EXCLUSIVE: Last Friday director/producer J.J. Abrams and many of his cast and crew on new Star Trek film dropped by TrekMovie.com from the set of the film to take questions from the fans. However, after the dust settled, Star Trek co-writer and executive producer Roberto Orci kept the discussion going over the weekend answering more fan questions in the TrekMovie.com talkback. The writer revealed more tidbits about the script and the writing process and more. For those that don’t haunt the discussion threads we have put this bonus chat into an easy to read Q&A format.
Firstly, in case you missed it, here are key tidbits from Friday’s chat with Abrams and his cast and crew (but do read the full transcript to get much more)
- First full trailer currently in the works, targeting early- to mid-summer release
- Principal photography is scheduled to wrap at the beginning of April [about 1-2 weeks more than originally planned]
- Documentaries on the film’s pre-production and production process can be expected on DVD release; Making of… book also discussed
- Greg Grunberg will not appear in Star Trek due to his commitment to another film
- About 1,000 effects shots are expected to be used in the film (more than any previous Trek film)
- Target MPAA rating: PG-13
- The two biggest challenges for Abrams were getting a handle on the vision of the future and casting the film
- Humor is a very important aspect in the film ("humor and humanity go hand-in-hand")
- Abrams’ goal is to make Trek ‘real’ and is thus utilizing sets and location shooting rather than green- or blue-screens wherever he can
- The Enterprise "will be a combo of the physical and the virtual"
- An image of the Enterprise is "coming soon"
- The doors on the Enterprise will go "SWOOSH!" when they open.
And here are some of the key findings in the follow-up weekend discussions with Roberto Orci:
- The set of the Enterprise bridge will be stored for future use;
- the movie’s script is about 128 pages long (indicating a roughly 2 hour movie)
- the script took about four months to write
- he and co-writer Alex Kurtzman will not be making cameos in the film
- James T. Kirk and the film’s villain (Nero) were the most difficult characters to write;
- the TOS episode "Balance of Terror" and the second, third, fourth and sixth films helped shape the writers’ takes on the characters, as did novels by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.
- Script shoots for many memorable moments akin to the "Never forget the name of the ship…Enterprise" moment in TNG "Yesterday’s Enterprise"
- Film makers have kept with Trek tradition and brought in academic and scientific consultants (more info on this promised)
For more details, read the transcript below.
WEEKEND ROBERTO ORCI COMMENTS Q&A TRANSCRIPT
Dr. Image: To all Trek Purists out there, understand this: What we are getting with this movie is obviously meant to REPLACE the ‘66-’68 version of Trek, including the Cage and WNMHGB, in style and substance. In other words, IT NEVER HAPPENED THAT WAY- anymore, that is. And unlike with bumpy-headed Klingons, where there was an ATTEMPT to explain the condition in ENT, it ain’t gonna happen here. What we have seen very obviously bridges the gap from ENT to TMP in ship design, production design, etc. and NOT from the 60’s aesthetic! Why they won’t call it a re-imagining or rebooting of the show is beyond me, because the evidence shows otherwise. My guess is that this approach was decided on by the the studio. That’s FINE with me, but in the words of James Cawley, it’s not what I would have done. So, JJ, Roberto, am I not correct in this conclusion?
Brian: I’m not sure if the (zero) really means anything, but I’m really hoping that this isnt going to be the title. I would be fine with not going Star Trek XI, even if it’s just called Star Trek (no bloody numbers or colon), I feel that the Zero would give it too much of the “Star Wars” feel when they did the prequels.
Roberto Orci: Agreed. As we’ve said before, it will simply be Star Trek. We’ve used the term Star Trek Zero a few times to remind new audiences who have felt that Trek has passed them by that they can tune in and be introduced to the world anew.
Brian: You can count on me being for the first showing I can get to!
Roberto Orci: Thanks — this site proves the dedication of fan base, too. The last thing I want on my grave stone is that I helped kill Star Trek.
Red Shirt: How are you moving forward on Fringe with the strike ongoing? And where has Alex been hiding? I too went to UT, graduated in 1993 with a degree in Radio/TV and Film. I am a little younger than Rodriguez, but had film classes with Matt Mcconaughey. Refresh my memory, but did you spend any time at the communications building, or were you a student of another discipline?
Roberto Orci: Luckily, we finished the script for Fringe before the Strike hit, so FOX/WARNERS is going ahead with giving us the green light to shoot it. As for Alex — because Alex and I are the luckiest guys in the world, we are also in the middle of production on our first movie as producers under our KO shingle for our home studio, DreamWorks. The movie is called EAGLE EYE. Started shooting the same day as Trek, so he’s mostly handling that while I mostly handle Trek. And yeah, I went the RTF route, too and was there for a couple years… Hook ‘em horns!
Red Shirt: I don’t know how involved with Michael Giachinno you are gonna be, but please please PLEASE help JJ, et al to have a locked picture before he has to complete his score! For me locked would mean the beats and edits are precise and timed, even if temp FX, animatics, etc. are being used as place holders. I think the Star Wars prequels are a prime example of how a film score can be butchered when a film is poorly conceived during the shoot, i.e. trying to make a film come together in the editing suite, more so than on the printed screenplay page. I loathe how Luca$ cut and pasted Williams’ score in those movies, just like grabbing a wav file from an Avid bin, and slapping it in the timeline, even if the leitmotif didn’t fit the scene (like a sliver of Yoda’s theme in a scene bereft of Yoda!). Goldsmith’s music is pretty iconic with ST, from the features to TNG, and ST Voyager’s theme music. There is a lot of history there. Horner’s scores are great also. I do really like Giachinno, and for those of you out there who don’t know his work please check out the score to The Incredibles or the Pixar short “Lifted” to listen to his range. “Lifted” alone tells me he is gonna knock ST0’s score out of the park.
Roberto Orci: Interesting point about the score… will keep that in mind moving forward.
Rusty McCoy: Now that you have finished filming on the bridge set, what are the plans for them? Is Paramount planning on storing them for sequels or will they get tossed in file 13(the dumpster)? And again thanks for the interaction — its been great.
Roberto Orci: The bridge will be boxed or crated, but not destroyed… just in case we need it…
Red Shirt: Wow, Roberto! giving your pal Alex the first letter in your production shingle (The K before the O) Aren’t you generous! I guess it has a more powerful ring to have a knockout (KO) punch than to just be (OK) (Orci/Kurtzman) And yes, Hook ‘Em Horns! I fully expect a veiled Bevo, burnt orange, or 40 acres reference in your future works. I’ll keep an eye out for it.
Roberto Orci: Tell me about it. Sadly, I couldn’t argue that KO was a better combo than OK productions! But we still switch our names on every screenplay, so I can take some comfort there.
Charles Trotter: I am a contributor and administrator at Memory Alpha (http://www.memory-alpha.org/). Did you guys use Memory Alpha when researching for the movie? And if so, can MA expect to receive a mention in the end credits?
Roberto Orci: We absolutely used Memory Alpha during the entire process, and still reference it occasionally during production. It was great to be able to refer the less educated members of the team to your great site. THANK YOU! Will see what I can do about credits. Not a bad idea at all.
Shawn: I just got a quick screenwriting question related to Star Trek. How many pages is the final shooting draft? and how long do you think the movie will be? Do you believe in the rule of one page of script equals one page of screen time? I read somewhere that Transformers was 106 pages and it ended up being two hours and twenty some odd minutes, can you clarify this in relation to Star Trek? Keep up the good work and thanks for talking with the fans.
Roberto Orci: The script is about 128 pages. Sometimes, production changes the margins slightly for formatting reasons, giving a 1-5 page variance. We’d love it to be as close to 2 hours as possible. Too early to tell until we really get into editing. Transformers was over 130 pages long, and Bay dragged the action out even longer. … the rule of thumb is that a page = a minute of screen time… in general.
Red Shirt: Also, on a serious note, do you speak Spanish? If so, I wonder if you plan on being part of the Spanish looping for Latin American release of this film. Did you ever respond as to whether you and/or Alex have any screen time in this movie?
Roberto Orci: I do speak Spanish. As far as a cameo, i really want to try and enjoy seeing Trek as a fan, and nothing would take me out of the movie more than to see my stupid face up there (or Alex’s).
Charles Trotter: How long did it take you and Alex to write the script? Can you tell us the exact day you started up through the last day you worked on it? Also… is David Witz the film’s UPM? If so, does that mean Chernov is no longer UPM? And do you think Stratton Leopold will still receive some type of credit in the film? Why did he leave, anyway? Obviously, you’re not obligated to answer all or any of these questions and I will understand if you don’t, lol! Still, whatever you can answer will be greatly appreciated.
Roberto Orci: Took us about 4 months to write the script. David Witz is indeed the UPM. Chernov is Exec Producer. don’t know the status is Leopold’s credit.
RoobyDoo: Which of the characters was most difficult to write?
Roberto Orci: The two characters that were the most difficult to write were the villain and Kirk himself. Kirk in particular can de deceptive because you can fall into the trap of making him 2 dimensional because you think you know him so well or because you think his behavior in any given situation is a foregone conclusion — rather than treating him as a true character who has free will and has to make decisions. Easy to get lazy when writing known characters.
SPB: If you’re still haunting these boards, I was just curious (don’t worry, I’m not looking for spoilers): Were there any particular episodes of The Original Series that helped shape your and Alex’s takes on Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al, when writing their characters and trying to find their “voices?” And did you listen to any particular TREK soundtracks while writing, to help get you in the mood?
Roberto Orci: Many episodes — Balance of Terror stands out, as do ST2,3,4,and 6, and a couple of the Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens novels. And the James Horner sound tracks are to this day some of my favorite scores of any movie ever. Absolutely listened to them for inspiration during the writing process
Harry Ballz: I know you were inundated with 600 queries the other day, but I’d love to hear your take on my “tingle” question….. Namely, in Yesterday’s Enterprise when Picard says, “let’s make sure history never forgets the name Enterprise”, the hair on the back of my neck stood up…..a real “tingle” moment. With that in mind, how many “tingle” moments are there like that in the new Star Trek film…..best guess?
Roberto Orci: First, I too am on record, i believe on this very site, that the moment you mentioned choked me up as well. Every time. So I completely know what you mean. Never know what moments will work at the end of the day, but we were shooting for that exact feeling several times. Let’s see… my best guess… hopefully… between 6 and 10… I pray.
Regular Joe: I know your focus is on this movie and after it, hopefully, a couple sequels. Beyond that, do you believe Trek will be returning as a TV series at some point? If so, would you and the rest of KABLO [Kurtzman, Abrams, Burk, Lindelof, Orci] hope to be involved?
Roberto Orci: I honestly don’t know. I can’t speak for the others, but for me, I don’t want to be involved unless we really have a genuine vision for what a series should be. If I — for one minute — feel myself going stale or jumping on something Trek based on no other reason than past success or whatever, than I will resign my commission. It may be that someone else will have a better, more passionate idea about how to do a series, and I would hope none of our egos get in their way.
Having said all that, I would [love] to see a series…
AM THX-1138: Out of all the cast members, the one that I am most curious about at this point is Simon Pegg. I think that JJ said that he was out of the country (England?) while the chat was going on at strength. I was wondering if there was something secret or hush, hush about his portrayal of Scotty and that’s why we haven’t seen him. I was skeptical at first of his casting but admit to warming up to the idea recently. I guess I was such a McGillion fan that I was blinded to other choices. Back to Pegg; it seems that he hasn’t been as publicly available as the other cast members. Any reasoning behind this? How about a photo of him with black hair? A bone tosed in this direction?
Roberto Orci: Nothing particularly more secretive about his involvement than anyone else. Many have expressed concern that his interpretation would somehow be a joke given his background, but I can assure you that his performance will be tonally in line with the film.
Caltech: Haven’t asked a question yet, so though I’d give it a shot! The two things I’ve always loved about Star Trek are: 1) it’s humanity and 2) it’s portrayal of our technological future. In terms of the second, one thing that has kept me a fan all these years is its keeping with established physics and it’s postulation for where our physics and engineering might eventually go! As a physicist, I can’t tell you how close we actually are to making a breakthrough that would lead to the kind of star travel we see in ST. So my question is, have you kept with past tradition and had academic consultants on the film from science and engineering, to make it as realistic as possible?
Roberto Orci: The short answer is yes. The more fun answer is coming soon.
reptileboy:I would love to know how much they understand that many Star Trek fans are scared by this endeavour. At least with Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor etc, they had worked under people close to Gene Roddenberry or directly under.
It’s hard not to see them as invaders of our realm. It’s easy to say that Star Trek should appeal to the broader audience, but when so many fans have lived and breathed the franchise, to see even such a talented group come in, it begs the question; Can they be trusted.
I don’t often say this, but JJ and co. if you have read my comment please understand that some fans are standing on the edge not fully sure of what to make of things. We’d love to see Star Trek renew itself and grow, but really out worst fear is that the entire franchise would be dealt a death blow should the movie fail and fans not like it.
It’s hard to describe that as a fan of pretty much the entire series so far, that until now I had never felt such discontent over the direction and abilities of the franchise that I’ve had to wonder how much Star Trek meant to me.
Roberto Orci: We feel your fear. When you say that it’s easy to see us as invaders of your realm, we know what you mean. We prefer to think of ourselves as having been recruited into Starfleet in an emergency. We don’t particularly feel we deserve to be here over anyone else, and we know we don’t have the benefit of Gene Roddenberry or the amazing crews who have been stewards of this dream before us. It just turned out that we were ready for duty and our number came up, and we could either refuse the call or take a swing. Don’t let our enthusiasm or confidence lead you to believe that we aren’t also standing on the edge, trying not to look down.
Luckily, we’ve had a little help. Nimoy’s blessing is a beacon of light that we have tried to follow like a ship in the night. And the good wishes and blessings of the original crew members or their children has been equally valuable.We know that Star Trek, more than any other cultural treasure (with the exception, perhaps, of Star Wars), belongs to the the most savvy and forward looking fans in history. We believe many on our team came from within your ranks. That is the reason why we have asked the impossible from you — for your input or criticism even as we seek to keep the story a secret, but the process an open book.
It doesn’t mean we will make the right decisions, or that we won’t make mistakes But if we fail, let it never be said that our failure came through ignorance or disrespect of Star Trek. Let not our failure ever tarnish the name… ENTERPRISE.
… though we have no intention of failing.
Sign off message from "Cast and Crew of the Enterprise"
And as we close out the weekend, we are going to go radio silent for a bit. We don’t want to outstay our welcome and we need a bit of time to plan the rest of the year and we need to repay our friends at the studio for trusting us and giving us the freedom to communicate with you in such an open way. It’s their turn again.
We still read everything though, so don’t stop posting.
TrekMovie.com would again like to thank Roberto Orci, JJ Abrams and the entire cast and crew of the new Star Trek movie for reaching out to the fan community in this way.