J.J. Abrams Press ConferenceWhat is going to be on the DVD and Blu-ray? Are there extra scenes?
J.J. Abrams: "We shot a few extra scenes. I hate to do this because whenever you cut a scene, all you’re thinking of is how that time could have been used to make other scenes better. But, of course, the day you’re shooting it you’d kill someone if they said, 'This scene won’t end up in the movie.' You’re like, 'That’s not true! This is critical.' But, there’s a scene with the stepfather and young Kirk, there’s a scene of Nero in prison, and there’s a scene of young Spock as a baby, having just been born. There are a couple extra scenes and they’re all scenes that would have been fun to have in the movie, but some things, like the prison sequence, just confounded the audience. Every time we’d screen the movie for a group, that sequence threw them. Even though it had some of my favorite designs in the whole movie, with the wardrobe, the location and some of the visual effects. It was really fun. But, if it’s better without it, then cut it."
Obviously, our vision of the future differs from the original series’ vision of the future. What moments did you decide to keep and how did you decide to update it?
J.J. Abrams: "It was a weird conundrum to do a movie with a vision of the future from today, based on a vision of the future from 50 years ago. But, there were certain things that we all decided we wanted to maintain. As someone who was not a huge Trek fan to begin with, I had my instincts about things that I thought were important. But really Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof were much bigger Star Trek fans than I was and they knew that there were things that needed to be maintained and details I never would have even been able to speak to. I just knew that the shape and silhouette of the Enterprise needed to be maintained. You don’t want to change everything. If you’re a fan, you go, 'Oh, wow, it’s different,' but the casual fan or the non-fan will just say, 'Oh, wow, it’s a cool design.' That was important. The prism through which everything had to be seen through was, 'How do you take the spirit of what was created nearly half a century ago, whether it’s character, prop design, ship design, the world of it or anything, and make it feel relevant for today?,' and that was just a billion small decisions."
Why did you decide to use lens flares?
J.J. Abrams: "I went insane with lens flares, but it was one of those things where I felt like I wanted the movie to have a visual system that felt unique. I know there are certain shots where even I watch it and think, 'Oh, that was ridiculous. That was too many.' But, I love the idea that the future was so bright it couldn’t be contained in the frame. The flares weren’t just flares that were happening from on-camera light sources, but they were happening off camera, and that was really the key to it. I wanted that sense that, just off camera, something spectacular was happening and there was always this sense of something. Also, there’s a really cool, organic layer there."
"They were all done live, in camera. They weren’t added later. There’s something about those flares, especially in a movie that potentially could be incredibly sterile and CG and overly controlled. There’s just something incredibly unpredictable and gorgeous about them. It was a really fun thing. Our D.P. would be off camera with this incredibly powerful flashlight, aiming it at the lens. It became an art because different lenses require different angles and different proximity to the lens. Sometimes when we were outside, we would use mirrors, and a certain size mirror would be too big. It was ridiculous! It was like another actor in the scene. We started calling it Best in Show because it was like a spotlight. We’d be doing a scene and I’d look over at Dan Mindel, the D.P., and he’d look at me and be like, 'Best in Show?,' and I’d be like, 'Best in Show.' We had two cameras so sometimes we had two different flashlight operators and when there was atmosphere in the room, you had to be really careful because you could see the beams. It was this ridiculous, added level of pain in the ass, but the final effect, to me, was a fun, additional touch that while overdone in some places, felt like the future is that bright."
You did a great job of keeping everything under wraps. Were you worried about any leaks?
J.J. Abrams: "I’m the most paranoid one so I was like, 'Yes, we must have a military operation.' The hardest part is with the crew because when you’re shooting the movie, you want everyone to be on the same page and know exactly what’s going on and, on this movie, we could not give the script out. People had to come in and read it in a place where there was someone watching them read it. It was preposterous. And so when people needed information, they’d have to go to the script supervisor who had the script. No one else had the script, and it did not get leaked. There were people who posted online, 'We’re going to get the script and review it,' so we were like, 'Okay, we’re not going to let you get it.'”
Where did you get the idea to end the film with that music and the dedication to Gene & Majel Roddenberry?
J.J. Abrams: "From the very beginning I felt like the Alexander Courage theme music was something that was so celebratory that it just felt like the movie finally earns it, at the end. Until the family is the family, you can’t really play that music. If it worked, you’d forget about that and you wouldn’t be thinking about it. And then when the family comes together and the ship begins the five-year mission, it felt like the perfect icing on the cake."
"And the dedication was always intended for Gene because none of us would be here doing any of this, if it weren’t for what he created. Sadly, when Majel passed away, we added her name to the card. We already had the card for Gene, so we added her name as well."