This video from ReasonTV shows you an interview with film maker Roger Nygard.
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Captain Kirk to Brother JED
Ted Balaker: Hi, I’m Ted Balaker with Reason.TV. Today, I’ll be speaking Roger Nygard who has directed television shows such as The Office and The Bernie Mac Show. Roger is the director of the celebrated documentary Trekkies and his new project, the nature of existence promises to explain the mysteries of the universe in 90 minutes.
Stick around and hear Roger take on directing the rise of fan culture, religion and why people get so angry when they’re beliefs get challenged.
How do you first get into filmmaking?
Roger Nygard: I’ve --just been making films ever since I can remember. It was something I’ve always been interested in and I’ve just kept doing it. And luckily I’ve been able to get paid to do it since I think 1991, it was when I turned pro. Starred Julie Brown, Kevin Neal and then David Spade for David Spade gone SNL.
Ted Balakher: So how did you move from something like the monsters level to the -- to The Office, the Bernie Mac Show level.
Roger Nygard: You just keep building, somebody once told me and I think it’s true. It takes five years to make every big step in the film business. So you start out with your little amateur productions and then you finally maybe write a script and you make a short film which leads to somebody seeing it hopefully and then getting an offer to direct something and really low budget and maybe that leads to something. And if it doesn’t you just start all over again and try it again.
Ted Balaker: Get something like The Office which started, it’s a British version and become widely successful here in the States as well. How much of it was sort of ready made just the style of the humor for an American audience versus you had to tweak it for an American audience.
Roger Nygard: The American version of the office certainly found its own group and I think that’s why it became a success. You can’t just copy something directly. You got to reinvent it because every culture is a little bit different. The American culture is a little different from the British culture, you know they got a German Office -- they’re franchising the Office to other countries and in each one they get’s tweaked a little bit because humor doesn’t always travel.
Ted Balaker: For the folks who may have not seen it yet what’s the 02:26 in Trekkies?
Roger Nygard: It’s a documentary about some of the more exceptional fans of Star Trek.
Ted Balaker: And one of the most exceptional was the young man named Gabriel.
Roger Nygard: Everything that came out of his mouth was gold.
Ted Balaker: Here at Reason.TV of course, Drew Carey’s a big deal for us and he’s a big fan of Trekkies, can you tell me about him hooking up with Gabriel.
Roger Nygard: Drew Carey saw Trekkies and we heard about it because we got a phone call at the production office from Drew Carey’s office saying “Hey, we want to find that kid, Gabriel.” And they ended up casting Gabriel on the Drew Carey Show for two episodes to play a Start Trek fan of some kind. It was kind of flattering that “Oh, Drew Carey saw the movie and liked it.”
Ted Balaker: Ca you talk about the rise of fan culture, I mean certainly it’s epitomized in something like Trekkies. It sort of what every television show would dream of having this bottom of the grassroots fan culture. What accounts for that?
Roger Nygard: The thing about Star Trek is that people like to lose themselves in a TV show and Star Trek was the one science fiction show or literature that portrait a positive future where human beings are progressing and people are equal. Man and woman, minorities, everyone has an equal chance. Science fiction tends to the place where we project our doomsday scenarios. And Star Trek was the opposite of that and it drew people to that positive portrayal.
My new film is called The Nature of Existence. And the subtitle that I like is “All the mysteries of the universe explained why are we here.” Is there an after life? Where is it? What is the soul? What is sin? Does prayer work? If so where was God during the holocaust? And now 04:42 hundreds of people all over the world asking the same questions. They interviewed Baba lovers, Myrh Baba from Hindu gurus to genets, talk to atheist, Satanists and Native Americans, rabbi in Israel, archbishop in Rome, confusionists, the Taoists in China. China is held to be an atheistic country. Confucianism and Taoism are not truly deistic religions. But they are really superstitious. I think every human nature has superstition built into it in some way. I was interviewing a woman in Beijing. I asked her about religion which religion did she prefer then she said “I don’t believe in any sort of religion.” And then in the next sentence she’s telling me how she believes that if you find a snake on the roof of your snake you should leave it because it brings good luck. If you shoo it away it will bring disaster. So that’s still a belief in some unknown force that you can influence through your actions.
Ted Balaker: Why do people get so angry when their beliefs are challenged?
Roger Nygard: Everyone had the same answer that if you truly believe whatever it is that you profess to believe you have no doubt in your mind, you don’t get angry when someone questions it. You discuss it. You have an answer for why. If you have doubts you get angry at someone for shining the light on your own doubts. If someone is very angry because you’re challenging them it’s because they’re trying to keep themselves convinced of whatever the doctrine is that they profess to believe.
Ted Balaker: The very rarely say well. Well, thank you friend for setting this 06:30
Roger Nygard: Oh, yeah. You can never change someone’s mind. I mean rarely.
Ted Balaker: If you had to say drive cross country with one of the folks that you interviewed who comes to mind?
Roger Nygard: Oh, I’ve done it. I did it with a preacher, an evangelical. What did he call himself, a confrontational evangelist. I drove cross country with Brother Jed. He goes from college to college preaching Fire and Brimstone, the type of get old fashioned you know you all going to go to hell if you don’t stop listening to rock and roll and drinking beer and all the other bad things. And he was -- he is something else. He’s very entertaining. He stayed in my house because he goes from place to place. He doesn’t have money. So I said you know you’re free to use the guest room.
Ted Balaker: Open invitation. He might see this online.
Roger Nygard: He’s been there once, come back anytime Brother Jed, anytime.