EXCLUSIVE: Lindelof On Star Trek Sequel’s Character Focus + 3D & IMAX + Team Already Talking 3rd Movie

In the second part of his exclusive TrekMovie.com interview, Star Trek sequel co-writer/producer Damon Lindelof discusses character dynamics of the Trek crew, how story trumps scale, the logistics of 3D (and IMAX), and more. And just in time for Wrath of Khan week, he explains how that film had a big impact on him. Damon even talks about how the team have already started talking about a third Star Trek movie. Check it all out below, and don’t worry there are no spoilers.


Exclusive Interview: Damon Lindelof on the Star Trek sequel (Part 2)

Here is the second part of my interview with Star Trek sequel co-writer/producer Damon Lindelof

TrekMovie.com: You talked about the characters, their relationships and conflict. The last film was all about this family coming together, especially with Kirk and Spock starting out hating each other and growing to, if not like each other, respect each other. This new film is four years later in real time, but not sure in movie time. Are we jumping in to a new spot on their character arcs? Or are we picking up where we left off?

Damon Lindelof: That is a very clever way of asking how much time has elapsed between the movies and that is not something we are commenting on at this point. What we can say is that the big difference with the fundamental crew dynamics as they existed in the first movie and as they roll into this one is the promise at the end of the first movie with James T. Kirk in his yellow shirt is now sitting in the captain’s chair. We have not seen Kirk as the captain of the Enterprise yet. We will see him be the captain in this movie and that changes the dynamic.

The "Star Trek" crew – Lindelof says Kirk as captain changes the relationship dynamics for the sequel

TrekMovie.com: Two years ago, before you even started scripting, [producer] Bryan Burk told me you guys were going for something larger in scope. Is it right to say this is a bigger movie?

Damon Lindelof: Sometimes I feel that bigger is not necessarily better. You are just saying "Oh my god this movie is just epic in scale and epic in scope and epic, epic, epic." But at the end of the day I feel that Trek is at its best when it is intimate and human and relatable. And when I say human, that can include aliens too. But all the things that we view as emotional touchstones: love, loss, and courage and all those themes that are the core of Trek. You sometimes when you want to make a movie too big for its own good, it loses some of those essential values. So we didn’t want that to happen. That being said, JJ’s decision to shoot a lot of the movie in IMAX, definitely makes the film seem a lot bigger and definitely the sequences he directed in IMAX I feel have tremendous scale and energy, without sacrificing any of things that I talked about on an emotional level.

TrekMovie.com: Another big difference this time is that the film is in 3D. So, did 3D make a difference in the writing or shooting? 

Damon Lindelof: It did not impact the writing of the script. We wanted to tell the story that we wanted to tell and we have already talked about the idea that all of us were a little bit cynical about doing the movie in 3D and then they set up a test at Bad Robot where they took footage from the first movie – the sequence when the Enterprise drops out of warp and they come upon all the federation vessels destroyed by the Narada and they are doing evasive maneuvers – and we just looked at each other after and said "that was kind of awesome." We are now – I wouldn’t say converts – but I don’t think this is going to hurt the movie. If people want to see it in 3D, they will get their money’s worth. And in terms of actual production, JJ shot the movie exactly the way he wanted to shoot it. And when you are doing this process, as opposed to a standard conversion, after every single set up – not just every scene but every angle – we had to do a 3D pass where you clear the set of the actors and the camera has to do the same moves so the guys doing the conversion can map accordingly and that will provide a much better 3D experience for the audience.

But again, our job was to just make an awesome movie and to care about the characters and again do service to this amazing baton that has been passed to us and that we take incredibly seriously and treat with a great deal of reverence. So the 3D decision was more along the lines of like "are we going to screw up Trek by doing this movie in 3D or is Trek ready for 3D?" Hopefully it is the latter. Based on the dailies that I have seen, I think JJ pulled it off.

A 3D test conversion of this scene in "Star Trek" helped convince the team the sequel could work in 3D

TrekMovie.com: When we talked about Prometheus  (see my Movies.com interview with Damon) you mentioned that moving forward you want to challenge yourself with doing original stories and away from more sequels, prequels and comic book adaptations. Does that preclude your working on a third Star Trek movie? 

Damon Lindelof: It would be very hard to not be involved in Trek moving forward. We certainly don’t feel that a third movie is a foregone conclusion. Hopefully the second movie turns out well and we are really happy about everything so far. So three movies, again not to do everything that Christopher Nolan does, but if you do it right it’s a good model. But that idea, whether you want to call it a trilogy or not, although I reserve the right to when we are talking four years from now to say "this is the third movie in our trilogy," but it does feel that three movies is the right responsibility for us to have the baton for before we then pass it off to the people who are take Trek to wherever they want to take it. So if this movie turns out well, would I be writing on the third movie? Who knows? But, we did talk a lot in the writing of this movie and during production about what the next movie might be and started getting excited about some of the ideas, so it would be hard to say no to that. This is a once in a lifetime experience.

I have probably told you this before, but my introduction to Trek was the movie the Wrath of Khan. It was the summer of ’82 and I was at Pinebrook Day Camp in New Jersey and it was pouring rain. They put all the campers on a bus and took us into town. At 9AM they showed us Wrath of Khan, and as soon as the credits started rolling the entire camp started chanting "again, again, again!" And so they showed it to us again from 11-1 and we stopped for lunch and then they showed it to us again. After that I needed to know everything about Star Trek and started watching syndicated reruns on Channel 11 and then my dad an I would watch Next Gen every Saturday afternoon  when it started running. So the idea that I’m actually getting to be a part of this profound cultural story that had a great impact on me, that is not something that I take lightly. Like the idea of saying "yeah, I’m done with this, I don’t need Trek anymore," I just cant ever picture myself ever getting to that point.

That being said, a huge part of this job is my interest in the collaboration that I have shared with JJ and Bryan and Bob and Alex and all these incredible actors and the crew who have now worked on two movies. It bears mentioning Jeffrey Chernov, Tommy Harper who were every bit producers as much as the rest of us just in terms of logistically creating this movie. Just making it has been a stunning achievement and we have only just begun the post-production process. Tommy Gormly, our first AD, is another one and Roger Guyett, the visual effects supervisor are others worth mentioning. Just getting to work with all of them again is a huge incentive to continue. So as long as the team is together, I’m not going to be the one who breaks up the Beatles.

The "Star Trek" producers Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci – Lindelof says he is ready (if they are) for a third movie

And if you missed it, check out part 1 of my Star Trek sequel interview with Damon.

Read my new Damon Lindelof Prometheus Interview at Movies.com

I also talked to Damon about his new movie Prometheus, opening this Friday. Read – MOVIES.COM: Damon Lindelof, on How ‘Prometheus’ Ties to ‘Alien,’ Further Sequels and Why He Feels Like a Fraud.

Damon Lindelof with actor Michael Fassbender on the set of "Prometheus"
[Kerry Brown/20th Century Fox]


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