Scott Colthorp, director of Trek Nation, a Star Trek documentary in progress, and Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, seek to make a film unlike previous Star Trek documentaries such as Trekkies.
It’s not easy being a Star Trek fan, with the average public’s perception of the typical Star Trek fan being shaped by films such as 1997’s Trekkies as well as William Shatner‘s Get A Life skit on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s.
Colthorp and Roddenberry are seeking to make a different film, one that explores both the roots and the endurance of the Star Trek phenomenon. “Ten years ago, Rod Roddenberry and I set out to create a film that was, in many ways, an antithesis to Trekkies,” said Colthorp. “We agreed that our documentary would not focus on the overzealous, costumed fans. We wanted to go beneath the surface of fandom and explore the roots of the show’s popularity and endurance from the perspective of a son, Rod, who lost his father when he was seventeen. What we discovered was an ex-cop with a philosophical bent, and the courage to share his ideals in the form of a television show.
“The zealotry and nerdiness of Star Trek fans were forever immortalized by William Shatner’s Get a life! in that late-’80s Saturday Night Live episode. So I wasn’t surprised to find high cognitive intelligence when I first began interviewing fans in the late ’90s. But I was a little surprised to find such a diverse crowd of emotionally developed people as well. Of course, any popular cultural phenomenon, from sports to politics, has no shortage of fanatics. But Star Trek fans are very kind and thoughtful people who have, in my opinion, been misrepresented by the media.”
Colthorp himself is a fan. “It was at a gathering of my college roommates every evening to watch reruns of the original series that I found my first satori,” he said. “My roommates and I ran the gamut of diversity: An Army brat, a fraternity brother, an art student and myself, a struggling philosophy student.
“It was the Gene Roddenberry-penned script, The Menagerie, which was reformatted from the original pilot, The Cage, that grabbed my attention. I suppose my initiation to many philosophical concepts was birthed from multiple viewings of that episode. Of course, it was only during the making of this documentary I have been able to articulate what I discovered intuitively from watching this show as a pimple-faced college student many eons ago.”
Even though he is a long-time fan, Colthorp has enjoyed Star Trek as done by J.J. Abrams. “I think J.J. Abrams’ re-envisioning of Star Trek was long overdue,” he said. “The franchise needed some fresh talent and J.J. brought an action-packed film of the highest order, although it lacked many of Gene’s humanistic themes. But I think it takes an ambitious, action-oriented, and philosophically minded artist to speak deeply about the human condition without boring today’s youthful audience. That’s a tall order.”
Trek Nation will go beyond the usual “crazy conventions and over-passionate fans,” according to the description at the official website for the movie. Trek Nation will “attempt to capture how this manifestation of a single force (Gene Roddenberry) can affect so many walks of life.” Star Trek fans include the famous, including “professional athletes, models, celebrities, politicians, historians, bikers, religious leaders, lawyers and those on the fringe of society.”
Trek Nation is still seeking distribution and no release date has yet been set.