As an extension to the Storylab initiative a few years ago, Dave asked very nicely if he could do a story for the AFT and of course we said yes. Here's the making of it, in his own words.

 

The Seventh Doctor - Fenric and Remembrance

Hex - custom based on The End of Time Master

The Brigadier - The Three Doctors

The Master - The Claws of Axos

Commander Taxx - Stor from The Invasion of Time

Troopers - Styre from The Sontaran Experiment

The Minister - Churchill (Victory of the Daleks) and Tenth Doctor (42)

Guards - Primevalís Tom Ryan

Prisoners - Toby Zed (The Impossible Planet)

 
 

The Minister was the body of Ian McNeice with David Tennantís face. The guards have different hair colours too, if you look carefully. They were always just going to be based on the one, but the prisoners were originally supposed to be Chip as well as Toby Zed. Hopefully you canít tell in individual frames, but I do only own one Styre and one Tom Ryan.


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I really wanted to play a part in Philís AFT Storylab, and submitted a four-page episode called The Creature in the Cave. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a below-par effort - Iíd even used Comic Sans! With my second attempt, I wanted to do a proper, full-length story. My main inspiration was to get the Sontaran Pod in somewhere. Itís such a beautiful deluxe piece, but in the end itís only in one shot despite originally being photographed for a few more.
The Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex series produced by Big Finish is my one of my favourites, thanks particularly to Philip Olivier as Hex. When I came to Circles of Trust, I wanted to write another story for this team. You might notice Ace is missing - thatís to do with the ongoing arc I have planned. Plus it probably wouldíve been a little bit overcrowded with her in. The plot as it stands it pretty thin anyway - it wouldnít have stretched to three leads.
I love the Brigadier, and so felt I almost had to include him. Continuing my adoration of early Ď70s Who, I really wanted to include the Master teaming up with an alien race - and of course getting betrayed once again (paralleled in the recent Death in Heaven). And since a Sontaran Pod was my starting point, I came to the conclusion that I really ought to have them.


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Three drafts were written for this story, each accompanied by a different scene breakdown. The core ideas remained the same throughout, but different things happened and a subplot involving a new race was cut for the final draft. It was written quite quickly, over the space of around two or three weeks in the summer of 2013. I wanted to have a full-bodied, properly plotted script this time. It was very much structured around the format it was going to be presented in though, and Iím aware that there are lots of unrealistic events and that itís not the deepest story ever written. This was partly my intention, given I was writing a comic strip.

I had in mind when writing that the last frame of each page would be a cliffhanger to make the reader want to read the next one. It must be said though that the ends of pages one and two arenít particularly nail-biting. I tried to build up suspense when writing, hence the multitude of big reveals. I tried to pander to the slightly surreal, extraordinary nature of comic strips and so each frame was described in terms of position, angle, characters and so on. This was to try and make my life as easy as possible when it came to shooting.

The Brigadierís quite clearly a lot younger than when we last saw him with the Seventh Doctor in Battlefield, so I had to work in an explanation to circumnavigate that one. The simplest solution seemed to work for me: the Doctor and Hex were simply at an earlier point in linear history. I love stories set in the twentieth century, particularly the Ď70s and Ď80s, so I was happy with that. Having said that, there really isnít much that marks out the period itís set in. You might be thinking itís an error to have guards with modern weapons and clothing in that time period, but it will be addressed in future (but I do admit itís just a casualty of a lack of figures!).

Pages one and two were shot over the course of two and a half hours on 19th February 2014 in a nice, self-contained first block. As these were the only times the Brigadierís UNIT office and the Ministerís office appeared, I could wrap them up in one go. The second block was shot on the 1st July and featured all the scenes in the main entrance of the prison and the Prison Governorís office. The third block consisted of all remaining scenes, and was a particularly lengthy shoot on the 10th July. The sets needed for this were, in order, the Masterís lab, the prison corridor, the prison exterior and the Sontaran ship. The final shots were purely of the Sontaran Pod for the cliffhanger to Part One, and these were taken on 1st August.
The prison really is one big set, and was built in summer 2013. Thatís another reason for this story. I saw The Mind of Evil and loved the setting. Phil didnít have any appropriate downloads at that point so I made my own, off the back of his. Once Iíd built this huge piece of cardboard (which I genuinely do struggle to get through doors) I thought Iíd better use the damn thing. If anyone wants the printouts to make their own prison (or anything else in this story) Iíd be happy to share them.

A few frames were nipped here and there, but largely all panels remained unchanged. Where images were cut, it was simply for aesthetic reasons. Any dialogue was moved to another one. Sometimes, I thought pages would benefit from one wide shot rather than two mid-shots.

I tried very much to make the photos as authentic to stills from a video as I could. Thatís why in no frame can you see any of the joins on the figure, although I expect most people probably wonít notice. In some places I did embrace the comic vibe though, especially where it was unclear what exactly was happening - thatís why youíve got ďSHOVE!Ē in a couple of places.

The overall look I tried to achieve was based on Philís work on the AFT but also on Tom Newsomís David Jones series on Doctor Who Figures Online. These both always look professional and are clear and very readable. I was a bit cautious about unrestrained panel sizes though, and thatís why - for the most part - mine are regular, but with varying shapes within the same sized block. Every single panel has had a considerable amount of Photoshop hours dedicated to it, and I hope the end result of this is a polished look for the story.

The trickiest parts of editing were when two images had to be combined. These were shots involving the Minister (transplanting Tennantís face onto Churchillís head), Sontaran Troopers (I only have one, so any occasion where thereís more than that, I took two photos), Taxx without his helmet (thatís Storís body with Styreís head - mostly), and the Doctor smiling or wearing a hat (using the two different figures).

Given that the final scene is set in a black interior, I decided to use the white panel edges literally as frames, thatís why the pictures seem to go beyond them here. I donít quite know what itís trying to show, I just thought it was a nice effect. Hopefully itís clear throughout whatís going on, I tried desperately to make it so. The entire story was complete and in its current state by 12 August, and was sent to Phil the following day.


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Episode one was posted on 19th December 2014 with part two following swiftly on 2 January 2015.

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The Doctor and Hex donít even seem to notice that Ace is missing - implying that either somethingís happened to her or their memories have been wiped. You should see which over the coming few stories. For them, I see this as being set between Forty-Five and The Magic Mousetrap. In terms of an actual date, this is intended to be contemporary with The Android Invasion.
Not only does it get the Brig away from the traditional UNIT setting (avoiding having to pretend everyone else was on holiday as we donít have any figures of the characters) but explains why heís not present in that story, despite there being a door with his name on. For the Master, itís also between Frontier in Space and The Deadly Assassin, but whatís to become of him isnít yet known. For the Sontarans, thereís no set time period seeing as theyíre not actually working for the CIA. The reference to the invasion of Gallifrey is obviously talking about The Invasion of Time.

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Thanks Dave for this contribution.
It's a fun sidestep into an alternate Doctor Who (the AFT as a general rule doesn't take in Big Finish continuity).
The painstaking work that has gone into every frame is obvious. And the style is pleasingly very faithful to the rest of the site.

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