Farragut Spotlight: Mark Hildebrand

For the next “Farragut Spotlight” – I’d thought I’d put Mark Hildebrand on center stage!  Mark is a Producer on the Starship Farragut project; he has acted, directed, written, and provided other countless contributions for our Internet series.


Mark, as you know, there are no “new” episodes of CLASSIC Star Trek being made for TV distribution.  Starship Farragut prides itself on making “CLASSIC TREK NOW.”  Being an important member of the Production Team – how does it make you feel? 

It feels great!  It’s an amazing opportunity to take a show that we love, and that influenced us so much growing up, and bring it back to life!  I believe in the original vision of Star Trek – a bright future where we send the best of mankind into space to work with other cultures.  A future where we have grown past our own shortcomings, but are still very much human beings.  With Starship Farragut, we can tell new stories in the galaxy of the Federation and Captain Kirk, but can tell them with new and original characters.  It gives us a lot of creative freedom to work in a familiar environment, and hopefully improve on many aspects of production with the technology available today.  I’m very happy that we are firmly based in the Classic Trek time period, because I love the look of the original sets, props and ships.  Starship Farragut is as much a “period piece” as Mad Men or Master and Commander.

Agree!  You wrote FOR WANT OF A NAIL (1st Award Winning Episode), which was very much historically driven, and are currently writing the script for DAMN THE TORPEDOES, which I noticed is also very historically driven.  Are you a history buff and if so, do you prefer Star Trek episodes that have historical tie-ins?

In both cases, the story concept came from someone else.  You had the idea of a story that involved George Washington, which evolved into “For Want of a Nail”.  Coincidentally, I spent many years as a Revolutionary War re-enactor back in high school and college.  So I was able to use that background to write a story and screenplay that was accurate and believable.  It also helped with casting, as we were able to work with some old friends of mine that are still involved in living history.  As a matter of fact, Mike Steen and Jim Rockwell are two of my oldest friends, and they came up with the outline for “Damn the Torpedoes”.  The original Star Trek series referenced history all the time, both real and future history (like the Eugenics Wars).  I am probably not the only person that wanted to learn more about a particular subject they touched on, and did further research.  I hope that our audiences will want to do the same.

Mark in "For Want of a Nail"

Mark in "For Want of a Nail"

On developing a screenplay, can you describe your process from taking a story treatment, which may only be three pages and developing a script that is roughly 70 pages (an hour long episode).

First of all, it has to be a good story.  I really don’t see the point of doing an episode about a character or piece of technology that doesn’t have an intriguing story.  I have to care about what happens to the characters, and I want it to be entertaining.  Luckily, we have a great framework in emulating the original Star Trek series.  We know that there is a teaser and three or four acts, and a familiar structure to the pacing, action and tension.  The dialogue is easy, since I know the main characters and the actors that portray them.  I try to be visual when I write, describing what the camera and audience is seeing, instead of referencing camera angles.  I also try to share my work with the Farragut producers as I am working on it, to get their feedback and input.

Since the Starship Farragut project is very much a collaborative project, how does that help or impede the script development process?

Well, sometimes the input and feedback from the producers can be frustrating.  But only because they have pointed out something that needs to be changed, or because I haven’t explained it well enough in the script.  Ultimately, the episode won’t get made without them, so the collaboration is an important process.  These things need to be ironed out before going into production, or they can be a real mess when filming or editing!

Thanks for your time and your countless contributions Mark.  It goes without saying that you’ve  helped STARSHIP FARRAGUT continue its mission!


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