Star Trek: Discovery – Production Has Started
Today is January 24th 2017 and that can mean only one thing – Star Trek: Discovery begins filming today!
According to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees in Toronto, production on Green Harvest starts January 24th (they’ve since removed the details from public view, but you can see our screen grab below). It then wraps up on September 7th, 2017. In case you don’t already know, “Green Harvest” is the code name for Star Trek Discovery. Science fiction fans may find the name familiar. “Blue Harvest” was the fake name given to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi during its filming.
Show Has Had Setbacks
Making it to production has been a long road; even iffy. Star Trek fans that have been following closely will already know that Discovery has been through more than a few setbacks.
Originally, Bryan Fuller was slated to be the show runner. In fact, Fuller penned the first season story arc for the crew of the USS Discovery. He was also involved in helping write at least the first two or three episodes of Star Trek Discovery. However in late 2016 Fuller decided to leave the series due to time constraints imposed by his prior commitments. He’s currently producing American Gods and Hannibal. As a result, Star Trek Discovery, initially slated to air in January 2017, was delayed to May 2017. Then, more recently, CBS announced that they no longer have a launch date for the series. It’s still expected to happen in 2017 but there’s no revised date being provided. Our guess is that it’ll happen in the fall.
Currently, Trek newcomers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts will oversee the show with the original writing and producing team. Fuller is still credited with creating the series as he had already established the premise and direction of the show.
Berg and Harberts have already worked on numerous productions together. Star Trek Discovery will be their biggest yet. It has been widely reported that Discovery‘s budget is in the range of $6-$7 million per episode. That’s a significantly larger budget than any other preceding Star Trek series. Up to now the most expensive series was Star Trek: Enterprise, at about $3 million per episode. That said, Star Trek Discovery has reportedly already made a profit on paper. That’s mostly thanks to Netflix who paid for the rights to carry the show in 188 countries.
All of this bodes well for the series making it to at least a second season. Or if everything goes really well, maybe we’ll end up with a full-run show. The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager all ran for 7 seasons each.
Star Trek Discovery Breaks New Ground
When Discovery starts shooting today it’s set to break new ground within the Star Trek franchise. It’ll also set a bunch of new firsts. Rather than focus around the Captain (or Commander-cum-Captain in DS9’s case), the show will focus more on “lower deck” crew of the USS Discovery.
Over the past few months, there have been numerous casting announcements. We’ve learned that Lt. Commander Rainsford (played by Sonequa Martin-Green) will be the series lead character. That’s akin to Lt. Commander Data in early seasons of The Next Generation being that show’s leading character. While individual episodes of TNG did revolve around Data, the series itself followed Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise. Sonequa will also be the first woman of colour in the star role of any Star Trek series.
Additionally, we know that Doug Jones will be playing Lt. Saru. Saru is a science officer from an alien species previously unseen in Star Trek. Then we have Anthony Rapp staring as Lt. Stamets, also a science officer, specializing in Astromycology (basically space fungus). Televised Star Trek will finally gets its first openly gay character in Lt. Stamets (Sulu was retroactively made gay in the movie Star Trek Beyond). Also in Star Trek Discovery is Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou. Her character breaks with the tradition of focusing on one ship (or station) and one crew. Georgiou is Captain of the USS Shenzhou, not the USS Discovery. She’s also the first captain of Asian ancestry in any of the tv shows. (Sulu got his captaincy in the movies, well after The Original Series aired)
Besides members of Starfleet, we also know a bit about a few other characters. Chris Obi plays T’Kuvma, leader of the Klingon Empire, whose desire is a union of all the Klingon Houses. Others include Shazad Latif who will play Kol, protege to T’Kuvma, and Mary Chieffo, playing L’Rell, Battle Deck Commander. In case it’s not obvious by their character names, those last two are also Klingons. Last week we also learned James Frain recently joined the cast, playing Sarek, Spock’s father. Sarek has become a fan favorite with many Trekkies and Trekkers across two series and multiple movies.
Unfortunately we still don’t know who the USS Discovery’s captain will be, nor do we know if that’s even important. With the way the series is shaping up, it’s possible that character will be a recurring role, not a primary cast member.
Now Filming in Toronto
Now that we’ve covered some of the pre-production history and learned a bit about the characters, lets get back to the point of this article.
Filming of Star Trek Discovery is taking place starting today at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, making it the first series to shoot outside of California. That means away missions could possibly take on a Northern Ontario topography instead of their typical Californian. Assuming, of course, that away missions aren’t mostly filmed in “caves” – a common TNG, DS9 and VOY recurring and money-saving scheme of set design. We reached out to Discovery location scout crew, but were told no comment could be provided at this time.
Filming in Toronto could also mean that Star Trek Discovery‘s budget goes further given that many productions get local tax breaks in that city.
Pinewood Studios Toronto is a very new facility, boasting the largest purpose-build sound stage in North America, at some 46,000 sq.ft. It provides all of the latest in technology to assist with expediting the production process. It’s unclear if Discovery will be using the 46k sq.ft sound stage, or one of the other large stages at Pinewoods Toronto.
What Happens Today During Production?
So what can we expect to happen today with filming starting on Star Trek Discovery? Well, we’re not exactly sure, but we can make some guesses.
It’s likely the cast will have a chance to run through some lines on camera. Chris Obi has made a few video posts that indicate he, and possibly other Discovery cast members, have already spent time together reading lines. They may also spend a bit of time, being as the cast is now together, to do some on-set promotional photos. It’s likely makeup tests have already happened, but given the late additions of some cast members there may still be some tests happening today.
Perhaps someone as-yet unnamed will even get to sit in a completed captain’s chair – the one pictured above – commanding their crew. But whatever happens today, we know that Star Trek: Discovery is definitely happening, and we’ll soon have some new Trek on TV soon.