Now, THIS is a cool idea…just till you hear it!!!
But first, I need to update you on where my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE stands at the moment. As I mentioned in my previous Interlude Confidential, we’re nearly finished with principal photography (shooting the live action scenes) plus creating the VFX shots and voice-overs…and have recently started assembling the “puzzle pieces” into a rough cut.
JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX warned me not to expect too much “excitement” from the initial rough cut. It’s also known as a “wide” cut because the takes are purposefully cut to be a little longer (meaning they have a bit more at the beginning and end of the lines). Later on, the wide cut is “tightened” into shorter takes as the timing and pacing of the scenes are refined.
Also, there’s a lot missing from a rough cut. The music isn’t there, for one thing, and that will eventually add a lot of excitement and richness. But right now, it’s all just people speaking their lines on an otherwise quiet set—no red alert klaxon, no explosion sounds, not even the pressing of buttons and the beeps they make. As they said, don’t expect much yet…and I didn’t.
Instead, I used my imagination to fill in what was missing. As I watched the rough cut, I mentally added in the explosions, the red alert, the music, and the camera shake. And in my head, it was MUCH more exciting! But even in my mind’s eye (or rather, ear), it felt like something was still missing.
And almost immediately I knew exactly what it was!
When I started telling Victoria and Josh about my suggestion during our next production meeting, it turned out that Victoria had the exact same idea! And since they’re both actual industry professionals, if I think of something that they’ve thought of, too, then I know we’re in good shape.
So what’s this great idea already??? You’ve been so patient, let me tell you…
The thing that was missing from our battle scenes was—drum roll, please—BRIDGE CHATTER!
Remember how, in TOS, when the Enterprise would be at red alert, you’d often hear a cacophony of voices calling up to the bridge from the lower decks? Most of it was unintelligible background chatter because the director didn’t want to distract from the main dialog. But that “bridge chatter” was an essential part of conveying the fact that this was a huge starship filled with battle-tested crew members all doing their jobs and keeping their heads during red alert.
All too often in Star Trek fan films, there isn’t any bridge chatter, despite there being countless battle scenes across hundreds (yep hundreds!) of fan productions. And it’s totally understandable. To do bridge chatter properly, you need a large number of different voices so it doesn’t sound like the same two or three people saying all the lines. And those voices can’t (or shouldn’t) be recognizable as any of the main cast either.
Victoria even took my idea one step further. Our sickbay scene focuses primarily on one medical bed where Ramirez has been injured—and thanks to Victoria’s make-up skills, the wounded admiral looks amazing! (And no, you can’t see him yet.) There’s Ramirez, a doctor, and an orderly. But the USS Ares has been taking a pounding from the Klingons, and sickbay would obviously be filled with emergency medical personnel treating wounded crew members. How do we convey that without being able to actually show it? You guessed it: sickbay chatter!
Of course, the challenge for us was the same as for other fan films: how do we find enough people to do chatter voice-overs who aren’t already in our cast? Then it hit me.
I reached out to the many, many fan film show-runners whom I’ve interviewed over the years! Ultimately, I came up with a list of 25 people on three continents (plus a dear friend of mine who does voice-over and desperately wanted to be in Interlude, but I didn’t have a role for her…but now I do).
And as of right now, all but three of them have gotten back in touch with with interest in participating, and half a dozen have already recorded their lines. Some have their own sound equipment, while others I’ve simply recorded over the phone the same way I do my audio interviews.
I wrote 36 separate items for people to say, things like:
- “Reading a 12% drop in antimatter intake valve 3.
- “Engineering, can you confirm?”
- “Rerouting power to atmospheric containment.”
- “Bridge, requesting emergency assistance to Deck 7, section A-2.”
- “Life support systems damaged, repairs underway.”
- “Casualties coming in too fast. We need to triage.”
There’s a combination of short and longer sentences for a variety of chatter. (One of the lines is so long and techno-babbly that most people are struggling to get it right…but they’re sure determined to!) Two-thirds of the lines are intended for the bridge chatter, and the others are for sickbay. The people reading are a combination of male and female, although admittedly, there are way more male show-runners in Trek fan films than female ones, so I did cast a slightly wider net to get more women involved.
When all of the readings are completed, I am going to combine them all into downloadable MP3 files for any fan filmmaker to use in their films (all the participants are on board with that plan, by the way). All of the voice-0ver files will be full readings, meaning that each fan film can mix-and-match who says which line. In that way, no two fan films would likely ever have the same combination of background chatter!
Sounds pretty cool, huh?