Writing is cool, but reading about the process of writing is something that I’ve always found interesting. It’s true that I probably discuss the process of writing as much as actually doing it, but when I read material from successful writers about their trials and tribulations I always learn something, and it’s often quite inspiring.
So, following my love of Russell T Davies’ “A Writer’s Tale”, which outlined his experiences while showrunning Doctor Who, yesterday I took possession of Michael Pillar’s manuscript regarding the writing of Star Trek: Insurrection, which always seemed to me to be a rather troubled, muddled project. Indeed, Paramount Pictures blocked the publication of Pillar’s experiences, and following the appearance of the manuscript on the internet, Pillar’s family themselves asked for it to be removed.
Despite this request being adhered to the work was already out there, and even though I’ve only read the first third of it, it’s a fascinating insight into the process and likely, in the remaining material, to lay out the vagaries of the studio system in Hollywood.
What is already clear is that the initial premise for Insurrection was very different from what eventually ended up on screen. There were originally flashbacks to the early Starfleet experiences of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and a relationship between two best friends that ultimately turned sour only to be picked up again many years later; descriptions of pretty cool action scenes and agonising over the execution of plot points that never made it. The journey from initial premise through various treatments (basically, documents that outline the story of the film) shows the evolution from early ideas, through producer and studio notes, to the final product. I have a feeling that there’s soon going to be details of a crisis of confidence and massive studio interference, as the cinema version of the finished film bears little resemblance to the early thoughts.
Anyway, more on this once I’ve read the rest. But it’s already a more than compelling read.