Like wrestling? Hate wrestling? Either way, you’re sure to to get a laugh out of Star Trek: TAG TEAM, a short parody from the folks at Spiffy Films. They describe themselves as “…animated parodies, with a bent towards tactical flubbery, contextual inconsistency and immersion-busting minutiae; poking holes in all the places your brain had quite happily decided to leave the heck alone, because you were trying to enjoy your popcorn, gosh dernit…” Here’s what happened when Spiffy Films got their hands on Star Trek:
Lately, there’s been a lot of stuff coming out of STARBASE STUDIOS (all of it made before the recent move from Oklahoma City, OK to Harrison, Arkansas). This recent explosion of fan films has included: “Chain of Command”, Star Trek: The Federation Files– “His Name is Mudd”, Starship Valiant – “Crosses to Bear”, Starship Republic – “Serpent of Yesterday”, and a pair of super-short vignettes “Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”.
The last two short fan films were also teasers for the latest production made at STARBASE STUDIOS…a new fan film (possibly series) called MELBORNE. And no, the word “Starship” is not in the title—unlike many other projects.
Melbourne is the brainchild of VANCE MAJOR OWEN, a filmmaker from Kansas who also plays Chief Engineer Minard on Starship Valiant. From its debut episode, it looks as though Melbourne is set somewhere between the end of Kirk’s five-year mission and the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture…featuring starship and uniform elements from both (apparently in a very purposeful way).
I’ll be featuring a full interview with Vance in a few weeks. But for now, please enjoy Part 1 of Melbourne‘s first full episode debut, “Storm Front”…
Last time, I began chatting with KENNY SMITH, the show-runner behind the eagerly-anticipated fan production STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER. This exciting project will feature the first-ever commander of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Captain Robert April and his crew on their maiden voyage directly from dry dock.
Everything about this production looks amazing! From the costumes to the sets to the 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise constructed specifically to create amazing-looking visual effects.
In Part 1, we learned how Kenny had become a convention promoter, working with most of the main cast members from the various Star Trek series, and also how he made connections with various people in the entertainment industry. This led to finding a producer to help him bring his fan film script to life.
We continue this great interview by looking into some of the other exciting aspects of this fan film, the selection of cast and production crew members, and exploring why Kenny decided not to use donated crowd-funding to help produce this project…
They didn’t make it. They took in only 15% of their goal, leaving the future of the project in doubt.
Yesterday, an update went out to donors announcing plans for a second crowd-funding campaign, but this time, the production would be sharing more details about its story line to try to increase interest.
It’s actually an intriguing move for a fan film. Most fan filmmakers wrestle with how much of their story to reveal and how much to keep “secret” to avoid spoilers and ruining surprises for the viewers. Most fan producers, when they crowd-fund, share only the barest details, despite potential donors requiring specifics before they contribute because they want to know exactly what they’re supporting. (Not all donors are so demanding, but I know of several producers who have told me of receiving messages from potential donors saying they refused to give anything unless they were told more about the plot and story.)
What makes the decision by Starship Republic‘s show-runner Ray Tesi to unveil “secrets” to donors so intriguing is the fact that the plot going forward to SO much more expansive than anything that was hinted at in their first 9-minute vignette release “Serpent of Yesterday.” Although set in the TOS era, upcoming plans for the project incorporate flashback elements from the Star Trek: Enterprise era as well as scenes which will take place in the movie-era time frame.
I actually knew most of this from my interview with Ray Tesi, but he asked me not to reveal anything, despite the details being quite exciting. However, now the Kzinti is very much out of the bag, and Ray is the one who released it. Here’s what he said…
Why choose just one? Don’t we hate all of the guidelines? Don’t we want everything to go back to what it was when the only rules were “Don’t charge to see your fan film” and “Don’t make any profit”?
Well, actually, no…at least I don’t feel that way anymore. Actually, I never wanted to get rid of all of the guidelines, and I only ever thought that maybe four of them were truly problematic for fan films. As I discussed in Part 2, the guidelines didn’t kill Star Trek fan films. In fact, since the guidelines were announced last June, more than SIXTY Trek fan films have been released…some of which did not follow the new guidelines but many did.
And then in Part 3, I discussed how the guidelines weren’t a completely bad deal for fan producers. By providing a safe harbor, much of the guesswork, uncertainty, and outright fear could be avoided by fans wanting to ensure they would not answer the door one day to a person holding a subpoena. Of course, the guidelines are still very restrictive, but they are far from impossible to follow.
However, I still believe there is room left to improve the guidelines to make them less constraining for fans while still protecting the interests of the studios. But the reality is that the more changes we fans try to get made to their guidelines, the less likely the studios will be to cooperate. So last week and this week, I’m looking at all the guidelines in an attempt to choose just one to focus on—one little compromise. If we can adjust just a single guideline, it’s still a win for fans…and we go from there.
But which one?
Last week, we quickly eliminated nearly half of the guidelines because they weren’t really problematic. Then we began looking at the second group of guidelines, a category I called…
As previously announced, the Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for INDUSTRY STUDIOS (formerly Ares Studios) in Valencia, CA is now live…and kicking butt, it seems! With a stated goal of $60,000 to cover rent, utilities, insurance, off-site storage of sets (when not in use in order to clear the sound stage), payment processing fees, and perk production and fulfillment ONLY (no salaries), the new campaign had already taken in more than $6,0o0 (10% of their primary goal) in just the first two hours!
There was a question whether fans and donors would stay loyal to AXANAR (which will be filmed in Industry Studios) after the difficult year of 2016 was filled with legal proceedings and a parade of accusations and vitriol directed by detractors at Alec Peters, the man behind both Axanar and Industry Studios. In fact, one detractor has recommended on Facebook that those wishing to “spread the truth” donate $1 so they can post critical comments to the campaign. I don’t have confirmation that such a thing has happened yet, but it wouldn’t be particularly surprising…sadly.
So far, the momentum appears to be on the side of the donors and supporters. The campaign has stated that the money raised will go toward helping to fund a facility that can be used for multiple fan, independent, and student films at little-to-no cost for the production itself.
It’s a very cool idea, and one that apparently already has the interest of one local Los Angeles film school. Also, the campaign has finally revealed which non-Axanar production will be the first to use the studio. For months, Alec Peters has been stating that’s he was in discussions with producers eager to use the studio…and both supporters and detractors were wondering who. Now it’s been announced that this production will be Personal Space, which had starred the late Richard Hatch in its soon-to-be released first season. Season two will be crowd-funding soon and be co-produced by Axanar Productions.
Keep in mind that none of the money raised in this campaign will go to fund the filming of the Axanar fan film (a stipulation of the legal settlement with CBS and Paramount). Therefore, none of the perks offered have any Axanar anything (sorry if you wanted more patches, folks)…with one exception. A special “Origins: Behind the Scenes of Axanar” documentary will be released on Blu-ray with footage and commentary on the making of Prelude, the “Vulcan Scene,” and the never-released Heroes vignette…as well as background info on the Four Years War.
It looks to be an exciting month! You can find out more about the campaign and make a donation if you’d like by clicking this link:
And you can watch the donor informational video below:
What makes this new fan production so exciting? Where do I begin???
- It’s a fan film about the very first commander of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Captain Robert April, and his crew on their maiden voyage of exploration.
- It’s a fan film that has custom-built sets in the finest traditions of fan series like Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek Continues.
- Likewise, the costumes look amazing. They are very similar to Pike-era uniforms, and the attention to detail and continuity is wonderfully impressive.
- It’s using actual Screen Actors Guild actors (not that fan films without professional actors can’t be exciting, too, mind you!).
- It’s being self-funded by ONE GUY who decided that he wanted to build an actual 11-FOOT MODEL of the original USS Enterprise (like, from the first two Star Trek pilots…the one with the larger bridge deck and pointy needle/antenna thingies on the front of the nacelles) to film the visual effects the “old fashioned way.”
Here, watch this video (it’s not the official trailer…scroll to the end for that) and tell me you’re not excited, too:
And who is this self-financing super-fan with the meticulous attention to detail? Born in Florida and still living there today, KENNY SMITH is a convention promoter who is also a U.S. Army veteran who fought in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. But how did those long roads lead him from there to here, making one of the most intriguing, costliest, and intricately produced fan films to come along in quite a while?
By now, you’ve probably figured out that I interviewed Kenny and asked that very thing, right?
If you tend to read the comments sections of my blogs, you know that I get quite a lot of posts from Axanar detractors looking to accuse Alec Peters or Axanar of this or that crime or incompetence or atrocity. Seldom do I trash any of these comments, and I usually provide some kind of response because, well, isn’t that what a blogger is supposed to do?
But lately, it just seems like I’m spending hours and hours each week just reading and responding to all of these angry and challenging posts, leaving me less time to focus on fan films and even my family. Granted, I still prioritize the latter two over doing any kind of response writing, but that just means I write most of my responses really, really late at night. Or sometimes I have a little time during the day and try to sneak a few responses in.
This happened yesterday afternoon as I was having a marathon session of dealing with detractors like Rand Johnson saying things like this:
Let me remind you that it was you who FIRST started being a condescending, egotistical, pompous, self-righteous, conceited, ego maniac, holier-than-thou, hotshot, puffed-up, self-centered, snobbish and stuck-up blogger who defends a man who made outlandish claims he was going to make a fan film then spent all the money on crap he did not need to make a fan film. Then you attacked anyone who criticized that man and your hero worship of that man. Or criticized you for promoting and defending that man who took donor money and used it as personal income to financially benefit himself and his associates.
Man, just reading that again exhausted me! And that’s just one comment, folks. I get so many.
But then I received a call that has changed everything…
In Part 3, I acknowledged a very inconvenient truth for many fans: CBS owns STAR TREK. This is the reality we live in, and if we want to continue in our quest to change the Star Trek fan film guidelines, we need to accept that fact and strategically move forward from there.
Project: SMALL ACCESS began as a protest campaign to convince CBS and Paramount to revisit and revise their new guidelines for Star Trek fan films. And we had a plan. After several weeks of discussion and debate about all of the guidelines, employing surveys and gathering suggestions for possible changes/improvements, we came to (mostly) a consensus that only about a quarter of the new guidelines were really troublesome to the 1,200 members of our Facebook group who were involved in the discussion. Another quarter only needed minor tweaking to make them less ambiguous, and nearly half were fine as is.
Our plan involved creating and then sending out copies of our Focus Group Report to CBS and Paramount executives as a sort of “letter-writing campaign” to begin a conversation with the studios in an attempt to create a better compromise of rules that still protected the studios but allowed fans more flexibility in creating their films than the guidelines were permitting.
The plan didn’t work. Although we know the studios received and were aware of the 115 copies of the 38-page report that was sent (they acknowledged receiving them during questioning in the Axanar lawsuit depositions–so we know the printouts weren’t just thrown out unread), there has been no mention by the studios of revisiting or revising the guidelines at all.
Over the past few months, I’ve done some deep soul searching about what to do for “Plan B” (assuming there even is a “Plan B”…which I would still like there to be). And then I realized something, and again, a number of you aren’t gonna like hearing it:
The more guidelines we try to convince the studios to revise, the less chance there is that they’ll want to change any.
These days, there seem to be an almost infinite number of Star Trek-themed podcasts….and many of them fall under the branded umbrella of TREK.FM, including “Mission Log,” “Star Trek Rewatch,” “Literary Treks,” “Standard Orbit,” “To the Journey,” “Meta Treks,” and so many others.
Up until recently, however, one of my personal favorite of the Trek.fm podcasts was missing in action: “Continuing Mission.” This particular blog focused on the ever-expanding world of Star Trek fan films, interviewing a different creator or creative team each week. Throughout 2014, Trek.fm founder and overachiever, CHRISTOPHER JONES, would host every episode, twenty-five in total during that year. He also hosted a bunch of other Trek.fm podcasts at the same time. So it’s probably not surprising that “Continuing Mission” dropped from twenty-five episodes in 2014 to only two (yes, two) total podcasts in all of 2015.
In the first half of 2016, “Continuing Mission” had a brief, six-episode resurrection under the hosting guidance of my friend DENNIS CASTELLO. In fact, I recorded a podcast for Dennis along with co-guest TOMMY KRAFT (of Star Trek: Horizon) shortly after the fan film guidelines came out. Alas, that two-hour and twenty minute impassioned discussion never made it to upload, as Dennis found himself unable to keep producing quality episodes consistently.
And so, “Continuing Mission” had been languishing in podcast limbo for ten months until a few weeks ago when new host TONY ROBINSON was talked into resurrecting it yet again by the ever-convincing and always-charming Christopher Jones. Tony still isn’t quite sure how he got roped into it, but he’s an ardent Trekkie from the U.K. currently living in Ireland, and he was willing to give it his best shot.
Tony’s first podcast debuted on February 25, featuring show-runner RAY TESI of Starship Republic (click here to donate to their Indiegogo). And to follow that up, well, Tony’s latest guest has the initials J.L. and he just typed the words “Tony’s latest guest has the initials J.L.” Yep, I was podcast guest number two (I’ve been called worse) on the new “Continuing Mission,” and my episode just went live yesterday!
So if you just can’t get enough of me rambling on and on here in print, feel free to listen to me ramble on and on through your speakers! Discover the not-so-secret origin of Fan Film Factor, learn how I got a job working for Paramount licensing, and find out where I go to get all the latest news on Star Trek fan films to feature here on this blog.