I wanted a strong-willed female companion for the Doctor this time around. In the last story I created, ("Redemption") he had become a hermit, after having done what he thought was enough damage to these random people he picks up on his travels. He goes through a lengthy crisis over the matter, and then realizes the best thing he can do is to help others. He makes up for what he sees as his crimes by fixing one of the things he did to damage Tegan Jovanka in Earthshock when Adric died trying to save the Earth from a space freighter. In the beginning of "The Second Key" he has just dropped Adric back home (in E-Space) and has obviously talked to Romana and K9 who opt to stay behind.
Listeners to Big Finish Audio's CD productions of Doctor Who will find that Romana returns to become President of Gallifrey at some point, so when the Doctor goes to E-Space to retrieve her must be rather earlier than that.
So now with his demons exorcized, and with a quest on his plate, he feels once again that he can begin taking on companions. And I'd think that like before, the Guardian actually arranged a companion for him. Like Romana before, Sir Edmund seems destined to find the Doctor and join him.
After finding Sir Edmund, he has no problems picking up a second companion. Elannuir is a feisty, strong-willed barbarian and the Doctor feels that she would be well-suited to join them.
This story is mostly a way of introducing the Doctor's second companion and giving her a solid background while at the same time finding the second segment to the real Key to Time. The background explains some of her later behavior as a stolid warrior and a rather independent woman.
Click any image for larger version
It's probably obvious that my character Elannuir was inspired by Leela, companion to Tom Baker's Doctor played by Louise Jameson.
Louise Jameson as Leela
I had recently seen an episode of Doctor Who, one of my favorites, "Horror of Fang Rock" and Leela was the Doctor's companion. I had forgotten how much fun she was. But it was "The Talons of Weng Chiang" (the preceeding serial) that made me remember just how murderous she could be if the situation warranted.
(Thankfully, both of these episodes are now available on DVD, and I highly recommend them both.)
So what would this Leela-esque Elannuir look like?
A while back I bought a Xena Gabrielle figure at discount at Toys R Us and her outfit reminded me of Leela's. I also liked the Gabrielle face. I used the same head as Helen, Tegan's receptionist in "Redemption".
Xena - Gabrielle figure
Elannuir's head is a Xena Gabrielle figure as I said, put on the sturdy body of a GI Jane from Hasbro.
I wanted the Doctor to have a very intelligent and unsentimental companion. As you will see later in the story, however, she does tend to hold a surprise or two up her sleeves. Or up her arms, I guess, since she doesn't have sleeves.
I wanted Elannuir to be a slave girl rescued by the Doctor as she escapes her captivity. But a slave to what? Rather than making her a dumb slave girl, I opted instead to give her the more opulent clothing and make her slavery a forced marriage. The idea came to me because I now had three female warrior outfits and only one male costume that would fit the bill. How to explain the fact that there was one male in the village? A rooster society. A society of people in which males are rare, and are used mostly for breeding. And since the gene pool would be small for a single village, I thought that a male would have to bring in fresh DNA in order to keep the race healthy.
So it followed that Elannuir would be a marriage slave. It is not obvious that in such a society a rare male would even be allowed to marry, as he would be fairly busy impregnating his coop of females. However, for my story I needed him to marry, and it made sense he marry outside the village for genetic diversity. In this society, of course, his marriage would be rather symbolic. His impregnating duties would still have to be carried out.
The treachery of Marte fit in nicely after that. And how it was all revealed at the end, I thought, was satisfying enough.
Over time this story came to my mind and I made it a point to collect several of the Xena outfits that I could use in my story. I opted to dress Elannuir in the Xena outfit because it was strong and warrior-like. I wanted my Doctor's companion to be a strong warrior female, and Gabrielle's outfit (worn in my story by Annin) wasn't quite right. Though I did use it for Annin, who is somewhat lower down on the totem pole in this village.
The problem with the outfits as they come out of the box is that the studded skirt strips on Xena's and Callista's outfits were simply circles painted in silver or gold paint. So for Xena's skirt I bought some metal brads (brass studs with two bendable arms) and spent an hour or two putting about 80 of these gold studs on the strips of the outfit for Elannuir. I had to X-Acto-cut small 2mm slits in the skirt flaps exactly over the gold-painted dots and then insert the stud, bending back the two slats. This for 80 gold dots!
As a funny aside and totally on-topic, my wife said that once I added the golden studs to Elannuir's Xena outfit, her skirt looked like a Dalek. And you know... she's right! Totally coincidental, and totally cool!
Elannuir's skirt sort of resembles...
...a Dalek's skirting.
Marte is a GI Jane Helicopter Pilot with black hair. As for the silver studs on Marte's outfit (Callista's) I bought at a craft store some metal studs used on t-shirt iron-on patterns. I Krazy-Glued them over the silver spots on Marte's outfit, and all over Tarrek's top. Tarrek is wearing the outfit I found on the Xena figure, Ares. All over his chest. Every single silver dot covered in metal studs each individually Krazy-Glued to the outfit. Even the red ones on his bracers. But you already know I'm crazy.
Annin is a GI Jane Helicopter Pilot with red hair. That's the only difference. I struggled over this. Was there enough difference? I played with the idea of using another female figure, an African American GI Jane Viet Nam Nurse, but the face was far too gentle and calm for this story. So the hair-color would have to be difference enough, and with the obvious difference in outfits, I was sure that was differentiation enough. Annin previously starred as Tegan Jovanka in my "Redemption" Doctor Who photo story.
Xena - Ares figure
Tarrek is a GI Joe figure from the Real American Heroes line called Nunchuk. I really liked the long hair and the excellent head-sculpt with its intense glare. Perfect for my Tarrek. The one problem (as you will see on that page) he has a GI Joe logo tattooed on his bicep. I used a black band around his arm to hide that, as I couldn't remove it cleanly. It's hard to see, but now that you know, you'll see it on his arm in several shots.
The Priestess is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer head (the old, 9" one) stuck on the body of a Hasbro Pricness Leia Speederbike figure. She's wearing yet another Xena outfit, complete with the feathered head-dress. In retrospect, she looks a little young to be the priestess, but hey, who's to say who gets to be priestess of the Village?
This was a tough segment to shoot, as there were several scenes, and most of them were outdoor scenes, which needed to be shot in a verdant forest setting. I found a park with large plant growth, and shooting those scenes could not be done in one day, or two. Each scene was a shooting session. Each one was hot, under hot sun, and I had Sean Dickinson's help on only one of the out-door shoots, though we got a lot done that day. On my own, I worked much slower, but was able to shoot a scene each time I went out to the park.
On the day I shot the prison escape (shoot 4) I found a couple of hours, got my stuff ready. I was fairly frustrated at the way life had been conspiring to make sure I would never finish this project, so I wasn't in the best frame of mind to begin with. The light was fading fast, and I had to get to the park toute-de-suite.
However, the problem was that when I loaded the car, got all my stuff ready and set up on site, ready to shoot, I found I had left my main character, Elannuir, back at my apartment! AARRGGHH!
I packed everything back up, put it all back in the car (not a short walk away), drove home, got Elannuir, and went back again, lugged it all to the site, and set it all up again. Talk about an obsession. Most people would have packed it in for that day. But I found it was far too easy to let a week, two, then three go by without shooting anything, so I wasn't about to let this ooportunity pass me by, even though the sun was even further down in the sky now.
The sun was too low to shoot where I had originally picked, but I found a great spot right at the convergence of three trails. The wedding ceremony and prison escape were shot about two feet off a stone walkway, but you never see it in the shoot.
Prison Cell Set with Stone Walkway
(Click to see larger image)
I also found that when I got home from the large shoot Sean and I did (the TARDIS arrival and the race back to the TARDIS only to be intercepted by Marte) that the continuity was a little messed up. Tarrek was originally holding Elannuir's Lion-head dagger when he arrests our trio after their collision.
This wasn't good because I had originaly scripted Elannuir to grab her lion-head blade from Tarrek at the wedding ceremony, so how could he have it if she had just run off with it? Chalk that up to me not being specific enough in my storyboard. I saw Tarrek with a blade in his hand, and just figured Elannuir's lion-head dagger would do. Wrong.
So on Shoot 5, the day I shot the wedding ceremony, I had to reshoot the arrest shot with Tarrek holding his own sword.
Now the continuity is restored.
In a small shop in Salem, MA I found a pair of letter-openers in leather scabbard. Six bux got me the lion-head dagger for Elannuir, and it came with another one just like it at over double the size. Each was knife-sharp, unlike the letter-opener swords you can get. I had to file down the blade so it wouldn't be so sharp.
Later in September I was at a Robin Hood Faire and there was a booth selling swords and daggers. I found a basket full of these things. I bought two more. One of which is Annin's multi-jagged dagger and I have yet another that I wasn't sure I'd use in this story or not. This Robin Hood Faire was held at Hammond Castle, which I talk about later, in relationship to Edmund's family tree.
Elannuir's wedding dress is actually the Bride of Frankenstein's (Sideshow Toy) wedding dress and hospital gown. I had to rip the seams under the armpits to make room for Elannuir's arms and shoulderpads but it worked. But if I had my time back, I think I would have chosen almost anything else. I didn't like the final result.
The wedding altar is a combination of Saruman's Palantier from Sideshow Toy's polystone casting of Saruman peering into the seeing stone and an aquarium decoration of an Olmec head statue. The Olmec head is one of several very cool aquarium decorations I used in this story. (Another is the smaller menhir Elannuir runs past when she escapes her wedding.) I used some Crayola Play Clay to make an adapter so the sharp edge of the head blended better into the smaller Palantier pillar. Kind of like a gasket painted black.
I wanted the jail cell to look like it grew organically. I wanted this world to hold some interesting mysteries for the reader, while allowing me to make an interesting set piece that wasn't just the same-old same-old. So I invented an organic plant structure that grew naturally to form a cage. Perhaps in its natural state it is a carnivorous plant, capturing victims and holding them inside until they die and then feed on their nutrients. Kind of like a huge Venus Fly Trap.
The jail cell is made of insulated copper wire bent into bizarre angles, then covered up in more Crayola Play Clay which I then painted matte black. The result was exactly what I wanted.
Insulated copper wire, in a frame, then with tendrils twisted in odd shapes between the longitudinal wires.
Crayola PlayClay pressed over all of the frame. I let it dry before painting it.
Spray-painted a matte black. Here the door is in place.
(Click any picture for a larger image)
I made two hemispheres so that when put together the two would form a dome-like structure that could house our entire party of companions. And the same cell doubled for the interior of the huts in the opening scene, though that was shot later.
I created a door that friction-fit into its aperture, and glued gears from an antique clock on it. The clock I got at a yard sale and was unsalvageable, but I found the gears to be quite nice.
For the shot of the door swinging open the blur is not faked. I was holding the camera in one hand, and swinging the door with my other hand, back and forth, back and forth, rather quickly, so when the shutter clicked, it would be in fast motion. Worked!
For the hut interior I took various fabrics that looked like leather and cut out animal hides. I sewed burlap to the cell structures and then tacked on the "animal furs".
Then for the exteriors (the opening two shots) I turned it all around sewing the burlap to the outside and placing the furs on the outside.
One difference is that the furs on the outside had been painted with hand-prints and gears. A few other things too, such as footprints and an animal head but mostly it's hand-prints and gears. I wanted to play up the gear design as a specialty of this bizarrely mix-technological tribe. To them the gear would have been important enough to immortalize in their art.
Just two of the painted "furs" that adorn the exterior of Tarrek's hut.
(Click for larger image)
The fur panel covering the hut's doorway is actual rabbit fur that I borrowed from my daughter. I think she got it at Plymouth Plantation in the gift shop.
In this episode, the Doctor first shows some curiosity about the black sack he carries with him. Sir Edmund is obviously not terribly interested in telling him, but he does open up a bit here and tells the story, in flashback form, of his failed quest.
The scene with Guy le Maître at the hill at Calvary was, I think, very well shot to ensure no one saw the surroundings. Usually in such cases, an establishing shot is required, but in this case narration makes up for it. I'm quite proud of the look of that scene. It was all shot on a single boulder about the size of a car. (More about that later.)
The saracens were quickly mocked up. I wanted some action in this one, as the first segment was mostly talk and pondering. So I put together a couple of token Saracens, had the knights kill them off quickly, and then proceed to find the chest which supposedly contained the artifact that Edmund of Sussex had pledged to find. One Saracen is wearing a Jedi Knight top, and a turban I hacked together with the bandaged head-covering of a Hasbro "Invisible Man" figure which I got on discount at KB Outlets. The other is wearing the Kabai Singh Captain Action outfit that came out in the late 1990s.
The location was a large rock feature in Windsor Gardens, where I live. I had used this same rock earlier in my GI Joe Adventure Team story, "Black Spider Rendezvous". It is a gorgeous rock, and there are a few standing surfaces that were quite useable. (Though since that shoot, someone has spraypainted a part of the rock I use... grrr...)
Guy le Maître has the body of the Sideshow Toy Black Knight from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." A most appropriate choice. I broke the head off the figure (as I could not remove it peacefully) and popped the head of Count Dooku onto it. I augmented the Black Knight's armor by adding the breastplate and tassets, as well as the shoulder pads and pauldrons from Sideshow Toy's "Evil Ash" figure, from "Army of Darkness". The pieces fit very well together, and the poseability of the figure made for some great poses. I put a pair of Hasbro black riding boots on him.
Count Dooku (Hasbro)
The Black Knight (Sideshow)
Evil Ash (Sideshow)
Of all the shots, the one of le Maître standing over Edmund with his shield over his chest is my favorite. It shows the fallen cross on the chest of the fallen knight. Quite visually poetic, as well as being a damn-nice pose.
(Click for larger image)
But if Guy le Maître had really slacked off on defending his army, how did he get such blood on his blade, while the Knight's blade remains clean? The sword was from Evil Ash and came stained with blood. That's why.
The casket they recover is from a 7-inch Mummy figure from Sideshow Toy. I would have painted a fish on the casket but mentioning it was enough, I thought, considering the fish would have been on the side facing Sir Edmund.
Of course at this point most people will be of the opinion that the holy artifact the knights are looking for is the Holy Grail, and hey, I let them. It's too obvious, yes, but hey, this knight has a stake in finding the Holy Grail. That is, after all, one of the things the Crusaders were looking for.
And it ties in later quite nicely.
The Sonic Screwdriver shows up in this episode. I made it using aluminum tubing found in a hobby shop, cut with an X-Acto knife and fitted together and secured with a thin film of binary epoxy cement. More epoxy secures the head ring to the body. The red bullet-point tip is a plastic paint-brush handle filed down to form a point.
The Jelly Babies are a long-time staple of the Doctor. Way back to Patrick Troughton's era, the Doctor would randomly hand out Jelly Babies, a gummy candy. Tom Baker made it even more of a Doctor Who "thing", but it hasn't been seen often since. So I brought it back. I always thought he used it as a great ice-breaker to get out of trouble. Here, he uses it to disarm Elannuir's natural paranoia of these two strange males.
The bag is an actual brown paper bag, cut to shape, bent and folded to mimic an actual candy bag, and the rim is actually cut with a sewing stencil wheel to get a jagged edge. The bottom of the bag contains a small block of styrofoam, with colored beads glued to it.
And yes, in the shot where Elannuir is running off into the forest, with Annin, Tarrek and Marte watching, Marte's dagger looks as if she's stabbing Tarrek in the back. Just a little visual irony there. Subtle foreshadowing? Perhaps.
This is the TARDIS interior setup. The walls are foam-core board with circles cut out of them. The rondelles are styrofoam cups cut to size.
(Click for larger size)
This is me, bent down, posing figures. Back-breaking work!
(Click for larger image)
I think I'll let this mystery stand for the moment. The figure was shot against a dark background in a dark room, and I superimposed a shot of the trio in a prison cell taken from above, implying some kind of camera hovering above. Perhaps it's taken from orbit?
When I filmed the collision, I positioned the figures as I thought they should be. It was all quite natural. But then Sean Dickinson noticed something that made me reshoot the shot. Because...
"So... Doctor... Is that your Sonic Screwdriver or are you just happy to see me?"
I'm glad we re-shot it.