This week we catch up with Lawrence Fleming, the man who plays Science Officer Ray Dora.
Lawrence has enjoyed films and filmmaking since he was young and since then he has had a distinguished career acting in various different genres including many Star Trek fan films and he has produced almost a hundred productions.
Lawrence (Larry), is not only an actor and produced he in his spare time likes to ride motorbikes, go climbing and has been an NRA instructor for many years, with his firearm safety training it adds to his already vast range of experience as this makes him an asset on any set that uses guns for its production.
Check out Larry’s IMDB page here > IMDB
As part of the Melbourne files, I found myself talking to a wide range of people and when it came to talking to Larry, I found myself thinking about someone with Larry’s experience how do I conduct an interview and not come off and a rank amateur. However, with Larry, I found him extremely approachable and he welcomed my questions like a true gentleman and not what I expected at all from someone with his experience.
Therefore, without further a due let us move on to the interview itself.
We caught up with Larry while he was on set shooting
Jumanji – (YES the one with the Rock)
Therefore, his answers are a little shorter than normal.
“It’s Kind of a sequel. They enter a video game. You know there will be some funny moments with Jack Black also in the film. “
James) Good Afternoon Larry, First, I would like to thank you for your time for agreeing to answer these questions for me.
WOW! I just looked at your IMDB I am a little speechless, I have to admit I am nervous writing up a Q&A for you now lol
Larry) Ha, it just means I have worked a lot no big deal.
James) LOL, Well for anyone who does not know you or has read your IMDB, can you tell me a little about yourself?
Larry) I like doing different things. I get bored doing the same thing repeatedly. During my lifetime, I have flown planes, raced motorbikes, climbed mountains, and repelled down. I go to concerts, rock, jazz, and opera. I am ultimately curious about the world and want to see and experience as much as I can.
I dislike people that are uncaring about others. I also dislike large crowds as if I am stuck in one and cannot get around that also includes being sat in traffic. I do not mind speaking to a crowd just hate being stuck. I guess it is because I am a bit claustrophobic.
James) With your hectic schedule other than Star Trek, what other TV shows you watch if you get the time that is?
Larry) I love the Big Bang Theory mainly because I relate to the characters. I grew up in a house where both parents did not go to High School. I like all hero movies, from any source, Marvel, DC, anything. I also like Detective shows, I love puzzles and like to try to figure out Who Done It.
James) I have to admit that is one of my favourite things about “Detective Shows” the who done it thing is one thing that draws me to watch them, If they are too easy it drives me nuts lol,
With the history you have in Star Trek fan films, tell me a bit about your history with Star Trek what does it mean to you
Do you have a favourite Episode?
It is hard to imagine the world where you cannot tell what really really is and what imagination is.
James) I have to admit I have only seen the Cage and what I guess what would be called its follow-up to it The Menagerie a hand full of times, so I am not up to speed on them. I am going to have to take the time to revisit the TOS I think, TNG onwards I have seen so many times I can tell you the episode name from just the first few seconds. Yes! I am that sad lol.
With those episodes being your favourite ones, do you have one you would class, as your “Worst” episode?
Larry) I do not remember the episode, but they had hippie like characters playing music. They brought too much of reality into the show. I also thought the hippie movement was stupid too.
James) I think that episode is The Way to Eden yes I had to Google it lol. I am feeling rather bad here not knowing my TOS, as I should L
Do you have a “favourite” and “worst” series?
Larry) If we are talking Star Trek, it has to be TOS. I grew up watching this series. I like all the other versions, but I really like the original.
James) A lot of people I think either find the TOS as their fave or are on the fence like me, I like it but for me and like you I guess it is because I grew up with it TNG will always be my fave.
Because you like to go and Cosplay and attend conventions a lot, have you met many Star Trek Actors?
Larry) All the TOS actors except, Deforest Kelly also most of Next Gen crew, I have met most Star Trek actors over the years because I go to as many Cons as I can.
James) That is one thing I wish I had more time to do I have only ever been to one Con and that was years ago the last question in this segment do you play any Star Trek games like STO etc.
James) I have never seen the appeal of WOW many people I know play it. Moving on to your experience in filmmaking, you have been in a lot! Of fan films, can you tell me what ones you have been a part of?
Larry) I have appeared in six or seven different Star Trek fan films. It is amazing being on the set of the Enterprise or whatever the production ship name is.
James) Can you tell me what ones you have been a part of?
- StarShip Farragut – The Crossing & Homecoming
- Star Trek Natures Hunger – Scorned at the Captain’s Table
- Trek Isolation – Out of the Fire
- Star Trek Tristan – The Chronicles of Lanclos (Second filmed and waiting to be released)
- Star Trek Potemkin – Be careful what you wish for (Filming second in series in January 2017)
- I am in Exeter Trek too. It is stuck in post hell trying to get finished. It has been so long I forgot.
James) OK a lot then lol, Is there anything you are currently working on?
🙂 I retired from all the hard work jobs and am only acting.
James) From your IMDB, you have worked in multiple areas: film, television, web, what is it that makes you pick the projects?
Larry) I work in all three. Mainly whatever script idea I like.
James) How easy has it been for you to move between areas?
Larry) They are all the same as far as filming goes. It is just the format that changes.
James) What do you see as the appeal of the various formats?
Larry) Everyone has a method of watching. We try to offer what people want.
Fan films cannot make money, so free sites like YouTube work best.
James) Was there a particular event or time that you recognised that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
Larry) When I was young, I grew up in Hollywood and wanted to be a part of it.
When my family moved away, I thought I was through with that dream but I found that I could raise funds as a producer from anywhere and started doing that over 15 years ago. Then when Georgia passed the film-friendly tax laws, filming began moving here. I prefer acting to anything I have been involved in thus far.
James) What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you personally?
Larry) Empathy for the characters if you care about them, then their conflicts in the film seem more real.
James) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and how do you feel about Hollywood atm as they seem to reboot or rehash a LOT Of work.
Larry) I love old movies even black and whites. There were not so many films back then so I think they had to be better. We have become cookie cutter in the industry now, remake after remake.
James) I have to agree, I have been saying it for years that all these reboots just seem lost to me gone are the days of the new films that inspire many, it seems to reboot or just a rework of a classic that ends up being rubbish (YES! Ghostbusters I am looking at you)
When watching a film and you get angry at it, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert, avoid, or rebel against in your work?
Larry) I like drama and suspense. I hate when they use standard methods to create the suspense. Like “Let’s split up”. Be creative and come up with something unexpected.
James) When inspiration is waning, like when you feel creatively sapped, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?
Larry) I watch movies I choose a film for the way it will make me feel. I love happy conclusions or at least when the heroes save the day and all seems good.
James) What is harder: getting started or being able to keep going?
Larry) I find keeping going is harder. Starting is easy.
There are so many distractions along the way that can interrupt your progress. Stay focused.
James) How do you know when your story has finished and when to walk away?
Larry) It has never finished. You try to get it to a stopping point where the conflict seems to stop. That is why we have sequels.
James) That is so true, going back to the reboot and rehash in Hollywood at the moment, we all hear so often about the lack of original stories in the world. How do you stay fresh in the face of an idea like that?
Larry) You have to really look for fresh ideas and have the courage to work with them. It seems that the money people and controlling content. If it worked before, we will try it repeatedly and again.
James) Have you done your own stunts in many films? In addition, where they hard to do?
Larry) I have a Black Belt in TAEKWONDO, so basic stunts are easy. I like doing them. I have only done stunts in my independent films.
The Big guys want you in SAG so that their insurance will cover you.
James) I am going to quick-fire some questions at you about your acting history and experience, tell me the first thing you think of
When did you first realise that you wanted to Act
Larry) When we had, the main character hurt (offset) and needed to be replaced. I stepped in and had a blast.
James) What do you like most about being an Actor?
Larry) I get to be someone different all the time. I get to be on set and once I know my lines, the rest is a simple direction.
James) What parts of Acting do you not enjoy?
Larry) Being on camera
James) What steps did you take to enter this field? – Training etc
Larry) I took some classes; the rest was just getting in there and learning. I learn best by doing.
James) Tell me about your experience as an Actor?
Larry) I tend to take now leading parts. I like helping the scene takes place with only moments of leading it. It takes a team to pull it off and I enjoy watching the Teamwork.
James) What gives you the most pleasure as an Actor?
Larry) Completing my scene and hearing wrap a great job. 🙂
James) What elements of the craft do you find most difficult?
Larry) Emotions When you method act you have to become the character.
James) Do any famous actors inspire you?
Larry) Yes, Sean Astin is the top of my list
James) The hardest role you have ever played, and why
Larry) Working is a sub-freezing environment and trying to act like it’s warm.
James) The most fun role you have ever played and why.
Larry) Getting to have something (not real) explode in front of you and act hurt and injured.
James) What sort of person is going to love this character?
Larry) I hope someone that likes what I like. I try to imagine the character and perform the way I would like to see it.
James) Is it easier to play this character or to be you?
Larry) All characters are I, in a way.
James) What makes a good scene partner?
Larry) Someone that can connect as an actor we are not all working by ourselves.
James) That was great thanks, Along with acting, I see you have produced many films. Can you tell me more about that?
What does an Assistant/Exec Producer do?
Larry) Exec Producers are money getters. If the name is big, people want to be a part. If you are lesser know, then you have to knock on doors, so to speak.
James) Describe to me, how you’d run a project from beginning to end.
Larry) Each project has basic steps. I could write a book on the exact steps.
- Find a script – I am always reading scripts
- Put a production team together – get with friends
- The cast for the film – find a ringer to attract funds.
- Start raising money – which and be from day one and last throughout
- Put together a filming schedule
- Put the pieces together – Post-production
- Market and release
James) With your resume being as extensive as it is, have you ever had a time when you had to deal diplomatically with different personalities?
Larry) Every time we film. Creative people are a different breed, need to be encouraged, and complimented all the time no favouritism either…
James) Do you ever take a step back and appreciate what you have made thus far?
Larry) For a short while, it is soon on to the next project.
James) Has there ever been a time where you needed to change your producer-style to accommodate a team or team member have you ever been really challenged by a cast member?
Larry) Early on when I was getting started I was not leading, but letting the project lead me. We ran out of funds a few times and everything would stop.
I prefer to lead now.
James) What kind of routines do you tend to keep for filmmaking to keep you organised or do you even have one.
Larry) I keep folders of past work that aid in the next one. Budget plans, lists of equipment and workers location ideas etc.
James) Many people either have a main job or never stop working on new films all the time with like no time to enjoy what they are doing. How do you earn a living and sustain the career you love,
Larry) I had a Day job working as a consultant in IT. I never really liked that work, but I was good at it. I am retired now and my basic needs are met from retirement funds.
James) Do you think social media is the future of televised series and films, just as you use YouTube etc now is TV on its way out.
Larry) In some form, yes, but we have too many options right now and it is harder to make money.
The pool is too diluted.
James) How do you find the right music for a scene?
Larry) I leave that to the creative sound producers. It is amazing what they can do.
James) What do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning?
Larry) You can do this on your own. It is not a weakness to get help. It is actually more fun working with those you know.
James) How do you handle being challenged by something that you decide but someone else really disagrees with it?
Larry) Choose your battles. It is not always important to win. If it is wrong, let them fail and learn. I liked helping young filmmakers get started. They all started with grand ideas that I knew would not work. Let them learn.
James) How do you not waste time. How do you get everything you need to get done, done in an allotted timescale?
Larry) It is OK to waste time sometimes. We all need to take a break. Once the project is underway, you just keep at it. The harder you work, the greater the reward.
James) How do you encourage people and get them achieve the best they are capable of?
Larry) Compliment them. Listen a lot. It is like having a spouse or children – Especially children.
James) How do you encourage people and processes to move faster when on a tight timescale?
Larry) Help them to stay focused and be prepared. Downtime is time to go over your lines, not to always socialise.
With so many factors shaping a film’s success or failure, and so much required going into a film just to make it, and even more to make it well, what do you do so it does not ever feel not worth the effort?
James) How does a typical day (for you) begin when you are in full swing production?
Larry) Arrive on set and check the schedule, if you do not already have the updated copy. Exec producers do not do the daily work once the funds are raised.
James) Moving on now to Melbourne, Being an actor in many other fan productions was Melbourne an easy task or did you find the role lead to many challenges in making things fit from script to film?
Larry) I enjoyed the role from start to finish. The direction was well thought out and helpful.
James) Describe your role in the production, how did a typical shoot play out from your perspective?
Larry) I did not produce this film but would have treated it like any other production. Let us get this done.
James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story. How is it different from other Fan Productions you have been in?
Larry) It has a Star Trek feel, which makes it the same, but the story was unique. The writing was great and that is what made it work and fun to do.
James) What research did you carry out in the preparation of this role, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique?
Larry) Memorise the lines, read the script multiple times standard procedures for this really. I already had years watching Star Trek under my belt.
James) So with your experience in the Star Trek Fan Film world, I want to ask you about the “Fan Film Guidelines,”
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?
Larry) CBS is running scared they want the franchise, but do not understand it as well. When they saw a production as good as they could make for a lot less, well it is hard to swallow. I hope reason will win out.
James) Can you expand on that a bit? We have seen in recent court filings that the guidelines are a result of Axanar; do you want to see Axanar made?
Larry) I want to see all fan films made including Axanar.
James) Do you feel they crossed any lines?
Larry) I think that CBS thinks they crossed the so-called line. CBS kept quiet for years and only complained when they wanted to make a new series. It is unfortunate that they picked the anniversary of Star Trek to cause problems.
James) Do you feel that the guidelines are a direct result to Axanar and Alec Peters?
Larry) I think that the suit and guidelines are a direct link to Axanar, BUT if it were not them, CBS would have picked on someone else. They are flexing their muscle and are trying to eliminate all work better than their own. CBS should have purchased/bought into the fan film (s) of choice and put their logo on them. Go with a winner instead of an unknown that their new series will be.
James) Do you think they are fair?
Larry) No – The guidelines are stupid and CBS painted themselves into a corner. I hope that reason wins out, but I am a Star Trek fan regardless of who makes what…
James) Thanks for that, I appreciate your view on this since you have been involved in as many fan films as you have, so moving on. What Fan Films do you watch?
- Farragut Films
- Star Trek Continues
- Starship Melbourne
- Starship Tristian, Potemkin
- Natures Hunger
James) What would you say are yours? Best and worst parts of the Star Trek Fandom,
- The best part – The people
- The worst part – CBS/Paramount
James) lastly Larry, What advice would you give to someone who wants to?
Larry) Get out there and do it. Learn and get better each performance.
James) Make their own fan film.
Larry) Get help for the first one or two, mistakes cost money.
Larry) Enjoy what you do the rewards are often missing.
James) Larry, Is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world? (The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions)
Larry) To summarily, Enjoy what you do, that may be your best reward. Do not be afraid to ask for help, we all need it from time to time. Do not be too proud to take a lesser role. Do not get discouraged.
You will be turned down after your best audition, simply because you do not fit the role in the eyes of the casting team. Make and act the way you would enjoy watching.
James) Thank you, Larry, for taking the time to answer these for me.
Larry) Thank you and my best.
So, guys, that is part three, and although I started off scared with the prospect of interviewing Larry BUT! I enjoyed it a lot, I feel I have gotten to know the man who has acted in so many Fan Films a lot better, and it makes me want to watch Melbourne even more!
Hurry up Vance lol 😛
You can fins Melbourne at the following links