In the genre of Star Trek fan films, the universe (quadrant?) of the series Voyager is a rare setting. But one stalwart fan believes that the indomitable Intrepid-class starship, lost for seven years in the Delta Quadrant, is the perfect subject matter for a Trek fan production.
I interviewed David Whitney of STARFLEET STUDIOS as he was completing post-production on his first VOYAGER CONTINUES project: STAR TREK: RAVEN, which debuted last October as a 32-minute fan film. That film concentrated on events in the Alpha Quadrant during the time that Voyager was missing but ended with a scene on Voyager itself.
Now, half a year later, David just released his second effort, a 9-minute short film titled “Derelict.” This one focuses on two members of the crew—Harry Kim and Seven-of-Nine—on board a, you guessed it, derelict spacecraft. And while Raven used mostly green screen sequences where actors were composited against virtual backgrounds created in CGI, “Derelict” uses practical (physical) sets with consoles that had originally been created for and used by the television series Stargate Atlantis! (Those were provided to David Whitney by Glen L. Wolfe of the Trek fan series The Federation Files.)
“Derelict” a relatively small production, with only two actors who appear on screen along with two brief voice-over sequences. One of the voice-overs is a captain’s log from Kathryn Janeway that will stop you in your tracks wondering if a fan film somehow managed to convince Kate Mulgrew to appear! But in fact, it’s actually the voice of a male actor named Liam Holwarth-Mulgrew (he legally changed his name to add the “Mulgrew”) who does one of the best Janeway impressions you’ve ever heard.
Starfleet Studios is based in Iowa and doesn’t have the resources that some other fan productions do—like elaborate studios and professional or semi-professional actors and production crew. In fact, “Derelict” was filmed almost entirely in a garage! That said, if you celebrate fan films as I do, then you view projects like this for all that they DO accomplish, often with very limited budgets and resources.
Late last year, STARFLEET STUDIOS (in Iowa) released the half-hour long Star Trek: Ravenand, with it, introduced the world to the new VOYAGER CONTINUESfan series. Set aboard the titular starship during its time traversing the Delta Quadrant, the series promises to eventually feature members of the entire USS Voyager crew. Their first episode, a short film called “Derelict,” will focus on just two characters: Seven-of-Nine and Harry Kim.
Last week, show-runner David Whitney began shooting scenes of “Derelict” with real physical sets (unlike the virtual CGI sets composited behind footage of actors in front of green screens). And a few days ago, photos from that shoot were posted.
The first thing I noticed was that Seven-of-Nine’s hair was brunette, not blonde like actress Jeri Ryan had worn her hair when she played the character on Star Trek: Voyager. Knowing that David Whitney had not been averse to using wigs (as his lead actress in Raven had filmed all of her scenes wearing a purple wig), I asked David why he hadn’t done the same thing for Seven-of-Nine?
It would have looked lame. I know people will complain. I don’t care. Seriously, a wig would have looked crazy. Of course Raven’s wig was awesome. Finding the actress with blue eyes was hard enough. Frankly, finding someone who could act, was pretty, and had the right kind of bone structure was a real find. Brown hair? No big deal. Jeri Ryan is a brunette. She dyes her hair. No, I could just not bring myself to ask her to bleach her hair. I’m really happy with her. What a nice lady.
Is it really Janeway? When I first watched the new trailer for the upcoming episode “Derelict” of VOYAGER CONTINUES from Starfleet Studios (the one in Iowa that just released the fan film Raven), I wasn’t sure. Then I got my answer at the end of the 45-second video.
It turns out that the voice is just a really good impersonation of Kate Mulgrew done by an actor named Liam Howarth-Mulgrew. And no, that name isn’t just a coincidence. I found out from show-runner David Whitney that Liam is just a huge fan and legally changed his name.
Unfortunately, Liam doesn’t actually look like Kate Mulgrew, so we probably won’t be seeing Captain Janeway on “Derelict” (although I suppose there’s always lip syncing). Liam had previously voiced Janeway on the audio drama series Star Trek: Voyager – The Lost Episodes in a two-part episode called “Ghosts.” You can listen to “Ghosts” Part 1 and Part 2 and hear Liam’s amazing rendition of Kate Mulgrew’s unmistakable voice.
And of course, you can also hear Liam on this short trailer for the upcoming Voyager Continues fan film “Derelict,” due out sometime next year:
There’s some bad news and some good news for STARFLEET STUDIOS (based in Iowa–not to be confused with STARBASE STUDIOS, which is moving from Oklahoma City to Arkansas…more on that in an upcoming blog). The bad news has to do with their planned new fan film, THE TNG PROJECT(working title), which launched a Kickstarter in late October attempting to raise $11,000.
They ended up raising only 1% of that amount (the campaign finished with $131 total, which means it failed to fund and no money will be collected from supporters). Show-runner DAVID WHITNEY told me earlier this week:
Frankly I did not expect the TNG project to succeed. I did not do a great job for the videos. I had no cast interviews, and did not groom the fans. But I wanted to give TNG fans something.
One of the reasons for the lackluster effort came because, during the Kickstarter campaign, the main actor for the project, who was set to play Data, became unavailable as his acting career has begun to take off. So rather than pushing hard for donations for a project that was now lacking a main character, David Whitney simply let the campaign close, unfunded.
But not all is bad news in the universe of Starfleet Studios! David also told me the following:
Hot on the heels of the release of the debut episode of The Federation Files, “His Name Is Mudd,” STARFLEET STUDIOS has released the first episode of STAR TREK RAVEN “Voyager Continues.” Coming in at a run-time of just over 30-minutes, Raven‘s first episode runs afoul of two of the fan film guidelines: it is longer that 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if released in two parts), and it has the words “Star Trek” in the title. However, show-runner David Whitney commented in a 2-part interview on FAN FILM FACTOR:
When it comes to the time limit, though, I’m going to have to say, “Yes, I’m ignoring that for Star Trek Raven because I think we got in under the wire. But moving forward, I’m gonna do my best to conform to the guidelines to make sure CBS doesn’t bug me…
The episode features quality compositing of well-lit actors in front of green screens with high-end 3D backgrounds and lots of music that’s very non-traditional for Star Trek…so Raven has a very refreshing and well-produced feel. The episode ends on a bit of an open-ended cliffhanger, and so there’s room for another episode…if David Whitney wants to make it.
In the meantime, David and Starfleet Studios are already moving ahead with plans for a third original production titled (for right now) The TNG Project. With the latest two Starfleet Studios releases still “hot” and spreading virally though the fan film world, David has launched a brand new Kickstarter with a goal of $11,000. The new fan film has cast an amazing Data look-a-like, and the production will feature a cutting-edge 3D compositing technique that will let live actors move through a virtual starship “set” that will pivot, pan, and zoom to match the actors’ movements.
Last time: David Whitney, the show-runner for Star Trek Raven (and two other Trek fan films) produced by Starfleet Studios in central Iowa, shocked the fan world on July 1 when he announced his productions would be ignoring the new CBS and Paramount fan guidelines that, in his words, “do not directly support their copyright and copyright law.”
A day later, in an apparent about-face, David eliminated the parts of his announcement dealing with ignoring the new guidelines and instead stated “We are going to try to conform our film, now called ‘Starfleet Studios Raven Part One’ to the new rules.”
If the release of the new guidelines by CBS and Paramount was the shot heard round the fan film world, then the subsequent response by the show-runner of Star Trek Raven was the first hint of return fire.
Or was it?
A week after CBS and Paramount published their guidelines for Star Trek fan films, an announcement went up on the news page for Star Trek Raven, a little-known fan series based in central Iowa filmed at Starfleet Studios (not to be confused with Starbase Studios in Oklahoma). The production had only released three short vignettes so far (this, this, and this), but Raven was about to become one of the most talked about fan films.
On July 1, the lead producer for Raven, David Whitney, posted this proactive statement:
The rules which pertain to direct copyright infringement and intellectual property will be adhered to. The rules which do not directly support their copyright, and copyright law, will be ignored.