at FaDoP, we have debated everything, from the origin of Leviathans and Pilots, to, like Soju said, where Pilot's ears, nose, etc are. Also, the most burning question...Pilot's teeth. How does he clean them in space, when his claws don't seem to be able to hold a tooth brush or floss! Can you shed some light on any of these questions? Thanx, and hope you guys have a Happy Holiday!

SeanMasterson: Have a Merry too.
SeanMasterson: He gets others to do it for him. The dentally remote droid
SeanMasterson: We're working on an ep where Pilot's origins are revealed...even as we speak

TimMieville: That's a secret You didn't hear it here!

Moderator: <Sojushisan>: When you operate Pilot and Rygel - Do you FEEL like them? Is puppeteering similar to acting in the sense that you take on the character and become him?
Moderator: (That's the "Being John Malkovich" question, I guess...)

TimMieville: Juding by the reactions of people on the set when we're working, yes we do

SeanMasterson: Yeah, we do emote greatly for the camera.

Moderator: <M-E>: Do you guys have extra Rygels or Pilots incase one of them is damaged?

TimMieville: For the first series we have three different Rygels. We have basically one Pilot and he's in the shop frequently for updates

Moderator: <Canis-Major> : Sirs, how many years have you been puppeteering? What age did you start?

TimMieville: Speaking for myself. I started in '88 when I was 26

SeanMasterson: I left University in '79 and I've been doing it since then

Moderator: <MegL> : To Tim or Sean: Are you originally from Australia, or did you move there to work specificlly on Farscape?

TimMieville: We're both natives. I was born in Sydney and Sean is from Perth.

SeanMasterson: Beer guzzling, shrimp eating natives

Moderator: <liloleme> : Hi! Is there anything you'd like to see happen on the show?
Moderator: Try it now, Sean...
Moderator: Here's another beer...

Sean: Test

Moderator: Good!
Moderator: Okay.
Moderator: Let's continue.
Moderator: <PhantomComputer> : Can you give us any hints about the upcoming eps? The others have been somewhat stingy with their comments!

Sean: I think I'm gonna be stingy too! Sorry about that

Moderator: (Thanks everyone for your patience. Must have been a Y2K hiccough!)

Sean: All I can say is there are some very good eps coming up
Sean: Sorry

Moderator: <OboeCrazy> : Thanks for chatting with us today! My question: If there was one aspect about Pilot's character you would realy like to explore, what would it be? I'd love to know more about his past!

Sean: As I said, we have an ep coming about his origins
Sean: I'm interested in the aggressive aspects of character
Sean: To see him lose control

Moderator: <skye> : Who of the cast and crew is most like Pilot and Rygel??

Sean: Most like Pilot... That's tough
Sean: I couldn't say
Sean: I'll get back to you on that one

Moderator: <SciFi-Chic9> : I know this question is asked at every chat, but I just can't resist. Do you guys visit the fansites? And are you Familiar with the FaDoP, Friends and Defenders of Pilot?

Sean: Yes. We all visit and we all are
Sean: My name is DDastardly when I visit the sites

Moderator: <StarPaw> : Why do Pilot and Moya fear fire? And is the puppet itself flammable?

Sean: Yes, the puppet is flamable
Sean: We have to be very careful
Sean: Why do they both fear it...
Sean: You'll find out later this season

Moderator: <ceallaig> : OK, the infamous question that has to be asked, gents -- boxers or briefs?
Moderator: I'm not sure whether he means Pilot or YOU, Sean...

Sean: For Pilot?
Sean: I think he's sort of free and easy
Sean: And Rygel definitely

Moderator: <FarscapeFan> : how longs does it take to tape one episode?

Sean: We're currently on a 7 day main shoot schedule with 3-4 days for 2nd unit work...Roughly

Moderator: <WarriorWoman>: What is the most difficult thing about working with puppets?

Sean: The most difficult thing for Rygel and Pilot is the five puppeteers have to work as a unit. So if one of us is feeling ill or not up to speed you have to work as a team and put that behind you
Sean: And Rygel's farting is tough!

Moderator: <Paris> : What is Pilot made of, Sean?

Sean: Foam rubber
Sean: Basic fiberglass skeleton.
Sean: That's about it

Moderator: <PhantomComputer> : Pilot's face is so expressive. Is "he" modeled after any one in particular? Or even more than one person?

Sean: No. Not that I know of. You'd have to ask the Creature Shop that one

Moderator: <skye> : Did you two audition for the parts ? How do you go about auditioning for a puppeteer job?

Sean: Yes, I did have to audition
Sean: Well, the process is different for every show
Sean: On Farscape is a test of all of us as a team
Sean: It's the biggest headache and the biggest blessing. Everyone working as one mind

Moderator: And our final question for the night --
Moderator: <Canis-Major> : I've been puppeting for over 6 yrs now, 4 for a church team (which I'm now the co leader), what can I do to keep puppeting?
Moderator: Kind of a how-do-I-keep-the-art-alive question...

Sean: Just keep with it
Sean: Alot of puppet work is being in the right place at the right time and making yourself know to ther people in the business.
Sean: I'd like to say that Brian was disappointed he couldn't be here tonight
Sean: And a big Season's Greeting from here Down Under

Moderator: We know he was.

Sean: Merry Christmas!
Sean: See ya Mates!

Moderator: And we're looking forward to talking to him after January 15!
Moderator: Meanwhile, it was a complete pleasure talking with you and Tim.

Sean: G'night

Moderator: Thanks!
Moderator: Sean -- and Tim (who's now on set) -- thanks so very much for joining us here tonight! FARSCAPE begins airing all brand new episodes on SCI FI this January 7!
Moderator: You won't want to miss them.
Moderator: Thanks for being such a totally cool audience and bearing with us through a change in guest venue AND those dreaded technical difficulties...