As you know the summer season has started in the DMV. This is the time where our local area conventions start to crop up. This July, Shore Leave, the longest running fan run convention is celebrating its fortieth anniversary and they have an amazing roster including William Shatner, Ming-Na Wen and Shawn Ashmore to name a few. Our next two guests on INTERVUE have a long history in the Final Frontier. They have written several books in the last twenty years including one of my personal favorites – The Star Trek Encyclopedia, Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual & Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future and they will be coming to Shore Leave on the first weekend of July. My friends, may I present to you Mike & Denise Okuda.
The first convention I like to ask is this your first Shore Leave convention?
Mike Okuda: No, it’s not actually. Shore Leave is a legendary convention. We were guests in….
Denise Okuda: 1991
M: Like she said, we had a great time but for whatever reason that come up, we have been busy.
D: but this year, we said, Let’s go! We had so much fun the last time. So we are really looking forward to it.
That’s brilliant, we are definitely looking forward to having you both here once again. One of the last projects that you both worked on was The Roddenberry Vault that was released on Blu-Ray. For those who haven’t seen The Roddenberry Vault, can you tell us about it.
D: That was a project that was all consuming but basically what happened is that many years ago Gene Roddenberry picked up footage on the cutting room floor from the Original Star Trek series. It was saved and preserved and all these decades later it was made available to us later through Rod Roddenberry. So Roddenberry Entertainment and CBS partnered to bring this amazing collection of never before seen clips interwoven into a new documentary by Roger Lay Jr. The Three of us had worked on the project together. It’s something that we are all proud of. We really think that every Star Trek fan should have it in their collection.
From what I have seen of the clips from the Vault with my colleagues, it truly an amazing documentary. I am so glad that you have brought this unseen footage to the world. I applaud you both for that.
M: Well CBS wanted to do something very special for 2016 for Star Trek’s fiftieth anniversary and when they discovered this unseen footage, they wanted to put something together so that the fans can celebrate and there are a lot of tiny moments like a deleted line or an alternate angle or an incomplete visual effect of the show that has never been seen before. Roger put it together with people who had worked with the show and getting a sense to see what it takes to make the show many years ago.
For the fans who will be coming to Shore Leave 40, what will you two be doing there?
M: We’re doing a couple of panels. In fact, we’ll be talking about our work on the show, doing graphics for Star Trek. Denise will talk about being a video supervisor.
D: We’ll also talk about the remastering of the Original Series and The Next Generation and give you a glimpse of what a challenge that was. I believe that we are also doing a book signing on Friday evening.
You have been involved in Trek in many different facets for more than a quarter of a century. What is it about Trek that drew you in and evolved into a lifelong passion?
D: Well we very much believe in the hope and optimism of Trek set forth by Roddenberry back in the early 1960’s. As each decade passes, his vision of hope and optimism and the human need to explore has captured our imagination. We have been privileged to work on different incarnations of the TV series and feature films and go on to the features of DVDs Blu-Rays. It never stops capturing our imagination.
M: The Original Star Trek is something that we both watched as kids. We vicariously traveled along with these people in such amazing adventures and then year later you have a chance to contribute to that universe as members of the production staff was pretty much a dream come true.
How much research was involved when it came to the technical manuals and the Encyclopedia?
M: The technical manual is something that I have wrote with Rick Sternbach. We were working on TNG at the time. So we were really immersed in it. We were both space geeks, so a lot of the stuff that we created came naturally. The Star Trek Encyclopedia and Chronology were completely different animals. Even though, you think you really know the show and as Star Trek fans I thought we did, suddenly you had to approach it like a research project as if you have never seen the show before because there are so many times where I said “I think Kirk had said this” and then they say “No, he didn’t say that, he said something else” and your memory banks plays with you.
D: We were very methodical as Michael said. It was like doing a research paper. We corrected all of the scripts which we had all of the scripts that aired. So we know exactly what was said on air and we called that kind of “The Gospel” and then we jump head forth into both the Encyclopedia and the Chronology to put the words down on paper that were reflected on the episodes. It turned out to be a lot of fun but my goodness, it was a lot of work.
In fact, when I hosted my sci-fi gameshow they were my reference guides to creating the questions and categories. I thank you both for making my gameshows worthwhile.
D: You’re welcome
Now, that we saw the first season of Discovery wrapped and gearing up for its sophomore year, what do we see as the future of Trek?
M: Both Denise and I are the children of the Original Series, that’s the one we loved. That’s the one that build our imaginations. Almost from the beginning, Roddenberry recognized that the show has to evolve. It has to grow with the new generation. He reinvented it for the movies and then he reinvents it again for TNG and then we reinvent for Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. Discovery is simply the latest step in the evolution. Hopefully its keeping the how fresh, hopefully its attracting new fans, hopefully it keeping the dream alive.
As children of the Original Series, who was your favorite character and what is your favorite episode?
D: The favorite episode is easy: Metamorphosis. I do not know if I have a favorite character. It changes over the years. So my favorite character might be the Enterprise itself.
M: Every time I get asked that I give a different answer. Today it’s going to be “The City on the Edge of Forever” and I would go for the Enterprise as well.
I got to ask why is the Enterprise your favorite character?
D: Its very much a character, a special character in almost every single episode. If you look at the character it has emotion, it feels, it has different moods. It carries this band of travelers as their home out into the cosmos. So, I believe it’s a character. We have had the honor and the privilege of visiting these amazing recreation of the Original Series sets in Ticonderoga New York. I highly recommend it to Star Trek fans out there to visit these sets. You’ll see why the Enterprise is a character.
I could not agree more especially since I first started with Farragut, we used those sets for the first couple of episodes and to see the evolution of those sets after we moved to SW Georgia and built our own sets. From my own personal experience, being on those sets in the uniform for an entire week, I didn’t want to leave at all.
M: The Enterprise for so many fans, including us, the Enterprise is home.
Shore Leave 40 is next weekend, July 6 – 8, 2018 at Delta Hotels Baltimore in Hunt Valley, Maryland Registration opens Friday, July 6 at 9:00 am.
Memberships are available for all three days. Go to www.shore-leave.com for more information. TRR will be on-site for exclusive coverage!