Bryan Fuller is currently a writer and producer on Star Trek: Discovery and a writer for Star Trek: Short Treks. However, his career in the Star Trek universe started long before his current contributions.
Fuller started writing for Star Trek way back in 1997. He came up with the stories behind two Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) episodes: “The Darkness and the Light” and “Empok Nor.” That same year, a couple of his scripts got picked up by Star Trek: Voyager, and he ended up landing a regular gig as a writer on the show. In total, Fuller worked on 21 episodes with the Voyager behind the scenes team.
In a recent appearance on Post Mortem with Mick Garris, Fuller talked about what it was like to work on DS9 and Voyager, and he revealed which writer’s room had “a little bit of snobbery.”
Fuller Pitched ‘Star Trek’ Through the Open Submission Program
During Star Trek: The Next Generation’s run on television, the showrunners implemented an open submission policy for scripts, according to TrekToday. Anyone, established writer or not, could send a script to the team behind the show. The creative team would review the script, and if they liked it, they’d set up a pitch meeting with the writer. If the pitch meeting went well, the writer was brought on to help develop the episode for the script they’d pitched.
Some of the people who pitched through the open submission program were brought on to do more scriptwriting. A few, including Fuller and Star Trek icon Ronald D. Moore, were given steady jobs in the writer’s rooms for the shows.
Fuller told Post Mortem that he found out about the open submission policy at a Star Trek convention. He signed up for a writing workshop with Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, and during the workshop, they mentioned the program.
Shortly after that, Fuller submitted his first script to the Star Trek crew. Unfortunately, that script was rejected. However, Fuller was undeterred. He submitted a second script and that one earned him an invite to a pitch meeting. In a twist of fate, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine team actually bought the script they’d originally rejected after he pitched it in person.
From there, Fuller pitched and sold a second script to DS9. Then he got his first assignment from the Star Trek writer’s room. He was asked to draft a script for an episode of Voyager. After working on that script, he was offered a staff position. Fuller ended up working on Voyager for four years.
The ‘Voyager’ Writer’s Room had Some ‘Snobbery’
Fuller told Post Mortem that he was “thrilled” to get the job on Voyager. However, he did say that he’d hoped that he’d get an offer for DS9 instead of Voyager. According to Fuller, the DS9 writer’s room was filled with Star Trek geeks that “had no shame about their love for the genre.” However, the Voyager writer’s room had “a little bit of snobbery.”
He went on to say that he had to rein in his geekdom when he was in the Voyager writer’s room because “they discouraged you from being the geek in the room.” Fuller joked that he was always “looking over the fence” to the DS9 writer’s room because he thought it was more fun than the Voyager writer’s room.
The ‘Voyager’ Writer’s Room had a Lot of Drama
This isn’t the first time that Fuller has talked about his struggles in the Voyager writer’s room. In June, Fuller appeared on the Inglorious Treksperts podcast and shared some insight about the drama that went down behind the scenes of Voyager.
He said that one of the big struggles for the Voyager writers was figuring out what the show was supposed to be. Deep Space Nine had departed from the typical Star Trek format. The themes were darker and the show followed over-arching storylines that stretched over entire seasons and the entire show instead of week-to-week adventures. As Voyager progressed, there was a constant debate in the writer’s room about whether Voyager was a continuation of the feel of DS9 or a return to the tried and true feel of Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Original Series.
Fuller told Inglorious Treksperts that Voyager didn’t really find itself until the fourth season. Even then, there was still a lot of dispute in the writer’s room over what kind of show they were writing. Fuller said that the writers wanted to be creating “bigger, bolder science fiction stories,” but they weren’t allowed to head in that direction for a while. He claimed that the showrunners, particularly Rick Berman, resisted those more epic stories because they wanted Voyager to be more like TNG and less like DS9, which was considered a ratings failure at the time.
Fuller remarked that when he rewatches the episodes now, he’s always astonished by the quality of the “storytelling.” He said that while he was in the trenches of the writer’s room, writing all the time, and trying to figure out what the show really was, he wasn’t able to see what a good job the writing team was doing. He continued, saying that watching the show again has given him a new appreciation for what he and his team members did while working on the show.
At another point in that interview, Fuller reiterated that he’d always wanted to land a staff writing position on DS9 because he loved the complicated stories they were telling. However, in retrospect, he’s seen how he was able to create that in Voyager as well.
On Discovery Fuller has the opportunity to be a part of those over-arching, complicated storylines that he loved so much on DS9. Though he hasn’t written for the show since its first season, he’s one of the creative forces behind the stories told in each season of the series.