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Special effects, Star Trek Style

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Earlier this week we posted a scoop about an independent Star Trek production to be presented to CBS in airable pilot form entitled Star Trek Equinox: The Night of Time, staring John Savage and Gary Lockwood with each reprising their previously-established Trek roles as Captain Rudy Ransom and Fleet Captain Gary Mitchell. Well, we have since come to learn that veteran special effects makeup artist, film and model maker, and visual effects (VFX) artist, Steve Neill has been tapped to provide the visual effects for the film. Neill — whose first job was to make Spock’s ears on Star Trek: The Motion Picture (where he worked as an uncredited makeup artist). Additionally, Neill has worked on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has also worked on numerous other sci-fi and horror films including Laserblast (1978), Ghostbusters (1984), Fright Night (1985), and numerous others.

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We caught up with Neill as he was preparing to do a photo shoot with Savage and Lockwood for Equinox and got him to talk about both the upcoming show as well as his own work. While he couldn’t tell us much about the show itself he did indicate that he has read the script and that it is quite good, well thought out as well as a great premise. He informed us that Savage’s character — Captain Ransom — was held prisoner for 15 years before escaping through a wormhole and returning 120 years back into the past, and appearing in the classic Star Trek era. According to Neill, they are going to replicate the iconic look of the ‘60s TV show.

“John really likes Star Trek and wants to more of it,” Neill told us. He went on to say that he had an obsession with Stanley Kubridk, so he was really glad that Lockwood (who was also in 2001) is in the show. “If approved we will get a full season of 13 episodes.” Apparently, Lockwood’s character, Captain Mitchell, traveled to the edge of the galaxy in the episode, Where No Man Has Gone Before, and when he returned he had not only aged, but was depowered as Star Fleet was able to reverse his godlike abilities. Needless to say, Neil couldn’t reveal too much of what was going to happen in the show, but indicated that the script is quite good as the writer (Camren T. Burton, who is a serious fan of the series) did a very good job is keeping with the Trek universe. “He didn’t need the show’s bible to write it, because he knew it, and it shows in script. There’s a lot of action in it, and not gratuitous. The action applies to the story.” Neill (who also is a huge fan of Star Trek), is very happy to be working on the movie, and said, “There is a huge volume of Trek universe to make new characters in the same universe.”

In regards to his own work, Neill stated that the creature stuff is what he likes doing best. He stated that he is self-taught and learned how to do prosthetics, eventually opening up his own SFX shop. “I built an enterprise from scraps that is a replica that is accurate to the original Enterprise which is 66 inches long.” Neill and his team also recreated the classic uniforms as well as a number of other items to look like they did in the original series. “There are a lot of books and comics that went much further than the TV show. You can do spin offs of other ships and characters,”

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Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for some 30+ years. He came of age not only watching TV, but reading comicbooks and going to the movies. Subscribe to receive regular articles and reviews about TV programs.

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