In this week’s Melbourne files we talk to Ronald Seipel, the actor behind Commander Anthony Tate.
Ronald is not only a first-time actor with his role in Melbourne, but he is a keen modeller who builds custom models not just for fun, but also for other people, and his custom models are things of beauty.
Hailing from Colorado, home to Cheyenne Mountain which is not only the home of NORAD but also the home to the fictitious TV show Stargate SG1.
“Ron Ron Ron…. So many times that’s all you can say lol he’s one of those ppl that know so much about TREK that he’ll put you to shame lol if I were to go on a trek game show, it would be with him. The dude was the first hire as far as actors and I knew he would fit the part perfectly, and he did.”
Vance Owen, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hi Ron, thank you for taking the time to sit with me and answer some questions about not only your role in Melbourne but allowing me to discuss your passion for modelling.
So, I guess I will start with the obvious, tell me a bit about yourself.
Ron) My name is Ronald Seipel I’m 54 and live in a small town in western Colorado, I’m retired but not by choice I was injured on the job and now disabled. I am a huge Star Trek fan, I’ve been watching it since its debut in 66 and I always wanted to be in one episode, but that just wasn’t in the stars, I have been collecting Trek items for a long time and have a good size collection. I have model building business RPS Custom Models it is also a Facebook page, it seems that I build a lot of Trek models but I build all genres.
James) I have seen your page it is AMAZING! And if you lived in the same country as me, I would so hit you up to make one for me.
You say you have a passion for Trek, can you expand that for me what makes your passion so great?
Ron) Well like I said above Trek has always been in my life, it taught me not to judge other races and that if we put our minds to it we can achieve anything it also gave me a strong sense of morals. If we really could all live like that the planet would be a much better place.
James) That is so true, especially in the modern world ATM people seem to be going a bit crazy however politics lol so not going there J
You recently went on the Trek Cruise tell me about it, what was it like?
Ron) OK, it was the inaugural Star Trek cruise hosted by Mr Shatner and there were other guests as well like Marina Sirtis Denise Crosby ETC plus it was our 3rd year anniversary and honeymoon and my wife’s birthday all rolled up in one. Only got to see two places due to the weather Cozumel was first, then Nassau which I will never set foot in again. The parties were late starting but fun each night had a different theme Trek style. It was just what the Dr ordered.
James) That is cool, wish my other half would get me tickets to the Trek cruise for my birthday lol. The Cruise lasted several days, do you have any funny stories to tell?
Ron) Well on the first night of the cruise my wife and went to dinner and suddenly around comes Ethan Phillips (Neelix) so I invited him to sit with us and he did which was great, he told us a couple of stories and how long it took to do the makeup which was 5 to 6 hours. After we were done, we said Goodnight and went our own way.
So we are now waiting for the elevator so we can get to our room and the doors open and standing there is my hero William Shatner I’ve always wanted to talk to him and not about Trek so I said hi and asked him about his horses and he started talking away and showed us pictures of a grass and dirt stone that sometimes horses get and it was as big as a Honeydew melon. But he was really nice and we talked about ponies until he got off so that was like the best day ever.
James) That is really cool and I’m jealous as fook lol… Especially the fact you stood and spoke to the legend himself and not just about Trek, but about him as a person, that is so cool!
So with the exception of Ethan and Bill, what other Trek Actors have you met?
Ron) I have met a lot of Trek actors like pretty much all of them but Nimoy, Kelley and Doohan I know Chris Doohan fairly well I met him in Vegas in 2014 while I was waiting to talk with Vic Mignogna about trying to be an extra on their fan film and we just hit it off, I have a pretty extensive autograph collection TOS tunic signed by all but the above three, a TNG uniform signed by everyone from that series a poster from Voyager signed by almost everyone and last year I bought the very first issue of the DS9 magazine signed by almost everyone o now all I have left is the Enterprise series to get signed off. I will have pretty much all of them, plus I have other signatures from other actors that have been on one series or another.
James) OK, so you have met a lot of people in the Trek universe then… LUCKKKY!
Speaking of the universe, when you think of the Trek universe as a whole is there anything that makes you thankful for being a part of this world?
Ron) The people I meet its like we are family, we are all outgoing and happy people, and we do kind of life like we were in the 22nd century where there was no racism and hatred.
James) Sound words, so moving on to your favourite series, out of all the 5 live action series and the one animated one what one would you say is your go-to favourite?
Ron) I will always be a TOS guy it had the stories with characters that showed humanity at its best and its worst, it showed us that we could be a better person and put aside those certain feelings that we humans have about governments and racism, and what could possibly be if we all could get past these petty differences.
James) and do you have a “worst” series?
Ron) I was never a big fan of DS9 even though I watched all of them, I thought that it was just too bland the only discovery, they really made was in the Gamma Quadrant through the wormhole which in the end almost became the end of the Federation because of the Dominion War which basically saved that series otherwise it was just plain boring.
James) I have to admit, I am not sure I agree DS9 had so many layers, yes, there was the War, which was something we never saw in Trek before, but also the religious undertones that you only really get after watching it several times over and over, from the Emissary through to What we Leave Behind it was set up to be a subplot through the entire series.
I will admit though that I am biased since it is the type of story I like lots of layers and you have to watch carefully to get it all.
What about episodes, are there any episodes you love and hate?
My Favourite Trek Episode
My favourite episode is from the Original series, it’s called The Doomsday Machine it brings together two Captains that have totally different command styles, Decker is like shoot first, ask questions later and Kirk is like I need info and facts before I make a decision. Plus, it is one of the few episodes that saw another Starfleet vessel albeit destroyed but there it is.
The Worst Trek Episode
The worst episode that’s a hard one there are several throughout the Trek history Move along Home from DS9 that had to be the worst I mean you are playing a game that can actually harm other contestants by making the wrong decision or move plus it really wasn’t much of a game, to begin with, it was more like a holodeck adventure that plays in your mind it just really
James) yeah that episode is awful and that song is awful lol.
Do you play any Trek games?
Ron) I play Trek Trivia but that’s about all I play in the Trek world.
James) So, Discovery, now we have seen more info leaked on the new series, are you looking forward to it?
Ron) I’m waiting to see it, yes, but they keep pushing it back which is making me less interested. Although a guy I buy my electronics from for the props I build knows the lead modeller and he gave them all my info so I’m waiting to see if they call, that would be way cool.
James) when the first trailer landed there was a LOT of disappointment, were you worried at all at what we saw and what it may mean for the series?
Ron) Oh yeah, it looked bad the CGI was way off and they really had nothing to show but that damned ugly ship. I still keep hoping they will not use it.
James) I have to admit I had my giddy Trek moment, then when I saw it a few times I was like hmm, I am not sure how this ship will fit in with “canon” as even the NX – 01 looked more advanced but I guess we will see.
We have been told who has been cast thus far have the recent castings alleviated your concerns a bit, as we have some damn good actors lined up now?
Ron) Well, I only know of 2, Michelle and that other guy his name eludes me LOL, but you really can’t give an opinion on who they have picked until you watch a couple of episodes.
James) Yeah, this is true, however, with all the actors lined up I do think I am starting to warm up to the idea of Discovery.
Look, everyone, you must have hopes for the series, what are they?
Ron) That it stays with the original timeline and the stories are similar to canon and the Roddenberry concept
James) Well, one thing that worried me from the moment they announced it was what the timeline was it to be set in which I am glad we know now is the Prime timeline.
With the exception of the worries you have over the Discoveries main design are there any other areas you hope they do not touch or should I say DO NOT GO THERE lol.
Ron) Try to bring in much of the Kirk timeline of people in I mean they already are bringing Sarek in and I think it’s too early in the setting for that.
James) Yep, even if I think they try to hard it will just mish-mash mash of rebooting meets why bother,
Are you concerned with the sudden yet not surprising departure of Bryan Fuller?
Ron) Yes, now I hope that the others have the passion for Trek and candescent episodes and the filming crew is good.
James) Aye, although I was not overly shocked I have to admit he was one of the main reasons I was excited as he is like the Ron Moore of Voyager, however, I am still curious to see how they follow his vision now he is not around.
Are you as shocked as I was about the sudden move to put it on all access, something that I was not expecting as no Trek has even been on a pay per view channel?
Ron) it’s a bad idea and they know it.
James) Is this from a USA standpoint as it being sold to Netflix around the world means it is already extremely profit-making do you think they should have put it on Netflix in the USA as well?
Ron) I think they should run it on the main channel and quit being greedy. But sure, why not accept that Netflix is pricier
James) I have to admit I am a bit, huh with why Netflix everywhere, but the USA, but hey it’s their show so…
So the last question in this section, then I would like to move on to your Modelling which BTW I am so impressed with they are amazing, With the exception of Trek, are there any other TV shows you watch?
Ron) I really enjoyed BSG Battlestar Galactica I like pretty much all Marvel, superhero movies and I also enjoy disaster movies.
James) Ok, I would like to move on to your role within Melbourne, but first, have you ever done anything apart from this role?
Ron) Until this year I have never been in a film so it was a learning experience I will never forget and I’m looking forward to doing more episodes of Melbourne.
James) Ah ok, so can you tell me more about your role in Melbourne, Describe a typical week at work in Melbourne is it a full-time endeavour of one for the love and fits in around real life?
Ron) Melbourne for me was not a full-time thing as a matter of fact before this happened, I was actually trying to get on the crew of the Farragut, I knew a couple of people who were involved heavily with it and they invited me to the studio in GA in 2014 and it has been almost a complete set just like Cawley’s and it was my first time on a set and when I walked through the door the first thing I saw was the corridor of the Enterprise and right then and there I was a kid fulfilling his dream and I felt like I was back in 1966 it was awesome.
But unfortunately this never happened and I suddenly was disappointed, but later I don’t remember how but I met Vance Major on Facebook and he was going to make a fan film called I think Defiant it’s been awhile, I had asked him if he had anyone designing the insignia and he said no. But later all plans changed and the film had a new name, USS Melbourne and I turned in two designs for the patch and the one that we use was the first one I had drawn and behold, I was part of a fan film then later as we talked, he asked if I would be interested in playing the first officer and of course I said yes and behold first officer CMDR Tony Tate was born and I found myself fully involved with this film I was the first cast member signed for this film as well and very honoured to have been asked to play the role. It never messed with my Real Life at all since I’m retired.
James) That is a shame you could not get a chance to star in Farragut however, as they say, all things happen for a reason and! You got the Melbourne role so it worked out in the end.
So can you tell can you tell me more from your character’s perspective about the story, and how Melbourne is different from other Fan Productions?
Ron) All I can say about the story is that it’s still being written I don’t know any more than anyone else at this time. Melbourne is different from other Trek fan films because we do not follow the usual episode path that everyone else does and it’s more about the people than the Federation. So this is what I can say stay tuned for more Melbourne. Some of us stand on our own… Together.
James) Interesting, and very secretive 😛 What about your Character in general?
Ron) I am the first officer and I’m really very timid or shy, I feel more comfortable with the ship kind of a scared cat. I don’t know why, but Vance thought that I could take and do this character, and I said I like a challenge because if you knew the real me I am nothing like my character by any means.
James) so you’re more of an”I like to be in the thick of things personally” then?
Ron) Yes, I’m also very nosey I have to see and know what’s going on, I like to explore and I will talk with anyone.
James) Did you research your role and how Jeremy & Vance perceived the part to be so you could make sure you’re part fitted how they envisioned it to be or was this totally your own style and you made the character your own?
Ron) There was a little discussion between Vance and me about what he was looking for, something like a Mr Barclay but not totally, so there was my own style. I hope everyone likes the way I portrayed Tate.
James) That sounds an interesting mix! I look forward to seeing it 🙂 How would you describe your acting style?
Ron) I would say that I really don’t have a style I just take it as if it were my real job so I guess you could say natural.
James) That is a really good outlook and a great way of approaching it So, How do you memorise your lines?
Ron) I read the script over and over then have my wife play the parts that I’m involved in and I keep the script close by when doing a scene so I can glance at it.
James) How did your wife feel about doing that for you lol?
Ron) She did not really like doing it.
James) I do not think my other half would be too thrilled either lol, how do you prepare so that you will bring the right amount of realism and emotion to a scene?
Ron) I imagine what it would look like and I also feel the mood of the scene and the other characters.
James) When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Ron) Getting some water and talk about the next scene with the other actors involved.
James) What other, Star Trek Fan Productions would you like your character to do a crossover with?
Ron) I would like and have talked about being in Starship Valiant and still would love to be in an episode of Starship Farragut, but if any crossovers can happen for me I would not turn them down.
James) Last few in this section now, if someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you? & If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next? (Any not just, fan films)
Ron) John Malkovich and Star Trek of course, but I would also do Battlestar Galactica.
James) Oooh quickly can you tell me more about who did the Wardrobe?
Ron) The makeup was done by Danielle Craft and the patches were designed by me and made by Chrissie Harvey along with the tunics except for mine because I have my own uniform to use I just changed the patch and turned it from a Capt to a CMDR and on that note I actually have a total of six uniforms 4 are TOS and 2 TNG. The camera was operated by Matt I don’t know the last name.
James) That is cool, so do you own many Star Trek uniforms then?
Ron) Yes, I do, I own 7. 1 velour for 1st & 2nd season 1 Double Knit for the 3rd season a green wrap around and the Dress green and I’m having the mirror universe Captains vest made as we speak now that was all TOS. I also have the 2nd season command, red tunic from next-gen and the Captains dress whites and that is all at this time.
James) That is so cool, I own a T-shirt lol, Ok moving on, I would like to discuss your passion for making Models, tell me how did that start with you was it just one or two here and there or was this a passion from a young age?
Ron) I started building Models when I was like 7 with my dad, then I just went on my own. But as I got older and was doing stupid things I got away from it for a long time. But when I moved up here in the mountains I started again and found I still haven’t lost the passion for it.
So I built the 34 inch TOS Enterprise with lights it took about six months when I was done I showed it off on Facebook and that’s when people started asking me if I would build for them and bam RPS Custom Models was born.
James) How many models would you say you have built?
Ron) In my life or just here recently?
James) Well, tell me how much you would say in total then tell me the ones you’re most proud of?
Ron) A few hundred lifetimes and 10 I’m most proud of but I’m proud of all my builds because they won’t leave this house until I feel they are perfect.
James) What were the 10 you were most proud of?
Ron) Well when I was like 13 or so I built a Budweiser Tractor with Trailer this was my first attempt at customising a model I put a 70’s pair job on it and I used felt as carpet and really detailed the interior. Then TOS Enterprise then I built a full TOS Enterprise bridge and lit it up and built an exterior dome from scratch it was published in two internet modelling magazines modelgeek.com and modellers miniatures and magic and Starling Technologies these are just a couple I’m not going to write on all.
James) Are you working on a model atm?
Ron) Yes, I am actually working on two rights now and I have my third coming next week. First one is a client build 1/350 scale Enterprise-A with a full startup sequence and shuttle bay landing lights the next one is a TOS Enterprise for a friend of mine that makes Trek costume as well as Anovos with the same material as well. The third one is a client build USS Voyager with lighting.
James) If you lived in the same country as me, I would so get you to make me a few models, it was one thing I was never very good at lol.
Just out of curiosity, how would someone get in touch with you about models do you have a website?
Ron) You may go to Facebook and go to my page RPS Custom Models and there is contact info there, but it’s either by messenger, email or phone
James) OK, moving on when we spoke a while ago you had a very clear stance on this, but in recent weeks things have changed and I wanted to ask you, how do you feel the fallout from the Axanar lawsuit is going to affect everyone from this point forward both fans and fan Trek?
Ron) That is a hard one to answer, but I guess it’s really up to how the individual perspective on it might be. And as far as Trek there are so many Trekkies out there that had no idea what Axanar is let knowing about fan films so it will be fine and in time CBS might relax the guidelines.
James) This next one is a recent addition, due to it being something I want to know how people feel on it due to the fact it was something I thought that it is very relevant to the topic of the Axanar fall out
How does this statement make you feel?
Ron) Actually, the fan film industry didn’t turn on each other, but Axanar and Alec Peters did throw a couple of the more established ones under the bus and I know that made those people angry. This all really ends up on Alec’s shoulders, although we all know he doesn’t give a rats ass about anyone else just himself. But there are still plenty of films out there that are going to try and Melbourne is one of them.
James) Thank you for your reply to that.
Ron) You are welcome
James) With the release of the “Fan Film Guidelines” has this influenced how much you want to do fan films?
What are your feelings on them, as I know to start with everyone the reaction was different, but many people were angry how did it make you feel when they came out?
Ron) On the fan film guidelines that were put out last year I think that CBS and Paramount really shot themselves in the foot with these and let down a lot of loyal fans that have kept Star Trek alive throughout the years, since they came out several fan film productions have gone down in the likes of Star Trek New Voyages/Phase II and several others because they made it to where it was going to be too difficult to make an episode that was only 15 minutes long hen most episodes run around 1 hour, and it was going to be a lot to ask of the people in them to make the trip to make them.
They are just way too restrictive, to begin with I mean most productions run on a very small budget unlike the larger ones like STC and New Voyages and Farragut. I’m very pleased that Vance and Jeremy did not fold under these guidelines and I hope that we can prove to people that you can still make a good episode in two 15 minute sections for not a lot of money I think Melbourne had a budget of maybe a total of $3,000.00 don’t quote me on that. But it is with high hopes that after the deal with the lawsuit is done that they will t more relaxed with them and brings some of the guidelines where they were before.
James) Can you tell me what about them you feel are a hit and miss or is it all of them that makes you feel that CBS Paramount went too far with?
Ron) The episode time allotment is the biggest it is hard to ask people to come and film 2 15 minute pieces since most of us don’t live close and have to spend money on hotels and flights or gas. The other is the props and uniforms they say no aftermarket stuff only official. Plus not being able to continue with a story arc you must have a story title for each if I remember that right. Crowdfunding that’s kind of ok except I think that perks should be allowed it gives people incentive to send money for the production and the amount is fine up to 50,000 that’s plenty. I would have to go and read them all again to give you a complete answer.
James) The prop and uniform one.
In the Engage podcast, this one was cleared up and the explanation was expanded this rule is merely saying do not buy counterfeit stuff (from many people online selling them) and if you want to buy official uniforms please do so from Davos or on their licensed company.
Nothing stops you from making your own props, costumes, etc. Just don’t buy knock off ones from people who knock them out and sell them.
I know you were not the first person to be upset about this one, but now we know you can indeed make your own etc. I find this one not so bad.
Ron) OK, great and the Anovos thing that is, official, but there is a guy I know and actually got my uniforms through that makes them just as good for half the price, Anovos is overpriced on this I mean a green wrap for $600.00 is way too much I had one made for about $165.00 and I forgot about that podcast.
James) Thanks for this, Ron, we are coming into the home stretch of the interview now, and I would like to go back to the fan films you watch if you had to what would you class as your top five?
Ron) I have watched pretty much all of them at some point. But my favourite ones are in this order and I hope it doesn’t make a couple I know well upset.
Star Trek Continues
James) And the ones you would class as your bottom five?
Star Trek Odyssey
Star Trek Phoenix
Star Trek Intrepid
I can’t think of a fifth one. These are the worst due to horrible CGI and costumes, plus scripting I mean I know that not everyone can have sets to work with but some of that green screen stuff should not even be allowed to be called Star Trek.
These are the worst due to horrible CGI and costumes, plus scripting I mean I know that not everyone can have sets to work with but some of that green screen stuff should not even be allowed to be called Star Trek.
And the best ones because of the accuracy of the series and script writing, plus they have better budgets than most.
James) You have been to a lot of conventions and even on the cruise, what would you say is the best and worst parts of the Trek fandom from your experiences?
Ron) My favourite part of fandom is the camaraderie of the people and the way they will dress and act when at cons. Plus, it is fun to dress up in uniforms and believe that you are part of Starfleet. I have never had a bad experience in Trek fandom as of yet.
James) Do you have any regrets in doing Fan Films?
Ron) I have no regrets on this at all it was a chance to live out my childhood dream.
James) As someone who has wanted to get into the fan film world for a while now, what advice would you give to someone who wants to do the same?
Ron) Well if you want to get involved with fan films you need to get to know the right people or you can just contact one that you would consider and see what they say like my mum used to say a closed mouth never gets fed. Or if you have the resources to go and make your own, but try to stay in the realm of it and try not to the green screen too much.
James) What would you like to say to the people who think Fan Films are on the way out?
Ron) Well or you fans out there don’t give up on Trek fan films yet they are still being made, and as far as the fan film I’m involved with Melbourne please keep your eyes and ears open the first episode is on its way and there will be more to follow.
James) Well, Ron, that is it and I would like to extend my thanks to you for taking the time to sit down with me and answer some questions.
Ron) Thanks James for having me on your blog and everyone take care LLAP.
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