Exclusive: The Secrets Of Star Trek – Part Three

In the final part of our exclusive online feature, we find out about the Klingons, and the team’s feelings on the end of the film.

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Over the next three days, SciFiNow will take you on an unprecedented and completely exclusive tour of what went on behind the scenes of Star Trek, the JJ Abrams-directed reboot that has become one of this year’s most successful films, and certainly one of the most successful in the franchise.

Our reporter, Joe Nazzaro, interviewed the key figures involved in the make-up and prosthetic processes that lent the film such an incredibly distinct visual feel, and we’ve also included soem behind-the-scenes photos too. Now you can’t say that SciFiNow doesn’t treat you well.

Without further delay, we present to you the final part of The Secrets Of Star Trek, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed looking through the curtain with us over the last few days. Remember that the latest issue of SciFiNow is available from all good newsagents, priced at £4, or online at http://www.imagineshop.co.uk.

Joel Harlow (2)One of the alien races that didn’t make the film’s final cut was make-up effects artist Joel Harlow’s briefly-seen Klingons who ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor. “It’s actually a tease,” he points out, “because they’re wearing helmets throughout the entire prison planet scene, so you don’t really see their full faces. All you really see are the areas around their eyes and mouths, so I sculpted and cast a piece that was basically like a Lone Ranger piece that fit around their eyes. We punched hair into that, which gave the effect of being a Klingon without having to design the whole thing.

“What was neat was the helmets were designed with that very familiar Klingon forehead ingrained in them, and then you would see the skin area around the eyes, which would sell the fact that they were Klingons.”

Despite the various restrictions involving time and budget, the make-up team on Star Trek is still pleased with what they were able to accomplish. “I’m really happy with the final look of the Romulans,” reflects Harlow, “and I’m extremely happy with the fact that I got to apply Leonard Nimoy’s ears. I don’t know if he’s going to do it again so that may be it, so I feel very fortunate having been one of the, if not the last guys to turn him into Spock. There’s really nothing I’m not pleased with about the film. I think everything came out about as good as we could have done, even under the most perfect of conditions, so I’m very happy with it.”

“What I’m happiest about as the end result,” adds creature designer Neville Page, “is that everyone pulled their weight and as a consequence the whole work of art is consistent and pretty much every one of us can be proud to have worked with everyone else.”

“I’m happy to have collaborated with JJ again,” claims Barney Burman (whose company Proteus Make-up FX created most of the new alien characters), “and with Joel Harlow and Mindy Hall, but I’m also really grateful for the crew that I had put together, who were so willing to give so much of themselves for this film. We were recreating Star Trek, so it meant something to these people. They were just so appreciative of the old series and excited to be part of reinventing it, that that they really gave it their all and put their hearts and souls into it.”

But for Burman, the biggest personal highlight of the project may have taken place when he was called to Abrams’s trailer during his last day on set. “I went over there and he said, ‘Oh good, Barney my friend; I want to show you something!’ At first I thought, ‘What did I do?’ but he went over to his bag, pulled out an envelope in pristine condition and said, ‘Here, I want to show you this.’ It was a response to a fan letter JJ had written to my dad [make-up legend Tom Burman] from around 1981 and it said something like, ‘Thank you for your kind comments about my work and especially the work on Cat People!’  JJ had kept this fan letter response all these years, because he was such a fan of make-up and make-up FX and my dad’s work.

“I sat there reading it and got all teary-eyed and said, ‘Okay, I gotta go!’ and went outside and practically started bawling, because JJ has this way, whether it’s a comment, a handshake or whatever it is that makes you feel so good about all the work you’ve done. So yes, it was a very tight schedule and a very difficult job but it was also very rewarding to feel so appreciated from him as though you had contributed and collaborated so well.”

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