Producing Star Trek‘s 2nd pilot
The making of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was an eventful period. Not only was the episode’s casting process officially a “go” from 11 June 1965 but so was, in general, its pre-production phase. The filming of Star Trek‘s second pilot was about to begin.
Before the episode could go before the cameras, the team tasked with producing it had to be brought together.
Robert H. Justman, an Assistant Director on “The Cage”, continued in that role, as well as Associate Producer, since it was less costly for one person to do two jobs rather than hiring a second person to do one of them.
Gene Roddenberry invited Robert Butler, who had directed “The Cage”, to direct the second pilot, but Butler, having a “been there, done that” kind of reaction, declined. Hired to direct instead was James Goldstone, a veteran of such television programs as The Outer Limits (where he worked with Justman) and Dr. Kildare.
Alexander Courage returned to compose and conduct the musical score. Roddenberry sent him the script of the episode on 6 July 1965.
James Goldstone, involved in the episode’s pre-production from an early stage, wrote long memos of script notes about the episode’s script while it was being revised. These included extensive notes on such topics as the technical aspects, the dialogue, the portrayal of Gary Mitchell, the filming setups for the scenes that take place in the maximum security area, and the relationship between Kirk and Spock. Goldstone later remembered, “Work continued on it, memos were written, but there were a lot of things that we just didn’t know how we were going to do.” The director appreciated the fact he was involved in the inception of a series and yet didn’t have to be concerned with the ongoing issues of regularly working on that series.
Goldstone actively sought out a Director of Photography who was familiar with shooting in black-and-white and knew how to deal with depth of field. He initially tried to hire William Fraker, who was not yet a D.P. and was instead a camera operator, as the Director of Photography, but ultimately wound up hiring Ernest Haller for that position. He had worked as cameraman on Gone with the Wind, which had been shot on the same studio lot used for this episode.
Regarding this episode’s cinematography, Goldstone later explained, “We were doing some very radical things with color, attempting some things that were not conventional.” He went on to say that what they were aiming for, in regards to the color palette, was “variations in pastels, and using color based on the lights, to have changes of mood as well as depth based upon colors, to get out of the ‘Earth’ look. And that’s why a black and white cameraman was so essential, because it’s easy to shoot in color, much easier than black and white, and depth is created by light and shadow.“
The phaser rifle prop was designed and built for Gene Roddenberry by toy inventor Reuben Klamer, and the silver-colored eyes of the super-powered Mitchell and Dehner were made especially for the production by optician John Roberts of Roberts Optical Company. They were optical lenses that incorporated tinfoil for the silver look. The episode had the distinction of having its makeup effects overseen not by Fred Phillips but by another Desilu staffer, Robert Dawn.
There was some initial consideration of filming on location. As Goldstone stated, “I recall scouting locations. They were talking about shooting in a chemical factory downtown in regard to the [scenes on the] planet. All sorts of elaborate stuff, and we determined to do it all onstage.” In particular, the exterior view of the lithium cracking station was initially to be shot on location.
Like “The Cage”, this pilot was shot at Desilu’s Culver City Studios, the company’s secondary studio facility. Three soundstages on that lot were used for the production of this episode, with one used for the Enterprise‘s interiors, another used mainly as the innards of the lithium cracking station but also for the small beam-down area outside the station, and the third stage representing the other Delta Vega exteriors.
Despite having the Enterprise sets left over from “The Cage”, they needed to be changed so that, if the second pilot sold, they could be shot, during production on the series, from a variety of camera angles, rather than just one angle. Walter “Matt” Jefferies was consequently involved in redesigning, refurbishing and restructuring those sets. The only new Enterprise set created for this episode was sickbay.
During filming, there was only a limited number of dressing rooms, so the actors were asked to double up. As a result, George Takei and James Doohan ended up sharing a dressing room during their work on this episode.
The episode had to be produced within a certain number of days, not to demonstrate to NBC that the show could be done that way on a regular basis, but so that Desilu wouldn’t go broke producing the episode. The shooting began on 19 July 1965 and was scheduled as a seven-day shoot but wound up lasting nine days, six of which required Mitchell actor Gary Lockwood to wear the silvery contact lenses.
George Takei worked on three of the nine shooting days. He later recalled, “My three short days filming the pilot episode flew by. The schedule moved at breakneck pace. The pressure was particularly intense because Star Trek was such an unusual show. Everything was seminal. We were creating a whole new world solely out of the imagination of Gene Roddenberry, filled in with the spontaneous inventions of the actors and technical wizards on the set.” Takei may be forgiven for not citing Samuel A. Peeples, the episode’s writer, among those “creative wizards”; due to being too busy producing some other shows, Peeples wasn’t active, at all, in the production of this episode.
William Shatner didn’t sit in the Enterprise‘s command chair until the second day of filming, 20 July 1965, although the clapperboard for that day labeled it as the first day of production.
Dehner actress Sally Kellerman found her Starfleet uniform costume was so form-hugging, especially around her nether region, that she was given a futuristic-looking “space clipboard” prop to help cover that part of her body and, whenever possible, Goldstone filmed her from the waist up.
Disaster, in a manner of speaking, struck on Friday 23 July 1965, the fifth day of filming: whereas environmental factors such as pigeons and bees had been a concern immediately prior to production on “The Cage”, it wasn’t until production on the second pilot that there was a sting in the tale. Bees, nested in the studio rafters, warmed and agitated by the hot lights and noise of the studio, swarmed the sets. William Shatner and Sally Kellerman were stung, but luckily they had a weekend break for the swelling to subside, and plenty of make-up on Monday morning, to cover the injuries.
Other difficulties developed from both Sally Kellerman and Gary Lockwood having to wear the hard, vision-obscuring contact lenses. Leonard Nimoy considered these struggles to be the most memorable part of the episode’s creation.
Makeup artist Robert Dawn deliberately made Mitchell’s hair progressively greyer throughout the episode. Stage blood, glycerin-based stage sweat, and other makeup effects were also used during the climactic fight scene.
The eighth day of production was Wednesday, 28 July 1965, when the scene being shot was the hand-to-hand fight scene between Mitchell and Kirk. When the shooting on this day fell behind schedule, the last shot was to be a large-scale dolly shot on the set used as the surface of Delta Vega, and a wrap party was to begin thereafter. James Goldstone, in a frantic attempt to make the filming end as soon as possible, gave an impatient Lucy Ball a broom so she could sweep Styrofoam, used to represent sand and which the set was largely made of, away from the dolly tracks. Due to the delays, the cameras rolled until 9:37pm on this night. With principal photography having finally wrapped, the next day, 29 July, was reserved for some extra pickup shots.
Afterwards, post-production began. The 1965 fall season was already well into production, so all knew that they would be aiming at a 1966 premiere. This gave plenty of time for scoring by Alexander Courage and special effects by the Howard Anderson Company (although the exterior view of Delta Vega’s lithium cracking station was ultimately done as a matte painting by Albert Whitlock).
Whereas the Enterprise studio model was being shot for this episode as early as 23 July 1965, the episode’s score wasn’t recorded until about four months later, on 29 November.
Regarding the visual effects this episode called for, James Goldstone noted, “I have vague memories of a tremendous number of elaborate optical things and mechanical effects things that were discussed. We didn’t have time for all that.“
Nonetheless, the visual effects workload of this episode was so intense that, in 1965, visual effects director Darrell Anderson, of effects house Howard Anderson Company, had a second nervous breakdown (he’d experienced his first while working on “The Cage”). He would later suffer a third nervous breakdown while working on the opening and closing title sequences for The Original Series. That incident ultimately led to this episode having not one but two different pairs of title sequences. The first of those was deleted whereas the second, incorporating the title of this episode in Kirk’s opening voice-over, was used for this episode as well as, with minor variations, all subsequent episodes of the show.
A few other moments were filmed but ultimately cut from this episode. They involved Kirk suggesting to Spock that the latter may someday learn to “enjoy” his “bad blood,” as well as a couple of emergency scenes in the corridors of the Enterprise. These corridor scenes included shipwide announcements audible there and the characters of Doctor Piper and Gary Mitchell separately rushing past the camera.
In fact, not only did James Goldstone helm the episode as its director but he also worked on editing it, later noting, “I never saw ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ for the first time, because I was working on it ALL the time. The postproduction was rather long because of the opticals, and I kept working on it all the way along, along with Gene, once I had done my cut.“
Next time, I’ll analyze, in depth, what kind of legacy “Where No Man Has Gone Before” has boldly gone on to have.
David Eversole has been a Star Trek fan since he saw “The Apple” in 1973 at age nine. He has written spec scripts and pitched (most notably for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). A two-time winner of the Rod Serling Memorial Scriptwriting Contest, he lives with his wife Annie in Ohio. His script reviews for TOS episodes can be found here.