John Ives remembers the late “Trek” model Greg Jane

Gregory Jane and John Ives

John Ives

Gregory Jane and John Ives working on a model.

Respected and veteran concept designer and designer Jon Ives, whose credits include decades of “Star Trek” shows and features, mourns the loss of his friend and mentor, Gregory Jane, he told Heavy in an exclusive interview. Jane was a modeller, artist, and designer of landscape miniatures and has been nominated for an Academy Award and Emmy, and has several credits, according to Internet Movie DatabaseThe Hunt for Red October,” “The Scorpion King,” “Avatar,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Interstellar,” and the live-action version of “Mulan.”

eaves, according to alpha memoryHe has worked as a production illustrator for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Star Trek: Enterprise”, “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard” as well as eight “Star Trek” feature films. Heffel spoke with Ives on June 29, 2022, the day after Jane’s death was publicly announced by his friends and associates.

Jane passed away on May 22, 2022 at the age of 76

John Ives and Gregory Jane

John IvesJohn Eaves and Gregory Jein together on the set of Star Trek.

How well do you know about Jane’s early work in films such as “Flesh Gordon”, “Close Encounters” and “Buckaroo Bonzai”?

eaves: My introduction to Greg Jane was through Starlog magazine. Starlog came out around 1976 and was a huge part of Star Trek in the beginning, sprinkled with a lot of pre-Star Wars pieces. Somewhere in these issues was an article on John Carpenter’s “Dark Star” that featured Ron Cobb’s art and some Greg Jane’s miniature work. After the massive explosion of “Star Wars”, Starlog began creating special editions and one of them featured all the models of a movie called “Flesh Gordon,” definitely not to be confused with “Flash Gordon!” Greg and a host of futuristic VFX GOATs got on their feet with this X-rated parody, and Greg’s models were amazing. I looked through those pictures, examining the smallest details. Thanks to Starlog and later Cinefex, which only delved into the world of FX, the pieces written about Greg have been consistent. Issue 2 had a feature called “Greg Jein, The Miniature Giant,” and this is the piece I read constantly. The next big issue on Greg came out in 1984 with the release of “Buckaroo Banzai” and again my fanbase was Greg and his work peaked with all his thumbnails.

How did you meet him?

eaves: I met Greg in the summer of 1984, while I was desperately trying to get into the world of visual effects. I grew up in Arizona and while visiting the state film commission, I stumbled upon a guide to motion pictures. And in the list of services was the phone number of Greg’s store. I rushed home and called him and he invited me to visit him. Within a couple of days, I was on my way to his shop and spent about an hour there talking while he was casting parts from a mold. It was a day I will never forget.

What do you think his most significant specific contributions were to “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and his other films “Trek”, “TNG”, “DS9”, “VOY” but especially “TNG”?

eaves: Greg’s contributions to “Star Trek” are not only legendary, but they stand out onscreen. Watching ‘TMP’ on opening day, the most memorable sight for me was when the establishment is in the depths of V’ger surrounded by balls of light and massive triangular architecture. I remember thinking she was as beautiful as the mother from ‘Close Encounters’. Ironically, upon reading the Cinefex mag article on “TMP,” I realized that, of course, it was the work of Greg. I started working with Greg when he came to help with a project we were working on at an influencer company called Apogee. We made a great friendship on this project and soon after he invited me to his place to work on Star Trek V. Once there, he had modeled the first episodes of “TNG” that he had a role in creating at ILM. At any point while a “Trek V” model is in operation, the phone will ring and a payload of new “TNG” models will be added to the list. The days were long and wonderful. We start around 7:00 AM and finish around 10:00 PM. When he started DS9 and Voyager, Greg was a major model maker for both, not only creating miniatures but also contributing artwork and designs. There was nothing he couldn’t do.

What kind of boss and teacher was he?

Ives: Well, Greg never looked like a boss, but more like his crewmates. His boss’s duties were more on the phone with the studio, but on his return to the store he’d assign tasks, and we’d go. He always worked with us when his boss’s duties ended. It has truly given us all a sense of freedom to build what we need to build ourselves. He hired you because of your skills and really let you run with them. He has also hired you for your attitude, how much you enjoy yourself, and how successful you are at working with others. There were tough times because of deadlines, but it never really mattered because he made every situation look good. His knowledge of everything related to the model was imparted without measure. If you have a problem, he can solve it, and what was very unique was that his approach was rude. The criteria were if it worked that was all he had to do.

What did you learn from him personally and professionally?

eaves: On a professional and personal level, I learned from Greg that we are all lucky fans of movies that got into the modeling industry. Greg was a huge fan and we shared everything. We’ve taken all the comics cons and a variety of comic and specialty stores across Los Angeles and small Tokyo to find great collectibles. Greg introduced us to Chinatown fried milk, Hawaiian food, sushi and dim sum. He was more of a friend than a business owner, and that’s Greg for all of us, a friend.

He was also reported to have been very good at encouraging up-and-coming artists. Who else in the world of “Trek” knew under his wing?

eaves: Greg was the one who gave everyone a chance! If he sees talent in you, he will bring you up no matter what stage you were in as a beginner. We’ve all learned from Greg and each other, and he’s been encouraging your talents by giving you assignments that give you the opportunity to grow and learn more. Without saying a word, he will put you where he thinks you can do your best! Working with Greg on whatever project would eventually become Star Trek. On many occasions, he would take over the emergency “Trek” model assignments for free. We all got paid but he was biting the bullet to help his friends in time of need and also because he lived to make models. We’ll all work at night to get these jobs done and it’s always been a good time.

Jane and Ives have worked together on several “Star Trek” projects.

Gregory Jane and John Ives

John IvesGregory Jane and John Ives joined forces to work on the “Trek” model.

Have you ever seen his private collection of memorabilia and props, and if so, which “Trek” items did you dread the most? What was he proud of owning?

eaves: Greg had a huge collection of just about everything. He had plenty of vintage Star Trek props and costumes from “The Original Series” and established models from “The Planet of the Apes”, “Lost in Space”, “2001” and “Silent Running” and the list goes on and on. It’s hard to say what he was most proud of, but if I had to guess, it would be anything from the original “Star Trek.”

What was your last conversation or meeting with him – and when?

eaves: Greg retired, mostly, a few years back due to health issues. We kept in touch and dined a lot. (Recently), Covid got in the way of a lot of get-togethers, but we often talk on the phone. Last month, I called him to see if he wanted dinner and got the old sound machine he’s owned for over 30 years. Unfortunately, an hour later, I got a call from his family stating that he had passed away two days earlier. We all knew his time was coming, but this call is one I wish I had never received. If it wasn’t for Greg and Grant McKeon from Apogee, I would never have been to the cinema. Greg took a chance from me and I can’t speak enough words to describe the gratitude behind his very kind gesture. His death definitely left a huge hole in my heart.

Finally, what you feel is his legacy. To borrow a phrase from “Deep Space Nine,” what does Greg Jane leave behind?

eaves: For many, he leaves behind decades of historical movie memorabilia, but for all of us who knew him, he left behind a bond and friendship full of wonderful memories. His influence on movies and models is known all over the world and has encouraged countless individuals to follow his dreams and footsteps. What does Greg leave behind? A world of fans without measure. Good luck to you Greg – and give the cat master some love from all of us.


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