Behind the Scenes of “Starship Challenger” with Doctor Martin

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Starship Challenger Bridge
Starship Challenger Bridge

When I first read the script for “Another Door Opens,” my reaction was, “Wow, this guy really captured the flavor of Star Trek.” “This guy” was creator Jim Bray who had called me and asked if I would read something he had been working on. I never thought I’d be part of the Star Trek family but then Jim told me he wrote Doctor Martin with me in mind.

Fast forward to June 2013, I was headed to Retro Film Studios in Ticonderoga, New York to start filming “Another Door Opens.” Retro Film Studios is the home of Star Trek: Phase 2/New Voyages which was filming their episode “Mind-Sifter.” Through Jim’s friendship with the Executive Producer of Phase 2, I was added to the production crew.

Retro Film Studios is both Museum and Church. Walking through the doors to the studio is a geek’s dream. After checking in with Sarge at Security, I entered. On my left was the back of the Transporter Room. Next to that was a roped off section where the Briefing Room would soon sit.

Starship Challenger Console
Starship Challenger Console

Beyond was Spock and Kirk’s quarters and I could see the corridor behind, directly in front of me (out of reach because of yellow tape) was The Bridge and The Captain’s Chair. I tried to play cool when I saw it but Hulk Hogan swept my knees and down I went.

Over that weekend I filmed my scenes for the Anthology pilot and helped construct The Guardian of Forever, which plays a key role in the Mind-Sifter story. Mostly, I made great friends. A few months later, I was at Retro again to film more scenes and pick ups for “Another Door Opens.” This was a more intense but no less enjoyable experience. We had new members of the cast and crew, new equipment, and a short time to get everything in the can. There were mishaps – the new camera was not packed with the rest of the equipment. There was joy – hearing the Director yell, “It’s a wrap!! Good work guys.” And there was too much greasy, under baked pizza.

Last July, I headed to Vermont to film the on location shots for Challenger’s second episode, “A Logical Solution.” Jim was hospitable and opened his house to the skeleton crew; we all crashed and pretended we were back in college for the weekend.

Starship Challenger - Planetoid P-14-J - Photo by George Ouellette
Starship Challenger – Planetoid P-14-J
Photo by George Ouellette

The area for the shoot was a scenic lake surrounded by rock and fauna. It was absolutely beautiful and a perfect setting. It also was a bitch to get to. A twenty minute hike from the road down a muddy foot worn path on uneven ground that opened to the bowl of rocks and sand surrounding the water. It was a treacherous climb on slippery, jagged rocks to reach the clearing that was our set. The only thing this kid from Brooklyn climbed was a sets of stairs when the elevator in my apartment building was out of order. It was scary and it was thrilling. And I made it!!

Shooting for hours under the hot sun in velour is not my idea of a fun day and I spent most of my non shooting time with my shirt off, earning the nickname of Jewbacca because of my hairy chest and back. My reward for that wonderful but harrowing experience was an incredible meal of BBQ pork chops, hoppin’ johns, cold slaw, with homemade honey mead that went down smooth but packed a wallop. All prepared by Jim.

A few months ago, we discovered that some of the footage was not usable and we also had a turnover in camera talent. That means we need to reshoot parts of both episodes. We are discussing a shooting schedule now and hope to complete filming in 2016. This has been a wonderful experience and a frustrating one. Wonderful because Trek. Duh … Frustrating because time keeps warping away and we wanted to have an episode done by now to show our fans.

We know that wait is long and you are impatient. We are too. Making Anthology sometimes feels like the ultimate Kobayashi Maru scenario. But no worries, our
Executive Producer is as clever as Kirk and is presently reprogramming the computer.

Gary Karp as Doctor Robert Martin in
Gary Karp as Doctor Robert Martin in “Starship Challenger”

Gary is a graduate of NYC”s School for Film and Television as well as veteran of stage, film, and television having worked with several independent productions over the years.

Gary is a self-described geek, loving all things science fiction but has a soft spot in his heart for Star Trek. He was thrilled when series creator James A. Bray offered him the role of Doctor Martin and jumped at the chance. “I have walked across the bridge of the Enterprise and sat in the Captain’s chair. I can cross that off my bucket list.”

In his day job Gary is an author, coach, and corporate trainer. He lives in Brooklyn with his seven cats.

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