LEXX: Makers: Production & Background

Please note:  This was written just before the start of LEXX, Season 3 and is probably only useful in an historical context.

Where Did LEXX Come From?

Since I’m a Sci Fi Sadgeezer and not affiliated to the series in any way, I can give you the low-down on all the people responsible for bringing the show to your screens. The gossip, the sex and the debauchery. Just remember that you read it all here first. I intend to uncover the truth about the seedy sex orgies, the drug parties, cannibalism on the set and, dare I say it, yes, and even the links with Star Trek.

Actually this is a vain attempt to wrestle you away from ogling pictures of Zev, Xev, Lyekka and Kai and try to explain a little about how the show was made and tell you about some of the lesser known but equally important people that turned us into Lexxians.

A special thanks goes to the lovely Jennifer at Salter St. who I might add, is never naked at work“. She provided a lot of the info in this section.

So, What’s it all about?

LEXX Logo“LEXX is a science fiction series for the Bevis and Butthead generation according to Salter St. Films Ltd. (the makers)”. It features the most ambitious computer animation in television history, but it is also a ripping yarn! This isn’t one of those series where all the resources go into the special effects, the acting is cool and the story line travels along at break-neck speed.

It is the tale of the adventures of a group of misfits that steal the LEXX, a huge mechanoorganic insect that was grown to be the most powerful spacecraft and the most destructive force in existence.

The stories are self contained and tell of how the crew came to control the ship, how they disposed of their enemies and how they are coming to terms with becoming social outcasts in a universe which can best be described as unwholesome. Best of all it shows how three and a half ‘strange people‘ can come to wreak havoc throughout two universes.

The Third Series (13, – with options to 20 – 48 minute episodes to be released in 2000). I have no definite info on this other than it began production in July 1999. There is plenty of gossip though. Most people seem to agree however, that the Third Series will NOT be made up of self contained episodes, but more of a serial or linked shows.

The Second Series (20, 48 minute episodes was released in October 1998)

The new Zev, Xenia SeebergThe Second Series was shown around the world at the beginning of 1999 and continues the same manic humour, horror and innovation. There are five central characters, Stanley Tweedle continues to be the bumbling coward who gets himself (and everyone else) into trouble. Zev plays only two episodes as the perfect love slave with the man-eating personality of a cluster lizard and a heart of gold. Kai (although technically dead), comes back to life, as we begin to explore his background and his many memories. The new character is Xev,Lyekka Eva will be replaced by the lovely actress Xenia Seeberg, who is well known in Germany for her part in a popular teenage soap series. Zev is turned into a large bowl of custard (or some similar looking fluid) and later re-constituted as the new character (with all the same qualities), Xev. 790 is still as crazy in his one-dimensional love for Zev (and later Xev).

They were joined however by Lyekka (Louise Wishermann), a shape copying life form. She played a sympathetic, feminine character (with no sex organs) and provided a spiritual, mystic edge to the show. Her costumes and smile drove most of us SadGeezers crazy!

The main quest for the LEXX and the crew was to find a new home but a new dark and sinister (and somewhat weird) baddie called Mantrid forced them on a different path. A path of destruction on a universal scale!

LEXX Computer Graphics and Special Effects

LEXX – The Dark Zone Stories is a live action show with real actors but if features some of the hoopiest graphics ever seen. Most science fiction today is produced with traditional technology with the addition of a few minutes of special effects per episode. Eg. about 20% of Apollo 13 was made up of computer graphic elements; Deep Space 9 had only 5% to 10%. on the First Series of LEXX up to 75% of each episode was effected by computer animation. Virtually all sets and large-scale props are computer generated.

The computer graphics were created by three organisations: C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures in Toronto; C.O.R.E in Berlin and pixelMotion in Halifax. The Chief Executive Officer of C.O.R.E. is William Shatner and the company have been responsible for creating special effects in such films as Johnny Mnemonic and the series TekWar.

Awsome virtual environmentsC.O.R.E. use some pretty heavy gear to create such a large number of effects (2500 in the LEXX series). Personally I thought that it was a little fishy that they could have done all that themselves on such a small budget ($12,000,000). However, the staff at C.O.R.E. use Silicon Graphics Indigo workstations and Prisms 3D and Alias (another Canadian company) software. I run a small multimedia unit with SG and PowerMac platforms and let me tell you I KNOW that C.O.R.E could not do half the stuff in the series. Until that is, I read that they had developed and used special custom software and a “render platform” enabling them to render images 60 times faster than the industry norm.

To give you an example. My team in Blackburn drew a wire frame of an apple and scanned in a skin which would coat the wire frame. The apple would then spin around the inside of a box for about 10 seconds. To render the texture onto the wire frame and animate the apple would take approximately 48 hours using a PowerMac. on the Silicon Graphics machine it took 6 seconds and the C.O.R.E. stuff could increase the render speed by a magnitude of at least 60.

Zev in a moth behind a green screenThe clever use (and trust) of high technology therefore played a very important part in the production of the series and should not be underestimated. Sure there were some small errors, but these tended to be spotted only by manic smart arses with their own Multimedia Units.

In addition to this, pixelMotion from Halifax were on the set almost daily, running a JetRail motion control system from L.A.’s General Lift (sorry, don’t know what that is). They combined this with Kuper software, which enabled the production team to allow spectacular movement of the actors around a virtual environment. Personally I think this was best demonstrated with the movement of Stanley, Zev, 790 and Giggerota attempting to escape a Cluster Lizard when the tried to get into a Moth transport in the vast belly of the LEXX (episode 1). There were layers of graphics and a complex perspective realistically portrayed in a vast computer generated environment. It was all whopping stuff.

The special effects gave the show an edge over other sci fi shows such Red Dwarf and even Babylon 5 which have equally strong content/story lines. But the fact that the special effects were played down to a certain extent, made them subtle and therefore watchable again and again. By far the most important aspect to the show was the story and the characterisation.

The Writers

LEXX is written by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeffrey Hirschfield.  In LEXX Fandom they are known as the Supreme Beans (a play on… well, you know).  I’m not sure where the name came from but I suspect they actually came up with it up themselves  🙂

I’m undecided about the writers of LEXX, are they creative geniuses or just plain bonkers? I’ve been lucky enough to get a couple of emails from them and I think they’re too cool to be geniuses. They have all taken the LEXX PURITY TEST by the way and they all rate as Sad Geezers (?), Jeff picked all the questions with beer in them; Paul, I think just went for any answer which looked gratuitous and Lex wet himself before completing the form.  Additional:  Since writing this I was lucky enough to meet two of them and had a complete blast!  These are cool people!

Paul Donovan

Paul DonovanIn a recent interview, Paul claimed that the Second Series would not divert from the films. He mentioned that in this series, “they would go to a planet, bad shit happens and then the planet blows up and they get away!” (A good point well made!)

Most telling, and most exciting from my point of view, is that there is also a “seasoned arc {presumably similar to the Babylon 5 ‘arc’ JMS the writer of Babylon 5, is also a fan of LEXX by the way} …. It has those little bits and pieces and clues as we go through, and when we get into the last few episodes you’ll know we’re going for it! ……Big, big things happen by the end of the season!”

Paul studied physics at Dalhousie University in Canada before graduating from the London Film School in 1978. In 1982 he wrote and codirected Siege, a $250,000 film which won both best script and the Critics Prize at the 1984 Paris Festival of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films. He also wrote and directed Def-Con 4, directed The Squamish, George’s Island and Buried on Sunday, Tomcat, and Life with Billy which along with some of his other films received critical acclaim and numerous awards.

In 1992 Paul wrote his first novel, Paint Cans and in 1993 produced the film version which was released theatrically in 1994 Work on LEXX began in 1995.

I was once lucky enough to meet him at an end of filming party on the set of LEXX.  He caught me chatting up the lovely German makup artist on the show and when I turned around he was stood behind me.  He asked, “Are you SadGeezer?”  I said yes and he replied, “Thought so.” and walked off.

Lex Gigeroff

Lex is a funny guy and terribly modest. He really enjoyed dreaming up some outrageous situations to put the cast and characters in. He mentioned recently that Stan especially comes in for some seriously bad stuff. And quite right too!

Lex GigeroffLex feels that those of us that liked the first four films will like the way that he, Paul and Jeff have moved things along.

Lex Gigeroff has been writing in various formats for as long as he can remember but ‘broke his teeth writing radio comedy’ (sounds painful) such as the Nantucket Review and an adaptation of Orson Wells War of the Worlds. In 1993 he wrote and performed the acclaimed The Last Ten Days of Mulrouney at the Atlantic Fringe Festival which was chosen by the Atlantic Canadian Playwright’s Association as one of their top plays of the year. Other produced works include Telephone Poles (1993), The Mackenzie Show (1994), Art Copy (1994) and Non-Essential Viruses (1995). Lex freelances writing radio comedy, socio political essays and baseball commentary.

It has to be said that as an actor, Lex has a lot of nerve. He has extensive stage experience and has also appeared in several films including Buried on Sunday (1991), Cadillac Girls (1992) (though he is the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen), the acclaimed Life with Billy (1992) and Paint Cans (1993).

I think his best acting came in LEXX however when he played the electric prisoner and subsequent Divine Shadow and also (yes Lex, I just godda tell them) the singing Klaagian in episode 3 (hiding behind the stage name of Clancy King). Never let it be said that Lex can’t bring humour to any show he appears in!

Lex is a very gracious person who loves to hang out with fans and talk ‘bollocks’ about sci fi.  He has a stupendous Video (now probably DVD) collection and a terrific scence of humour.  Checkout the conventions pages on this sight to see some of the antics he got up to with some of the LEXXians who visited the set.

He regularly appeared in the #lexx IRC chatroom.

Jeffrey Hirschfield

Jeff Hirschfield tells us that there is a special episode for 790, which is truly disgusting, and ‘utterly filthy’!’ Wadda cool dude – Can’t wait! Jeffrey also cowrites LEXX and plays a major role in the series, 790.

Picture of Jeff.He lives in Halifax and like Lex, has also written in a variety of formats. His produced stage plays include Geeks in Love, Elmo’s Rainbow, Party’s Over, Blood Buddies and an adaptation of The Ravenger’s Tragedy.

His works for radio include Hip Check Harry’s (CBC Olympic Special), King of Another Place (CBC Vanishing Point) and comedy sketches for CBC Primetime.

He has also developed films like Character Parts and Hinterland.

Jeffrey has worked extensively as an actor in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Stratford. He is also the voice of 790 in LEXX a part, which in my opinion, takes great skill. I’m not quite sure if he also writes the poetry, but if he does, he should be shot.

He once sent me an email asking where his portrait picture came from. He has a burning ambition to appear naked in a shower scene with female Lexxians (and let me tell you, he’s had a few offers!).

Discuss this in the LEXX Forums

The “LEXX Makers” article is © 1999-2019 Tony Fawl.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

The LEXX names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of SALTER ST FILMS & TiMe Film-und TV-Produktions GmbH in association with Screen Partners.
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