Piecing Together Phase II: Interview with Brian Q. Kelley

By March 6, 2011 Special Features One Comment

Photos Courtesy of Brian Q. Kelley

Brian contemplates our favorite starship… or he has shrunk the
Enterprise and is tormenting her crew like some god-man.

The Editing Bay – where the magic happens.

James Cawley, Dave Galanter, and Brian during a editing
session in his California home.



Interview with Brian Q. Kelley
by Glenn E. Smith

Hello, readers. If you’ve visited the Star Trek: Phase II website recently, then you might already know that we have the incredibly good fortune to be able to count Mr. Brian Q. Kelley among the members of our ever growing extended family. Known simply as “bqk” on the forum, Mister Kelley has actually been with us for approximately a year, but circumstances required that his identity be kept under wraps until recently. He’s been editing our soon to be released episode, “Blood and Fire”, and has recently started editing our most recently filmed episode, “Enemy: Starfleet” as well.

If you look him up in the “IMDB” website, you will quickly discover that Mister Kelley has quite an impressive resume in the film industry, having worked on such projects asQuantum Leap, X-FilesStar WarsStar Trek(s)Lost, and most recently the feature film Iron Man, just to name a very few. I consider it a great privilege to have been asked to interview Mister Kelley for our website.

Glenn E. Smith (GES): Hello, Brian. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve done in your film career.

Brian Q. Kelley (BQK): Well, since you have already mentioned some of my work, instead of telling you what I have worked on, I will tell you EXACTLY what I have done… For every project I have had the opportunity to work on, I have always tried to make that project the “Best It Can Be”… to tell the best story possible, or to make that project be something that I personally love to watch, and that I would be proud to show to my friends and family.

GES: Which projects would you count among your most and/or least successful in that regard?

BQK: Well, I have to say, of course, I love Star Trek, so working on those was cool, and I was a huge X-Files fan, so I loved working on that show …but I like a Lot of things I have worked on.  As far a least successful, I’d have to say it was probably my film called “We Found It!”… It was a show about 2 explorers who find all of the mysteries that Leonard Nimoy talked about on “In Search Of”…  I filmed the first episode, where we found Bigfoot… and tackled him, and then the FBI came and took him away from us…  I never did do any more episodes…

GES: If you had to pick one favorite project from the myriad of productions you’ve worked on, which one would it be and why?

BQK: Honestly, I can say that the project that has meant the most to me in my entire career is… “Star Trek: Phase II – Blood and Fire”…. I have told James and a few other people this. My mother actually wrote a couple of Star Trek TOS stories for Gene Roddenberry, one in 1967, and one in 1969. The episodes were not produced, but I did have the privilege of meeting Mr. Roddenberry when I was young. Star Trek has always been one of the biggest influences in my life, and Gene Roddenberry is the whole reason why I am in the entertainment industry in the first place!!!

GES: Now, that’s what I call having a major influence on someone! I assume the opportunity for you to meet Mr. Roddenberry came around the time your mother pitched her ideas. What was it about your meeting with him that drew you into the industry?

BQK: Well, Mr. Roddenberry was actually so nice to our family… We were almost out of money by the time we rented a place after driving across the country… He actually gave us all of the food out of his refrigerator the first time I met him. Another thing he did that really stood out to me was, he gave my sister Kathy and I $50 each, and told us to take our parents out for a fun day. But there was a condition. He said we had to write him a letter telling him why we wanted to work in the film industry, or we would never work in Hollywood!! After I wrote him my letter telling him how I wanted to make shows like Star Trek, he actually said that there was nothing I couldn’t do or accomplish if I set my mind to it. (He wrote that later in a letter too… I showed it to James)… Mr. Roddenberry then sent back to us our change that was left over from the $50.

GES: Wow, what an incredible story! One of the questions I had originally planned to ask you in this interview was, “Are you, like the majority of our audience, a long-time fan of Star Trek?”, but the answer to that question is pretty obvious at this point.

BQK: YES!! … Since before I was even born!!! (I will expand on this later…)

GES: (laughs) Seriously, were you a fan before you met Mr. Roddenberry, or did that meeting start it all for you?

BQK: I was always a fan, because my mother always taught us about Star Trek, and encouraged us to watch it, and talk about it, and learn from it…

GES: Hmm… A very wise woman!

BQK: Thank you sir!!  I thought so too!!

GES: Jumping forward to the present now, I hinted rather straightforwardly in the introduction that you’ve joined Star Trek: Phase II (P2) as our editor. How did you come to be involved with the P2 project?

BQK: I actually heard an interview with George Takei, talking about “World Enough and Time” and Star Trek New Voyages. I rushed home, logged onto the STNV web site, and just sat there in amazement… like a kid in a candy store… I started to download the older episodes so I could watch them…. My internet wasn’t fast enough!!! **&#@!! If ONLY I COULD SEE AN EPISODE!!! After about a day (thanks to my old dialup connection), I was able to see an episode… it was “To Serve All My Days”… I REALLY LOVED what I saw, and words could not describe how I felt. When I finally saw “World Enough and Time”… I actually cried… I felt as if my entire life had just changed… I was the kid in the candy store, taken to Toys R Us for the first time… I sent an email to the STNV website, telling them that if they ever needed an editor to work on the show, I would be the perfect editor for the job… I got a call from James Cawley 3 months later… I still have the voicemail message…

GES: What exactly did he say?

BQK: “Hello Brian, this is James Cawley… I’d like to talk to you about possibly editing for our show… could you please give me a call at your earliest convenience?”

GES: Yeah, you can always count on our captain to get straight to the point. So what did you say when you called him back?

BQK: I said: “What do you mean POSSIBLY!!!… Of COURSE I am going to edit your show!!!  … if you let me… that is…..

GES: And now that he has “let” you—as if he ever would have said, “No”’—how long have you actually been editing “Blood and Fire”, and how on Earth do you find the time to do it?

BQK: Well, I have been involved with the project for about a year, but I actually started editing it about 9 months ago… I had the first Rough Cut of BOTH PARTS completed in about 4-1/2 months… Most of the process after editing the Rough Cuts has been just refining certain scenes, and working with the Visual Effects team for the effects shots. We have also done several “Pick-Up Shots”, as the fans know, and all of those had to be edited in. James wants the movie to be the best that it can be when the fans see it, so there are often improvements we have time to make while waiting for the effects to be completed.

As far as “How do I have the time to do it?”… I actually don’t. I have spent the past 9 months with about 4 hours of sleep… and my wife wonders who I am sometimes… sitting in the back room of the house… but seriously, I really haven’t had much time to do anything except work, eat, edit, nap, work, eat, nap, edit…etc…

GES: Well, you are obviously a man who truly loves his work, so that sounds like a good couple of days to me.

BQK: Yep… I just can’t wait to see it all finally put together myself… after the final Visual Effects and Sound work have been done…  (I just want to add a note to Ralph and Joel and James…and others I haven’t contacted recently…

GES: Clearly, you’ve seen a lot of film footage in your career, and I would imagine you’ve found some projects to be more impressive than others from a production value standpoint. What was your initial impression of the “Blood and Fire” footage when you saw it for the first time?

BQK: The footage was very impressive, and the production value was outstanding!!! There is so much attention to detail, framing, and especially the lighting!! I love it all!! And the great thing is, it just keeps getting BETTER with every new shot I see!!!

GES: (Note to our Director of Photography… Told ya, D.B.!)

BQK: Dave is Great!..  Dave is Good!…   Let us thank him… Like we should!!

GES: All right. Thanks, Dave! Now, getting back to business… Have you had the opportunity to go to upstate New York and tour the P2 sets yet?

BQK: Not Yet!! @!#*! I would truly LOVE to have a chance to come up and visit the sets, but I just have not had the time to do it yet… I’m too busy editing STP2!!!

GES: Talk about irony…

BQK: I could not bear to have any fun for myself while knowing that the world is waiting for this episode to be released…

GES: Hmm… The film editors’ version of falling on your sword for your king and country.

BQK: …  or looking into your Phaser’s barrel when there is a misfire…   J

GES: As all of our fans are well aware, ST:P2 is James Cawley’s baby. Has James provided input into, or been able to sit in on any of the editing process with you? If so, how has it been working with him?

BQK: Working with James has been Great!!!… and fun…. and even challenging at times… because he has always made me strive to make things better. James said he would let me have the First Cut of the scenes, then I would send them to him for his comments and feedback… There were many times that he would suggest changes, too, and he was always right.

The BEST part about working in person with James was when he actually DID come to California a couple of times to edit, and we were able to watch the scenes together, and go through more footage to find alternate scenes sometimes… I did put the first cuts together pretty fast, and it was good for him to be able to try out different lines and things for scenes sometimes.

The WORST part about working in person with James when he was here was that… we didn’t actually have time to work much… James was always inviting me to do activities, or eat dinner, or go somewhere… Then he got the role in the Star Trek film, so our time was cut short the last time he was here… James and everyone from the crew are always a pleasure to see!!!

GES: It was reported on our website that in addition to editing “Blood and Fire”, you recently started work editing our most recently filmed episode, “Enemy: Starfleet”, which guest stars Miss BarBara Luna in her second appearance with us. Have you been able to take the time to watch any of the footage from that episode yet?

BQK: I have completed about 3 scenes so far. Yes, they are Rough Cuts, but like I said before, the production value and performances are so great, these may actually be the final cut of these 3 scenes already!!!

GES: You sound surprised by that. Is it unusual for scenes to come together that “easily” when editing a film?

BQK: No, not always, but it is just that like I mentioned before, there were several revisions
and rough cuts of the scenes we did for BAF… and I actually think that working with James has actually made me a Better Editor!!!  There were a lot of scenes I thought were good and I was reluctant to make certain changes, but they ALWAYS came out better in the end… and so I think I have learned even more as a result of this process. You can never stop learning to be better at what you do.

GES: Amen to that. And speaking of learning to be better, what about P2 impresses you the most at this point, and why?

BQK: I am most impressed by the dedication and commitment that everyone has who works on a Phase2 production… Like myself, I believe they all do it for the LOVE of Star Trek… I also love the fact that Phase2 adheres to Star Trek’s principles, and truly is the continuation of The Original Series…

GES: Speaking as a member of the production crew, I have to agree with you there, on both counts.

If you had a crystal ball in front of you and you were to look into the future, do you think you would see yourself continuing to work with P2 in the years to come?

BQK: Hopefully in the Captain’s Chair!!  J  Just kidding…

GES: (laughs) I think you might find someone in your way there.

BQK: Not for Long!! I can just edit him out of the chair!! … but… then I might possibly be fired I suppose…

GES: Well, certainly none of us want to see that happen.

As a fan of movies overall, I could probably think of about six dozen more questions I’d like to ask you, but since we’re all anxious to see the end results of the work you’re doing for P2, and since we won’t see it if I don’t let you get back to it, I’ll ask just one more. Earlier, you said you’ve been a Star Trek fan since before you were born. What did you mean by that?

BQK: I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I think it was my destiny to meet James Cawley, and to work on this show… Another thing I have to tell you is that Gene Roddenberry actually offered my mother a job working on Star (Trek Phase) 2 back in the 1970’s… She didn’t take the job because of personal family matters, and I was upset about that for 30 years… thinking how I could have grown up knowing Mr. Roddenberry better… But like I said, everything happens for a reason. Maybe I could have been hit by a bus if I had grown up in Hollywood. Then I wouldn’t be able to work on STP2 now!!  …and I know that working on these episodes serves a greater purpose than my own gratification… just look at all the people on the forum who says that James and STP2 has touched their lives…

GES: I know. I am still utterly amazed by what we, and of course James in particular, have accomplished with this project. Any closing thoughts or comments?

BQK: Yes… I just want to stress that I am grateful to EVERYONE who works on this show… and to everyone who SUPPORTS the show!! From the time I was little, I knew this would come to pass. When I was putting together my AMT Star Trek Explorer Set, and crafting makeshift costumes, and even designing plans to build part of the Bridge in my bedroom… I always envisioned this moment. But that’s as far as most people ever got.
Thank God for James Cawley!!!

GES: Thank you again, Brian, for taking the time to do this interview.

BQK:  No!!… Thank YOU, Glenn!!!


Join the discussion One Comment

  • Trekkermaster says:

    I loved the part while meeting the Great Bird of the Galaxy. What a great man he was and it proves it again. How much I would have loved to only have 1 minute of face time with The Man.

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