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Old January 14 2013, 04:18 PM   #5
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Re: The strong link between 70s/80s Trek literature & JJ Abrams Star T

USS Einstein wrote: View Post
[/I]At first, I didn't really understand what Orci and Kurtzman were trying to do with Star Trek, with it's Nokia product-placements...
It's a non sequitur to assume that the product placements had anything to do with the screenwriters' preferences. Paramount decided that they wanted to relaunch Star Trek as a tentpole motion picture franchise, emulating what they'd already done with another inherited Desilu property, Mission: Impossible. (The success Abrams and his team had with M:I:III was what got them the Trek gig.) That meant that the movie would have to be far more expensive to make than the previous Trek films, which had been treated by the studio more as a mid-budget property. And movie production costs today have skyrocketed to such an extent that it's impossible for a studio to make a tentpole blockbuster film without extra financing from outside sources -- whether financing partners like Spyglass Entertainment (which co-funded the 2009 movie) or corporate sponsors who agree to help underwrite the cost of the film in exchange for promotional considerations such as product placement.

So no matter who had written the film, no matter what they had wanted its worldbuilding and philosophy to be, they still would've had to include the product placements. That's not a storytelling choice, it's just a basic necessity of American motion picture production.

For that matter, there's no reason to assume the Nokia product placement was even mentioned in the script. The script may have simply said that Jim's uncle's voice came over the car's communication system. The visual and practical details of that would've been the business of the production designer in concert with the director -- and of course the studio's marketing department or somebody like that would've been responsible for arranging and coordinating the product placements. Indeed, given that the shot of the Nokia logo was in an insert shot -- a closeup of Jim's hand working the controls without his face visible -- it could've been shot separately toward the end of the production, or even as a pickup shot in post-production, and cut into the scene. Or maybe they did a shot of a hand working a blank panel and added the text later as a digital effect. The screenwriters and the people who shot the initial scene may not even have known whether there'd be a product placement there or what company it would've been for.

Also, just in general, it's an error to assume that the credited screenwriters of a film are the top decision-makers about its content. It's actually the director and producer of a feature film who have the final say; the screenwriters are working to their instructions. True, since the Bad Robot team comes from television, writers like Kurtzman & Orci have more status and influence in the production there than they would've had on something like the Transformers movies they wrote; and because of the timing of the writers' strike, Abrams wasn't able to rewrite the screenplay during production to the extent that he normally would have. But it was still Abrams, as the director and producer, who had the final say. He's the "showrunner" of the Trek movies, just like he was the showrunner of Alias or Felicity.

But, I think I understand their direction better now: They are trying to bring the Federation back to being the smaller, most intimate alliance seen in TOS, TAS, late ENT and the early books (like the 1989 reference work 'Worlds of the Federation', and Franz Joseph's ship designs from the 1973 'Star Trek Blueprints') - as opposed to this more mono-cultural post-First Contact Federation that stretches 8,000 light years, where travel between worlds has become mundane. Books like 'Cadet Kirk', 'Spock's World', 'Best Destiny', etc, seem to have heavily influenced it.
I think they're mainly just trying to portray a future that's similar enough to the present to be relatable to the casual moviegoer.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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