It’s been almost 2 years since Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson sadly passed away. When I spoke to his son, Jamie after his passing he mentioned his dad had a number of projects that may one day see the light. One of which is Firestorm, a project Jamie has bought to Kickstarter, a project using puppets to act out a science fiction adventure.
I caught up with Jamie again to see what was going on.
n3: So Jamie, why did you pick this idea to bring to life?
Jamie: “Well a lot of the big shows like Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds and Stingray are with ITV studios and lot of other projects are in what we like to call, licensing hell or development hell.
But Dad had some unfinished projects behind one of which was Gemini Force One, which we put on Kickstarter in book form, then the book was picked up by publishers Orion.
We then looked at Firestorm, which had been bought by a Japanese company and turned into an anime back in 2003 but the end product was different to what Dad had envisioned. We felt it had the most genuine Anderson feel to it and decided to give it a go.”
n3: Could you give a summary of what the story is going to be about?
Jamie: “Well I have to be careful what I say because there is a morally dubious aspect to the story which we’ve added into the original work, this’ll become more apparent as the Kickstarter campaign goes on.
The basic story is that Mankind has grown up a bit and things like economic downturn, war, poverty and environment issues are a thing of the past. Then a suddenly corruption appears as group of baddies appear. The world government tries to keep it quiet and hopes it’ll go away but they soon realise that this group are for organised then realised.
The group is called Black Orchid and no one is too sure where they came from but the government set up Stormforce and task them with Operation Firestorm to take down Black Orchid.”
n3: Why did you pick Kickstarter as your way to get the show out to the public?
Jamie: “Well we went down the standard route of trying to get funding privately and agreeing distribution and people like the old school methods of in camera effects and the story seemed to capture their imagination. Though when we told them we were doing it with puppets it got a bad reaction.
It may have something to do with the fact ITV have chosen to produce Thunderbirds in CGI but there are still some puppet shows out there now like Strange Hill High. Some people wanted to alter concept like changing the characters ages and so on but I’m not comfortable with people doing that because the reasons show like Captain Scarlet and Stingray were so successful is because he could do what he wanted.
I like Kickstarter because people can vote with their wallets. You can put your ideas out there as they are and see if people want them. Hopefully like how Gemini Force One got picked up by Orion someone like Netflix (Wink wink nudge nudge) will in the not too distant future pick it up.”
n3: I see you’ve used the term Ultramarionation for the puppetry method you plan to use, what does that mean and how does that differ from the Supermarionation which was used by for Thunderbirds and so on?
Jamie: “Well Supermarionation just applied to the puppets but Ultramarionation will expand on that. Ultramarionation will translate the puppeteers movements elegantly using rod, string and under control, something which hasn’t been used before. The problem is with using string puppets is that people usually relate it back to Team America and think it’s a comedy.”
n3: Can you give us a lowdown on the characters?
Jamie: “Well we have Sam Scott the all American hero, who is a bit of a homage to Scott Tracy (pilot of Thunderbird 1) as you can tell in the name. We also have Nagisa, a second generation Japanese girl who I am very pleased with. That’s because we’re moving away from the overly pretty female character with long sweeping hair and massive eye because I don’t think that’s healthy or very realistic. She’s like your every girl, she’s quiet practical and she’s quiet like Tin-tin from Thunderbirds if she had been allowed to get out on missions
We also have the leader Drew McAllister who is similar to Captain Scarlet’s Colonel White and his back story will unfold during the Kickstarter campaign. We also have a few background characters like James Brady and Laura Hope which we will hopefully see to.”
n3: So to wrap up, what else could we see after Firestorm?
Jamie: “Well we’ve been in talks with a major British studio for a while about a project that may come to Kickstarter. Though what people need to remember is that they’re not just funding Firestorm they are showing the British media industry people want to see Anderson shows and I want to remind people that Gerry Anderson was the British Walt Disney and they’re helping to remind people of that”
If this sounds like your thing, why not visit Jamie’s Kickstarter page and check it out!