Kingston Pen ‘perfect location’ for Star Trek: Discovery scenes

Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham. Photo Credit: Jan Thijs/CBS© 2017.

Star Trek: Discovery fans will see the familiar stone architecture of Kingston Penitentiary in this week’s episode of the sci-fi series.

A year ago, cast and film crews spent two weeks here in Kingston, filming scenes for Season 3’s Episode 11, which will be available to watch at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve (Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.) The filming was kept under wraps while the cast and crew were in town, but the Kingston Film Office did confirm the rumours at the time.

“The Kingston Film Office did indeed host Season Three of Star Trek: Discovery in Kingston over the past two weeks,” Alex Jansen, Film Commissioner with the Kingston Film Office, said a year ago, on December 19, 2019. “We kept everything entirely confidential at the express request of the production, but I can confirm that we hosted them for five days of pre-production, two days of shooting, and they’re in the process of finishing three days of wrap-up,”

In a media release from the Kingston Film Office, dated Monday Dec. 21, 2020, location manager Melissa Warry-Smith describes how the TV shoot came to Kingston. “The script outline I received described a scene with ancient stepwells,” she says. Kingston Penitentiary’s spacious “Shop Dome,” with its double staircase and catwalk circling the soaring limestone walls, proved to be the perfect location for the scene, complemented by sets built at the production crew’s studio in Toronto.

Kingston Pen has been the site for a few other TV shoots recently (Alias Grace, Titans, and Murdoch Mysteries) but Star Trek: Discovery was the first otherworldly one. “It ended up being the perfect location for what we needed to do, including lighting the space properly,” says Warry-Smith. “And we had to do a lot of things [to transform the space].” For that, the crew counted on a number of local contractors who were already familiar with the building, according to the release. Warry-Smith praised the work of the staff at the Kingston Film Office, part of Tourism Kingston, saying that they made the four-day shoot, and all the preparation leading up to it, go extremely smoothly.

The premise of the show follows the crew of the USS Discovery, and begins about a decade before Star Trek: The Original Series.

The series began by uniting the Klingon houses in war against the United Federation of Planets, and season two took place after the war with Discovery investigating seven strange red signals and a mysterious being called the Red Angel. Through all of this, Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, is forced to face her past with the return of her estranged brother, Spock. By the end of the second season, Discovery travels to the 32nd century, over 900 years into their future.

The Kingston Film Office says the direct economic impact of the Star Trek: Discovery shoot was more than $160,000 to the Kingston community, spanning everything from accommodations to local labour, suppliers, and equipment rentals. “It was an incredible way to end a record year in 2019 and cap off a very successful six-month trial that saw more than a half dozen productions at KP,” says Film Commissioner Alex Jansen. “Correctional Service Canada has been great to work with, and we’re really excited about the future potential.”

Episode 11 of Star Trek: Discovery, titled “The Citadel,” airs on CTV’s Sci Fi Channel and CRAVE on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.

For more information on Star Trek: Discovery, click here.

For more information on the Kingston Film Office, click here.

One thought on “Kingston Pen ‘perfect location’ for Star Trek: Discovery scenes

  • Kingston Pen ‘perfect location’ for Kingston!
    What a tremendous idea of what to do with the Pen! At $160,000 brought into the city per few days of filming, Hollywood generates a lot of jobs for a lot of people working in a lot of different jobs. Sudbury is reaping huge benefits, financial and social, from being the new Hollywood North (including a widely popular Cinefest, featuring excitable stardom presence…) What sells Sudbury is its natural environment; the variety of buildings inside the Pen are likewise a treasure of cinematic opportunity. It’s a cool, clean industry to attract to Kingston. Think Big: Cannes-nada!

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