The Making of The Space Pirates (Revised Edition)
By Russ Port, Dean Rose & Stuart Palmer


Russ Port Talks us Through the Making of TSP...
Composites and Sets





Whilst there are far too many composites to list in full, a few favourites include the shot of a dead Zorba at the end of Episode 3; this was done by taking a shot of a prone Nik Zaran from The Champions and adding Space Corps insignia to his outfit and putting an appropriate gun in his hand.




Another favourite is the shot of the Doctor and Zoe in the Beacon section overlooking a prone Jamie whilst Clancey looks on. This was achieved by taking the Doctor and Zoe and overlaying them on the shot of Jamie and Clancey. This was complicated a little by the only available shots of Zoe having parts of her body obscured, my wife Julie was pressed into action as a reluctant body double and donned a pair of shorts and sat at the same angle. Her legs and one arm were substituted for Zoe's.




The perspective shot of Caven and a Pirate waiting outside the atomic fuel store was created at an early stage when likenesses for Pirates were looking like being a problem and was deliberately designed to look over one guards shoulder to avoid needing a likeness for his face. Caven and another guard were added in and the perspective works very well

Milo's gun was also an annoying problem. Milo has his gun almost permanently slung over his shoulder throughout Episode 2 and, as this was our only source for composites, was usually left in place. However for the scenes when Milo was imprisoned in Dom's study it is common sense they had removed the gun from him. This meant many, many shots of gun removal, which were further complicated by the choice of the BBC to put Milo in a chequered shirt - much more difficult to composite than a plain one .




An interesting shot was one of Warne holding up one of the copper needles as he shows it to Hermack. Dean had struggled to find anything appropriate for this scene and e-mailed me for ideas. I had a dig around in my shed and found a jemmy (Which are usually used for lifting floorboards or dubious criminal activities!) which was perfect for the job so I had a photo taken of me holding it which Dean composited into a shot of Warne. I have no idea how I come to have a jemmy in my shed but I think Dean still worries about my criminal tendencies! Other shots which used items we had to specifically find were the shot at the beginning of Episode 4 of the Doctor with a hand full of drawing pins - This was a photo of my hand with some drawing pins in and composited onto a cave wall background, and the shots of the tuning fork used a tuning fork picture replacing the Doctors screwdriver in a screen grab from Episode 2.




There is no available visual reference for Caven's control room which features extensively in Episode 3 and we needed a room with monitor screens, switches and speakers. It was decided that the control room from Monster of Peladon was appropriate and this had all Peladon related symbols and items removed. Similarly shots of caves were required for background. Fortunately Derek had recently been on holiday in Gibraltar and there are caves which have been cut out of the rock by the British army which was how the caves were described in the camera script, he kindly provided us with photos of these and they were used as background for the cave sequences.




The set for Dom's study was created by Stuart and was based on Victorian wood panelling. Various items described in the camera script were added, including a large picture of a younger Dom, with a neat beard over the fireplace, a gramophone, a table for Dom to hide under and a door with a grille above it. This linked nicely to the corridor outside, also created by Stuart. Originally we hoped to find a useful shot for this corridor elsewhere. It was described as having a submarine style door into the study (i.e. with a big wheel on it). It's the sort of thing you imagine you have seen in millions of films, but trying to find one that is useable is impossible. We looked at similar corridors from Terror of the Zygons and Warriors of the Deep but no clear usable shots were available so Stuart was called upon to weave his magic.




The corridor leading up to the atomic fuel store was the same corridor with the door altered slightly to add a porthole and a danger sign was added above the door. In addition the camera script indicated a clock was required for this scene and also inside the V Ship, the script said the clock's hand moved as the minutes counted down. Initially we made up a traditional style clock and had the hand moving a minute at a time when the script indicated. However this really lacked any sort of impact whatsoever and didn't really gel with the audio, which had a far more distinctive sound than the hand of a clock moving, we decided to alter this to a sixties style flip clock which had far more dramatic impact and sounded far more in keeping with the soundtrack. The interior of the atomic fuel store was a set photo from Fury from the Deep of the Oxygen Room.




The entrance to Issigri HQ was only needed for a few shots so I added bits of other sets together to make this. The door from Stuarts set were altered to make double doors and a background wall. The eidaphore screen (The large screen in front of Penn) was altered to make a video screen on the wall and a control panel from the V-Ship control room used to make a "keyboard" under it.