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Henning Koonert (hk)07.11.12

Will This Be the Next Star Trek Show?

TZN Exclusive Interview with Ethan Calk from Star Trek: Renegades

TrekZone Network talked to Ethan Calk, co-author and co-producer of Renegades, about the background of the project, the producers' aspirations and the possibility of a pick-up by CBS.

The team around actor/director Tim Russ (Tuvok) and producer Sky Conway is back, six years after the release of their web film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Their goal this time: a new Star Trek show. With Star Trek: Renegades they want to continue to tell the story of the 24th century and reveal a different side of the Federation. They plan to present their pilot to CBS as the basis for a possible new (web) series and want to finance the whole thing through crowdfunding.

Renegades will be produced if supporters will have pledged $ 200,000 by November 26th through the project's Kickstarter page. Backers receive various incentives for their support, depending on the amount pledged.

Ethan Calk
TZN editor Henning Koonert recently interviewed Ethan Calk about Renegades. Calk, who during the 90s contributed to the DS9 episodes Visionary and Children of Time, wrote the Renegades screenplay together with Jack Treviño. Read the full interview below.

TrekZone Network: Please tell us a little bit about the origins and evolution of Renegades. Who had the idea for it, did it change along the way, and how did it progress towards the concept you have now?

Ethan Calk: The idea came about on the last day of shooting of ST: Of Gods and Men. We were at the Laurel Canyon Stages shooting the scenes in the relay station with Ethan Phillips and on the bridge of Gary Mitchell's ship - Laurel Canyon has permanent derelict-looking spaceship sets, so we were using them for several ship sets. The three writers (me, Jack Trevino and Sky Conway) were just talking between takes and Jack made a comment about doing some kind of Trek where the crew has to work "outside" the normal bounds of Starfleet - and the idea just grew from there. It went through quite a few changes - possible characters we could use, different storylines, but the overall concept stayed the same - Star Trek, but not necessarily a Starfleet crew. We also had the idea of crowdfunding, though that terminology hadn't been coined yet - we were just going to try to send out newsletters to our OGaM mailing list and see what we could raise. Then websites like Kickstarter came about and we knew it was the right time...

TZN: What drives you to create this show?

Calk: Mostly it's the love and respect we have for Star Trek. That and we love telling stories and producing movies!

Calk emphasizes the importance of Tim Russ participation in the project.
TZN: Why do you think this is the right time to launch a new Trek series?

Calk: As our Kickstarter and web page intro says, it's been seven years since Enterprise went off the air, and though we've had the big Trek movie and another one coming next year, Trek really belongs on television. We feel this is definitely the right time (seven years is long enough for fans to wait), and we feel we're the right team to accomplish this (we're both fans and proven professionals).

TZN: With the limited budget in mind, one assumes that the people participating - at least the established actors - will meet working conditions, including monetary rewards, different from what they are used to. How were you able to persuade the familiar faces from Star Trek to participate?

Calk: The actors will be paid according to the Screen Actors Guild rules - there are several scales we can use with our budget, and we are offering them as much as we feel this budget will allow. As for persuading them, many are friends of Tim Russ, and some signed on just because he called them!

TZN: We know from the trailer and synopsis that both Walter Koenig and Tim Russ will reprise their roles as Chekov and Tuvok. Will the other Trek actors also play their familiar characters or will they be portraying new characters? And can we expect additional Trek alumni to be announced in the future?


Calk: Some will and some won't. Garrett Wang will be playing Harry Kim, but not the way you're used to seeing him. Since Neelix stayed behind in the Delta Quadrant at the end of Voyager, Ethan Phillips will be playing a different character - without makeup, so he won't be quite as recognizable (as Neelix, that is). Robert Picardo will be reprising one of his roles on Voyager. Gary Graham will not be Soval from Enterprise (Vulcans live a long time, but not that long). We are currently talking with other actors for other roles, but nothing has been finalized.

TZN: Both Chekov and Tuvok are familiar characters but your trailer puts them in new territory as chief of Starfleet intelligence and head of Section 31. Is this a new development for the Tuvok character or do you plan to tie in his Section 31 membership with events that took place during the seven seasons of Voyager? In your story idea, was he already a member of Section 31 during his time in the Delta quadrant?

Calk: Since Chekov and Tuvok were both in security (Chekov in the later movies), we felt it was a logical progression. We have not discussed if Tuvok was a part of Section 31 in the Delta quadrant...

Walter Koenig is involved in Renegades as an actor and as executive consultant.
TZN: The official synopsis describes Renegades as "bold, edgy and a little dark". What made you go into that direction? Roddenberry's idea of Star Trek, after all, is often prized for its optimistic outlook for the future with Starfleet and the Federation as places of heightened morality. From what we know so far, Renegades seems to put some distance between its own concept and that idea.

Calk: We love Gene Roddenberry's positive and hopeful outlook on the future, and we respect his vision of Star Trek. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some people will be forced to do things they wouldn't normally do to preserve that vision of the future. There's always dirty work and someone always has to do it. We'll tell some of those stories...

TZN: What can you tell us about Renegades that we don't know yet?

Calk: There are three gorgeous women in the cast - a Romulan, a Betazoid and an Andorian. We are talking to actresses, but no deals have been finalized.

TZN: Your Kickstarter campaign mentions a possible pick-up by CBS. How probable do you think that is? There is recurrent talk that CBS would leave the Star Trek property to JJ Abrams until his three-movie contract runs out, and different ideas from former Trek actors and writers for a new show have come to nought in the past.

Calk: There is no guarantee whatsoever, but we will strive to make the best pilot possible and hope they are interested.

TZN: Could you elaborate a bit on the release schedule you have in mind? If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, when do you plan to release the pilot? Will it be feature-length? What about future episodes?

Calk: We are looking to shoot in the spring of 2013 and hopefully release next fall sometime. It will indeed be feature length. Future episodes will depend on how this one is received.

TZN: What about the Renegades sets? Can we expect mostly green screen like in the trailer, do you plan to build standing sets, and are location shoots part of the plan?

Calk: We are hoping not do to green screen. The trailer was done that way out of necessity - we had to put something together will almost no money (a couple hours of studio rental, borrowed cameras, etc) - this was to get that trailer together to launch with Kickstarter. We do have possibilities for sets (the Laurel Canyon Stages are being considered), plus we plan to build other sets as needed. Location shoots are a good possibility as well.


TZN: Ethan, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions and good luck with Renegades!

Calk: Thank you. We'd like to thank all the fans who have supported us through Kickstarter so far. And to those who are just hearing about it - please help us make this film a reality!

(hk - 07.11.12)

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