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The HeyUGuys Interview Producers Bryan Burk & Damon Lindelof Talk Star Trek, Star Wars & the Need for Change

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Star Trek Into Darkness - UK Press Conference

Star Trek Into Darkness hits UK cinemas next Thursday 9th May and earlier today I was lucky enough to sit down with Producer Bryan Burk and Writer / Producer Damon Lindel to talk about their brand new movie.

I focus a lot of the interview on the need to change the look and feel of some of the elements of the movie but their answers were spot on and as a Next Generation nut, I was pleased to hear why the decisions were made for change and how they need to drive the franchise forward. I also ask about when we can expect to see Star Trek back on the small screen after a six year absence.

With the news that J.J. Abrams is set to direct the next Star Wars movie, I was keen to find out from Bryan Burk what Paramount thought of the matter, how it will affect scheduling and whether or not Abrams will be directing the next Star Trek movie. Time will tell on that one but the interview was fascinating and I hope you enjoy it.

We also get some insight into the next Mission: Impossible movie so there’s something in here for everyone!

We saw the film earlier in the week and liked it a lot!

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HeyUGuys: Can you tell me about the drive to move Star Trek forward?

Bryan Burk – The perk to being able to make the bigger films (and Star Trek never had the same resources that Star Wars had or one of those films) so it was the opportunity to really open it up. You forget that the Enterprise is the size of The Empire State Building on its side.  The engine room would be significantly larger but that’s the idea of trying to make it as tangible and real.

The reason that so much of the other films took place so much on The Bridge is cos there was no money. It was a lot of just talking to television screens because they couldn’t really open it up. Visual effects were limited, makeup, everything was limited and when we went to off to make the last film and this film and Paramount fortunately stepped up. We said we’re going to put it ll on the screen but you’re going to have to invest in your franchise significantly more than you have in the past.

HeyUGuys: The changes in this from The Klingons to blowing up Vulcan in the first movie, are there big meetings as to how these changes are going to be done?

Damon Lindelof – The Klingons were a big concern in terms of what they would look like because I’m sure the same issue came up when they were making the Star Trek [original] movies in saying “We really need to change the Klingon design from they way they were in the original series”. Worf would make jokes about it in Next Generation in terms of “Well we don’t talk about that” but I do think that at a certain point, although these adventures are happening at the same time as the original series was happening, we’re making the movies 45 years later and so the audience wants to see certain innovations. So it’s how do you capture the spirit of what a Klingon looks like, and not have to answer questions about…

Well, supposedly, “cos Leonard Nimoy is in your movie”, and so that all happened, Klingon’s can’t look noticeably different in such a way that that Leonard Nimoy would say “wait a minute, they look entirely different” but at the same time you have to be completely and totally enable to make changes because the one thing we keep hearing from even the die hard fans of Trek (Other than just “don’t fuck it up idiots”) is “we want you to take risks, we don’t wanna see the same stories warmed over again. Take the stories that we love and add something new, take risks”. And the problem with taking risks is that it’s a risk, and you could lose.

But I feel like  in the first movie we were so nervous about seeing the Klingons faces that we kept them helmeted the whole time but that ended up not making the picture anyway, we cut all that out, not because of The Klingons but because it as affecting the pacing of the film. In the second one, JJ looked over multiple different makeup and creature designs, and finally arrived on the one. When he saw it he said “it’s very clear that this guy is a Klingon but it also feels kinda new, kinda cool and kinda exciting”.

The other thing that we realised when we were talking about it was to say every Klingon all over their entire planet of Kronos looks exactly the same would be like saying we all look the same. If you go to Norway or Mongolia, Africa or even within the African continent to South Africa and then over to South America, you’re going to see very different looking humans so why can’t the same be true of Klingons?

Bryan Burk – By the way, it’s Gene’s [Roddenbury] franchise so he could do whatever he wanted to do but going from the series to the movie, suddenly they weren’t wearing the primary colour outfits as their uniforms so it was even a question we had when were doing the film, the last film and obviously this film, there’s been ten films before us and they never used the original uniforms so I think you embrace what you like and hope that everyone’s come on board.

HeyUGuys: You have a very hard job keeping the Star Trek fans happy?

Bryan Burk: True but I would argue Manchester United fans are just as passionate about their team as Trek fans are or whatever it may be and when there are changes, people are nervous. But God willing everything continues to work out and go forward. There’s a lot of passionate fans and the good news is that we are fans first and filmmakers second. It just so happens we ended up doing this franchise. If we weren’t doing it we’d be the first ones to go there and would be nervous about things.

I remember before Tim Burton’s Batman came out, the idea that Michael Keaton was going to play Batman was the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life! How was the guy who played Beetlejuice going to play Batman?! The day the movie came out, he suddenly was the Batman that everyone compared… and the definitive Batman all of a sudden and rightfully so. So it’s one of those things that there is an evolution, particularly for things that have a long life and we take moves, we like them so hopefully other people will too.

HeyUGuys: We need to talk about Star Wars, how do Paramount feel about it?

Bryan Burk: It’s one film that he’s [J.J. Abrams] going off and doing that. But we also have all of our business at Paramount. We have the ‘Mission’ (Impossible) franchise which we’re just about to get that one up and going, obviously all working on the next Star Trek and we still have no shortage of projects that we’re still doing at Paramount. There’s a lot of moving, it’s projects all over the place.

HeyUGuys: So will J.J. Direct the third Star Trek?

Bryan Burk: Everything is all contingent on scheduling and timing so it depends on when Star Wars is going to start, when the next Star Trek would happen. Everything is up in the air at the moment.

HeyUGuys: Any thoughts on when we can expect another Star Trek TV series?

Bryan Burk: It’s something we’ve talked about but i feel like it’s putting the cart before the horse just in the sense that we’ve only had one film, the second’s not out yet and it feels like we want to galvanize the franchise and bring it back and reach as many people as possible before we all start focusing our attention on a different medium.

Damon Lindelof: The other thing is there’s the question of era. If Star Trek is back on the small screen, is that happening simultaneous in the same era as our movie because obviously Chris Pine and Zac Quinto are not going to be playing those characters. I do think one of the things that really benefits our films is the specialness of it. The idea that if you want your Star Trek fix then that’s the only place to get it right now. So we are a little bit territorial about, (at least up until this point) having had essentially now 6 years of no Trek on TV but we know that because of the success of these films it’s now going to cultivate i think hopefully a new television series because I’m with you, i’d love to see that.

HeyUGuys: Back to Star Wars, the tone of the new Star trek movies aer much more accessible to people, will Star Wars follow suit?

Bryan Burk: The truth is the only person who should be talking about Star Wars is J.J. We’re obviously very early in the process and putting it together but Star Wars is obviously something that we’re all big fans of so hopefully will… (I’m trying to avoid answering the question!)…. it’ll be everything you want it to be…..

And more!

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