Star Trek Beyond Set Visit Report: Find Out How Justin Lin's Sequel Goes Beyond

Last Summer, I visited the set of Star Trek Beyond in Vancouver, Canada. Find out what I learned on set, including how over 50 new alien species were created for this film in honor of Trek's 50th anniversary, how director Justin Lin has put an end to JJ Abrams' "camera hand jobs" (yes, you just read that right) and much much more.

A Visit To The Set Of Star Trek Beyond

On August 7th 2015, I traveled to Vancouver, Canada to visit the set of Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond. To give you some idea of time perspective, this was the same day that Josh Trank's Fantastic Four hit theaters nationwide, in case you've already forgotten that THAT movie even existed.

We visited on day 30 of the film's 77 day shoot (which was later extended with reshoots). The production moved to Dubai with the full cast at the end of production.

While much of the production was being filmed at Vancouver studios, including the USS Enterprise Bridge set and main hallways, we only visited The Bridge Studio across the street. We were told we would not be able to for unspecified reasons. Alas, my dreams of walking the bridge and sitting in the Captain's chair were dashed. After seeing the trailers it seems clear that the Enterprise bridge and ship was likely destroyed in that encounter we see in the advertising, and at the time production was trying to preserve that secret (which seems crazy, because it seems to be the inciting incident for this story).


Sets on 360 Degree Gimbals: The End of JJ Abrams’ Camera “Hand Jobs”

The coolest thing we saw was a set that they were not using on the day of our visit, a a 90 foot long USS Enterprise hallway set which was constructed on the studio's special effects stage with a 25 feet wide rotator rig, which is a variation on a gamble that allows the hallway to rotate 360 degrees if needed. So while past Star Trek films have mostly relied on the actors to thrown themselves around while they are under attack, this set really moved and could present some truly striking cinematic scenes, think about how Christopher Nolan used the hallway set in Inception.

"It's fucking awesome," Zoe Saldana told us while laughing. "That made me want to kind of do a little more. It looks amazing. ... So it keeps you keeps you at the edge of your seat kinda going, "Oh, my god. What's going to happen? These people are being tossed everywhere." ... "It wasn't the kind of set where they are jerking the camera, doing the camera hand job."

The Bridge set was also built on a gimbal that could shake the entire crew as the Enterprise encounters turbulence. Saldana describes the days before Star Trek Beyond where JJ Abrams would give the camera "a hand job" to make it appear like the ship was taking enemy fire.

"You had to see it. It's really comical. You always have that one camera guy: 'And, action!' It used to be J.J., too, because it was like, "Oh, I'll handle this camera!" He'd be like jerking the camera. This time the set really moved. So they went all out to kind of give us that experience, and it was cool. So all the sets. There is one set that rotates 360 and there are two sets that shake a lot. So it's kinda cool."

Chris Pine on the other hand says that "there's still plenty of the camera handjob happening on top of the fact that these sets move 360 degrees" but admits that the more practical nature to the moving sets has been "super fun."

"What did we do the other day? We were in some dark places of the ship and it was slanted 65 degrees so you had to run up and being tackled by someone, and it's a lot of fun. It's actually way more physical in that regard than the first two films, something I could equate it to would maybe be in the first one when me and Sulu have this fight outside in this giant – I don't even know what it was but... It's definitely the most physical film.

Karl Urban says that the gimbal sets that move and shake and rotate "certainly makes our job a lot easier":

"I think it's one of the great things about Justin — he's got his eye keenly on the macro. It's all about enhancing the performance and enhancing the visuals and actually bringing space into the bridge. Whereas, perhaps in J.J.'s version, the bridge was really brightly lit and stuff but space is out there. Justin really wants to bring space to us. I think that's a really interesting concept."


50 New Alien Species To Celebrate Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary

The man behind the alien make-up designs on Star Trek Beyond is Academy Award-winning make-up artist Joel Harlow, who has worked on everything from The Toxic Avenger Part II, to the Pirates of the Caribbean films to JJ Abrams' Star Trek. To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, Harlow challenged himself and his team to create 50 new unique alien races that we haven't seen in Star Trek before. So this film will show many more of the universe's lifeforms than the previous films.

Harlow says that some of the designs are humanoid, while others are taken well beyond that, with a couple homages to old alien races from the television show, but nothing specific. Joel says he's most proud of one of the alien creature designs where they have altered the human figure to something that is completely not human, meaning the character is driven by a human but it would be hard to figure out where that human is. The alien designs in this film span the spectrum of Puppetry, animatronics, computer augmentation and special effects makeup.

"There are a lot of 3:30am call times... I heard one time there was like a 1:30 AM call time for somebody," reveals Zoe Saldana. "It was brutal for that person and the crew that was handling them. So it's great. It's always a fun thing to see just the opportunity that each department has to showcase their work. And you are going to have a lot of aliens. That's one thing that I always like to see. If we're doing a film in space, I don't want to see just human beings in space. It's so boring. We must be like the dullest species ever. So we have a variation of a lot of species."

At least half of the alien creations are seen in Yorktown, and on the biggest day they will have over 30 alien races on set at the same time, with multiple actors in each race. While we will see other Vulcans in the film, Harlow assures us that Klingons will not show up in Star Trek Beyond.


The Story Begins With Isolation

Where does the third film in this rebooted franchise take us? After reading the script for the first time, Zoe Saldana was relieved.

"It felt like a very fresh way to seeing all of us. ... I think every installment that we've done has been very unique in terms of where they're at, where each character is at in their own personal lives, and also as a crew. And here, just when you think, "I don't know what else they can do with us..."

The story picks up with Captain Kirk and his crew having lived through about two and a half years of the planned five year mission. Chris Pine explains what he loves about the beginning of this new adventure:

"What I love about the beginning of this film is that it takes into account what it may be like if you're on a submarine or something and you're with the same people day in and day out for months and years. It's the second year of a five year mission, so what is that kind of repetition like. How you kind of get out of the day to day doldrums and doing nothing but kind of flying the ship and trying to find stuff."

Saldana described their current situation as "it's like once you see one planet, you've seen them all."

"They're at that point when you see them for the first time. ... We've been working for two years straight. We're exhausted. I think we kinda need a break. It's not like we hate each other, but we need a break as people. We've just been working and sharing the same space. That's how you start the movie. That's where you see us in the beginning. And I thought it was really smart to kind of...because you kind of wonder, "Where is this going to go? Because they are starting out like they are done, like it's the end. So how can they be challenged this time?" So the first 10 pages I was like...I mean it's amazing."

Everyone is having cabin fever and ready to go back to the home base, but they aren't.

"Everyone's just doing their job, going from adventure to adventure, and it's kind of tiring, and they're wondering what the ultimate goal is, what the endgame of it all is," reveals Simon Pegg. "And I think the idea of the story in the film is that what they encounter helps to clarify what their job is."

And the truth is that the crew hasn't seen any real action just yet.

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The Story Will Separate The Crew

The previous two films were about the Spock/Kirk relationship, but in this one everyone gets a piece of the action more. And that is accomplished by splitting the team up.

At the end of the first act, our heroes come under attack by a group of aliens lead by Idris Elba's character Krall. The Enterprise is deemed unstable and the crew abandons ship in individual pods. This is actually more info than we were told on set as no one would even discuss if Elba wore make-up for his character. What we were told is that the crew finds themselves stranded on an alien planet and come across Kingman star Sofia Boutella's character Taylah, who we are to believe is friendly. The whole thing has the set-up of a stand-alone episode of the old television show.

Star Trek Beyond Barco Escape

Creating Jaylah

The make-up for Sofia Boutella's alien character Jaylah is a mix of prosthetics and traditional makeup techniques and a wig. Harlow says its of the hardest make-up applications on the show because it's "so clean." The entire forehead is an appliance and everyplace you see black is a silicone prosthetic. Every day Sofia works she has to undergo three and a half hours of application and a half hour of removal at the end of the day.

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New Partnerships And Old Relationships Will Be Tested

Stranded on this alien planet and split into unusual pairings, the USS Enterprise crew will be tested in new ways. The Spock/Kirk relationship was at the core of the first two films and even Simon Pegg felt the urge to push the franchise in a new direction.

"I felt like the Kirk/Spock thing, we'd done that now and, arguably, maybe too soon, in a way. There's still a lot of time for those guys to become super-friends, and maybe we'll do that further down the line if we do more. I felt like maybe now it was time to move away from this kind of bromance thing and concentrate on the idea of the crew as a kind of family living in a small space together and what it means to all of them. I really love the dynamic between Bones and Spock, so that's something we've concentrated on a little bit with this one. Kirk's older than his dad was now when he died, and all that kind of stuff that's playing on him. Scotty's still just Scotty."

For director Justin Lin, the literal and thematic deconstruction of Star Trek led to putting "our characters at a point where they have to kind of work together." And work together in ways we've never seen before on the big screen.

"It gives each character an arc and also relationships that I've always wanted to see them have.  It's amazing, like 10 years of my childhood watching it, I thought, "God, can Chekov hang out with Kirk?" So I get to answer all those questions. You know, like Bones and Spock, like the two characters on Kirk's shoulders. I'd love to see how they would interact if they were... So a lot of that came off the construct of kind of the impetus of what sets this journey off."

Chris Pine says that this film "gives everybody a beautiful journey to go on and bring them back in the end in a great triumphant and team spirit way." But for his character Kirk it's still about dealing with living in the shadow of his father. At the beginning of the film Kirk is having a birthday which should be a time for celebration, but for him, it's the same anniversary as the death of his father.

"It's like all these archetypal films where it's the young man dealing with the spirit of his father and how do you live up to the qualities that he showed so well. And for Kirk that's a big deal and a lot of it is about that he's not the young impetuous man of his twenties, he's older and he's captain of this ship, and how do you reinvent yourself and how do you find new meaning in something that you come to everyday."

The Spock/Uhura relationship was only secondary to the Spock/Kirk friendship in the first two films, and Saldana tells us that we will see that evolve in new ways in Beyond.

"Every relationship in this movie will be tested on a very, very high scale. The great thing about this installment is that it's not only Kirk and Spock and J.J.'s Spock and Uhura, his twist, it's also Chekov and Scotty. It's Sulu. So I'm really excited about this because now it's an ensemble more than ever. Everybody's relationship, all of their dynamics are tested. Spock and Uhura are going to be tested as well. To what extent? I don't know. But I mean they made it in the show. They were old in the show. [laughs] What more can I say without giving it away?"... "They are in each other's lives in a very passionate way. So you will see that. To what extent? I don't know. But I think Spock is absolutely in love with Uhura. I think he's crazy about her. And if Uhura is done with him, it's going to kill him. [laughs] I'm joking. But he really loves me more than I do him."

As for Bones, Karl Urban says that his beliefs will also be tested in this story:

"As a doctor, it's his job to save life. He's so compassionate about life. And in this film that core foundation of his belief is tested. It's really, really interesting." ... "Doctor McCoy gets pushed into territory that he's never been in before. Certainly not in these movies."

And "one of the things" that he "really responded to in the script" was that Bones gets to develop a relationship with Spock:

"The crew gets fractured, and I end up spending quite a bit of time with Spock. We really developed that relationship; and experience things and events together that bring us close together, and allow for a deeper understanding. To me, that's what makes this so interesting."

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The Film Asks Big Philosophical Questions

The film shot under the production code name "Washington" and our on-set security badges featured a big "W." as the logo. And sometimes these working production titles mean very little, but I have a feeling the Washington name is a reference to the philosophical question at the core of this film. Simon Pegg told us that this question drives the plot of the film.

"We liked the idea of, also, on the 50th anniversary, looking at Roddenberry's vision and questioning it — you know, the whole notion of the Federation and whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, or how productive is inclusivity. What is the true cost of expansion, that kind of stuff. So we went in with some big, philosophical questions to ask."

Director Justin Lin echoes Pegg's sentiments:

"I feel like it's important to maybe try to deconstruct why Federation, Starfleet, and why Star Trek is special. And, hopefully, at the end of it we reaffirm why it's been around that long. And hopefully we can help keep it going."

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Star Trek Beyond Is Not An Adaptation Of a Previous Trek Story/Character

While this film continues the alternate timeline that JJ Abrams started with his 2009 film, Pegg found himself returning to the original series to get inspiration, not just for the story and tone but the characters:

"Star Trek's had to evolve in order to exist in the current marketplace. A film that was totally in the mood of the original series would not be made today or make money today, because people want event cinema. They want things to be a little more brash and action-oriented, so we've had to fold that into the Star Trek brand. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that can't be fundamentalized by all the tenants of what Star Trek is and how all of those characters have evolved over the years and to really give its DNA an authenticity. So that's been a really interesting thing, and that's something we really wanted to do. So Doug and I would always, at the end of a day's — when we were really happy at the end of day's writing, we'd sit and watch a couple of episodes of the original series — just for fun, not to get ideas. A couple of things like, it's always good to get names from the original series, like dead Red Shirts. I have a list of dead Red Shirts on my phone somewhere, just so that those same people exist in the universe. But this is our universe. It belongs to us now. J.J. very cleverly was able to establish the story again without damaging or affecting what went before, and it's ours now. Anything can happen. Anyone can die. It's not the same events."

Thats not to say there won't be references to familiar things in this story, just don't expect this film to adapt a previously told Trek story or character like Into Darkness did with Wrath Of Khan.

"There'll be things in there for every Star Trek fan," assures Pegg. "It is the same world, so some of the points of reference will be the same. But they are off in a part of the galaxy that they've never been before. They're far away from the usual suspects, I think. As such, it's not them meeting up with an old adversary or someone they've met before. And we toyed with that. You look at the great episodes and think, "Oh, why don't we do 'Mirror, Mirror'? Or why don't we do 'Arena'?" But, you know, that was Galaxy Quest, so that's off the table."


Docking With A Space Station On The Edge Of Federation Space

We will encounter most of these new alien species very early in the film when the Enterprise docks at a space station on the very edge of Federation space. This space station was shot in Dubai using modern architecture in that region of the world. Simon Pegg described the station as follows:

"It's a kind of diplomatic hub. It's called Yorktown, and it's right on the edge of Federation space, and it's where all the most recent Federation inductees can come and mingle with each other and learn about each other. It's a kind of lovely..."

We asked if its like Mos Eisley, which Pegg quickly snapped "No, no — that's a wretched hive of scum and villainy! This is the opposite of that."

"It's basically a place where they can go, where they can better understand what being part of the Federation means. It's an important kind of tactical establishment for the Federation. It's been built locally, so it's very interesting to look at, but it's where the Enterprise docks up. For the first time in like 10 months, it's had kind of proper contact with other people, and that's where the story begins."

Chris Pine describes Yorktown as "the pinnacle of the kind of utopian alien/human environment in that a lot of people are working together perfectly, a humming, thriving, confederation of different parts."

"There's always someone who's trying to make sure that doesn't exist and people that are trying to make sure that it does."

Is he talking about Elba's character? Pine quickly shuts down, "I can't tell you that."

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The Mystery Behind Idris Elba’s Character

As I said earlier, almost no one on set was willing to tell us much about Idris Elba's character Krall. And while the trailers have revealed that he plays a alien that attacks the Enterprise for what we can only guess has to do with philosophical differences with the Federation, we don't know much more than that. Co-star and co-writer Simon Pegg teases the dynamic that he brings to the film:

"Idris is doing some extraordinary work at the moment. Me and Doug and Justin sat down with him a few weeks ago in preparation for his scenes and really got to the bottom of who he is in this movie — and I can't tell you that, because there's a lot of complexity about him and stuff that's mysterious about him, which I obviously want to maintain. But he's just this very formidable, very powerful person, thing, that they encounter. It's obvious to say he's a match for Kirk, obviously, but there's a dynamic between them that's very interesting, and that will all become clear."

Zoe Saldana describes her character's dynamic with Krall as "a little hot" and "almost steamy."

"It never gets there, thank God. But I'm happy that I have scenes that a lot of my character's dynamic is going to be lived with Idris's character, because...And I've worked with Idris on two separate occasions, on The Losers, and also on Takers, even thought my part was very small on Takers. So I love Idris dearly. I'm a huge fan of his work. So to see him in this movie, I'm so proud. And he's so ugly to look at."

Justin Lin says it was "very important" to him to give the Star Trek crew a strong antagonist.

"That's why I feel very fortunate talking to Idris. I remember our first conversation. It was just so much fun talking about it, because I wanted the character to have a very specific and valid philosophy and point of view. And I wanted to create something that would challenge, and also in a very valid way, the philosophy of The Federation. And I think that's what this character...My goal is to really have him do that. So far we've been having a lot of fun doing that." ... "It definitely is not a character you've seen before. For me it was important because this film would not exist without this character. And I feel like it was important when I had that first meeting, and once I decided what journey this film should take, it really was hinged off, again, this antagonist's philosophy."


Simon Pegg Steps Up As Co-Writer

For Star Trek Beyond, Star Trek co-star Simon Pegg was asked to step up and become a co-writer on this film while in the middle of filming Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

"Bryan Burke, who was the producer on that movie and on the previous two Star Treks, and Star Wars as well, we were talking about — he was saying they were thinking of Blue Sky-ing the screenplay and going in a different direction. We just talked about it a lot on set, and then he pulled me aside one day and just said, "Do you want to write it?" Co-writer sort of thing. And I just said, "Okay?" thinking it wouldn't be difficult. No, I didn't. I knew it would be difficult, but for some reason I just sort of said, "Yes," and that was it."

Roberto Orci was originally set to write and direct this movie, and is still credited as a screenwriter on the film. But Orci's involvement ended before Pegg came on board as a writer and the actor claims that neither him nor his co-writer Doug Jung ever read Orci's version of the script, instead deciding on starting anew on page one.

"In January we all met. I never read Bob's script, and neither did Doug. We met in a hotel in London with Justin, and we started to hash out ideas. I went to LA, and we started out in a room at Bad Robot, it's just got white boards around the room, just blank white boards — which was a terrifying thing to see. And then we just filled them and went through so many iterations and story ideas. Eventually, we began to hone in on what we have now."

But the process was very different than normal as they were basically completely re-writing a film while in pre-production.

"It was a very accelerated, intense process — and a difficult one, because it's very difficult to write a film in preproduction, because every idea you have they want to build or design, and it might not be a good idea," explained Pegg. "Sometimes you don't have the time to go, "Wait a minute, that's not a good idea. Don't build that." So every idea we had had to be kind of good. [Laughs] So it's not easy. And then we finally got to begin shooting with a full script but knowing that every single scene was kind of up for grabs in terms of finessing the dialogue and certain character aspects. As long as we had all the sets, the shape of it, everything the production needed to go into shooting, then once we had the schedule prioritizing certain scenes and going back to them."

Pegg also says they consulted with the cast while developing the story, something that isn't usual in this process.

"We sent an email out to the cast whenever we got here saying, 'Look. Look at your character. If you have any feelings or any kind of impulses, you know them better than we do. Let us know.' And that's been really helpful."

Simon and Doug also consulted with hardcore fans in naming items new to Star Trek canon.

"We actually went out to the Memory Alpha guys, the two founders of the Memory Alpha wiki and asked them to name something for us. There's a specific thing in the screenplay that we wanted to get a name for, and so I just wrote out an email that said, "Hey guys, there's this thing, and I can't tell you what it's for, but there's this item," and three hours later I got a full etymological breakdown of the word and the history of the thing. So they're going to be thanked in the credits for that."

Pegg was described by his co-stars as being very active as a co-writer on set inbetween scenes, providing motives, ideas and new line suggestions.

"Whenever he's not in front of the camera, he's right behind it, right next to Justin and Doug," said Saldana. "They are talking about the following scenes. They are talking about the scenes they just shot. They are talking about whatever observations any character, any of us, made about their character for the following scenes. And it's just flowing out of him. ... He's such a loyal, unconditional fan of the series, it's just like watching a kid play with sand."

Pine compared the collaborative filming environment to Wet Hot American Summer:

"It's super fun, it's like...You know I did Wet Hot and it kind of had a similar vibe to Wet Hot where it's like you're in this soup of creativity and you have to figure out the scenes. So it's like if one person has a great idea then you go with that, if the script that's written is great then we go with that. If Karl [Urban] has a great easter egg he wants to throw in from the original series we're like, "Oh that's fucking great!" If I wanna do like a side gag or something, you just kind of –There's a lot of trust I think, there's a lot of trust to Simon, Simon has a lot of trust in us, and Justin as well, that we know where the characters are, what in the dynamics work, and what might be fun to do. I guess it evens the playing field and everybody has the room to play."


A Story With More Humanity And Humor

Zoe Saldana says there is even more humanity in this script than there was in Abrams' previous films, and more humor than the first film. One of the biggest complaints about Into Darkness was that it lacked the humor and humanity of the first Abrams film.

When I asked Simon Pegg about the film's comedy, he was very quick to remind me that Beyond was not written as a comedy, but his intention was to make it fun:

"I think when my name was linked to it, people were like, "Oh, no, it's going to be a comedy." That's not what we want to do, but both Doug and myself and the whole cast and Justin are very keen for the film to be fun. You know, the jeopardy to be real, the tension to be nail-biting, but not to have to feel like — and, you know, the second one is called Into Darkness, so I'm not necessarily leveling this criticism at that film, obviously; I'm in it. But there seems to be this weird thing these days about, if you gritty something up, suddenly, it's okay for us to like it as grownups. It's like justifying — like I said before, like what is essentially something that's aimed at children, but if you suddenly fill it with darkness and blood, it's okay for grownups. We don't feel guilty about liking it. But fuck that, you know what I mean? We can like anything we like. I feel like Star Trek was always very bright and very optimistic. There are some fabulous comic touches in the original series, when you watch some of the interplay between Kirk, Bones and Spock particularly, there's some lovely stuff. So we want this film to have a sense of fun and levity which never impacts on the tension and never takes anything away from the bad guy. I mean, Galaxy Quest is a great example of a really funny sci-fi film, where you have all the threat in that film — same with the zombies in Shaun of the Dead — they're completely serious, and you have comedy happening. We're not making Galaxy Quest here by any means, but it's possible to have a lightness and a comic touch and characters who are very human and still maintain a kind of genuine threat and for it to feel real and not flippant. But I kind of balk slightly at this darkness thing, because it just feels... own it, you know?"

On the other hand, Chris Pine says he pushed for more humor in this sequel.

"These films always take place during big moments of high drama, but what happens the day before the high drama? So I think there's a lot of humor to be mined in that." ... "I'm always the big cheerleader for the humor, I just wanna throw our tonal comic flavor into things so having Simon Pegg who's an advocate of that. There's a lot more fluidity in this one, and I think that comes from having done it now three times but also just because you have someone like Simon around as part of the team."

As for an example of the humor, Pine points to the opening of the film:

"One of my favorite parts of the film is the opening where you get a sense of what it's like, because you have question like, do they eat on the ship? Do they play ping-pong, hang out? What are the down times like when they're not fighting Klingons and stuff? I love having that reality, but without that that very Marvel trope of being too self-aware. I think what we do really well is that we give it that kind of 80s big blockbuster wink of "we're having a great time" but we never sink into that postmodern 21st century trope of really nudging the audience and 'Look at what we're doing', which I'm exhausted by. The earnestness is still there, which I think is refreshing."


The Most Action-Packed Star Trek Movie

While the cast and crew promised less "darkness" and more "fun" and "humanity," they also promise that Fast & Furious director Justin Lin has created the most action-fueled film of the franchise.

"Justin obviously coming from the Fast series and just knows how to handle action extremely well/ This is a more action-packed film than the previous ones," claimed Chris Pine. "I would say ¾ of the film are –once the setup is stablished, ¾ of the film is just non-stop action beat after action beat. I wouldn't wanna scare anybody, I don't think it's kind of senseless blowing shit up for blowing shit up's sake, but I think it has a real drive to it and I think that Justin's aware of not wanting to dumb the audience down that way. I've spoken a lot to him and everybody knows him for his Fast movies but he started out in grad school making small budget films and he has a really keen sense of how to move the camera and why he's moving the camera. There's a reason behind everything, so I think there's a good kind of dramatic and character push in the arc to all this action.

Saldana admits there is "a lot of action, but it's also witty action."  For filmmaker Justin Lin, action is character. The Fast & Furious franchise director told us that the film's inciting incident is the fuse and how the characters react is the core of the film:

"Action to me is no fun if it's not built around character. And that has to come from the very original impetus of why this movie exists. All the action pieces are set off of that incident and all how our characters react to it. So, for me it's exciting because it's organic. It's not artificial. It's not something that I do an action because people want to see action. It's because this journey, whatever happens, whatever causes this to happen, whatever our characters do to try to counter it somehow organically creates that."

And we weren't told much specifically about the film's action set pieces but Pine teased us with the following:

"I can't tell you about the big action scene, other than there is one action beat in this that I don't think anyone has ever seen before that Justin was incredibly stoked about. I think it was the first thing that –I think it was the first thing that he pitched to the studio and J.J. that got them excited. It closes half the film and it's gonna be pretty fun, I don't know how much more I can take."

Lin later told us that this set piece is the sequence we see in the trailers with the Enterprise being attacked by thousands of small ships.

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Not A Reinvention, But A New Collaboration

This sequel features a combination of creatives who were involved in the last two JJ Abrams-directed Star Trek movies and a bunch of creatives that filmmaker Justin Lin brought on from the Fast and the Furious franchise.

"It just feels different since there's a new creative team behind it," said Chris Pine. "New production designer, new costume designer, Justin obviously. So it's that which is different, not that it's a reinvention the third time around. I think is remarkably different because of Simon behind the wheel of the writing component of it, and Justin obviously coming from the Fast series and just knows how to handle action extremely well. This is a more action-packed film than the previous ones. And also we have the fact that it's the 50th anniversary next year, so that kind of has weighed on this iteration of it. I think for sure there's a real sense of wanting to –creatively speaking, with the design and with the writing- to pay homage to the 60s flavor of the series." ... "We've always tried to do it futuristic yet retro, but this one seems ever more retro."

Cinematographer Stephen F. Windon and costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays both worked with Justin on the last four Fast movies. There are also a couple new faces, like production designer Thomas E. Sanders, who was nominated for Oscars on Saving Private Ryan and Dracula. He once worked with Abrams on Mission: Impossible III, but had not worked on any of the Star Trek or Fast & Furious films.

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Watching Filming

The scene we watched them shoot might come very late in the film, so I'm not sure how much I should tell you. The clapboard said it was scene 129 and it involved most of the crew looking through an alien ship they found on the planet. The crew had been scattered and this scene is the first point they are all able to regroup. Spock is injured and Bones is trying to take care of him.

"Give me a plan Spock, I don't have one, no ship, no crew."  Spock assures Kirk that they will figure it out, telling him "We will do what we have always done, we will find hope in the impossible." Kirk admits he isn't smart enough to figure it out on his own. A bloodied Bones comes in to help with what he believes to be an old protoplaser "from the blasted dark ages", which he hopes will stop Spock's internal hemorrhaging. Spock quotes Shakespeare: "The miserable have no other medicine but only hope." The scene could easily be from a television episode, and from what I gather, this story has the makings of a stand-alone episode of the original series.