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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Picard behind the scenes: Lots of Romulans, Mr Vup, Chabon musings, and much more

Here's a round up of the latest Picard behind the scenes bits and pieces shared by the cast and crew recently. Including loads of different Romulans, a closer look at Mr Vup and Bjayzl, a couple of unfortunately battered characters, musings of Mr Michael Chabon on that and other subjects, and more! Continue below to check out:

My favourite Romulan is perhaps the most obscure of this batch, one of the Q’wat Milat nuns, seen here shared by hair stylist Maria Sandoval, who made this character's wig:


Of course we have a much more familiar Romulan among the Q’wat Milat; here are Elnor's the older and younger (Evan Evagora and Ian Nunney), as shared by Evan Evagora, who also shared the playful fan photo below:



If you scroll through this post from visual effects artist Charles Collyer you will find a cool slowmo video of Elnor in action (stunt double I assume):



Another Romulan from Absolute Candor was played by David Chattam, who shared a bunch of photos showing off his Romulan look, including this nice Romulan/Human comparrison:





Aboard the Borg Cube we of course have Ramdha. Actress Rebecca Wisocky shared this photo of her with Jonathan Del Arco (aka Hugh):


While makeup artist Richard Redlefsen gave us a good look at Ramdha's pre-assimilation look:




Graham Shiels shared a few photos of his Romulan character, one of the assassins at Chateau Picard in The End is the Beginning:



This last photo, with Patrick Stewart and Orla Brady has a cute story:
Sir Patrick Stewart holding my copy of John Barton's "Playing Shakespeare." One of the greatest acting books ever. Patrick Stewart was a company member of the Royal Shakespeare Company of the early 1980's among Ian McKellen, Ben Kingsley, and Judi Dench amongst other notable actors who all appeared in "Playing Shakespeare.

Here are some Romulan ears, as sculpted by Nicholas Rinehard:




A slightly heavy prosthetic was used for Mr Vup. Dominic Burgess has shared several photos of his character, with a slightly different demeanour to that seen on-screen:




Mr Vup's employer Bjayzl has her own extravagance, in costume form. Necar Zadegan shared this photo of her costume, and the even more showy concept art:



Poor Bruce Maddox suffered having met those two. John Ales showed us the wounds:


But that's nothing on even more unfortunate Icheb! Casey King shared these photos of his gruesome look:



Which is a good time to get to the marvelous Michael Chabon, who shared this photo from the same episode:


Chabon has been responding to fan ponderings on Instagram. Keeping his cool among too many enraged comments, he has shed some erudite light on some of the decisions in the series so far. For instance this on the use of violence:
I am not unambivalent about the violence, myself. The choice was not made lightly, though it was made collaboratively, and therefore with a good deal of conversation and debate among the creators. And so I assure you that it is not there simply “because we can,” or because we are trying, as you somewhat uncharitably put it, to be “in.” My partners would all have their own reasons for its presence in this story, as some of us had our own reasons for shying away from it. For me, it came down to this: there has always been violence (and even torture) in Star Trek. Sometimes that violence has been implicit, sometimes explicit, according to the dictates of censorship, the nature of the situation being depicted, the aesthetic of individual creators, or technical and/or budgetary limitations. And the reason that there has always been violence in Trek is that Trek is art, and there has always been violence—implicit and explicit—in art. It belongs there. It belongs in any narrative about human beings, even human beings of the future. Violence, often, *is* the narrative. Its source. Its engine. The question of whether it’s “too much” or not is ultimately a matter of taste. Personally, I come out closer to the “less is more” end. But that is just me. In the end, I saw how little time and space we had to convey a sense of Seven’s history post-Voyager, and the things that drive and haunt her. I decided, with my partners, that intensity was warranted. Seven lives outside the rational confines of the Federation, because that is where she finds her sense of purpose. But life is hard, out there. If it wasn’t, people wouldn’t need her help so badly. And she wouldn’t have found such a compelling reason to carry on, in spite of her history of trauma. But, I hear you.
And on the wider setting and themes of the series:
First of all, I think that the phrase (or a version of it) “Star Trek has always reflected its time” is open to multiple, potentially conflicting interpretations. It can mean, “Individual Star Trek series have always (consciously) reflected thematically many of the most pressing issues of the time when they were made.” I think that’s the sense intended by people involved with making the two current series, and it’s pretty obviously true—starting with persistent themes of nuclear annihilation, racial prejudice, mechanization, totalitarianism vs liberal democracy, on TOS, through DS9 with its themes of individual vs group identity, chosen family, reason vs faith, and the inevitable moral compromises of war. (That’s only the *conscious* ways in which Trek has reflected the times in which it was made.) But the phrase could also be taken the way (I think) you take it: that the world, the milieu depicted by Star Trek—the characters and their interactions, their capabilities and limitations as individuals, the social institutions and mores and technologies and economics and culture—reflects the world and era in which it was made. I think you’re saying that this is wrong, that here is exactly where Trek doesn’t, hasn’t. and *shouldn’t* reflect the world and times. That it has always presented its crews, Starfleet, and the Federation as improvements, as realizations of our best potential, as aspirational. If Trek has reflected our world, it’s in a kind of utopian funhouse mirror, where everything looks better. I would say that by and large that has been true, though possibly not as to the degree that many Trek fans claim, or feel.

But there’s another side to the world—the people and society—depicted in Star Trek, which is all the characters, planets, cultures, mores and interactions that take place outside of Starfleet, the Federation. Many of these “outside” cultures and characters—the empires and alliances and unions— *have* deliberately reflected aspects of our world, with its all imperfection, intolerance, brutality, its humiliations and injustices, its evils. I don’t mean just in a thematic sense, but in the behavior of individual non-Federation, non-Starfleet characters, in the construction of societies around prejudices and inequalities, violence, lust for power, etc.That brings us to Picard. In the one, long, ten-part story we’re telling, we’re asking two questions about the greater world of Star Trek (i.e, the Federation *and* everything outside the Federation). One—a venerable Star Trek question, with a long pedigree in previous series and films: What happens when the Federation, the Roddenberry Federation with all its enlightened and noble intentions, free from want, disease, (internal) war, greed, capitalism, intolerance, etc., is tested by forces inimical to its values? What happens when two of its essential principles ; (security and liberty, say) come into conflict? The answer has to be—at first, it buckles. It wobbles. It may, to some extent, compromise or even betray its values, or at the very least be sorely tempted to do so. If not, there’s no point asking the question, though it’s a question that any society with aspirations like ours or the Federation’s needs to ask. If nothing can ever truly test the Federation, if nothing can rock its perfection, then it’s just a magical land. It’s Lothlorien, in its enchanted bubble, untouchable by the Shadow. And, also, profoundly *inhuman*. To me it’s the humanity of the Federation—which means among many admirable things, its imperfection, its vulnerability and the constant need to defend it from our own worst natures—that makes it truly inspiring.

The other, related question we’re asking is: What about the people who live outside, at the edges (or even within) the Federation but who, for various reasons, aren’t quite *of* it. Ex-Starfleet officers, refugees, people like Seven who served on a Starfleet ship but was never actually in Starfleet. People who have fallen through the cracks, or fallen victim to their own weaknesses. What is life like for people who, for whatever reason, live beyond the benevolent boundaries of the Federation—where, for example, post-scarcity is a dream, and there is a monetary economy? Again, there is precedent for this kind of story on Trek, but the fact that our story only resolves over ten episodes, not one, or two, or four out of a season of 23, might make it feel, sometimes, that there is more darkness, more trauma in our characters’ lives. More *struggle.* This show unquestionably has darker tonalities than some others (DS9 is the standout exception). It lives more in the shadows, where the Federation’s light can’t always reach. That isn’t to condemn, critcize, undo, break or, god knows, betray the Federation or Gene Roddenberry’s vision. Shadow defines light.

Every new Trek series since TNG has sought to escape what can feel like the confines of previous series, not simply of canon (which can also be a strangely liberating force) but of the kinds of stories, about the kinds of characters and societies, that have already been told. Each new series has expressed this impulse to “light out for the territories” in a different way. TNG went a century into the future of TOS. DS9 went onto a station full of aliens that was both beyond the edge of the Federation and next to a wormhole that led to the Gamma Quadrant. VOY put 70k light-years between it and its predecessors, and introduced a raft of new species and worlds. ENT went deep into the early past of the Federation. Next season’s DIS goes to the Trek universe’s far-future.
The space we found for Picard is not “dark Federation.” It’s one of people who live and work at or beyond the margins of the Federation who travel beyond its boundaries to find the truth.
You'll find more thoughtful and thoroughly engaged replies on the same photo post.

Back to pictures... Greg Hopwood shared some more of his costume concept art, this time for Picard and Rios' La Sirena looks:


And here's an alternate Rios, the Emergency Tactical Hologram Emmet. Santiago Cabrera shared these playful photos:



This video gives a fun lesson in how to pretend to be on a starship in battle:


From a member of the crew, Rachel Greninger, we have a nice view of the La Sirena set:


And then a whole lot more thanks to visual effects supervisor Ante Dekovic, who shared all these behind the scenes shots from Stardust City Rag:








Maria Sandoval shared a couple of photos of her exotic wigs from the Freecloud denizens:



This interesting shot, also from Dekovic, seems to show an industrial scale make-up operation. Amazing!


And this shot is clearly from the earlier episode Absolute Candor, on the Vashti set:


We get a much wider view of that location thanks to visual effects artist Charles Collyer, who shared this image:


And finally, also from Collyer, a quiet moment on set for Michelle Hurd at Raffi's Vasquez Rocks home:


For more behind the scenes coverage from all of Trek, see my behind the scenes tag.

Picard is available now on CBS All Access in the US, Bell Media services in Canada, and Amazon Prime Video in most of the rest of the world.





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