On May 4th and 8th, principal photography for Prelude to Axanar (which received it’s full Kickstarter backing) began and ended in a small studio hidden in a peaceful corner of North Hollywood. With such talent as Tony Todd, JG Herztler, Gary Graham, Richard Hatch and Kate Vernon on board, Axanar is light years away from your average ‘fanfilm’.
Most fans will know Canadian-born-Los Angeles-resident Kate Vernon from her role as Ellen Tigh on the hit Battlestar Galactica, but her other credits include Malcolm X, John Hughes’ classic Pretty In Pink, Star Trek: Voyager, CSI, Heroes, and The 100. She is also widely appreciated by her peers for the infectious passion and mastery of her chosen craft. To elucidate a bit on Ms. Vernon’s character in Axanar, Captain Sonya Alexander: Sonya is a firebrand and hard driver, she has a reputation as not wanting command of anything more than her ship. She is second only to Garth in the number of Klingon ships destroyed during the war. We asked some of the folks on set during the filming of Kate’s scenes to talk a little about what it was like to witness her in action:
Director of Axanar Christian Gossett said: “Directing Kate Vernon is a playful tour through a gallery of rich and varied moments of reaction. The takes we’re so nuanced and subtle- and at the same time each color she showed me was consistently fascinating. I can’t wait for audiences to see the depth to which Kate became starfleet captain and combat veteran Sonya Alexander. They think they know what they’re in for but they have no idea.”
Executive Producer (and Garth of Izar himself) Alec Peters said: “Christian and I were at Wondercon last year and I was talking to my good friend Richard Hatch. Well, Kate Vernon had the table right next to Richard and I know her assistant, Lynda King, who I hike with sometimes. So we met her and when we were walking away from her table, I turned to Christian and said ‘We need to create a role for her’, which Christian wholeheartedly agreed to. Her character was then built with the idea of an ass-kicking female captain. I wanted to create a role that would be something Kate hadn’t done before, but played to her strengths, which is her incredible range as an actor, and her female strength. Christian and I agreed on what Sonya Alexander would be and we crafted her story based on that. Working with Kate was an absolute pleasure. She is a pro and a truly remarkable actress. And she absolutely loves playing in the Star Trek universe. Everyone on set was really impressed by her work and her positive spirit.””
Editor and EPK Director Robert Meyer Burnett said: “Kate’s portrayal of a battle hardened pre-TOS Starfleet Captain felt both classic, and totally modern. Her performance honored the almost 50 year old franchise, but at the same time, boldly moved the audience deeper into the 21st century. Rather than slavishly recreate something we’ve seen before, Kate Vernon brought a depth and pathos to her character almost totally absent from past incarnations of TREK.”
Sound department boom operator Jesse Akins said: “It was really great to work with someone who could be fun and jovial on set one moment, yet incredibly intentional and serious about her character’s situation and mindset in the next. A fantastic insight into what it would have been like to work on BSG.”
Director of Marketing Terry McIntosh said: “Kate projects a presence on set that is simultaneously nurturing and commanding. You know that she’s such a caring and gifted individual, but also that she means business and will deliver an impeccable performance — and that’s what Axanar received!”
Hair department head Gary Perticone said: “I found Kate to be quite lovely. We met that morning of the shoot. In the midsts of setting and styling her hair I enjoyed getting to know her and finding her sense of humor was wonderful and Kate’s graceful demeanor was was a joy! It was wonderful meeting and working with Kate and I’m hoping to in the future! ”
Anyone who was present during Ms. Vernon’s time on set was left with a sense of awe and wonder; goosebumps, chills, and tears were reported by the crew. We are beyond thrilled to have her as a part of Team Axanar, and cannot wait for everyone to see what was captured on film.