I’m incredibly excited for the new Star Trek series, especially because it has Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller at the helm. Fuller previously worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager, so he’s a guy who gets the world and the material, and as you’ll see in the interview above with Steve, he has a deep love for the material.
Steve spoke with Fuller on the red carpet at the Saturn Awards yesterday, and they spoke a ton about Trek. They led off talking about what it’s like to get control of a Trek TV show, how many episodes they have planned, and how the new structure means they’re going to be telling the story differently than we’ve seen before.
What was it like being in the room and finding out you’re going to get the keys to the Lamborghini?
BRYAN FULLER: It’s interesting you say “Lamborghini” because we’re looking at a lot of race cars as inspiration for our starships. It’s wonderful. It’s surreal. I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be a Star Trek writer, so to be able to craft a new iteration of the show with new characters and a whole new adventure and whole new way of telling stories that you haven’t been able to tell on Star Trek is honorable and it’s a dream come true. It’s hard to articulate that.
Where are you in the writing process of the show?
FULLER: We’ve got the arc of the first season entirely written, or arced out, and we’ve got the first six episodes entirely broken.
Is it going to be 13 or 22 episodes?
I’m assuming this is going to be one story over thirteen episodes.
That’s a thing that excites me so much.
FULLER: Oh, good! Me too.
Because I’m imagining even CBS is saying “We need something that can stream 13 episodes”.
FULLER: And there are 762 episodes of Star Trek television, so over six episodes we have to tell stories differently than they’ve been told for fifty years.
Fuller then went into when they’re going to start revealing new info about the show, along with directors they’re going to bring in, stages they’re setting up, and casting.
When are you going to start revealing the specifics of when the timeline is and that kind of stuff?
FULLER: I imagine around Comic-Con. It’s interesting because normally I love talking about everything, and I’m sort of relieved I’ve been muzzled by CBS on it because I do less interviews, so I can spend more time writing, but I love talking about Star Trek and I love being involved in it, so I’ll be very excited to share when the muzzle comes off of me.
Do you know the directors you’re going to bring in?
FULLER: We haven’t booked directors yet. We booked Vincenzo Natali, who will be our producing director, but he’s not directing the first episode.
I’m assuming you’ve picked out stages?
FULLER: Yes, we’ve got stages and we’re very far along. We’re going to be putting sets up in a couple of weeks.
So you’ve basically been meeting with people for casting.
FULLER: I’ve met with a few actors, and it’s an interesting process. There’s a few people that we like and we want to carry on what Star Trek does best, which is being progressive. So it’s fascinating to look at all of these roles through a colorblind prism and a gender-blind prism, so that’s exciting.
That’s what’s really exciting about this new show, and while Fuller didn’t come right out and say that the new Star Trek will have an LGBTQ character, he strongly implied it:
Star Trek has never filmed certain subject material because it was filmed at a time when showing a gay character or showing certain kinds of characters was frowned on. What I’m so looking forward to is to see you guys be so progressive and all-inclusive. Are you looking at it that way?
FULLER: Absolutely. I think the progressive audience that loves Star Trek will be happy that we’re continuing that tradition.
Fuller also explained how the show would be different because it’s on streaming, and how he developed the show with the network.
One of the things I love about TV is you can really go hardcore sci-fi because you’re not trying to hit four quadrants.
FULLER: Right, right. And because we’re CBS All Access, we’re not subject to network broadcast standards and practices. It will likely affect us more in terms of what we can do graphically, but Star Trek’s not necessarily a universe where I want to hear a lot of profanity, either.
What are they thinking about the show at the network?
FULLER: When I first sat down with them, it was “Do you have a plan of what you want to do?” And they said, “No,” and I said, “I have a plan,” and we started talking. And it was wonderful to be working with Alex Kurtzman, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and who’s such an elegant storyteller and crafting a story with him that ties in so many elements of Star Trek that I think people will be really excited about because you can look at the original series and pick out episodes we’re using the DNA of and using the spirit of what Star Trek offers, both in terms of high-concept science fiction storytelling and really wonderful metaphors for the human condition.
Fuller also touched on the specifics of the shooting schedule and episode runtime:
When is the shooting schedule?
FULLER: We start in September.
And you go until?
FULLER: Probably March.
So you’re going 60-minute runtimes, right?
FULLER: I think our runtime is flexible because it’s streaming.
That’s sort of what I was wondering because you don’t have to hit the 44-minute mark.
FULLER: I think it’s anywhere from—they gave us parameters, and I can’t remember exactly where it was. It was sort of, “No more than this, no less than that.”
FULLER: We have hired VFX producers, and they’re working with the companies and culling the team together because we need to do a lot of things in-house because if we start paying FX houses per shot for something for the things we want to do like digital augmentation on certain alien species, how we’re going to see the transporter beams, we’re trying to cultivate distinct looks for all of those things that are unique to our version of Star Trek and carry through the themes we love seeing in fifty years of Star Trek, but doing a slightly different approach.
Finally, Fuller touched on how he’s balancing both Star Trek and American Gods:
How are you managing Trek and American Gods?
FULLER: Well, I’m working with wonderful teams on both shows. Michael Green is my partner on American Gods, and we are getting close to being halfway through shooting our first season, and most of our scripts are done, so that’s an advantage as we’re starting Star Trek up and gives me an opportunity to focus on Star Trek.
Fuller is saying all the right things. While I’m not opposed to Star Trek movies, Star Trek feels like it was meant to live on television. What’s exciting about what Fuller is proposing isn’t just a rehash of old Trek, but instead crafting it for modern television and modern audiences. I wish we could warp to 2017 right now.