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Old August 12 2011, 08:02 AM   #1528
Maurice
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Re: Whatever happened to Starship Exeter?

I heard there was discussion about The Atlantis Invaders over here, so I'm popping in to address that. As has been pointed out, the script Bixby is reviewing was thrown out when I joined the project.

Here's what my notes say about the project:

In late 2003 I stumbled across the fanfilm "Starship Exeter: The Savage Empire" produced by Jimm and Josh Johnson. Crude and clumsy as it was, I had to admire the effort put into it, and in poking around a bit more I found the Exeter website and discovered that they planned to make additional episodes. Then, I found the two draft scripts on the site...

I'm going to admit here I wasn't impressed by the scripts. There were two. "The Mighty Galvanaut" was a clumsy, awkward affair with no real point and attempts at humor that fell flat. "The Atlantis Invaders" was a more traditional action adventure story, but it had too many plot threads, too many characters, too many sets, and too many scenes. However, I liked "The Savage Empire" enough to want to pitch in for fun, and I thought that offering to help rewrite one of the scripts was the way to go.

A writing sample and some exploratory scenes convinced the brothers Johnson to let me have a go at rewriting one of the scripts, and as the plot for "The Mighty Galvanaut" was annexed to "Star Trek: New Voyages", that left "Atlantis".

It didn't take long for me to realize that cleaning up the existing script was an effort in futility. As with many stories conceived by people who don't do a lot of writing, it was a tangle of plot threads, half developed ideas, and ham fisted attempts at thematics.

I became convinced that trying to fix the story as-was would be more work than doing it from scratch and would yield only a so-so result.

So, I tossed the existing script aside and wrote an entirely new one from scratch, including only those characters and plot events that stuck in my mind as interesting or useful. I kept the basic scenario, a few of the guest characters, that the Captain would have a romance, the story about the plastic treasure chest, and that the finale would feature a dramatic space chase. I didn't keep anything else. I felt my job was to make a solid, fast paced, tightly written action adventure story around these elements, and that was it.

I also changed names and added miners named Patel, Rodriguez, Watanabe, etc. to make the future less lily-white.

The original plan was that the scenes that take place on the titular Starship Exeter would be shot during the production of the new Exeter episode titled "The Tressaurian Intersection." The rest would be shot months later in a different location. After my first draft, I decided to put my primary focus on getting the story structure figured out and the shipboard scenes "locked" so that they could be shot as planned. I intended to go back to the other scenes and do a lot of reworking and adjusting in the intervening months.

The shoot for "Tressaurian" didn't go as planned, and in order to get that episode in the can, the crew had to forego any shooting of "Atlantis".

Around this time I started a new job and had to put the entire Exeter thing on the back burner, intending to revisit it later. However, the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that my script wasn't one that should be shot. "Tressaurian" had been a tough shoot, and it was a "bottle" show (shot almost entirely on the newly built ship sets). Atlantis had scenes on the ship with the crew, interior and exterior sets for the mining colony, numerous miners and aliens, which meant more costumes and makeup. It was big, and I was convinced that there was too much story to cram into a 50 minute film. And this AFTER I'd pared back the scale of the script considerably from what had preceded my attempts.

Here's one little moment from my script:

GARROVICK (CONT'D)
You set this to maximum power. I had
it set for stun.

TR'TALIA
(slight smile)
"Stun" is not a persuasive threat.

The script has never been released or posted to a website, and while I've toyed with putting it out there, I've to date decided against it.

Hope that clarifies matters.
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