In a new multi-part interview, TrekCore talks to Roger Lay, Jr. who is producing the bonus features on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise‘s new Blu-Ray releases. Roger was keen to discuss the new found appreciation he has for Enterprise after being involved so closely in the new Season 1 Blu-Ray release and spending time with both the staff and actors who worked on the show.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Enterprise Season 1 Blu-Ray Interview, Part 3
Interviewed by Adam Walker for TrekCore.com
TrekCore: Talk to us a little bit about the episode trailers. A lot of fans are disappointed that you weren’t able to put them on the set. Tell us a bit about the condition in which you found them.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Well, we didn’t have a full set. Rather than have an incomplete set – and knowing that you can just go on StarTrek.com, look up the episode in the database and the trailer is there – we felt, let’s just include all these additional season trailers and syndication trailers that we found; hopefully the fans will forgive us for not having the episodic ones. Again, it’s not like we’re not looking for them; we’ll keep looking and see what we can do – but right now, we just didn’t have a complete set by the time we needed to go to authoring. But again, you look at the complete package and there is so much stuff there, there’s all new VAM; a feature-length documentary; a feature-length conversation piece; behind-the-scenes things that have never been seen before.
There’s one that I’m really excited about; I have to tell you about this one, Adam! Back in 2001, during Season One, Barry Kibrick, who has a show here on the PBS affiliate called “Between the Lines”; he was putting together a show called “On the Set”. The idea was that he would go to a different TV set every week, and he would pick a scene or a sequence from that week’s episode and he would dissect it – he would show you how those two minutes or ninety seconds of screen time came together, from every aspect, every department; from the writing room, to filming on stage, editing, to effects work, scoring – everything.
He spent a week on the Enterprise set, and before that, he spent a week in the writing room with Brannon and Mike [Sussman] and Andre [Bormanis] and Phyllis [Strong] as they were writing and rewriting the episode. It was for the episode “Vox Sola“, which was a very interesting one production-wise since you had that organic thing growing and the actors hanging from it, and a lot of slimy goo – so he spent a week during the filming of “Vox Sola” following Roxann Dawson around as she directed the episode and its great footage. He put together a thirty-minute piece called “On the Set – Star Trek: Enterprise“, which never saw the light of day. No one saw it. They showed it to Brannon and to John Wentworth at CBS Television publicity – because he helped set up the whole thing for Barry and his crew to film there. Barry made this pilot but it didn’t get picked up so he just kind of put it away.
Brannon – we were having dinner one night – he tells me, “You have to find this thing. I saw it once; it’s got the best behind-the-scenes footage, and the writing staff working on the story, and you see how everything comes together in the end.” So I contacted Barry – fortunately, he had the master – we went to CBS so that the team at CBS legal could clear it, and they’ve licensed it… so it’s going to be on the Blu-ray! It’s a fascinating – I will tell you this, and I’ve seen hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes footage in my career – this is the most insightful footage ever, in terms of painting a very clear picture of what it takes to create television. Especially Star Trek, which has some very specific parameters. All the usual suspects are in it – Mike Westmore, Mike and Denise Okuda, Dan Curry, Rick, Brannon, everyone. You see the making of an episode from every angle, and it’s amazing. I’m so happy we were able to clear it and include it – and find it, because no one had it! Even Brannon didn’t have it, he’s like, “I don’t have it!” Rick Berman didn’t have it, John Wentworth at CBS Television didn’t have it; no one had it, because the show never aired.
Oh, Roxann Dawson had a copy! And she let me borrow her viewing copy; She was kind enough to have it messengered over to my office, but it was a VHS tape. Fortunately, Barry and his producing partner had the master file and we were able to get it. It’s in great shape, and it’ll be on the Season One Blu-ray set, on the same disc as “Vox Sola“.
‘On the Set’ provides a wonderfully detailed look at the filming of “Vox Sola“, an episode directed by Star Trek Voyager‘s very own Roxann Dawson.
TrekCore: That’s incredible – it’s buried away in the press release, I’m just looking now…
Roger Lay, Jr.: It’s buried away because the press release went out before I had written up the description of it, so they didn’t include it. The description will tell you everything I’ve just told you now, and I’m as excited about it as any of the pieces I produced. I’m usually more excited about the ones I produce, but this one – it offers something that I could never do. I don’t have the ability to travel back in time and show up with my crew on the set to document this the way Barry was able to do. Barry and Scott, his partner, did it brilliantly and they’ve been very helpful with getting us all the elements we’ve needed. I know it’s buried in the press release, but we made sure it’s on the same disc as “Vox Sola“, so you watch the episode and then you watch the piece right after – I really urge fans to watch it. It’s some of the best behind-the-scenes footage ever on Star Trek.
TrekCore: From the sounds of it, you are a lot more involved this time – compared to Next Generation – in the authoring and the structure of the Blu-ray sets.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, I’m going to Giant interactive almost every couple of days, where the discs are being authored, and I’m laying everything out from the beginning. In the beginning, I think, as time has gone on, I’ve become more involved in every aspect – even from helping out when they’re writing the press releases, to figuring out what’s going to go on each disc. Ken has identified that I know the brand really well, I understand what needs to happen and he can just give me all these tasks. Even the packaging – before it had to go to final [production], Ken and I were on the phone, changing the copy on it. Changing the images. on Enterprise, I’m involved in everything. On TNG, starting with Season Three, even packaging I was able to voice my thoughts on, with Ken and the people in charge of that. Ken recognizes that that I know the brand really well – from conceptualizing it to the final product, I’m involved in all of it.
TrekCore: Talking a little bit about the deleted scenes and the bloopers that were on the DVDs – is that all that exists, and if there’s more, are you able to get at it?
Roger Lay, Jr.: That’s all we could find for Season One. We’re pulling a bunch of stuff – we just pulled like sixteen boxes of Enterprise stuff for further seasons that we’re still going through.
Oh, and another thing I just found recently which is really cool – to answer your question, in a way, not just related to bloopers but all this other great stuff that’s out there – you know that in Season Four, they changed over from 35MM to high-def? I found Marvin Rush’s camera tests – all the HD camera tests he did, before they decided to go with high-def. Hopefully we can do something with that down the road for year four. I mention that so you know we’re finding stuff every day.
There’s someone I need to mention – Angelo Dante, who we call the ‘VAM Man’ at CBS – I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him…
TrekCore: He’s like an urban legend now, in terms of all this stuff! He found the Nagilum tests, I believe.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, he did – he finds all this stuff. Another really cool piece that I found, thanks to Angelo – with him, we went through all these TNG boxes not long ago and found the CGI tests for the show – do you know the story about those tests prior to starting production on season one of TNG–
TrekCore: Rob was telling me about that, the original CGI tests that they did for Next Gen.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah. We still haven’t figured out how we’re going to use it; it might be an Easter egg.
TrekCore: Just how bad are they, Roger? Tell us!
Roger Lay, Jr.: Oh, they’re horrific! It’s like you’re playing, you know, Star Trek: Judgement Rights on your PC! Or, remember the twenty-fifth anniversary game? I mean, it’s not as bad – I’m not going to say it’s as bad, but it’s kind of below Playstation 1 cutaway scenes quality. You know what I mean? That kind of resolution. Like 3DO – remember the old Panasonic 3DO, or the Sega CD, when they would have the CGI stuff in the games? It’s kind of like that – but it’s an interesting piece of Star Trek history. So we have that, and we’re trying to figure out how to use that somehow in later seasons.
But I’ll tell Angelo, “Let’s find this, let’s look for this.” He will make it happen. He knows where everything is, he’s just amazing. He’ll call me up, and he’ll go, “I have sixteen boxes here waiting for you!” And we’ll go at it!
TrekCore: How does this stuff exist? I know that the reels of film for The Next Generation were kept in this big salt mine – how is the stuff that Angelo is finding existing? Where is it?
Roger Lay, Jr.: A lot of it was in the same underground storage facility as the episode negs. It’s all in these boxes, and each box has, sometimes film elements; sometimes tape elements, a lot of this stuff is on tape, obviously. The great thing about it is that every box has an inventory list. Everything was catalogued really nicely on Star Trek. A lot of shows are not catalogued as nicely, so it’s more difficult to find elements. With TNG, everything was… I mean, you’ve got to give it to Rick’s people and Wendy Neuss, or whoever was in charge of vaulting all that stuff after they completed post. It was probably Wendy – everything was so really, carefully stored and catalogued; it makes it really easy.
With Enterprise, there’s a lot of tapes – we pulled out these sixteen boxes and found a ton of tapes. Everything from sales presentations to camera tests, early effects tests – we have a lot of stuff. Some of that stuff I just try and sprinkle into the body of the documentaries as B-roll. We’re making our way through all of it.
Paramount archived a huge amount of material for the different Star Trek shows. Roger and Robert Meyer Burnett had to sort through sixteen boxes worth of tapes while preparing material for the new Blu-Rays.
TrekCore: Are you ever left wishing that you had more discs on the Blu-ray sets?
Roger Lay, Jr.: I am! Not only more discs, but more time. It’s not like I go, “Ah, man, I don’t have this, I don’t have that…” I have everything; it’s just that I wish I didn’t have to work eighteen-hour days to get it all in! But it’s pretty much all there, other than the promos. I think the Enterprise set is so full of stuff – even just now thinking back to “On the Set”, which isn’t even highlighted on the press release; that’s another thirty-minute piece.
TrekCore: The press release itself is huge! It takes five minutes to read it all.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, it’s chock full of stuff, and I’m also really happy with the way the audio commentaries turned out. They’re really complementary to everything that’s on the documentaries; it’s not like we’re repeating a lot of the same information. It’s great to have the cast and crew together again for those. For Season Two, we’re going to do a bunch more, and I have a lot of cool stuff planned – I’m going to get Jeffrey Combs and some of the other actors.
TrekCore: Would you ever think about doing a commentary for a really terrible episode? I know that we have the best ones highlighted, but the terrible ones can be equally fun, I think.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah – we were thinking of doing “Captain’s Holiday” for Season Three of Next Gen, because Ira [Behr] has a great story about how that was just a completely different episode –
TrekCore: Yeah, Ira told me the very same story in London. It’s a great story.
Roger Lay, Jr.: We ended up putting it in the Season Three documentary, because we just have so many commentaries for Season Three that we had to cut one out. I was talking to the writing gang and Brannon, to have them do “Sub Rosa” for Season Seven.
TrekCore: Didn’t I hear that Seth MacFarlane was really keen to do that one? He does some great impressions of “Sub Rosa“.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, he wants to do it with Brannon and some of the writing staff. They bashed it for like fifteen minutes when we were doing “Inside the Writers’ Room” – we had to cut out a lot of that because it was irrelevant to the piece, but we want to just get ‘em back and do it. So it’s on our list. It was going to be “Captain’s Holiday“, but because of scheduling now, and the fact that we have like six commentaries on TNG Season Three, and they’re key episodes – you have “Sins of the Father“, which is going to be a group commentary; you have “The Bonding“, which was Ron Moore’s first script, he’s going to do a commentary; you have “The Offspring” which was Rene [Echevarria’s] first script, and he’s going to do a commentary; “Yesterday’s Enterprise“, which is going to be another group commentary with a bunch of people – Ira Behr, Ron Moore, Mike and Denise Okuda, it’s going to be a big one. We had so much, we had to cut one out. You’re going to have “Best of Both Worlds” for the single-disc, feature-length version; a group commentary with Cliff Bole, who directed it; Elizabeth Dennehy; Mike and Denise Okuda…
Since we have commentaries on some really important episodes so we felt, let’s hold off on the joke one until further down the road.
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Star Trek: Enterprise Season 1 is released on Blu-Ray on March 26 in North America and soon after in other territories worldwide by CBS/Paramount. Be sure to lock in your Pre-Order for the set today!
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