VIDEO: Ralph Winter on Star Trek III, Trek v Wars, Bennett’s Trek exit, Singer’s Trek love, Abrams’ Trek film + more

On Saturday night the Simply 70(mm) Star Trek Summer movie series continued at the Royal Theater in West Los Angeles showing Star Trek III with guest associate producer Ralph Winter. Below are highlights and video of my chat with Winter, where he talks about saving money, differentiating Star Trek and Star Wars, how film making has changed, taking over after Harve Bennett’s fight with Paramount, Bryan Singer’s love for Trek and even JJ Abrams.


Ralph Winter Star Trek III screening Q&A

Ralph Winter began his career in Hollywood at Paramount as a post-proudction supervisor on Star Trek II and stayed with the franchise until he produced Star Trek VI, then going on to produce a number of other films, including four X-Men movies. For our Q&A we talked about his work on Star Trek III and the rest of the franchise and how the industry has changed, and more. Video of the event is below, here are some highlights

  • Says he got his start as producer because "Harve Bennett took a chance on me…I didn’t have any business to be in this business, I was a history major"
  • The way to keep costs down on the post-TMP movies was to shoot (almost) everything on sound stages
  • Of the early Trek films Winter notes "these films are of a different era, they are more adult in theme and less about running and spinning and jumping…" and therefore it was easier to shoot them on budget
  • On Bill Shatner being in costume when he helped put out the fire on the set during shooting "absolutely…never miss a moment"
  • As first Star Trek films were being made during the same era as first Star Wars films, both using ILM, they were differentiated with Trek being "more like opera, great galleons in space…[Star Wars] was tiny ships running around…in some way these shots [in Trek] were harder because they needed to look good over long distance, much harder to do than short shots [like Star Wars]"
  • Winter says that the early Star Trek films pioneered various tactics for maintaining movie secrets, including coding scripts, which also had secret codes in the Stardates (each script stardates were specific to who script was for), which worked except for one which was lost by Studio head Michael Eisner
  •  Winter drew sharp contrast between film making in the 80s vs. today, saying that the era ended with The Undiscovered Country (1991), before global box office became so important
  • Winter notes "styles change, the audience has shifted. Part of that is corporate relationship with the studios that has pushed for that blockbuster/tentpole mentality. I think [prior] there was just a love of these movies. I am pretty sure on [Star Trek III] Harve Bennett has the sole screenwriting credit, not ten guys. We did something old-fashioned, we wrote the script and we shot it"
  • On taking over as producer of Star Trek VI after Harve Bennett left (because he wanted to do a prequel instead of another film with TOS crew) "I do think it was painful, more so for Harve. He wanted me to walk with him and I didn’t…He drew a line in the sand and the studio wanted something they could market with the 25th anniversary and make it with the original cast."
  • On screening Star Trek VI for Gene Roddenberry shortly before his death "He always had some comments, something to fix…but he didn’t have much on [Star Trek VI]"
  • On if he had worked with X-Men director Bryan Singer on any pitch for Star Trek following Star Trek Nemesis "Bryan is a big Trek fan and we spent a lot of late nights and meals talking about Star Trek storylines and the features…but I wasn’t really really aware that he had written something up"
  • Winter on 2009 Star Trek and if would be interested in producing Star Trek after JJ Abrams is done "I think JJ did a great job with this last movie, I just had a couple of: some of the stuff with Spock and I wanted Chris Pine to give the send-off, instead of Leonard. I thought it was great, it was invigorating, it added new life and brings it up to date…I look forward to what JJ is going to do and I have my own adventures"

VIDEO (again thanks to bdbdb)

More 70MM Trek coming this summer

The summer series of 70 mm Trek films at the Laemmle Royal Theater (in conjunction with Ledjer Film & Theater services and continues over the next few weeks, here is the latest schedule.

Date Film Guest
July 10 STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME Nichelle Nichols
(Pavel Chekov)
(Hikaru Sulu)


What: Simply 70 Star Trek movie series

When: Saturdays at midnight in June and July (see above schedule)

Where: Laemmle’s Royal Theatre is located at 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025, (310) 478-3836 

Tickets: $10 for general admission. You can buy tickets at the box office or online at


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