Interview with Star Trek Director Hanelle M. Culpepper

  1. What was it like to direct Sir Patrick Stewart, who had already formed the character of Admiral Patrick Picard in TNG and the films?

 

He had clear ideas on where Picard was in his life but was still collaborative and open to a dialogue. He thought deeply about the character and every line he said in the script. And he’s just an incredibly kind person.

 

  1. The first two episodes of Star Trek: Picard established a new Federation that was formed after Star Trek: Nemesis. How did you create this new darker version of the Federation?

 

That’s more for the writers, but I’ll speak on the visual side. Picard was no longer welcome at Starfleet and didn’t fit anymore, so I wanted to show that visually by contrasting the worlds. I wanted Starfleet to feel powerful but stark by using a cooler color palette and glass and steel that contrasted with the warmer colors and textures I used for Picard’s home.

 

  1. While there have been Romulans throughout all of Star Trek, they have been kept mysterious for the most part. We only get glimpses of their language, technology, and culture. In Star Trek: Picard, we start to learn more about them since Jean Luc Picard lives with two of them. How did you take into account fully forming this alien species when you were directing the actor playing Romulans?

 

The actors and I learned as much as we could about Romulans, which included having Michael Chaban, the showrunner, write bios on the characters. That backstory and history were invaluable for giving them an inner life. We had some rehearsal time to talk through things, try things, and make decisions like, should Orla use her Irish accent? If so, what does that mean? And we played around with their relationship to Picard, which was informed by their history. We approached it like you would any character, making sure there’s lots of richness and complexities.

 

 

  1. How did you select beautiful locations like the Picard winery in the first two episodes?

 

One of the first things I said in my initial interview (which I had before I was allowed to read the script), is that I felt Picard would be living on his vineyard and that I wanted to shoot in a vineyard that genuinely felt like a vineyard in France. The location they used in TNG must have been convenient for shooting, but truly looks like a house in Encino. Shooting in France was quickly struck down, but we were considering Napa Valley. Then the locations team showed us photos of the Sunstone Winery, and I was struck by how it looked and felt like wineries I’d visited in France. Our first visit, I was in love with the place. The owners built it with authentic French materials flown in from France. It had the right scale of grandeur and comfy home. And it had that beautiful warm color stone which fit with the color palette I wanted for Picard.

 

 

  1. Do you have a favorite scene in the episodes you directed?

 

I honestly don’t think I can answer that! There were so many! Can I give you my top 5? The Ten Forward scene, Dahj’s fight in the apartment, Picard’s interview with Richter, the first time Picard meets Rios, our introduction to Raffi at her trailer. And a 6th, when he says engage. I also loved it when he visits the archive to find the painting. See, I told you I couldn’t answer that.

 

 

  1. Do you plan to direct more episodes of Star Trek: Picard and Discovery?

 

I sure hope so!

 

  1. What do you think are the themes of Star Trek: Picard?

 

Family and what makes a family, identity, finding your purpose, acceptance of others and the courage to question authority

 

  1. Star Trek: Picard is the first Star Trek show to operate mostly outside of Starfleet, and we see more of civilian life in the Federation. Was that freeing or hard for you since you are also a Star Trek fan?

 

I think it’s freeing and also makes it more interesting for me as a fan to explore areas that haven’t been frequently explored already.

 

 

  1. What is your favorite Star Trek series?

 

The Next Generation!

 

  1. Who is your favorite Star Trek character?

 

I have to say 3 — Picard, Riker, and Data with Worf following very closely behind.

Facebook Comments

Post Author: Paloma Bennett