STAR TREK CONTINUES releases their eighth episode: “Still Treads the Shadow”!

Once again, STAR TREK CONTINUES proves itself the undisputed king of the Trek fan film genre.  This isn’t meant as a slight against any other fan film or series.  It’s simply that STC‘s eight full episodes just get better and better and are all but flawless in their interpretation of classic Star Trek.  They tell stories that are both well-written and extraordinarily well-produced and well-directed…with excellent editing, musical scoring, visual effects, costumes, make-up, lighting, and of course, meticulously recreated TOS sets.

“Still Treads the Shadow” was written by Judy Burns, a professional Hollywood screenwriter and producer with a long list of credits.  And her very first one was as co-writer for the third season TOS episode “The Tholian Web”…which should be kept in mind as fans watch this latest episode from STC.  (No spoilers!)  Also of note is a guest appearance by Battlestar Galactica series regular Rekha Sharma (one of the final five “sleeper” Cylons), who has an extensive list of Hollywood television roles.  The episode was directed be Julian Higgins, who also directed the sixth episode of Star Trek Continues, “Come Not Between the Dragons.”  Both episodes were magnificently directed.

In the finest traditions of Star Trek, this latest episode provides wonderful literary themes that serve to richly enhance the viewing experience.  The title, “Still Treads the Shadow,” is taken from poetic masterpiece The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  A passage from that epic poem is quoted during the episode, and I highly recommend that you click that link I just provided and (re)read that classic work (especially if you skipped reading it in high school!).  It will provide some interesting insights into the symbolic “ancient mariner” who appears in this episode.

So now the question is: what will CBS and Paramount do…if anything?  STC has now finished production on its final four episodes (this being the first of them) and plans to release all of them over the next several months.  And although the $200,000 in crowd-funding was completed shortly before the new fan film guidelines went into effect, the run-time of this episode is 54 minutes (longer thsn 15 minute), it’s part of a continuing fan series, it features paid professionals including alumni of studio-based Star Trek productions (including writer Judy Burns and star/executive producer Vic Mignogna himself, who worked on Star Trek Online), and of course, it has the words “Star Trek” in the title.

The STC folks hope that they’ll be permitted to complete their run, having told me in a conversation last August that the guidelines don’t say that a production WILL be sued if it fails to follow all of the guidelines, only that it WON’T be sued if it does follow all of the guidelines.  Fingers crossed that they’re correct!

In the meantime, “Still Treads the Shadow” premiered yesterday at the Fan Expo Dallas convention with a sneak preview for donors.  But now it’s available for everyone.  Enjoy…

STAR TREK CONTINUES answers some questions from fans about their FINAL EPISODES!

As reported a week ago, STAR TREK CONTINUES has announced a release date for its eighth episode, “Still Treads the Shadow,” of April 1 at Fan Expo Dallas.  STC also confirmed that they will release three additional episodes after that, completing their run with eleven episodes total (two fewer than their originally-planned thirteen episodes).

These announcements led to some major speculation among fans (especially here on FAN FILM FACTOR and on the SMALL ACCESS Facebook page) wondering how long the episode will be, how are they getting around the guidelines, have they been in contact with CBS and gotten any kind of permission, etc.

Yesterday, STC sent out a newsletter to donors (yep, I got mine!) that included a spotlight on STC guest star Rekha Sharma (of the new Battlestar Galactica, who will be appearing in this upcoming STC episode) as well as some frequently asked questions and answers about their remaining episodes.

Before I publish the STC Q&A, I want to warn any Axanar supporters reading this that, yes, they include a bit of a dig in their fifth answer.  As many fans are aware, there is no love lost between Vic Mignogna of STC and Alec Peters of Axanar (total understatement!).  And in the “I hit Krako, Krako hits Teppo, Teppo hits me…” traditions of fine fan film feuding, we have yet another hit.

As a proud backer of both series who loves watching Vic play Kirk and Alec play Garth, I personally find the mutual animosity distasteful (whichever of them it comes from).  And as a donor to STC, I could have done without the inclusion of the Axa-negativity in the statements.  It wasn’t necessary to say it like they did and just serves to prolong the feud another day/week/month.  But it’s their production, their newsletter, and their chip on the shoulder.

I do dream of a day when we can all just get along and celebrate each others’ successes.  Maybe someday.  But I will stop editorializing now.  Just know that, yes, the dig is in there.  Yes, you’re all welcome to light up my comments section with yet another flame war (they’re kinda like tribbles, aren’t they?).  But no, I’m not going to participate.  I love BOTH productions, and I’m ROOTING for both productions.  I invite those of you who can get past the resentment and anger to join me in not exploding yet again.  It requires a LOT less energy and doesn’t raise your blood pressure nearly as much.

All right, getting down from my soapbox now and handling the mic over to STC

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STAR TREK CONTINUES announces PREMIERE DATE and TITLE for their EIGHTH episode!

It’s been quite a while since fans and donors got an update from STAR 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.”

Here’s the full update…

The announcement you’ve all been waiting for!

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STAR TREK CONTINUES releases their seventh episode “Embracing the Winds”…and sparks new debate about the fan film guidelines!

STC-Embracing the WindsSTAR TREK CONTINUES’ seventh full-length episode, “Embracing the Winds” is–at least in my opinion–a masterpiece.  It’s a MUST SEE+ Star Trek fan film and possibly one of the best ones released to date.  Fan reaction has ranged generally from positive to gushing, with almost no one saying anything overall negative (only pointing out this or that little issue…and we Trekkers always have our “little issues”).

But really, STC has continued to up their game, and the quality and watchability of their newest offering is superb.  The acting, writing, directing, pacing…everything is top-notch.  There’s not of a lot of “wasted” scenes where the viewer feels the production has indulged itself too much and stretched things out.  In short, it’s a tight, exciting story that does what Star Trek has traditionally done so well: take a modern day issue (in this case, a very politically charged one at the moment) and provide a “safe” mirror through which we can examine our society and beliefs…and look at ourselves with a critical eye.

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STAR TREK CONTINUES plans to make FOUR more full episodes…hopefully

Cover 3When the new fan film guidelines were announced by CBS and Paramount, one of the biggest concerns was what would happen to Star Trek Continues.  This celebrated fan series now violated most of the guidelines, including a run time of more than 15 minutes per episode, the fact it was a continuing series in the first place, their recent $200,000 crowd-funding campaign (the new limit is $50,000), the distribution of perks, their use of professional actors and crew (including some who have previously worked on Star Trek films and/or licensed products), and of course, the words “Star Trek” in the title.

Of course, fans didn’t mind any of this.  In fact, Star Trek Continues remains one of the most popular and successful of all the fan series…with a passionate and devoted following (including myself, a proud donor).  And that’s why we were so concerned that these new guidelines would spell the end of Star Trek Continues (as they had already claimed another beloved fan series, Star Trek: New Voyages).

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CREATION CONtroversy…how’s that new “no talking about fan films” policy holding up?

Creation Logo

Before I begin, I’d just like to go on record that I’ve had the time of my life here in Las Vegas for the last five days.  And CREATION ENTERTAINMENT founders Adam Malin and Gary Berman (and their many employees, volunteers, and celebrity guests) have outdone themselves in putting on a superb 50th anniversary tribute to Star Trek.  I laughed, I cried, I kissed about $250 goodbye in the dealers room.  It was the best of times; it was an incredible gift to the 6,000 fans who could afford to make it to Las Vegas and ordered their tickets before they sold out.  So well done, I say to all of Creation!

And then came the “but.”

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STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES calls it quits (kinda) while STAR TREK CONTINUES continues (sorta)

STNV and STCWhen CBS and Paramount announced their new guidelines for Star Trek fan films, the fates of two long-running, celebrated fan series seemed to be in jeopardy.  Star Trek: New Voyages (having released nearly a dozen full-length TOS fan episodes since 2004) and Star Trek Continues (with six full-length TOS fan episodes plus three vignettes released since 2012) both appeared to violate multiple new guideline rules.  These included run-times over 15 minutes, more than $50,000 in crowd-funding, perk give-aways for contributors, the use of professional actors and crew, and of course, simply having an ongoing fan series in the first place!

Would these two venerated fan series finally come to an inglorious end?  It seems the answer is “yes”…and “no”…and “maybe.”  Let me explain…

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STAR TREK CONTINUES releases hilarious BLOOPERS for “Come Not Between the Dragons”

It you haven’t yet seen “Come Not Between the Dragons,” the sixth full-length episode of STAR TREK CONTINUES, you can click here to watch it.  It’s one of their best efforts yet.

And then once you see it, check out their blooper reel and you can see how much fun they all have on set making these fine fan-produced episodes…

The realities of crowd-funding, part 1

Cover-aGoing against my better judgment (that’s screaming at me, “Jon, stop typing NOW!”), I’m going to jump head first into the latest controversy surrounding a recent comment claiming that Axanar has “poisoned the well” for all other fan films.

Buckle up, folks!

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STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature), Part 3

Cover 3Last time: Having raised $126,000 from their first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign at the end of 2013, Star Trek Continues now had enough money to produce three new episodes. Indeed, by the time their Kickstarter ended in early November, they were about to start a seven-and-a-half day shoot at their 9,800 square foot studio in Kingsland, GA.

But work on their second episode had started many, many months before their Kickstarter campaign even began. The first thing required, of course, was a script…and for that, they needed a story.

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