Articles and interviews spotlighting the fantastic world of fan films and the fascinating folks who make them.
It was the dawn of the Modern Age of Fan Films…
Although fan films date back to the early days of the original Star Trek series, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that fans were finally able to create something with off-the-shelf consumer products that looked like more than just a crappy home movie. By the late 90s, fans could record and edit footage using digital cameras, do their own 3D effects and Chroma-keying, and even add music through the use of MIDI. Many fans were also getting quite good at costuming. Suddenly, the only limits facing fans who wanted to make their own filmed versions of their favorite genre franchises were their imaginations, creativity, and skills with these new technologies.
Log entry posted: February 21, 2016
View: Digital Ghost
Back in April of 2015, a new Star Trek fan series called DREADNOUGHT DOMINION premiered with its initial episode, “Haunted.” Three months later, a second episode, titled “Anchors Aweigh” (a bit of a prequel to the first episode), made its debut. It wasn’t the only TOS-era fan series to feature the crew of a non-heavy cruiser class starship, but it was the first and only one to feature the crew of a Starfleet dreadnought-class starship based on the mid-1970s Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual.
Log entry posted: November 11, 2016
View: “Anchors Aweigh”
View: “Chain of Command”
The VERY FIRST major Star Trek Fan Film: PARAGON’S PARAGON (1974)! By today’s standards of green screen, digital effects, professional actors, and the resources of crowd funding, Paragon’s Paragon looks pretty weak in comparison. And of course, the acting was probably not all that great, as these were just a group of Trek fans in Michigan and not classically trained thespians. But looked at through the lens of 1974, John Cosentino was a visionary who was able to accomplish an amazing feat. Today’s fan film show-runners walk in footprints that John made over four decades ago.
Log entry posted: January 10, 2016
View portions of “Paragon’s Paragon”
Without a doubt, we live in a veritable renaissance of Star Trek fan films… one after the other they come, dazzling us with intricate and expansive sets, elaborate green screen backgrounds, meticulously crafted costumes, breathtaking special effects, professional level make-up and lighting, and rich music and sound effects. Production teams in the hundreds often include veteran Star Trek actors and professional screenwriters who have worked in Hollywood. Heck, some of these fan films are even being shot in Los Angeles with crowd-sourced budgets well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But what if your budget is missing four or five zeros at the end? What if you’ve got virtually nothing to spend on your fan film? With all the blazing supernovae of independent Star Trek cinematic achievements out there, is it even worth it to make just a simple “fan film” anymore?
Log entry PART 1 posted: January 26, 2016
View episodes from here: http://www.potemkinpictures.com/potemkin/episodes.html
Ratings vary by episode from:
Okay, now I’ve seen everything!
Star Trek MUPPETS??? Well, why not?
Truth to tell, when I first found this little gem—entirely by accident on YouTube—I wasn’t expecting much. It looked silly, and I didn’t really get what the title meant. And then I watched it. Hilarious! Brilliant! A perfect parody of one of the most classic fan-favorite TOS Star Trek episodes: “Amok Time.”
Log entry PART 1 posted: March 11, 2016
View: Stalled Trek: Amutt Time
How’s this for a first? A parody fan film of another fan film! And not just any fan film…it’s a parody of Prelude to Axanar!
Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are is a love letter to the amazing fan production that has become so popular… and it also doubles as a bit of light-hearted satire on this whole copyright infringement controversy. Oh, and it’s pretty darn funny, too!
So how did this Axanar parody come about? Who can we blame?
Log entry posted: April 22, 2016
What a long, strange trip it’s been for Starship Exeter!
In December of 2002 when Starship Exeter released its first episode, “The Savage Empire,” it was a total game-changer. Exeter rewrote the rules of what a Star Trek fan film could be and helped to usher in what many call the modern age of fan films. Twelve years later, Starship Exeter released the final act of its second episode, “The Tressaurian Intersection,” considered by many to be one of the few MUST SEE Star Trek fan films out there.
Log entry PART 1 posted: January 16, 2016
View #1: “The Savage Empire”
View #2: “The Tressaurian Intersection”
“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
Rear Admiral David G. Farragut issued that order in 1864 at the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War. A century and a half later, a group of dedicated Star Trek fans has followed that order with enthusiasm to make a film series that bears his name.
Starship Farragut had its fair share of torpedoes to get past, but speed on it did. And through a full decade of filming and production, Farragut has continued to grow, improve, and evolve into one of Star Trek fandom’s MUST-SEE fan-based series. Along the way, Farragut boldly went where no fan film had gone before, blazing a successful trail for other fan series to follow.
Log entry PART 1 posted: February 5, 2016
View #1: “The Captaincy”
View #2: “For Want of a Nail”
View #3: “Just Passing Through”
View #4: “Rock and a Hard Place”
View #5: “Power Source”
View #6: “The Needs of the Many”
View #7: “The Price of Anything”
View #8: “Night Shift”
View #9: “Conspiracy of Innocence”
View #9: “The Crossing”
RICHARD WELLS: I was initially explaining the idea of using the sets for educational productions to my cousin, who is a teacher, and she said she would talk to some friends about it. A few months later, out of the blue, she called and said, “We have the first script ready!” And I suddenly realized: “Okay, so I’m producing a fan film.” I hadn’t really thought about doing my own film before that phone call.
The local teachers who wrote the lesson plan scripts – each is a short story teaching some aspect of science in an engaging way – plan to incorporate our show into the classroom with their students. Hopefully, it will inspire them to go further along with their science interests.
Log entry posted: May 9, 2016
View: “Planet L-197”
In today’s world of cutting-edge Star Trek fan films, teams of dozens—sometimes hundreds!—work to make these ambitious cinematic endeavors come to life on YouTube, Vimeo, or even a DVD or Blu-ray.
So it’s definitely worth taking notice when a top-tier Trek fan film is produced by only ONE man. Well, I should qualify that. His first episode cast was comprised of 17 people (including the creator himself and his wife Jeannette), the original music was composed by John Catney, and a number of CGI 3D meshes and textures were created by other artists. But everything else – the writing, directing, producing, sets, make-up, wardrobe, lighting, sound, camera angles, editing, and 3D animation – that was all in the hands of one guy: Tim Vining.
And he never even had to get out of his chair!
Log entry posted: February 16, 2016
View #1: Episode 1 of STAR TREK: AURORA
View #2: Episode 2 – “Mudd in Your I”
I always found it eerily appropriate that this two-word piece of dialog, spoken by Captain Kirk at the end of the final TOS episode “Turnabout Intruder” in 1969, was the last line uttered for the entire original Star Trek series run.
Kirk was referring to the tragic descent into hate-filled insanity of his former love, Dr. Janice Lester. But for me, these two words were so much more powerful: If only Star Trek hadn’t been canceled. If only Star Trek could have…
Log entry PART 1 posted: April 15, 2016
View #1: “Pilgrim of Eternity”
View #2: “Lolani”
View #3: “Fairest of Them All”
View #4: “The White Iris”
View #5: “Divided We Stand”
View #6: “Come Not Between the Dragons”
View #7: “Embracing the Winds”
View all Star Trek Continues episodes, vignettes, and videos here: http://startrekcontinues.com/episodes.html
From its humble beginnings as just a fun activity for the STARFLEET fan club chapter USS Angeles, Hidden Frontier turned into a fan film production dynamo for more than a decade, going on to produce 50 episodes over seven seasons plus five spin-off series and even cross-overs with other fan series. Hidden Frontier broke new ground in using green-screen compositing, generating home-made 3D visual effects, recasting established characters from Star Trek canon, and even featuring the first gay Starfleet officers in a fan film series.
Log entry PART 1 posted: April 1, 2016
Log entry PART 2 posted: April 8, 2016
Ratings vary by episode, but in general:
View the 7 seasons of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier here: http://www.hiddenfrontier.net/productions/hf/
Man, are you guys ever in for a treat! The full-length Star Trek: Horizon has just been released to the general public, and it is a cinematic triumph of Trek fan films.
Show-runner Tommy Kraft gave me a special link to view the movie early. I’d watched barely the first 15 minutes when I shot him a Facebook IM saying simply “F—king WOW!”
Horizon (no ‘s’ at the end, folks!) starts out with a bang—several, in fact—and immediately lets the viewers know that they’re in for a wild and high-quality fan film ride.
Log entry PART 1 posted: February 26, 2016
View: Star Trek: Horizon
If you’re a true Star Trek fan, you should watch “Mind-Sifter,” the ninth episode released from Star Trek: New Voyages.
You shouldn’t watch “Mind-Sifter” simply because it’s a well-constructed, well-acted, and well-produced story. And you shouldn’t watch it simply because it feels like good Star Trek.
No, you should watch it to honor the memory of an amazing woman who almost single-handedly helped to define, grow, and nurture Star Trek fandom while it was still in its infancy. I dare say that we all wouldn’t be here today celebrating Star Trek as passionately as we do if it weren’t for Shirley S. Maiewski, also known as “Grandma Trek.”
Log entry posted: January 12, 2016
Some fans believe that Axanar was the first fan film to use professionals or, at the very least, the first to pay them. Both of those assumptions are incorrect by nearly a decade.
The first fan film to feature a known Star Trek professional in their credits was the debut episode of Star Trek: New Voyages in early 2004, “Come What May,” which featured Doug Drexler as visual effects artist (under the pseudonym “Max Rem”) while Doug was also actively working doing the digital FX for Star Trek: Enterprise and also for the new Battlestar Galactica.
Log entry PART 1 posted: July 8, 2016
View: “World Enough and Time”
Before there was Renegades: the Series or Star Trek: Renegades, there was Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. And if you are a student of fan film history (or you want to be), this article is required reading.
You see, Star Trek: Of Gods and Men marked a turning point for fan films…several turning points, in fact. It was the first time a major fan film used the resources of another major fan film for shooting. It was the first time multiple Star Trek acting veterans all appeared together in the same fan production reprising their iconic characters. And it was the first time a major fan film had done a stand-alone feature-length film. (Other fan series had done hour-plus length episodes, but these were all for ongoing fan series. Star Trek: Of Gods and Men was a one-shot story with a movie run-time of nearly 90 minutes.)
A look at this groundbreaking fan production from 2008 actually allows us to look at its fascinating place in the grander history of all Star Trek fan films…
Log entry posted: August 14, 2016
Holy campy cosmic crossovers!
Is it true that the Caped Crusader cunningly confronted a cranially-controlled Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock??? Did the Dynamic Duo actually encounter an Enterprise ensnared by a capricious collaboration of the Clown Prince of Crime and the captivating Catwoman??? Hold onto your phasers and buckle your utility belts, because Batman and the Boy Wonder are about to go where no Gotham superhero has gone before…
Log entry posted: March 26, 2016
View: Star Trek vs. Batman
When it comes to fan films, Star Trek is no stranger to mash-ups. Fans have taken Star Trek into the Star Wars universe and vice versa. Kirk and Spock have met the 1960s TV Batman and Robin. Heck, the Enterprise has even picked up Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz! (I’ve already done a feature on Star Trek vs. Batman. The others are coming.)
But by far (at least in my opinion) the most inspired, creative, and well-executed of all the Star Trek fan film mash-ups is Stone Trek, a series of nine cartoon shorts created by Brian Mathews and released online using Adobe’s Flash software between 2000 and 2007.
Stone Trek is NOT some silly crossover where the USS Enterprise travels back in time to Bedrock and Fred Flintstone beams up to meet Captain Kirk. Instead, it’s a complete hybrid of the two shows, an entirely new entity combining recognizable elements of both but ultimately emerging as something totally unique and original.
Log entry posted: October 2, 2016