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Preston Neal Jones

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Preston Neal Jones is the author of the reference book Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture from Creature Features Publishing. The writing he has done for this book actually stemmed from the work he had actually already done thirty-five years earlier, when he was hired as a freelance writer by Cinefantastique magazine for an intended 1979/1980 themed double-issue on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Actually, in a move that was somewhat reminiscent to the one granted two decades earlier to his predecessor Stephen Whitfield for his The Making of Star Trek, thereby slated to become his successor, Jones was given full unrestricted access to the production of The Motion Picture, while that feature was still being produced. [1] Yet, due to editorial problems, not in the least due to the volume of copy Jones himself produced, neither that issue, nor Jones' potential stature, ever came to fruition, or as Jones himself had put it on the occasion of a subsequent possibility to have his copy yet published, as the eventually unrealized 1991 Image Publishing release,

"This work began in the summer of 1979 as a commission from Frederick S. Clarke, the editor of Cinefantastique magazine, to create a double-issue honoring the imminent Star Trek movie, similar to previous special issues covering Star Wars and Close Encounters. Given to understand by my Trek fan friends that they would wish to read as detailed an account as possible, I interviewed sixty participants in the creation of this film, from Roddenberry and his original cast to director Robert Wise, science advisor Isaac Asimov, composer Jerry Goldsmith, screenwriters, set designers, special effects technicians and on and on, up to and including the young Executive in Charge of Production, one Jeffrey Katzenberg. I edited this material like a montage of memories, as if all sixty people were holding a round-robin seminar about the making of the movie. Wherever possible, I let them tell the story in their own words. [...]

"Even given that it was impossible to complete this magnum opus in time for the film's opening in December of 1979 – as I'm sure your readers are well aware, the special effects teams were working on ST-TMP until literally a few days before its premiere – my editor still had cause to regret the great amount of time I took on this assignment. By the time I was finished, the picture was long gone from theaters, and the completed manuscript totaled some 1,800 pages – more than enough for three books, let alone one. Cinefantastique kept promising its readers that it would print Return to Tomorrow, but this never happened, for reasons known only to Fred, now sadly gone from the planet. My book was never designed to be a muck-raker, but it was an honest, straightforward account of the amazing series of crises and difficulties encountered by this particular big-studio production. One reason why I believe the book should finally be published is that it examines a major motion picture in more detail than any previous book of its kind. Now that a few relatively honest books on the Trek universe have been published in recent years, with no resulting collapse of Gulf and Western or its assets, my hope is that Return to Tomorrow can finally take its place among them." [2]

Career outside Star TrekEdit

Jones' first book, Heaven and Hell to Play With: The Filming of The Night of the Hunter, earned him the Rondo Award for Book of the Year from the Classic Horror Film Board. His writings have appeared in Cinefantastique and American Art Review, and he is active in the film and TV industry. Jones has served as creative advertising executive, script analyst, and production assistant, introduced film screenings at American Cinematheque and the Los Angeles Film School, and contributed entries to Groves' New Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Jones has penned liner notes for recordings of music from a number of Golden Age film composers, such as Alfred Newman, Hans J. Salter, and Frank Skinner. Jones has lectured on the subject of film music at UCLA, and on the topics of The Night of the Hunter and Star Trek: The Motion Picture at Roanoke College in Virginia, where he was writer in residence.

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