In conversation with Manu Intiraymi

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Manu Intiraymi, born 1978 in Santa Cruz, California, is an actor, producer and – a less known fact – an artist. Interestingly, his first name “Manu” is also the  one of the Incan God of Law, while his last name “Intiraymi” is the Incan God of the Sun. Manu has been performing ever since his fifth birthday, later studying acting at Howard Fine Studio.

I had the pleasure of meeting him last weekend at FedCon 24. Manu is very passionate about his projects and has a great sense of humor. You can follow Manu on Facebook and find out more about him and his work. Many of you might know him best as “Icheb” from Star Trek: Voyager, and he has taken up this character again in Star Trek: Renegades. His latest project is “5th passenger“, a SciFi-Horror movie that is to be aired in the beginning of 2016.

DG: Hello Manu. Let’s talk about “Renegades” first. Everybody is really excited about this. How did you get to be a part of the project?

MI: Somebody called me. I don’t really remember exactly. But somebody did. It was either Ethan Calk or Sky Conway – one of the writers or the producer. I don’t really remember, it’s been so long ago. I might have seen it online and seen some of the people that were attached to it. So I might have written an email saying “Hey this looks pretty neat, if you want I’d like to be in this”. Either that or somebody called me and I don’t remember. On the first day they pitched me the idea about what had happened to Icheb and I thought it was really cool and then I looked at who else was involved in the project and I saw that it was made by the guys who gave us “Of Gods and Men”. I thought “Of Gods and Men” was an interesting story and I sat through the film and watched it and enjoyed it. I thought that the CG was not up to par – it really was rather cheesy – but I thought: “Hey – they’ve got more money and they’ve learned a lot”. If you make a movie you really learn a lot, you know. And so I figured this project was already looking much better than that one and at the same time I thought the writing would be as good as the writing for “Of Gods and Men” – if not better – and then I saw the people attached, so I had to give them shout cause I really wanted to be involved in it.

DG: “Great. What about CBS? I think we all are hoping for Renegades to become an online series. Is there any news on that already?”

MI: No news that I know of. I know that some of the production guys have said there is a meeting. I hope – all I can do as an actor is cross my fingers – that CBS likes it and makes it a show. The hope from the production people is that they turn it either into new show – an official web-series – because CBS just finally launched their official network online, or they do a movie of the week and if not that it will just be released on the Internet and fans will be able to see it anyway.

DG: That’d be great. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Star Trek on the big screen, but for me as well as many other fans Star Trek truly belongs to television, as an ongoing series. At the moment there are a lot of independent Star Trek movie projects going on. Is there any you heard of that you particularly like?

MI: I’m actually getting a little fed up with them, honestly. I like “New Voyages” and “Star Trek Continues”, those guys did a good job on the “creative thing”. And then Renegades came along and then this new project “Axanar”. There’s a ton of stuff out there and there are things coming along that have actors attached to them, but these movies are made by people who have never made films before. And these people – because of the Star Trek fanbase and the actors that they have attached – get a bunch of money all of a sudden from the fanbase. And they tend to – I think, and I could be wrong – to get overly excited by the money they get and they attend to the wrong things with the money instead of putting it all into the production. They either put it into their own pockets or try to spend it on the dream of building a big studio that is going to produce 10 more films instead of doing what they said they would do. A Star Trek movie. So I am telling people lately when we talk about online projects and crowd-funded projects: “Look who the producer is and make sure that they and the crew have some real credentials.” Because it’s not just the actors. Actors can’t make a movie. The people that make the movies are the guys who build the sets, the cameramen, the guys who do the make-up and the producers. And a lot of these guys, are not only getting all this money for making these movies, but they are putting themselves into the lead roles when they have never acted before. So they’ve got all these actors around them but they’ve never acted, so you are like: “What am I watching?”. So I’m kind of fifty-fifty. Some of those independent movies I have enjoyed, and some of them I was just like “What is this?”. I just want people from now on to have more responsibility. As in, when you get this and that amount of money from the fans, you absolutely need to put it all into the film, because half of the times it doesn’t look like it’s happening.

DG: Ok. Good advice. Now let’s talk about your own project, 5th Passenger – which I think was funded via kickstarter, too. It’s a science fiction horror movie. Why that mixture?

MI: The script came to me maybe five years ago. I was doing a trailer for a film I was going to produce – just a little teaser – when one of the steady cam operators, a SciFi fan, approached me. He said he had some scripts he wanted to show me. So he showed me the script called “5th Passenger” and I thought it was such a really smart idea. It’s got one of those endings – you know – that you didn’t see coming. And I thought: “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before”. I didn’t think it was ready to shoot, but it was such a great idea, that we hired a ghost-writer. In Hollywood they have really good writers that also ghost-writers, you know. He wanted to put his name on the project and so we hired him and tuned the script up and made it feature film quality. For a couple of years it just sort of floundered and we couldn’t find any money. The other producers wanted to raise money the old fashioned way just through meetings and trying to find investments through film companies. That’s really hard to find in Hollywood nowadays, unless you have at least a nugget to start with. Then I asked a few of my friends – but not really being in the SciFi community I didn’t have much friends that fit the roles. Originally Bob Picardo and Tim Russ and Marina Sirtis and Doug Jones signed on – Bob had to step off because of another project and Armin Shimerman stepped in for him instead. The fanbase was great. We found a set that we could shoot on that was a complete spaceship. We could make our own out of it and tear parts down and everything, but there was specific days we had to shoot on it. So we had three weeks to do the Kickstarter. We decided to go for it. The fanbase put up like 82.000 dollars out of the blue. Usually at Kickstarter you have to really, really spend time on it. Not just three weeks. 82 grand was amazing, because all we did was a few podcasts and a couple of interviews during that time. That money was enough for us to team up with other investors and the film has cost us around 300.000 dollars in the end. But the fanbase got us started and lead to it becoming a finished product. We hope to be finished editing in December by the end of this year.

DG: Wow! This is amazing. So will we be able to see this in the movie theatres?

MI: God, we hope so! Otherwise it will be DVD. I think every territory will buy it. I think we shot a really, really good movie. And I think you guys will enjoy it!

DG: I think so too. So you’ve been working on a lot of stuff lately. There’s Renegades, 5th Passenger, Benjamin Troubles and Instant and Unbelievable!!!!!”

MI: Oh god yes. That movie really is unbelievable!

DG: Yes. I do get the feeling it really is! But what about the future? All the projects mentioned should be out in 2015, so what is next? Any projects you are excited about?

MI: There are like 9 projects that should be out next year. But things that are coming up. I am going to shoot a horror movie called “Tailgaters”, I get to play one of the most despicable villains I have ever played in my whole life in that movie. And then I have a project that I am starting, called “The circuit”. We are going to do another Indigogo or Kickstarter campagin for that. What I want to do is to capture the 10 best stories that have ever happened at a Star Trek or SciFi or popculture convention in the 40 something years of their history. And I want to make an anthology about SciFi/Popculture conventions. I want to do 10 episodes. I want 5 episodes to be submitted by the fans and 5 episodes to come from the actors and the promoters. I want to show a story from the perspective of a promoter, and another from the perspective of maybe somebody doing press and a fan, a cosplayer, a couple of actors. Five stories are going to be based on true stories – those submitted by the fans – and five stories are going to be fiction. And I’ll be surprised if people can tell the difference because conventions are such a crazy world. Things happen behind the curtains that I don’t think many people know about. And from the celebrity standpoint – we are going to show you everything that happens behind the scenes and the deal is – that I want to ask the fans to do – is if we spill all our skeletons and show you everything from our closets I want the fans to do the same. And I think we can come up with a really fun television or web series called “The circuit”. We can do a comedy, a SciFi epic, and a musical. Every episode will be a different genre. And all things that take place over the weekend at a convention will be somewhere on there.

DG: This sounds fantastic. Thank you a lot for this interview, it was a pleasure!