“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I learned about this unpublished manuscript after watching an interview with Piller’s wife Sandra.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.
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!