Last night at the Star Trek Fan Event I had one of the purest moments of nerdgasm in my twenty-six years. Studio 31, where the original television show was filmed, on the Paramount lot hosted 50o Trekkies. A notoriously loving, but thorough fan base Bad Robot, Skydance, and K/O Paper Products came to impress.
The show began with a perfectly presented curtain pull. The sound stage door pulled back as luminous hands shot into the air. No one was going to miss capturing this moment. The sun was setting and the studio appeared mostly black behind a sea of heads. There was gentle urgent pushing from the back. Many fans had been standing in line for hours.
It was a hallway on the Starship Enterprise. The doorway appeared small with so many bodies shuffling to get through. White lights pulsed around us. Soon we were on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. There was no command station, no captain’s chair, but it wasn’t required to feel a part of the enormous history.
Once everyone was seated the show began. It’s important to stress at this point that every aspect of what happened next was a complete and total surprise. Who hosted, what stars were going to be there, what we were going to see all a mystery. A couple seated behind me were taking bets as to whether we’d see the entire film or just a trailer. After all, they had us scheduled for four hours. Anything could happen.
The lights dimmed and the windows of the Enterprise became screens. Stars like Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Slash, and Rihanna, appeared to tell us why they love Star Trek. Saldana in her 50 for 50 told of being a child and watching three generations of women observed in an episode of Star Trek broadcast in Spanish. 50 for 50 is a project wherein a person give a 50 second testimonial on their relationship with the franchise.
Then our host was announced and walked out on stage.
ADAM-MOTHER-TRUCKING- SAVAGE of Myth Busters fame and nerd glory runs out on stage and we know we’re in good hands. He began with these remarks:
“The first time I saw a kiss on television the woman was green. I don’t know what I was learning from Captain Kirk but it probably wasn’t great. But that show formed me. The early 70’s it was on constantly. Absolutely a key part of the person I end up becoming.”
Next he brought out Executive Producer J.J. Abrams. Abrams cracked a joke about how he was the same age as Star Trek and how he hoped Star Trek: Beyond would be an anniversary gift to fans.
“I said this since you know the 2009 movie. I was not a Star Trek fan as a kid. And I realized what I missed out on because I got to fall in love with it watching the shows when I started working on the film. And Justin Lin (the director), who is an extraordinary guy, and a wonderful director did an amazing job on this. He was a Star Trek fan from I think since the very, very beginning. He would watch it with his parents and everything. He loved and knew this world so well. And he was really inspiring to talk to. We were so lucky all of us to work with Justin on this movie.”
Lin was pulled from the editing bay where editors were hard at work trying to lock the film by the end of the night. Lin described the experience of walking out of the bay and into a room full of fans as, “surreal”. When asked if there was a specific moment that he wanted to add to the cannon Lin had this to say:
“I think that’s part of Star Trek, you know? It’s a shared journey with these characters with this great crew. But at the same time you’re pushing into unknown, you know? That’s what I love about it. It’s embracing these character you’ve known for 50 years but at the same time we’re constantly pushing and challenging ourselves.”
Abrams then jumped in with a story he felt Lin would never tell himself.
“A few month back there was a fan movie. S and R was getting made. There was like this lawsuit that was going to happen between the studio and these fans. And Justin was kind of outraged by this, as a long time fan. And we started talking about this and realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans should be celebrating this thing… We all, fans of Star Trek, are apart of this world. And so we went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit. And now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced this is going away…”
Justin Lin – Champion of Nerd Creators.
The creators then took some questions in which they revealed a little about the film. Abrams took this time to described Lin’s pitch as amazing.The crew is separated and they have to fight their way back to one another. Beyond is meant to feel more like the original TV show. (A complaint from many original fans is the nuance of the show, the scientific exploration, the relationships between crew members, ext, was not addressed in the big action films of Abrams.)
Next were surprises for the fans. Lin unveiled a limited edition movie poster of which everyone in the audience would receive a copy. Then, Abrams revealed the biggest secret so far. Star Trek: Beyond will premier at San Diego Comic Con and for the first time ever a film will be projected at an outdoor IMAX theater. Everyone in the audience received a golden ticket. There may have been some tears. I may have been the one crying. I’m not saying.
Savage wisely said, “There’s no way to follow that.” And dismissed the creators back to their work. Next, came a behind the scenes video in which a bunch of stuff was released including but not limited to:
- Blue prints of different types of ships
- Fight Scenes
- The set of a planet
- A gold canyon
- A quarry in which they made a set.
- 50 different aliens for the 50th anniversary (In fact there are more aliens in this film then there are in all of the other movies combined.
- The costume designer gave women long sleeves to which she said all of the actresses were very grateful.
- Bones and Spok will be the buddy dynamic of this film as they are stranded together.
Then a game of trivia was played with Scott Mantz. Questions like, “What was the prefix code in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan that lowered the shield”, “What was the name of the homeless shelter run and organized by Edith in the original series episode The City on the Edge of Forever” and “What were the names of the whales in Star Trek IV: Voyage Home” were asked and Kirk’s coffee mug and prop weapons were given out as prizes.
Soon after three stars of the film were led out: Chris Pine (Kirk) , Zachary Quinto, (Spock) and Karl Urban (Bones). They spoke about the fraternity of the cast. They’ve been working on these films, on and off, for nearly a decade. There’s a lot of love there. Savage asked a twitter question, who else would the actors like to play in Star Trek universe? Without hesitation Pine piped up, “Evil Kirk” to thunderous applause. (Do I hear a fourth installment calling?)
Then someone from the audience asked, “I was just curious. With the death of Leonard Nimoy was there a different vibe on this set then others?”
“Yeah. I mean that in the sense that… I’ve been getting that question a lot actually, ‘What was it like making the first movie without Leonard?’ And in a way I feel like he’s actually more a part of this film than he was of the other two. I mean we all were so cognizance of his absence. And I think in the face of that we all held him in our hearts so much more fully. And I think to every person on this film, everybody showed up to work in the spirit of celebrating his life and his contribution to this franchise. Because honestly I don’t really see how it could have lasted as long as it did without him, both as an actor and a director… You’ll see. He’s there. He’s there in a really powerful way.”
Stephen Colbert gave a statement from his late night desk. He spoke about the time he interviewed Nimoy on his old show the Colbert Report. His character didn’t know who Nimoy was, a prank Nimoy helped pull, and so, Colbert interviewed him like a pornographer. Nimoy was eager, hilarious, and gracious. Colbert ended by saying he was grateful for the art Nimoy shared with us. A commemorative video played after and a somber mood swept over the crowd.
We were then rusher to street outside the set, given champagne, and toasted the new name of the street: Leonard Nimoy Way. Quinto gave a touching toast.
Then it was the moment we’d all been waiting for. It was time to watch the trailer. OH YEAH! Simon Pegg, who’s shooting a movie elsewhere, videoed in to introduce the trailer to the audience. I’ve never seen so many open mouths in my entire life. Big, goofy grins plaster over young and old alike. I felt very much a part of a community in that moment. To be a nerd is to be brought together by a shared love. I couldn’t be more excited for this film.
Afterward, Lin came back and showed us three completed scenes. Bone and Kirk discussing the late Captain Kirk Sr. and Kirk Jr.’s future, a battle scene that I don’t want to spoil but had Lin’s signature style all over it, and what I assume is the opening scene. Kirk reading his captain’s log and catching the audience up on the happening aboard the Enterprise. This is hands down one of my favorite captain’s logs. It’s earnest and casual in the way a journal entry naturally should feel, but it also sets the tone for a Kirk unsure of his future. Stunning writing from Simon Pegg and Doug Young.
Then it was time for swag. T shirts, limited edition posters, a golden ticket to an outdoor IMAX show, a tribble plushie, and an adorable tote were handed out, food was had, and a DJ mixed the night away.
I was so geeked out and full of glee that I passed out the moment I got home. I don’t know if another fan base can do it better, but I’m accepting all bets. Come prepared, Trekkie’s know how to party.