The following article is about the development of the 2009 miniseries. For the similarly-titled novelization, see Development of Blood Over Water novelization.
The development of Blood Over Water as a miniseries was a long, complicated and drawn-out process, as documented below.
Rejection of Mackley's WardrobeEdit
Main article: Mackley's Wardrobe
Blood Over Water began its life in early September of 2009, as a planning and strategy meeting amongst members of the Wednesday evening TV Practicum class of Ferris State Fall '09. On September 2nd, the Wednesday evening class met for the very first time. Numerous ideas were thrown around, including the already well-thought-out Mackley's Wardrobe.
However, that idea was ultimately rejected when the class decided they didn't want to make a sitcom "like everyone else who takes this class." Also, several practicum classes prior had done shows on social issues, including shows on environmental issues around campus.
Class instructor Nathan Meadows planted in the early team's minds the notion that there needed to be an environmental subplot behind whatever the class would do. The class took this to heart, contemplating what sort of serious drama with an environmental theme could be thought up in the place of Mackley. 
Shortly after Mackley was rejected, Cassie pitched a series about a woman who goes missing, with the husband charged with finding out what happened to her. This premise, dubbed The Widower and the Conspiracy, was later tweaked in Dozerfleet Literature to become the basis for a series pitch for Kozerlen.
Main article: Kozerlen
Kozerlen featured a reverse of gender roles, intending to cast Cassie as the romantic heroine Jessie Morcin in search of her lost husband. No role was assigned to anyone to play him; but virtually everyone else fit somewhat well in a roll. This included David as Corvin the Caller, a mysterious man whose upper half of his face was never shown on camera. Angelina McClane was to be assigned the role of Mindy Liptash, a spy. Kyle was to become "Fuzzy" Malone, with Chris playing Larry Wallace and Zach playing Johnny Ovalt.
The Twin ConspiracyEdit
Nearly everyone in the class liked the idea of Kozerlen, save for Chris and Zach. Insistent they could do better (and make less work for whoever became main editor,) they proposed an alternative wherein which siblings would get separated, not spouses. Chris quickly decided that Ice Mountain (Sleet Mountain in the remastered dub,) located in nearby Stanwood, made the perfect villain for the series. The company's bottling facility in real life has had its share of controversy in 2002. This became the basic premise of the entire show: that one of two brothers worked at
Ice Sleet Mountain and then vanished without a trace. The twin would seek answers. It was inherent that there had to have been a conspiracy, hence The Twin Conspiracy as a working title.
Mountain of CabalEdit
There was a lot of confusion during the first episode over what the twin brothers' names would be. Since The Twin Conspiracy was a disliked working title as well, discussion quickly unfolded over how to give the show a proper title. Writer Angelina and proofreader David both liked Mountain of Cabal, and that became the new working title. The twins were referred to during early production merely as "Twin M" (for Missing) and "Twin A" (for "Confirmed to be Alive".) Under the show's title of Mountain of Cabal, "M" and "A" were renamed "Mike" and "Alvin."
Two scripts were proposed, one by David and one by Angelina. Due to some miscommunication, Chris and Zach believed that only Angelina's scripts should even be considered; and that there was no room for compromise on dialog and related details. Angelina's format, which was substandard for teleplay writing, was no-less preferred over the industrial-standard alternative.
In the industrial-standard version, Zach's twin characters were known as Mike and Alvin Monaco, as can be witnessed from Mountain of Cabal's first episode script. This was changed out of spite by Zach, Kyle, and Chris to Stiefel. However, after numerous objections, a compromise was reached. The brothers' last namesto "Sterlin," then back to "Stiefel," then to Stepplin, then back to "Stiefel," then to Stefflin. Finally, they were listed as "Stieffel," altering the spelling. Even so, not all parties were happy with this decision.
The first episode was finally shot without a title for either the series or the episode made final. Mike's name was changed to "Mark" by Zach and Chris, leading to confusion in later scripts written by Angelina when she could not remember which name was finally canonized. Alvin was also renamed "Aaron."
Conflicts over title eventually led to the show being renamed Bogged by around the beginning of November. The title Mountain of Cabal was a reference to the fact that
Ice Sleet Mountain was the villain, with the double-meaning that "cabal" was a synonym for conspiracy. Essentially, Aaron was confronting a mountain-sized conspiracy and cover-up (the cabal) that involved Ice Mountain.
Exactly what the crimes of Ice/Sleet Mountain theoretically were remained to be seen until episode 3 was completed on November 4th. The name change to Bogged was a double meaning as well. Aaron was bogged down in trouble trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his brother; and ends up looking for pond water in a bog to have his theories tested. In the end, this title was also rejected.
The show continued on without a clear title until November 18th. It was then that the class finally agreed to call the project Blood Over Water. The symbolism in this title was that the twin brothers (blood) had greater ties of loyalty to each other than the conspirators at Ice/Sleet Mountain (water) had to each other. The bonds of love in how they treated Chris like family also proved to win over Chris more than the ties of money and fear, which is why he ultimately betrays the company even after it convinced him to betray Mark and Aaron initially.
Blood being thicker than water, blood wins in the end. There is a second symbolic meaning in the title: Blood was shed over water. The Ice/Sleet Mountain conspirators feared one of their own would betray them to the media when they were polluting water. Therefore, they sought to shed blood...over water.
A third meaning is that Aaron is hot-blooded and passionate about what happened to his brother. The conspirators are cold-blooded killers that work for Sleet Mountain, a company that, in its very name, possesses a physical state of water.
The series went through a variety of hotly-debated episode titles, before it was ultimately decided by Chris and Kyle that the show shouldn't have episode titles at all. The ultimate justification for this is that since it is technically a mini-series, it can simply be divided into unnamed "parts" rather than calling them true "episodes."
- As such, the show's first episode was going to be titled "Late Matters Not" back when two different scripts were pitched for the pilot. That episode would come to be known as "Something's Fishy" later on, before being simply renamed "Part 1."
- Part 2 was going to be titled "Connected." This was a reference to the fact that Aaron and Mark (blood) were connected with Chris (water,) and that Chris was also connected with Sleet Mountain. This ultimately connected all of them with the greater conspiracy.
- Part 3 would have been titled "Mountain of Conspiracy," since this referenced both George and Kyle's divulging of their plan to Aaron and the once-proposed Mountain of Cabal title for the show.
- Part 4 was going to be titled "What Must Be Done." This references Chris' line of "I did what I had to get done" in that episode, as well as alludes to Chris making the ultimate decision to betray Kyle and George. Also, this title references the Stationery Voyagers episode "What Must Happen", which was being written around that same time.
- Part 5 was to be titled "Why and Now," as it consists of flashbacks (the "why") and of Aaron's decision to expose Ice/Sleet Mountain (the "now what?"). It was also a reference to the common question: "Why and How?"
In a vote, episode names were rejected for various reasons. Angelina abstained from a vote initially, having no objections one way or the other. Zach rejected them due to discomfort with the symbolism. Kyle rejected them because adding titles meant extra work for him as a video editor. Cassie cast the deciding vote, arguing that "punny titles would make this thing too much like CSI."
As stated above, there was considerable disagreement amongst cast and crew members over what Zach's characters should be named. Through much debate and evolution of names, Alvin and Mike Monaco were eventually settled as Mark and Aaron Stieffel. Yet, this was far from being the only naming issue to come up with the series. For the final release on cable, the others decided to abandon their project, freeing up the Dozerfleet founder to reintroduce "Stefflin" as the twins' last names.
Cassie is only referenced as "Tilne" in this article because of unexplained fears of her real last name being used on the Dozerfleet Web Network. Thankfully, she did not object to her character being named "Monica Shelly." While her first name was chosen for her by Chris and Angelina, it was the Dozerfleet founder that gave her the last name of "Shelly" in production notes.
The last name is particularly meaningful. Mary Shelly is the author of Frankenstein, which involves a mad scientist that causes trouble by creating a monster. Monica Shelly, on the other hand, is a modern scientist who is quite sane; yet causes trouble by exposing a monster (Sleet Mountain) when she chooses to aid Aaron.
There was also some debate over whether or not Chris and Kyle would have changed last names or used their real ones. They decided to use their real last names for their fictional selves, so as to save themselves the trouble of having to agree on fictional last names. Kyle's last name was originally going to be changed to Tugrass, and Chris' to Kennal. These surnames for their characters were later reintroduced in the cable-approved MPEGs.
Angelina's character, Ashley Phillips, was given a name for production purposes at the last possible minute. She is never actually given a name in her only brief cameo in Part 5. Her part was originally going to be named "Sheila Shones," but she objected on the grounds that it "sounded too 'ghetto.'"
Finally, there was the character of George Lawence. Due to poor communication, his name's proper pronunciation of "Lah-Wentz" was understood to instead be the slurred "Lahwintz,", which was misinterpreted as "Lawrentz" for spelling purposes. Due to his silly name, the group had little trouble with the fact that the character's gestures and dialog are also a source of dry humor. George's brief cameo at the end of Part 2 is a reference to the visual gag that would have been used for Corvin the Caller if Kozerlen had been produced instead of this series.
Issues with equipmentEdit
Throughout production, most of the equipment from Ferris' TDMP Media Supply Center worked about as well as it was expected to. Even so, several tapes were known to disappear. The opening of Part 3 had to be re-shot when archive footage vanished without explanation. In addition, the crew had a hard time securing cameras for Part 4. This is because the same camera that was used for practicum class was also used for the streaming media class taught by Connie Morcom. Chris and Kyle were able to spare one camera in the nick of time to shoot what remained of Part 4.
While lighting was seldom ever a problem, audio was consistently a problem. The most frequent complaint given by crew members was that boom mics never worked. In spite having five months to repair them and give them working batteries, Media Supply employees nevertheless consistently handed out boom mics that didn't work. Therefore, in-camera microphones were used to record audio for most scenes in parts 2-5.
At 11:31 AM EDT on March 23rd, 2010, TDMP director Fred Wyman called the Dozerfleet founder's cell to alert him that Blood Over Water had, in fact, been approved for broadcast. Last-minute changes were made to the approved-for-broadcast version, which most of the crew didn't want to be associated with. Therefore, fictional last names for characters were reinserted. Only the Dozerfleet founder and classmate Angelina kept their real last names in the end credits. Chris' character last name of Kennal was used, and his actor last name was changed to "Willis." Zach's last name was changed from Foster to "Finster" and Kyle's from Mayer to "Manor." A data disc was prepared shortly thereafter, since that was the format in use by Ferris Cable operator Steve Cox.
In September of 2012, Dozerfleet Studios and The Dozerfleet Channel took advantage YouTube's beta test for 3D video converters. The result was that video on YouTube could now be given analglyph stereoscopy. Although the process was far from perfect, it did yield promising results. Below is a side-by-side example of a scene from Part 2, along with (almost) that exact same scene as it looks when viewed with 3D conversion. (Red-cyan glasses required to get full effect.)
On March 14th of 2013, a re-release was scheduled that would use YouTube's conversion algorithm to achieve 3D. This version fixed some lighting, contrast, and audio issues in the September 2012 release. By March 16th around 2:00 AM EDT, a working video with captions taken directly from the video's dialog was up and running.
- ↑ Mackley punted, new show will replace." (Originally a part of DozerfleetWiki's current events page.) The Dozerfleet Forum. Dozerfleet Productions. Friday, Sept 11th, 2009. 4:59 PM EDT.
- ↑ "Activists blockade Ice Mountain plant in Michigan." Great-Lakes.net. Great Lakes Information Network. July 29th, 2002.
|Blood Over Water|
|Continuity||Miniseries: Dozerfleet at Ferris State era | Novel: Cataclysmic Gerosha • Crossover Universe|
|Characters||Aaron Stefflin • Mark Stefflin • Meredith Celestine • Wanda Celestine • Vance Lingolin • Bob Lusital • Monica Shelly • Chris Kennal • Clyde Spendelworth • George Lawence • Kyle Tugrass • Ashley Phillips • Navyrope|
|Miniseries actors||Zach Foster • Cassie Tilne • Chris Wilson • David Stiefel • Kyle Mayer • Angelina McClane|
|Locations||Big Rapids • Sleet Mountain • Ferris State University|
|Development||Miniseries behind-the-scenes • Miniseries development complications|
|Related media||Mackley's Wardrobe • Kozerlen|