The single most-important resource in our research into the remarkable artists and technicians who made Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan are the hundreds of behind the scenes photographs taken by Bruce Birmelin during production. Many of these are preserved in the “Papers of Nicholas Meyer Collection” at the University of Iowa Libraries. Meyer, the writer and director of TWOK has been kind enough to help during the past decade as we try to identify the extraordinarily talented behind the scenes personnel who helped make TWOK special despite the limitations of time, budget, and technology.
One of our favorite of the behind the scenes images taken during production was this one. Although the directory sign of Starfleet Training Command is visible in the film, the focus of the scene is rightly on Kirk and Spock, and hence the clarity of the names listed on the directory are hazy even with the best high-definition systems. This behind the scene image, however, is not only great because of the obvious affection and comradery that exists between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, but because – to out delight - many of the names featured on the sign are visible. Never meant to really be seen clearly by audiences, the names are in-joke tributes of real behind the scenes artists.
The graphics in the film (and Star Trek: The Motion Picture) were designed by Carole Lee Cole, responsible for all the starship interfaces. Cole and her team were also responsible for all the signage of the movie. This image allows us to see those names – one more way to appreciate the artists and technicians we admire.
Featured on the directory sign:
Admiral J.R. Jennings is actually production Joseph Jennings (whose many contributions to Star Trek included design work on the refitted Enterprise from TMP)
Rear Admiral M. Minor is art director Mike Minor (whose contributions included suggested renaming the Omega Device to the Genesis Device and changing the original story conceptualization as a weapon into a more suitable Federation terraforming device that could be turned into a weapon by villainous forces)
Rear Admiral L. Cole is graphic designer Carole Lee Cole
Vice Admiral D. Gluck is set designer Daniel Gluck
Captain D. Maltese is set designer Daniel Maltese
Captain M. Becker is special effects artist Martin Becker
Captain C. Graffeo is set decorator Charles Graffeo
Lt. Commander J. Longo is property master Joseph Longo
Vice Admiral G. Rescher is cinematographer Gayne Rescher (whose contributions helped make TWOK look more expansive than the budget actually allowed… Rescher’s lighting and camera movement, along with first camera Craig Denault, made audiences believe that they were looking at two different starships when in actuality both the Reliant and the Enterprise bridges were the same set, and whose artistry helped make small sets look like bigger spaces).
Commander D. Arakelian is assistant to producers Deborah Arakelian
Captain R. Fletcher is costume designer Robert Fletcher (whose brilliant designs for TWOK gave writer/director Nicholas Meyer the nautical symbolism he hoped for…a design choice that Nicholas Meyer’s wife had called “nautical but nice”)
Captain A. Henry is wardrobe supervisor Agnes Henry
Commander D. Wise is first assistant director Doug Wise (the nephew of TMP director Robert Wise and whose talented work is featured in five of the six TOS films)
Commander J. Wong is Nicholas Meyer’s assistant Janna Wong Healy
All that real-life talent – all concentrated on the 2nd level of the Starfleet Training Command.
Special thanks to Nicholas Meyer and the University of Iowa.
Maria Jose and John Tenuto are both sociology professors at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, specializing in popular culture and subculture studies. The Tenutos have conducted extensive research on the history of Star Trek, and have presented at venues such as Creation Conventions and the St. Louis Science Center. They have written for the official Star Trek Magazine and their extensive collection of Star Trek items has been featured in SFX Magazine. Their theory about the “20-Year Nostalgia Cycle” and research on Star Trek fans has been featured on WGN News, BBC Radio, and in the documentary The Force Among Us. They recently researched all known paperwork from the making of the classic episode "Space Seed" and are excited to be sharing some previously unreported information about Khan's first adventure with fellow fans. Contact the Tenutos at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.