It’s been quite a while since fans and donors got an update fromSTAR TREK CONTINUES. Despite many, many new posts (sometimes more than one a day!) on their Facebook page, there has been precious little news on the plans for Star Trek Continues now that the fan film guidelines are in place. After all, with guidelines saying that a Star Trek fan film can’t contain the words “Star Trek” in the title, must be less than 15 minutes in length and a maximum of a 2-parter (for 30 minutes total), and cannot be a continuing series, it seemed like Star Trek Continues couldn’t…well…continue without running afoul of multiple guidelines.
As I reported here last August, STC writer/director/co-producer JAMES KERWIN had told me at Creation’s 50th Anniversary Star Trek convention in Las Vegas that what CBS and Paramount have said is if you follow all of these guidelines, then they will not sue you. But they do NOT say that if you don’t follow these guidelines, then they will sue you. There is a big distinction there.
James also told me during our talk that STC wanted to spend the remainder of their crowd-funding resources to film their final four episodes to wrap up the series. They hoped that their good relationship with CBS might result in the studio allowing the fan series to complete its run. The plan for STC had always been to do a limited number of episodes (originally planned for 12 or 13–now the total will be 11)…as star and show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA himself said that he won’t be able to play a 37-year-old Captain Kirk forever. (The Internet reports Vic’s current age as 54.)
But since last August, updates have been scarce from STC…until now, that is. They just published a MAJOR announcement confirming their intention to release the last four episodes of the series (already filmed and in post-production) and providing a premiere date for their eighth episode, “Still Treads the Shadow.”
Now, this is intriguing! If you look about half-way down the fan film guidelines to the second-to-last point under #6, you find the following:
No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.
That seems pretty straightforward. If you want to give away any perks, they have to be licensed Star Trek merchandise. You can’t give any patches or T-shirts or signed scripts or posters or anything related to your fan production in exchange for donations…at least if you want to make sure you aren’t sued or sent a cease and desist letter by CBS and Paramount.
So how was it that STARSHIP REPUBLIC, the newest fan film to launch a crowd-funding campaign (and the first to do so since the Axanar settlement), was offering a whole set of perks? Sure, most perks were digital, but there were also physical posters in the mix (like the two images shown above).
Well, it turns out that they simply asked CBS for permission–and they got it! Well, kinda…
The fan series that started out as STARSHIP TRISTAN(and is now no longer a fan series but rather a collection of individually-titled fan films) has released its latest, um, well, “episode” is now no longer an appropriate word either, come to think of it. How about “offering”?
“DEPARTURES” is the latest adventure of the USS Tristan and her crew, produced by RANDY LANDERS for Potemkin Pictures, and filmed in Pelham, Alabama. You can watch all of the offerings from the various productions teams at the Potemkin Pictures on their website: http://www.potemkinpictures.com/productions.html
Last week, I told you about the new crowd-funded independent Deep Space Nine documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, which set a goal of $150K and is about to cross the $300K threshold in less than a week…and that’s fantastic! But there’s another VERY deserving crowd-funded fan project whose donation total isn’t climbing nearly as quickly…and that’s a shame.
PACIFIC 201 promises to be one of the most original, most intriguing, and (dare I say it?) most ENGAGING Star Trek fan films to come along in quite a while. The first fan film (or any Star Trek film, for that matter) to cover the period smack dab in the middle between the end of Enterprise and the beginning of TOS, the time period of Pacific 201 is the turn of the 23rd century, 40 years after the founding of the United Federation of Planets. It’s a critical period for Earth, still reeling from the horrors of the Romulan War but just beginning to emerge from fear and paranoia with a tentative first step back into the exploring of strange new worlds.
With physical sets and well-designed costumes, real actors, and some awesome visual effects, Pacific 201 looks like it could easily justify the $50K crowd-funding limit set forth the in new guidelines. So far, their Indiegogo campaign stands at “only” $27,327. They can raise another $23K, people…and we can all help them get there! I just now put another $25 into the project, doubling my previous donation from last November. Can you match me?
If everyone who reads this blog will match my $25 donation, show-runner Eric Henry will easily make his $50K goal to keep his studio open and finish production. But hey, even $10 from each reader translate to $10K.
It’s award season here in Hollywood–the Golden Globes, the People’s Choice, and the Oscars (to name just a few)–to honor the best movies and performances and cinematic achievements of the past year. But what about Star Trek fan fan films???
As it turns out, we have our own annual awards, too…or at least we have for the past three years.
The first INDEPENDENT STAR TREK FAN FILM AWARDS were handed out at the 2015 TREKLANTA convention (in Atlanta…in case you weren’t sure) for Star Trek fan films released in calendar year 2014. Thirteen fan films entered, and awards were given out in nine categories.
The following year, seventeen different fan films entered and the categories were expanded to thirteen. Judges for the two previous years have included such notables as Diana Dru Botsford, Peter David, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Michael DeMeritt, Ken Feinberg, Matthew M. Foster, Andrew Greenberg, David Orange, Emmett Plant, Susan Sackett, and Rick Sternbach. This year’s judges will be revealed after ballots are collected in March (we don’t want the judges getting badgered to vote this way or that). And the winners will be announced live at Treklanta on April 30.
If you’re like me, whenever someone asks you, “What’s your favorite Star Trek series?” you don’t even hesitate before answering with a confident smile, “Deep Space Nine.” And then you usually get one of the following three responses: 1) “Really? I never got into that one and didn’t even watch most of the episodes…”; 2) “Are you kidding? That show was so dark! Next Gen/Voyager/TOS was sooooo much better!” (they never seem to say Enterprise); or 3) they immediately get it because they agree completely.
(And usually when we encounter a member of the first response group, we beg them to binge-watch the series in episode order!)
People like me find it inconceivable and frustrating that DS9 is so often seen as the “bastard stepchild” of Star Trek…the series that, instead of boldly going, boldly stayed in one place. But that was the point. By not having to constantly introduce and explain a new culture and/or alien threat or spatial anomaly each week, it left much more time to fully develop certain key races like the Bajorans, Cardassians, Ferengi, Kligons, Vorta, Jem’Hadar, and Founders. And of course, it made room for so many more intriguing characters who got to develop slowly and compellingly over time. And hey, if you just want to see space battles…just wait’ll those last three seasons!
Despite its critical success among reviewers and a growing appreciation from the fans, as the years have gone by, DS9 seemed to be fading from the Star Trek totem pole. TOS and TNG each got remastered special edition DVD/Blu-ray sets with new VFX and all sorts of wonderful extras. But with DS9 next on the list, no remastered addition was ever announced, and it seemed the love-fest was finally over.
Would Ds9 ever get the credit and recognition that it deserved?
Well, not from CBS or Paramount. But as 50 years of fan films have proven, if you want something decent from Star Trek, sometimes you just have to do it yourself!
Some deaths really hit you hard. This one did for me. I’d been working on site at a client this afternoon when the news came down that actor Richard Hatch had passed away at the age of 71 from pancreatic cancer. I didn’t find out until hours later when I sent a response to a friend’s IM. Instead of continuing our debate, he wrote me back: “Richard Hatch passed away. Not long ago. He’s an old friend.”
At first I didn’t believe it. “THE Richard Hatch???” I typed back. Then I looked through my e-mails and almost immediately found this from Alec Peters:
It is with great sadness that I report to all Axanar fans that Richard Hatch has passed away. 3 weeks ago I found out he had stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. We knew he had little time left, but this is quite more sudden than we thought.
Richard was in good spirits when I visited him 2 weeks ago. He knew his time was short, but was comforted by the fact that his son would be taken care of.
Richard was a dear friend and a staunch supporter of Axanar. Kharn was literally one of his favorite roles from his 50+ year acting career. We will all miss him a great deal.
I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. Just weeks after the Axanar legal settlement allowed Richard Hatch to appear in a 30-minute version of the main fan film, I was so looking forward to seeing him reprise his role as the Klingon Commander Kharn, truly some of his best work in a career that also featured two other beloved sci-fi characters: Captain Apollo and, later, Tom Zarek from both the original and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.
Richard also did a number of independent sci-fi and fan film roles recently. He appeared in an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages that was never completed, “Torment of Destiny” (perhaps now it might finally be edited and completed; we’ll have to see). He was also slated to appear as a major character in the independent sci-fi web series Blade of Honor as Admiral DiCarrek.
Of course, for most readers of Fan Film Factor and millions of YouTube viewers, Richard was known most recently for his captivating performance as the introspective, intense, and haunted Klingon Commander Kharn from Prelude to Axanar.
I realize it’s both cliche and a little egotistical to say, “I knew the deceased”–especially when it’s a celebrity who has passed away. And to be certain, there are many, MANY people who knew Richard Hatch far better than I did. But even though I only met Richard a few times at conventions where Axanar had a table, interviewed him via e-mail for the STARFLEET fan club newsletter, and had dinner with him just one time, he did leave an indelible impression on me. And that is what I’d like to share with you, if you don’t mind.
It was after that dinner in late 2014–which consisted of three volunteers (myself, Derek Allen, and Martin Horowitz) plus Alec Peters, Diana Kingsbury, and Richard himself–that I realized how much Richard Hatch truly didn’t look his age. Derek, Martin, and I were trying to figure out how old Richard was, as he didn’t look older than his mid- or, at most, late-50s. He was nearly 70 at the time.
Richard was just so full of life…like a puppy who just wanted to explore everything the world had to offer. Before dinner, while still at the the convention for eight straight hours, he was talking to everyone who walked by his table, never for a moment looking bored or exhausted or uninterested in the person talking to him.
During dinner, Richard spoke excitedly and knowledgeably about a flurry of topics…eventually landing on Klingons and how Kharn might be influenced by other Klingons who had appeared in Star Trek. This led to an energetic and passionate discussion among all of us geeks on the best Klingons to research…and why they were important. Alec had always seen Kharn as cut from the same cloth as Kang from “Dave of the Dove.” I thought it would be good for Richard to look more closely at Martok from Deep Space Nine. Everybody had an opinion!
And rather than just zoning out at this cacophony of Klingon comparison and contrast, Richard was right there in the thick of it all. He challenged us to connect what this or that Klingon did that could tie into how Kharn might think or act. Richard brought into this discussion the philosophies of The Art of War, World War II history, elements of Eastern spirituality, and a collection of other facts and experiences from his life..
For me, this was a total geek-gasm, chatting about Star Trek for over 90 minutes with the star of Battlestar Galactica and giving him potentially valuable insights into how he might play his newest Klingon character more effectively. And Richard really wanted to know! This wasn’t just some lip service for a bunch of Trekkies he was trapped with in a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach. Richard questioned, drilled down, challenged us a few times, and in the end even asked if we could send him a list of the most informative Star Trek episodes to watch and examine. I went home and composed an e-mail list of a couple of dozen episodes to check out and why they were important. (I think I still have that e-mail somewhere…)
So no, I wasn’t close to Richard Hatch, and I doubt he could have picked me out of a police line-up. But that didn’t matter. Richard inspired me…with his thirst for knowledge, his positive attitude, his energy, and his lust for life and experiences…even at the age of almost 70. Twenty years from now, I can only hope to come close to that kind of optimism and spiritual awareness.Farewell, Richard. Thank you for touching our lives with your wonderful characters, your graciousness, and your limitless energy and optimism. You will be truly missed…
The fan film/series RENEGADES was in the right place at the wrong time. Still called Star Trek: Renegades when thefan film guidelines came out last June, the producers had already completed a very impressive 90-minute feature film in 2015 for $350,000 and were about to begin production on a new series of episodes with a starting budget of $515,000 for the first one.
With Tim Russ directing and reprising his character of Tuvok, plus both Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols reprising their roles as Chekov and Uhura (likely for the final time), plus appearances by Star Trek veteran actors Cirroc “Jake Sisko” Lofton, Aron “Nog” Eisenberg, Terry “Jadzia” Farrell, Robert “Chakotay” Beltran, Gary “Soval” Graham, and a few others–some playing the same characters, other playing new ones–Star Trek: Renegades‘ first two-part episode, “The Requiem,” looked like Trekker’s fan film dream come true! Even the production crew was a virtual “Who’s Who” of fan film luminaries, including VFX wizards Tobias Richter and Tommy Kraft, prop guru Scott Nakada, and many more.
Ten years ago, Kenny Smith wrote a rough draft for a Star Trek fan film that he wanted to direct. It focused on Captain Robert April, the first person to command the USS Enterprise NCC-1701.
Smith wanted to tell the story of the USSEnterprise’s initial mission, to see her being built in spacedock—along with the fleet of twelve sister ships in Earth orbit—and to watch her launch for the first time towards indescribable adventure.
Smith owned the sci-fi convention company I-Con and recently, at one of Smith’s conventions, he met a film producer who was looking for a project to work on. Smith told the producer about his idea for a Captain April fan film, and he loved it. Knowing that the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek was quickly approaching, they set to work on the script.
They also managed to convince Emmy-nominated Lee Stringer (who worked on numerous science fiction projects including Star Trek: Voyager, Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly, to name just a few) to join their team. And to make their visual effects look true to the original series, rather than just creating computer-generated 3D effects, the team went on to build an 11-foot physical model of the original Enterprise…along with sets as close to those in the original pilot as possible.
Also notable about this fan film is the way it was funded. In March of 2015, Smith began a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter with a goal of $130,000. But after two months, he’d raised only $30,000 from just 67 backers. Instead of letting the campaign end in failure, Smith canceled the Kickstarter and announced that he would self-fund the project.
Although they missed their original target release date of September of 2016 (to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Star Trek), they’re still making impressive progress. How impressive? Take a look at this:
In Part 1 of my interview with AXANAR executive producer ALEC PETERS, we covered the past and the present. We discussed what led up to the copyright infringement lawsuit from CBS and Paramount, what happened during the 13 months the lawsuit was progressing toward trial, and what led to the unexpected (to most of us, at least) settlement.
Now it’s time to transition toward a look into the future. What exactly is Axanar allowed to do going forward, and what plans are there so far. But first, there was one really important question that I think a lot of people–donors and detractors alike–wanted to know…
JONATHAN: Okay, remember when you said I could ask you any question?
ALEC: Oh, boy…
JONATHAN: How much personal blame do you accept for the lawsuit and the delay in producing Axanar?