Back in 2011, I had put together a variety of little productions, mainly focusing on short audio dramas and motion comics - with Fade Away, adapted from the original fan comic by Paul Hanley proving particularly popular. It was also the first time that I had attempted to work with a large cast.
I had wanted to see Dark Dimension for years, ever since seeing a DVD cover for Dimensions in Time by Jim Sangster that professed it to be a 90 minute special. It was a while later that I finally saw the special and was disappointed to find it only last ten minutes or so. But I don't hate in the same way some people do - it was great to see the Doctors return a little older to the same roles.
So, I naturally decided to take a crack at Lost in the Dark Dimension. I decided that I would make it as an audio drama - and that I'd modify the existing shooting script to remove the Third and Sixth Doctors, and replace the Seventh Doctor with the Eighth. Scott Burditt agreed to play the role of the Eighth Doctor having appeared in a variety of audio dramas over the years - most famously in the animation Pieces of Eight.
DJToad kindly agreed to knock together some artwork which you can see to the right.
While I was working on casting the non-returning character roles, I saw a few clips from Ian Levine's Dark Dimension project and was inspired to attempt to produce the story instead as a reconstruction. I'm no photoshop expert but I had a go at a few test shots. They didn't look great.
I also had a look at adding animation to existing images - rain and lightning for the very first shot of the story. Again - didn't look great - as you can see to the left...
I figured there was no way I was going to be able to singlehandedly reconstruct this story myself. And so, I started looking for someone to help. I quickly came across a gentleman called Jay Jones on YouTube who seemed interested in the project. And I decided that if we were going to do this, let's do it properly, and match the shooting script as closely as possible.
I contacted Seventh Doctor impressionist Kurt Bergeron who had already recorded the same vocals for a sister production "Into the Dark Dimension", and he was only too happy to send us the dialogue to work with. Tegan Harris, known for her work on several fan audio productions for an amazing impression of Ace, also came aboard, recording dialogue for our little project.
As casting continued, the reconstruction was shaping up nicely, with ten or fifteen of the one hundred and ten scenes made. It looked great but I wasn't entirely happy with it. Jay's work was amazing but I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I don't think I'd ever be happy unless the picture in my head matched what was on screen.
It was while browsing YouTube that I came across animator Jay Hale. He'd previously worked on an animation of Doctor Who that he called Legacy of the Zygons. It was incredible work and matched the style of a Saturday morning TV show perfectly.
After a ton of conversations, Jay kindly agreed to take a shot at singlehandedly animating the entirety of Lost in the Dark Dimension. More amazingly, as you now know, he did it!
While Jay worked on animating the scenes we'd already reconstructed, I set back to work on casting the remaining characters. Unfortunately, I was unable to find enough actresses to fill the roles of the Eco-Troopers so was forced to cast men in the roles. It's one of the few regrets from the project.
My good friend Matt Dale, kindly agreed to take on the role of villain, Hawkspur and has gone on to become my favourite part of the entire production. He lives and breathes the role and I couldn't imagine anyone else doing it now.
Graydon Schlichter appeared as the Brigadier's son, Alex. Some people raised the question as to why the Brigadier's son was American. I genuinely thought about this during the casting process and liked the idea of distancing the two characters. Alistair and Alex share no scenes together and I thought the different accents may help show that distance too.
The production used about thirty different voice artists, some professional. Some not. I contacted pretty much every friend and family member to take part - it didn't occur to me at the time to ask some actors to double up on characters...
We originally planned to release the production as a single feature length movie but when I realised how long this was all going to take, we decided to release the production in an episodic format. Part One was released in May 2014 and we were lucky enough to receive a notice on the Doctor Who News Page displayed with artwork produced by Simon Hodges.
Simon put together a whole host of artwork for us, ranging from character cards, DVD covers, CD covers and a Blu-ray cover and insert.
Each episode took around four months to animate and then a further four months or so to sound mix. Sound production was put together by my good friend Aidan Clark, who put together an entire soundtrack singlehandedly.
Over the next couple of years, we worked hard and produced a further four episodes. The sixth was double the length of previous episodes, running to 39 minutes. While we were working on the sixth episode, I decided to release the story as a feature length production. Our previous actor portraying the Brigadier did a brilliant job but I decided I wanted an older voice and it was this voice that the sixth episode was animated to.
Unfortunately, during the sound mixing process, we quickly discovered that replacing the vocals for the character would be incredibly difficult and take many many months to accomplish. Therefore, we released episode six separately and simply recast the character.
I confess, we took a few liberties during the sixth episode, removing a downbeat ending for the Brigadier and adding a post credit scene on featuring then incumbant Doctor, Peter Capaldi, along with a whole host of stars from other sci-fi productions. What can I say, we had spent the better part of five years on this and we wanted something nice to end on!
Having completed episode six, I quickly began work on a movie version, only to discover that the HD files for the first three episodes had gone missing. I was distraught! It was only then, six months later, when my wife found them on an old hard drive. You better believe I was grateful!
Unfortunately, we were unable to do anything about the recasted voice for the sixth part of the story but all in all, I'm very proud that we as a team managed to put together a nearly two hour animated Doctor Who movie.
The crowning moment was finding it listed as part of WhoTube in Doctor Who Magazine.