July 22 2024

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Andrew Robinson: Another Trek Directors’ School Graduate

4 min read

Andrew Robinson, Deep Space Nine‘s Garak, decided that he would also like to try his hand at directing. Robinson directed Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places, and two Voyager episodes: Blood Fever, and Unforgettable.

In addition to acting on Deep Space Nine, Robinson was already directing theater. “Well, it’s a funny story,” said Robinson. “I wasn’t a regular on DS9, but they paid me well enough so that I could pay bills, which gave me the opportunity to start directing theater, which I did with my company. Right off the bat, I won two L.A. Drama Critics Awards for Beckett’s Endgame and Harold Pinter‘s Homecoming. I was the first double winner in one year for two plays, and I knew that the L.A. Times was going to do a big feature on me, so, the morning the Times article came out, I called Rick. I said, ‘Check the L.A. Times, Rick. And also, can I direct an episode?'”

Berman, said Robinson, told him to “Come in. Let’s talk,” and Anderson was able to direct. This meant shadowing directors as others had before him, and it was, according to Robinson, “like going to school.”

“I went through the entire process, from the initial meetings through the editing process,” said Robinson. “It was great. I’d done some of that before, because I had been flirting with this. I had a friend who was a director, and I sat in with him. But this was thorough. Les [Landau] loved teaching. He’d sit down and say, ‘OK, this and this and this and this.’ Very knowledgeable. He had a lot of experience. It was invaluable, working with him.”

The first show that he directed was Deep Space Nine‘s Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places. “It was a great script,” said Robinson. “I believe it was Ron Moore‘s. It scared the hell out of me, because suddenly, it was real. This was going to happen. I did all my due diligence. I broke the script down and got my shot lists. That all went well. It was the first day of shooting which was one of the worst days of my life.”

Lighting a “huge Klingon hall,” took much longer than Robinson expected, and he fell behind. “It was horrible,” he said. “On the first day, I was half a day behind. Then, I panicked. Literally, I panicked and froze. I also lost my sense of angles, because it was a fight. I lost more time with that.”

To add insult to injury, Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell refused to kiss at the end of the episode. “I guess because I was a newbie, they thought, ‘Yeah, well, let’s try something new,'” said Robinson. “‘Let’s not kiss, and let’s…'” Ira [Behr] was so pissed at me. ‘Why? Why didn’t you get them to kiss? Goddamn it. They’re supposed to kiss.’ I said, ‘I know, Ira. But…What am I supposed to do, hold a gun to them? Kiss!’ But it worked that they didn’t kiss. It did. It did.”

After the show was completed, there was a postmortem. “Ira and Rick brought me up to the office, [and] sat me down,” said Robinson. “Because I had a contract to do a couple more episodes, Voyager, actually, with (producer) Jeri (Taylor), they said, ‘OK. This is what you did wrong…’ I’m sitting there, and I’m feeling like five years old, going through this, ‘Oh, Jesus.’ If I didn’t have that experience, learning what I did wrong and right, getting through the problems, and – possibly – if I didn’t have a contract, it would’ve been one and done for Robinson.”

After directing two more Trek episodes, and some other non-Trek work, Robinson decided that directing wasn’t really for him. “I hated sitting at monitors and having writers and producers whispering in my ear, ‘You’re going to… Are you going to…? Are you going to let her play it that way? Wait, no. That line. That line should be funnier.’ The best shows are not done by committee. They’re done by one person’s vision, one person making directorial choices. If you start waffling, and you start getting inside the process…As much as the money was fabulous, I said, ‘Screw that.’ I went, ‘If I’m going to direct, I’ll just direct theater now.'”

Robinson did that, and also taught at USC for fourteen years. He is now acting again, having recently done a short film and a play [Prospero in The Tempest].

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