Memories of Serenity
By Brian Wiser
Many people have asked what it was like to be in the movie Serenity, and about making the Firefly documentary film Done The Impossible. These are some of my memories of Serenity.
With luck and perseverance, I was cast as a background extra in Joss Whedon’s film Serenity along with my friend Jeremy Neish. We flew to Los Angeles for a costume fitting, and flew back a week later for the shoot on Universal Studios Stage 12. During lunch I was able to say hi to Nathan Fillion and had my picture taken with Summer Glau in our costumes. As I was waiting in line for the makeup trailer, Jewel Staite walked out and smiled at me – my heart stopped for a moment and my smile didn’t leave my face and is visible on screen.
When I walked onto the set and unexpectedly saw the ship Serenity, it further catapulted me into my passion for and obsession with Firefly. It’s difficult to describe the emotion of being someplace that can only be imagined, a place that only existed in my mind and on TV, and then to physically be there and see the reality of the ship and cast before me. It was like going to a home I had only dreamed of.
I was fascinated watching Whedon direct and seeing the cast come alive in that world. During the 12 hour shoot that resulted in about two minutes of screen time, I even watched as the famous photo was taken of the cast standing in Serenity’s cargo bay. Ultimately, I was lucky enough to have a few seconds of screen time about 30 minutes into the film. When Kaylee walks off Serenity into the crowd, she walks directly toward me. In the movie, I’m visible in the top left corner, smiling and wearing a Chinese hat, sash and shiny silver Nike shoes.
After a long day of filming, the production crew graciously took a few of us through Serenity. Many of the lights were off, but that didn’t diminish from the beauty or emotion of the experience. We were walking quickly through the ship when I realized that we had walked past the bridge. I didn’t want to miss seeing such an iconic part of Serenity, so I turned around, ran back to the bridge, and gleefully had my picture taken in Wash’s station. It was a day and experience I’ll never forget – one of the genuine highlights of my life.
Knowing how important the fans were in helping Serenity come into being, along with the experience of being in the movie, inspired me and Jeremy to become producers for the 2006 documentary film, Done The Impossible. In addition to learning how Whedon and the cast created Serenity, the story of the fans and their part in getting Serenity made was a very important story to tell. What Browncoats accomplished and the way they did it was unique in modern entertainment.
Wanting to have someone from Firefly help convey the story, Adam Baldwin was a perfect fit with his continued support of the fans. When I asked if he would be willing to host the documentary, he was genuinely interested in a way that demonstrated he not only believed in our film, but the importance of the message of Firefly and the fans. Jewel Staite also graciously agreed to do voiceover for our special features.
I was surprised by how many people had stories and experiences they wanted to tell, and how excited they were to be involved. Through the very personal interviews, we wanted to share the unique journey from Firefly to Serenity and contribute something to the ‘Verse that people could enjoy and connect with, and keep the Browncoat momentum moving forward.
I was humbled and enlightened by meeting the cast. Michael Fairman, who played the evil Niska, confided in me that, “People think I’m this terrible person, but I’m really a nice guy” – and he really is. One of my favorite experiences occurred when I was in the green room with most of the cast. I was sitting at a table with Yan and Rafael Feldman, when I suddenly felt myself being pushed out of my chair. Catching myself before I fell over, I looked up and saw Ron Glass pointing and laughing at me. Without a doubt, that made me feel like part of the Firefly gang. Like most Browncoats, my connection to Firefly is very, very personal.
I enjoy many deep friendships with fans and cast that continue to this day. If Firefly had never existed, these life-changing experiences would never have happened. Firefly will always be an important part of my life.
Copyright © 2015 Brian Wiser. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author:
Brian Wiser is a producer best known for the 2006 documentary film Done The Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly & Serenity. It is hosted by Adam Baldwin with voice-over by Jewel Staite, and features interviews with Joss Whedon, the cast, crew, and fans.
In 2005, Wiser was cast as an extra in Joss Whedon’s movie Serenity and had a few seconds of screen time with Jewel Staite. That experience inspired him to be a producer and writer for Done The Impossible, a co-founder of Utah Browncoats, and to create and co-produce many Firefly-related projects like his 2007 Browncoat Cruise featuring Firefly cast like Ron Glass and Michael Fairman.
You can follow him on Twitter at @BrianWiser