glimpses behind the scenes at what creates the magic we experience of film & tv- & other!

Posts tagged “tv

Star Trek on TV??

UPDATE 11/2/2015: A new Star Trek TV series will start Jan 2017 on CBS All Access.  Is it Gummelt’s? No idea!  For more see here.

Oh wow! I may hold my breath or at least cross fingers and toes, hoping for this one.

“According to Trekkie Michael Gummelt, he has officially been asked to come in and formally pitch a new TV series based on his own fan-creation Star Trek: Uncharted:

“I can now officially announce that I do, indeed, have an invitation to come pitch Star Trek Uncharted at Paramount this summer! As far as I know, this is the first time a fan (not an established industry insider) has been invited to pitch a Star Trek TV series. This is, obviously, extremely exciting and I’m doing my best to get support for it from industry professionals. One of my concept cast members has read the script and expressed interest in supporting it, which is fantastic!”

For more on this, go here:

Or go directly here for a taste of the concept:

On TV! Maybe

On TV! Hopefully


Adventures of a Production Assistant

 (or How to Get into the Film/TV Business)

blogimage112509_productionassistant1If you have a lot of stamina, tons of initiative, and a willingness to be a reliable Go-Fer for what may be 16 hour days, and if you can put aside any ego defensiveness – plus run into a bunch of good luck – you too may be able to get your toe into the entertainment world as a Production Assistant. Hard work, to be sure. But PA’s get to see a lot and learn a lot. A production can’t get along without them.

I wanted to learn more about what a PA really does and was fortunate enough to encounter a former PA, Kerry, who had worked on Star Trek. I was fascinated by her tales of being a PA, a job that while at the bottom of the food chain  in film and television production is nonetheless necessary for the smooth functioning of a set – running errands, making deliveries and generally doing whatever is asked.  Plus meeting a whole lot of actors and others. Wow!!!  My first question was “How’d you do that? How’d you get the job?” Here’s Kerry’s story.

“I fell into film and television production – it wasn’t something on my radar AT ALL while in college. While I was working and going to the university, some friends dragged me to my first Star Trek convention…. nearly 20 years ago.  I remember vividly that the speakers were Jonathan Frakes and Nana Visitor.  Nana was working on the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at the time, and sometime during her talk, she mentioned that she was looking for a new nanny for her baby.  So I went home and sent her my resume and a cover letter care of Paramount and didn’t think much else of it.

Kira mirror“Three weeks later, she called me.  Now I know these things SELDOM  happen, but this is the story of my life. Synchronicity seems to happen  to me a lot. We ended up doing three telephone interviews and I drove to Los Angeles to meet her and her (then) husband Nick Miscusi.  I met Nick and we chatted for a while and then we drove to the Studio at Paramount Pictures.  We met Nana at her trailer… and she was in full “Intendant Kira” in the alternate universe make up and wardrobe!  Talk about intimidating to be interviewed by the Intendant, ha!  Actually, she and Nick had just recently relocated from New York and were enthusiastic about living in LA.  They gave me a list of “things to do and see in LA” and I settled in for a weekend of sight seeing.  And I liked what I saw.

“So, I came back to Reno and started looking for nanny jobs in Los Angeles.  I called a whole bunch of churches to put ads in their bulletins.  One I called was Bel Air Presbyterian Church  and they let me place an ad… and then told me that there was a couple already looking for a nanny.  Again, that synchronicity at work.

“I called them, they called me.  They flew me down, hired me on the spot, I gave my two weeks notice at work and moved to LA two weeks later.  The dad was a movie producer (ABC Family Movies) and his wife was a film accountant.  I had the care of their two little boys for nearly a year.  It was fun, but very lonely… so I joined Nana’s fan club, and then Sid’s (Alexander Siddig) in order to meet people in LA.
“Then the Northridge earthquake struck.  My nanny family decided to move to Florida, and invited me to go with them.  NO way!  I hated Florida… so the producer dad got me an interview with a friend of his who had a new show… at Paramount.
Paramount Studios

Paramount Studios

“Off to Paramount I went.  Again, the amazing lining up of the stars… the production office for the sitcom “Platypus Man” was in the Cooper Building… and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was in the office right next door.  Over the couple of months that we filmed the sitcom, I made sure I met every person coming up and down those stairs.  I also let Nana and Sid know I was there, and we kept in touch distantly.  I worked my BUTT off.  We had horrible hours.  Our writers were night owls, so we ended up having two shifts – a daytime shift and an overnight shift – which swapped every week.  It really sucked coming in to work at 6pm and leaving at 8am, let me tell you!  The show didn’t last long and we got cancelled by UPN, but I’d been seriously bitten by the production bug.  The biz was in my blood.  I LOVED working 12 – 16 hour days and being on the go much of the time.  I have Attention Deficit Disorder and I simply thrive in this environment.  It was wonderful in a way that working as an early childhood educator was not.  I loved the creativity and the magic.  I was hooked. I was in my young 20’s, healthy, strong and hungry. When the sitcom was cancelled, a Production Assistant job opened up over at DS9 at the same time.

I’d always liked Star Trek… I remember watching the original Star Trek (TOS) as a kid in reruns and occasionally running around with phasers. I have to admit a fondness for a certain captain’s British accent!  I liked the emphasis on a positive future and people working together to make the world/Federation a better place.  I loved the inclusiveness and the diversity of the characters and the morality they portrayed. I was very excited to be a part of this positive vision of the future.

Fans I had made friends with Heidi Smothers, the Production Coordinator, and I immediately took over my resume and staunchly stated I could start immediately.  After a couple of interviews, Heidi told me “it wasn’t looking good” – because the producers had discovered that I was a member of Sid and Nana’s fan clubs.  Production generally has a very love/hate relationship with fans.  They see only the freaks and nutcases, so it definitely colors their views of fandom.  Luckily for me, Sid  and Nana laughed and told the producers to hire me immediately!

“I started on DS9 on an episode called “Through the Looking Glass” (another Intendant episode, conveniently enough!) in Season 3 and ended on an episode called “Broken Link”, at the end of Season 4.  I have always thought that was apropos.  I did indeed go through the looking glass and leaving was definitely a broken link experience.  I had a great time working on DS9, which was a challenging hour-long drama series to work on because of the complexity of the show and the hours.”

Continue with Part 2:…g-on-star-trek

What Do Editors Do? (part 1)

Oscar editing winners & nominees share tidbits on what they do:

I knew directors had a lot to do with how a movie or tv episode turns out; what I didn’t realize is that editors have just as large a role.

One extra on a DVD of Star Trek: Generations was footage of an alternate ending.  I frankly was struck with how boring it was. No music.  The camera faithfully followed Picard and Kirk’s movements, for every step from point A to point B. Seemed very slow. Aha! In the final movie, usually there’s a closeup of one, then of the other. I see one start forward, then the other move. The viewpoint moves back and forth and cuts out some. Editing! I was watching footage that hadn’t been edited!  Big difference!  So how does an editor create that more dynamic feel?

Terry Kelley_

Terry Kelley, editor

I had the good fortunate to connect with Terry Kelley, a long time professional editor who  edited Deep Space 9: Past Prologue, and is editor for Showtimes’ acclaimed Homeland series. His final episode of Season 2 has been nominated for a best editing award from American Cinema Editors (ACE), an honorary society of film editors. Mr Kelley is a master of his art – and graciously agreed to an interview.

What is the process of editing?

“An analog is what you probably did in school. You have an assignment to read chapter 11. You take it away and read it and, as you read, you underline parts that strike you as important.  That’s what an editor does.  Takes the script and notes what’s important or key. I may note what framing would be important. For  example, if there’s a part that’s more intimate, I note that I’d want a close-in shot. Or there may be part that suggests a faster pace – more cuts.

“In feature films,  an editor looks at footage and says, “What did the film say to me? How can I let the film speak?”  Everyone is involved with the script. I can read the script and imagine how to edit shots together. For example, consider a scene where the point of it is “she meets the guy – their eye’s meet.”  I can see in my eye how that scene would be cut. A far shot showing the location. A medium shot of him. A medium shot of her. She’s looking at something. Shifts her look beyond it. Sees him. “Hm, he’s attractive”.  He sees her. Close shot on their eyes reacting to each other.


Kelley’s Editing of the S2 finale is nominated for an Eddie award!

“So I take the film that’s shot and look for what I need. The director will shoot the scene once from a far shot. Then reshoot with a medium shot on her. Then reshoot with a medium shot on him. Then reshoot with a closeup on her. Then reshoot with a closeup on him. Then a tight shot on his eyes and one on her eyes.  A scene will be shot many times – direct shot, over his shoulder, over her shoulder – again and again from different angles and framing.  The editor’s job is more a matter of building to a blueprint than it is searching through a pile of lumber to see what you can put together.”

How do you work? In what kind of environment?

“I work by myself in a dark room. No, I don’t need to meet with the director or go on location. I can get any direction I need from the director by phone.  He’ll say: ‘This is a funny comedy. I want to make it fast paced and colorful. Just keep the actors alive.’

“The first step is the editor’s cut – or rough cut. It isn’t so rough any more – [with modern technology] I can smooth out the sounds and do color correction. I put in everything. This is the longest cut.

“The director then cuts out what he wants. The Director’s cut. The studio may cut still more, even if the director objects. Directors can get attached to certain scenes, even if they don’t further the story much.Eddie award banner

“As to how long it takes, the Director’s Guild has rules – for example the director can demand 3 weeks to do the editor’s cut and 10 weeks more to finish the director’s cut  – before showing the film to anyone!!  Actors & others can see the dailys, but not the way it’s coming together.”

Wow! That’s quite a process. A skill that Mr Kelley has developed over many years.  Coming up in future posts on this interview: what it was like to work on Star Trek and how the process of editing has changed over the years. Stay tuned!!