Last year, Justin Lin and J.J. Abrams both went on record as being supportive of Star Trek fan films and that the fans should be encouraged to make them. A month later, CBS and Paramount issued a set of fan film guidelines that shocked many fans and angered others with their restrictions on length, shutdown of continuing fan series, and moratorium on participation by anyone who had previously worked on any studio-authorized Star Trek project…from movie and TV series to video games and even package design.
On the one hand, it was nice to finally have a set of guidelines that clearly defined what the fans would be allowed to produce without the fear of getting sued. On the other hand, a good number of fans familiar with fan productions felt that certain of the guidelines (like the ones I just listed) had overshot the mark, landing in a place of being too constraining and unnecessarily Draconian.
However, unlike a year ago when big names like Abrams and Lin spoke out on the fan film issue, no major names in the world of Star Trek have commented on the new guidelines other than John Van Citters (who was one of the people responsible for writing them).
But now that has changed, as I was able to interview Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Executive Producer STEVEN IRA BEHR and ask him directly, on the record, how he felt about the guidelines. Granted, I don’t expect Ira to rush out and rally for the guidelines to be revised and loosened. But I was curious if we fans who feel so negatively toward some of these guidelines are justified in feeling that way or not. Would Ira agree with us….or would he think that we’re just being petulant (or crazy!) to have any problems with these reasonable studio rules? You can find out below…
And for anyone curious how a small-time blogger managed to score an interview with Ira Behr and get him to speak on the record, I donated to the Indiegogo campaign for his Deep Space Nine documentary “What We Left Behind,” which blew through its initial $150,000 goal to reach nearly $650,000! (Click on the above link to learn more about this exciting project.)
The perk I donated for was a 10-minute call with Ira Behr where I could ask him anything. I cleared with his assistant beforehand that I’d be able to record the call and post it on my blog site, and last week, we spoke for more than 15 minutes. It was a really great conversation.
Yesterday, I reported that the new Deep Space Nine documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND had just crossed the $400,000 milestone on their Indiegogo campaign (with 9 days left). This amount is well more than double their original goal of $150,000 and has allowed them to reach certain stretch goals. Among these are a longer running length (from 60 to 90+ minutes), an extended writers room feature, original music performed by an orchestra, and new 3D graphics and animations.
Their next goal is $425,000 (allowing for more interviews), but there was also a $500,000 stretch goal that was left a mystery…at least when I wrote yesterday’s blog entry. Now the veil has been lifted and the mysterious half-million-dollar stretch goal revealed:
When Star Trek: The Next Generation was remastered into high-definition (HD), it took several years and cost millions of dollars. Original film negatives were meticulously re-edited while entirely new VFX sequences were modeled and rendered by computer. But in the end, sales of the remastered ST:TNG Blu-rays were disappointing (to say the least), leaving CBS and Paramount quite hesitant about ever trying to remaster DS9.
Now, before anyone starts drooling about this Indiegogo campaign resulting in a complete HD-remastered Blu-ray collection of all seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, that’s not going to happen…and certainly not for a measly $75,000. But their next stretch goal level will potentially allow the producers to remaster the DS9 clips that they’ll be showing during the documentary. This involves getting access to the original archival masters and original film elements from the Deep Space Nine series. The documentary team announced yesterday that they have, in fact, officially been in talks with CBS Television Studios to do just that.
And if they manage to hit or surpass $500,000 in the next 8 days (right now, they stand at $413, 374–so it’s certainly within reach!–click HERE to donate), they will be able to use that footage along with CGI effects rendered by DS9 VFX alum Doug Drexler to give fans a taste of what DS9 could look like if it were ever to be remastered.
And it might look something like this video (created by Trekcore.com):
When last we checked in on the new Deep Space Nine documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, their Indiegogo campaign had kicked off with an initial goal of $150,000 and zoomed past that in less than 24 hours to $170,000 with 29 days still to go!
Well, now there’s just 9 days left to go, and the project has just crossed the $400,000 milestone!!! This has allowed them to reach a couple of exciting stretch goals…
CROSSING $250,000 –
Allowed them to extend the length from 60 to 90+ minutes and add in a whole bunch of new, cool 3D graphics and animations.
Crossing $350,000 –
Allowed them to now have an original score and hire a live orchestra to perform it. It will also allow them to extend their “Writer’s Room” feature where the original DS9 writers will reunite to brainstorm a story-arc and episode ideas for what a hypothetical season eight would have looked like.
And if they cross $425,000 (almost a certainty at this point!) –
They will be able to film additional round-table interviews with DS9 crew members and fans. Oh, and it will unlock an additional bonus item for donors, as well.
And if they reach a half million dollars??? Well, we don’t know yet, but the milestone is there on the Stretch Goal graphic above. (Just click to enlarge it.)
You’ve still got 10 days to make a donation of your own (or increase the one you’ve already made) to show CBS that DS9 is truly loved by us fans:
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!