Hanelle Culpepper Chosen To Direct Star Trek Picard Show Premiere Episodes

Hanelle Culpepper directs "Vaulting Ambition" (CBS)

This morning The Hollywood Reporter reports that Hanelle M. Culpepper, a veteran TV director and a two time Star Trek: Discovery director, has been picked to helm the first two episodes of the new Star Trek Picard series.

Culpepper’s Discovery episodes are season one’s “Vaulting Ambition” and the upcoming tenth episode of season two, “Red Angel.” She has also directed a number of successful drama and genre shows, including Counterpart, Supergirl, The Flash, and Gotham.

Alex Kurtzman, who oversees all of the CBS Trek on TV, had this to say about Culpepper:

Hanelle is a gifted and dynamic filmmaker whose directorial choices are always deeply rooted in character, I’ve been a huge fan of her work since she started with us on Discovery, and she’s the perfect person to re-introduce the beloved character of Picard to longtime fans and new viewers alike. We’re thrilled she’s joining our Trek family on this next adventure.

Hanelle Culpepper directs Michelle Yeoh and Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery “Vaulting Ambition”

This marks the first time a female director has launched a new Star Trek series. Women have directed episodes of the shows in the franchise—the first was Gabrielle Beaumont for TNG, and of course Voyager’s Roxann Dawson directed episodes of VOY and ENT, and Discovery has had multiple female directors—but until now every Star Trek pilot episode has been directed by a man.

With production starting in April, things are starting to take shape for the new Picard series. Earlier this week we also reported that Star Trek: The Next Generation veteran Jonathan Frakes will also be directing the Picard series. TrekMovie will have more about the production in the coming days as well.

Keep up with all the news on the Picard show and other upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at TrekMovie.com.

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Interesting choice. They must be really pleased with the upcoming “Red Angel” episode.

On that note, I’m only half-joking when I say that the longer we go without any details on the new Picard show, the more I start to wonder if there is a connection back to DISCO.

They already brought up time travel in the current episode…
so all it needs is the will to do something like that. If they really aim at some kind of crossover, I would strongly prefer some other framing device though – i am thinking of episodes like VOYs “Flashback”.
But I really would not mix the two. as I hope the Picard series will return to a more cerebral approach to ST.

Yeah, traveling to and from the future has been clearly established now. But Picard in DISCO just seems too gimmicky for me (even by some of Season 1’s standards). But then, some people want to speculate that Picard is the Red Angel . . . and that is the name of the episode she directed . . . let the crazy conspiracy theories commence!

What? Really? That would be beyond cheesy imo XD
I am already underwhelmed by the prospect that the RA could be a DISC character we already know but “from the future” (Michael? :/)

But lets have some silly fun with theories – RA is:
– The Traveler or Wesley Crusher
– old Spock, did not die but came back from the Kelvin Timeline
– resurrected Kirk (from the Shatner-verse)
– Q (dressing up as always)
– Daniels or another Agent from the TCW (that’s not too far fetched tho)
– Sisko
– Seven of Nine or the Borg Qeen (and the Suit is Borg Tech)

I don’t have a clue, other than Saru’s reference in (I think) the second episode to the possibility that the RA could be a hallucination (and there was another reference to hallucinating in that episode), which ever since then has made me think it traces back to the Talosians somehow.

Edit: I just looked it up. Saru says the RA might be a “mirage” in the season premiere. It was Michael who said she thought she was hallucinating the RA in the second episode.

@German trekkie

It’s Commander Airam, the Cyborg on the bridge, she got infected in the closing moments of the current episode.

SPOILER ALERT, msybe? Geez…

You have no business reading comments sections if you’re not caught up.

It was a great idea. RA has to be a character already established. But what would be Airam’s goal? Has to be a vessel for something or someone else.

Oy that gives me headache! The probe came from the future, sent by a future Airiam, because she knew, she has to start her own evolution at that point in time. A+ causality paradox right there.

I will clarify that aside from the Brainiac symbols in her eyes I’m just guessing about Airam being the RA. Others have noticed that 500 years post-Discovery is the home era of “Future Guy” from Enterprise.

“But Picard in DISCO just seems too gimmicky for me”

And a Spock centered season isn’t?

Your point is well-taken, but at least Spock is from the same time frame, and had already been established as a part of DISCO during the first season (for better or worse). Picard would be a totally crazy left field move.

True that. But I would say that Spock is more universally recognized and adored than Picard is. Hence, the bigger gimmick. Even if they created a situation that allowed for it.

I see your point. For me, Picard would be the bigger “gimmick” in this context because it would probably just come across as nothing more than a way to plug the new show. (that said, I still doubt it’ll happen anyway).

Ah. Yes. I did not consider the plug for his show aspect of it. Good point. Let’s call it a draw. :)

Not necessarily. Since the lead’s connection to Spock is baked into the show’s premise, dealing with the issue is fair (and, probably, inevitable); the execution will determine how I evaluate it. Whereas, so far as we know, there’s nothing tying the DSC and TNG eras together, so absent such connective tissue any Picard appearance on DSC would be pure cheese.

@Michael Hall

One major point of connection, Jean-Luc Picard is the only (known) living person who has mind melded with both Sarek and Spock. He knows their whole story, Michael, Sybock, everything.

I always felt that Flashback was a good and interesting way to do a crossover however I am not really expecting actual crossovers between the two shows, just references and hopefully not so many that it becomes unrealistic.

I’m sure Picard will mention The Discovery on the show.

Yeah thats to be expected when the same people are working on both. Its like how Archer was named in Nemesis. And my guess is they use the Picard show to connect all the prequel shows more like Discovery, Enterprise and even the Kelvin films with Romulus gone. Others may not like it but to me it just makes the universe feels more whole and it makes the prequels feel more relevant in general.


Romulus is destroyed in the Prime Timeline, Picard’s show is set 20 years after Nemesis and they already said the show would involve the Romulan Empire dissolving after the destruction of Romulus.

I know, but thanks.

The startrek.com article says she’s directing the opening two episodes.

Our article says the same thing:

Hanelle M. Culpepper, a veteran TV director, and a two time Star Trek: Discovery director, has been picked to direct the first two episodes of the new show.

Also note the headline says “Episodes” plural as well.

I wonder if it’ll be like DISCO’s pilot that was more two-parter than two separate episodes. I could see CBS doing something similar with showing part of it on the broadcast channel in order to entice more subscribers.

Seems likely they’d do that again. Stewart (the actor) and Picard (the character) are both huge draws.

Excellent choice. This is how you act the values you espouse and walk the walk Trek has always wanted to walk.


So they went with a TV director they knew. Nothing wrong with that. Makes perfect sense. I suppose someone who has done features was too much to hope for. I thought streaming shows weren’t on as stringent schedules as over the air or cable shows.

On the contrary, some streaming shows are on minuscule budgets – at least the ones gobbled up by the likes of Netflix because they otherwise can’t get a distribution deal. AnywY, not sure big features directors can handle the speed up in pace for shooting TV

not sure big features directors can handle the speed up in pace for shooting TV

Yep good point, strictly feature film directors often have a hard time handling the change of pace, and either just don’t touch TV or try it and dislike it.

They wouldn’t go with a feature film director.
1. The pilot director tends to set the style for the show. They don’t want something out of the norm for the rest of the show.
2. I don’t know what you meant by “stringent schedules”, but the episodes are still filmed as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s still not a feature film where they take months to film 2 hours. Example: Discovery episodes are filmed in ~14 days each.

14 days being gloriously and luxuriously long in comparison to the heyday of TNG, DS9 etc. Wasn’t their turnaround 6 days per episode or something<‘

Yep, If you went over a week the producers figured that something must be wrong, and overages had to be justified, etc.

If you read anecdotes from the TOS-era directors it was really nuts, they had to justify in memos why a day ran long, why a reshoot would be needed, etc.

I wonder how many of those memoes blamed the cast’s hi-jinx in the early days!

All TV is that way. Its a very tight schedule. Even more so a network show that is pushing out 24+ episodes a year. SO yea you want directors who know how to work in that environment.

Bob Justman would have sacrificed his grandmother to the Red God for a 14-day shooting schedule.

Generally in the past an hour show would take 6 days to shoot. It’s pretty stringent as there are hard deadlines to meet. Deadlines that are not as solid for streaming services. Besides, the shows I’m guessing they will want a cinematic feel and I figured someone who has dealt with at least both sides might be a better choice. But, as I said, going with someone you know is the safer bet.

Yeah its obvious they just spend a lot more time shooting these shows now and thats the benefit of cable and streaming sites they are given much more time to make them. That’s why its taking so long to make the final season of GOT and thats only six episodes.

In fact with Discovery they were given just as much time to shoot 15 episodes in its first season the previous shows shot around 25 in the same period. Its probably great for everyone, especially the actors and directors who gets the breathing room to make it as best as possible other shows didn’t.

Only easy to shoot procedurals and sitcoms get done in 6 days in the modern era. More examples: The Orville takes ~10 days. GoT takes about 14 days an episode as well. Modern genre TV isn’t made quickly or cheaply. The medium (streaming, brodcast, cable) really has nothing to do with it.

It’s pretty stringent as there are hard deadlines to meet.

Yep, and you just described one of the reasons why such shows generally have 13 episode (or fewer) seasons. Fewer overall episodes, means more time to shoot each episode.

I wasn’t suggesting its the medium so much as cable and streaming just gives its show runners a lot more leeway to give them the time to make their shows networks never do. Its no way networks would take a show off the airwaves for nearly a year like Discovery got, especially a popular one. Networks are rigid, a show ends in May, it comes back in September, thats just how it is. Even crazier when so many of them still shoot 20+ episodes a year.

Take Stranger things on Netflix. That show only makes 8 episodes a season. Season 2 came out in 2017 and I don’t think season 3 comes out until this summer. They are basically plotted out like films. If it was on CBS, it would’ve had way more episodes and maybe off the air 4-5 months tops between each season unless it was a mid-season show.

So would imagine that working on shows that still have 20+ episode seasons would be rough. The Arrowverse shows seem to still have the traditional season length and manage to still crank out decent season long story arcs. Hell, I thought that last sesaon’s Thinker arc on The Flash was very well done.

Bryan Fuller wanted Edgar Wright to helm “The Vulcan Hello,” but CBS overruled him.

The Picard show will be amazing.

Act one; Scene one. Picard in the home vineyard, tying vines. Geordi approaches and announces “Captain Picard to the bridge!”

Act one; Scene one. An Eye in Close up. Picards eye. A cascade of voices mumbling. The distant voice of Shinzon echoes in Picards mind “The eyes reflect our lives, dont they? “. The camera tracks back. It`s dark, but harsh lights are directed at Picard. We can see structure of possibly romulan design. Picard is restricted to a wall. Naked. Now Gul Madreds voice echoes through his mind. “How many lights are there?”. A shadowy female figure stands very far away. On a table with some grim looking tools as well as a mean looking sensor probe. We can only see that she wears a romulan uniform and her hair is atypically blonde. “Good, you are awake. Now, back to the question at hand: what are the access codes to the federations border protection grid? As you are well aware, we have other methods to obtain that information from you, but i’d rather not resort to those methods…”

Picard shoots Geordi for trespassing.

Wow this is great news and its obvious they are revving up for the show soon! The news is going to be pouring in this month, especially with casting news (yes!). I’m slightly disappointed Frakes won’t be directing the pilot but its more of a fanboy thing than an artistic one lol. Anyway I’m excited to see what she will do and really liked Vaulting Ambition. Seems like a decent choice if any.

Frakes doesn’t get the pilot because he’s a run-of-the-mill, serviceable, journeyman director. He’s not the guy you get for a premiere. He’s the guy you get for episode 6 when things are running behind schedule and over budget. He’ll never deliver anything award winning, but he’ll always put out something of quality no matter the restrictions he’s under, either.

That’s not a knock on him. That kind of director is VERY valuable.

Save it man, majority of directors for Star Trek pilots are run-of-the-mill service directors. Look up their resumes. The guy who made the Discovery pilot directs mostly TV procedural dramas, he’s not Edgar Wright. I’m sure the director they picked for the pilot is great but nothing on her resume suggests anything special outside of just being a competent TV director. And its nothing wrong that obviously.

In fact I looked her up and realized I’ve seen a few of her stuff from other TV shows like Flash, Supergirl, Hawaii 5-0 and How To Get Away With Murder. Again, its fine, but it all fits in with the other standard shows episodes. And she’s never even directed a premiere until now, so its silly to even assume she’s some visionary because this will literally be her first time. And I never suggested Frakes have to do it, its not a big deal just would’ve nice to see, especially for PR. I’m just happy he’s involved with the show.

But they chose her for a reason and she did a good job with her episode on DIS so I’m excited to see what she does.

I’m more concerned with who wrote the pilot, frankly. Here’s hoping it’s Chabon.

Agreed! And we know 90% of the time how feel people about an episode will come down to the story itself. But it will most likely be Kirsten Beyer who writes it since she’s the show runner and its an industry standard in television of some kind all show writers must write the pilot and all the subsequent season premieres of the show. It could also apply to the season finales as well but I’m not sure. That said it doesn’t mean she has to write it alone of course.

“Save it?” Retract your claws, Tiger.

Stop with the Frakes obsession.

Frakes ‘obsession’? WTH?

I LITERALLY said I was ‘slightly’ disappointed he wouldn’t be directing but then I congratulated the new director and said several times now I’m excited to see what she does. Jesus it wasn’t a big deal and I don’t care who directs what as long as they do a good job. And you make it sound like I bring him up in all my posts or something. I bring him up like I bring up anyone here associated with Trek…when its relevant to the conversation. I’m not obsessed and speak positively about nearly everyone associated with Trek, right, so get over yourself. And telling me what to post doesn’t work out for anyone here. If you don’t like what I post, then just ignore them and keep on scrolling. OK? Great.

It’s getting real, folks.

It certainly is!!!!!

Hiring the director is a VERY strong sign they are getting their ducks in a row fast. And someone on Reddit said Patrick Stewart just arrived in L.A. a day ago to begin prep. So its happening!!!!!!!!

OK, it looks like things are officially about to start!

Didn’t know where else to put this but saw this on Reddit. Here is a link to some of the characters names and who they are for the show:


I’m guessing TM will have an article for it soon but I was too excited to wait! It’s pretty cool and it does suggest the show will definitely not be a TNG revamp but still really exciting.

Just to let people know but reading some of the comments, people are questioning the source where this came from (A podcast called ‘The Hashtag Show’. I never heard of them), so please take this with a grain of salt for now. And now rereading it, it does sound a bit close to Gambit others have pointed out. Hopefully another confirmation will come soon but I had to post it in case it is true.

And of course TM, if you know if its indeed false, then please take it down.

tbh that character breakown sounds quite fanfaction-y XD but who knows…
I sure would prefer the series to be more like a kind of “west wing in the future” thing, revealing more of how the inner workings of the federations political system and Picard being a high ranking diplomat.
Then we could still have his career / the political system break down at the end of season 1 and make him a renegade archeologist ala “Gambit” in the 2nd season. Now that sounds nothing like fanfic ;)

It’s a rumor, and given the hackneyed character descriptions it doesn’t seem very plausible. We’re hoping we see some kind of confirmation from a more reliable source.

Yeah I hope so too! But I’m actually fine if this is true and they go this direction. But I won’t lie I’ll probably be fine with almost anything outside of Picard running a deli lol. Just as long as it has a strong story attached and has a sense of adventure and exploration attached.

It doesn’t really sit right that the by the book Picard would be leading a crew of mercenaries that sounds more like a Firefly revival than anything.

As said, its been 20 years. People change. And of course (assuming its true) we don’t know the circumstances of why it happened. The 24th century could be a very different place now after the destruction of Romulus and Picard feels he has no other avenues. But I’m not going to over think it until we at least know this is the direction they are going.

Still think it would’ve been best to have Frakes take care of the first 2 episodes then bring in whoever else after it. Would’ve been symbolic.

Question, is this being shot at Paramount? Like the good old days!? I toured the lot a couple years ago, felt surreal standing outside the specific stages that housed the Enterprise D sets. As well as all the other productions over the years.

Paramount seems to be booked up, they’re filming in Santa Clarita. We’ll have more on the production soon.

Huge responsibility. Her decisions and influence will be felt in all subsequent episodes. Well done to her!

I wonder why there hasn’t been any news on the cast sheet intel that came out today? Maybe it’s just rumors but it’s definitely worth noting. At this point, casting must be well under way, so I guess it’s accurate… Lots of characters sound like genre tropes, but I’m just being casually pessemistic :-)

Connie sounds like characters straight outa Killjoys or Expanse…

Lawrences is Dark Solo…

Starton is what you get when you cross Dr Soong with Stamets…

Dr Smith… well a new EMH

Indira… must be a Tilly descendant…

Alana… Georgious’ great-grand-daughter? But yeah, I’m looking forward to Patrick Stewart just saying her name… Sounds a bit close to Alara and B’elanna though…

K’Bar… A Romulan Martial Arts teenager named after a classic army knife…

No, I don’t want to sound too negative… Actually it’s quite cool getting so many genre tropes united in one show…

It’s a rumor, and given the hackneyed character descriptions it doesn’t seem very plausible. We’re hoping we see some kind of confirmation from a more reliable source.

Please, no extreme camera angles like on Discovery. Please!