'Star Trek': Picard Series Pilot to Be Directed by Hanelle Culpepper

The upcoming Star Trek: Picard TV series has found a director for its pilot episode, in the form of Hanelle Culpepper, marking the first time in its 53-year run that Star Trek TV pilot (or film for that matter) has been helmed by a female director.

If you're not familiar with the name, Hanelle Culpepper comes with an extensive resume of television experience. She's directed episodes of high-profile TV shows like, Empire, Quantico, Criminal Minds, Mayans M.C., Shooter and Counterpart. Aside from those mainstream TV projects, Culpepper has a considerable amount of geek culture cred, having worked on shows like Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, Castle, Gotham, Lucifer, and The Flash. If that all wasn't enough, Culpepper has also directed two episodes of the current Star Trek Discovery series, including the "Vaulting Ambition" episode of season 1, and an upcoming episode of the current season 2 arc.

Here's what Star Trek: Picard showrunner Alex Kurtzman had to say regarding bringing Culpepper in to do the pilot:

"Hanelle is a gifted and dynamic filmmaker whose directorial choices are always deeply rooted in character. I’ve been a huge fan of her work since she started with us on Discovery, and she’s the perfect person to re-introduce the beloved character of Picard to longtime fans and new viewers alike. We’re thrilled she’s joining our Trek family on this next adventure."

As revealed by Picard himself, Patrick Stewart (who is returning for this new series), Star Trek: Picard is set "Exactly 19 years in the future, which was how time has passed since the last time I put on my spacesuit...for the television series.” The series will pick up ten years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, which was set nine years after the final episode of Star Trek: TNG. The Picard series will also take place two years after the destruction of Romulus by supernova in 2387 (which created the alternate timeline of Star Trek reboot films), basically making this new show the first series to really push the original canon timeline forward in a significant way.

As Alex Kurtzman previously teased, the makers of Star Trek: Picard want to build out the future - while retaining the intimate feel of the original TNG series:

"Well, I'll tell you the first thing we all said is it has to feel grounded. No matter what choices we're making about portraying the future, it has to feel grounded, because I think one of the things people have loved so much about Next Gen is that it is a very emotional, thoughtful, grounded piece of entertainment. And the easy thing to do is come up with crazy floating skyscrapers, and all the cliches of science fiction, and we've tried to avoid that across the board. So, in the production design, in the look of it, in the feel of it, it's always about the small intimate personal details that you can still connect to now even though it's taking place so far in the future.”

The new Star Trek: Picard series will debut on CBS All Access in late 2019.

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