Marina Sirtis couldn't resist. Scott Baker and Morgan Lariah approached the former Star Trek: The Next Generation actress with the notion of her playing a role in 5th Passenger, an indie sci-fi movie that would feature actors from Star Trek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Hellboy, with much of the budget for the production raised by crowdfunding. The team raised the necessary $65,000 and cameras rolled, with Sirtis joined by Tim Russ, Armin Shimerman, Manu Intiraymi, Doug Jones, Hana Hatae and Lariah, who also co-produced and co-wrote the film with Baker, who directed it. Now, the film is nearing completion and a new Indiegogo campaign is underway to help cover the cost of visual effects. The campaign will run through November 13, and so Sirtis jumped on the telephone the other day to lend her support, talk a bit about Trek and share with fans news about an crowdfunded project of her own.
How different an experience was 5th Passenger, given the crowdfunding element of it?
Well, it was the first thing I've ever done that was crowdfunded. I was a little bit nervous about that, if I'm being honest. I suppose it's the English part of me. I don't know what it is. It doesn't sit well with me to ask people for money. It just doesn't. But they came to me about 5th Passenger and said, "Would you be in our movie?" I said, "Well, let me see a script." I read it and said, "Yes, I will be in your movie." They used my name and other names of people who'd agreed to be in it to help raise the money, or some of the money. And they were able to make it. But these people, these kids, they really knew what they were doing. They had it down. They were organized. They had a schedule. It was so professional. We shot really fast. They had a wonderful, female Romanian director of photography who lit it beautifully. We had to cheat so much. My set was basically one angle, and we had to use trigonometry or whatever it is we all learned in math class -- I hated math -- to figure out how to shoot things because the set didn't move. So we had to move. But they did it and it looks fantastic. I'm really proud of it. My contribution, I think, was minute compared to the work everyone else put into making it. And really, they've pulled off something that I thought was just impossible.
We know the basic setup of the movie is that there are five passengers on a spacecraft meant for four, but we don't know anything about your character. So, what do you play and how does she fit into the action?
The story is a little bit like Extant, the Halle Berry show that was on last year and this year. There's a lifeform that kind of inhabits the people on this ship. So there's the sci-fi element of it, which is that. And then there's a whodunit element, as in Who's the murderer? I love a murder-mystery. That's my favorite, favorite thing in the world. That's basically all I read, and maybe the occasional fat novel. So, for me, it was wonderful. My part is basically the investigator. I'm trying to find out what went down on this spaceship. She's very professional and she's nothing like Deanna Troi. I actually don't think I've done anything like Deanna since I stopped playing her. Isn't that amazing? I think it's kind of fantastic.
Who else did you work with that you knew?
Really, it was just Manu. I also made a new friend. I have scenes with Herman Wilkins, and he and I and Michael Dorn are trying to get our own little project off the ground. So it was wonderful to do 5th Passenger just on its own, but also to meet Herman and have him be excited about my project with Michael.
Tell us about this project of yours with Michael...
It's something for TV. The idea came from a very, very clever young man called Joey Adams. He is actually Cindy Adams' nephew. He wrote this wonderful script called Internity, which is obviously a play on the words intern and eternity. My role, which is actually the leading role, is a woman in her 50s who starts again. She gets out of an unhappy marriage. Her kids have gone off to school. So she's on her own and she decides to do what she's always wanted to do, and that's become a doctor. So she's kind of this den mother to a group of kids who are interns with her at a hospital. It's a lovely role. I really hope this gets made. It's at Indiegogo. If people want to help with 5th Passenger and Internity, that would be great. So many wonderful, interesting projects are coming to life through crowdfunding. So, fingers crossed.
And you have another projects in the works with Michael, right?
Yes, that would be either a movie or a miniseries about Maria Callas. That's my passion project, and it's something Michael and I have been working on for maybe a decade now. I want to do it because I think it's time that Maria Callas was finally played by a Greek woman. I'm the right age for it. I look like her. With my hair up in a bun, we're twins. I've always been fascinated by her because she was a monster, but a divine monster. And I relate to her in so many ways. I feel I know her so well, with the mother issues and everything. So that's something we're working really hard to get that off the ground, and it's something that Herman Wilkins is involved with as well.
We have just one Trek question for you... How excited are you to be on board for The Official Star Trek Cruise?
I am so excited. I will be doing Love Letters with Johnny (Frakes)! I've done Love Letters in the past with Dorny, but never with Johnny, and I can't wait to do it. I love Dorny. He's my best friend. Everyone knows that. But with Johnny, it was like fairy dust was sprinkled on us when we were acting together. Chemistry... that's the word I'm groping for. So I can't wait.
To learn more about 5th Passenger and contribute to the project, go to www.indiegogo.com/projects/5th-passenger-vfx-funding#/. And to learn more abou Internity and contribute to that project, go to www.indiegogo.com/projects/internity-a-newbie-series#/.