Robert Duncan McNeil, best known for the role of Tom Paris in Star Trek Voyager, moved on from his leading Trek role into a succesful career as a director and producer and talked with backstage at last years Destination Star Trek in Germany about that transition. Is it true that you asked Rick Berman about directing Voyager while you were shooting the pilot?

Robert Duncan McNeill: Yes. My memory is that literally on day one of the pilot, we — Rick, Garrett Wang, Brannon Braga, and I — were walking away from the sound stage and I said to Rick, "You know, I've been observing directors for a few years now, on different shows, but every show I get on seems to get canceled before we complete a full season. So, I haven't had a chance to direct on anything up until now. I've been shadowing and observing, and you guys have had a history of letting actors direct. So, I'm just letting you know..."

And he said?

RDM: "Yeah, we'll see. In a couple of years. Let’s get the show going, and we'll see." I was like, "No, no, I want to direct first season, because I've been on shows that got canceled. As much as I believe this will run a long time, whatever it takes, I want try to direct as soon as possible. Will you let me know what I need to do?"

I think that first day he thought it was just a lot of talk. But I kept speaking to him. I talked to Frakes and other people who’d done it. I started spending time in editing and screenings, particularly screenings when Rick was in the room. I wanted to hear what he liked, what he didn't, how he thought, how things could’ve been directed better... All of that.

Which Trek directors did you shadow?

RDM: Les Landau. Jonathan [Frakes]. Rick Kolbe. Because I'd been shadowing directors and I'd been on the set a long time, I felt like where I was learning the most was in the editing room, going to post, sitting in production meetings, listening to how all the department budgets worked. Things like that.


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