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Doug Drexler

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"To truly understand Doug Drexler, you have to go beyond the obvious. Sure he’s a talented illustrator and graphic designer. But the key to Doug is his eyes. Look at them closely and you’ll discover a Merlin the Magician looniness lurking beneath the surface. I’m convinced Doug knows secrets of the universe that the rest of us can’t even imagine. He’s also a big Sinatra fan, so you know the guy has taste."
– Ira Steven Behr, Producer, December 2008 (DrexFileswbm)

Artist Douglas "Doug" Drexler (born 28 March 1953; age 62) has been creating for, or contributing to, numerous Star Trek productions and publications, both official and unofficial, since the 1970s. Starting out in fandom, Drexler has proven to be one of the most versatile production staffers in the Star Trek franchise.

Beginnings as Star Trek fanEdit

Born in New York City, Drexler was a first-generation Star Trek: The Original Series fan - although he was prohibited from watching television on school nights, Drexler managed to watch "This Side of Paradise", and subsequently to persuade his parents to allow him an hour's viewing a week, for Star Trek.

Drexler, along with Ron Barlow, ran a small Star Trek store in Manhattan, New York - "The Federation Trading Post" - during the mid-1970s. [X]wbm Although failing initially, the store became more well-known after advertising during Original Series syndication, eventually becoming a focus for media contact about Star Trek. Drexler and Barlow were approached by Paradise Press to edit, and write for, one of the first professional Star Trek magazines not being an fanzine, the Star Trek Giant Poster Book. [X]wbm It was through the store that Drexler met and befriended frequent collaborator Geoffrey Mandel, with whom he compiled one of the first technical reference works in Trek history: the USS Enterprise Officer's Manual, as well as Anthony Fredrickson, with whom he would author the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual.

It was during this period in time that Drexler and Mandel made up their mind that they would work for the Star Trek franchise one day, as Mandel recalled, "Back in 1979, Doug Drexler and I were probably the two biggest Star Trek fans in New York City. We knew that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was being filmed, and we knew we had to be a part of it, so we took time off from work and school to fly to L.A. and do our best to sneak onto the sound stages of Paramount. Of course, we had no connections, barely a place to stay, and only by sheer chutzpah did we finally manage to get onto the lot, tiptoe upstairs to the Star Trek art department (ironically, the same room I worked in for two years on Voyager), and talk to some of the designers, including Mike Minor and Lee Cole. What was probably a routine meeting for them with two Trek geeks was a decisive moment in my career, and Doug’s-we suddenly realized that there was actually a PAYING JOB for people like us, who liked to design spacecraft and draw little diagrams of ray guns. I can remember coming back home to New York and telling my mother that I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life, and she had a good laugh when I said it was to work in science fiction art departments. Who could possibly make a living at that?!" [1]

Drexler also contributed as co-writer of two Gold Key TOS comics issues, "This Tree Bears Bitter Fruit" (#47) and "Sweet Smell of Evil" (#48). On issue #47, he is credited as a Story Consultant.

Starting a professional careerEdit

Drexler began working as a makeup artist in 1983 on movies like The Hunger, and Amityville 3-D, having been invited to do so by renowned makeup artist, Dick Smith. His other early work included C.H.U.D., Starman (both, 1984), Manhunter (1986), My Demon Lover and Fatal Attraction (1987), Poltergeist III (1988), as well as 3 Men and a Little Lady (1990).

After engaging in a long correspondence with Robert Justman and Michael Westmore during preproduction of the new spin-off television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, only to be unable to get a position on the series due to union rules, Drexler moved to Hollywood in 1990 to work on Dick Tracy (being made a member of the LA Union by Warren Beatty), for which he later won a 1991 Academy Award (shared with John Caglione, Jr.), a Bafta Award (also shared with Caglione), supplemented by a Saturn Award (again co-shared with Caglione) to boot. Dick Tracy featured many Star Trek alumni in the cast: Colm Meaney, John Schuck, Ian Wolfe, Seymour Cassel, Hamilton Camp, Chuck Hicks, Mike Hagerty, Robert Costanzo, Ed McCready, Bert Remsen, Walker Edmiston and Michael J. Pollard. Though he afterwards ended up being hired on the Star Trek, he initially did concurrently work on the productions True Identity (1991), Shining Through (1992), and Running Delilah (1993), while the series was in hiatus.

Professional Star Trek affiliationEdit

Doug Drexler in uniform

In uniform on the set of "Transfigurations" in 1990

Doug Drexler profile

Doug Drexler on the set of Star Trek: Enterprise

Now able to work in California, Drexler again approached Westmore to reapply for a position in the Next Generation make-up department. Westmore, incredulous at first that an Academy Award winner would want to work as a lesser paid makeup artist for a television show (though Westmore himself was one), hired him. Later friend and co-worker, Michael Okuda, too, was impressed that an Academy Award winner decided to work on a television show, "(...) It was I who was honored to meet this Academy Award-winning artist. He did me – and Star Trek – a huge favor when he said he was interested in working in the Art Department. I already knew of his talent, but I was impressed that he offered to take a huge pay cut to work with us." [X]wbm Drexler's first assignment was putting on the Shakespeare makeup on Patrick Stewart for the Next Generation's third season episode "The Defector". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine, issue 11, p. 53) Drexler continued to work as a make-up artist for three years, earning him two Emmy nominations.

Happy as Drexler was, working on Star Trek, he has professed that, "(...)the art department was calling to me and that's really where I wanted to be." He struck up a friendship with Michael Okuda, whom he admired, and kept in touch with him and his Scenic Art Department, waiting for an opportunity to move over. That opportunity came when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine went into production and Okuda hired him, eventually becoming the lead scenic artist on the series. A grateful Drexler recalled, "Looking through the trade paper, Variety, I saw that Paramount had made up their minds and they were going to do Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I got on the phone right away to Mike Okuda, who really stuck out his neck for me, and that's how it happened!" (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine, issue 11, p. 54) Though hired as scenic artist, Drexler almost from the start doubled as production illustrator, designing props, albeit officially uncredited, "Mike hired me to design graphics, but as soon as Herman found out I could sketch, he had me designing hand props. Mike had an idea about hand props that would snap into walls or consoles." [X]wbm At Okuda's department, Drexler learned a valuable practical lesson regarding designing, "I learned early that you don’t send over just one or two designs, you send a dozen. As Mike taught me, "Be sure and send them something to hate"." [X]wbm Michael Okuda himself, very much aware of the fact that producers valued a multitude of options – the more, the better – , had explained the reason for doing so, "Herman Zimmerman [note: head of the Art Department, to which Okuda's answered] used to remind us that there is always more than one way to solve any particular design challenge. It was his way of telling us not to get too fixated on any particular design element, because there are sooooo many factors that you can’t control. Even when you think you understand all the requirements for a design, you’re often surprised by a last-minute request from the director, or an unexpected budget problem, or a producer who wants a different approach, or a change in schedule, or any of a hundred things that fall into the category of what we called "oh, by the way...". You’d think that this would be frustrating, and it times it was. But the odd thing is that it sometimes inspired us to stretch ourselves in different directions, and surprisingly, it sometimes even resulted in better work." [X]wbm

While employed as artist at Okuda's Scenic Art Department, Drexler also contributed as such, besides Deep Space Nine, to three Star Trek films, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection. Most notable was his creation of his first, highly detailed MSD of the USS Enterprise-B, prominently seen in Generations and on which he commented, "I enjoyed laying cross sections out, and was proud that Mike thought I was the guy for the job." [X]wbm Future Star Trek productions would afford him ample opportunity to indulge this passion.

Officially, Drexler has never worked for the studio on Star Trek: Voyager, when that series started production in 1994. This was due to the studio's policy of contracting production staffers for one Star Trek production only, though it did not extend to the senior department staff, which in Drexler's case was Michael Okuda only. As Deep Space Nine scenic artist Drexler was therefore legally and formally forbidden to work on any of the others Star Trek television productions, a bit to his chagrin as he once stated that as far as he was concerned, "There was no good reason for this that we could perceive." [X]wbm Still, the studio condoned his input in the earliest stages of the new series' development by relaxing their own proviso when they, among others, requested Drexler to submit design propositions for the new "hero" ship, though the studio made sure Drexler was not credited for it. Actual "illegal" activities Drexler, the consummate Star Trek fan, performed for the new series were for example the application of the signage decals on the USS Voyager studio model (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 325), and the co-construction of the Mars Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards maquette for the second season season episode "Lifesigns". [X]wbm A very noticeable contribution Drexler made as such, was the USS Voyager MSD he created together with Okuda. [X]wbm

After the Deep Space Nine series wrapped, Drexler moved over as production illustrator and visual effects (VFX) artist to Foundation Imaging, for whom he yet continued working on Voyager, the only time during his Star Trek years he was not directly employed by Paramount/CBS. Yet, by this time he had already gradually and increasingly been called upon to make contributions as production illustrator – although he was never officially credited as such until Star Trek: Enterprise – , even after not being formally employed by the franchise at the time. "I'm the only guy on the Voyager team at Foundation who is a sketcher. If Rick Sternbach is too busy, or the art department has left on hiatus, Rob Bonchune or Mojo will ask me to bash out ideas. This was the case when I worked in the DS9 art department as well. If John Eaves was busy I would pinch-hit. I enjoy designing, but I think that I wouldn't want to be the lead illustrator. It's a tough job. This way I get to dabble.", Drexler clarified. [X]wbm

While still employed at Foundation, he was asked in 2000 to break the stalemate on the design of the new "hero" ship, Enterprise NX-01, for the upcoming series Star Trek: Enterprise. Starting to design a prototype CGI model under the erroneous impression that it would just be a quick mock-up, He found himself in a months long, unpaid, high pressure workload that took up most of his spare time, as he was at the time still fully employed at Foundation, working on on Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition), among others. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 10, pp. 25-26) Drexler's dogged determination to bring the project to successful fruition, which was anything but "dabbling", solicited an accolade of high praise from Michael Okuda, "That’s dedication, but that’s what Doug brings to every project. And it earned him a place among such luminaries as Jefferies, Probert, Sternbach, Eaves, Taylor, Zimmerman, and James." [X]wbm However, Drexler was rewarded for this stressful assignment by his subsequent position as senior illustrator on the new series, back in the employ of CBS one year later, finally earning him his "illustrator" credit. During these years, Drexler also contributed as illustrator to the last Star Trek film set in the prime universe, Star Trek Nemesis.

Doug Drexler and Enterprise NX

Doug Drexler with the Enterprise (NX-01)

During his tenure as scenic artist on Deep Space Nine, Drexler taught himself the Adobe Illustrator software which, aside for submitting his early USS Voyager design propositions in this format, served him well in providing the technical illustrations for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual and Star Trek Encyclopedia. He went on to master the CGI LightWave 3D software as well, the build of the Breen warship for DS9: "Penumbra" being his first contribution in this format for the franchise. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 7,  p. 50) Actually, the fact that Drexler had been honing his skills building CGI models in LightWave while working on Voyager at Foundation Imaging, was instrumental in his invitation to participate in the design process for the NX-class for Enterprise. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 136, p. 32) Being an Original Series fan, Drexler might otherwise have been a consideration for the producers not to employ him, as friend and co-worker Mandel reiterated, "When they started Enterprise, they made a conscious decision to bring in some new blood, and not just round up the usual suspects; but in practice, it meant that fans like Rick Sternbach, Tim Earls and myself weren’t asked back. However, a number of fans who had worked on DS9 and had been taking an extended leave of absence came back when Enterprise started, so the total number of Star Trek fans stayed about the same." [2]

Due to his intimate knowledge of The Original Series, Drexler has been deeply involved with the build of the Original Series sets for the homage episodes, TNG: "Relics", DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations", and ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", and though he has not received a "production designer" credit for any of them, his contributions to the second episode in particular were examined in detail in the 2001 reference EBook, The Magic of Tribbles: The Making of Trials and Tribble-ations. "In particular, Doug was the one responsible for going thru stacks and stacks of VHS tapes, doing video frame grabs for all of us who needed to know what the corridor door frames looked like, or where the intercoms were mounted, or how wide the stripes were on the floor, or a million other things. There is no way that this episode could have been as accurate as it was without Doug’s dedication and hard work. Without Doug’s efforts, a lot more things would have been guesswork, and the overall product would have been diminished," an appreciative Okuda stated in regard to the "Tribble" episode. [X]wbm

While Drexler worked for the live action franchise, he co-authored and illustrated the Manual, and illustrated all editions of the Encyclopedia, its CD-ROM derivative as well as such reference books like Star Trek Science Logs, all of which in Adobe. His subsequent mastery of the LightWave software, aside for his regular work for televised Star Trek, also served him well, when he was asked by Pocket Books to provide (CGI) covers for several of their novels, most notably the covers of the Star Trek: Vanguard novels. (Star Trek Magazine issue 162, pp. 82-84), as well as becoming from 2004 onward, a contributor and co-editor of the popular Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar series. He also contributed as illustrator to the 1998 interactive CD-ROM, Star Trek: Captain's Chair, for which he, most notably, created the Constitution-class operations graphic, that was later elevated to canon, when it was featured in the fourth season Enterprise "In a Mirror, Darkly" episode. [X]wbm

Doug Drexler acted as a technical consultant for the 2006 remastered Original Series, for which he was fully credited, and repeated this for the 2012 follow-up project, the remastered The Next Generation series, albeit uncredited, and on a more freelance, occasional base. [3] In 2012, Drexler joined on a freelance basis the editorial staff of Ben Robinson's Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection partwork publication as CGI supervisor, consultant and contributor, especially on those issues that sported his own starship designs. In 2013, Drexler and Andrew Probert designed the new Deep Space 9 station for the cover of the Star Trek: The Fall novel Revelation and Dust.

In November 2014 Drexler again returned to the Star Trek franchise when he was invited to become a part as consultant of a team of experts – including a host of former Star Trek alumni – to oversee a new restoration of the original eleven-foot Enterprise studio model, residing at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM), for its 50th anniversary. [4] Though having accepted the prestigious assignment, Drexler was unable to attend the team's first work meeting on 13 May 2015, due to previous engagements. [5]

Appearances Edit

Doug Drexler has made two cameo appearances as a Starfleet officer. Upon starting work on Star Trek, he asked if he could appear as a background artist, in uniform, at some point. His wish was granted in the third season episode "Transfigurations", where he appeared as a command division Enterprise-D officer in several scenes set in Ten Forward. He also appeared in "These Are the Voyages..." as an Earth Starfleet ceremony attendee.

Perhaps not coincidentally, his name has been used referring to two Starfleet personnel, D. Drexler and Doug Drexler, on dedication plaques in the same time periods.

In addition, Drexler had a Klingon character named after him – Drex, the son of Martok and Sirella, appearing in "The Way of the Warrior" –, and which titillated him to no end, "I got a Klingon named after me! There was a Klingon named Drex. Michael Dorn always loved my last name for a Klingon; on TNG he would yell across the stage, "Drexler, Drexler, Drexler." He'd say, "It's a great Klingon Name" And I think I told Ira that. Also I had Drex on my jacket. Ira always used to see that." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 22,  p. 88) .

Continuations as Star Trek fan Edit

Outside the official franchise framework, Drexler, The Original Series fan he is, but now credited under the pseudonym "Max Rem", also volunteered to work on James Cawley's fan made internet series Star Trek: New Voyages (2004-2007). He worked as a VFX artist, executive producer, make-up artist, casting director, and editor on the series and wrote the story for the episode "In Harms Way". As CGI VFX artist, Drexler built several CGI model versions of ships for this production, such as the Class F shuttlecraft, the Klingon D7 class, the DY-100 class and most notably, with support from Petri Blomqvist, the Constitution-class. Most of these CGI builds for this fan production, later turned up on several occasions, usually credited under his "Max Rem" pseudonym, in the licensed Ships of the Line calendar series, and their 2006 book derivative. From 2013 onward, Drexler, now under his own name, continued to extend his support as producer and VFX artist to the more recent, likewise conceived fan project, Star Trek Continues. In the first full episode of the series, "Pilgrim of Eternity", Drexler also starred in a guest role as a holodeck character in the episode's teaser.

The Drex Files Edit

Logo DrexFiles

To disseminate all the knowledge he had accumulated over the years to fellow Star Trek fans, Drexler started his internet blog, the DrexFileswbm on 14 December 2008. For four years running, a large amount of behind-the-scenes information was posted on this blog, providing an intimate look into all production aspects of Star Trek productions set in the prime universe, with most of its contents not available anywhere in print. Over the four following years, Drexler's blog has amassed a large following; not only fans participated in his blog but former VFX production staff colleagues, such as Brandon MacDougall, Robert Bonchune, Adam Buckner, Dana White Shea, and many more, contributed to his blog too. The more prominent production staff contributors to Drexlers' blog were Rick Sternbach, Michael Okuda and Andrew Probert, who provided a considerable amount of additional information. Activity on the blog had considerably slackened off from 2012 onward though.

Noteworthy was that Drexler on his blog provided a platform for young and aspiring amateur digital modelers to showcase their work. Along with former Foundation colleague Adam "Mojo" Lebowitz, Drexler became one of the few publication editors who granted these budding artists a chance to create work for official Star Trek print publications, most notably of course, the by Drexler himself edited Ship of the Line calendar series. Two of them in particular, Tobias Richter and Douglas E. Graves, were thanks to Drexler given the opportunity to contribute to the remastered version of The Next Generation, which marked their professional entrance in the motion picture industry.

The blog was taken down in early March 2013, due to perceived copyright infringements put forward by former VFX colleagues. Drexler stated the following on his Facebook page, "You know how I brand all the images I post with Drex Files. Several of my VFX colleagues took exception to that. They felt I was claiming credit for it all by doing that. I received a couple of angry notes that were upsetting. I felt the best thing was to off-line it for now. My intention was never to steal credit, in fact I felt like I was promoting everyone’s work. Drex Files regulars know that I note credits for work whenever I have the info, and if I don’t, I appeal to the audience to speak up if they know something about it. So for now, the Drex Files is dark, at least until I have a chance to think about it and review it." [6]

Doug Drexler on the throne of Kahless

"...Quo vadis, Drex Files?..."

One of the very last pictures Drexler posted on his blog before it went dark, was one in which he was seen sitting on the throne of Kahless that was constructed for the season six Next Generation episode "Rightful Heir". In it he emulated the signature pensive and moody pose, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger had assumed in his titular role at the end of the 1982 cult classic, Conan the Barbarian. Unwittingly and in hindsight, it was Drexler himself who had provided an apt coda for his blog; as of 2015 Drexler has opted not to revive his blog, but instead to use his Facebook page as the venue to continue disseminating his knowledge.

The "DrexFiles" proved to be an inspiration for the companion site of John Eaves, who started his likewise successful blog, Eavesdropping with Johnny, on 16 March 2009. He stated on that occasion, "I have to thank the ever and all talented master of media and VFX illusionist, Doug Drexler, for encouraging me to get off my fat butt and finally start a fun blog page!!! I have always wanted to have place to share the fun and adventures of those glorious movie and Star Trek days with friends, coworkers and fans of the films and shows..." [7]

Post-Star Trek career Edit

While employed at Foundation Imaging, Drexler was at first put to work on Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles, before being allowed to work on Voyager.

Following his official tenure on the Star Trek franchise, Drexler subsequently worked as CGI VFX supervisor on Ronald D. Moore's successful Battlestar Galactica franchise, its short lived prequel series, Caprica, and the more recent Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (2012) direct-to-DVD movie. His tenure on that franchise earned him no less than two "Outstanding Special Visual Effects" Emmy Awards, three additional nominations, as well as a 2009 VES Award (shared with Gary Hutzel, Mike Gibson, and Kyle Toucher).

In between Drexler worked on productions like, Future by Design (2006), Area 57 (2007), Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008), Virtuality (2009), and Drive Angry (2011). One of Drexlers' more involved engagements was his participation in the 2013 television show Adventures of Superseven, on which he not only contributed as CGI automobile modeler, but also appeared on two occasions as a recurrent guest star. Drexler's most recent employment was as a CGI supervisor for Syfy's 2013 science fiction television series Defiance, resulting in the addition of yet another 2013 VFX Emmy Award nomination (shared with Hutzel, Gibson, David R. Morton, Toucher, Sean M. Jackson, and Douglas E. Graves) to his laurels.

Drexler is married to Enterprise food stylist Dorothy Duder.

Star Trek credits Edit

(This list is currently incomplete.)

Emmy Award nominations Edit

For his work on Star Trek, Drexler has received the following Emmy Award nominations as "Makeup Artist" in the category Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series:

Bibliography Edit

Star Trek interviews Edit

External links Edit

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