Star Trek Behind The Scenes Interview Excerpts From Star Trek Mag

Star Trek Magazine #19, which just arrived on newsstands, is full of behind the scenes details from the new Star Trek movie. STM has provided TrekMovie with extracts (below) from composer Michael Giacchino, stunt coordinator Joe Box, and director of photography Daniel Mindel. Plus we have a look at the previews exclusive cover.


Excerpts from Star Trek Magazine #19

Excerpt of Interview with composer Michael Giacchino

Your approach to the score is very different from the John Williams template from Star Wars…

Quite honestly, that was the first direction we went in, and I had written several themes that were in that space opera kind of vein, somewhere between what Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams did, in that language of what we’ve all come to know as "space music." On every one of them, it felt right for a big space movie, but it didn’t feel like our movie. Again it goes back to the idea that we were trying to do something that wasn’t exactly what you had seen or heard before. We wanted to do something that was a little different ­ space movies don’t have to have this sound.

J.J. always wanted to make it about the character ­ he’d say that the theme for this movie can’t be polished, it can’t be soaring, it has to have an almost-unfinished feel in the way that Kirk is almost an unfinished character. He’s not a finished person ­ he’s getting there but he’s not there. He’s a little rough around the edges. J.J. wanted something that was somewhat sad, somewhat brooding. That is clearly not what Star Trek has been in the past, or Star Wars, or anything that would normally go in that direction.

I think he was absolutely right to say what he said and it really took the music in a different direction. We are dealing with the start of the relationships with these characters that we know so well. It’s a tough beginning for them, not an easy one. Any time we did try to be too heroic or too traditional, it felt wrong, and not true to what was going on emotionally in the story. Musically, had we gone in a direction that it had gone before, it might have felt hollow. It wouldn’t have felt like we were taking it anywhere different. I feel like it really needed to be treated differently than it has been the last 10 years.

Giacchino with director JJ Abrams during scoring session for "Star Trek"

Excerpt of interview with stunt coordinator Joey Box

The skydiving sequence, as Kirk, Sulu and Olsen head for the drilling platform above Vulcan, is one of the movie’s highlights, and Box admits, was the biggest challenge on the film. "There were a lot of unknowns. That was all stunts, with a little bit of visual effects," he says proudly. "Our fantastic visual effects director, Roger Guyett, added to it tremendously.

We didn’t do any practical skydiving though. That made it a bit more difficult, because if the photographer is skydiving alongside people falling through space, there’s a lot more opportunity as far as movement goes. When you start putting wires on people, you can lose the natural body movement that you get in space. However, by shooting it as little set pieces, it did evolve a little bit, and at the end of the day we got a realistic sequence.

I didn’t feel that we were going from seeing a stuntman skydiving to an actor ­ you never break out of the sequence for the whole time, from the moment they leave the shuttle. "The first thing we did was mock up the landing," he continues. "Then we took the actors and put them on wires. We got them into position and then started to train them. We got their brains and eyes used to being 30-40 feet up in the air, then got them into flight position and took them through it. At the end of the day, you want your actors to do as much as possible, otherwise you’re seeing half-profiles and heads turning away unnaturally.

I’d say that on that sequence 80-85 per cent of everything was done by the actors. They didn’t do the very dangerous landing, but even so, we were dragging Chris Pine across the platform of the drill. He was a real sport ­ he’s a tough guy. All of them were fantastic ­ you couldn’t have got a better group of actors. Chris and John Cho were in there the whole time."

Pine and Cho did much of their own stunt work on the drilling rig scene

Except of interview with Director of Photography Dan Mindel

What were your first thoughts in terms of what the look of the film should be?
I assumed that it was going to be visually based upon the films and the TV series that ran before it, but it became obvious very quickly that J.J. didn’t want to do that. He said to us that we should really not refer to anything other than the overall feel of the series, not the movies, and then we would come up with our own interpretation of that, which we did.

My first thought as always was that I wanted to photograph it anamorphically to give it a big-screen feel. I saw the other movies through my lifetime and didn’t really think that they had escaped the TV feel. Just by nature, they were dated, and we wanted to contemporize Star Trek in such a way that the youngsters who had never seen or heard of it would be engaged. J.J. is a master at that. His contemporization of these monolithic enterprises is fantastic. He’s one of the directors out there with his finger on the pulse of the popular zeitgeist. He can interpret what younger people are looking for. I’m confident all these new kids are going to see Star Trek and go nuts.
We started from a very open pallet, and zeroed in. It took a while to get to how we were going to make this look but once we had shot film tests, it became obvious straightaway. I had persuaded J.J. to shoot widescreen for Mission: Impossible, and when we started this movie I said it really should be shot the same way, and done analog, not digitally. He said, "Prove it," so that’s what we did. It becomes about an esthetic, as opposed to the technical side of things. We were able to show him the esthetic."

Mindel on set with director JJ Abrams

Much more in Star Trek Magazine on sale now
Issue 19 of the official Star Trek Magazine goes went on sale this week in the US, and goes on sale in the UK (as Issue #146) July 9th.

Previews exclusive cover for Star Trek Magazine #19

The magazine is just starting to show up and can be ordered from TFAW.

STM #19
(newsstand edition)

STM #19
(Previews Exclusive)



Or just Subscribe to get all the upcoming issues of Star Trek Magazine.

May Souvenir Issue still available
The Previews exclusive cover version of the special May movie souvenir issue of Star Trek Magazine (STM #18) is still available from TFAW (discounted from $9.99 to $8.99). [See TM preview of that issue]

STM #18
(Previews Exclusive)


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Fascnating, love behind the scenes stuff.

Loved the soundtrack- wish it had been longer. The magazine is excellent.

The magazine for Trek cognoscenti. :-)

Don’t forget the new Cinefex is out with a ton of cool behind the scenes stuff on the movie.

Unfortunately, it’s the closest thing to a “Making Of” book we’re probably going to get. : (

Whether you like Giacchino’s score or not, or whether Abrams and Giacchino truly felt a different non-traditional musical direction best served the film, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars was just as nascent and unfinished as Kirk in this movie and John Williams’ music fit him perfectly. I cannot really buy that explanation as anything other than a highly subjective view by the producers and purely their creative choice. I would love to know the date of that interview, or read any of these comments having been made prior to the release of the film, since this is one of the biggest criticisms of Giacchino’s score, along with the repetitious use of the central theme – this could almost pass for “spin-control”. His score for “UP” was much better received, as was “Land of the Lost”.

Here’s Something very very interesting. was at barnes looking for the new ish today and came across the new Cinefex. Beautiful shot of the E on the cover and there is a full spread on the effects and sets within.

What was interesting is that besides the cover sporting perhaps the clearest shot of the E yet, is that the much debated outer saucer rim portholes are shown very very clearly.

Many who refuse to believe the offical cannon mega size of the new E (that could eat any next Gen era ship for breakfast) allude to the fact that the saucer rim windows proportions are the same as the TOS and TMP E. Well you can throw that straw out the airlock. What has looked to be longer rectangular windows along the saucer rim are actually 4 recessed windows which only appear to be one long porthole. Nope actually 4 in one longer recessed space. Very clear on the cover of cinefex if you want to pic up the issue.

So the Magazine is published by the company that bought the old publishers of Star Trek Communicator. And those (about 2/3rds of all published ones) sit on a shelf right next to every OMNI mag ever printed. Will have to start collect as many Star Trek Mags as I can get.. Hopefully they will write enough to fill up the empty 5 foot of space on the 19 foot shelf.

The other 3 shelfs are computer mags, would love to have a wall of Star Trek Mags. I do not collect dups, the only dup is two newspapers of the moon landing.

Still don’t buy the size. There is nothing visual to suggest it, the compound windows notwithstanding. In fact, every visual cue says otherwise — size of the shuttles, size of the escape pod, the pullback from the bridge window, the workers on the E when Kirk is looking at it from his motorcycle, etc. The proportions simply don’t come any where near a half-mile long starship. Not unless the people in the 23rd century are the size of small bungalows.

Thank you Lord Garth, I’ll have to look for that mag, all the picss I have do not have nearly half that res.

@5 – Very astute observations and I agree completely.

At the risk of being called a nitpicker….

I loved the movie, but I did not love the soundtrack. And I think the idea of an “incomplete” soundtrack rationalized by an “incomplete” feature character is a disingenuous way of explaining an incomplete score. In that vein, yeah, he “succeeded,” because the score is incomplete and immemorable.

Worse, still is that I’m already hearhing echoes. One of the things that peeved me about James Horner’s work, from TwOK to Cocoon to even Sneakers, was the ridiculous near-duplication of seemingly entire stretches of music from film to film. It’s one thing to have a theme, a recurring style. Its another to break out what amounts to a Xerox copier, and I recognized stretches of Giacchino’s “UP” score as strikingly similar to his work for Trek. Yawn.

Before I’m accused of not giving the soundtrack a proper chance, I’ve seen the movie three times, bought the album, and have listened to it in its entirety several times in an effort to allow the work to find its own niche, to try and understand it with the context of its composition, and it just doesn’t work. There are moments, eg Labor of Love, and to a degree “Enterprising Young Men,” but this track, overall, just doesn’t have what I expect from a movie as epic as everything *else* is about this movie.

I realize its unlikely given what I’ve read but I would surely wish for a new artist for the next Abrams Trek movie. This effort was manifestly disappointing.


Yep pretty cool.

@ #6 — Re: Cinefex shot. I’m not seeing four windows…I see one long window through which I can see four ceiling lights. The reason I say this is that the other side of the saucer does not have these ‘four in a recess’ windows.

I’m not arguing Ent size though, just sharing my perception. I don’t really care how big it’s supposed to be.


nope four windows recessed in . maybe someone with the issue can get a nice blown up hi res scan. I would have bought it if the line wasn’t twenty deep with whining kids

@10: I haven’t gone to the same lengths as you have to give the soundtrack the benefit of the doubt, but I very much agree. While parts of the score were interesting, fitting and invigorating (sometimes even more than one at the same time), the main theme is not only nerve-gratingly bad, but repeated seemingly every few minutes just to make sure you didn’t forget it. As I’ve said in previous comments regarding the music, I really did enjoy the movie, but *despite* the soundtrack.

“…he’d say that the theme for this movie can’t be polished, it can’t be soaring, it has to have an almost-unfinished feel in the way that Kirk is almost an unfinished character.”

Mr. Giacchino, I’m sure you’re a really good composer, but that does not pass as an excuse for Star Trek’s main theme. If you’re anything like I am about my work, you likely said that in an effort to cover the very real shame you feel at having allowed unfinished, sub-standard, throwaway work to be used in a final product. I hope you at least objected.

Personally I thought the non-traditional style of music fit the movie PERFECTLY. Yeah I love the big, operatic scores from SW, TMP, and TWOK too, but Giacchino and Abrams are right– that kind of thing just wouldn’t have fit this edgier style of Trek movie at all.

It would have undone all the work they did to make this feel like a new and unique experience in the first place, and made it feel like we were watching just the same tired Trek as before.

Garth, I have the issue in front of me right now. I can see how the starboard side windows look like they have four little windows inside, but the port ones (being at a different angle) clearly show the ship interior and not a collection of smaller windows.

Flicking through the magazine, I may have to take back my ambivalence about the size…I just don;t see how any of the details can support the Ent being that massive. The bridge alone seems to make it much closer in size to the TMP Ent than anything. IMO, naturally. :)

Wait… how do I already have this.

William‘s style has become tired. I loved the new, fresh approach in JJ‘s Trek.

I’ve just seen ST for the fifth time, and the movie gets better every time I see it. What really strikes me is that I believe there is plenty of room for a much worse movie to have been made. For everything that they hoped to achieve with this film, I think they and we got pretty lucky and it turned out very well.

As for the music, I like Giacchino’s score. Not only does the main theme fit with Kirk’s characterization, but in general the music sounds and feels like a lot of the ST scores we’ve heard before. There’s a connection…

Now, the music in TOS was fairly brash and over-the-top (likely the 60’s schtick), but the TNG School of Musical Nuance (literally) conspired and managed to achieve a pedestrian approach to scoring. TNG managed anyway to overcome this, but there ain’t no ‘Doomsday Machine’ musical menace to be found anywhere in TNG, DS9, VOYAGER & ENTERPRISE and if there was, they should have turned the sh** up.

I could start a debate about whether Abrams should have went the direction he did or play to that particular strength, and I wonder what Giacchino would have done if he was told to make that 60’s schtick happen NOW.

^5 Since you ask, the interview was carried out on 28th April. ALL the comments within it were made before the general release of the film… Nothing was altered in that piece once the movie opened (those pages were already printing in fact)


5,10 and 14.

Disagree heartily. I loved the ethereal sound of the score. Bombastic is boring!


You don’t have to be bombastic in opposition to what Giacchino did for Trek.

You can have the theme of understatement, even of “incompleteness” and still have a score that doesn’t just flirt with the film AND becomes original in its own way.

Look at the work Thomas Newman did for “Finding Nemo” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” Each of these movies had a simple, unobtrusive, complete score that complemented their respective films, and neither were “bombastic.” They created the themes of hope and fear of loss (“Nemo”), and escape with imprisonment (“Shawshank.”). They also share the similar stylistic quality of their composer. Giacchino’s effort for Trek just sounds like a shrill, brassy, often staccato backdrop that might have suited any number of adventure/action films in a generic way.

Trek, IMHO, deserved better.

#21, thanks Paul. At least that removes any doubt. I was also quite interested in Abrams’ comments in another previous interview where he discussed the sound mixing and how they took out a lot of score, then replaced much of it and moved some of it to different places than it was otherwise intended. It would also be interesting to hear Giacchino’s original vision and placement for the score, unaltered by the director and producers.

I sure hope Michael Giacchino or the DOP don’t read any of these comments. You people wouldn’t know a good soundtrack if it hit you over the head with a 10 ton mallet.
It effectively achieved what the rest of the movie was doing, setting a new tone & landscape for this continuing franchise, making it fresh, different & relevant. My only complaint was the re-use of music in the film where it should have all been unique cues but other wise its a beautiful listen.

We’ve seen what fanboys would would do NOW and thats the new voyages..and its just bad fan masturbation. Basically any of you really have no place to crit this movie on musical or technical details unless your talented enough to actually be working in the movie bizz.

Working at Best Buy does not qualify you people. Shut up or put up..

#6: “Many who refuse to believe the offical cannon mega size of the new E (that could eat any next Gen era ship for breakfast) . . . .”

– First, it is “canon” (as in “facts” established on film) not “cannon” (as in a heavy gun mounted on a carriage).

– Second, the size of the Enterprise in “Star Trek” has yet to be established in canon because it has not been stated or shown as that size on film. No schematics on displays, and no dialogue. To the contrary, other objects seem to support a size roughly that of the original ship.

– Third, tactics aside, the weaponry of the new Enterprise by itself would seem to be insufficient to destroy a 24th vessel. As evidence: the massive destruction of the rest of the ships around Vulcan which presumably had at least *similar* weapons to the Enterprise. So it is a bit of a stretch to say that anyone could eat anyone else’s lunch. Unless you equate size with ability, which (as Goliath found out) is a dubious claim under any circumstances.

There is currently just insufficient information to claim with any definitive nature the size of the vessel. So all we can do is make a best guess based on what is seen on screen and wait and see if any later filmed works support or discredit that guess.

Uhh Oh randy escaped !!!

Just kidding. You guys are too funny. The producers, paramount, the designer, The owner of this site, everyone confirmed the size. Let it go, you’re making this button pushing far too fun.

24 Look out for the Ben Burtt interview at some point later this year, which addresses some of these points.

Anyone know where I can find Uhura’s intro scene (Kirk flirting with her) dance song online?

I got the soundtrack last week for my bday and it was not on it

#25 – Giacchino and Abrams are big boys and used to heavy doses of criticism – it comes with the territory. For a peer review of the music and its use within the film, take a listen to this excellent Film Score Monthly Podcast on iTunes, which features Trekmovie’s own Jeff Bond.

Please keep in mind, that just because someone can do something another person can’t, or more importantly is afforded the opportunity to do it, doesn’t necessarily mean what they do is good, or better than someone else with equal opportunities.

Wow, look at how many people hate the music! I thought it was great and it still hasn’t come out of my car’s CD player.

You know, I wonder if we rounded up the 15 biggest complainers on this site and had them put together a star trek film…I wonder what it would be like?

It would probably be about 4 hours long, 2 and a half of which would be devoted solely to extended external shots of the Enterprise in it’s original late 60s form of course. And the plot would likely revolve around some kind of potentially intelligent ion cloud or other formless mass. Kirk would save the ship by either kicking the cloud’s ass or seducing it. No phasers would be fired and all the cast members would learn a valuable lesson about their true place in the galaxy.

…and of course the score would be perfectly fitting in every way.

#31. Riker’sDad wrote: Wow, look at how many people hate the music! I thought it was great and it still hasn’t come out of my car’s CD player.

That’s the beauty of free choice.

Transformers 2 may be the worst reviewed movie of the year. Yet according to Variety, after only 5 days, Transformers has earned $387 million worldwide, more than Trek has earned during its entire run at the box office.

Clearly if Trek had been produced by Michael Bay, everything about it would have been better including the music. ;-)

On that subject, I love Roger Ebert’s review:

“If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”

I obtained (ahem) a copy of the score and I like it. No where near as good as James Horner or Jerry Goldsmiths but still enjoyable.
The “Kelvin” & “Enterprising Young men” being highlights but disappointed that the fight on the drill isn’t on there.

#32 “Transformers 2 may be the worst reviewed movie of the year. Yet according to Variety, after only 5 days, Transformers has earned $387 ”

Never under-estimate America or the world’s ability to lap up schlock and beg for more. It happens quite frequently actually, the fact that they have done it again is no surprise.

I enjoyed the new Star Trek movie. I have a different take on what I believe Star Trek consists of – probably because I was an adult when it first aired in 1966! My vision of Star Trek neither makes JJ and company wrong, in error nor geniuses. I realize for Paramount (and CBS) Star Trek is a vehicle to make money. This new movie has attracted many new fans to Star Trek.

I have no particular critique of the music – it seems to mostly work as I viewed the movie; as for the DoP, I have no criticism of that person’s skills – I just was very annoyed by the obviously purposely created lens flare – which is a stylistic choice not a DoP failing!

I view this as no more heretical than TNG, DS9, Voyager or ST: Enterprise! It is the franchise owner creating their interpretation of Star Trek, trying to attract an audience resulting in a monetary profit!

Monday morning quarterbacking is all too easy! Sure, if I had been in JJ’s stead I would have done this differently; If I had been the writer I am certain the story would be different. But that neither makes me an instant genius NOR makes JJ and the writer wrong – nor the DoP or Composer!

Opinions and evaluations of this film differ BUT it was successful relative to its goals of making money, reviving Star Trek and expanding the Star Trek fanbase. Thus, I believe both CBS and Paramount are well pleased.

Giacchino’s comments are somewhat enlightening, but I still hoped for a simpler, TOS style from him. He really could have made that work.
The main theme DID feel unfinished. It seemed like it should have been some secondary theme instead. But all in all successful nevertheless.

27: “The producers, paramount, the designer, The owner of this site, everyone confirmed the size.”

The owner of this site has no more veracity with canon than I do. Or you, for that matter.

But bottom line is if it ain’t on screen it ain’t canon. Nonetheless, can you please cite your sources for where, specifically, the producers (whom I assume you mean are the executive producers of J.J. Abrams, David Baronoff, Bryan Burk, Jeffrey Chernov, and Alex Kurtzman), Paramount (not sure who is authoritative there given the bizarre “approved” products and facts over the years), and the designer (whom I assume you mean is Ryan Church) have agreed on a size for the new ship.

Thanks. But I will understand if those sources don’t exist as I sure haven’t found them.

Oh, one point of interest on ship size is an interview in Cinefex magazine #118, where ILM Art Director Alex Jaeger said that the original ship designed by Ryan Church was designed at “approximately 1,200-feet-long compared to the 947-foot ship of the original series.” The SFX team bumped up the scale for internal purposes of including more detail.

Was there another Ryan Church interview I missed that spoke to an originally designed larger ship?


Yes. I totally agree. Hear that bit in the end title suite which seems to have been lifted right out of the opening of Generations? And that was one mediocre score…!