Above and beyond

Star Trek Beyond spent two weeks filming in Dubai last month
Star Trek Beyond, Analysis, Content production

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The cast and crew of Star Trek Beyond held a press conference in Dubai on September 30, offering reporters an insight into the production. Presenter Tom Urquhart posed questions before opening up the session to questions from the audience.

Q: Why are you filming outside of North America for first time?

Chernov: We came searching for the future and we found it in Dubai. The experience I had here on Mission Impossible gave me an understanding of what this city is like. We wanted to find a very vertical city. Talking to Justin we had a very strong plan about how we wanted to start this movie. We did a lot of searching around the world, and we decided that the best place to make this movie is Dubai. The city is coming to represent the future of what the frontier will look like.

Q: A city like Dubai offers a big canvas for a franchise that is dependent on tradition. Is that important for you?

Lin: Very much so, not just for Star Trek but for cinema in general. When you talk about the big budget tent-pole it’s gone much more into the CG and computer world and I felt like if we’re really going to push the boundary let’s make sure that humanity leaves textures on this movie.

Q: Doug, how about from a screenwriter’s perspective, was the city a perfect fit?

Jung: Simon and I sat down and talked about what it is we want to construct. We tried to keep in mind the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and tried to construct a story and get some themes that were very relevant to that and address them head-on with the characters, and the story will construct itself. We felt that was a good basis for us to start from and see what we could get.

Q: Simon – you’ve worked here before. Considering the traditions of Star Trek, is that something you looked to marry into the story?

Pegg: Yes, we really wanted this film to embody Star Trek as much as possible and when we were taking on the story we knew that we would be writing for the 50th anniversary. It felt like it had to embrace a lot of what is fundamental to Star Trek but also we are making a new Star Trek as well, and the film industry is forever changing and this has to be a new kind of Star Trek. So the challenge was to marry the two – the traditional Star Trek that everyone grew up watching and our Star Trek, which is much newer. This is very much represented by our presence here in Dubai.

Q: Is the future bright for the franchise?

Chernov: Oh very much so, this is not the third of three movies. We are actually going in to some new territory. Even though it will be somewhat familiar we are taking a different approach to this one. With Justin as our director we wanted to do something different, we wanted to move the franchise while still in the spirit of [Gene] Roddenberry. But with something that takes place in deep space we always want to keep it down to Earth. That’s what we’re striving for.

Q: Chris, how do you feel about being in Dubai?

Pine: Yeah, I always love discovering new places. I woke up in my room and looked out. It looks like tomorrow, it’s future-land. I’m happy to be here with all my friends and making this great film with Justin.

Q: Do experiences like this, spending time together, bind you?

Quinto: Yeah I feel like we’re all so lucky to get to travel the world the way we do and also do what we love and then on top of that do it with people we enjoy spending time with. This whole experience…we have just come from about three months in Vancouver and it felt like a summer camp, being away from home and having more time to connect to each other. Also there’s something exciting about discovering new places together.

Q: Karl, you’ve been with the franchise since the reboot. Do you feel a big responsibility to Trekkies?

Urban: What I concentrate on is doing this job and as a long-term fan of Star Trek I try not to think too much about what the fans think, because I don’t need to put any more pressure on a situation where I feel I am already putting pressure on myself and the group to get it right and to do the best job we can possibly do. I am absolutely thrilled to be here.

Q: Anton, what are your impressions of the city?

Yelchin: This is going to sound so pretentious, but as a student of architecture I am awed by this town. It is magical to me and I feel so fortunate to be here with friends.

Q: Idris, you’re the new boy to some extent. Are you looking forward to the challenges ahead?

Elba: I’ve been with these guys, who are sort of my new family, for the last three or four months. It’s been an amazing journey and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of players to work with. So the challenge, the hard part is being out the way. I have worked all over the world, I love to see how different countries approach filmmaking because I have been everywhere from Jamaica to South Africa to England and America, and so I am super excited to work here.

Q: Is this production going to have a big impact on the local industry?

Chernov: Looking back on Mission and photographing the Burj with Tom [Cruise] and it’s true, bringing movies to different regions can really help tourism, which helps filmmakers. We need cities to grow; for that to develop you need buildings and architecture, and the more that happens the more people will come to shoot. As filmmakers we always want to try to refresh because the challenges are harder and harder, everyone wants to get out there and shoot the newest…we’re always going to be at the head of the line.

Q: Are you helping the process in terms of getting new people to work on the production?

Chernov: We established an intern programme here and we had interns working on just about every department on the movie, so part of our commitment and win-win enthusiasm to come in here is to grow a new generation of filmmakers.

Q: How many extras will be working on the production in Dubai?

Chernov: We will have the largest gathering of background performers since we started shooting in Dubai. Our numbers will hit 200-225 people. It has been an ongoing thing in terms of selection, wardrobe fittings, everything you see has been built. We’ll have about 600 people working on the movie in different costumes [throughout the Dubai filming].

Q: How do you go about choosing locations?

I’d always look at our cast or look at Justin and go ‘we can’t really make it for the 50th anniversary; it can’t be the 51st anniversary. So we’d always dig deeper and find ways of getting things done because of our responsibility to one of the longest running film franchises in the world. It is really important that we put our best foot forward.

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