Star Trek’s Scott Chambliss Nominated For Art Director’s Guild Award

Today another guild announced its nominations for 2009, and again JJ Abrams Star Trek was recognized. This time it was the Art Director’s Guild honoring Star Trek production designer Scott Chambliss. See below for more. 



ADG nominates Star Trek’s Scott Chambliss
The Art Director’s Guild break their film nominations into three categories: Period film, Fantasy film, and Contemporary film. Star Trek was nominated in the Fantasy film category, here is that list of nominees (via THR).

ADG nominations for 2009 – Fantasy film
"Avatar," Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg
"District 9," Philip Ivey
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Stuart Craig
"Star Trek," Scott Chambliss
"Where the Wild Things Are," K.K. Barrett

2009 ADG nominee Scott Chambliss on the bridge of the Enterprise

Chambliss Talks Trek Design
In September Chambliss (and other past Star Trek art directors) participated in an event put on by the ADG to talk about the history of Star Trek design. Video of that event is at Or you can CLICK HERE to see just the part with Chambliss.

Chambliss Clips & Panel Discussion

No nod for JJ at DGA
Yesterday the Directors Guild announced their five nominees for 2009 films, but in this case the DGA did not nominate Star Trek director JJ Abrams. The five nominees were Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), James Cameron (Avatar), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), and Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds). JJ was always a long-shot for the DGA, but he still has the Producer’s Guild Nomination, so it isn’t all bad.

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Ooh, more awards


Very well deserved too. Good luck!

Sorry, but the breweries will bring you down Scott.

Mr. Chambliss, You, like many on the creative team, made some surprising choices that are a challenge for some of us to accept, but I wish you the best of luck when the winners are announced. Your contributions to the movie’s success are huge.

“And now the award for best use of a brewery in a big budget sci-fi film. The nominees are Scott Chambliss, Scott Chambliss, Scott Chambliss and Scott Chambliss. The winner is…”

In all fairness, it apparently was a budget issue. However, some things that snuck on to film were inexcusable oversights which could have been easily and cheaply remedied. The one which really made my eyes roll was the 40’s or 50’s era megaphone looming over Spock Primes’s head when he and Scotty first entered the Federation outpost on Delta Vega. That took me right out of the movie!

Having seen what Ryan Church wanted to do and seeing all the changes Mr Chambliss ‘requested’ all I can say is,”sigh…what MIGHT have been”.
The pics of the Enterprise with Mr Chambliss’ red marker all over them showing the ‘scalloping’ of the secondary hull…changing of the nacelle struts (which BTW, if nobody noticed, now connect to the Enterprise right above the shuttlebay door leaving no room for the actual intermix tubes that actually POWER the engines) leave with a ‘meh’.
The TMP Enterprise was well thought out and designed while the props and the sets on this incarnation looked haphazardly thrown together without any real ‘thought’ as to how these designs were actually supposed to WORK. Id LOVE to see an INTERIOR Schematic of how this ship is supposedly put together but thats going to take some creative wizardry.
This production was so hell bent on telling the designers to divorce themselves from previous designs that WORKED that they scored a goose egg IMHO. Whereas CLASSIC Trek merchandise FLIES off the shelf these poorly thought out designs languish in Target Clearance aisles. The designs, much like the script itself, have to be ‘explained’ after the fact as to how and why they ‘worked’.
People wonder why Im bent at Trek 09 and its simply this…as a long time fan (since ’66) I take exception to feeling like this was a ‘Oh, we dont have to worry about the fans we just have to put ‘Trek’ on it and theyll eat it up” feeling I left the theater with. I liked the cast but the weak science, poorly thought out sets and props, and plothole ridden story covered in a heaping helping of CGI SPFX, shaky cam and lens flares left me feeling ‘manipulated’. I enjoyed the movie when I first saw it but it didnt stand the test of SCRUTINY.
Ive seen a progression lately…a downhill one….where Trek gets beaten by Transformers who gets beaten by Twilight and all it says to me is that substance is no longer important….CGI and slight of hand has become the frosting on poorly made cake.
To JJ and crew my challenge to you for the sequel echoes Pike’s words to Kirk…”I challenge you to do better”. Its like you turned in a paper without checking your work. We dont WANT a ‘hot rod’ Enterprise cobbled together so badly that you cant even figure out its size. We dont need chrome plated flippy nozzle phasers that look more like bastardized Galaxy Quest nebulizers then phasers. We dont need Delta Vega ‘moved’ to Vulcan as a ‘nod’ that was more of an insult to our intelligence. We certainly dont need another story that needs to be ‘explained’ to us through 3 runs of comic books. Do better next time. You have the budget. You have talented folks at your disposal that have been working on Trek for decades that you told,”If you cant get rid of your attachment to what came before we cant use you”.
Trek 09 made big money but so did Transformers and so did Twilight and Im not sure that says anything to be proud of…it only shows you pandering to the mush headed masses that are easily sustained on flashy flashy.
Do better.
Get people in the art department that KNOW Trek and respect it. Its apparent Ryan Chruch has that love and understanding but he was cut off at the knees. Mr Chambliss may be a great art director but he is not a great TREK art director. He doesnt have the love or understanding of the subject matter and neither does JJ.
“Id like to take a moment to thank all those that made this award possible…JJ Abrams…IKEA….Budweiser…the Apple Store…Bed, Bath and Beyond…Bar Code scanners ‘r’ US….

I don’t get the hate for the brewery set, do you think they’ll just beam water, gases, hydraulic fluid, sweage etc around a starship? Or makes the pipes sleek and glowing just so it looks cool?

@9 The Enterprise should be high tech; a warp core and computers, that’s pretty much it. Huge steel barrels of beer is not fitting.

If you ask me, engineering has to be refit in the next movie.

I think this is well deserved but Scott is up against some worthy competition. Personally, I think Avatar is going to win a lot of the awards this year. It was met all the hype that was behind the film. Cameron should be polishing his knuckles… he’s still the greatest!

-Maurizio Maranghi

I don’t think you can say shooting on location versus a soundstage is a “budget issue”.

While location work cuts set cost, it increases production cost.

I find the brewery far less glaring on the small screen. Have a beer and get over yourself angry klingon… just name Trek XI one of their top films of the decade.

Meh, look what Bar code scanners and Beer tanks can get you. Loved the film overall–hated the Art direction. YMMV.


He admitted budget was the problem in an interview I read (not the one with AP here, in which he defended the use of the brewery). The set, if done properly, probably would have taken up an entire soundstage and WOULD have been costly. But it really needed to be done. Hopefully, that mistake will be rectified in the sequel.


The engineering section is one that I wouldn’t mind being a CG type of set. A lot of movies have used it with some success when extending a set or out and out creating it. There were some choices that I didn’t partiularly care for, including the bar-code scanners and the above mentioned megaphone intercom speaker in the hallway on Delta Vega. It just looked jarring and I find my eye drifting to them everytime I watch the movie. But I still watch the movie.

But we can point out things that we don’t like. It is still allowed. This is, after all, an article about the artistic director. It’s not like we are flaming an article about Sci-Fi Saturday about the brewery.

I have to finally agree with the Angry Klingon up there, sans trenchcoat. I liked the movie at first and have watched it many times on DVD. But they HAVE TO DO BETTER next time for the reasons mentioned in #8. I would much prefer a well done CGI engineering next time rather than a brewery or any other industrial location.

I really have to question the creative abilities of someone who thinks the engine room of a 23rd Century starship should resemble the bowels of the Titanic.

Actually, check that. The engine room of the Titanic looked better.

Engineering in the new movie was bloody awful.

Bsides I believe that Herman Zimmerman was a better Production Designer for Trek.

Awesome. He did a fantastic job on the art direction of the movie.


I noticed that as well. Oh believe me I enjoyed the movie for what it was but using the Bud brewery for the Engine room and the Starbase was a stupid idea and I think that it did not work.

The brewery used makes the Engine room look bigger than it should have been and does not fit in the structure of the Enterprise stardrive section. Also the wide shot when Kirk and Scotty were being chased by security really took me out of the movie.

In the other Star Trek shows I felt I was in an engine room of the future in the new movie when I saw the engine room I felt I was in a factory in the 20th Century. It just looks awful in the film.

And don’t use the Enterprise is larger than it is in the prime universe, (a choice that I am not happy with) it still does not fit in with the scale.

I can grow to like the new bridge but never will I like this engine room in the new movie.

Question- Does the mainstream realise there are other Trek movies out there? Is it a crime that I don’t find this one the best?

Chambliss’s chances are the same as the Titanic, thanks to engineering. I loved the movie in all other ways; but engineering-GAG!

They could have done a Engine room set like in the Origianl Series and spin offs.

For the umpteenth time….they ran out of money for a super-duper new engineering set and improvised. It was a great Hollywood solution for a typical Hollywood problem. Put away your blueprints and look at the situation realistically, from a film-maker’s perspective.

Mr. Chambliss seemed to want to do the right thing, but the money probably went to CGI effects. Also the production team probably did not want a seamless 23rd century created so that casual fans would find Trek 09 accessible. Delta Vega outpost must have been a cost issue also; the hallway with cinderblocks, floor tile and that megaphone. I understand the filmakers wanting to make stuff “real”, although in this case it should mean 23rd century “real” and not 21st. That said, good luck to him.

I just wish that Avatar would have been a 2010 release, because it still would have dominated everything. 2009 was supposed to be Star Treks year…now because of Avatar I feel star trek will loose many awards to Avatar, most importantly oscars. Avatar was great, I will be buying it on blu-ray but I was far more impressed with the rebirth of star trek.

Scott Chambliss did a good job on this film. I still think it is too early to fairly judge his work and compare him to his predecessors. As for engineering, I don’t blame them for going with the brewery seeing as how it was for budget reasons. However, I hope that for the next film, they either build a real set or at least use CGI to disguise the brewery.

On the other hand, at least we now know why Sulu pilots the ship from the bridge. To prevent drunk driving!

If anyone still hasn’t picked up “Star Trek: The Art of The Film”, I suggest you do. Lots of beautiful artwork in there.


Agreed! But it does make one feel bad about what might have been (had the budget been a wee bit larger).

The most interesting aspect (for me) was how closely the original designs for many of the elements (including the bridge, Strarfleet Academy, etc., etc.) were very direct references to the work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. I have heard Saarinen’s name mentioned by Chambliss, but anyone who knows architecture could tell you that Calatrava was the actual “inspiration” for those designs!

Two points:

As a scenic designer myself I know that the designer’s desires and intentions are subservient to both the budget and the director. So blaming Chambliss for the IDEA of filming Engineering in a brewery (rather than the execution of that idea) is likely a mistake. I’m certain he would have MUCH rather designed and built an Engineering set from scratch–what art director wouldn’t?–but he made the best of the cards he was dealt and (admirable) loyalty to the home team keeps him from bitching about the lost opportunity.

Having said that, I too find the brewery scenes jarring and the least impressive part of a very impressive film. Personally, what bothers me is not the pipes (there were pipes galore on the TOS Enterprise), nor even the disguised beer barrels (I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and pretend they were…something else). What bothered me were the steel beams with rivets. I mean…RIVETS? As a construction technique for a 23rd Century starship? That’s 19th Century technology. I sure wish they had spent an extra five grand to cover those beams with some painted lauan and gaff tape.

Here’s hoping the sequel’s Engineering section joins the 23rd Century.

@32… It sounds like you don’t understand that Saarinen’s work was influential to the st:OS AND to Santiago– you know, “as anyone who knows architecture.” Look it up.


I know Saarinen’s work very well (TWA Term., etc.) and I understand the connection. What I was referring to were very specific deigns in the book mentioned above (have YOU seen the book???). Those designs were very clearly influenced by the work of Calatrava!

“Avatar,” Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Stuart Craig
“Star Trek,” Scott Chambliss

When everyone is sitting down thinking about which one to vote for, I think it will come down to the above three movies. “Avatar” is “Star Trek’s” biggest threat for a few reasons. (1) “Avatar” has Cameron. (2) “Avatar” was also branded as a leap in how people viewed movies. (3) “Avatar” is the second film of Cameron’s to break the $1.0 billion mark.

Now, since it is Cameron’s second movie to break the $1.0 billion mark, the voters could end up giving “Trek’ the reward because they can afford to do so. However, “Avatar” also marks Cameron’s return to film making; thus, they might see this as an opportunity to honor the man’s work.

Look at it like this: Cameron is a returning film maker whose first film after a ten year hiatus broke the $1.0 billion mark

When you think about the competition between “Star Trek” and “Avatar” for these awards, there is a reason why “Avatar” comes out swinging.

What “Star Trek” made world wide from ticket sales is $10 millionish less than what “Avatar” made domestically.

#29, totally disagree. Star Trek might have gotten some technical awards which it most assuredly will not now. But on a purely technical level, Star Trek had some impressive competition. It still would not have won any major artistic awards such as film, director, actor, or score. I doubt it would have even been nominated for any of those categories, except on the outside long-shot, picture. But even then, the Oscars would have likely honored District 9 because it fits the criteria of what Oscars tend to deem more important that Star Trek’s seat-of-your-pants action. Avatar is taking very little, if anything away from Star Trek. And frankly, given the lineup in 2010, the exact same Star Trek film would be facing the exact same challenges next year.

#37 – interesting observation. Let’s say JJ produces and directs 3 Star Trek films total over the next 9 years. At roughly $400 million per picture, that’s $1.2 billion, likely more. So Cameron has spent the budget equal to 3 Star Treks, taken the same amount of time as producing them, and earning as much as they would, but did it all in one shot. Yet he gets all the glory because disappeared during that time. Amazing. On the other hand, he did contribute much more significantly to the medium than Abrams did. But Abrams revived a dormant franchise. Both sizable accomplishments.

@ #38. Red Skirt

I guess it all comes down to who contributed the most significantly. Compared to Cameron’s contributions to film making, throughout his career, J. J. Abrams’ reboot of a franchise cannot compare.

“Avatar” was developed with major technological contributions to the arts, which is exactly what these awards are about. Even though Scott Chambliss created extraordinary sets, what he didn’t do is invent any new tools for the craft.

If “Star Trek” wins all three categories, it would be a slap in the face to Cameron’s technological contributions and to its usage in other films. He evolved the tools film makers used, and he used “Avatar” as an advertising tool to sell them to the industry.

Add in the fact he make over a billion dollars at the box office, “Avatar” wins out by an overwhelming land slide.

What significant innovation has Scott Chambliss contributed to the craft while making J. J.’s “Star Trek”? He hasn’t.

Cameron had to make the software and technology, so he can create his film from the ground up.

J. J. Abrams and company used what was available.

Cameron deserves way-way more than Abrams does. Why? Cameron is the master of developing new technologies for film making, and he ends up using his movies to advertise them to the industry. Terminator I – Terminator II – Avatar – Titanic – Etc… All of them were created with Cameron’s push and investment into evolving the tools that film makers use.

Technically, voting against “Avatar” is similar to “biting the hand that feeds you”.

#41 Jeez, you never stop do you! You’re the Energizer bunny of negativity.
You just keep going on and on and on and on and…….

#42. ryanhuyton
Who is being negative? I don’t see any negativity in the things I have said.