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That's how many minutes have been committed to film during the thirty year -- and counting -- history of Star Trek. Since its inception as a groundbreaking show, through its current incarnations on television and as a series of motion pictures, more than 395 hours of Star Trek have been filmed. If you watch it all consecutively, you'd be glued to your television ...
That's how many minutes have been committed to film during the thirty year -- and counting -- history of Star Trek. Since its inception as a groundbreaking show, through its current incarnations on television and as a series of motion pictures, more than 395 hours of Star Trek have been filmed. If you watch it all consecutively, you'd be glued to your television set around the clock for more than 16 days.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to create just one sequence of scenes that can last as little as a minute or two? Minutes may not seem like a lot out of thirty years' worth of science fiction magic, but for the thousands of men and women both in front of and behind the cameras, each and every one of those minutes has been a labor of love, blood, sweat, and tears, all created without a net.
With the author as our guide, we will follow the creation of three separate sequences -- one each from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine®, Star Trek: Voyager®, and the upcoming motion picture Star Trek: Insurrection. From the first meetings of the writers to the preproduction meetings, from the concept sketches to the realized set, from the early morning makeup session to the bleary-eyed midnight shooting the author has been there. Peering over the shoulders of the writers, the filmmakers, the graphic artists, and the visual-effects wizards, the author reports each Herculean task as it is accomplished. Action! takes you there for each moment.
After reading Action!, an utterly unique work, you will never watch Star Trek® quite the same way again. (Oh, and in case you haven't timed this, it took you about two minutes to read this flap copy.)
WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT...
The initial premise of this book sounded simple: take 120 seconds of the average Star Trek television episode and motion picutre, then break it down into its components and tell the readers every single thing that went inot creating those two minutes. Writing, acting, building sets, designing costumes, slathering on latex. Whatever it takes. Use one example from Star Trek: Voyager, one from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and one from the ninth Star Trek motion picture (Star Trek: Insurrection).
Piece of cake, seemingly. Except it wasn't.
For one thing, while 120 seconds sounded good in concept (and would have made a catchy book title), it meant absolutely nothing in the context of the assignment. Two random minutes of footage didn't necessarily include a coherent beginning and ending that would allow readers to make sense of the process. It made much more sense to cover a scene, which could run anywhere from a few seconds to a lot of minutes, or a short sequence of scenes (if you're cutting between the crew on the bridge and something happening in space outside the ship, that's actually a sequence of scenes, even though it looks like one scene to the viewer at home). It took a very short time for me to figure this out.
So the premise was modified, as was the title. I would dissect a scene or a sequence of scenes. The only criterion was that the scene should revolve around the captain of whichever incarnation of Star Trek I was covering. And that something interesting should be happening.
That, too, made things a little difficult. In some cases, a scene with the captain might not be the most interesting scene in the episode or movie. But it would make for thematic consistency throughout the book -- so the captain it was.
The next step was to figure out which scene of the episode or film would be the best one to cover. This, I must admit, was something of a crapshoot. As I listened to the evolution of each episode at story breaks and production meetings, I could guess which scene might make for a memorable moment (or two or three), but I knew there was a chance that the scene would not turn out to be as awe-inspiring as it initially sounded. And I also knew that by the time that became apparent, it would be too late to turn around and start all over again with a different scene.
With all that in mind, and with some valuable input from the executive producers of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, here's what I ultimately chose:
From the Voyager episode titled "Hope and Fear," I chose the climactic fifth-act sequence where Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine manage to escape the clutches of Arturis. This sequence featured the captain in a prominent role, interesting new sets, a nifty new ship, and visual and special-effects wizardry.
From the Deep Space Nine episode called "Tears of the Prophets," I chose the sequence in which Sisko's closest friend, Jadzia, dies, and he addresses her remains. This sequence featured the captain in a prominent role, but contained very little in the way of fancy sets or technical wizardry. Instead, the focus was on the deep emotional resonance of the subject matter and the care that the writers and actors put into crafting the farewell sequence for a beloved Star Trek character.
For both of these episodes, I've provided information about the backdrop against which these scenes play out. I've taken you to the brainstorming sessions at the beginning of the writing process, touched upon the scenes that surround the chosen one, and talked about the postproduction period, from editing to the scoring session.
But I didn't do that for the movie.
From Star Trek: Insurrection I chose a sequence in which Picard and Worf try to contact Data, who doesn't seem to want to be contacted. Once again, the sequence featured the captain in a prominent role. It also featured ships, visual effects, and some exciting action. Because this motion picture will not have opened by the time you read this book, its sequence was a little more difficult to discuss, and if its section seems a bit shorter on detail than the other two sections of the book, there's a reason for it. I personally dislike the thought of people opening their Christmas presents early (and so do the people at the Star Trek office). However, I have nothing against someone giving the wrapped present a little shake (so long as the present isn't fragile). It won't tell you much about the contents, but it will pique your interest. Rick Berman is graciously allowing me to give you the literary equivalent of a little shake. So I haven't told you what came before the sequence, or after, or even given you the dialogue.
Cruel? Maybe. I can say no more.
Copyright © 1998 by Paramount Pictures
Posted May 2, 2010
No text was provided for this review.