STLV18: ‘What We Left Behind’ Producers Promise 2018 Release Of DS9 Doc, Say Avery Brooks Is Involved

On Friday the team behind What We Left Behind held a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas to give fans an update on the upcoming Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary. We have all the highlights.

Kai de Mello-Folsom, Luke Snailham, Joseph Kornbrodt, David
Zappone and Ira Steven Behr at STLV 2018

Committed to 2018 release

It was acknowledged that the biggest question the DS9 Doc team had to answer was when will it be released. According to the producers, they remain committed to releasing it in 2018 “for sure” on Blu-ray and DVD to campaign backers and those who pre-order the Blu-ray/DVD Combo set, which will remain available to pre-order on the official site up until release.

They are also looking to sign with some kind of distributor for a later, wider release, possibly with a streaming service. Producer Ira Steven Behr said a theatrical release was unlikely, however they remain committed to doing premiere screenings in Los Angeles, New York and London, but didn’t offer any dates or details.

Editors Luke Snailham and Joseph Kornbrodt gave an update on the status of the doc and what they mean when they reported it was “picture locked” last month saying that the “story is in place” and that the run time is set for about an hour and forty-eight minutes, not counting credits. What remains to be done is the process of replacing clips of Deep Space Nine in standard definition with new clips remastered in HD, color correcting, sound mixing and music.

It was noted that the editing is taking place on the Paramount lot, right across from the original DS9 stages. Ira quipped how strange it is for him to go to work every day right across from Stages 17 and 18, adding “there is a beautiful symmetry” to it.

Blu-ray/DVD combo will be released this year

Brooks is watching over the doc, just not doing a new interview

It has already been reported that Deep Space Nine star Avery Brooks did not record a new interview for the doc, although he does appear in archival interviews. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t involved. Ira explained:

Avery is done talking about Deep Space Nine. He has said everything that he wanted to say, not just in terms of the doc, but in coming to conventions. I would love it to change, I would like him to change his mind, but the amount of conversations we have had in terms of having him participate just finally ran its course…He is very involved. He questions [producer] Dave Zappone all the time. He wants to know how it is going, who have we talked to, who have we not talked to. So, he is watching over the doc.

Zappone also confirmed that he speaks with Brooks weekly, adding “Avery and I have long, interesting discussions. I have to say he has been fully supportive and he is looking forward to seeing this film.”

They also showed a clip from the doc, which emphasized how this all worked. The segment focused on the relationship between Brooks and Cirroc Lofton and how they bonded playing father and son on the show. The clip featured old and new interviews along with segments from the show, which, as pointed out by editor Joseph Kornbrodt, were remastered in HD.

Producers David
Zappone and Ira Steven Behr say Avery Brooks is very much involved with their DS9 doc

It’s about family

According to the DS9 Doc team, the clip shown was also tied into what they saw as a theme for the documentary, as explained by producer Kai de Mello-Folsom:

We’ve done our best to include as many people in the film as we can. We have done 40 or 50 interviews at this point…We are mere mortals and can’t get to everybody who was involved in the show. But, these guys editing the film have tried to keep the stories about family. One of our big themes throughout is about family.

Ira Steven Behr also talked about how there is a strong emotional element to the film:

We did about 120 hours of interviews with cast and crew and ancillary people involved with the show…I could not believe how emotional people would get…It’s the 25th anniversary and most people don’t get to do a victory lap for the work that they have done and this doc is kind of a victory lap. When people sit and start talking about how much effort they put into the show and how much it means to them in retrospect, people got very emotional in the interviews. I am not just talking about actors, who can turn it on and turn it off. I am talking about crew people. It was an emotional time doing all of this. That was the biggest surprise, how much the show lives on in all of us.

What We Left Behind producer Kai de Mello-Folsom at STLV 2018

Writer’s Room segment details

It was revealed that the segment of the documentary based on a reunion of the DS9 writers room will be about 18-20 minutes within the doc. The segment features DS9 writers Ira Steven Behr, Ronald D. Moore, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Hans Beimler and Rene Eschevierra breaking the story for what would have been the first episode of an eighth season of Deep Space Nine. They have also hired an animator to illustrate parts of this notional episode.

Behr described what it was like shooting the writer’s room reunion:

It was an amazing day. It was an unbelievable day. It’s not like we hadn’t seen each other individually, but to get us all in a room together…What you see, is what happens that day. It wasn’t like we talked ahead of time and came up with ideas, so that we look good. We all had thoughts, but what you see is what happened that day.

While the room segment will be cut down for the doc, with six hours of footage, the team are hoping to find a way in the future to release it in full, to show the intricacies of the writer’s room process.

The team also noted that the Blu-ray and DVD releases will also feature “a lot” of special features, with Behr noting “you will be pleasantly surprised.”

DS9 documentary editros Luke Snailham and Joseph Kornbrodt at STLV 2018

Holding out hope for release of DS9 in HD

As is inevitable at one of these events a fan asked if Deep Space Nine would be remastered and released in HD, like The Original Series and The Next Generation. Ira empathized, but also noted there is a reason it hasn’t happened yet, saying:

When I see some of the clips in standard def, especially from seasons one and two, and then I see them remastered, it’s like “Holy…fill in the blank.” It’s a crime…I can’t look at them in standard def. But the fact remains, it is expensive as hell to remaster these films, to remaster the special effects.

However, he later offered a ray of hope, noting that that CBS has been very helpful on the project, and that if the documentary proves successful and popular, it might spark some interest:

If it does well, if the support the support is as big as we hope it is going to be since 2013 when the tied seemed to have turned about Deep Space Nine. If the powers that be see that people are paying and want to see this doc, maybe they will decide “Hey, let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work that is necessary.”

Living Deep Space Nine

Ira concluded the panel, but giving a heartfelt thanks to the fans, saying:

When we were doing the show, at the time we were not feeling the love. For seven years we were not feeling the love. What I used to tell the writers is we were doing the show for ourselves and to really understand Deep Space Nine, you had to live Deep Space Nine. It wasn’t a show you could come to and half-ass. You had to really watch it and really follow it. This is the nineties, before TV became what it has become. And I said that’s good, we live it, we are the ones that understand the show. And I just wanted to say that twenty-five years later to be around you people and to walk around this hotel and constantly meet people who suddenly live Deep Space Nine. So, from me to thee, thank you all.

Ira Steven Behr is heartened by the renewed interest in Deep Space Nine

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Glad they’re using old interviews with Avery, so this can be the definitive DS9 meditation. Still waiting for word on the Richard Beymer Easter egg…

“It wasn’t a show you could come to and half-ass. You had to really watch it and really follow it. This is the nineties, before TV became what it has become.”

Just as TOS was ahead of its time and took several years to reach a mass audience in syndication, DS9 was built for the binge culture of the streaming world. It is more relevant now than it was 25 years ago.

And someone has to say it, but even in the latter seasons, at least 25% of TNG eps were weak stories that were also designed to save budget with interior scenes only, that you could come in and “half-ass” it for a week on — and this shows in watching those eps. For those that may doubt this as just my opinion, this is covered well in the Trek 50-year History book.

In contrast, the DS9 team never let their series get lazy – Ira deserves tremendous credit for that given 7 seasons is such a difficult long haul to keep the quality up. Episode to episode, DS9 eps are the most consistently high quality Stat Trek of any Trek series to date, and it’s not even close.

Consider though that several people from TNG’s staff moved over to DS9. So some of TNG’s dip in quality can be attributed to Deep Space Nine (and Voyager too as they began work on that before TNG wrapped).

It’s made to be binged. Lets have new audiences binge it by bringing it to HD/4K.

Star Trek- as a whole is like a finely aged wine. The longer it ages the better and more relevant it becomes. A day WILL come when the time is right to upgrade the episodic gems that are Deep Space Nine. Just a matter of time.
So it would be wise, and cost-effective to take the preliminary actions that will eventually become the future project. And with everything that’s already been invested in this show, why we are not moving to the big screen is beyond my understanding. With all the crap that Hollywood’s pumping out it makes no sense to allow Deep Space Nine to whither away into obscurity. That’s why I am so grateful to Ira, and the rest of the contributors for the work they are doing on this new project. While the article seems to hint that this is more like a send-off to the series, I can’t help but feel this could revive, and create new interest, giving it a chance to breathe once again. At least that is my hope.
I had a hard time digesting the first couple of seasons of DS9 when it first aired, but all these years later; rather than having it grow on me, I’ve grown on it so to speak. It is I who have grown into a more intellectual person with a more refined attention span, and I believe DS9 to be some of the most compelling drama to ever be on television, and I’m not alone. DS9 is one of the most popular shows to watch around the world to this day. So while Ira has difficulty in seeing the series upgraded to HD. I have a hard time seeing it NOT.

The problem is the show is filled with standard definition CGI, and the cost would be gargantuan to upgrade it properly. Better start crowdfunding…

I’ve actually seen a couple of WIP battle sequences in High Definition modeled by the original VFX artist, Adam “Mojo” Liebowitz.

Well, gargantuan is relative. I think the figure of the entire TNG project was less than 20 million? Which is a lot, sure, but that’s like 3 or 4 episodes of Discovery?

Now we know that with CGI, there is quality, speed and cost. You can pick two. It doesn’t matter too much if it takes a bit longer to be released, so… just pick quality and cost. Give them the time necessary, and cost will go down. Besides, it’s a job some talented people would want to be involved with. And even if we increase the budget to redo DS9… say it’s 30 to 40 million… we’re still getting 170ish episodes for the price of less than half a season of Discovery. Sounds fine to me.

CBS can fill 3 1/2 years of airtime with DS9… to watch it all, as it comes out, people would need to subscribe for that long. You don’t need that many to do it to cover the cost. It’s the show they can use to keep interest while DSC is off the air. And the other shows they are working on.

It can work.

I can’t tell you how excited I am for this documentary to come. Although it’s been a long time coming, I know that Ira wants to do a good job with this. I will support this documentary because it seems as if they are putting lots of love into it.

For the matter of DS9 remastered on Bluray, it needs to happen, at least for the fans. It all depends to see how serious CBS is about Star Trek. I will rebuy (even pay $100 per season) all of my DS9 seasons on Bluray if they were remastered. DS9 is a special series to me. As a child, I watched TNG with my Dad when it was popular in the ’90s. I went back and watched DS9 as a teenager after it finished. As much as I love TNG, there are lots of reasons why DS9 could be considered the “better” series.

I’m thinking CBS is probably thinking…well if we do DS9, we’d have to do Voyager as well. As awesome as that would be, I feel as if DS9 deserves it more. DS9 didn’t get less good as time passed, it actually got better.

I agree with the comment below – “Star trek is a finely aged wine”. I’m hoping that Star Trek Discovery follows suit, because right now, it isn’t great.

HD DS9 on Blu Ray and as an exclusive All-Access feature might be a sellable option, but the biggest thing holding it back is just that TNG didn’t sell well, starting with season 3 of all seasons. The streaming services buying the HD rights can’t have made up for that expense enough. Very frustrating.

I think there are a lot of reasons the remastered TNG did not sell. First, it just doesn’t resonate with the non fans like TOS did. Next, TOS was only 3 seasons while TNG was 7. A much harder sell. And TOS was suffiently old enough that a remastered version with new mattes, effects and totally cleaned imagery was something so huge many were interested in seeing it. From TNG on that was not as much of an issue. Sadly, while I think DS9 was the superior show, it still suffers from the same issues TNG suffered from regarding the hi-def transfer. Perhaps even more so as Sisco is less known than Picard. Unfortunate as I would very much consider a DS9 BD purchase while I would NEVER purchase the remastered TNG.

The main reason why TNG didn’t sell was that when season 3 and later came out, Blu-ray was pretty much dead. People moved on to streaming.

If anything, the remastering has to happen with streaming in mind. What comes in terms of BR sales can only be seen as a bonus. But when it can make sense to spend MUCH, MUCH more on one season of DSC than it would cost to remaster DS9 (and probably VOY too), how can it not make sense to spend a bit on DS9?

I was 10 years old when I first watched Emissary, then 17 years old when I watched What You Leave Behind. This is the show that I grew up in front of from childhood to adulthood and formed an indellible impression on the person I came to be.

It’s so emotional to read Ira’s remarks on how the show was largely ignored back in the day but like a true visionary he stayed the course and now the show is coming into the spotlight.

I remember aged 16 in 1996 when we had the Star Trek experience tour come to Birmingham England I read a special article in my local newspaper rating the different shows and how the journalists singled out deep space nine as a hugely special show !with some exemplary acting and some of the best stories shown in Star Treks history and at this point there had only been two series !and they predicted that they could see Ds9 becoming the most cherished Trek show in years to come even if the viewers were not aware of it at the time . Over 22 years later and many brilliant shows in the following seasons how right the journalists were! Today it is probably my favourite show and the only Trek show my wife will watch and I think it’s a damn shame we never got a Ds9 movie after the show finished. I think it’s inevitable we will one day see a full hd version of the series even if we have to wait another 10 years when the technology becomes much cheaper for the studios to risk it it makes no sense to keep it as it is especially when you think in 10 years from now 4K may be the norm . The viewer will expect a better picture quality as the norm.

This is the 3rd time I’ve read someone lament the lack of a DS9 wrap up movie. While I do think it was the best of the prequel series I also think it is the series that a movie would serve it the least. Everything was perfectly wrapped up in What You Leave Behind”. A feature film would have to have Books but I think Sisco is better remaining where he was left. I just don’t see where a feature could go.

Now I very much am curious to hear what the writers said about where they could go with an 8th season… But that is just fun speculation. I don’t think the show or characters need any more story telling.

I confess that I was one of the people who did not stick with DS9 much past its first couple of seasons, despite being a rabid fan of TOS and especially TNG. It was only some years later that I binge watched the entire series and had my mind well and truly blown. I’d stopped watching just before the elements came together that would transform it into the most narratively rich and rewarding TV show to carry ever the Star Trek name, before or since.

I still feel like those first two and half seasons are a barrier for many people, as they were for me. Those first several dozen episodes, while not bad at all, barely hint at the excellence soon to come. Although, let’s be honest, the first two seasons of TNG were not great and, indeed, were downright BAD most of the time.

Been looking forward to this documentary for some time now. Will definitely purchase a copy once it’s available.

It’s funny I thought THIS was going to be the big highlight of the convention lol.

I love DS9! It’s still my favorite Trek today. There was a time I never thought I would love a show over TNG, but DS9 won me over in a way I never saw coming. And like a lot of the shows, I didn’t love it outright, it took awhile but between 3rd and 4th season is where it really came into its own and I think by 5th season it was hands down my favorite show. I mean I love all Star Trek, but DS9 did something no Star Trek sadly has ever gotten close to doing again.

Can not wait for that documentary. My love of Trek is soaring high again!

Hopefully this makes cbs reconsider Ds9 in HD. The last great star trek series.

With at least 2 Trek shows confirmed (Discovery + the Picard show) and 2 Trek films on their way I am confident that CBS WILL remaster DS9 soon.

It would be a waste of money.

You’re a waste of money.

I hope the upcoming Picard series, is successful enough it encourages cbs to consider a DS9 limited series

I was just thinking this. Will never happen, but we can always dream.

Six hours of writers’-room footage edited down to twenty minutes seems like cutting way, way too deep.

I smell a bonus disc.

Love this series so very much, the actors/actresses, writers, producers, directors,,certainly hope you bring it out on blu ray.🙂

In my considered opinion, DS9 is still the best Trek series, hands-down. TOS will always be my sentimental favorite; it was the show I grew up with and the progenitor for the entire franchise. But right now, for my money, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine marked the franchise zenith. Characterization, storytelling, acting, directing, visual affects–you name it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the Hill Street Blues of Star Trek.

And when I say “for my money”, I mean that literally: I will gladly and eagerly re-purchase all seven seasons of the show in high definition, if only they were available, and I know I am not alone. Come on CBS, shut up and take our money!

Scott, pretty much with you. For me, nothing has yet eclipsed the originality and characters from TOS. But DS9 came about as close as the sequel shows got. They were also able to do things that TOS never could. I generally do not buy these things compared to renting them. But this doc, if it has some great bonus material, would be something I think I would purchase.

hopefully the doc will indeed spark interest in remastering the show.

doc doc doc….IT’S DOCUMENTARY!

I feel like Avery Brooks gets overlooked alot by Trek. He deserves a lot more love and respect. I would love to see him play Sisko again. Deep Space Nine was very special. It’s my favorite Trek show.

I think that even Gene Roddenberry would be proud to see this much goodwill for this show. If this documentary doesn’t convince CBS to start the HD remastering of “Star Trek: DS9,” then perhaps today is a good day to die!

It would certainly be a shame if CBS agreed to allow some of the footage to be used and then not do the same for the rest of the series.

My husband has always been a huge DS9 fan, from day 1. Over the years our daughter watched with him and at age 21 is a bigger fan than her dad. She’s an actor and will sit and break down the series’ actors’ choices, what they’re doing and why. And then she gets emotional about Dax or fired up about Kira. It’s beautiful!