Red Right Hand: INSURRECTION
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

INSURRECTION

As I've spent some time this weekend diving into some script revisions on my crime procedural, Schrödinger, based on the fantastic notes given by my writer's group and by a noted showrunner who shall remain nameless, (and anticipate getting notes on Secret Project #ø), it seems an appropriate time to bring up Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft

Fade In is a book written by late Michael Piller about the experience of writing Star Trek: Insurrection and is a honest account of how the idea was generated and developed through and past release. The bulk of the book, however, deals with how Piller deals with notes from his producer, stars and the studio, and then also make budget based cuts.

Dealing with notes is such a tricky process. There's the instinct to view notes as an attack of some kind, or the instinct to think that a certain note is just plain wrong -- WRONG, I say! But the fact is, most notes come from somebody bumping on something, they just may not be aware of what the real source is, but if someone's got a problem with something, you HAVE to look at it. The further trick is that sometimes, addressing the note is not the right thing to do. Tugging one tiny little thread can sometimes unravel the entire sweater. Your script is a sweater.

Piller takes you through his thinking as he goes through the notes process. He shows you changes and how he arrived at solutions. He shows you battles against notes he didn't agree with and shows you how he ultimately addressed those as well. It's a fantastic read for any writer.

Do not think that just because you don't watch Trek or know it well that this book will be lost on you. Piller explains the odd Trekism here and there, but the bulk of the book is universal to all writers and the parts that aren't are lessons in playing in someone else's sandbox and writing a property that's bigger than you.

Where do you get this book? Amazon? Barnes and Noble? The husk of a corpse once known as Borders? No. Just Google for it.

Now, far be it from me to promote the spread of copyrighted material through illicit means-- Who the fuck are we kidding? Of course I would, though only in situations where said material is properly made available to those willing to fork over the cash. However, in this case it's a little different, so I'll encourage you to track it down rather than linking to or providing a direct download myself.

It's not so much that Paramount is suppressing it, but Piller's family apparently asked the original source to take it down, but it's out there now and not hard to find. And honestly, I can't understand why they'd want it taken down. It's not like anybody is ever going to publish a book about a lesser Trek sequel that came out over a decade ago. (Unless they want to publish it as an e-book themselves, a move I strongly encourage, but they need to just do it if that's the case).

I have a tremendous respect for Piller, not just a writer, but as a producer (and not just for Trek either, his short-lived western Legend was made of pure steampunk awesome). In fact, last year, I had the opportunity to pitch a couple of projects to a production company housed in the same building as Piller/Sagan (run by Michael son now) and had the thrill of having the meeting right there in Piller's old office, still decorated with the artifacts of his career.

The book however is a great read and testament to Piller's openness about the process of creation and the industry and should be read, not hidden. Find it.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan