'Trekkies' DirectorBy Lorenz Ulrich
Posted at May 1, 2000 - 8:47 PM GMT
Almost a year ago, the fan documentary 'Trekkies' was released to American cinemas. Now that the film will soon be released in Europe, Lorenz Ulrich interviews Roger Nygard, the director of the film.
Question: Roger, why 'Trekkies' and not 'Trekkers'?
Answer: Eventually you've got to name your film something, and we couldn't call it both Trekkies and Trekkers. We chose Trekkies because it's the first and most well-known name for the fans of Star Trek. Also, the deciding vote came from Gene Roddenberry. According to Richard Arnold, Roddenberry's Trek researcher and assistant, Roddenberry preferred 'Trekkies.' Perhaps we will call the sequel Trekkers to be fair. And in the sequel I would like to focus on the international fans too, especially fans in Germany, UK, Japan, and Brazil.
Q: With 'Trekkies', you produced a rather successful documentary movie about Trek. How did the idea to do something like this come to you?
A:It was all Denise Crosby's idea. We worked together on a film called "High Strung" in 1991, and Denise has wanted to do a Trek fan documentary since she first pitched me the idea in 1993. We finally started shooting some footage in 1996 and didn't look back.
Q: Denise Crosby is a very well-known personality to the Trekkies. How did she come to your team?
A:See above answer.
Q: How did you work on the conception of the movie - you've even travelled throughout the US to interview fans?
A: The film evolved as we shot. The exciting thing about documentaries is that you don't know where the journey will take you. I was editing as we were shooting and by doing so, we would look at the rough edits and evluate what we still needed to shoot. The cities that we chose to visit were the ones where Denise was invited to attend as a speaker at various conventions. Denise was dedicated enough to the project to trade in her first class plane tickets for a handful of coach seats so we could afford to bring the film crew along with us.
Q: Talking about fans: What kind of fan are you?
A: I watched the original series as a kid, so I'm more of a classic Trek fan. I also watched the Star Trek cartoon in it's original run. But I never got into being a die-hard Trek fan. The first convention I attended was the first one we filmed, Fantasticon, at the LAX Hilton, August 2-4, 1996.
Q: Paramount will release the movie in German language soon. What can we German fans expect of the movie, how are its contents sorted?
A: The film loosly breaks down into segments or chapters like "The First Convention," "Who's your favorite captain?" "Vulcan, Alberta, Canada," and lots and lots of fan stories and anecdotes.
Q: There are many kinds of Trekkies: Real fanatics, rather shy subject, who only want to see the episodes on TV, or those who try to engage themselves for StarTrek in some way. Which kind of Trekkies does the movie focus on.
A: The film covers the entire spectrum of fans, from two year olds to 82 year olds, from teachers to doctors, from fans to conventioneers, from classic Trek fans to Voyager fans, from stars/actors to fanatics. Admittedly, the film does focus more on the extreme fans than the "normal" fans, but I hate that term "normal," because it implies that somebody gets to decide what is or isn't normal. And as Brent Spiner said, "Star Trek fan or nor, we're all a little peculiar aren't we?"
Q: "Trekkies" started at the same time as the new "Star Wars" movie. Was this just coincidence or part of the fight of Trek against Star Wars?
A: Purely coincidence. We finished our movie in 1998, and Paramount decided to release it in May of 1999, up against Star Wars.
Q: You certainly did lose against "Star Wars" - looking at the revenues. But, how successful was the movie in the US all in all?
A: Financially, the jury is still out until Trekkies completes it's home video release, where it is currently doing extrememly well. The film is available in the video rental market (and DVD), but won't be released into the sell-through video market until July of 2000. That's where it should really do well financially. Critically, we massacred Star Wars.
Q: Trekkies like to hear anecdotes. Tell us of some funny incident during the production of the movie.
A: Right in the middle of the most emotional moment of our interview with James Doohan the camera ran out of film, interrupting Mr. Doohan in the middle of his story about a suicide note he had received from a fan. He couldn't wait until the camera was reloaded because he was already late to be on stage. The convention security people said there would not be time for a second interview so it seemed like we would never find out what happened to the suicidal woman. We were determined to find out so we waited four hours until after Mr. Doohan spoke on stage and then signed several hundred autographs and then Denise asked him if he could kindly come back to finish his story. Despite being exhausted from the day's convention events, he graciously agreed, and he told us the rest of the story, which became the most touching moment in the film. I can't believe we almost didn't get that story.
Q: What projects are currently financing your life?
A: My next film is called "Six Days In Roswell," a follow-up to "Trekkies." It's about UFOs, and UFO enthusiasts, and the people of the town of Roswell, New Mexico. For more information you can go to www.Roswel6.com
Q: Is "Trekkies" the last of your Trek-related movies or can we expect another movie regarding this topic? Or will there soon be "Warriors"?
A: I'm sure there will be more. I think, once you're in, you're in for life.
Q: Thank you very much for the interview!
A: I has been my pleasure.
Lorenz Ulrich is the editor of Daily Trek, the newsletter published by our German partner site TrekZone. This interview was first published in German.