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Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise and based on the television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, who also served as its producer. It is the first installment in the Star Trek film series, and stars the cast of the original television series. In the film, set in the 2270s, a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud known as V Ger approaches Earth, destroying everything in its path. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) assumes command of the recently refitted Starship USS Enterprise, to lead it on a mission to save the planet and determine V Ger s origins.
When the original television series was canceled in 1969, Roddenberry lobbied Paramount Pictures to continue the franchise through a feature film. The success of the series in syndication convinced the studio to begin work on the film in 1975. A series of writers attempted to craft a suitably epic script, but the attempts did not satisfy Paramount, and in 1977, the project was scrapped. Instead, Paramount planned on returning the franchise to its roots, with a new television series titled Star Trek: Phase II. The box office success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, however, convinced Paramount that science fiction films other than Star Wars could do well, so the studio canceled production of Phase II and resumed its attempts at making a Star Trek film.
In March 1978, Paramount assembled the largest press conference held at the studio since the 1950s to announce that Wise would direct a $15 million film adaptation of the original television series. Filming began that August and concluded the following January. With the cancellation of Phase II, writers rushed to adapt its planned pilot episode, In Thy Image , into a film script. Constant revisions to the story and the shooting script continued to the extent of hourly script updates on shooting dates. The Enterprise was modified inside and out, costume designer Robert Fletcher provided new uniforms, and production designer Harold Michelson fabricated new sets. Jerry Goldsmith composed the film s score, beginning an association with Star Trek that would continue until 2002. When the original contractors for the optical effects proved unable to complete their tasks in time, effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull was asked to meet the film s December 1979 release date. Wise took the just-completed film to its Washington, D.C., opening, but always felt that the final theatrical version was a rough cut of the film he wanted to make.
Released in North America on December 7, 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture received mixed reviews, many of which faulted it for a lack of action scenes and over-reliance on special effects. Its final production cost ballooned to approximately $44 million, and it earned $139 million worldwide, short of studio expectations but enough for Paramount to propose a less expensive sequel. Roddenberry was forced out of creative control for the sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). In 2001, Wise oversaw a director s cut for a special DVD release of the film, with remastered audio, tightened and added scenes, and new computer-generated effects.
In the 23rd century, a Starfleet monitoring station, Epsilon Nine, detects an alien entity, hidden in a massive cloud of energy, moving through space toward Earth. The cloud easily destroys three Klingon warships and Epsilon Nine on its course. On Earth, the starship Enterprise is undergoing a major refit; its former commanding officer, James T. Kirk, has been promoted to Admiral. Starfleet Command assigns Enterprise to intercept the cloud entity, as the ship is the only one within range, requiring its new systems to be tested in transit.
Citing his experience, Kirk uses his authority to take command of the ship, angering Captain Willard Decker, who has been overseeing the refit as its new commanding officer. Testing of Enterprise s new systems goes poorly; two officers, including the ship s Vulcan science officer Sonak, are killed by a malfunctioning transporter, and improperly calibrated engines nearly destroy the ship. Kirk s unfamiliarity with the ship s new systems increases the tension between him and Decker, who has been temporarily demoted to commander and first officer. Commander Spock arrives as a replacement science officer, explaining that while on his home world undergoing a ritual to purge himself of emotion, he felt a consciousness that he believes emanates from the cloud, making him unable to complete the ritual because his human half felt an emotional connection to it.
Enterprise intercepts the energy cloud and is attacked by an alien vessel within. A probe appears on the bridge, attacks Spock, and abducts the navigator, Ilia. She is replaced by a robotic replica, sent by the entity, which calls itself V Ger , to study the carbon units on the ship. Decker is distraught over the loss of Ilia, with whom he had a romantic history, and becomes troubled as he attempts to extract information from the doppelgänger, which has Ilia s memories and feelings buried inside. Spock takes an unauthorized spacewalk to the vessel s interior and attempts a telepathic mind meld with it. In doing so, he learns that the entire vessel is V Ger, a non-biological living machine.
At the center of the massive ship, V Ger is revealed to be Voyager 6, a 20th-century Earth space probe believed lost in a black hole. The damaged probe was found by an alien race of living machines that interpreted its programming as instructions to learn all that can be learned and return that information to its creator. The machines upgraded the probe to fulfill its mission, and on its journey, the probe gathered so much knowledge that it achieved sentience. Spock discovers that V Ger lacks the ability to give itself a purpose other than its original mission; having learned everything it could on its journey home, it finds its existence meaningless. Before transmitting all its information, V Ger insists that the Creator come in person to finish the sequence. Everyone realizes humans are the Creator. Decker offers himself to V Ger; he merges with the Ilia probe and V Ger, creating a new life form that disappears into space. With Earth saved, Kirk directs Enterprise out to space for future missions.
- William Shatner as James T. Kirk, the former captain of the USS Enterprise and an Admiral at Starfleet headquarters. When asked during a March 1978 press conference about what it would be like to reprise the role, Shatner said, An actor brings to a role not only the concept of a character but his own basic personality, things that he is, and both and myself have changed over the years, to a degree at any rate, and we will bring that degree of change inadvertently to the role we recreate. : 66–71
- Leonard Nimoy as Spock, the Enterprise s half-Vulcan, half-human science officer. Nimoy had been dissatisfied with unpaid royalties from Star Trek and did not intend to reprise the role, so Spock was left out of the screenplay. Director Robert Wise, having been informed by his daughter and son-in-law that the film would not be Star Trek without Nimoy, sent Jeffrey Katzenberg to New York City to meet Nimoy. Describing Star Trek without Nimoy as buying a car without wheels, Katzenberg gave Nimoy a check to make up for his lost royalties, later recalling himself on my knees begging the actor during their meeting at a restaurant to join the film; Nimoy attended the March 1978 press conference with the rest of the returning cast. Nimoy was dissatisfied with the script, and his meeting with Katzenberg led to an agreement that the final script would need Nimoy s approval. Financial issues notwithstanding, Nimoy said he was comfortable with being identified as Spock because it had a positive impact on his fame.: 66–71
- DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy, the chief medical officer aboard the Enterprise. Kelley had reservations about the script, feeling that the characters and relationships from the series were not in place. Along with Shatner and Nimoy, Kelley lobbied for greater characterization, but their opinions were largely ignored.: 230
- James Doohan as Montgomery Scott, the Enterprise s chief engineer. Doohan created the distinctive Klingon vocabulary heard in the film. Linguist Marc Okrand later developed a fully realized Klingon language based on the actor s made-up words.
- Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov, the Enterprise s weapons officer. Koenig noted that the expected sense of camaraderie and euphoria at being assembled for screen tests at the start of the picture was nonexistent. This may be Star Trek, he wrote, but it isn t the old Star Trek. The actor was hopeful for the film, but admitted he was disappointed by his character s bit part.: 24
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, the communications officer aboard the Enterprise. Nichols noted in her autobiography that she was one of the actors most opposed to the new uniforms added for the film because the drab, unisex look wasn t Uhura .: 239
- George Takei as Hikaru Sulu, the Enterprise s helmsman. In his autobiography, Takei described the film s shooting schedule as astonishingly luxurious , but noted that frequent script rewrites during production usually favored Bill .
- Persis Khambatta as Ilia, the Deltan navigator of the Enterprise. Khambatta was originally cast in the role when The Motion Picture was a television pilot.: 66–71 She took the role despite Roddenberry warning her that she would have to shave her head completely for filming.: 4
- Stephen Collins as Willard Decker, the new captain of the Enterprise. He is temporarily demoted to Commander and First Officer when Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. He was the only actor that Robert Wise cast; Collins recalled that although every young actor in Hollywood auditioned he benefited by being completely unfamiliar with the franchise, more interested in meeting the legendary director than in the role. Others advised him after being cast that Star Trek is going to be in your life your whole life . Kelley s dressing room was next to Collins , and the older actor became his mentor for the production.: 231 Collins described filming as akin to playing with somebody else s bat, ball, and glove because he was not a part of the franchise s history. He used the feeling of being an invader to portray Decker, who is an outsider who they had to have along .
Other actors from the television series who returned included Majel Barrett as Christine Chapel, a doctor aboard the Enterprise, and Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand, formerly one of Kirk s yeomen. David Gautreaux, who had been cast as Xon in the aborted second television series, appears as Branch, the commander of the Epsilon 9 communications station.: 66–71 Mark Lenard portrays the Klingon commander in the film s opening sequence; the actor also played Spock s father, Sarek, in the television series and in later feature films.
The original Star Trek television series ran for three seasons from 1966 to 1969 on NBC. The show was never a hit with network executives, and due to low Nielsen ratings, the show was cancelled after the third season. After the show s cancellation, owner Paramount Pictures hoped to recoup their production losses by selling the syndication rights. The series went into reruns in the autumn (September/October) of 1969, and by the late 1970s had been sold in over 150 domestic and 60 international markets. The show developed a cult following, and rumors of reviving the franchise began.: 15
The series’ creator Gene Roddenberry had first proposed a Star Trek feature at the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention. The movie was to have been set before the television series, showing how the crew of the Enterprise met.: 155–158 The popularity of the syndicated Star Trek caused Paramount and Roddenberry to begin developing the film in May 1975. Roddenberry was allocated $3 to $5 million to develop a script. By June 30, he had produced what he considered an acceptable script, but studio executives disagreed. This first draft, The God Thing,: 62 featured a grounded Admiral Kirk assembling the old crew on the refitted Enterprise to clash with a godlike entity many miles across, hurtling towards Earth. The object turns out to be a super-advanced computer, the remains of a scheming race who were cast out of their dimension. Kirk wins out, the entity returns to its dimension, and the Enterprise crew resumes their voyages. The basic premise and scenes such as a transporter accident and Spock s Vulcan ritual were discarded, but later returned to the script.: 24 The film was postponed until spring (March/April) 1976 while Paramount fielded new scripts for Star Trek II (the working title) from acclaimed writers such as Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Harlan Ellison. Ellison s story had a snake-like alien race tampering with Earth s history to create a kindred race; Kirk reunites with his old crew, but they are faced with the dilemma of killing off the reptilian race in Earth s prehistory just to maintain humanity s dominance. When Ellison presented his idea, an executive suggested that Ellison read Chariots of the Gods? and include the Maya civilization into his story, which enraged the writer because he knew Maya did not exist at the dawn of time. By October 1976, Robert Silverberg had been signed to work on the screenplay along with a second writer, John D. F. Black, whose treatment featured a black hole that threatened to consume all of existence. Roddenberry teamed up with Jon Povill to write a new story that featured the Enterprise crew setting an altered universe right by time travel; like Black s idea, Paramount did not consider it epic enough.: 25
The original Star Trek cast—who had agreed to appear in the new movie, with contracts as-yet unsigned pending script approval—grew anxious about the constant delays, and pragmatically accepted other acting offers while Roddenberry worked with Paramount. The studio decided to turn the project over to the television division, reasoning that since the roots of the franchise lay in television, the writers would be able to develop the right script. A number of screenwriters offered up ideas that were summarily rejected. As Paramount executives interest in the film began to wane, Roddenberry, backed by fan letters, applied pressure to the studio.: 25 In June 1976, Paramount assigned Jerry Isenberg, a young and active producer, to be executive producer of the project, with the budget expanded to $8 million. Povill was tasked with finding more writers to develop a script. His list included Edward Anhalt, James Goldman, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Ernest Lehman, and Robert Bloch. To cap off his list, Povill put as his last recommendation Jon Povill—almost credit: Star Trek II story (with Roddenberry). Will be a big shot some day. Should be hired now while he is cheap and humble. The result was a list of 34 names, none of whom were chosen to pen the script.: 26–8 Finally, British screenwriters Chris Bryant and Allan Scott, who had penned the Donald Sutherland thriller Don t Look Now, were hired to write a script. Bryant believed he earned the screenwriting assignment because his view of Kirk resembled what Roddenberry modeled him on; one of Horatio Nelson s captains in the South Pacific, six months away from home and three months away by communication .: 28 Povill also wrote up a list of possible directors, including Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Lucas, and Robert Wise, but all were busy at the time (or unwilling to work on the small budget).: 29 Philip Kaufman signed on to direct and was given a crash course in the series. Roddenberry screened ten episodes from the original series for him, including the most representative of the show and those he considered most popular: The City on the Edge of Forever , The Devil in the Dark , Amok Time , Journey to Babel , Shore Leave , The Trouble with Tribbles , The Enemy Within , The Corbomite Maneuver , This Side of Paradise , and A Piece of the Action . Early work was promising, and by the fall of 1976, the project was building momentum. During this time, fans organized a mail campaign that flooded the White House with letters, influencing Gerald Ford to rechristen the Space Shuttle Constitution the Enterprise,: 30 and Roddenberry and most of the Star Trek cast were present for its rollout.
On October 8, 1976, Bryant and Scott delivered a 20-page treatment, Planet of the Titans, which executives Barry Diller, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner liked. In it, Kirk and his crew encounter beings they believe to be the mythical Titans and travel back millions of years in time, accidentally teaching early man to make fire. Planet of the Titans also explored the concept of the third eye. With the studio s acceptance of this treatment, Roddenberry immediately stopped work on other projects to refocus on Star Trek, and the screenwriters and Isenberg were deluged with grateful fan mail. Isenberg began scouting filming locations and hired designers and illustrators. Key among these were famed production designer Ken Adam, who said, I was approached by Gene Roddenberry and we got on like a house on fire ; he was employed to design the film. Adam hired artist Ralph McQuarrie, fresh off the yet to be released Star Wars. They worked on designs for planets, planetary and asteroid bases, a black hole shroud , a crystalline super brain , and new concepts for the Enterprise, including interiors that Adam later revisited for the film Moonraker and a flat-hulled starship design (frequently credited to McQuarrie, but which McQuarrie s own book identifies as an Adam design). McQuarrie wrote that there was no script and that much of the work was winging it . When that film folded after three months for Adam and a month and a half for McQuarrie, their concepts were shelved, although a handful of them were revisited in later productions.
The first draft of the completed script was not finished until March 1, 1977, and it was described as a script by committee and rejected by the studio a few weeks later.: 33 Bryant and Scott had been caught between Roddenberry and Kaufman s conflicting ideas of what the film should be and Paramount s indecision. Feeling it was physically impossible to produce a script that satisfied all parties, they left the project by mutual consent on March 18, 1977. We begged to be fired. Kaufman reconceived the story with Spock as the captain of his own ship and featuring Toshiro Mifune as Spock s Klingon nemesis, but on May 8 Katzenberg informed the director that the film was canceled, less than three weeks before Star Wars was released.
Phase II and restart
Barry Diller had grown concerned by the direction Star Trek had taken in Planet of the Titans, and suggested to Roddenberry that it was time to take the franchise back to its roots as a television series. Diller planned on a new Star Trek series forming the cornerstone for a new television network. Though Paramount was loath to abandon its work on the film, Roddenberry wanted to bring many of the production staff from the original series to work on the new show, titled Star Trek: Phase II.: 55
Producer Harold Livingston was assigned to find writers for new episodes, while Roddenberry prepared a writers guide briefing the uninitiated on the franchise canon. Of the original cast, only Leonard Nimoy stated he would not return. To replace Spock, Roddenberry created a logical Vulcan prodigy named Xon. Since Xon was too young to fill the role of first officer, Roddenberry developed Commander William Decker, and later added Ilia.: 40–2 The new series pilot episode In Thy Image was based on a two-page outline by Roddenberry about a NASA probe returning to Earth, having gained sentience. Alan Dean Foster wrote a treatment for the pilot, which Livingston turned into a teleplay. When the script was presented to Michael Eisner, he declared it worthy of a feature film. At the same time, the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind showed Paramount that Star Wars success at the box office could be repeated.: 155–158 On November 11, just two and a half weeks before production on Phase II was due to start, the studio announced that the television series had been canceled in favor of a new feature film. Cast and crew who had been hired that Monday were laid off by Friday, and construction came to a halt. Production was moved to April 1978 so that the necessary scripts, sets, and wardrobe could be upgraded.: 47
On March 28, 1978, Paramount assembled the largest press conference held at the studio since Cecil B. DeMille announced he was making The Ten Commandments. Eisner announced that Academy Award-winning director Robert Wise would direct a film adaptation of the television series titled Star Trek—The Motion Picture.: 51 Wise had seen only a few Star Trek episodes, so Paramount gave him about a dozen to watch. The budget was projected at $15 million. Dennis Clark (Comes a Horseman) was invited to rewrite the script and to include Spock, but he disliked Roddenberry, who demanded sole credit. Livingston returned as writer, and though he also found Roddenberry unreasonable, Wise and Katzenberg convinced him to continue rewriting the script throughout production.
The writers began to adapt In Thy Image into a film script, but it was not completed until four months after production commenced.: 57 Wise felt that the story was sound, but the action and visuals could be made more exciting. As the intended start of filming in late spring 1978 approached, it was clear a new start date was needed. Time was of the essence; Paramount was worried that their science fiction film would appear at the tail end of a cycle, now that every major studio had such a film in the works.: 64 Livingston described the writers issue with the story, calling it unworkable :
We had a marvelous antagonist, so omnipotent that for us to defeat it or even communicate with it, or have any kind of relationship with it, made the initial concept of the story false. Here s this gigantic machine that s a million years further advanced than we are. Now, how the hell can we possibly deal with this? On what level? As the story developed, everything worked until the very end. How do you resolve this thing? If humans can defeat this marvelous machine, it s really not so great, is it? Or if it really is great, will we like those humans who do defeat it? Should they defeat it? Who is the story s hero anyway? That was the problem. We experimented with all kinds of approaches…we didn t know what to do with the ending. We always ended up against a blank wall.: 66
Koenig described the state of the script at the start of filming as a three-act screenplay without a third act. Because of likely changes, actors were at first told to not memorize the last third of the script, which received constant input from actors and producers. Shatner noted, for example, that Kirk would say Mr. Sulu, take the conn , while Nimoy visited Livingston s home each night to discuss the next day s script. Scenes were rewritten so often it became necessary to note on script pages the hour of the revision. Povill credited Nimoy with the single tear scene, and the discussion of V Ger s need to evolve.
Much of the rewriting had to do with the relationships of Kirk and Spock, Decker and Ilia, and the Enterprise and V ger.: 66 Though changes were constant, the most difficult part of the script was what Shatner described as the jigsaw puzzle of the ending. A final draft of the third act was approved in late September 1978, but had it not been for a Penthouse interview where NASA director Robert Jastrow said that mechanical forms of life were likely, the ending might not have been approved at all.: 67 By March 1979, fewer than 20 pages from the original 150 in the screenplay had been retained.
The first new sets (intended for Phase II) were constructed beginning July 25, 1977. The fabrication was supervised by Joseph Jennings, an art director involved in the original television series, special-effects expert Jim Rugg, and former Trek designer Matt Jefferies, on loan as consultant from Little House on the Prairie.: 36 When the television series was cancelled and plans for a film put into place, new sets were needed for the large 70 mm film format.: 85
Wise asked Harold Michelson to be the film s production designer, and Michelson was put to work on finishing the incomplete Phase II sets. The designer began with the bridge, which had nearly been completed. Michelson first removed Chekov s new weapons station, a semicircular plastic bubble grafted onto one side of the bridge wall. The idea for Phase II was that Chekov would have looked out toward space while cross-hairs in the bubble tracked targets. Wise instead wanted Chekov s station to face the Enterprise s main viewer, a difficult request as the set was primarily circular. Production illustrator Michael Minor created a new look for the station using a flat edge in the corner of the set.: 85
The bridge ceiling was redesigned, with Michelson taking structural inspiration from a jet engine fan. Minor built a central bubble for the ceiling to give the bridge a human touch. Ostensibly, the bubble functioned as a piece of sophisticated equipment designed to inform the captain of the ship s attitude. Most of the bridge consoles, designed by Lee Cole, remained from the scrapped television series. Cole remained on the motion picture production and was responsible for much of the visual artwork created. To inform actors and series writers, Lee prepared a USS Enterprise Flight Manual as a continuity guide to control functions. It was necessary for all the main cast to be familiar with control sequences at their stations as each panel was activated by touch via heat-sensitive plates.: 85–6 The wattage of the light bulbs beneath the plastic console buttons was reduced from 25 watts to 6 watts after the generated heat began melting the controls.: 160 The seats were covered in girdle material, used because of its stretching capacity and ability to be easily dyed.: 88 For the science station, two consoles were rigged for hydraulic operation so that they could be rolled into the walls when not in use, but the system was disconnected when the crew discovered it would be easier to move them by hand.: 160
Aside from control interfaces, the bridge set was populated with monitors looping animations. Each oval monitor was a rear-projection screen on which super 8 mm and 16 mm film sequences looped for each special effect.: 86 The production acquired 42 films for this purpose from an Arlington, Virginia-based company, Stowmar Enterprises. Stowmar s footage was exhausted only a few weeks into filming, and it became clear that new monitor films would be needed faster than an outside supplier could deliver them. Cole, Minor, and another production designer, Rick Sternbach, worked together with Povill to devise faster ways of shooting new footage. Cole and Povill rented an oscilloscope for a day and filmed its distortions. Other loops came from Long Beach Hospital, the University of California at San Diego, and experimental computer labs in New Mexico. In all, over 200 pieces of monitor footage were created and cataloged into a seven-page listing.: 87
The Enterprise engine room was redesigned while keeping consistent with the theory that the interior appearance had to match the corresponding area visible in exterior views of the starship.: 87 Michelson wanted the engine room to seem vast, a difficult effect to achieve on a small sound stage. To create the illusion of depth and long visible distances, the art department staff worked on designs that would utilize forced perspective;: 88 set designer Lewis Splittgerber considered the engine room the most difficult set to realize. On film the engine room appeared hundreds of feet long, but the set was actually only 40 feet (12 m) in length. To achieve the proper look, the floor slanted upward and narrowed, while small actors three, four, and five feet in height were used as extras to give the appearance of being far from the camera. For down shots of the engineering complex, floor paintings extended the length of the warp core several stories. J.C. Backings Company created these paintings; similar backings were used to extend the length of ship hallways and the rec room set.: 89
Redesigning the Enterprise corridors was also Michelson s responsibility. Originally the corridors were of straight plywood construction reminiscent of the original series, which Roddenberry called Des Moines Holiday Inn Style . To move away from that look, Michelson created a new, bent and angular design. Roddenberry and Wise agreed with Michelson that in 300 years, lighting did not need to be overhead, so they had the lighting radiate upward from the floor. Different lighting schemes were used to simulate different decks of the ship with the same length of corridor. Aluminum panels on the walls outside Kirk s and Ilia s quarters were covered with an orange ultrasuede to represent the living area of the ship.: 89–91
The transporter had originally been developed for the television series as a matter of convenience; it would have been prohibitively expensive to show the Enterprise land on every new planet. For the redesign Michelson felt that the transporter should look and feel more powerful.: 164–7 He added a sealed control room that would protect operators from the powerful forces at work. The space between the transporter platform and the operators was filled with complex machinery, and cinematographer Richard Kline added eerie lighting for atmosphere.: 92
After the redesign of the Enterprise sets was complete, Michelson turned his attention to creating the original sets needed for the film. The recreation deck occupied an entire sound-stage, dwarfing the small room built for the planned television series; this was the largest interior in the film. The set was 24 feet (7.3 m) high, decorated with 107 pieces of custom-designed furniture, and packed with 300 people for filming. Below a large viewing screen on one end of the set was a series of art panels containing illustrations of previous ships bearing the name Enterprise. One of the ships was NASA s own Enterprise, added per Roddenberry s request:
Some fans have suggested that our new Enterprise should carry a plaque somewhere which commemorates the fact it was named after the first space shuttle launched from Earth in 1970s. This is an intriguing idea. It also has publicity advantages if properly released at the right time. It won t hurt NASA s feelings either. I ll leave it to you where you want it on the vessel.: 93–4
Another large construction task was the V ger set, referred to by the production staff as the Coliseum or the microwave wok . The set was designed and fabricated in four and a half weeks, and was filmable from all angles; parts of the set were designed to pull away for better camera access at the center. Throughout production Star Trek used 11 of Paramount s 32 sound stages, more than any other film done there at the time. To save money, construction coordinator Gene Kelley struck sets with his own crew immediately after filming, lest Paramount charge the production to have the sets dismantled. The final cost for constructing the sets ran at approximately $1.99 million (equivalent to $7,429,880.79 in 2021), not counting additional costs for Phase II fabrication.: 93–5
Props and models
The first Star Trek movie models constructed were small study models for Planet of the Titans based on designs by Adam and McQuarrie, but these flat-hulled Enterprise concepts were abandoned when that film was cancelled (although one was later used in the space-dock in the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and another later appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Best of Both Worlds ).: 56
When the Phase II series was in development, original series designer Matt Jefferies updated the Enterprise design to feature a larger saucer with twin elevators (turbo-lifts) to the bridge, a wider secondary hull, docking ports, a dedicated photon torpedo weapon assembly at the base of the ship s neck, and angled struts supporting the nacelles. The nacelles themselves were completely changed to less cylindrical shapes and designed to feature glowing grilles on the sides. Likewise, an orbiting dry-dock, space office complex, and V Ger had been designed by artist Mike Minor. At the time Phase II was cancelled a roughly five foot long model of the Enterprise was under construction by Don Loos of Brick Price Movie Miniatures, and models of the dry-dock and V Ger were under construction as well. All of these models were abandoned, unfinished (although a Brick Price Enterprise was re-purposed as the exploded Enterprise wreck in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock).
When the project became The Motion Picture, Robert Abel and Associates art director Richard Taylor wanted to completely redesign the ship, but Roddenberry insisted on the same shape as designed by Jefferies for Phase II. Taylor focused on the details, giving it a stylization he considered almost Art Deco . Concept artist Andrew Probert helped refine the redesign.: 85 The general shape and proportions of the Phase II ship were retained, but the angles, curves and details refined. Taylor took on the nacelles, and Probert the rest of the ship. Changes included radiator grill nacelle caps, a glowing deflector dish, a new impulse engine, new shapes for the aft end and hangar doors of the secondary hull, more docking ports, rounder windows, hatches, and windows for an observation lounge, recreation deck, and arboretum. Probert also replaced the Phase II ship weapons tube with a twin launcher torpedo deck and added elements such as features for a separating saucer and landing pads that were never utilized on any film featuring the model.: 155–158
Most of the models in The Motion Picture were created by Magicam, a Paramount subsidiary. The main Enterprise model was eight feet long, to a scale of 1/120th scale size, or 1 inch (2.5 cm) to 10 feet (3.0 m). It took 14 months and $150,000 to build. Instead of standard fiberglass used for older models, the new Enterprise was constructed with lightweight plastics, weighing 85 pounds (39 kg). The biggest design issue was making sure that the connective dorsal neck and twin warp nacelle struts were strong enough so that no part of the ship model would sag, bend, or quiver when the model was being moved, which was accomplished via an arc-welded aluminum skeleton. The completed model could be supported at one of five possible points as each photographic angle required. A second, 20-inch (51 cm) model of the ship was used for long shots.: 207 While the hull surface was kept smooth, it was treated with a special paint finish that made its surface appear iridescent in certain light. Transparencies of the film s sets were inserted behind some windows, and as jokes, some featured Probert, other production staff members, and Mickey Mouse.: 87 The Enterprise was revised again after Abel & Associates were dismissed.
Magicam also produced the orbital dry dock seen during the Enterprise s first appearance in the film. Measuring 4 ft × 10 ft × 6 ft (1.2 m × 3.0 m × 1.8 m), its 56 neon panels required 168,000 volts of electricity to operate, with a separate table to support the transformers; the final price for the dock setup was $200,000.: 210
The creation of V Ger caused problems for the entire production. The crew was dissatisfied with the original four-foot clay model created by the Abel group, which looked like a modernized Nemo s Nautilus submarine. Industrial designer Syd Mead was hired to visualize a new version of the mammoth craft. Mead created a machine that contained organic elements based on input from Wise, Roddenberry, and the effects leads. The final model was 68 feet (21 m) long, built from the rear forward so that the camera crews could shoot footage while the next sections were still being fabricated. The model was built out of a plethora of materials—wood, foam, macramé, Styrofoam cups, incandescent, neon and strobe lights.: 63–4
Dick Rubin handled the film s props, and set up a makeshift office in the corner of stage 9 throughout production. Rubin s philosophy as property master was that nearly every actor or extra ought to have something in their hands. As such, Rubin devised and fabricated about 350 props for the film, 55 of which were used in the San Francisco tram scene alone.: 145 Many of the props were updated designs of items previously seen in the television series, such as phasers and handheld communicators. The only prop that remained from the original television series was Uhura s wireless earpiece, which Nichols requested on the first day of shooting (and all the production crew save those who had worked on the television show had forgotten about). The new phaser was entirely self-contained, with its own circuitry, batteries, and four blinking lights. The prop came with a hefty $4000 price tag; to save money, the lights were dropped, reducing the size of the phaser by a third. A total of 15 of the devices were made for the film. The communicators were radically altered, as by the 1970s the micro-miniaturization of electronics convinced Roddenberry that the bulky handheld devices of the television series were no longer believable. A wrist-based design was decided upon, with the provision that it look far different from the watch Dick Tracy had been using since the 1930s. Two hundred communicators were fashioned, but only a few were the $3500 top models, used for close-ups of the device in action. Most of the props were made from plastic, as Rubin thought that in the future man-made materials would be used almost exclusively.: 146–8
Costumes and makeup
Roddenberry firmly believed that throwaway clothes were the future of the industry, and this idea was incorporated into the costumes of The Motion Picture. William Ware Theiss, the designer who created the original television series costumes, was too busy to work on the film. Instead Robert Fletcher, considered one of American theater s most successful costume and scenic designers, was selected to design the new uniforms, suits, and robes for the production. Fletcher eschewed man-made synthetics for natural materials, finding that these fabrics sewed better and lasted longer.: 129 As times had changed, the brightly multicolored Starfleet uniforms were revised: the miniskirts worn by women in the original series would now be considered sexist, and Wise and Fletcher deemed the colors garish and working against believability on the big screen. Fletcher s first task was to create new, less conspicuous uniforms.: 123–5
In the original series, divisions in ship assignments were denoted by shirt color; for the movie, these color codes were moved to small patches on each person s uniform. The Starfleet delta symbol was standardized and superimposed over a circle of color indicating area of service. The blue color of previous uniforms was discarded, for fear they might interfere with the blue screens used for optical effects. Three types of uniforms were fabricated: dress uniforms used for special occasions, Class A uniforms for regular duty, and Class B uniforms as an alternative. The Class A designs were double-stitched in gabardine and featured gold braid designating rank.: 123–6 Fletcher designed the Class B uniform as similar to evolved T-shirts, with shoulder boards used to indicate rank and service divisions. Each costume had the shoes built into the pant leg to further the futuristic look. An Italian shoemaker decorated by the Italian government for making Gucci shoes was tasked with creating the futuristic footwear. Combining the shoes and trousers was difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, as each shoe had to be sewn by hand after being fitted to each principal actor. There were difficulties in communication, as the shoemaker spoke limited English and occasionally confused shoe orders due to similar-sounding names. Jumpsuits, serving a more utilitarian function, were the only costumes to have pockets, and were made with a heavyweight spandex that required a special needle to puncture the thick material. A variety of field jackets, leisure wear, and spacesuits were also created; as these parts had to be designed and completed before most of the actors parts had been cast, many roles were filled by considering how well the actors would fit into existing costumes.: 127–8
For the civilians of San Francisco, Fletcher decided on a greater freedom in dress. Much of the materials for these casual clothes were found in the old storerooms at Paramount, where a large amount of unused or forgotten material lay in storage. One bolt of material had been handpicked by Cecil DeMille in 1939, and was in perfect condition. The red, black, and gold brocade was woven with real gold and silver wrapped around silk thread; the resulting costume was used for a background Betelgeusean ambassador and, at a price of $10,000 for the fabric alone, was the most expensive costume ever worn by a Hollywood extra.: 129: 177–8 Fletcher also recycled suedes from The Ten Commandments for other costumes.: 177–8 With the approval of Roddenberry, Fletcher fashioned complete backgrounds for the alien races seen in the Earth and recreation deck sequences, describing their appearances and the composition of their costumes.: 130
Fred Phillips, the original designer of Spock s Vulcan ears, served as The Motion Picture s makeup artist. He and his staff were responsible for fifty masks and makeup for the aliens seen in the film. The designs were developed by Phillips or from his sketches. In his long association with Star Trek, Phillips produced his 2,000th Spock ear during production of The Motion Picture. Each ear was made of latex and other ingredients blended together in a kitchen mixer, then baked for six hours. Though Phillips had saved the original television series casts used for making the appliances, Nimoy s ears had grown in the decade since and new molds had to be fabricated. While on the small screen the ears could be used up to four times, since nicks and tears did not show up on television, Phillips had to create around three pairs a day for Nimoy during filming.: 178–9: 134–7 The upswept Vulcan eyebrows needed to be applied hair by hair for proper detail, and it took Nimoy more than two hours to prepare for filming—twice as long as it had for television.: 138
Besides developing Vulcan ears and alien masks, Phillips and his assistant Charles Schram applied more routine makeup to the principal actors. Khambatta s head was freshly shaved each day, then given an application of makeup to reduce glare from the hot set lights. Khambatta had no qualms about shaving her head at first, but began worrying if her hair would grow back properly. Roddenberry proposed insuring Khambatta s hair after the actress voiced her concerns, believing it would be good publicity,: 139 but legal teams determined such a scheme would be very costly. Instead, Khambatta visited the Georgette Klinger Skin Care Salon in Beverly Hills, where the studio footed the bill for the recommended six facials and scalp treatments during the course of production, as well as a daily scalp treatment routine of cleansers and lotion. Collins described Khambatta as very patient and professional while her scalp was shaved and treated for up to two hours each day. Khambatta spent six months following the regimen, (her hair eventually regrew without issue, though she kept her shaven locks after production had ended.): 140
In the decade between the end of the Star Trek television series and the film, many of the futuristic technologies that appeared on the show—electronic doors that open automatically, talking computers, weapons that stun rather than kill, and personal communication devices—had become a reality. Roddenberry had insisted that the technology aboard the Enterprise be grounded in established science and scientific theories. The Motion Picture likewise received technical consultation from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as individuals such as former astronaut Rusty Schweickart and the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.: 149
The greatest amount of technical advice for the production came from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), who provided Trek fan Jesco von Puttkamer as advisor to the film. Roddenberry had known Puttkamer since 1975, when they had been introduced by a mutual friend, the assistant director of Astronautics at the Smithsonian Institution. From 1976 until the completion of the film Puttkamer provided the writers, producer, and director with memos on everything technical in the script;: 150–3 the scientist reviewed every line in the script, and was unpaid for his assistance. Science fiction films, including those of the recent past, have been woefully short of good science advice , he said. Star Wars really not science fiction. I loved it, but it s a fairy tale of princes and knights in another galaxy. The technology was improbable, the science impossible.
During the rewrite of the final scenes, the studio executives clashed with Roddenberry about the script s ending, believing that the concept of a living machine was too far-fetched. The executives consulted Asimov: if the writer decided a sentient machine was plausible, the ending could stay. Asimov loved the ending, but made one small suggestion; he felt that the use of the word wormhole was incorrect, and that the anomaly that the Enterprise found itself in would be more accurately called a temporal tunnel .: 155–6
Filming of The Motion Picture began on August 7, 1978. A few small ceremonies were performed before photography began; Roddenberry gave Wise his baseball cap, a gift from the captain of the nuclear carrier Enterprise. Wise and Roddenberry then cracked a breakaway bottle of champagne on the bridge set (with no liquid inside to damage the readied set). The scene planned was the chaotic mess aboard the Enterprise bridge as the crew readies the ship for space travel; Wise directed 15 takes into the late afternoon before he was content with the scene.: 1–3 The first day s shots used 1,650 feet (500 m) of film; 420 feet (130 m) were considered good , 1,070 feet (330 m) were judged no good , and 160 feet (49 m) were wasted; only one-and-one-eighth pages had been shot.: 7
Alex Weldon was hired to be supervisor of special effects for the film. Weldon was planning on retiring after 42 years of effects work, but his wife urged him to take on Star Trek because she thought he did not have enough to do.: 159 When Weldon was hired, many of the effects had already been started or completed by Rugg; it was up to Weldon to complete more complex and higher-budgeted effects for the motion picture. The first step of preparation involved analyzing the script in the number, duration, and type of effects. Before costs could be determined and Weldon could shop for necessary items, he and the other members of the special effects team worked out all possibilities for pulling off the effects in a convincing manner.: 160
Richard H. Kline served as the film s cinematographer. Working from sketch artist Maurice Zuberano s concepts, Wise would judge if they were on the right track. Kline and Michelson would then discuss the look they wanted (along with Weldon, if effects were involved). Each sequence was then storyboarded and left to Kline to execute. The cinematographer called his function to interpret preplanning and make it indelible on film. It s a way of everybody being on the same wavelength. Kline recalled that there was not a single easy shot to produce for the picture, as each required special consideration. The bridge, for example, was lit with a low density of light to make the console monitors display better. It was hard to frame shots so that reflections of the crew in monitors or light spilling through floor grilles were not seen in the final print.: 185–7
While Kline was concerned with lighting, print quality, and color, Bonnie Prendergast, the script supervisor, took notes that would be written up after the company had finished for the day. Prendergast s role was to ensure continuity in wardrobe, actor position, and prop placement. Any changes in dialogue or ad-libbed lines were similarly written down. Assistant director Danny McCauley was responsible for collaborating with unit production manager Phil Rawlins to finalize shooting orders and assigning extras. Rawlins, production manager Lindsley Parsons Jr., and Katzenberg were all tasked with keeping things moving as fast as possible and keeping the budget under control; every hour on stage cost the production $4000.: 188–9
Despite tight security around production, in February 1978 the head of an Orange County, California Star Trek fan group reported to the FBI that a man offered to sell plans of the film set. The seller was convicted of stealing a trade secret, fined $750, and sentenced to two years probation. Visitor s badges were created to keep track of guests, and due to the limited number were constantly checked out. Visitors included the press, fan leaders, friends of the cast and crew, and actors such as Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Robin Williams and Mel Brooks.: 178–80 Security swept cars leaving the lots for stolen items; even the principal actors were not spared this inconvenience.: 71 New West magazine in March 1979 nonetheless revealed most of the plot, including Spock s arrival on the Enterprise, V Ger s identity, and its reason for coming to Earth.
By August 9, the production was already a full day behind schedule. Despite the delays, Wise refused to shoot more than twelve hours on set, feeling he lost his edge afterwards.: 42 He was patient on set; betting pool organizers returned collected money when Wise never lost his cool throughout production.: 66–71 Koenig described working with Wise as a highlight of his career. Katzenberg called Wise the film s savior, using his experience to (as Shatner recalled) subtly make filming actor-proof . Given his unfamiliarity with the source material Wise relied on the actors, especially Shatner, to ensure that dialogue and characterizations were consistent with the show. Gautreaux was among the actors who had not worked with a chroma key before. Wise had to explain to actors where to look and how to react to things they could not see while filming.
While the bridge scenes were shot early, trouble with filming the transporter room scene delayed further work. Crew working on the transporter platform found their footwear melting on the lighted grid while shooting tests.: 232 Issues with the wormhole sequences caused further delays. The footage for the scene was filmed two ways; first, at the standard 24 frames per second, and then at the faster 48 frames; the normal footage was a back-up if the slow-motion effect produced by the faster frame speed did not turn out as planned.: 57 The shoot dragged on so long that it became a running joke for cast members to try and top each other with wormhole-related puns. The scene was finally completed on August 24, while the transporter scenes were being filmed at the same time on the same soundstage.: 68–70
The planet Vulcan setting was created using a mixture of on-location photography at Minerva Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park and set recreation.: 165 Yellowstone was selected after filming in Turkish ruins proved to be too expensive. Securing permission for filming the scenes was difficult in the middle of the summer tourist season, but the Parks Department acquiesced so long as the crew remained on the boardwalks to prevent damage to geological formations. Zuberano, who had helped select the site for the shoot, traveled to Yellowstone and returned with a number of photos. Minor also made a trip and returned to create a large painting depicting how the scene might look. In consultations with Michelson, the crew decided to use miniatures in the foreground to create the Vulcan temples, combined with the real hot springs in the background. In the film, the bottom third of the frames were composed of miniature stairs, rocks, bits of red glass and a Vulcan statue. The center of the frame contained Nimoy s shots and the park setting, while the final third of the frame was filled with a matte painting. On August 8, the day after production began at Paramount, an 11-person second unit left for Yellowstone. The sequence took three days to shoot.: 172–6
On returning to Paramount, the art department had to recreate parts of Yellowstone in a large B tank , 110 by 150 feet (34 by 46 m) long. The tank was designed to be flooded with millions of gallons of water to represent large bodies of water. Minor set up miniatures on the tank s floor before construction and made sure that the shadows that fell on Spock at Yellowstone could be properly recreated. A plywood base was built on metal platforms to create stone silhouettes, reinforced with chicken wire. Polyurethane foam was sprayed over the framework under the supervision of the Los Angeles Fire Department. The bottom part of the statue miniature was represented by a 16-foot-high (4.9 m) fiberglass foot.: 172–6 Weldon matched the effects filmed at Yellowstone using dry ice and steam machines. To recreate the appearance of the swirling eddies of water in the real Yellowstone, a combination of evaporated milk, white poster paint, and water was poured into the set s pools. The pressure of the steam channeled into the pools through hidden tubing causes enough movement in the whirlpools to duplicate the location footage.: 165 Due to the requirement that the sun be in a specific location for filming and that the environment be bright enough, production fell behind schedule when it was unseasonably cloudy for three days straight. Any further scenes to recreate Vulcan would be impossible, as the set was immediately torn down to serve as a parking lot for the remainder of the summer.: 177
The computer console explosion that causes the transporter malfunction was simulated using Brillo Pads. Weldon hid steel wool inside the console and attached an arc welder to operate by remote control when the actor pulled a wire. The welder was designed to create a spark instead of actually welding, causing the steel wool to burn and make sparks; so effective was the setup that the cast members were continually startled by the flare-ups, resulting in additional takes.: 161 Various canisters and cargo containers appear to be suspended by anti-gravity throughout the film. These effects were executed by several of Weldon s assistants. The crew built a circular track that had the same shape as the corridor and suspended the antigravity prop on four small wires that connected to the track. The wires were treated with a special acid that oxidized the metal; the reaction tarnished the wires to a dull gray that would not show up in the deep blue corridor lighting. Cargo boxes were made out of light balsa wood so that fine wires could be used as support.: 165
Captain, there is an object in the liver of the cloud. You have the guts to tell me that?!
Nimoy and Shatner ad-lib their lines in response to constant corrections; Koenig noted that we re falling further behind in our shooting schedule, but we re having fun doing it. : 84
As August ended, production continued to slip farther behind schedule. Koenig learned that rather than being released in 14 days after his scenes were completed, his last day would be on October 26—eight weeks later than expected.: 84–5 The next bridge scenes to be filmed after the wormhole sequence, Enterprise s approach to V Ger and the machine s resulting attack, were postponed for two weeks so that the special effects for the scene could be planned and implemented, and the engine room scenes could be shot.: 87 Chekov s burns sustained in V Ger s attack were difficult to film; though the incident took only minutes on film, Weldon spent hours preparing the effect. A piece of aluminum foil was placed around Koenig s arm, covered by a protective pad and then hidden by the uniform sleeve. Weldon prepared an ammonia and acetic acid solution that was touched to Koenig s sleeve, causing it to smoke. Difficulties resulted in the scene being shot ten times; it was especially uncomfortable for the actor, whose arm was slightly burned when some of the solution leaked through to his arm.: 162
Khambatta also faced difficulties during filming. She refused to appear nude as called for in the script during the Ilia probe s appearance. The producers got her to agree to wear a thin skin-colored body stocking, but she caught a cold as a result of the shower mist, created by dropping dry ice into warm water and funneling the vapors into the shower by a hidden tube. Khambatta had to leave the location repeatedly to avoid hypercapnia.: 162 One scene required the Ilia probe to slice through a steel door in the sickbay; doors made out of paper, corrugated cardboard covered in aluminum foil, and cork were tested before the proper effect was reached. The illuminated button in the hollow of the probe s throat was a 12-volt light bulb that Khambatta could turn on and off via hidden wires; the bulb s heat eventually caused a slight burn.: 163
On January 26, 1979, the film finally wrapped after 125 days. Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley delivered their final lines at 4:50 pm. Before the crew could go home, a final shot had to be filmed—the climactic fusing of Decker and V Ger. The script prescribed a heavy emphasis on lighting, with spiraling and blinding white lights. Collins was covered in tiny dabs of cotton glued to his jacket; these highlights were designed to create a body halo. Helicopter lights, 4,000-watt lamps and wind machines were used to create the effect of Decker s fusion with the living machine. The first attempts at filming the scene became a nightmare for the crew. The extreme lighting caused normally invisible dust particles in the air to be illuminated, creating the appearance that the actors were caught in a blizzard. During the retakes throughout the week the crew mopped and dusted the set constantly, and it required later technical work to eliminate the dust in the final print.: 190–2
Two weeks later, the entire cast and crew joined with studio executives for a traditional wrap party. Four hundred people attended the gathering, which spilled over into two restaurants in Beverly Hills. While much of the crew readied for post-production, Wise and Roddenberry were grateful for the opportunity to take a short vacation from the motion picture before returning to work.: 193
I wanted it to be this beautiful, epic, spectacular sequence that had no dialogue, no story, no plot, everything stops, and let the audience just love the Enterprise. I wanted everybody to buy into the beauty of space, and the beauty of their mission, and the beauty of the Enterprise itself, and just have everybody get out of their way and let that happen, which is something I really learned with Kubrick and 2001: Stop talking for a while, and let it all flow.— Douglas Trumbull, on the Kirk/Scott drydock scene
While the cast departed to work on other projects, the post-production team was tasked with finalizing the film in time for a Christmas release;: 194 the resulting work would take twice as long as the filming process had taken. Editor Todd Ramsay and assistants spent principal photography syncing film and audio tracks. The resulting rough cuts were used to formulate plans for sound effects, music, and optical effects that would be added later.
Roddenberry also provided a large amount of input, sending memos to Ramsay via Wise with ideas for editing. Ramsay tried to cut as much unnecessary footage as he could as long as the film s character and story development were not damaged.: 178–9 One of Roddenberry s ideas was to have the Vulcans speak their own language. Because the original Vulcan scenes had been photographed with actors speaking English, the language needed to lip-sync with the actor s lines.
After the groundbreaking opticals of Star Wars, The Motion Picture s producers realized the film required similarly high-quality visuals.: 202 Douglas Trumbull, a film director with an excellent reputation in Hollywood who had worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, was the first choice for director of special effects, but declined the offer. Trumbull was busy on Close Encounters, and was tired of being ignored as a director and having to churn out special effects for someone else s production; after completing the effects work, Trumbull planned on launching his own feature using a new film process. The next choice, John Dykstra, was similarly wrapped up in other projects.: 4 Post-production supervisor Paul Rabwin suggested Robert Abel s production company Robert Abel and Associates might be up to the task. The scope and size of the effects grew after the television movie became The Motion Picture. Abel and Associates bid $4 million for doing the film s effects and Paramount accepted. As new effects were added, Abel increased their bid by $750,000, and Roddenberry suggested that the effects costs and schedules be reexamined.: 202–3
Rumors surfaced about difficulties regarding the special effects. A year into the production, millions of dollars had been spent but almost no usable footage had been created;: 4 Abel and Associates was not experienced in motion picture production and the steep learning curve worried the producers. Effects artist Richard Yuricich acted as a liaison between Abel and Paramount. To speed up the work, Abel passed off miniature and matte painting tasks to Yuricich. Despite being relieved of nearly half the effects work, it became clear by early 1979 that Abel and Associates would not be able to complete the remainder on time.: 6 By then Trumbull was supervising effects, greatly reducing Abel s role. (Because of Trumbull s disinterest in only working on special effects, he reportedly received a six-figure salary and the chance to direct his own film.) Creative differences grew between Abel and Associates and the Paramount production team;: 204 Wise reportedly became angry during a viewing of Abel s completed effects, of which the studio decided only one was usable. Paramount fired Abel and Associates on February 22, 1979.
The studio had wasted $5 million and a year s worth of time with Abel and Associates, although Abel reportedly gained a new production studio filled with equipment using Paramount s money, and allegedly sold other Paramount-funded equipment. Trumbull had completed Close Encounters but his plan for a full feature had been canceled by Paramount, possibly as punishment for passing on Star Trek.: 4 With Trumbull now available, primary responsibility for The Motion Picture s optical effects passed on to him.: 204–5 Offering what Trumbull described as an almost unlimited budget , in March the studio asked Trumbull if he could get the opticals work completed by December, the release date to which Paramount was financially committed (having accepted advances from exhibitors planning on a Christmas delivery). Trumbull was confident that he could get the work done without a loss of quality despite a reputation for missing deadlines because of his perfectionism. Paramount assigned a studio executive to Trumbull to make sure he would meet the release date, and together with Yuricich the effects team rushed to finish. The effects budget climbed to $10 million.: 204–5
Trumbull recalled that Wise trusted me implicitly as a fellow director to complete the effects and fix this for him . Yuricich s previous work had been as Director of Photography for Photographic Effects on Close Encounters, and he and Trumbull reassembled the crew and equipment from the feature, adding more personnel and space. Time, not money, was the main issue; Trumbull had to deliver in nine months as many effects as in Star Wars or Close Encounters combined, which had taken years to complete.: 206 The Glencoe-based facilities the teams had used for Close Encounters were deemed insufficient, and a nearby facility was rented
|Plot||When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it.|
|Awards||Nominated for 3 Oscars, 4 wins & 20 nominations total|
|Writers||Gene Roddenberry, Harold Livingston, Alan Dean Foster|
|Stars||William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley|
|Produced by||David C. Fein,Jon Povill,Gene Roddenberry|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Cinematography by||Richard H. Kline|
|Film Editing by||Todd C. Ramsay|
|Casting By||Marvin Paige|
|Production Design by||Harold Michelson|
|Art Direction by||Leon Harris,Joseph R. Jennings,John Vallone|
|Set Decoration by||Linda DeScenna|
|Costume Design by||Robert Fletcher|
|Makeup Department||Barbara Minster,Ve Neill,Fred B. Phillips,Janna Phillips,Rick Stratton,Carlos Yeaggy,Susan A. Cabral|
|Production Management||Ridgeway Callow,Lindsley Parsons Jr.,Phil Rawlins|
|Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Kevin G. Cremin,Daniel McCauley,Douglas E. Wise,Douglas Trumbull|
|Art Department||Lee Cole,Tom Cranham,Tom Ivanjack,Jack Johnson,Eugene S. Kelley,Steven Kerlagon,Martin A. Kline,Daniel Maltese,Robert McCall,Syd Mead,Michael Minor,Don Moore,David J. Negron,Andrew Probert,Ron Resch,Richard M. Rubin,John R. Shourt,Jimmy Williams,Maurice Zuberano,Chris Courtois,Benjamin Resella,Ron Saks,Kevin Shanks,Rick Sternbach,Ed Verreaux|
|Sound Department||Richard L. Anderson,Michael Babcock,Noyan Cosarer,Dirk Dalton,Stephen Hunter Flick,Joel Goldsmith,Cecelia Hall,Sean Hanley,Alan Howarth,Gregg Landaker,Francesco Lupica,Mark A. Mangini,Benjamin Martin,Steve Maslow,Alan Robert Murray,Tom Overton,Frank Serafine,Bill Varney,Colin Waddy,George Watters II,Marty Church,Gary A. Hecker,Craig Huxley,John Roesch,Donald C. Rogers|
|Special Effects by||Martin Bresin,Ray Mattey,Darrell Pritchett,Jor Van Kline,Alex Weldon,Courtney Dane,Ted Koerner,Kevin Pike|
|Visual Effects by||Lindsay Adler,Larry Albright,Richard Alexander,Michael Backauskas,Don Baker,Charles L. Barbee,Philip Barberio,David Bartholomew,Deborah Baxter,David Beasley,Lisze Bechtold,Mat Beck,Mona Thal Benefiel,Thane Berti,Bruce Bishop,Cosmas Paul Bolger Jr.,Rob Bonchune,Al Broussard,Steve Burg,Deena Burkett,Brent Burpee,Glenn Campbell,Kathryn Campbell,Mark Cane,Merllyn Ching,Elrene Cowan,Don Cox,Chris Crump,Kris Dean,Angela Diamos,Cy Didjurgis,Daren Dochterman,Mike Donahue,Dennis Dorney,Roger Dorney,Jim Dow,Doug Drexler,Janet Dykstra,John Dykstra,Douglas Eby,Leslie Ekker,John Ellis,Robert Elswit,Charles Embrey,Jonathan Erland,Lee Ettleman,Scott Farrar,Michael L. Fink,Stephen Fog,P.J. Foley,Bob Friedstand,Joe Garlington,Ernest Garza,Bo Gehring,Bruno George,Christopher George,Pete Gerard,Rick Gilligan,John H. Gilman,Rocco Gioffre,Leora Glass,David Gold,Joyce Goldberg,Philip Golden,Phil Gonzales,Jim Goodnight,Abbot Grafton,Kris Gregg,Alan Gundelfinger,Rick Guttierez,David R. Hardberger,Alan Harding,Linda Harris,Allen Hastings,Richard O. Helmer,Jack Hinkle,Sherry Hitch,Richard E. Hollander,Robert Hollister,Thomas Hollister,John Hughes,Fred Iguchi,John James,Don Jarel,Gregory Jein,Phil Joanou,Paul D. Johnson,Ann Johnston,Proctor Jones,Michael Joyce,Nicola Kaftan,Denny Kelly,Deborah Kendall,John Kimball,Greg Kimble,Steve Klein,Mark Kline,Tom Koester,Don Kurtz,Milt Laiken,Lin Law,Michael Lawler,Deidre Le Blanc,Adam ‘Mojo’ Lebowitz,Robin Dean Leyden,Brian Longbotham,Stephen Mark,Guy Marsden,Clayton R. Marsh,Pat McClung,David McCue,Grant McCune,Russell McElhatton,Mimi McKinney,Michael McMillen,Gregory L. McMurry,Michael Douglas Middleton,Bill Millar,Alvah J. Miller,John Millerburg,Virgil Mirano,Harry Moreau,Linda Moreau,Conne Morgan,Max Morgan,David R. Morton,Josh Morton,Mike Myers,Erik Nash,Gerald Nash,Ron Nathan,Sam Nicholson,Lewis Niven,Paul Olsen,Tom Pahk,Mike Peed,Trevor Peirce,Jose Perez,Greg Pierce,John Piner,George Polkinghorne,Jerry Pooler,Stephen W. Pugh,Bob Quinn,John Ramsay Jr.,Lex Rawlins,Gary Rhodaback,James W. Riley,Christopher S. Ross,Steve Sass,Dennis Schultz,David Scott,Jonathan Seay,Dieter Seifert,Robert Shepherd,Robert Short,William Shourt,Denise Shurtleff,Russ Simpson,Dick Singleton,Steve Slocomb,Richard Smiley,Douglas Smith,Nora Jeanne Smith,David Smithson,David Sosalla,Robert Spurlock,Scott Squires,Mark Stetson,David K. Stewart,Lee Stringer,John E. Sullivan,Robert Swarthe,Michael Sweeney,Richard Taylor,John Teska,Robert C. Thomas,Rick Thompson,Ron Thornton,Don Trumbull,Douglas Trumbull,Paul Turner,Susan Turner,Patrick Van Auken,Timothy Warner,Don Webber,Cynthia Webster,Gary Weeks,Evans Wetmore,Don Wheeler,Greg Wilzbach,Vicky Witt,Diana Wooten,Hoyt Yeatman,Alison Yerxa,Matthew Yuricich,Richard Yuricich,Darryl Anka,Philo Barnhart,Jeffrey Baxter,Chris Buchinsky,Karen Culley,Chris Elliot,Glenn Erickson,Mark Freund,Sari Gennis,Bill George,Dave Gregory,Ron Gress,William Guest,David V. Lester,Dennis Michelson,Lisa Morton,John C. Moulds,Paul Olsen,Kathleen Quaife-Hodge,Michael Rivero,Ron Saks,Barry Seybert,John Sore,Zuzana Swansea,George Trimmer,Linda Webber,Marv Ystrom|
|Stunts||Bob Bralver,Bill Couch,Keith Lane Jensen,John Hugh McKnight,Kevin Appleton,Kym Washington Longino,Tom Morga|
|Camera and Electrical Department||Albert Bettcher,Jim Dickson,Michael Genne,Larry D. Howard,Bruce Logan,Robert Sordal,Mel Traxel,Charles F. Wheeler,Robert A. Wise,Bernie Abramson,Richard Debolt,Lowell Peterson,Ron Saks|
|Costume and Wardrobe Department||Jack Bear,James P. Cullen,Agnes G. Henry,Mary Etta Lang,Bob Miller|
|Editorial Department||Don Dittmar,Darren T. Holmes,Rick Mitchell,Randy D. Thornton,Paul Hamill|
|Music Department||Tom Boyd,Alexander Courage,Jerry Goldsmith,Kenneth Hall,Craig Huxley,Tommy Johnson,Francesco Lupica,Malcolm McNab,Arthur Morton,John Neal,Emil Richards,Steven L. Smith,Sally Stevens,James Thatcher,Louise Di Tullio,Alexander Courage,Carl Fortina,Ralph Grierson,The Hollywood Studio Symphony,Shelly Manne,Lionel Newman,Allen Sides,Fred Steiner|
|Script and Continuity Department||Bonnie Prendergast,Dennis Lynton Clark|
|Transportation Department||Robert D. Mayne|
|Additional Crew||Isaac Asimov,Carol Sue Byron,Boyce R. Doyle,Richard Foy,Suzanne Gordon,Tom Greene,Charles A. Ogle,Bob Peak,John Rothwell,Susan Sackett,Anita Terrian,Jesco von Puttkamer,Steven Ashley Wilson,James Doohan,Leonard Nimoy,Gene Roddenberry,Philip Weyland|
|Genres||Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi|
|Companies||Paramount Pictures, Century Associates, Robert Wise Productions|
|Keywords||alien,voyager spacecraft,transporter malfunction,u.s.s. enterprise,starship|