Star Trek: Renegades – Exclusive Interview With Trek Writer Jack Trevino
Star Trek is pretty much unique when it comes to fan-made movies and episodes that pay homage to the sci-fi…
Star Trek is pretty much unique when it comes to fan-made movies and episodes that pay homage to the sci-fi series. Left alone by CBS and Paramount (as long as they don’t try to make money from them) fans build elaborate sets and even bring in recognisable Star Trek actors to produce work that is anything but amateur.
The latest hoping to go into production is Star Trek: Renegades, co-written by Jack Trevino and staring Walter Koenig, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo among others, names that will be familiar to any Star Trek fan.
Jack Trevino is no stranger to the world of Star Trek. Having written the hugely popular fan-made miniseries Star Trek: Of Gods And Men which stared a number of Star Trek actors including Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols. The series was awarded ‘Best Web Production 2008’ by SyFy Portal which is now Alpha Airlock.
He also happened to pen the story for one of Deep Space Nine’s most loved and memorable episodes ‘Little Green Men’ where Quark, Rom and Nog are thrown back in time to 1947 and crash land in Roswell, New Mexico.
WhatCulture was lucky enough to get some time with Jack to ask him about Star Trek: Renegades and find out about his plans to use it as a launchpad for a brand new Official Star Trek web-series.
WC: Can you tell us a bit about Star Trek: Renegades? Will the story follow on from Gods and Men which was extremely popular with the Star Trek Fan base?
Jack: I’d rather not give away any spoilers associated with Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (Believe it or not, there are many Trek fans that are still unaware of it). I wouldn’t want to ruin their viewing experience by giving away any of its secrets. Let me just say it was written and produced first and foremost as an homage to the original series.
From its conception, it was intended to be a tribute to the 45 years of Star Trek. As such, we made a point to revisit a number of the original series characters, but decided to give them a new and exciting conclusion.
Additionally, we made a concerted effort to bring back as many TOS guest actors as the story would permit. There were a few fans who didn’t get what we were doing, but most understood that we purposely followed the formula and style of those classic epic adventures, especially with its heroes fighting for glory and honour.
WC: It certainly felt like we were watching an old school Star Trek episode. But Renegades sounds like it will be exploring more darker themes, much like the latter half of Deep Space Nine.
We wanted to go in a completely different direction for Star Trek: Renegades. It is a bold move in the history of Star Trek, while still holding true to the philosophy of the Universe created by Gene Roddenberry. The film, which will serve as a pilot for an Online series, focuses on the most difficult of decisions and actions – things that can only be carried out by a select group of individuals – things that fall into that land we call “Shades of Grey”.
It is an area that no one wants to venture into, but must, in order to resolve the deadliest of situations. Just as the United States, at times, has no other option but to conduct missions that fall outside of the jurisdiction of the regular military, so must our band of heroes (a term they do not consider themselves to be, especially since they are outlaws, outcasts, criminals and rogues).
WC: Of Gods and Men and a very impressive cast, who is lined up to star in Star Trek: Renegades?
Renegades will star a mix of established Star Trek actors alongside a number of new hot rising stars. Even as we speak, we are in the process of adding new stars. Confirmed thus far from past Trek series are Walter Koenig, Tim Russ, Gary Graham, Garrett Wang, Robert Picardo, Ethan Phillips, Manu Itrayimi, and Richard Herd.
Joining them are Adrienne Wilkinson (Star Wars and Xena), Larissa Gomes (Saw3D, Saw VI and Resident Evil 2), Courtney Peldon (Entourage, Boston Public and Home Improvement), Tarah Paige (Make It or Break It and Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Vic Mignogna (Full Metal Alchemist, Dragonball Z and Star Trek Continues), Monica Keena (Freddy vs. Jason, Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy) and Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, Pet Sematary II and CSI:NY).
WC: Sounds excellent, it will be interesting to see actors like Edward Furlong take on Star Trek alongside the more established cast. Has there been any contact from Paramount or CBS? Have they been supportive?
We have not had contact with CBS, however, their position on films such as ours is to allow them to be made, as long as we, or anyone else making one, does not try and profit from it. As I mentioned earlier though, it is our goal to present the finished film to CBS as a pilot for an Online web series, something that would also be a first for Star Trek.
WC: How is the film being financed and how can fans help?
Of Gods and Men was produced at .01% of the budget of Star Trek 2009, that being $150,000. One might ask how this could happen. The answer is simple. It was made possible by the tireless efforts of the cast and crew who sacrificed time and money, preferring to make it a labor of love. I will note that actors were paid in accordance to SAG regulations. Renegades can only become a reality if Star Trek fans provide the necessary financial support for it to be produced. If they donate to our campaign, it will truly be a Star Trek film produced by Star Trek fans. So, we urge everyone to visit our Kickstarter website and pledge whatever amount they can.
If enough Trek fans band together, we can be assured the necessary funds to make the film. The more funds we raise, the greater the chance of us to improve costumes, sets, special effects and makeup.
Such funding can only help to make Star Trek: Renegades look and feel like a big budget studio production (but, still at a fraction of the cost). Let me ask you and the fans this question: “Is it not fitting that the Star Trek actors (whom we’ve all grown to love and follow over the years) be given an opportunity to return to Trek in an episodic format?” Personally, I’d love to see what’s happened in the lives of, not only their characters, but any possible number of Trek characters that our format will set the stage for their return as well. Such a possibility sounds exciting, wouldn’t you say?
WC: I imagine it’s quite a stressful experience producing a Star Trek film without studio backing?
It goes without saying that producing a feature film is definitely stressful. However, producing a Star Trek film without studio backing can be both stressful and exhilarating.
Without studio backing, you have the freedom to explore themes and topics that could have been construed as ones that might receive possible negative response from the fans. You wind up playing it safe. This, I believe may have contributed in some part to Star Trek’s decline in viewership during its last years on television. There just didn’t seem to be anyone who was willing to push the envelope. They didn’t seem to want to take a chance on new and different things.
We feel it’s time to take a chance on a bold new type of Trek. The actors we’ve contacted feel the same way. Of course, convincing as many actors as are involved to participate in such a project can be a daunting task, but producer Sky Conway has worked with many of them and their past working relationships paved the way for them joining the production.
WC: You came up with the story for one of Deep Space Nine’s most memorable episodes, how happy we’re you with the finished episode. Can you tell us a bit about how the idea came about?
I assume you’re referring to Deep Space Nine’s “Little Green Men.” In it, Quark, Rom and Nog accidentally travel back in time to Earth only to crash land in Rosewell, New Mexico in the year 1947. Once captured, they are classified as little green men from Mars. Toni Marberry (my writing partner at the time) and I were very happy with how the episode turned out. It was a huge success and most of that success was due to the fantastic script writing by producers, Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who both claimed “Dibbs” on the writing assignment. That episode went on to be voted #5 among DS9 viewers’ favorites. We also wrote the story, “Indiscretion,” where Kira is tricked into helping Gul Dukat locate his missing half Bajoran daughter, Tora Zyal.
As far as LGM, the idea came about one night when I was studying for a college course. While studying, I had the TV on in the background. There happened to be an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on at the time. They were interviewing the wife of the pilot who had flown the Rosewell aliens to Texas. She went on to relay her husband’s descriptions of them saying, “They were short, had big heads and sunken eyes.” When I heard her, the first thing that came to my mind was that she was describing Quark. I called Toni and said, “Let’s pitch a time travel story to the Trek producers – one where Quark is a Rosewell alien. We pitched it to Rene Echevarria and he loved it!
WC: What did you think about JJ Abram’s Star Trek film and the general direction Star Trek is heading?
As a lifelong fan of Trek, I was a little skeptical of what JJ Abram’s vision of Star Trek might be, but those trepidations were quickly laid to rest after seeing the film. I thought he and writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, handled the subject matter with deep respect to the original series.
They had to make Star Trek a mainstream film and they accomplished that hands down with the creation an alternate time line. This device allowed the established characters to operate and move forward in a fresh and different manner. And, including Leonard Nimoy was nothing less than pure genius.
Currently, movies have taken a darker stance with films like, “Lord of the Rings” and “Batman.” With such films, it is a certainty that future audiences will demand characters that push the boundaries of storytelling in even more realistic ways and settings. I believe JJ’s sequel will follow in that same direction. Hey! That’s what we planned for Star Trek: Renegades as far back as 2006, when it was first conceived by our own team.
WC: Thanks for taking the time to answer and I wish you all the luck with the project. If it is half as good as ‘Of Gods And Men’ was, then I’m sure we are in for a treat.
You’re most welcome. Don’t forget to visit our site. We have only until November 26th to raise the necessary funds to produce Star Trek: Renegades. Contribute today! With as little as a $10 donation, you can have an opportunity to become part of Star Trek history. As Jean Luc Picard said to Captain Kirk in Generations, “Help me make a difference!” So, do I say to all Star Trek fans out there, “Help us make a difference! Help us bring Star Trek back to an episodic format! ”
Any new Star Trek is an exciting prospect and with so many stars from the Trek universe involved, Star Trek: Renegades is a fan feature to look forward to, especially if it leads to a web series. As Jack said, it cant happen without the necessary funding so if you can donate, head over to their Kickstarter page and help it become a reality.