On Sunday at Star Trek Las Vegas, the team working on the Deep Space Nine documentary What We Left Behind took the stage to give eager fans an update. On the panel were: Ira Steven Behr (Executive Producer), David Zappone (Executive Producer), Joseph Kornbrodt (Producer), Luke Snailham (Editor), Kai de Mello-Folsom (Producer), and Adam Nimoy (Director).
As a gag, some of the team came out in “Ira Steven Behr blue” goatees, which they had applied right before going on to surprise Ira.
Deep Space Nine finds a new audience
The panelists discussed how when Deep Space Nine was on the air in the 90s it was often considered the “redheaded stepchild” of the franchise, but more recently it has begun to find a new audience. The younger Trekkies may not be aware of the label, and modern TV is more serialized now.
“Thank God there was no [modern] Internet when we were doing Deep Space Nine because the negativity would have been so overwhelming.”
Behr spoke about how he was called by DS9 star Avery Brooks a few months after seeing him in person, and he enthusiastically told Behr about the positive new wave of appreciation for DS9 on the internet. This newfound popularity became Behr’s inspiration for doing the documentary. Initially he saw it is a nice way to celebrate the show for the actors and production staff and to showcase all their hard work. However, he came to realize the documentary wasn’t just for the actors, but also for the fans.
[DS9 was] a show that lived its whole life not only in the semi-darkness of the franchise, but also being told constantly that it was a dark show with dark themes, but it’s really a show about love and family.
The team now sees the documentary as a celebration of Deep Space Nine as a whole, and something fans will enjoy, whether old or new.
Brooks involved with documentary
As discussed in Behr’s recent interview with TrekMovie, notably absent from what we’ve seen of the documentary is Captain Sisko himself, Avery Brooks. However, the team assured the Las Vegas crowd that even though Brooks did not record a new interview for the documentary, he is still very much involved. He has given his full support to the project, and has seen quite a bit of the footage they’ve gathered. The producers have been working with Creation and have secured the footage from the big Deep Space Nine 20th Anniversary panel at STLV in 2013, as well as the interview he did for The Captains documentary (which David Zappone also produced), and they have also been working with CBS to get access to all the archival material in their vaults. So Brooks will be in the documentary, just no new interviews, as he feels he said all he has to say on the subject of Deep Space Nine.
As it turns out, Brooks influenced a key portion of the documentary. During his conversation with Behr, he pushed him to do something beyond the typical “talking heads” documentary. This got Behr thinking about “putting the band back together” to “break” (i.e. lay out the story beats) a hypothetical Episode 1 of Season 8.
The season 8 writer’s room feature
One of the key extra features for What We Leave Behind will be an extended look inside the DS9 writer’s room, with a hypothetical discussion about the first episode of an eighth season for the show. In Vegas, Behr discussed how he got the original writing team into a room, and asked them not to think about it ahead of time, to just break the story like they did when they were in the trenches cranking out episodes in the ’90s. He told them to watch the final episode, so they all remembered where all the characters had ended up.
It was an unbelievable 6-7 hours being together, it was like the years just melted away… You’re going to see the pure first thought, best thought, you’re going to see people arguing.
Thanks to the huge success of the Indiegogo campaign, they will make the entire writer’s room session (~7 hours) available to watch as an extra online. Parts of it will still be woven into the documentary (as initially planned), but for people who want to be in the room and see how a writer’s room works, you’ll be able to watch it all.
Deep Space Nine in HD
The team spoke about getting clips from the show into high definition for the documentary, as this is a highlight of the Indiegogo campaign, where one their later milestones was getting enough donations to to work on remastering selected scenes for use in the documentary.
As has been talked about before, remastering is a big process, and very expensive. All original 35 film needs to be found and then scanned in and re-edited as they were in the original episode. Anything CGI may need to be remade from scratch. Behr said they’re working with Mike Okuda, and are feeling positive that they’ll find the footage for the clips they want use. The team found that some of the CG assets from the popular and starship-heavy Season 6 episode “Sacrifice of the Angels” exists and will be re-rendered for HD and shown in the documentary.
Plan to deliver for DS9’s 25th
The team announced that they have done over 100 hours of interviews over the past 5 years, and director Adam Nimoy says that they have a roadmap of where they want to go with the documentary, with an eye on having it ready around the time of the 25th anniversary next year (2018).
“We have a theme and we have a point of view, and we have a lot of discussion with Ira to try to distill what we want to say”
One final exciting bit is that the team says they’ve found a stash of alternate takes, deleted scenes, and actor audition tapes in the CBS archives, which they’re working to incorporate.
The future of DS9
In the Q&A portion a fan asked, thanks to all this interest, if somehow Deep Space Nine could come back in some form, perhaps as a table reading of season 8, episode 1. Behr said that new DS9 is unlikely. They had tossed around the idea of taking the pitch for season 8 episode 1 and animating it, and in fact Behr was offered a graphic novel adaptation but turned it down. He noted that what they have of the episode is a rough pitch, they didn’t actually write the script (with lines of dialogue, etc.). So for the foreseeable future the 7 seasons of Deep Space Nine and the documentary are all there will be of the show in the visual medium.
More Star Trek Las Vegas Coverage
Stay tuned for additional coverage of STLV.