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Old July 13th, 2017, 07:22 PM
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Default From the murky depths of my hard-drive...

I found a copy I made of a 2009 interview with Melinda Snodgrass about Star Command/In the Fold. I'll post it here in case anyone is interested. Part 1:

An Exclusive Interview with Science Fiction Writer Melinda Snodgrass
We Discuss the Cult Classic Film, Star Command
Jason Rider, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Aug 26, 2009 "Share your voice on Yahoo! websites. Start Here."
Science Fictions
Military Fiction
Science Fiction Films

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Melinda Snodgrass
Date of Interview: 08/19/2009
As a science fiction author and long-time fan of the genre, I spend a lot of time (too much, my girlfriend will tell you) digging up gems from my childhood to rediscover once more.
In 1996 a made-for-television film called Star Command came on the scene and was instantly accepted by science fiction/ space opera fans alike for its combination of deep-space military action and teen drama elements.
While an official DVD release has never graced North American markets, the film has a developed a cult following throughout the years which includes fan sites, YouTube clips and even forums devoted to locating a homemade copy of the picture on DVD.
Written and produced by science fiction powerhouse Melinda Snodgrass, whose credits include script supervision for Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as episode writing of such sci-fi staples as Odyssey 5 and Sliders, Star Command was literally born from of science fiction brilliance.
I recently had an opportunity to talk to Ms. Snodgrass about her projects past and present (with emphasis on uncovering some of the dirt on what went on behind the scenes in Star Command's production). Without further ado:

Melinda, even a mere glimpse at your profile reveals involvement in some of the most beloved science fiction franchises of all time. Do you have any favorites/ were any more fun to work on than others?

Writing The Measure of a Man (Star Trek The Next Generation Season 2, Episode 9. Entertainment Weekly ranked this episode #6 on their list of "The Top 10 Episodes") was a joy, and I was lucky because it was shot pretty much exactly as I wrote it. My other really fun experience was writing an episode of Odyssey 5. It was a great show with really juicy characters, and they were fun to write because they had such distinct voices.

How did you get started in writing science fiction? Were there any works that inspired you early on?

I started writing S.F. because my best friend said, "I bet you could write if you tried." I was miserable being a lawyer so I tried and I loved it. I had always read S.F. My father read Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea aloud to me. At seven I discovered A Princess of Mars by Bourroughs and Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Heinlein. I was hooked.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am writing book three in the Edge series. Book two the Edge of Rage is coming out from Tor in April 2010. I am writing the first book in an Urban Fantasy series called This Case is Gonna Kill Me. It's about a NY law firm where all the senior partners are vampires, and werewolves own Blackwater... oh excuse me XI or whatever they call themselves now.

The main purpose of this interview is to get the inside look at the 1996 film, Star Command so if you don't mind, let us turn our attention to those early days of development. How did the concept come about?

Paramount and UPN wanted to develop a story about cadets at a Starfleet-type academy. I had suggested that that ought to be the next Trek franchise, but they went with Voyager instead. I was asked to develop the series, and since I love tales of the navy and I want to go to the stars it was a great assignment.

How long did it take you to flesh out the first draft?

First I had to write a 20-page outline of the entire two-hour story. The producers gave me notes, and I made adjustments. Unfortunately one of their notes was that I should include a robot. I fought against this, but lost the fight. Hence Artee. In addition to the pilot episode I came up with 14 or 15 potential episodes. One of the biggest mistakes is thinking an idea is a TV series, and then discovering you have nothing to do after episode three. I wanted to be sure there was show here.
After that I was told to go to script. You generally have four to eight weeks to write a two-hour script. I don't remember what it was for Star Command. I think it took me about a month and a half. For a one-hour TV episode you have two weeks to write the script.

Once the script was finished, please share the process of obtaining studio backing/ green light for the film.

I didn't have to do any of that because it was already green lit. I had been recruited to write it.

Were you involved at all in the casting process? Were the roles filled as you envisioned the characters in development or were changes in the script necessary to accommodate the actor choices?

I was very involved in casting. Except for the two adults the head of the production company wanted Morgan Fairchild and Chad Everett. Morgan was a doll to work with. The kids I worked with the director and line producer and the head of the company to cast. There is one funny/tragic story. We heard a young actress read for the part of Ali. I loved this girl, and wanted to cast her on the spot, but the men (I was the only woman in the room) thought she "wasn't pretty enough". The name of that young actress -- Hilary Swank.

As the first American studio to begin shooting at the former East German Babelsberg studio, what was production like?

Difficult. The east hadn't been open for that long, and we had a mixed crew of East and West Germans. As our East German line producer said -- "Under the Communists it didn't matter how long it took to make a movie." He directed one film about Vietnam that took 14 years to complete. They were dismayed by our 20-day shooting schedule. There were also some technical problems that meant my wonderful editor couldn't start to work for a week. By then some nice character scenes had been cut because the director was worried we were running long, and Edgar couldn't tell us if that was true or not. Turned out we were ten minutes short, which is way worse than being long. There was no way to bring back the young cast so I had to write some filler scenes and we ended up with way too many special effects shots that went on way too long.

The interesting thing about 1996 is the move to rely upon computer-generated imaging hadn't fully overtaken the special effects industry. That said, the visuals in Star Command still hold up well to this day. Did you have any hand in the production of the exterior/ space effects?

We tried having the visuals done by a company in East Germany, but they were an architectural firm, and they just weren't up to the task. We ended up having to have everything redone in L.A. Somehow my line producer and I still managed to bring this thing home on time and on budget.

How long did it take to complete shooting?

Twenty Days.

Many sites list the film's title as Star Command or In the Fold- Is one title more official than the other or are there two names simply due to regional releases?

We had a hard time coming up with a title. My director suggested Star Rats, which I loved, but the senior people at Paramount and Wilshire Court did not love it. Because I called going into FTL "folding" Artie suggested In The Fold. They didn't like that either so we ended up with Star Command. My original title was The High Command.

It's often rumored that Star Command was to serve as the pilot to a potential weekly series in the vein of Star Trek Deep Space 9 or Babylon 5. Is there truth to this rumor? What caused the plans to change, and had you written any further episodes for the prospective series?

Yes, it was supposed to be a series, but there was a duel to the death between an exec at Paramount and his archenemy at UPN. The Paramount guy loved the show and wanted it to go forward which meant that his rival had to kill it. Thus does Hollywood work.
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