“Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft - The Writing of ‘Star Trek: Insurrection’” by Michael Piller (Book Review)
I learned about this unpublished manuscript after watching an interview with Piller’s wife Sandra. Michael Piller joined Star Trek: The Next Generation as Head Writer in its third season, and general consensus is that his addition to the series was a major reason why the series finally hit its stride. He wrote the fan favorite two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds” and other popular episodes, including “Booby Trap” (watch it at CBS.com) and “First Contact” (watch it at CBS.com). He also co-created the spinoffs Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.
Anyway, after a theatrical screening last year of “The Best of Both Worlds”, Sarah, whose husband had died of cancer some years earlier, mentioned she was trying to publish this manuscript so there would be a nice, bound version of it, while acknowledging the fact that it was already out on the internet for all to read.
I googled and found it right away. According to Memory-Alpha.org, the manuscript was made available to TrekCore.com in 2010, and while it's no longer available from them, despite Paramount's desire to suppress it, once on the internet, always on the internet. (How long it remains at the link I provided above, time will tell.) I started reading the 271-page PDF last night and just finished it this morning.
It’s a page-turner! It’s a conversation, a story actually, shared by a writer about writing this script. It’s part a case study of how a Hollywood screenplay is made and part autobiography, dotted with early memories that influenced his younger self that eventually led him to pursue writing.
He’s an open book, sharing his excitement and anxieties along the journey, his first to see his work make it to the big screen. Pillar throws everything of that experience into this, which outsiders will appreciate but some insiders might be uncomfortable with. Literally, everything, from his original treatment to rewrites and, more even more telling, what those involved in the early stages of story development had to say. Notes from producer Rick Berman, emails from Patrick Stewart (who played Captain Picard), a list of questions from Brent Spiner (who played Data), and feedback from several studio execs at Paramount. While offering them uncensored as they relate to the development of his story and script, they also provide casual insight into folks' unpublicized thoughts about DS9 or Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, to cite just two examples. Funny bits, but maybe not appreciated by those involved on these other productions when aired in a book.
But for writers and non-writers interested in learning the behind the scenes goings on to create a screenplay from birth to final draft, this document is a gold mine.
This was so much fun to read! An insightful, intimate, and reflective view of screenwriting, filled with wit, humor, and brutal honestly. Using a well-known script as the basis for the telling, it's a useful book for writers, a blast to read for Star Trek fans.
"When you start a screenplay, you never know where it’s going to take you. Or what you’ll have when it’s done. I tell young writers what I always try to remember myself: enjoy the journey. It’s the best advice I have to offer. And the journey is enjoyable for me when, and only when, I’m writing about something meaningful to me. That’s when I can bring a passion to my work." - a quote from "Fade In" by Michael Piller
Star Trek: Insurrection wasn’t one of the better films in the Star Trek franchise. But he did his best.
Now, excuse me while I pull out my Blu-ray copy of Star Trek: Insurrection to watch all over again.
Last month, I found out about a Star Trek tee-shirt design contest sponsored by Mighty Fine. I'd never heard of them before or their website, WeLoveFine.com. But it was logical for me to enter their contest!
A Star Trek fan since the 70's, I had fun brainstorming and creating the three designs I entered. They're down below.
So how do I win? I get people to rate my designs with the highest rate, a "5". The more 5's I get from an army of friends and colleagues, the better my chances of winning.
The Grand Prize winner gets a cash prize minimum of $1000, with it going as high as $2500 depending on how many people post ratings onto the site during the voting period. There are also runner up and Honorable Mention prizes, and all winners get to have their designs produced. The full details are on the contest's home page.
So, to give my designs a High 5, click any of the images below to send you to the WeLoveFine entry page for that design. You'll need to click each of the three designs to reach each design's entry page. Then, you'll need to create a log in profile before voting (I know, sorry!). But once you're registered, please give each of my three designs a High 5!
The voting period runs from September 25 to October 15.
That's it. Besides maybe sharing this blog with your friends so they can each gimme a High 5 too.
Thank you so much...and Live Long and Prosper. (Sorry, resistance was futile.)
"The Enterprise Incident"
Over the weekend, Star Trek turned 46 years old.
On September 8, 1966, NBC first aired an episode of Star Trek at 8:30 p.m. The episode was titled "The Man Trap", and it was television audiences' introduction to Captain James T. Kirk, First Officer Spock, Chief Medical Officer Leonard "Bones" McCoy and the missions of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise. Forty-six years later, people the world over recognizes these names along with the phrases "Beam me up, Scotty," "Space, the final frontier," and "These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise."
Star Trek originally ran on NBC for three seasons. I didn't discover the show until the 1970's when it aired in syndication. I would've been a pre-teen at the time. And I ate it up! It wasn't just the atmosphere and adventure of the show that reeled me in or its optimistic view of the future, but the look and structure of it too. There was no Internet back then, but I found books like The Making of Star Trek, the Star Fleet Technical Manual, the Star Trek Concordance, and magazines like Starlog. And the background information they offered on this show that aired just in reruns Mondays through Fridays fed my youthful, voracious interest in the show, schooling me on the meaning of the uniform colors, rank braid on the sleeves, insignias worn by the crew and what all the details about the classic starship were called and used for. I was always drawing as a kid, and I doodled my fair share of starships, phasers and Starfleet officers back then.
Original 1966 broadcast trailer (left) and the 2007 trailer to promote the Remastered version of "The Man Trap" (right).
Neil Armstrong was just months away from taking mankind's first steps on the moon when Star Trek's last episode aired in primetime on 1969. Ten years later, Star Trek was reborn in a series of motion pictures featuring the original cast and later spun off into four new television series. With another motion picture due out next summer, Star Trek continues to thrive with the support of its trend-setting "trekkies" (or "trekkers" if that's your preference).
Waking up last Saturday morning, my only plan to celebrate Star Trek's birthday was simply to pull out my Blu-ray set of Season One of Star Trek that evening and watch "The Man Trap" right at 8:30 p.m. But another notion popped into my head after stimulated by a couple of sips of coffee, a desire to do something else to celebrate. And being that guy who is always taking pictures, I thought about what photos I could possibly take. Looking around my living room that could be a set for The Big Bang Theory, my brain flashed with the idea of calling a row of Star Trek books sitting on a shelf a "return to tomorrow", the significance being that the books documenting the science fiction show's history would be poetically titled after an actual episode of Star Trek.
"Return to Tomorrow"
I loved my idea, thank you very much! And the rest of my morning was dominated by a mix of brainstorming other original episode titles that could inspire other photos and setting up those Star Trek collectibles into pretty pictures. Out of 79 episode titles, I used six. And I am pretty pleased with myself and the results.
I've included two here. The rest you can see in their own collection, or menagerie, on Flickr. Enjoy!
And Live Long and Prosper.
I discovered a wonderful place yesterday: the audio/visual section of the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library! :p
While meandering around the lower level, I found the Documentaries and Special Interests section where there were many titles I'd never imagined existed, like Star Wars vs. Star Trek: The Rivalry Continues and Best of Filipino Food Vol. 1. I checked out Pioneers of Television Season 2 and watched the first of four episodes on it. Science Fiction covered primarily the 60's, interweaving the origins of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space and Time Tunnel through new and archival interviews with the series' casts, some of whom guest-starred in popular episodes of the other shows. I was surprised how much time they spent delving into the creators of the shows, mainly on Gene Roddenberry and Irwin Allen with a little on Rod Serling, as well as material on Shatner and Nimoy's early acting days. There were a few things I learned from it (As a Trek and TZ fan, so much of it I'd already known), but the new interviews (the DVD was released in 2011) and several stills that I'd never seen before I enjoyed a lot. The rest of the 50-minute episodes are Crime Drama, Local Kids' TV and Westerns. I'm looking forward to seeing and enjoying them too before I have to return this disc back to the library next week!
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!