Last week I had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming release of Star Trek: The Next Generation season one on Blu-ray, with filmmaker and self-confessed "Star Trek nut" Robert Meyer-Burnett who has produced the new feature length documentary Star Date Revisited, along with more additional bonus features being seen for the very first time.
Robert Meyer-Burnett wrote and directed the 1999 comedy Free Enterprise, in addition to working on the Las Vegas Star Trek Experience attraction. Burnett has produced feature length documentaries for the 20th anniversary Tron DVD, Superman Returns and produced extra features for acclaimed DVD and Blu-ray sets such as Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions, Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dinosaur, Spider-Man and X-Men, to name just a few.
In addition to his work on the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-rays, Burnett has recently directed and edited numerous episodes of the Cinemax series Femme Fatales.
TT: Thanks so much for joining us today at TweakTown to discuss the upcoming release of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray.
I'm very honored to be here.
TT: You're a long term Star Trek fan and well known in the community for your Trek inspired feature Free Enterprise. How did you come about to produce the supplemental materials for The Next Generation on Blu-ray?
Well, it is sort of interesting; I've been working out of Garry Goddard's offices. Now Garry Goddard directed the 1987 movie Masters of the Universe and he also created the 80 million dollar Star Trek Experience that use to be in Las Vegas. I had edited all of the videos that you saw when you were in that attraction, there were various Star Trek videos being played and I was hired to do that. This was in 1996 and 1997. Well I've stayed friends with Garry and I was editing a feature film, here in his office, called My Eleventh, that hasn't come out that's executive produced by Bryan Singer, written by Edmund Entin and it was directed by Gary Entin, two friends of mine and in this office there was another guy named Roger Lay Jr. who was producing the 25th anniversary Captain Power and The Soldiers of the Future DVD, if anyone remembers that show from 1987, and Garry Goddard created that show. So I was working on a feature film and Roger was doing Captain Power and he was also making another documentary and a friend of his happened to be working, she's an executive, her name is Ana Barredo, she's an executive at CBS Home Entertainment. She started talking to us about the restoration of Star Trek: The Next Generation, they had spent years trying to figure out how they were going to do this. Were they going to up-res it from the original NTSC video tapes? I mean the idea that they would go back and have to re-scan the whole video series and basically take it through post-production was a crazy idea and no one wanted to spend that money to do it, but then, luckily, they decided to do just that because it's Star Trek and an important jewel in the CBS crown. And when that happened we had suggested "well why don't we do special features since Roger and I are both fanatical Star Trek fans and why don't we just team up and work on these special features" and they let us [laughs].
They basically were going to port over all the original VAM (editor: Value Added Material) that had been done for the previous series set and were like "no, no!" because we were dissatisfied"¦ I've always believed that all the VAM that's ever been done for Star Trek is very EPK'ish, it's very publicity orientated and it doesn't get into the core of what made the show good and it's not asking the questions that fans have wanted to know the answers to.
Basically Roger and I have always felt like all the DVD material that I have ever done and the DVD material that Roger is interested in are more thoughtful pieces, we figured you've bought this material; you already know the show, and also the actors that work on things, believe it or not, they don't know much about, if you were to ask the actors that worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation about the Star Trek universe and how it exists in our imagination, if you ask them about the geo politics between Romulus and Vulcan; they're not going to know. They just don't know. They are actors and their job is to show up and they read their lines and they go home, but the way that the living, breathing, Star Trek universe exists in fans minds is that it's a place, it might only exist in our imagination, but it's real man! It's real and we were much more interested in talking to these people about what the experience of making this show was like. Who are you as a person? Like Patrick Stewart: where were you in your career when you got this, now that it became an icon and you Captain Picard now lives on in the cultural zeitgeist, what's that like for you, like as a person? I think it's not like "So tell us about the character of Captain Picard". You've got to ask questions about what is it like for the people who are involved in making this stuff, what's it like for them as artists and them as professionals and not "so tell us about those wacky moments on the set?" I mean, who cares? You know, and that's our approach to the VAM was that we wanted to do a thoughtful, interesting look at what went in to create this show on every level, whether it was the visual effects, the screen plays, the acting and so on. I think that is what we've been trying to do and luckily CBS home entertainment, within reason, allowed us do this.