Richard Hatch Talks Loadout: Going In Hot And The State Of Sci-Fi Television

Today, Machinima is premiering Loadout: Going in Hot, a new short from Wayside Creations – [...]

richard hatch loadout

Today, Machinima is premiering Loadout: Going in Hot, a new short from Wayside Creations – creators of Fallout: Nuka Break and Fallout: Red Star - based on the upcoming PlayStation 4 free-to-play first person shooter, Loadout, from Edge of Reality. The short follows the crew of the HMS, group of "merchant marines in space," competing with other such merchants to salvage artifacts and curiosities for resale.

The crew is led by Captain Gaz, played by Richard Hatch. Hatch is a veteran actor who appeared in two iterations of Battlestar Galactica - as Captain Apollo in the original and Tom Zarek in the SyFy seris – and has been a part of several quality web projects, including the Silicon Assassin and Star Trek: Axanar.

Hatch took some time to speak to about Loadout: Going in Hot, how Captain Gaz is unlike any character he's played before, and the state of science fiction television.

Can you tell me a bit about Loadout, what this short is, and how it relates to the video game source material?

I came in at a very late point, and I just received the script, and I loved the writing, I love the characters, the relationships, and I really enjoyed meeting the company. I really, really like this very smart, very collaborative group of professionals. So I've basically, at the last minute, I basically said yes, and then I wasn't sure what was happening until a few days before the shoot, and everything was all put together.

But I haven't had a chance to check out the game. All I know is that I love the story of the script. I love this broke down freighter in space, in an alternate reality, trying to deliver cargo in a very dangerous, very competitive universe, with much bigger, much more expensive, much more powerful shipping companies trying to, basically, take away their livelihood, and this over-the-top, dedicated captain who loves his broken-down ship, wouldn't give it up for anything, and his quirky, very brilliant, but quirky and out-of-the-box crew that he has to somehow, someway bring together to make these missions successful, and be able to outstrategize, outthink, outsmart all the bigger, badder guys.

And he has this very misogynistic, love-hate relationship with his ship, like most of us do with our cars. We yell, we scream at them, we make love to them, we cajole them. A car becomes a relationship, and this ship is definitely is definitely his major relationship, and I just love his attitude, his way of finding ways out of problems, finding ways through the challenges, with his very innovative crew, through many of the challenges they have in order to succeed, because for them, every single delivery means they're going to get to eat the next, and to survive the next day, and they're having, like I said, to really outsmart everybody. So it's a really rough and tumble universe, and it's really fun because they're constantly thrown into one challenging circumstance after another.

Naturally, when talking about your career as an actor, your work on Battlestar Galactica - both as Captain Apollo in the original, and as Tom Zarek in the modern version – come to mind. Battlestar Galactica has a pretty serious tone, compared to the relative over-the-top feel of the Loadout video game. How does playing Captain Gaz for Loadout compare to your roles in Battlestar Galactica?

I would call [Loadout: Going in Hot] more a dramedy than a comedy. It's a drama with comedy, and yeah, the characters are bigger than life, but they're still realistic, they're still grounded. I mean, each of these characters in this show has a particular skill, a particular talent, and, like artists, they're always, basically, acting out, and you're having to deal with the drama.

I'm having to basically hold all of these people together, but the nice part is, unlike some of the characters I've played…usually the characters I play are, I don't want to say grounded, but usually they're much more controlled. Gaz is an incredibly smart guy, incredibly good with weapons, he's a badass when it comes to weapons, but he doesn't take s**t from anybody. What I love about him is he doesn't take s**t from anybody, whether it's his ship, or his crew, he'll rail against the wind, he'll go off like an explosion, and the next second he can be very tender, and condoling, and very communicative, and grounded, and centered. It's an interesting fusion of being volatile, and at the same time being focused and dedicated to getting the job done.

You know what would be good example, maybe, except it's probably not funny on his set? I hear, on the set of Avatar or any of those things, James Cameron, right? He's dealing with huge crews of people, and he's one of those guys that can do everything, which is what my character can do, he can do everything, he's good at everything, and so he challenges everybody to keep up with him. Everybody respects him, but at the same time, he doesn't put up with bulls**t. He'll be exploding, yelling, screaming, going after whoever, trying to get everybody to get online, to get the job done, to do it, and so he can be very volatile and out-of-the-box, but at the same time, he's always very focused, and dedicated, and he doesn't ask anybody to do anything he's not able to do himself.

He's a really kind of colorful character, and I love this character of Gaz. It just gives me a little more leeway to really take it to the next level. I don't have to be so controlled in everything I do.

You mentioned that you came into the project relatively late. What was it that made want to be a part of the project?

To me, it doesn't matter whether its drama or comedy, whether its fantasy or sci-fi – although I do have a particular love and passion for good sci-fi, I really do – I love a good script. Sometimes you put together the right combination of characters, the writing, the dialog, what these characters have to say, and then the basic story. I love that it's not another post-apocalyptic story. It really deals with the everyday trials and tribulations of a broken down freighter crew, trying to make a living in a very badass, volatile universe. And the thing that they have going for them is they can go up against the bad guys, and it's always great to see the little guy beat the bad guys, but they're smart, they're talented, they have these amazing skills, and I don't mean Superman skills, they're just very, very brilliant in their own ways. It's a crew of brilliant nerds who are really skillful at what they do, whether its weapons, or whether its camouflage, or whether its strategy. They have all these skills, and the captain pulls them all together, keeps them moving forward, gets the job done, and it's a great script, it's a fun story, and it reminds me a little bit of Firefly without the western theme, has a little bit of that element to it. It has drams, but a lot of comedy, but not jokes, its comedy that just comes out of these characters interacting with each other, and that's the best kind of comedy. That's why I called it a dramedy.

It's just the perfect combination of elements that I think any actor would love. I was very attracted to the script. It came to me in kind of a last moment type situation. My friend, Alec Peters, who is producing it, and writing Star Trek: Axanar, the groundbreaking Star Trek indie film that's being put together, he's one of the producers on it, and he brought it to me, and said "Would you be interested in this script? There's a character, they're interested in you." And it didn't take very long. It wasn't one of those "okay, oh god, do I really want to do this again?" It wasn't like that. It was a very character than I've ever played, and it was a much more fun approach, and yet there's still drama, there's still reality going on there, so it's the perfect blend, for me. I loved it.

I was very attracted to, not only the script, but once I met the team I just found, and this doesn't happen very often, I just found a very smart, down to earth, collaborative group of talented people that really want to do something special. And also, getting to know the Machinima people, I think they're really on the cutting edge of where the industry's going, and how the business model are changing, not only in this business, but every area of life. And I think they're on the cutting edge of finding new ways to create product, to deliver it to the audience, and many different forms and formats. I think this is a very, very exciting time to be involved in the entertainment industry.

You mentioned Firefly a little earlier. Hypothetically, if Captain Gaz, Captain Mal, and Captain Apollo end up on the same ship looking for the same salvage, who's walking away with the cargo?

For me, they're totally different captains. You know, the captain on a character, on a big ship with thousands of people, is different than a small freighter with a four, or five, or six man crew. It's a totally different kind of a thing. He's basically captaining the ship, he's running the ship. I think it's a totally different character, totally different kind of captain. When you call him a captain, it's not like a captain in the military, like on Battlestar Galactica. It's the captain of a ship. It could be a freighter, like we have freighters out on the high seas. This is a freighter in space, delivering a product and trying to succeed and survive in a very, very competitive marketplace.

I just like the very volatile, very quirky elements of this story, but the character for me is kind of a different character than I've ever played. I've done lots of comedy, with Michelle Pfeiffer in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, and I did a whole series of internet things called The Silicon Assassin. I've played a lot of different, quirky characters, but this is unlike any character I've played so far. I've really enjoyed playing this role.

As someone who's not particularly familiar with the game yourself, how you try to hook other viewers who maybe aren't so familiar with Loadout?

First of all, all the space shows are off the air. Number one. Whether it's whether Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, name space show, they're all off the air. So there's a huge audience that loves these kinds of shows, and sci-fi audiences love the blend of drama and comedy. Battlestar was incredibly dark, but it had a very dedicated fanbase, and I think it was really one of the best sci-fi/dramas ever on television.

But this show, it's a dramedy. There's a lot of comedy that comes out of these really colorful, really delicious characters, and you put them in these life-and-death circumstances where they're always going to have to find a way to outsmart the big guy. There's an energy and a feeling to this that I think has been missing for the longest time.

Think of Galaxy Quest. Galaxy Quest really brought in a huge audience. Why? These characters believed in themselves. They played it straight. Comedy came out of the situation. It came out of the delicious dialog between these characters, but they were playing them as real people. This has a lot of that kind of Galaxy Quest, tongue-in-cheek quality that comes out of playing the material honestly, but the situations are so quirky, and so interesting, and the way these characters relate to them, and the wonderful dialog between them, and the chemistry. It just creates this wonderful combination of drama and comedy that I think has been missing out there, especially in the sci-fi area. So I think this is a very, very unique project and story, and it's one of those things where, if it gets seen by enough people, it could really catch on and become something. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Do you have any thoughts on why it is that these kinds of shows, these sci-fi dramedies, have been missing for a while?

Well, I think it's getting ready for a return, because I think the technology has become so sophisticated, and the audience has become so sophisticated. And they've been doing what I call "ground-based" sci-fi, which is not the same as these shows like Star Trek, Firefly, Farscape, Babylon 5, all these shows. SO the technology now has gotten sophisticated enough where these shows can be produced faster, on smaller budget, and they set the business model of most of these networks.

All the sci-fi shows, I think the budgets were too volatile and it was much more challenging for networks to manage those kinds of shows. But I think times have changed. Technology has changed dramatically in the last five, seven, ten years, and its changing faster and faster every day. This can even be done totally as an online series. Like The Guild, which has millions of followers following it, and made Felicia Day a huge star and got her all kinds of other job opportunities, and she was ahead of her time in the way that she took online ability to create a story designed directly for an audience, and found a way to monetize it. She really initiated that, and I take my hat off to her.

But it just goes to show you that going online doesn't just mean you're waiting for a network to pick you up, although if a network make a good enough deal, sure. But I think, especially soon, people are not going to jump at a network deal, because I think they're going to find a much more effective way to reach an audience is online. They can build up a business model that works, and they'll be in control of their destiny, as opposed to a network, which is, today they're happy about you and excited, and tomorrow they can cancel you. Why not control your own destiny and build a direct bridge to the audience?

You can check out the new short, Loadout: Going in Hot, embedded below.

Battlestar Galatica's Richard Hatch captains a crew of merchant marines in space who compete with other local haulers in the highly profitable (and extremely dangerous) antiquities and curios shipping business. Gaz and his crew scramble to avert a ship-wide disaster; while racing against the clock and Gaz's arch nemesis, Mick, in their quest to retrieve a high value cargo payload.