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Tuesday, May 19, 2015


With just two weeks to go until Episode Four of STAR TREK CONTINUES enjoys a debut screening at Phoenix COMICON, we’re excited to see your reaction to our fourth full-length episode.  We can’t wait to meet our fans, answer questions, sign autographs, and celebrate what so many of you have made possible. 

Earlier this year, our cast and crew gathered to shoot Episodes IV and V at the same time.  We have a strong commitment to proper stewardship of the funds that fans have contributed.  It’s far less expensive to shoot two episodes in the same period, saving on travel and hotel costs as well as rentals and other expenses.  Later this year, we’re planning to release our fifth episode (which will also be the first episode of STAR TREK CONTINUES to feature many scenes shot on location).

Our friends and fans contributed more than $200,000 through the very successful “Kirkstarter 2.0” STAR TREK CONTINUES crowdfunding campaign.  We not only reached our “Kirkstarter” goal, we reached a “stretch” goal to Build Scotty an Engine Room!  Work began on that massive project a few weeks ago and you’ll find an update in this issue of Subspace Chatter.

STAR TREK CONTINUES also now completely owns our shooting sets in south Georgia. We have taken over the remainder of the building that has now been christened as “Stage Nine,” – in honor of Desilu Stage Nine (where the Enterprise sets for the first season took shape nearly 50 years ago).  At 18,500 square feet, our facilities are by far the largest of any STAR TREK web series – and nobody has ever built the Engine Room!  We salute the team at Farragut Films who did much of the actual construction on the current sets and wish them well as they turn to new Trek endeavors.

In addition to a place for Chris Doohan’s “Scotty” to hang out when not on the Bridge, we’re also making several improvements to the standing sets – rounding out the Bridge to make it a full 360-degree set.  As my friend and set designer Will Smith frequently says, “we’re making STAR TREK!”  And Will has a three-page list of enhancements to the Enterprise sets that are also on the docket.

One of the most endearing things about the Original Series was the variety of stories that they told.  Continuing in that spirit, our Episode IV will be a much more personal, dramatic story than our previous outing.  It’s called “The White Iris,” and it features a special guest appearance by Colin Baker (“Dr. Who” from 1984 to 1986). 

Tune in online starting May 29 to see our next big adventure as STAR TREK CONTINUES.

-Vic Mignogna

Executive Producer and “Captain Kirk”


Engineering Room Taking Shape at Stage Nine

As a child, Will Smith devoted hours watching re-runs of STAR TREK before home video made it easy to replay favorite episodes.  He sketched the control panels on the bridge, recording the changes that happened from season to season in a notebook that he still has in his collection.

Fast forward 40 years, and Smith is putting his background in construction management and design to work on a massive undertaking – recreating Scotty’s Engine Room, which is a first for a STAR TREK web series.

In the newly-christened Stage Nine in south Georgia, volunteers have removed walls and tons of debris from the other half of the 18,500 ft building that used to house a church! With the church’s former classroom walls demolished, a large space between the existing sets and wardrobe and makeup areas is being filled with an exact replica of the Engine Room that once stood in Desilu’s Stage Nine in California.

The Engine Room recreation is being funded by the recent “Kirkstarter 2.0” that reached a stretch goal to “give Scotty and Engine Room,” and Will Smith is in his element as designer and starship builder.

“Once it was greenlighted, we did extensive research and drew detailed plans covering every aspect of the engine room.  While a floor plan for the Engineering Room does exist from the Desilu days, there are no blueprints or measurements that include elevations of the space showing the heights of the various elements.  So a lot of what I’ve designed comes from painstaking extrapolation of measurements based on the heights and shapes of certain known objects,” explains Smith, whose website is a virtual cornucopia of details about panels, buttons, and graphics used on The Original Series. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time developing plans that show the proper placement and shape of things like the beams over the top of the Engine Room and the ‘warp core’ area that is a study in forced perspective.  The warp core itself proved to be very challenging because of the limited views that we see it from (only from the front).”

The Room’s far left side consoles are being framed just like work done on a house with a sturdy skeleton that will hold plywood eventually finished just like other corridors throughout the Enterprise sets.

But how does one recreate the look of such an iconic space?

“It’s really not very easy to do and get it right.  You have to take into account the lenses that they used, since things at different angles look different heights.  I’ve compared dozens upon dozens of screen captures.  I already know the length of certain things, so you can estimate certain measurements.  Most of the time you know when you are getting it right because the numbers start all lining up into logical increments.”

“The first season (1966) Engine Room was much different in configuration and size than the revamped set used in season two and three on STAR TREK.  Of course, we’re building a season three Engine Room that was actually shortened a bit from 1966.  One of three consoles was eliminated and the room was cut back from 24 feet to 20 feet.  We’ll have the central floor piece that includes a ‘dilithium chamber.’  One of the most effective ‘tricks of the trade’ is the forced perspective in the warp core that is only about 15 feet deep.  But it’s built in such a way that it looks much bigger and much longer.”

Smith’s project was almost a perfect fit for the available space at the studio. “It was as if the space was preordained for this project,” Smith says with a wry smile and nod to the building’s former use as a church.

“Parts of Scotty’s Engine Room are very similar to the wall corridors throughout the Enterprise.  But in Engineering, the walls are over 20 feet tall.  So we’ve framed it out carefully to make sure it’s structurally sound and proportionally correct.”

In addition to the Engine Room, which will be completed later this summer, a long list of other set improvements is being started. 

“We’ve begun constructing additional pie-shaped segments to the Enterprise Bridge, so that we can eventually have a full 360-degree set.  We’re changing out overhead displays at each console along with many other improvements to the Bridge and have some changes planned in the Transporter Room as well,” Smith says.

Smith has other projects on his three-page work plan, including the relocation of Auxiliary Control and completion of additional Sickbay sets.

“Honestly, it’s really quite a fulfillment of a dream as a young boy watching that show to now as I’m able to design and physically build the Enterprise.  It’s a wonderful thing to be able to recreate something you’ve studied for years.”


Mixing skill, patience, imagination

Outfitting an entire starship and visiting aliens can be a daunting task, but the wardrobe team at STAR TREK CONTINUES employs sleuthing skills and huge doses of creativity and patience to meet the demands of each episode.

The costuming process starts even before a script is finished, with Executive Producer Vic Mignogna sharing details with the costume designer months before filming begins.  The collaborative process of identifying costuming needs, designing for specific actors, and accommodating a dizzying array of last-minute requests takes a team of experts to make sure that filming can be accomplished on schedule with “just the right look” to emulate 1960’s TV.

For Ginger Holley, who started as a wardrobe assistant on STC Episode II “Lolani” and managed costuming for Episode III “The Fairest of them All,” a passion for costuming began in the Renaissance period.   

“I got into costuming in 2006.  My friend had a Renaissance wedding and it was so much cheaper to make the pieces she wanted rather than buy them. That led to Renaissance Faires and then anime and sci-fi conventions, and then cosplay (costuming play.)  I wanted to do it for a living, so I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design.  That training has proved to be invaluable, because for STAR TREK CONTINUES I frequently have to draft patterns and grade costumes into different sizes.  It’s all very technical and those are things are very difficult to teach yourself,” Holley says.  She graduated the week after filming wrapped on “Lolani” and she started working almost immediately with Executive Producer Vic Mignogna on what would be needed for the ambitious “mirror episode” shoot that started a few short months later.

Mirror Mechanics

“Since most of what we do on STAR TREK CONTINUES takes place in the third season, we’ve been grateful for the support of uniform licensee Anovos.  They’ve supplied Starfleet uniforms for our principals and extra players,” Holley explains.  But mirror episode “Fairest of Them All” required both a return to second season velour uniforms and the additional adornments that clearly mark them as part of the “Terran Empire.”

“We worked from November through March to bring that episode together from a costuming standpoint. One of the biggest challenges was pulling it together over the holiday season.  We were sourcing fabrics from what felt like every website on the planet!”

Holley picked up a new skill while preparing for the mirror episode shoot – learning how to dye large quantities of fabric just the right shades of STAR TREK gold and blue. 

“We finally found the right cotton velour about two weeks before filming began, and so all of the dyed tunics for the main cast and for extras had to be cut and assembled very quickly.  I had never dyed anything before, so I watched a lot of YouTube videos.  I ended up dyeing the fabrics in my bathtub. It was a lot of trial and error.

"The gold mix I can now dye with three different recipes.  Blue was a little trickier because it’s hard to accurately photograph the blue.  When you look at the original reference photos, the color looks different from photo to photo.  But we ended up very pleased with our choices.  Onscreen and under studio lights, those velour tunics look just like the originals,” said Holley.

The most difficult vintage piece to construct was the sleeveless gold vest worn by Kirk in the mirror episode.  Holley found vintage mid-century woven gold metal lurex fabric for Kirk’s sparkly vest, building two identical versions so that the production wouldn’t be slowed if one was damaged during fight scenes.

“The way the light hits this 60 year old fabric is magnificent.  It sparkles just like the original. Vic had photos of the actual vest for reference purposes, and we spent a lot of time researching the fabric properties.  A lot of the stitching was done by hand so that the metal fibers weren’t damaged,” she explains. 

Episode IV Challenges

Holley manufactured 12 new costumes for the upcoming Episode IV, including a few original designs, recruiting friends to finish the projects in time for filming. 

“Throughout the year I source, run the budget, research, order, maintain the inventory, and design for upcoming scripts pretty much on my own,” she said. “When it comes to crunch time, I call in my pre-production team. They are vital to the success of each episode. For Episode IV I was thrilled to have several fellow graduates from my school’s fashion program come on board to help with all the new costume builds.”

For Dorothy Booraem, serving as Wardrobe Supervisor for Episode IV meant keeping track of myriad details.

“The most difficult thing about being a wardrobe supervisor is experiencing the difference between your carefully organized plans for changes and upkeep to costumes and the beautiful chaos of actual production,” Dorothy explains.  The role of wardrobe supervisor is primarily one of organization, time management and problem solving.  “You'll face challenges like how to costume four extras with three costumes, how to dress 15 actors while prepping the costumes for another scene, and how to clean makeup off of a Starfleet uniform when you can't take it off of the actor!”

Dorothy, Ginger, and Hannah ham it up

The costuming team needs to make sure that the costumes are clean, in good repair and in the costumer's desired shooting condition - free of wrinkles - exactly when they are needed. 

“In the sci-fi genre actors may have to get into costume first and THEN go to makeup. Depending on their makeup call time, which is often very early, you and the costumes will need to be ready beforehand. So it helps to be an early riser as well,” Dorothy explains.

“I was fortunate enough to have Ginger Holley and Hannah Barucky on the STAR TREK CONTINUES wardrobe team. They are experts in Starfleet uniforms, Starfleet casual wear and alien sportswear of all kinds. The system we used to costume big groups was to schedule the actor times, make a lot of lists, organize the costumes and then be motivated, optimistic problem solvers.”

Episode IV wardrobe assistant Hannah Barucky has worn many hats for STAR TREK CONTINUES, including general production assistant and Uhura’s wig stylist. 

“We had quite a few new pieces that needed to be created for Episode IV, including a Cage-era uniform and some other very specific costuming.  I studied a lot of screen captures to get things just right,” said Barucky, who is studying fashion design at Ohio’s Ursuline College.  “My drapery teacher helped me with patterns and things we haven’t even done in school yet,” she explains.  “I’m excited to help with costuming for STAR TREK CONTINUES because that’s exactly what I want to do in my career.”

“It’s interesting that the uniforms in STAR TREK are so varied.  You’d think that they would be a lot more ‘uniform,’ but when you go back and look at old episodes you can see how things were assembled and finished.  A lot of things were stitched just for a particular scene, and we end up doing a lot of those same things in our productions,” Barucky says.

STAR TREK CONTINUES’ wardrobe team feels that they are doing the same kind of frenetic work as Bill Theiss, the original STAR TREK costume designer. 

“It’s such a big responsibility to follow in his footsteps.  Obviously, there’s a specific look and feel that we’re working hard to emulate.  My goal as the designer is that I never want to distract from the story.  We just want it to look ‘right’ like STAR TREK should.  You have to get into that ‘retro’ mindset, even though it’s now 2015.  We take a lot of care to use the same methods and materials that Theiss would have used in the late 1960’s,” said Holley. “It’s a challenge, but we love it. TOS was very special, and we hope that everyone watching STC can see how much we all appreciate that.”

Fans interested in pursuing costuming as a career need to focus on organization and “people skills.” 

“Both are absolutely necessary in any kind of production - stage, TV or film.  As far as where to find wardrobe work, depending on where you live, a community theater is a great place to start or on local independent film where you are likely to be the costume designer as well.  You won't get paid, but you will get experience and will probably have a great time,” says Booraem.


Familiar Themes Surface in Music Score for Episode IV

Jazz musician and composer Andy Farber grew up in New York City during a golden age in STAR TREK “re-run” history.  In the 1970’s, one could actually see episodes four times a day running on various TV stations in the metropolitan New York market.

Farber’s passion for the themes of STAR TREK composers Alexander Courage, Gerald Fried, George Duning, Joseph Mullendore, and Fred Steiner inspired his career in music.  And now Farber himself is adding to the STAR TREK music canon with original music composed for “The White Iris,” the fourth episode of STAR TREK CONTINUES.

Follow STAR TREK CONTINUES on Facebook to find out what “Captain” Vic Mignogna heard on the scoring stage in a soon-to-be-released video showcasing Farber and the Rochester, New York students who are bringing Farber’s melodies and familiar STAR TREK themes to life.

Speaking from his New York home, Farber answered our questions about his interest in STAR TREK music and what it is like to hear his music associated with his favorite TV show.

How did you first hear about STAR TREK CONTINUES?

I can’t remember!  It was just one of those things that I found on the internet.  I had seen other web productions, but I like STAR TREK CONTINUES because the strong actors and the stories were quite good.  Like any other fan, you’re starved for quality after watching the original 79 episodes for 40 years.  I’m old enough that the only Original Series episode that aired during my lifetime was the very last one,  “Turnabout Intruder,” in 1969.

So you’ve been wanting to write Original Series STAR TREK music for some time?

Yes!  That was the first film/TV music that I knew before I became a professional musician.  I come from a musical family, and there was always music in my house.  But STAR TREK was probably the first underscore that I really remember – that and Johnny Cota's music from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood!  There were six or seven original scores written for STAR TREK each season, so it’s almost like a repertoire of familiar themes and music that were “tracked” and re-used from episode to episode. STAR TREK’s editors tracked music from different composers in the same episode.  George Duning’s compositions were mostly strings.  Gerald Fried used mostly woodwinds and brass.

In the silent film era there would be a piano player with a book of generic “chase” music.  Onscreen there’s a girl tied to the railroad tracks.  Cue the suspense track!  If you fast-forward to STAR TREK, the editors were cutting the episodes in a familiar way.  There’s the classic “James Kirk action” cue from “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”  There’s Spock’s mind-meld music featuring jazz guitarist Barney Kessel on Fender bass guitar .  These are classic motifs – just like Wagnerian opera.  So I started to notice that and it was probably Original Series STAR TREK music that got me interested in music as a career.

You’re a professional musician now?

I’m a jazz saxophonist, composer, and arranger professionally.  I also teach jazz composition and arranging at the Juilliard School in NYC. I’ve also written a feature film score and a documentary film score. I’ve done orchestrations and conducting for other film composers, and I've written countless TV commercial underscores.  I live in New York City, and have chosen a career as a jazz musician.  I’m interested in music that has real players and real instruments – not “MIDI mockups.”

When we listen to Episode IV, what musicians will we hear?

Well, I was going to put together an orchestra of STAR TREK fans who are professional musicians in New York – but that would have limited us to some woodwind and brass players and some percussion. I could have gotten some string players and a harp as well but not the full sections that we got up in Rochester. I wanted a wider palette and as much of a full orchestra as possible.

A colleague, composer and trumpeter Jonathan Kruger, suggested that we use an organized group of music students from the Eastman School in Rochester New York.  They call themselves the Empire Film Music Ensemble, or "EF-ME" for short.  I supplemented those terrific players with trumpet player Chris Rogers, a friend who is the nephew of STAR TREK composer Fred Steiner.  And I brought in woodwind player Kurt Bacher.  The students were terrific.  I think you’ll be very pleased with what you’ll hear.

How did you create the familiar themes?  Does written music exist?

While the original scores do exist, there wasn’t time to track everything down.  So I had to transcribe it.  I put on the CD and listen very carefully with headphones to try to figure out what they're playing. You know, the melody, rhythm, orchestration and all that. There are some classic cues that we use in Episode IV – such as Fred Steiner’s “suspense” music from “The Corbomite Maneuver” and we utilized a cue from Gerald Fried used in “Friday’s Child.”  You know Gerald Fried is the only living STAR TREK composer.  We’ve been in touch by email and had a wonderful phone conversation. We discovered that we had the same oboe teacher.

How do you write themes for specific characters?

I read the script, and at a certain point I wanted to be able to “spot” the film – which in the old days would be watching the edited film with no music.  Vic Mignogna has strong convictions about the right music for each scene, and pulled from the existing library of STAR TREK music.  So where appropriate to have classic Original Series cues, we decided to keep them that way.  And we also re-recorded as many of them as possible, also allowing us to customize them in terms of tempo, adding some instruments that weren't on the original recording, etc. Where we needed new thematic material, I composed original music.  However, in some cases I used familiar motifs like the Alexander Courage “Kirk” melody that Courage used frequently and will be familiar to viewers

What will it be like to have your name associated with STAR TREK the same way that it is for Courage, Fried, Duning, Mullendore?

They’ve always been influences of mine!  STAR TREK CONTINUES is a fan production and I'm doing it for the love of it.  It’s pretty cool to be listed as making a musical contribution to STAR TREK.  I can’t wait to see the final result with everyone else at the end of May.  As far as I’m concerned, more STAR TREK CONTINUES is more, real STAR TREK!


The hits just keep on coming for STAR TREK CONTINUES!   

In March, STC won awards for Makeup (“Lolani”), Webisode (“Lolani” and “Fairest of Them All”), Directing (“Fairest of Them All”) and Cinematography (“Fairfest of Them All”) from the Accolade Global Film Competition, which is currently in its 11th year and strives to “give talented directors, producers, actors, creative teams and new media creators the positive exposure they deserve.”

In April, Treklanta named their first Independent STAR TREK Fan Film Awards, with Vic Mignogna recognized as Best Actor and STAR TREK CONTINUES winning Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.  STC was especially surprised and honored since we didn’t even enter the competition!  Among the judges was Susan Sackett, onetime assistant to STAR TREK creator Gene Roddenberry.

Earlier this year, “Fairest of Them All” won recognition from the Telly Awards for the People’s Telly, Online Drama, and Film/Video Production.

STAR TREK CONTINUES won Best Web Series at last year’s Geekie Awards, and Best New Media – Drama for “Fairest of Them All” at the 2014 Burbank International Film Festival.

Previously, the World Science Fiction Convention recognized “Pilgrim of Eternity” as Best Fan Film and the Lost Episode Festival of Toronto named STAR TREK CONTINUES as Best Feature.