Ambush – Interview with Greg Lock

“Ambush” will introduce you to a new ship and crew that exist in the Star Trek universe, the USS Ambush. Set just after the events portrayed in “Balance Of Terror”, The Original Series episode. By focusing on a single away mission to rescue a captured commander, “Ambush” will shed some light on how the Federation ultimately dealt with the Romulans, after the initial incident involving Kirk and the Enterprise. As you’ll discover in the film, the crew of the “Ambush” are a very unique and specialised group of people, who would always be the first choice to deal with a delicate matter such as the Romulans. Although the crew’s existence is well known to the Federation, they’re not keen on their existence being bragged about. The name of their ship is not the only thing controversial about this crew.

James) Hey Greg, thank you for taking the time to sit and chat with me about you, Ambush and more.

Tell me about yourself, what is your day job, what you do in your spare time and general interests?

Greg) I’m Greg Lock and I’m the creator of Ambush. My day (and night) job to pay the bills is a Paramedic, with the Ambulance Service. However, I also freelance as a Film Set Builder and Model Maker. I love making models, music and films. I play the guitar, drums, and piano and love synthesisers. In 2008, I graduated from the Arts University of Bournemouth, UK with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film Production, Specialising as a Production Designer.

James) That is a job I do not think I could do TBH, I hate blood lol. I have seen some of your models and have to admit I am jealous as I really suck at making models, I tried when I was a kid and gave up as they always turned into a gluey mess lol. 

Obviously, you love Trek as you’re as doing your own fan production but what other shows do you like to watch?

Greg) Other than Star Trek, my other favourite TV shows would be The Walking Dead, Dexter, 24, Game of Thrones and Arrow. The usual stuff I guess, though not into The Flash and really struggled with Gotham, which is a shame as I’m a massive Batman fan and that’s mainly because of my love for the Arkham Rogues.

James) Do you play many games a fair few people I talk to within the fan film community do not tend to play many Trek games like STO or if they do play any games they tend to be the older ones like Academy etc, are there any games you like to play?

Greg) I’m not much of a gamer, though I will really get into a game when a good one comes out, such as GTA5 and I’m online with Star Wars: Battlefront (you can like both, one’s a Sci-Fi and the other a Fantasy), Really looking forward to Red Dead Redemption 2.

James) Moving on to Trek, Have you managed to meet many Trek actors? 

Greg) What Trek actors have I met in real life? Well… William Shatner, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby, Wil Wheaton, John DeLancie, Kate Mulgrew, Garrett Wang, Robert Duncan McNeil, Robert Picardo, Jeri Ryan, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimmerman, Rene Auberjonois, Scott Bakula, Domonic Keating, Connor Trinneer, Anthony Montgomery, Jeffery Combs, David Warner, Christopher Lloyd, Greg Grunberg and Karl Urban. Not to forgetting Trek crew, Nicholas Meyer, Ronald D Moore and Ira Steven Behr.

That’s all at conventions, apart from Patrick Stewart whom I met an actor’s Q&A in a West End Theatre and was proud of myself for getting him to talk about TNG in front of all the actors who wanted him to talk about Shakespeare!

James) OK now I feel so unworthy LOL, I have met a total of ZERO so with you meeting pretty much everyone who I want to I am feeling a bit sad now, but then again I am not much of a convention person tbh so maybe that is why I have not met anyone. 

So you have met a lot of “Trek Royalty” as I call them, this next question may be a little hard as I find meeting actors in real life tends to sway your perception of how they act in things, but do you have a favourite Trek episode? 

Greg) My favourite episode is The Enterprise Incident. Love the whole espionage element of it, a great follow-up to Balance of Terror and classic Spock romantically stalling for time whilst Kirk steals the cloaking device.

James) Do you have a fave Trek film?

Greg) My favourite Star Trek Film is controversially The Final Frontier, the justification on this can be heard on the Spocklight Podcast about this film where I was the guest speaker. But basically, the film is the best showing of the trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy and other things, including being the first ever thing of Star Trek I saw.

Listen to the podcast! My favourite Trek actor is DeForest Kelley, Dr McCoy is my all time favourite character and I wish I could have met DeForest before he passed away. He always seemed really humble and kind in his interviews. But out of the actors, I’ve met its Walter Koenig. Such a humble chap and an absolute joy to speak to, I had a great chat with him about his collection of figurines when he told me with a cheeky smirk that he does own every version of Chekov they’ve made! 

James) Although I can agree with many STV is a bad one, I think TMP and Into Darkness are the “Worst” Trek films ever made TBH, but then one thing I have come to understand is that everyone has a difference of opinion and what I find bad others find enjoyable, this is what makes everyone so interesting, how boring would life be if we were all the same.

Is there an episode you just cannot stand, I may have a feeling about this one for you since your fan production is Enterprise era based but I may be wrong. 

Greg) My worst episode would have to be “These are the Voyages”, Enterprises Finale. You don’t really need a reason.

James) I knew it and TBH that episode although it would not be my worst is a HUGE! Let down it screams “Can’t be fooked” and that is a shame as Enterprise had so many ways it could have ended but I guess when your cancelled midseason you have to come up with a way to end it, I just wish it could have been better.

Greg) My favourite series is again controversially, Enterprise, but followed very closely by The Original Series. I just found Enterprise to be really refreshing and would have loved to have seen it go to 8 seasons. I remember finding the Season 3 Xindi Arc really gripping and thought Enterprise, unfortunately, got axed just as it was getting good.

James) I loved! Enterprise, like you I found it so different it was a totally fresh take on the Trek universe and like you I wanted to see more, you just have to look at the NX-01 Refit to see this series had so much to give us. 

So what about a “worst” series, do you have one? 

Greg) I don’t really have the worst season, I guess TNG is at the bottom of my list. But it’s not rubbish, just preferred the other series.

James) Are there any fan productions you watch and are any you would rank better than others?

Greg) As for the fan films I like to think I watch a fair few. Prelude, Renegades, Exeter, Continues, Phase 2, Intrepid, Horizon. I don’t think it’s fair to rank them though as there’s too much difference with the production value of them.

James) Horizon I LOVE! It is my fave fan film out of them all tbh, and made with such a small budget which makes me respect it so much, what about other fan productions, are there any YouTube shows or podcasts you listen to? 

Greg) The only other Trek-related thing I watch/listen to is Spocklight, which I should give a shout-out to as it’s done by a good friend of mine, who’s also starring in Ambush! I respect YouTube shows like Trek yards, but I just don’t find analysing the ships interesting, I’m into Trek for the stories, characters and escapism. It’s great what they do, just not my cup of tea.

“Ambush” is going to be an exciting film and nothing like anything previously shown on Star Trek. It’ll have something for everyone, from the hardcore fans to the casual fans and for those who just like great Sci-Fi films. After a successful Kickstarter in 2014, we’re still working away (Including building sets from scratch) to bring this film to you.

James) I think this next set of Questions may be something you have strong feelings about being you loved Enterprise and this is set just after it, so it’s almost like they have big shoes to fill. 

So, Discovery are you looking forward to it and do you have any feelings on things like the ship design, casting etc? 

Greg) Yes, I’m looking forward to Discovery, Star Trek is always best as an episodic show. I wasn’t impressed with the trailer. I think (and hope) that the VFX will be better, they were just desperate to get something out for Comic Con.

I am not too keen on the ship design. I get their reasons for it, just don’t find it believable as a ship that precursors the Constitution Class. I think the casting choices are great, Michelle Yeoh is always great and the idea of James Frain as Sarek is awesome.

James) From what I have seen in various interviews regarding the ship design, they have said it has changed and there is even a rumour that we will see why it has its design, something to do with the Shenzhou being destroyed and repurposed into what we will see as the Discovery. However, I am very sceptical about that, I guess we will see when Discovery airs. 

If you had one hope for Discovery, what would you say it would be?

Greg) I simply hope that Discovery is great, gets Star Trek back on the map and has plenty of references for us Trekkies. Be nice to see some bridging the gap between Enterprise and The Original Series.

James) By now we all know Bryan Fuller has left the production like many this caused me some concern how did you take this news? 

Greg) I wouldn’t say I’m concerned with the departure of Brian Fuller, yeah he’s great and liked Star Trek, but Star Trek did service a long time without him, it’s not the end of the world, we still have Nicholas Meyer I think, who I rate more!

James) Yep, Nick like it or not was the saviour of the TMP era films, I feel if they got TWOK wrong then we would not have had 4 more films based on that era. 

Because, DSC, is going to be set in a previously unknown period of Trek history, is there anything you are hoping for in the look and feel that we see on screen? We know its prime timeline but do you hope it’s more prime than Kelvin or vice versa?

Greg) I hope the look is all reminiscent of The Original Series. This is where the JJ films went wrong. I get that The Original Series is very dated and more of a period piece, but that’s what happens when you set your show in the future. Even Enterprise is showing its age in areas. But I strongly think you just need to make subtle changes and shoot and light it in a contemporary way.

This is exactly what we’ve done with Ambush and I really like the look I have. It looks more modern than The Original Series, but my characters and ships won’t look out of place next to characters and ships from The Original Series, well that’s my opinion anyway. 

James) What do you hope they do not do with Discovery, as in PLEASE DO NOT GO THERE? 

Greg) No more rebooting, that’s all I ask. And not forgetting about the 50 years of Trek that have already been.

James) the Last question on this subject then I want to move on, Do you think the move to put it on All Access is a good or bad idea? 

Greg) The All Access thing was a disappointment to hear about at first, however being in the UK I believe we’re getting it on Netflix, which I have. Yeah, terrestrial TV as we know it is going. Hence why in the UK you now need a TV License even if you don’t own a TV but use iPlayer. I think they’ve recognised that we want to binge-watch a series now.

James) Moving on to your experience, what other productions and films have you either starred in or work with?

Greg) I have plenty of experience at youth theatre and acted in countless plays with that. Also back during my Film Degree, I would happily act in all films being made by my friends and they would in mine, back before we could pay actors or know any actors who would show up for free.

James) I always enjoy watching things with unknown actors in as to me personally it gives you the chance to see “new” talent and it makes you realise that even the best actors in the started somewhere. 

If you had to pick a “favourite” performance of yours what would you say it was? 

Greg) One of my favourites roles I’ve acted in which you can all see is the main part in the short film “The Shift”

It was a film made by good friend David Trumble and co-wrote with me, it’s based on many of my experiences as a Paramedic so has sentimental value. It was a hard film to make as it was all done throughout the nights but fun at the same time.

James) Is there anything you find hard exceptionally hard to achieve as an actor? 

Greg) In terms of what I find hard as an actor? I can’t cry on cue and I’m not great at accents.

James) Accents, er never ask me to do anything but Irish (I am English with Irish heritage) lol I like you cannot do them as they all sound the same. 

Moving onto other aspects of Filmmaking experience, how many screenplays would you say you have written? 

Greg) I’ve lost count of a number of scripts I’ve written but I can tell you I’ve written 3 feature length screenplays. One of them was written as a sequel to “The Shift” and featured a lot more of my experiences as a Paramedic, as by that point I had worked long enough to accumulate enough stories for a feature length.

James) How long would you say it takes you to complete a screenplay? 

Greg) How long it takes me varies a lot. A feature-length can take me a month on an off to present the first draft, the first draft of Ambush was done in about a week, but has gone through many revisions before we started shooting.

James) What gives you the most pleasure when writing, and what elements of the craft do you find most difficult? 

Greg) I enjoy writing dialogue and that’s what I find easiest to write, I like to think of myself like Kevin Smith in that sense as he’s first to admit that he’s not great at writing action.

James) Lastly as I am keen to move onto Ambush, Which one of your scripts and films are you most proud of and why? 

Greg) The script I’m most proud of is the sequel to “The Shift”, called “Blue Call” (the term used in London, where I worked for blue lighting a patient into the hospital).

James) Sooo, Greg let’s talk about Ambush, 

Describe your role in the production of Ambush and how a typical shoot played out from your Perspective? 

Greg) My role in Ambush is the Writer, Director, Producer, Production Designer, Set Builder, Actor and general organiser of everything!

James) So, you have your fingers in all the pies so to speak, which is a great thing to see such a hands-on approach. 

How is/was Ambush funded? 

Greg) Ambush has been funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign raising £4,600 approximately.

James) Why a “Star Trek” fan film, When and why did you decide to create a Fan series based on Star Trek? 

Greg) I had always wanted to set something in Star Trek as it’s the world I’ve loved from a young age. Due to the amount of work involved in making a film and a number of people involved. It’s getting harder and harder to get everyone together from my film degree days to make a film, we all have lives and actual jobs to live and have to earn real money to pay our bills. The truth is I’m probably only able to make one more film with my old friends and if I was to do a swan song it would have to be Star Trek as that’s what inspired me, to begin with.

James) That is awesome that you choose Trek to be your swan song but also sad that it means you most likely will not be able to film with these guys again. 

What year/ century is Ambush set in? 

Greg) Ambush is set in the 23rd Century, 2266 to be precise, right in the middle of TOS Season 1. The main difference we have compared to other fan films is real sets and not replicas of original series sets (which I have no problem with), we also don’t have any starship action. The whole film is set during an away mission and no time is spent on the actual ship. We haven’t used a single bit of green screen, every background you see on screen is really there! It’s just a 1 episode affair but formatted like a pilot for a series we won’t make. I had an idea for a ship and crew and am using this film as an opportunity to show them off.

James) That is kind of sad that we may not see further adventures of this cast and crew. So real background means you must have shot on location a lot where in the UK did you go to shoot? 

Greg) We shot the film on locations around Dorset, UK and on sets in some warehouse space that kindly donated to us. The most impressive location we shot in were some caves and cliffs on the Dorset coast, they were so alien looking it turned out that episodes of old-school Doctor Who was shot there. When the BBC needed a location for Skaro during the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who they shot where we have shot Ambush.

James) Was there any drawbacks or issues surround shooting in that location, as you know the UK weather is not stellar for outdoor shoots? 

Greg) The only issue we had was the weather. It rained on every day we shot outside and had to postpone one shoot day, but got there in the end.

James) If you had the chance to do a “crossover” with any other Fan Film Production, who would you like to do this with? 

Greg) I’d be up for crossing over with any other fan production, there are not many UK Based ones set when we’re set, so the story would have incorporated some time travel or extreme flashbacks. But I’d be really up for collaborating with any UK production as we do have a lot to offer.

James) Yeah, this is true off the top of my head there are around 6 or 7 UK based Fan Productions and all bar yours I am sorry to say have set their productions in mid to late 24th century, which does not get me wrong is cool as many fan films tend to opt for TOS era, it, unfortunately, means productions like ambush are kind of stuck for this potential. 

Do you think social media plays an important part in any Fan production?

Greg) I think social media is integral now with any fan production. A lot of the really successful crowdfunded projects had massive social media following before launching their funding campaign and it’s obvious that that’s how they were able to amass a lot of money.

With Ambush, we launched our social media campaign at the same time as our Kickstarter campaign. We were doing okay and managed to raise the minimum amount in 2 days, but we really got noticed when Axanar shared our Facebook page and ended up raising 4 times what we set out to raise.

James) I have to say that is a great result, and I take my hat off to the followers of Axanar for helping you out, 

Moving on to the cast and crew of Ambush, Who in the show is most like their character? 

Greg) The person who’s most like their character? Simple, Me! I play First Officer Eugene Gibson, he’s immature, rebellious and easily offended just like me. I basically when writing this character based him on me knowing I’d be playing him. It’s a cop-out I know, but I’m not as well trained in acting as others in Ambush, so took the easy route.

James) There is nothing wrong with writing what you know; in fact, I find the most believable characters in anything I watch tend to be ones that mirror the writers in some way. 

With the UK is not a huge country, unlike the US, do your entire cast live close by or does it take a lot of forwarding planning to get everybody in one place. 

Greg) There are about 150 miles in total between the cast and crew of Ambush, so it does take a fair bit of planning as we have to consider travel and accommodation.

James) For Ambush, who does the makeup and wardrobe?

Greg) It’s a family affair as my sister, Amber Lock who works as a freelance makeup artist did the makeup for Ambush, including the Romulan ears and eyebrows. My mum, Jane Mearns who trained as a seamstress made the costumes, mainly the Romulan ones which had to be made from scratch and the Ambush jackets which had to be heavily customised.

James) I bet you owe them some favours now then for doing all that work for you.

You said before you are working closely with some film school buddies, are these people involved in more than the acting side of things?

Greg) My Director of Photography is also my co-producer, Tom Saville. To be frank I couldn’t be making the film without him. He works full time in post-production in the industry, so his time is precious. But he doesn’t only film Ambush, he’s been editing away and doing all the VFX. I’m also fortunate to have Ricky Wallace of MadMan Shipyard who has kindly been making the CG models of the ships for Ambush.

James) Moving on to a subject that like it or not has impacted many fan productions I would like to get your view on the Fan Film guidelines, we are now almost a year from their inception but the controversy doesn’t seem to be going away and there is still a very vocal yet small band of people who are still trying to get these changed. 

How have these changed your production in terms of the premise of the film and has it had any impact on the script? 

Greg) In terms of content the script isn’t going to change much. We had characters and ships like Kirk, Spock and Enterprise being mentioned by name, but that’s being cut. Most people know by now that our film happens after the episode “Balance of Terror” so we now make subtle references to that event, without being obvious.

James) What about any plans you had to either continue Ambush or impede the plans you had for Ambush? 

Greg) Ambush was always going to be 1 episode, so we’re not worried about not being able to continue it.

James) What are your feelings on them, as everyone has had different reactions to them, how did it make you feel when they came out? 

Greg) Initially I did think the guidelines were extreme, but that’s Paramount’s right. The more I thought about it though, I realised that it gave me some creative restrictions and the fun would be getting Ambush to fit in those guidelines. If the guidelines mean that fan films in the future can potentially be exhibited at endorsed Star Trek events, I’m all for it.

James) Do any of them have you worried or concerned at all?

Greg) The guideline that I’m most worried about though is the no physical perks. But at the end of the day, I have an obligation to our loyal backers before the guidelines came out. Since the guidelines, I’ve noticed much larger and more well-known productions ignoring the guidelines completely and not being shut down, so hopefully, my little British film will be okay by giving the gifts to my backers.

James) Do you think they are actually going to negatively impact further Star Trek fan films? 

Greg) I don’t think the guidelines will negatively impact Trek Fan Films, just put us on the same playing field, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

James) How do you feel the fallout from the Axanar lawsuit is going to affect everyone from this point forward both fans and fan Trek?

Greg) The fallout from Axanar is just the guidelines, which were probably going to come sooner or later.

James) Thanks for that Greg, we are now moving into the last segment of the interview. 

What are your experiences within the “Star Trek” fandom as a whole? 

Do you have any good and bad experiences? 

Greg) I think the best part of Trek fandom is just the universal love and respect that making a fan film gets. It truly is amazing.

The worst part is, unfortunately, all the hate that can easily come your way. Last year I simply acknowledged the support that I had for Axanar and Alec Peters, because of that I was immediately branded and stereotyped. People started judging me and my film without knowing anything about either. Ambush even appeared in a “Hitler Rant” video! That bit I just found funny and humbled!

But the general hate and backlash I got were ridiculous. As apparently you’re allowed to acknowledge support one receives, who figures? Then when I stated that I would happily comply with the guidelines that came out you start seeing posts like “surprise surprise” and you’re branded as a turncoat, even though you always stated you’d follow any guidelines that came. Confusing, but it is just a small group of people in the grand scheme of things. Rant over.

James) I was not aware you were in one of “those” videos, man that’s bad, but hey things have moved on now and I am “hoping” people are starting to move on from all the drama surrounding that “issue”. 

In your experiences, in making films and from having a degree in the film what advice would you give to anyone wanting to make a film? 

Greg) Work with what you have. I knew that I’d never have space or resources to build a full-size bridge set. So I purposely made sure the story of Ambush did not need one. Work out what you have and make the best you can with what you have. You can actually achieve a lot if you scale things down.

James) that is a great bit of advice and one that many should follow, with Ambush do you have any Regrets?

Greg) The only regret I have is taking so long.

James) Lastly Greg is there anything you want to say to the fans of Ambush, who are watching and waiting for you to release your film?

Greg) Bear with us. The film is coming this year. I know we’ve taken a lot longer than anticipated and that’s mainly due to me, getting married, buying a house and going through a career change took a great deal of time. Plus many of the professionals we had got more actual paid work, which is great for them but does mean that Ambush has had to be on the back burner for a while. This project has been a massive learning experience on so many levels.

Thank you for sticking with us, we’re getting there and hopefully, you won’t be disappointed with what we release.

James) Thank you so much, Greg, for taking the time to sit and talk to me.

You can Ambush at the following links