Forgotten Trek is an online shrine to Star Trek production history.
Exhibits of Star Trek memorabilia have toured the nation and world. The original U.S.S. Enterprise filming model is permanently berthed in the Smithsonian. But no permanent museum showcases the franchise’s artistic visions and achievements. Fortunately, the impressive blog Forgotten Trek is the next best thing.
Spotlighting and celebrating the work of the concept artists, model makers, visual effects and makeup artists, and other behind-the-scenes creatives who brought Star Trek from The Original Series through Voyager to life, Forgotten Trek is like that museum you’ve always wanted to visit. It’s full of one fascinating “exhibit” after another, revealing and reveling in the innovative craft and art that brought the 23rd and 24th centuries to the screen.
Having spent a lot of enjoyable time clicking through Forgotten Trek myself and having found it a helpful source for some of my own articles, I reached out to blog creator Nick Ottens for a “behind the scenes” tour of his website.
In our email exchanges, Nick gave me some insights into what led him to create his site and what he’s discovered while running it.
Making the behind-the-scenes magic of Star Trek better known
A Star Trek fan since he was “9 or 10,” Nick began building websites as a teen, around the turn of this century.
“At the time there were many Star Trek fansites,” he recalls, “so I had to specialize in something. My interest began with concept art and evolved into the production and behind-the-scenes.”
Nick has redesigned Forgotten Trek several times since he launched it in 2004. But what hasn’t changed is his commitment to showcasing Star Trek’s rich artistic legacy, especially portions of it many fans had never before seen.
For example, Nick covered (and still covers) Star Trek: Phase II—the unproduced series that ultimately birthed Star Trek: The Motion Picture—in great detail, from designer Matt Jefferies’ new Enterprise concept art to synopses of “lost episodes.” Nick allows Phase II “is no longer ‘forgotten.’ A lot about it has come out in the last 15 to 20 years. But around the time I started Forgotten Trek, it was still pretty unknown.”
Similarly, Nick points to the “infamous ‘Memory Wall’ sequence” planned but never completed for TMP, documenting in detail where fan legend does and doesn’t align with the facts.
“Tracy Tobias [a Forgotten Trek contributor] did a lot to clear that up,” says Nick, “including by interviewing Richard Taylor [TMP’s first art director] . . . and illustrating the relevant parts of the original script.”
Nick’s own research has yielded contributions from Star Trek production professionals.
“I reached out to Andrew Probert early on,” he says, “because he was my favorite Star Trek designer, and . . . [he] was super helpful in providing background information as well as concept art, some of which had not yet appeared online at the time.”
I asked Nick what surprising things he’s learned about Star Trek while working on his website. He shared the following tidbits, among others. Did you know any of them?
- In the earliest drafts of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Saavik was a male character.
- The Enterprise-D bridge was originally supposed to have couches and a conference table.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Sisko’s office has so many, and such large, windows because the Cardassians designed it in such a way that the station commander would literally have no blind spots.”
Forgotten Trek underwent its most recent “refit” in December 2018. It’s a beautifully designed site—clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate. And the content Nick curates about Star Trek’s history is unfailingly engrossing.
He’s received well-deserved recognition for his labor of love. StarTrek.com, the franchise’s official website, republished several of his articles. And the site has won awards, including an Ex Astris Excellentia award in 2005, which cited Nick’s “steady effort to create a flawless site” as well as his “unique content.”
Every time I explore Nick’s site, I’m reminded of V’Ger’s directive in TMP to “collect all data possible” and “learn all that is learnable.”
No website could ever contain everything there is to know about the production history of Star Trek, in so many of its iterations. But Nick Ottens’ Forgotten Trek comes close and is transmitting that knowledge to Star Trek fans in wonderful ways.