JJ Abrams has been asked about those Star Trek lens flares plenty of times now. Yesterday during a two-hour sit-down interview with Stephen Colbert at the Montclair Film Festival Fundraiser was simply the latest. However, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens less than a month away perhaps you want a re-assurance that there won’t be any scenes in the movie where we can’t tell what’s happening because JJ went a little too crazy with lens flares. Well, here it is. Colbert brought it up by pointing out that there are apparently 721 instances of lens flare in Star Trek.
According to Abrams, “When we were doing Trek, what I loved was this idea … that the future that they were in was so bright that it couldn’t be contained,” Abrams said, explaining that he loved how many movies from his childhood had out-of-focus oval lights in the background and the lens flares on those “have a great streaky quality.” And when he made Star Trek, Abrams said he told their director of photography, “it would be so much fun if we had that kind of look.”
“I didn’t think we’d have quite that number of them,” he said. “I just fell in love with how it looked, and I started to get in trouble with it with people because they were like, “Enough already.”
There’s less of it in Star Trek Into Darkness, but it’s still there, proving particularly distracting during one crucial scene involving Alice Eve’s character, when she’s pleading with her dad to, um, basically stop being so evil.
It turns out that after viewing that scene even Abrams’ wife told him enough was enough, “There was one scene where Alice Eve was so obliterated by a lens flare that I was showing the scene to my wife, Katie, and she was like, ‘OK You know what? Enough. I can’t see what this scene is about. Who is standing there?…I can’t see her.'”
Fear not. He’s learned his lesson, “As you’ll see in the Star Wars movie, I’ve allowed lens flares to take a very back seat,” he said. “There are a couple [moments] where you have to have them.” For the most part, though, his approach to lens flares with Star Wars was, “This is not the movie; these are not the flares you’re looking for.”
So, there you have it. One less The Force Awakens thing to worry about.