At the 2009 New York Comic Con, I had the pleasure of interviewing Roddenberry Productions COO, Trevor Roth. Not only was Trevor a cutie, he was a delight to talk to. For those unaware, Roddenberry Productions is the company of Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene and Majel. They are involved with a number of projects right now, all of them very cool, and one in particular is quite exciting.
It's a documentary called Trek Nation, and a preview is available after the jump, as well as the transcript of my interview with Trevor.
Q: Let's talk about Trek Nation. Is there a release date for it yet?
Roth: There's not a release date yet. It's been such a labor of love for us, and since we have such a specific picture in our minds about how we want it to turn out creatively, we really decided not to look for distribution until it was completed, so that we can get it just the way we want it. Because of that, we didn't want to be under any time restraints like we would be with a specific release date. But being that it's nearing completion now, it's definitely something that we want to come out this year.
Q: So you're almost through with editing?
Roth: We're almost through with editing, we're really happy with the current rough cut. We're very excited for people to finally enjoy it, because we think it's turning out really really well.
Q: How has the focused of it changed since you first started filming?
Roth: It's been most assuredly a process and an evolution over the time we've been working on it. Because it's been worked on over many many years, the actual impetus for Rod [Roddenberry, son of Gene and Majel] came from Trekkies, which was a great movie, but it obviously focused on a very extreme side of Trek fandom. Having been to so many conventions over the years, [Rod] realized that he had met so many people that don't fit that stereotype. He wanted the world to see that everyone that is a Star Trek fan is not necessarily like those people [in Trekkies]. It's not the whole picture. So he really wanted to show the fact that there's a tremendous breadth to Star Trek fans.
The director, Scott Colthorp, really was interested in Gene [Roddenberry] and his legacy and life. It's a really interesting, unique look at Gene Roddenberry and his work, and Star Trek and its legacy -- but it's all through the unique point of view of Rod, who was able to look at his father in a way that many people can't.
[Trek Nation has a website, but nothing substantial resides there yet.]
Q: I just discovered Gene's Journal, which you're credited as the "creator" of. What's your involvement with it?
Roth: I don't write it, but I am the creator of the concept. Gene's Journal, if you don't know, is about a young Gene. And the Gene Roddenberry that people know, who was a visionary and a genius in many ways, was actually none of those things. The fact of the matter is that he was simply abducted [by aliens] when he was a young boy, and all his adventures and the things that happened to him and his experiences were written down in his journal, which later in life all his creations come from. So it's a really fun kind of look at young Gene, and what he may have been like as a child. An inquisitive, unique, intelligent young boy. But also it's the adventures he has with these two aliens, Agent 4 and Agent 6. It allows fans of Roddenberry to enjoy a new adventure but also to recreate or reinvent the origins of their favorite characters, or dialogue, or stories. There are those references, the nods to people in the know, in each of the comics. It's so people can gain a depth to the shows they already know and love.
Q: My favorite is the "red shirt" comic.
Roth: There's lot of things like that where you can see where Gene might have come up with an idea. It's kind of a prequel to the many, many amazing ideas that Gene had. The cartoonist we have, David Reddick, was also the cartoonist for Trek Life, and he also worked for Garfield. He's the one who brings these to life twice a week on our website. He also does Rod & Barry, which is like a homage to the fans, to people like you, and the other Geektresses around the world, who love science fiction. They're really the people who have kept it around and successful for 70 years, and we wanted to pay homage to them by making the fans the main characters. Who better to comment on science fiction and be science fiction geeks than aliens?
Q: So what happens on Rod & Barry?
Roth: Basically, the supreme overlord has sent Rod and Barry, two aliens, down to Earth to scout it for annihilation. In doing so, they happen upon science fiction entertainment, and they became immediate space geeks. They're junkies. All they do is sit up in their spaceship and debate and argue and love and breathe science fiction. At the end of the day they're sort of a cross between Beavis & Butthead and Siskel & Ebert. The antics are great, they're funny, but they stay very current in regards to all the things that are happening in science fiction. [Comic Cons] are a pool for creation because all the conversations that I hear really are the fodder for new Rod & Barry strips.
Q: Are you planning on doing anything else with the webcomics?
Roth: Both of them [Gene's Journal and Rod & Barry] are going to be turned in to animations by the end of this year. The webcomics are doing really well and have been received so well, we thought that if we could let the characters breathe a little more in small online animations we can possibly get to another level with the comics that we haven't reached yet. We're very excited about giving them a new home and a new media vehicle, but still really wanted to keep it to the web.
Q: One of our readers, Mark Gonyea, submitted this question: Given Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision for the future, what's your opinion of shows that have a more cynical and dark take on the future for mankind?
Roth: Well, Battlestar Galactica is a great show, which is written by Ron Moore who was a writer for us on The Next Generation, so we love him. There's a lot of intelligence [on Battlestar]. I think where it differs from a Roddenberry show is the overall feeling of optimism and humanity. I think that our job, our mission, is to continue to create quality and valuable science fiction that has an optimistic plan to it. Many things you may see from us in the coming years will be delving in to some darker places in humanity, definitely issues that we want to deal with that have to do with the ugliness of what human beings are capable of. But the message will still be a strong belief in humanity, and the ability that human beings have to get along, to progress, and to do amazing things. I think that's very fundamental to Roddenberry. So, while I wouldn't put down other things that are out there, I think that our take is to make sure that people understand there's a light at the end of the tunnel for humanity, and that we believe in that.
Q: Any other projects for Roddenberry?
Roth: Well, we're sitting in the Archaia booth right now. Archaia is probably most famous for Mouse Guard. We are going to be launching a brand new comic with them this year. It's called "Days Missing," and you'll hear more about that as time goes on. [Roddenberry press release about it here.] It should be very unique. It should most assuredly eminate the idea of what Roddenberry is, and should speak to what we were talking about with the optimistic feeling of things. While we don't want to take away from anyone else, I think that may be missing from a lot of stuff out there today. We hope to fill the void and fulfill the promise of [positive] science fiction.