Sunday, September 13, 2015

Breakaway Day 2015: Interview with Director Kevin Connor (2005)

[John's note: I had the great pleasure of meeting film director Kevin Connor at the Space:1999 Main Mission Convention in Manhattan in the year 2000.  We sat on at least one panel together, and late one evening, a group of fans and I got together with Mr. Connor at the hotel bar and he recounted some amazing stories of his film and TV career.

A few years later, I interviewed Mr. Connor for Horror Films of the 1980s (2007), and for Filmfax Magazine (2008).  The following transcript covers only his work on Space:1999.]

Interview with Kevin Connor regarding Space:1999

MUIR: ...You you directed two episodes of Space:1999, Year 2. What can you tell me about the experience?

KEVIN CONNOR: I can't recall exactly how this assignment came about but I knew Gerry Anderson quite well and we were both at Pinewood so I guess one thing led to another. It was between the Burroughs movies. I'd seen the series and they [the episodes] seemed very inventive and another genre for me. The great thing about directing this series is that I met the brilliant production designer, Keith Wilson, and we went on to do another ten TV shows over the years that followed.

MUIR: What are your recollections of working with producer Fred Freiberger?

KEVIN CONNOR: Fred was more a front office man so I had little contact with him, but he was a great listener and Gerry was a terrific ideas man with the effects and scripts.

MUIR: Your first episode "Brian the Brain" involved a malevolent robot. Was it difficult structuring/shooting so much of the story around this mobile device?

KEVIN CONNOR: The robot in fact had the wonderful Bernie Cribbins inside and he maneuvered the device himself so it wasn't so difficult to structure the shooting. It never broke down except when Bernie wanted a cup of tea!

MUIR: What were your thoughts on the teleplay?

KEVIN CONNOR: Both scripts were written by John Goldsmith, a very talented writer. The script [for "Brian the Brain"] was inventive, fun, and unusual. It was a pleasure to work with such a good script. John and I have worked together on many more mini-series over the years.

MUIR: What were your thoughts when you first stepped onto the Space:1999 set and saw those wondrous sets and costumes?

KEVIN CONNOR For its day, the sets and concept were way ahead of its time and very striking. It was a very cleverly designed show by Keith and became a benchmark in studio set design.

MUIR: Your second episode is one of the best in Year Two. "Seed of Destruction" involves Commander Koenig going to an asteroid and being trapped inside a mirror, while a sinister duplicate nearly destroys Moonbase Alpha. Do you have any thoughts on this doppelganger-type story?

CONNOR: A very clever John Goldsmith script; very difficult not to get in a muddle with the reflections of the commander and his real self. You really had to concentrate on where you were and what you were doing so as not to confuse everybody, myself included. I think it turned out a fun piece.

MUIR:. Having worked on two episodes of Space:1999, what were your thoughts on working with the series cast?

KEVIN CONNOR: Martin, Barbara and the rest of the actors were all committed 100% to the series and a delight to work with."

MUIR: What do you think is the enduring appeal of the series?

KEVIN CONNOR: A couple of years ago I attended a Space 1999 convention in New York. The place was packed with fans. Just amazing. These guys knew all the dialogue, word for word, in both of my episodes. They could recall all the plot points, actors and gimmicks used in the series. So I really have no idea why there is such a following. I guess there is some magic in the images that captures their imagination.

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