Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek: Wrath of Jon

The new Star Trek film opens today. I actually took a class on how to write for Star Trek. It didn't work. Or did it?

I watched Star Trek, the Next Generation while I was a public defender in Roswell. Yes, that Roswell. If memory serves, it appeared on Saturdays at 4 in the afternoon.  There was something ironic about watching a show about aliens in the town most famous for inviting them in.
For an hour every week, I felt like I was on a five year mission to boldly get the hell out of town....

I then moved from Roswell to Albuquerque, in the early part of my career as a lawyer. My novel, Rattlesnake Lawyer was optioned at that time by Viacom as a potential TV series, but the book was still a very, very rough draft. I was starting to think about making the jump to Hollywood and I did some research about UCLA-Extension. I saw that they had a one weekend course in the winter on Writing for Star Trek. I had this vision of going out to LA, meeting people in the course, and then getting beamed onto the a writing staff by Monday.

The course was surprisingly good. On the first day, we learned about scripts, and saw the film "Wrath of Khan." At the end we got to meet the screenwriter. He was the first screenwriter I had ever met, and was very approachable. He actually didn't know much about Star Trek, or science fiction, but was drawn to it because of the characters. Someone asked him why the final battle was between two crippled star ships and he said "Because it was cool."

The second day we did meet the executive producer of Star Trek The Next Generation. He looked like how I imagined I would look at fifty. Someone in the class circulated an email list. I deferred my dreams, surely someone from the class would call me.

No one did.

The teacher had written one episode of Next Generation, and I liked her so much that I would come out to LA in the Spring and enroll in UCLA Extension full time. I moved back to Albuquerque that summer. I would move out to LA to earn an MFA at the American Film Institute. I couldn't finish the book until I went to AFI, but that's another story.

Did Star Trek influence my writing in any way? Actually, I think I've used more of the mythology of Star Wars in my novels rather than Star Trek. Still I can honestly say that a weekend course opened my horizons in my writing.

So when I see the new film this weekend, I will think back to the young lawyer in Roswell. Beam me up, indeed...

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