Yes I did it. In fact, I just reviewed 303 a few days ago. The third season is really wonderful Discovery, by the way. The first episode is therefore Michael Burnham alone in Iceland [for location shoot], which is a foreign land. And she meets “Book” [David Ajala]. The second episode is the whole team on Discovery. And the third episode, which is the one I was lucky enough to get, is their reunion. And it’s very heavy on the emo.
On emotion? So, a lot of hugs?
Emotion, yes. There are a lot of hugs.
Which means a lot of coverage for the camera. Right?
Yeah… but it worked. Between the hugs and the music, it’s wonderful. I love Discovery! These guys remind me of the Next generation jeter.
Can you talk about your approach to filming Discovery?
The style of the show is… Tunde [Osunsanmi], Alex [Kurtzman], myself, Doug [Aarniokoski], and all directors are encouraged to “shoot to amaze”. You are never discouraged from trying something and it is a wonderfully competitive shooting atmosphere. Tunde and I especially love creating long oners – fabulous, complex, complicated. And he’s a masterful shooter. Then you always have to get coverage because when you walk into the editing room, producers and the like are going to want close-ups of things they feel they need, which is always the case on TV. And they spare no expense. If you have a legitimate plan, they will provide you with the toys you need to complete that plan. It’s a very filmmaker friendly TV show. It’s great to work on it.
Did that style change in season three, with the new setting? I joked with Tunde before the start of the season that maybe he was getting a little too crazy with the rotating camera and the Dutch angles. So, do you increase or decrease all of that in season three?
He is always there. But this has been mitigated. (to laugh)
In season two, Alex came in and directed the first episode and kind of restored a look and a new style. In fact, it literally changed to an anamorphic format. So you had to study this episode to make your season two episodes, right?
Exactly. I was actually preparing [Episode 202 “New Eden”] while Alex was shooting. So I visited him and saw him on set and saw what was going on, how the boss wanted to do a new show. And it was magnificent! This made the Discovery set’s bridge even more powerful, as it was built for an anamorphic lens.
So, this time you shot the third episode of season three. Was it necessary to study how the first two were shot to suit a new style?
Tunde shot the first two in Iceland with Glen Keenan as the DP. Originally, I was going to do episode two and we were going to split it up. But since it was Iceland in both cases, they took one and two and then I went in and made three.
And did those first two episodes explain to you how you shot the third episode?
No. What Tunde was doing with the first episode was a whole new world. It’s a two-character movie with Sonequa and David, and nothing on the ship. And then episode two was on the ship with the characters we know. But, it was more different from a sound point of view than cinematic.
The third season introduces us to new characters and new actors. The largest would be Book; can you talk about what it’s like to work with david?
David fell into it so easily and he’s very friendly and there’s a great chemistry between him and Sonequa. He has a wonderful demeanor on the set. He is funny. He is physical. He is prepared. He is magnificent. He is strong. He works hard, he has a big heart. He’s a movie star, even with that damn cat on his boat, who’s our least favorite new actor.
I think the stars they chose as guest stars for the season, they just beat 1000. With Jason [Isaacs in season one] and Anson [Mount in season two]. And now David. It is really impressive.
And what about Blu [del Barrio as Adira] et Ian [Alexander as Gray]?
I didn’t work with Ian, but I did with Blu. If you talk to Anthony Rapp (Stamets), he and I experienced their first scenes together and we shared a number of eyebrow-raising looks. Anthony was overshadowing me as a director and obviously he was also in the scenes with Blu. There is a calm, that they have never been on a TV soundstage before, that really surprised us.
Blu is so well chosen that as the character unfolds, I think he will be a new favorite. Much like Tilly – do you remember how quirky Tilly was and not Star Trek at first? Blu brings a different dynamic and a totally different color, but a whole new color to the band’s palette. A lot of the way Tig [Notaro] made. Tig brings a totally different tone, color, rhythm, music to his character. Jett Reno is completely different from anyone on the show. And Blu does the same.
I hear Tig pissed you off by pretending she didn’t know who you were… how does it feel to lead her? Mainly because she openly says she hates technobabble. Is it a challenge or is it easy to lead it?
Both. [laughs] Fortunately, Tig doesn’t pretend to want to do any method or traditional style of play. But what Tig has and what Alex has had the clarity to achieve I guess is personal friends I’m not sure. But the addition of Tig to the show created another nuance in the palette of this fantastic Discovery team. A day with Tig isn’t like a day with someone else. [laughs]
I believe they have known each other for years and Reno was a character specially written for Tig. It’s kind of like how Guinan was written for Whoopi [Goldberg]. So they created a character around the actor they knew they wanted.
Yeah, I forgot that – I was told the same thing. And they wrote him to make the lines feel like part of Tig’s kind of comedic routine, basically.
More to come with #FrakesWeek
The fun and lengthy interview also covered Star Trek: Picard, Treks courts, New strange worlds, the state of the movie franchise, and even some of his less favorite episodes from The next generation. So stay tuned all week as we share our conversation with the “number one” Star Trek legend.
Follow Star Trek: Discovery news and analysis on TrekMovie.com.