Piller Reflects On 'Insurrection'

By Amy
March 19, 2001 - 4:35 PM

Michael Piller is a name in that is in many respects synonymous with Star Trek. Co-creator of both 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager', he's often attributed as the man who re-created and 'modernized' Trek, and counts among his actual story credits the classic Next Generation 'The Best of Both Worlds' two-parter and the last Trek movie, 'Insurrection'.

With 'Insurrection' as it turns out, there were a vast number of differences between the first draft of the script and the final product - thankfully for the fans, it would seem. "The first script, quite frankly, was an absolute disaster," Piller told Salvador Nogueira of Trek Brasilis. "What it was was two movies instead of one and we had enough plot to fill a mini-series."

Things were so apparently so disjointed that he Rick Berman actually discussed losing the 'Data arc' or the 'fountain of youth arc', as each plot line had a number of inherent problems, be t from poor writing or star power. "Rick and I discussed losing the entire Data arc. We talked about losing the entire fountain of youth arc. We knew that Patrick loved the fountain of youth and wouldn't want to lose it, and yet we thought that Data part of the movie was working better than the other half. In fact, in the first draft the fountain of youth was nothing more than comedy relief -- bad comedy at that."

Though he stood down as producer on 'Voyager' some time ago, he's remained involved to some extent as a consultant for the show. However, like most of the crew to date, he's still in the dark about the finale - though he has some ideas on what he'd like to see. "I would like to have seen Voyager get back into the Star Trek universe about half way through the final season," he said, "and then find out that the circumstances they've come back to are more complex and not so welcoming as they expected. I would like to have seen a threat to the Maquis members of the crew who had been terrorists. I would love to have seen Janeway forced into a conflict between the members of her crew who have served her loyally over the last seven years and an official inquiry by Starfleet." Unfortunately, however, as those following details of the final Voyager episodes are aware, he's very unlikely to have all of those wishes, if any, fulfilled.

Piller has no direct advice for the man taking his place as creator of the next Star Trek series, Brannon Braga. He does, however, have a few words to offer "to anybody who is creating a television series, and that is to listen to their own conscience." That advice? Don't sell out your creative instincts. "I believe," he begins, "that the writer's obligation is to engage the audience, to enlighten and explore in much the same way that the crew on the bridge of a starship does. There are other people who will be interested in the business side of Star Trek, including ratings, demographics and ancillary opportunities. I respect those people and will work with them to the best of my ability, but a writer must never cross the line and become one of the business people. If we do, we lose everything we are. There always needs to be a subtle, but definite tension between those who are after creative excellence and those who are after high ratings. That will always lead to the best kind of series no matter whether its Star Trek or something else. So, be true to your own creative instincts and don't sell out."

The full interview with Michael Piller, where he also talks about his current projects through his production company, Piller2, television in general and some more on his past and possible future with Star Trek, can be found by following this link to Trek Brasilis.

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