Top 14 Things About Being an Extra in an Episode of Star Trek
Way back in 2004, I had the good fortune of appearing as an extra in a walk-on role on Star Trek: Enterprise. (I won a charity auction to earn the right, and as you can imagine, it was quite simply the greatest experience ever for a lifelong Star Trek fan.)
This is a quick list of my greatest memories from that experience! They are in no particular order, because to try and rank them in order, well that would be ridiculous.
Walking onto the Set
I'd say it was a dream come true, but everything on this list was a dream come true. I will never forget when the door opened to Stage 18 and I walked onto that set. First sight? The bridge, completely lit in all its glory.
Seeing My Nametag on My Uniform
Not gonna lie. When I walked into the fitting room labeled "Starfleet Men" for the first time and saw my nametag on my uniform, that was a true out of body experience.
Uniform Fitting with Bob Blackman
If you know anything about Star Trek, you know Bob Blackman is a behind-the-scenes costuming legend for the show. He was there to assist with my fitting, an honor that caused me to literally blurt from my tiny draped-off fitting room, into the cavernous warehouse where everyone was working, “I just want to say to everyone here, THANK YOU! The work you do is wonderful and truly appreciated!”
Wait a Second, T’Pau Is in My Episode?
When I found out that I was in an episode that would be part of an epic Star Trek Vulcan Trilogy, and that it would be the episode detailing T’Pau’s backstory, I could have cried. OK. I probably did cry. Yes, I cried. I have loved the T’Pau character my entire life, since the first time I saw “Amok Time” in the 70s. What an incredible honor. (I mean, seriously, I could have been in “Precious Cargo”!)
A Trek Legend Directs “Awakening”
I had been hoping that a Trek legend would be my director, so when I saw that Roxann Dawson (who played B’Elanna Torres on Voyager) was the director of "Awakening," it was a special treat. I have loads of respect for her work as a television director.
Sitting Down at the Tactical Station
When you win a walk-on role in a contest, there is zero guarantee you are going to do anything prominent. I could be in the background of one shot in which you see my shoe. Or worse! So when I was told that my role would see me at the Tactical Station firing the phasers, I didn't believe it until the second I sat in that seat. It's a moment I'll never forget.
Firing the Phasers & Putting the Ship on Red Alert
How many people do you think have fired the Enterprise phasers and put the ship on red alert? Well, whatever that number is, I'm a member of that club! That’s an experience that is too incredible for words.
The Star Trek “Shake”
In addition to firing the phasers, I also got a crash course in the Star Trek Shake during one of my scenes. Everyone knows what this is. After one rehearsal in which we were all instructed to shake in one direction as the director called “shake,” I realized if I did that, I would shake myself out of the picture. So instead, when the camera was rolling, I shaked myself into the frame…and it made the final cut!
Circuit Breaker Sparks…Over My Head
Following the “shake” scene, the crew started setting up some sparks to explode…directly above my head. As we got ready to roll on the scene, Connor Trinneer looked at me and then looked at the sparks over my head and then looked at the effects guys and said, "Are we sure he is going to be OK right there?” They semi-confidently said, “Yeah.” And I, of course, said, “No problem. No problem. Let’s do it!” At that point Connor nodded his head and said, “Oookay. Good luck, man.” It was a funny moment delivered in “a better you than me” tone.
Touring the Sets
Honestly, it would have been a dream just to tour the sets, let alone be ON THE SHOW! The sets had amazing detail, as you would imagine, and at one point when walking through the shuttlebay, I literally had to catch myself stepping around the launch bay doors for fear of falling into deep space. I also got a tour of the costume archive and Michael Westmore's make-up workroom. Amazing.
Sitting in the Captain's Chair
No explanation necessary. Another lifelong Trekkie Achievement unlocked!
Meeting the Cast
I don't collect autographs or photo ops, as I'm literally a bigger fan of the below-the-line staff on Star Trek than I am of the on-screen talent. Having said that, meeting the cast was great. On set that day were: Gary Graham (Soval), Dominic Keating (Malcolm), Anthony Montgomery (Travis), Linda Park (Hoshi) and Connor Trinneer (Trip). Anthony and Connor were particularly welcoming. Super cool guys.
To Be Continued
In my final scene, I was standing at the back of the bridge and you can clearly see me during a dramatic moment when Trip sets the ship on a course for Andoria at maximum warp. It’s the last shot of the show before “To Be Continued” appears on the screen. Very dramatic moment. After the first take of this scene, the second AD asked me to step to my left for the second take, which was clearly designed to try and get me into the scene, because it was such a tight shot on Trip. It worked! Very thankful.
What if I Was in the Previews?
A week before my episode aired on Nov. 26, 2004, I was watching “The Forge” (the first part of the Vulcan Trilogy) and as it ended, I suddenly said to myself, “What if I was in the previews?” What are the odds? At that point, there had always been a chance I would end up on the cutting room floor. You just never know. So when I saw those sparks exploding over my head in the previews, I immediately ran around my house screaming, “I’m on Star Trek! I’m on Star Trek!” It was a glorious moment.