An Interview with “Memento Mori” Director Dan Liu
I recently interviewed Dan Liu, who directed this week’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, “Memento Mori”.
First, congratulations on being hired to direct for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. How does it feel to beam aboard the Enterprise?
Thanks! Everyday I’m on set, it still amazes me to stand on the bridge and realize I get to help make Star Trek. So, it feels great, but a lot of responsibility.
What are your earliest memories of Star Trek?
My mom was a big fan of TNG, so I have these childhood recollections of Picard on his adventures, the holodeck, La Forge’s cool VISOR, the Enterprise going to warp, stuff like that.
What were the most enjoyable parts about the production shoot of “Memento Mori”?
Seeing how much commitment the actors gave in every scene. One rehearsal, we played out two minutes of tension in the brown dwarf in real-time, which was kind of funny at first, but then they got really into it and it became pretty special. I also really enjoyed working with the camera team, as it felt like they could achieve anything I imagined.
What were the most difficult parts about filming “Memento Mori “?
The limited amount of time we had to film on the bridge. We had to get through a lot of scenes, and with COVID protocols and trying to keep everyone safe, it would often take longer than pre-COVID.
To direct “Memento Mori”, did you take inspiration from any other Star Trek productions?
“Balance of Terror” and The Wrath of Kahn film. But also a lot of submarine and war movies, including The Hunt for Red October, U-571, Crimson Tide, Das Boot, Run Silent, Run Deep, and The Enemy Below.
Do you know if the Gorn were always to be the villains in “Memento Mori”?
As far as I know. They were in the earliest drafts I’ve seen.
Was there any consideration to showing a Gorn in the colony or flashback scenes?
It was always the hint of a shadow in La’an’s flashback, never the full picture.
Do you recall how the Gorn ships were designed?
Our amazing art department explored some versions with the producers early on. My involvement with their design was very minimal.
One of the things you’re most well known for is editing work on The Walking Dead. Were you involved in the editing of “Memento Mori”, and if so, how was that?
Every director in television gets four days to work with their editor on the “Director’s Cut” of their episode. I like to work closely with my editor, but my involvement is pretty normal for the job.
Were there any deleted scenes from this episode?
It was a pretty tight script. Most of what we shot is on the screen.
Have you been working on any upcoming Star Trek episodes?
I did an episode for Season 2 of Strange New Worlds. I also have directed two episodes of Season 3 of Picard.
Thank you so much for this interview, and I wish you all the best with your future work.
Webmaster of WarpFactorTrek, Dan is an avid Star Trek fan who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Dan has loved Star Trek ever since discovering it in his childhood. He worked as an administrator, for six years, on the encyclopedic Star Trek website Memory Alpha, which involved studying the making of the various series and films. He has been mentioned in the official Star Trek Magazine, has qualified from a Star Trek course taught at Glasgow Clyde College, and coordinated the SubSpace Chatter (formerly The Scotch Trekker) YouTube channel, which regularly featured live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.