Doug Aarniokoski’s debut feature film was Highlander: Endgame but in the almost two-decades since, he’s made a name for himself directing and co-producing a raft of top television shows such as Sleepy Hollow, Limitless, Bull, Timeless, Criminal Minds, The Flash and Green Arrow.
He’s now firmly embedded with the Star Trek franchise, directing several episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and he is part of the team that will bring the much-anticipated return of Patrick Stewart and Captain Jean-Luc Picard to television screens for a new show likely to debut before 2020. He also produced and directed the third of the monthly ‘Short Treks’ standalone entries available on CBS All Access from 6th December and which will help to whet the appetite before Discovery returns in January.
“For Season One and Season Two of Star Trek: Discovery, I only came in as a guest director. I did one episode last year and I have two this year. I produced the shorts and directed the next one for December which is called The Brightest Star. The ‘Short Treks’ give you the chance to focus a little on different perspectives about the world of ‘Discovery’. What’s nice about The Brightest Star mini-episode is that it gives you the opportunity to see details and aspects of Saru (played by Doug Jones) and his world that we haven’t seen so far and are fun to start to explore…” he explains.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly twenty years since Highlander: Endgame debuted and HLWW asked Doug how he viewed the experience in retrospect – and what he thinks any potential reboot would need to do to win back the fans…
“Listen, it all starts with the script. If someone has a take on it, it has to be on the page. I wouldn’t know how you could conceive rebooting it without a different take on it. I think that’s where a lot of reboots fail – they just try to ‘re-do’ it in a way that only updates the special-effects or type of equipment,” he explains. “But…. there’s something that’s just so… elegant about Highlander. The film I did probably tried to jam so much into a very small ‘pouch’. It had the tv audience and the film aspects brought together – and who wouldn’t want to do that kind of mash-up? But it’s hard to do a mash-up when you have a smaller budget. I think when you don’t have the kind of big budget that is needed for such a big vision, then the result suffers.”
“I don’t know what I’d do with Highlander if I did it today, but I’m excited for the reboot. I’m sure there are writers out there who could have amazing takes on that world because it is an amazing world to explore. But I think you have to start from scratch. You almost have to throw everything out and start clean – redesign the rules. Find the right guy. The story and the star will be the things that make it sing… the producer of John Wick talks about how they went all over town pitching a movie about ‘…an ex-assassin who got out of the business because he fell in love with a woman but then someone steals his car and kills his puppy and he’s out for revenge’. He’d get that far and people would say ‘Yeah… I’ll pass.’ THEN, Keanu signs up and his stunt co-ordinators have an interesting take and suddenly everyone is saying ‘I can totally see that!’ I think you need the stars to align like that to make Highlander happen again…” Doug notes. “I hope they DO do it… because I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’m working on a production and someone says ‘How do I do this reveal?’ and I say ‘Imagine you’re pulling out a Highlander sword from your jacket!’ and they just immediately get it! (laughs).