How did you get involved with STC, and how did that relationship grow to be more than providing make-up services?
Once upon a time, August of 2012 actually, I was in the process of turning Tim Russ into Tuvok when this guy named Vic Mignogna walked in. We were introduced, exchanged pleasantries and went about our business. At the end of the day, he asked for my business card. The very next day, he called and asked to have lunch to discuss a project he was launching.
Over lunch, he began to explain his vision for STAR TREK CONTINUES. His excitement for STC was palpable, and we established that we both dearly loved STAR TREK and had been lifelong fans. Now, I have been a professional in the entertainment industry for years and had been pitched “passion projects” many times (read: no pay). I had to turn them down because my bills don't get paid with “great opportunities for exposure,” but this felt different somehow...special. Vic's passion was contagious!
In The Beginning, there weren't very many people on board, but all the usual pre-production details needed to be handled. Vic was trying to do it all himself, so I volunteered to take over social media for starters and helped source costumes for our first shoot, which was the final scene for “Pilgrim of Eternity.” There were a million details to take care of, and I offered to help share the load. Over time, this deepened my friendship with Vic and my involvement with STC. I have given input on script and story development (the ending for “Lolani” was my idea, for example), wardrobe choices, sound design, etc. I did whatever needed to be done without regard to whether or not it was “my department” all for love of the project.
What are some of the challenges you faced as Makeup Supervisor on STC?
Of course, the whole series was a period piece with the goal of recreating the look and feel of late 1960’s STAR TREK. They used heavier, more theatrical makeup back in the day, but we were shooting in HD which is much less forgiving than film. Finding a balance of makeup looks that would fit the period and yet not be distractingly obvious was not an easy task!
Several episodes brought their own unique challenges, which I LOVE! In Episode 1 we had to vary the age appearance of Apollo several times throughout the story. Episode 2 was a LOT of green for our Orions, and that green had to be something that wouldn’t transfer onto costumes, props and sets. We custom mixed something called PAX, which is a combination of medical grade adhesive and acrylic color. Consequently, it was very time consuming to apply and remove. Episode 3 was all about recreating every character’s look from “Mirror, Mirror.” In Episode 4, we recreated three known loves from Kirk’s past.
Then there was Episode 8. The ‘Old Kirk’ prosthetic makeup was equal parts long, hard work and a lot of fun! Special effects makeup is my absolute favorite thing because I get to watch the actor use my work to enhance and inform their performance. Episode 9 was a color theory workout! I tested many color combinations for our guests stars before settling on schemes that would read ‘normal’ in black and white and not look completely ridiculous in color. Me to Vic: “I can’t have our guest stars looking like a bowl of hard candies.” For our finale episodes, I got to create an Andorian and...Romulans! So many pointed eartips...glorious! I’m incredibly proud of the work my team and I did throughout the series.
What’s involved in being the Social Media Manager and keeping people informed about STC activities – on Facebook and otherwise?
I could really write a novel here, but I'll try to summarize. Our main Facebook fan page has grown to nearly 200K “Likes,” and our Facebook Group now has 14.5K members. We have a Twitter following of nearly 22K and 4.5K on Instagram. That’s a lot of eyeballs on our activities! For our main Facebook page, I have an angel volunteer named Linda (I LOVE you, Linda!) who combs through our behind-the-scenes photos and schedules out a ton of posts. I go in daily and check through them, tag people, monitor comments, etc. I check in on the group, and the other platforms several times a day, and have done so every day for the last 5 years.
Social media really is our main liaison with our fans, which is incredibly important. Early on, I wanted to establish a 'voice' for STC that included professionalism, class, courtesy, enthusiasm and the principles of IDIC. How STC is perceived is extremely important to me because I believe it reflects on everyone involved – on our family – so I’m very protective of it. I have been so gratified when hearing from fans that we have achieved an excellent public perception.
Vic consults with James Kerwin and myself pretty much daily on STC activities and decisions that he has to make regarding the direction of the production. You could say James and I are the “Bones” and “Spock” to his “Kirk” off-screen. Ha! (We’ve had a group Facebook chat going since episode 4!) Whenever we have an event coming up, we three hash out the plan of execution and release, Take our Christmas gift of downloads for the fans, for example. That has been in the works for months! Then it’s all about choosing the right wording, imagery, etc., and coordinating the exact date and time of release so that it happens as seamlessly as possible.
I’m sure you’ve been touched by the stories that people have told about how STC has affected them. What are a couple of examples that really stand out?
I'm always thrilled to hear stories about STC bringing people together. Parents and children reconnecting to watch new Star Trek episodes like they did years ago, or fans who may no longer have that parent around but can feel their presence each time they watch STC are some of my favorites.
I have to say, though, that the messages and emails I received after “Come Not Between the Dragons” were the most profoundly moving. We had adults who were abused as children write in to say that they were able to heal and let go of the anger they had harbored for years against an abuser who had long since passed. We even had abusers write to us and tell us they finally saw themselves through their children's frightened eyes and vowed to change – to break the cycle. We never could have imagined having the affect we have had on some of our fans, and I find it profoundly humbling to be a part of something that could invoke that in others.
Is working on STC like working on other fan productions?
There are similarities in that almost any fan production is driven by a passion and love for the source material. I have very much enjoyed working on other things and have made lifelong friendships as a result.
That said, STC is unlike any other production I’ve worked on, fan or otherwise. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on quite a few films that were filled with wonderful professionals who’ve become friends and had a fantastic time doing it, but STC is very different. Everyone is doing it for love and not for money. When you’re pouring your heart into something vs waiting for a paycheck, it shows!
Also, from very early on I have had a much deeper involvement with STC than on most other productions. As a producer, I have input on the final product that I wouldn’t normally have as a makeup artist, and I find that I am much more invested as a result. This has moved me to pursue more of an active role in producing other things as well, because I enjoy being a part of the creative team for the whole project and not just for one department.
When you look back on your experiences with STC, what has been most personally rewarding?
I would have to say that the relationships I’ve built with the cast and crew of STC are #1 for me. We throw the word “family” around a lot, but there just isn’t a better word for it. I deeply and sincerely LOVE each and every one of the crazy nerds on our team, and I know that is for life – there’s no question in my mind. This is my ‘chosen’ family.
A close second would have to be the chance to spend so much time living INSIDE my lifelong love of Star Trek. I’ve walked the corridor of the Enterprise. I’ve sat in the Captain’s chair, stared into Spock’s scanner, dusted the table in Kirk’s quarters, climbed the ladder in engineering and even got to ‘drive the ship’ in a couple of episodes. I’ve napped in sickbay, on the transporter pad, in a turbolift, and in the warp core (yes, really)! I’ve stood at the monitor watching new STAR TREK being created before my very eyes. It doesn’t get any better than that!
What's your background in the entertainment world, and what’s next on your professional horizon?
I began doing special effects and beauty makeup 11 years ago. I’ve worked on everything from micro budget independent films to multi-million dollar theatrically released features. I’ve worked with names like Ed Begely, Jr., Sean Young, Eric Roberts, Martin Kove...and I absolutely love what I do. The artistry of it combined with storytelling is what I find most compelling.
I’m currently in pre-production on a short film with some STC alumni. The film is called When the Train Stops, and it stars John de Lancie, Michael Forest, Vic Mignogna, Kipleigh Brown, and my dear friend Darren Jacobs. Darren is a Shakespearean Theater-trained actor whose talent always blows me away. I can’t wait for you to see him in action! Of course, our readers already know what brilliance the rest of the cast is capable of. I’m excited to also bring back Emie Morissette, who you will recognize as the relief navigator from STC’s finale episodes.
The film will be directed by our very own James Kerwin, and I’m producing it. It’s a drama with a twist – think Twilight Zone. We will no doubt bring on more STC folks as we get closer to production and start filling out the crew. When you find your “A” team for filmmaking, why look any further! You can check out our website for more info: www.whenthetrainstops.com
In closing, I’d like to thank Vic for bringing me aboard this wonderful journey. His vision gave birth to STC, and my time working on it has truly been one of the most memorable and remarkable experiences of my life. Thank you, Vic, for being a wonderfully insane geek to the extent that you created this beloved masterpiece, and for letting me play on your starship! It was a great ride...