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Interview: Sebastian Prooth

"Looking back to look forward"


Sebastian Prooth

Sebastian Prooth posing at the back of the bridge of the Enterprise D during a tour of Star Trek: Experience.

Sebastian Prooth

Two days before the launch of Star Trek: The Continuing Mission's pilot episode, "Ghost Ship," co-executive producer Sebastian Prooth talked about how the show came together and where it was going, delving into the psyche of his captain, Paul Edwards (played by Tim Renshaw), and dropping a few hints about the story and character surprises lying in wait in future installments.

MBW: You're an experienced podcaster, but this is audio drama. Did you have any idea going in just how difficult this would be?

Sebastian Prooth: The thing is, it's just like doing a feature film, really -- the only difference is we're not actually going somewhere different to do it. All the preproduction and postproduction is all very similar. So, as I had done a feature before this, I knew exactly what I was getting into.

Andy, on the other hand, didn't realize it was going to get quite as big. I said to him after a few months of working on it, "That's what you get when you work with me, and I don't do small stuff -- that's why we're doing this so big." And he said, "Oh, I'm not complaining."

What's been your biggest headache in translating a basic story idea into a half hour of actual audio?

The biggest problem with it is finding the time to write it down. Because we have plenty of ideas. We have a whole cast of writers and producers who are actors as well. So we're having all these ideas coming at us all the time. It's all about getting the idea into something that can be read by someone else and interpreted -- so that requires a script, of course, and a script is something that takes time to create.

Interesting -- I would have thought that the problems would be on the production end. But you need something to produce.

Exactly. When Andy and I started talking about doing Star Trek, we had a script a few weeks later that we sort of started working with the cast. And we had it recorded within a few weeks. All of this has been postproduction.

Do you feel like you and Andy started out doing this more for yourselves as a sort of fun challenge, or more to create new content for the Trek community?

There's two sides to that coin. There's the side where I want to build my own personal experience. I want to produce television, and this is a step in the right direction -- it opens doors, makes contact with different media, people will see what we can do.

There's also the side of, we're filling in the gap of history in Star Trek from where we've never been before, to use a cliche. We don't know what happened before Picard and after Kirk -- there's sort of a gray area in there. And that's where we're existing.

So we're able to create beginnings to things that were finished in Star Trek: The Next Generation. For example, the beginning of the Cardassian War that's referred to throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation. We're going to be in that.

Have you looked to any of the novels and noncanonical published material that deals with some of that gap?

Well, one of the things I have to remind people of is that I was not very into Star Trek for quite a while before I started doing the series. I had left that universe, I was doing other things. So when Andy came to me and said, "Do you want to do Star Trek?", I said "Yes," and so I had start reeducating myself, go through a remedial education about Star Trek. One of the things I had to do was read up on all the different empires and stuff; and I read about it on a website called Memory Alpha, and that really focuses on stuff that was on the television and in the movies, not so much stuff that was in books and other stuff that was not produced by Paramount.

At the risk of sounding head-in-the-clouds, I decided to ignore everything that wasn't television or film -- I decided to ignore anything that anyone had created other than what Paramount had done, and work from what they had done. Because in case they might become interested in using our work, that we wouldn't have to worry about licensing from anybody else's work or books or private films or whatever. We would just have our material based on their material, and we would be working with them anyway.

You said in another interview that Trek had to change in order to survive. What do you mean by that, and how is Continuing Mission doing that?

The way that Star Trek has to change in order to survive is the same way that everything has to change. People have to have change in their lives in order to grow. If we remain similar or we don't do anything we're referred to as people who are stuck in the past. So if we make a show that is stuck in the past, we're not making a show that is real and relevant in 2007.

And the things that make something real and relevant in 2007 are problems that you can watch on television today. For example, Battlestar Galactica. They take modern problems that are today's problems. Not stuff from the Sixties like the Russians versus the Americans and the stuff in Star Trek like that. So what we're doing is we're finding the new issues and we're going to present those rather than trying to rehash what's been done before.

And I'm not dissing what they have done before, because they have done such an incredible job of remolding the modern times of the day. For example, Star Trek in 1990 did a story about terrorism that was based on the IRA in Ireland ["The High Ground" (TNG)]. And that was completely a convention that people recognized, and knew what they were doing. So what we want to do, without being blatantly obvious -- Andy and I have already talked about doing a story that dealt with the Montana going to a planet and deal with the Iraq War, things like that that are real and relevant now.

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