This is Rod Roddenberry here to answer your questions. I’m the son of legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. (Did you know next year is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek?) You can find me on twitter @RodRoddenberry.
I just released a brand new 360 degree film experience called White Room: 02B3 that you can download and watch on your mobile device! You can find it here (http://www.whiteroom02b3.com/) or you can download it from the app store!
I’ll start answering questions today at 1p PT/4pm ET – Ask Away!
Is there anything you think your father got wrong with Star Trek?
Great question! Shit. I don’t know… I think the short answer is no. Certainly not everything was perfect about it. I know that he fought his hardest to get his vision out in TOS. But the obsticals were tremendous – in TNG there was more creative freedom and he was more able to express is vision of humanity and what it could be and would be – frankly that’s a future I’d like to live in. Curious – what are your thoughts? Very interested.
Would you be for seeing another Star Trek series come to television?
Absolutely. And it will happen. Not because I know something you don’t, I just know it’s money for a studio. The only concern is will it carry the messaging that has kept ST around for 50 years – or will it simply be Star Trek/Wars… the messaging is the key component.
What is your favorite Star Trek series?
TNG all the way.
Do you have any qualms about being named Rod Roddenberry?
That’s awesome! My name is actually Eugene Wesley Roddenberry – nickname’s Rod – but call me whatever you want.
How much Star Trek swag do you have in your house? Are you drowning in Trekkie women?
Of course I’m drowning in Trek Woman… just kidding Heidi! We don’t have too much ST stuff on display in the house – i keep most of the stuff I have at the office. But we do have one very cool custom made glass and metal Enterprise – it’s awesome! Photo to come….
What’s your favorite video game?
Recently Michael Dorn came out as wanting to do another Star Trek TV series called The Worf Chronicles. What is your opinion on that?
There was an article I read about Marvel-izing Star Trek – I would LOVE them to do that for Star Trek. It would be fascinating to learn more about all the characters. Worf would fit right into that scenario.
What do you think is the next great thing for Sci-fi on television?
Great question – First of all, don’t think it’s going to be on traditional TV networks… I think the next great thing could come out of a fan’s mind. Self-developed by a talented, passionate young man or women. Now-a-days almost anyone can get content out there and with computer tech people can do amazing things. Love the fan created series Star Trek Continues w/ Vic. He does a great job with that.
What do you think about the recent Star Trek movies ( the ones with Chris Pine)?
I actually like the movie. I think JJ Abrams did a great job. The first 10 minutes of the 2009 Star Trek brought me to tears – and still does every time. I know the fandom is split – but I’m less critical and realize that no one but me will every replace or duplicate the work of GR. As long as there are still messages and they are still talking about a better future for humanity – it’s still Star Trek.
Would you ever continue your father’s work then? You must have more insight than anyone into the vision he was trying to create.
I am trying to carry on the vision in my own way w/ our entertainment projects, our philanthropy projects and through roddenberry adventure. Honestly, we work in all those areas but my personal passions probably lean more towards the philanthropic side – maybe that’s the voice of my father’s visions playing out in me…
What was Gene like as a father? How do you feel about having a father who founded one of the longest running TV and film series of all time?
To me Gene Roddenberry the great bird of the galaxy was just Dad. He went to work in the morning and came home in the evening for dinner. Didn’t really get the Star Trek thing until much later. I actually produced a documentary about this – our relationship and my discovery of him as a person in relation to the ST universe. Check it out on Netflix or elsewhere. I’m proud of it.
What is the documentary called?
It’s called Trek Nation. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.
What was it like working on Earth Final Conflict?
a tremendous education not in flim making but in hollywood politics. Cast and crew were some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. Each person wanted it to be the next Star Trek in the sense that they wanted the stories to mean something and send out a positive message. Unfortunately, the distributor Tribune Ent was one of the worst companies I’ve worked with and I learned a great deal about the nonsense that can happen in the industry – and unfortunately it really soured me from working in the industry. All in all it was a great experience though. Miss those people – the good people that is!
How come the main actor got changed after the first season?
unfortunately there was friction between him and some of the producers. Kevin is a great guy and while I love Robert Leeshock as well Kevin was more of a Roddenberry character.
What has it been like to see technology advance as far as it has in the years since Star Trek began airing?
It’s awesome – but I still think the Star Trek communicator gets better service then my iPhone.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on to date?
Fav project to date: Two stand out. White Room is something I’m very excited about – Trevor Roth, Tory Mell and the entire team did a phenomenal job on that one… it’s a 360º film viewing experience and was total chaos but totally rewarding to make. Honestly, it’s pretty amazing. We’d like to use the same technology to make a feature. Actually, we partnered with the guys who do Google Maps for the tech – Immersive Ent.
Is there any ‘family wisdom’ or a proverb or something that gets passed down that the Roddenberry family has?
Family wisdom – well other than the legacy of ST – there’s not a specific thing that stands out – but definitely something I’ll pass to my son? IDIC. That’s as simple as I can put it.
Do you think your father would have hated DS9 and been a fan of VOY? Would he have liked how Andromeda turned out?
He definitely would NOT have liked how Andromeda turned out. He knew of DS9 before he passed away. Don’t think he “hated it” – I think he got his vision out in TNG and didn’t really focus on what was coming after.
What’s the best non science fiction film you’ve seen recently?
Oh damn – has an answer but it’s sci-fi (Intersteller)… um… that would be MI Rogue Nation which is amazing. Also been on a Myth Busters binge… so there’s that.
Oh – also Black Sails! Blown away when the two guys kissed each other. That show pushed the envelope – and if you’re a GoT fan you’ve got to give it a chance. Seriously.
What are you planning on doing for Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary?
Oh man – we’ve got some very cool stuff in the works! We really hope to blow it out of the water! For me it’s not just celebrating the past 50 years, but trying to figure out how we’re going to make the next 50 years even more spectacular! Of course this all starts after I see the next Star Wars movie in December. Now I should ask you – what are YOU planning for the 50th?
What is your favourite story you’ve been told by a fan?
I was once told by a fan that people who lived in East Berlin in the 70’s and 80’s would have Star Trek tapes smuggled to them – and I always felt that was pretty crazy and impressive. It was a serious crime and I don’t know what would have happened if they got caught!
Did you ever have a chance to visit the sets from films 1-6? And if so are there any interesting stories?
Funny story – at camp in ’82 I fell in love with a girl named Lisa who was at least 4 to 5 years older than me. I told my dad, and my dad contacted her father and the two of them put us on a date, and part of that date was visiting the set of Star Trek 3 – 3 or 4 … I can’t remember. Clearly that never worked out!
I showed my wife Trek Nation, and that helped her understand my passion for Star Trek. What was your biggest take away from doing Trek Nation?
Great, great question. Thanks for introducing your wife to the film. It was truly a growing experience. So sad that only 90 minutes could be shown – there was so much more. For me personal what I took away was how I fit into this whole Star Trek Roddenberry universe – and becoming comfortable with myself.
What is your favorite pizza topping?
Ha! I’m generally a boring plain guy – but sometimes I go crazy and put on pepperoni!
Do you even enjoy watching Star Trek?
Over the last 3 years I’ve been watching ST in it’s chronological order for a podcast I produce called Mission Log. We examine each episode and pull out the morals, myths and meaning and determine weather it stands the test of time.
What is something about your father and mother (a pillar of Star Trek in her own right) that you think we should know that is often not mentioned or overlooked in interviews? Similarly, what are some fond memories of them that you haven’t shared before?
Both my parents were incredibly humble people. I always admired that when speaking on stage and finished, my father wouldn’t disappear behind the curtain, but would hop off the stage and talk and interact w/ the crowd. My mother would never go into the signing rooms when she was signing autographs. She would stay at her table and sign for hours and interact w/ each person that woudl come up to her. Both of them understood what ST fans did for the show and both respected and loved each and every one of them. Something a lot of people don’t know was that in teh 70’s my father purchased and owned a sail boat and that he named Star Trek. I’ll post a photo of the boat if I can find one!
Do you keep up with any of your classmates from Hampshire?
I am actually married to one of my classmates, Heidi. 😉
What other 360 projects are in the works? Is White Room more of a proof of concept, or a movie in its own right?
Exactly – White Room was in fact a proof of concept. We made a lot of mistakes and we learned a lot and whatever we do next will be executed differently. The end result of WR is fantastic – and we’re currently refining the process in a few ways. Live and learn, right?
Love the concept behind White Room: 02B3! Is it possible to do anything with tablet/phone positioning in space? I imagine being able to move my whole body around to change the view (or strap the phone in front of my head for a vr experience). I have a windows phone so sadly I cannot play with this, but will try this out on my wife’s android!
Thanks man. As for tech, this is definitely the direction we’re head in… and also, you can already essentially do that w/ your smart phone and the current state of the technology – test it out w/ White Room and let us know.. love to see a pic with the phone strapped to your head (or elsewhere)!
What’s your favorite California dive site, and also your favorite site outside of Cali to dive?
Great question. In California love the Channel Islands, and Catalina is phenomenal as well. No one particular site sticks out as “the best” – oh – also love the oil rig dives. Each site has it’s own amazing aspect to it. Also has to do with the people you go and dive with, right?
I loved the film Trek Nation. It is my favorite Star Trek Documentary. What were some of you favorite moments during the process of making that movie? How did your view of your father change through that process?
Gotta say – George Lucas was pretty damn cool to meet! Other than that – finding the fandom had such diversity – yet the people passionate about Star Trek all came together to celebrate the philosophies of Star Trek. The belief in a better future.
Where did your father get the inspiration to create the Vulcan species, was it something to do with current events at the time of TOS being created?
You know, I’m not totally sure but I know my father always was fascinated w/ emotions vs. logic, and I’m sure part of that character came from a fantasy idea of what would it be like to just look at life w/ pure logic. Is that a better thing? Personally I think it’s the combo of the two that make life interesting… but it is “fascinating”…
What is your most prized possession from your father?
Oh that’s interesting… I don’t know… the legacy of ST of course – but that’s not a possession. Hmmm… don’t know if I’ve got one…
Were any of your father’s characters inspired by real people? If so, who?
Yes – but I don’t remember the stories! Bits and pieces were defiantly taken from people in his life. Check out that bio I mentioned – it’s talked about there.
How did your fathers role in Star Trek affect your relationship with him?
My dad was definitely busy with TNG when I was in my preteens and teens. We grew apart during that time. I was becoming a rebellious teenager – and he was the authority figure that I clashed with. Unfortunately he passed away when I was 17 still trying to be somewhat rebellious – but I’ve been fortunate to learn so much about him since his passing. I obviously has tremendous respect towards him, his vision and the Roddenberry name – both what it stands for and what it means to people.
What is your favourite episode of Star Trek? What is your least favourite?
Don’t know if I have a single fav – many of the TNG episodes are ones that I love. BUT if I had to pick one – it would be Devil in the Dark from TOS. I always liked that in the end we as an audience and as the characters on the show found empathy for the creature as we discovered it was a mother protecting it’s eggs. Love the idea of who really is the Devil in the dark? It ended up not being the creature – but us – killing it’s young. Least Fav – I’ll get back to you on that… I’m not sure the name of it….
I see on Twitter you standing behind a TWOK poster (foreign title). Is that in your room? Do you have all the Trek posters on your wall? What’s your fave Star Trek movie poster of the 12 movies?
I love that poster. We are currently at our office – and the poster was a gift. We also have one for TMP – it’s in Italian. They are awesome! I own a lot of stuff but most I keep here… and good question! I’ve never thought of a fav poster -I may need to get back to you on that!!!
Who is your favourite Star Trek character?
Fav character is Data. Each ST incarnation has an ‘alien’ character that allows us to see our humanity through a unique prospective. These are the characters I generally like the most.
What is your favourite thing about scuba diving?
I’m not spiritual – however diving is the most spiritual like experience for me. It’s my place of Zen.
Is the 360 movie google cardboard compatible?
Yes it is Google cardboard compatible. You can download it through the app store and use it with your cardboard. Love to hear your thoughts.
Did you ever watch any of the series as they were originally aired?
No, I was born in 1974… so nope. Not on TOS.