At the TV Kids Festival, Kevin and Dan Hageman discussed making the first animated series for kids set in the beloved Star Trek universe.
Star Trek: Prodigy has rolled out on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon, with a second season in the works. You can watch the brothers’ keynote conversation with TV Kids’ Kristin Brzoznowski here.
Alex Kurtzman approached the Hageman brothers about delivering an animated spin for the franchise, targeting younger viewers. “Our first thought was, this is very daunting,” Dan said.
Star Trek: Prodigy is the franchise’s first animated series that solely uses CGI. “The original animated series of Star Trek was 2D,” Kevin explained. “We came from a background of a lot of CG animation (The LEGO Movie, Ninjago, Trollhunters). We always loved being on these things that were pushing the art and animation. We wanted something that was treated almost like it was real. We wanted our characters to hopefully someday interact with the actual live-action actors or vice versa. We wanted to make it real and grounded and just cinematic and gorgeous. And then we brought on Ben Hibon, our supervising director. Disney has such an amazing, big presence with the style of a lot of animation out there. He was bucking the system a little bit. And we created an original voice and look to our show.”
Dan added: “Because it’s animation, we’re able to do some things that some live-action shows can’t do. Our ship is all windows. You’re looking right out into space. The simple cost of doing that in live action is just too much. We wanted to have the whole cast be aliens. Not just prosthetics stuck to your forehead. We wanted to make sure we pushed and pulled what these characters looked like and what they could represent throughout the galaxy.”
Kevin then weighed in on the character development at the heart of the series. “We always come from a place of wish fulfillment. The Goonies is one of our favorite films. And these are like real kids, right? Even though our cast is a bunch of aliens, they will hopefully feel like real kids with real issues.”
Dan added: “These protagonists have to figure out how to stay one step ahead. We never have keystone cops. We never have people slipping on banana peels. We don’t make it easy for them. This is space, and this is the canon of Star Trek. We want to make sure we fit within that believability.”
Kevin noted: “We wanted the whole family to be able to sit down and enjoy it. If you look at all aspects of our show, we’re constantly thinking about that.”
On assembling the writers’ room, Kevin stated: “We weren’t necessarily looking at animation writers who have done a lot of the close-ended 22-minute format or 11-minute format. A lot of our writers come from the live-action world. With our show, we take the time for it to breathe, and we need those dramatic moments. It’s a little bit of a different animal than a lot of other young animated shows.”