Friday, 29 May 2015

The Stories We Never Saw: The Potential of Captain Pike

Just when you thought it was safe to get ready for some New Voyages, a bit of Axanar or the long-anticipated Renegades, one more massive Star Trek fan project manages to slap you in the face and demands attention.

That's not a bad thing either since the project we're talking about is Captain Pike and unless you've been living with a Horta for the last few months, you'll already be aware that it could be the next Big Thing as far as fan productions go.

The brains behind the operation is writer/director/producer Todd Shawn through his production company, Rigel VII (wonder where that name came from...?!) and I have to say, the scope looks mouth-wateringly good - even CG legend Tobias Richter is on board!

"I came up with the idea because it was something I wanted to see." said producer/writer Todd Shawn. "We never saw him [Pike] in The Original Series. We saw The Cage and that the mission [to Rigel] was something that affected him but we never got a chance to really explore that character. 

"I thought that at some point in The Original Series they would go back and show something with  him, maybe a flashback but we didn't. I can see from our Facebook page and the Kickstarter campaign that I'm not the only person who thought this way and people really wanted to see more Pike, see his history and when he first takes command of the Enterprise.

"Everybody wanted to know more about Pike and there really has never been anything in film explored about this man's story or who he was, the missions he went on, the people he encountered and how he paved the way for Captain Kirk."

Walter Doty, a good friend of Todd has been helping to bring the characters and story to life through the script; "I came up with the story and knew Walter was a writer and asked him to take a look at it." continued Todd, "We came up with something great and once we got the script out to the actors  they were hooked and really liked where the story was going. They thought it was original and loved the whole feel of the film. They felt it was original that had not been done and that was important to me."

For us fans that cast alone is dynamite with some major heavyweights on board. For starters there are former Star Trek main cast actors Robert Picardo and Linda Park from Voyager and Enterprise respectively. Add in there recurring Star Trek guests Dwight "Barclay" Schultz and Chase "Leeta" Masterson and you can already start to see the heights that this production is aiming for. But then there's even more to come with Ray Wise (Arturis from Hope and Fear), Bruce Davison (Jareth in Voyager's Remember and Menos in Enterprise's The Seventh), Sean Kenney (Lieutenant DePaul and the scarred Captain Pike in The Original Series) and finally Jorge Pallo (from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Sons of Anarchy and many more) all taking up roles onscreen.

But how do you get such names to sign up to your Star Trek project? "It comes down to the script." noted Todd, "One person gives it to another if they like it and so on. I've already worked with Ray Wise and showed him the script. If one actor has connections with another actor who then gives it to another or mentions someone who could be involved it goes from there."

"It also helps if they are interested and it excites them!" added Walter with the pair also revealing that seven months work went into the script before they campaign to make the pilot even came into existence.

In relation to the vision of Captain Pike, Todd has very specific ideas on where his production will be heading; "We're not doing a reboot as far as the new movies we will be much more based on The Original Series ideas. We're just doing it in a different look and a different tone. It will be a darker tone and something that has more of an edgy feel than you saw so it won't be the same music, the same lighting. 

"It won't be a duplicate of The Original Series because there are so many series that do that now and do it well. We don't want to copy that we want to do something new and exciting that people haven't seen before.

That story is the one we only saw and heard glimpses of during The Cage and would flesh out the back story of the Enterprise's second commanding officer - but before that, the production team want to show fans and backers what they can do with the 45 minute pilot that will take us even further back into Star Trek history and the first time Captain Pike took command of the USS Enterprise. This pilot will introduce both Pike and Spock, see start of their friendship; their differences as well as show a younger Spock coming to terms with his emotional side. This Spock is less experienced, less confident and not the First Officer. The Captain Pike writers will be illustrating how he's trying to fit in and find his place in Starfleet especially as he's the first Vulcan to join the ranks.

Said Walter; "You think of Kirk and Spock being so close but yet Spock was willing to go against Kirk and the Federation to help Captain Pike (in The Menagerie) by putting his career and his life on the line but yet we didn't know anything about this guy. Why would you be that loyal to someone? There has to be a reason. He has to be a very strong character in your life if you're willing to betray Kirk....As a fan of Mr Spock a lot of people want to know why he made these emotional choices, who he was and his relationship to Kirk and the Enterprise."

"You'll also get to see Number One who is a very strong female officer and first officer. We get a chance to explore her character and who she is. We'll get to meet a lot of new and established crewmembers in the pilot and to explore some of the captains we met in The Original Series and find out what they've done and who they were. We will address that."

To the sets and costumes, everything will be as seen in the original pilot so expect the gold and blue velour as well as some amazing finishing touches. For example, the patches on the uniforms are all being custom-made. Captain Pike will also be making use of the Phase II bridge set thanks to show executive producer James Cawley. James has also said they will help to redress the sets to replicate The Cage with black railings and silver doors which will help provide that feel of the earlier era.

While they will be utilising the standing sets from Phase II, the episode is also set to feature an away mission and a space battle providing a fair bit of variety and making sure not everything happens within the confines of the USS Enterprise.

If the campaign to get this 45 minute episode is successful then we can expect a lot more from the team as they are writing a Captain Pike saga which goes well beyond their pilot and has the involvement of Walter Koenig. The Chekov actor was impressed with the project, coming in to both write and also play a unique role in the film.

However, all these plans could be totally scuppered if the Kickstarter target isn't met and time is rapidly evaporating. So far over 500 fans have donated but of the $112,000 target only around $62,000 has been raised. If funding isn't reached there will be no production.

"We really need people to help and give as much as can or even if they can only give a little to give that." explained Todd, "If you can't give anything please tweet and share the project because that doesn't cost anything but time and if you can help in any way you will get to see an epic film.

If we get the funding we'll be filming in September, produce a teaser by Thanksgiving, a trailer by Christmas and then work on everything from the music to effects after that but we can't do anything without the funding."

Remember that if you don't hit your target with Kickstarter you get nothing and if that's the case it would be back to square one almost for Todd. "We'd be looking at promoting at conventions, trying to keep everyone involved and do another Kickstarter to get funding in the future but we have the opportunity to do it now and if people want it, please support us any way you can. We've had a lot of support and we can't thank everyone enough for their help."

Perks for the campaign are in four tiers ranging from $10 to $130 and offering everything from your name on the donors' page of the website through to PDF scripts, ship patches, exclusive making-of downloads and even specially produced clothing items as well as blu-ray copies of the completed movie.

So now is definitely time to get behind this production. The players are available, the script is done - now all that needs to happen is for filming to begin and it's us, the fans who can make that a reality.

You can donate to the Captain Pike Kickstarter right now by clicking HERE or visit their website HERE

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