SDCC 2019: Standing Room Only For Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Documentary Panel 

The space for the DS9 panel wasn’t anything as grand as Hall H or Ballroom 20, but the love and excitement in the packed room paralleled anything in the larger halls. The often overlooked series went where no Star Trek had gone before, with serialized stories in an era well before DVR, and morally gray storylines and characters. Unlike the shining beacon of a future with black and white principles typically shown in the Trek universe, Deep Space Nine (DS9) delved deep into war, oppression, and trauma in a way no other Star Trek show had done before. 

Even now, 20 years after its seven season stint ended, fans are still enormously dedicated to the series. When a crowdfunding campaign started in order to make a very short documentary on the series, the fan response was overwhelming, contributing enough money for a full length documentary, and a theatrical release. Entitled What We Left Behind, the documentary will be available on Blu-Ray and digital August 6th, with a limited special edition only available through Shout! Factory

Many of these die hard fans packed the San Diego Comic Con panel for the chance to see and hear from the DS9 team, giving them a standing ovation. The panel included showrunner Ira Steven Behr, filmmaker David Zappone and cast members Andrew Robinson (Elim Garak), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), Penny Johnson Jerald (Kasidy Yates) and Chase Masterson (Leeta), and was moderated by Brian Ward (Shout! Factory).

Credit: Sara Remley

The fans were treated to a deleted scene from the documentary in which a practical joke was played on Jerald by Lofton, where he put a strategically placed paper towel roll in his pants (if you know what we mean) before she walked on set for the first time. Apparently the entire cast and crew were in on it because Jerald said that nobody broke. A now thoroughly embarrassed adult Lofton slid his hat down over his face as the clip played. 

Credit: Sara Remley

A never before seen behind the scenes clip of the last day of filming was also shown, where a showrunner in drag sauntered around the stage as James Darren (Vic Fontaine) sang “The Way You Look Tonight”. 

Credit: Sara Remley

Showrunner Behr shared the details of turning the series footage seen in the documentary into HD. They had originally only planned on five minutes of HD footage, but putting it together with the other standard definition scenes was so jarring they decided to put all 22 minutes into HD. He shared how Director of Photography, Jonathan West, still remembered so many details of how things looked 20 years ago, he could help adjust the conversion by correcting colors and making the footage look as exact as possible. 

Credit: Sara Remley

Cast members shared some of their experiences working on the show. Jerald dished that she and Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) wouldn’t let themselves be alone together because they were both married and their chemistry was intense. She joked to Lofton that he could “have had a baby brother.” She also shared how people have said her character in 24 helped to pave the way for a black president, but she believes first it was DS9, making the captain a strong black leader. 

Credit: Sara Remley

When asked about the personal meaning of Star Trek, Behr said that “it’s about the journey in. It’s about us today, not the future.” That the human condition and all its strengths and failures is really what Star Trek is about. That there can still be war and money and conflict, but Star Trek is still an optimistic take. That what the show is about is “the human condition, making it better.”

Masterson said that “we’ve always been seen as the little runt brother of Star Trek” but that “we were not!” She shared how so many people have told her not only that DS9 is their favorite Star Trek show, but their favorite show of all time. At that, the room exploded into cheers.

Credit: Sara Remley

Eisenberg added that Star Trek “is about the connections”, like the importance of the friendship between two different races (Jake and Nog). It’s about the connections we’ve all made, “why you’re here today, and this documentary has been made.”

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