Interestingly, in both Culpepper’s Picard episode “Remembrance” and in Discovery’s “Forget Me Not,” memories, dreams, and events that only take place within the mind literally take center stage. In other words, Culpepper is a director who is experienced with taking stories that occur inside a character’s heads, and then showing us what that might look like.
“Forget Me Not” is just the kind of solid mid-season Discovery episode you want to have…quiet character beats were well played by director Hanelle Culpepper, without descending into the indulgent melodrama Discovery too often leans on.
“…we hope to raise the awareness, not just of the projects themselves, but also of the importance of telling stories of black women with integrity.”
Actor Kat Graham and filmmaker Hanelle Culpepper discuss the Black female narrative and black storytellers in film over the period of Hollywood’s history. These are some of their favorite films over time.
“I wanted it to feel inspired by where Picard was on his emotional journey. He was living in a vineyard; he felt trapped. So I wanted to have a little bit more of a static frame, and then go handheld once his world is rocked [in the pilot]. We switch to handheld cameras pretty much as much as possible after that. It’s “Star Trek,” we have to get those big, cinematic shots with drones and cranes and stuff, but we always wanted to not forget that it’s really a character-driven series with Picard at the heart.”
I said “if I want to be a director, I need to direct!” so I stopped working full-time and embraced that I would be a starving artist and started directing. I remember that day when I stopped working full-time and became a starving artist was April Fool’s Day, and I was like, “ok, hopefully this will pay off and it’s not a sign! I feel like the universe just started opening up once I committed 100% to doing this thing that I wanted to do.”
“Picard” is the first “Trek” series in decades to advance the story forward (as opposed to prequels that explore events that took place long before “The Next Generation”), and it has quite an awards legacy to live up to.
Each CBS All Access series has now carved out its own independent timeframe (with seemingly little room for Marvel-style crossovers). Picard occupies the twenty-fourth century, and with Discovery disembarking for the thirty-second century, Strange New Worlds has the twenty-third to itself. Stylistically, director Hanelle Culpepper shot the Picard pilot in warm colors to contrast the bluer hues that dominate Discovery.
Hanelle Culpepper directs the upcoming Star Trek: Picard, a CBS All Access series coming up next year, Culpepper is an African American woman from Birmingham, Alabama. She has years of experience in action packed film production and directing, and she’s a recipient of many awards. Say what you want -‘inclusion and diversity’, ‘CBS game to appeal to broader audience’, or whatever in between. The point is, opportunity only meets those who are prepared, and Culpepper is.
I was excited to speak on this WonderCon virtual panel:
“A talented collection of female filmmakers talks about the current and future release of their projects, as well as how advocacy groups like ReFrame, Glass Elevator, and Women in Film: LA are helping women working in the industry, to not only cope with an uncertain present, but change the landscape as it reforms, and thrive as productions begin anew. ”
Click here to watch.