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‘Sanctuary’ Star’s Leap Of Faith Paid Off

9 Sep, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Never underestimate the power of buzz.

Amanda Tapping knew her Web series “Sanctuary” had big buzz when it was released over the Internet in early 2007. What the show didn’t have was money.

“When we set out to do the Web series, our goal was to do a multiplatform Web site, where there was a social networking aspect and a gaming aspect,” said the actress, who both stars in the show and acts as executive producer. “It was a great idea. Unfortunately we didn’t know how to monetize it.”

So when the time came to sign on long-term for the fifth season of “Stargate Atlantis,” and continue to commit to her most famous character, Col. Samantha Carter, Tapping chose the buzz from “Sanctuary” and her character, Dr. Helen Magnus.

“It was sort of one of those life moments,” she said. “I realized that if I picked ‘Atlantis,’ I was essentially throwing out ‘Sanctuary.’ I had to follow it. I had to pursue it. It was a big leap of faith. Everything happens for the right reason. I know I made the right decision, creatively and emotionally.”

A short time later, the Sci Fi Channel (now Syfy) confirmed her choice, picking up the show for a 13-episode season. The DVD of the first season comes Sept. 15 from E1 Entertainment. The show has since been renewed for a second 13-episode season, which finished filming in August, and includes an episode directed by Tapping.

“Our success was a result of our failure; we had a lot of eyeballs watching our show,” Tapping said of the original Web series. “We knew it was good, and we knew there was huge potential for it. Apparently so did the network. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a season three.”

The series stars Tapping as a 157-year-old experimental scientist running a mission to protect “abnormals,” supernatural creatures that a shadowy underground group is experimenting on and destroying. Shot almost entirely in front of green screens, using non-film Red Digital Cinema cameras, the series has garnered high praise for both its stunning visuals and highbrow concepts.

“It speaks to a lot of demographics,” Tapping said. “That’s what blew me away when we started meeting fans, everyone from little kids who loved the monster aspects of the show, to those who loved the psychological and historical aspects of the show, to everyone in between. We’re fantasy, we’re a historic drama, we have this cool look that nobody else has. And the stories totally hold up.”

While working so often with green screens took some getting used to, it made her a better actress, she said.

“It actually makes it more pure in some ways because the only thing you’re dealing with is your fellow actor in the room,” Tapping said. “It becomes very simple. Once you get over the literal green headache.”

As for shooting the series completely to a hard drive, the advantages of avoiding re-shoots and seeing the product in high-resolution can’t be understated, she said.

“It’s 4K resolution,” she said. “It’s HD on steroids. There’s a lot more information going into the camera. There are a few growing pains with it, but ultimately we’re thrilled.”

Tapping said the bonus features on the DVD release (which has a unique rental configuration from E1, with an extra copy of disc one, and all the discs in unique cover-wrapped Amarays) are exceptional.

“I’m super proud of our special features,” she said. “We did a commentary on every episode, we have a whole visual effects, behind-the-scenes reel, there’s an introduction to all the creatures. There’s a blooper reel, which I think is the most fun.”

And for fans of the “Stargate SG-1” character that put Tapping on the map, no worries: Col. Carter will be found in episodes of the new Syfy series “Stargate Universe” and upcoming “Stargate” films.

“Sam Carter isn’t going anywhere,” Tapping said.

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