A few decades ago, when Scott Baker was growing up in Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa, he dreamed of being an actor, so as a boy he wrote, cast, directed and produced his own amateur movies.
“I started making videos of my friends,” Baker said. “My dad had an old VHS camera, and I made funny little skits.”
Now, at age 41, Baker is a film director for real, and he’s coming up from Hollywood to screen his first feature film, “5th Passenger,” tonight at Third Street Cinema in downtown Santa Rosa.
“For me, one of things I’m most excited about is being able to bring the film home to where I grew up,” Baker said. “My life there was instrumental in my becoming a filmmaker.”
“5th Passenger,” an action drama set in space, is an ambitious directorial feature film debut.
“It’s a sci-fi thriller about five people in an escape pod after their spaceship blows up,” Baker said. “It’s like ‘Lifeboat’ meets ‘Alien.’”
The movie has caused some excitement in science fiction fandom because it features actors from the “Star Trek” television franchise:
Tim Russ, who played Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok on “Star Trek: Voyager,” also appearing on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Marina Sirtis, Counselor Deanna Troi on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (While the other actors play the escape pod crew in “5th Passenger,” Sirtis has a key role on the rescue ship.)
Armin Shimerman, who played the alien Ferengi bartender Quark on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Manu Intiraymi, known for his role as Icheb, who was rescued from the villainous Borg on “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Hana Hatae, best remembered as Molly O’Brien, daughter of crew members Keiko and Miles O’Brien on “Star Trek: Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” a role which she reprised in the fan-made series “Star Trek: Renegades.”
Doug Jones, who plays Lt. Saru on the current “Star Trek: Discovery” series. Jones has other sci-fi credits — playing the amphibian man in “The Shape of Water,” starring as the Silver Surfer in the second “Fantastic Four” film, and appearing in “Pan’s Labyrinth” and as Abe Sapien in both “Hellboy” and its sequel. He also appeared in the TV series “The Strain” and “Falling Skies.”
Baker credits his cast for his success in raising money for his film through a Kickstarter campaign.
“I was able to reach out directly to the ‘Star Trek’ fan base with familiar names,” he said. “It was an easy sell.”
After graduating from Rancho Cotate High School in 1994 and Sonoma State University in 2000, Baker served with Peace Corps in Turkmenistan from 2000 to 2001, until the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
“My time in the Peace Corps was cut short by 9/11. They brought us all back early,” he said.
Baker moved to Southern California in 2003 and within two years, began to find steady work as a cameraman and film editor, ultimately directing a couple of dozen short films. That gave him the filmmaking skills he needed to start working on a feature of his own.
If You Go
What: Pet-a-Llama Comedy Festival, featuring some 40 performers, including Brian Posehn, the Sklar Brothers and Scott Thompson
When: Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 16-18
Where: The Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd., and The Big Easy, 128 American Alley, Petaluma
Information, full schedule: petallama.com