On October 15, 2015 I boldly went… onto the set of Star Trek Beyond.
After auditioning that August, I was invited to act as an extra on the final day of filming at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. The production had been filming around Dubai in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) (where some set shots were captured).
I arrived on set at 11 am Thursday, October 15 and left at 5 am the morning of Friday, October 16 (18 hours total with 17 of them being active on the set). By 9 am that same morning I was on campus at American University in the Emirates (AUE) teaching MKT 200, Principles of Marketing!
This wasn’t my first time on a set — I have appeared on three game shows.
- Winning Lines (Aired January 15, 2000)
- On the Cover (Aired September 22, 2004)
- Trivial Pursuit: America Plays (Aired October 14, 2008)
However, this was my first experience on a movie set. It was impressively overwhelming. Several hours into the night I started to feel as if I actually was living in the Star Trek universe! Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures as we were prevented from bringing our mobile phones.
Strangely, despite the futuristic character of the world in which Star Trek is set, all of the extras were “Amish adjacent” during the filming — we actually had to speak with each other!
I didn’t see myself on screen, but the set I was on was featured towards the beginning of the film as the USS Enterprise arrived at the Yorktown Space Station. My mind is also filled with memories I will remember forever:
- A Walk to Remember: I quite literally I walked for 12 hours straight (more or less). For a majority of the shots in which I appeared I walked with a similarly costumed character — either side by side or single file. My feet ached for a week and I wore sneakers to work!
- Green Screen: I walked in front of a green screen with my face covered by an extended knit turtleneck part of my costume (this made it nearly impossible to see). The crew also took a series of photographs of me and did a 360 degree 3-dimensional body capture.
- Meet and Greet: I shook hands with Simon Pegg after his scenes in the film concluded. I had just seen another film of his, Man Up, and shared with him how much I enjoyed it. At one point during a break I also used the bathroom at the same time as Zachary Quinto (but I didn’t shake his hand).
- Social Experiment: One of the most interesting aspects to the experience was that people naturally grouped themselves together with others in similar costumes; even people in different Star Fleet uniforms and different ranks segmented themselves together.
- Well Armed: The costume I wore was alien-esque (I had four arms), but I did not have an alien head. I was able to wear my costume with my face showing during my work on set and got to walk in front of, behind, and along side several of the main characters including Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock.
After the movie was released I appeared for the third time on Ben Olmos’ “The Satisfactionist Podcast” with Shah Qhan — a friend I made on set. Shah and I discussed our experiences as extras; there is a great amount of detail in the recording if you’re curious to learn more.
We also shared our thoughts about other entertainment topics. However, I edited those segments out and only kept the Star Trek Beyond commentary. If you’d like to listen to the full podcast you can do so here.
Notably, while I didn’t make it into the film they were filming bonus features for the DVD — so look for me there!
Live long and prosper.