Here’s the PRIME DIRECTIVE of this blog site: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD FAN FILM. Oh, I know there are fan films out there that are downright painful to watch. But you know what? At least they tried…and they succeeded. Sure, their final effort might not be Oscar-worthy, but—dammit, Jim—they made themselves a real fan film!
I was in one of the earlier fan efforts back in 1999, USS Angeles: The Price of Duty. (I’m the guy stuck in the turbolift making out with my girlfriend.) Yeah, I still cringe when I watch it, and I realize it looks pretty cheap and cheesy at first glance. But it actually took a good amount of work to get the project started, keep the momentum going, and make sure things stayed organized to film all those scenes…with dozens of folks both in front of and behind the camera. Then it took even more time and effort to complete the massive amount of postproduction after the footage was shot. Sure, we weren’t trained actors, some of us barely fit into our store-bought uniforms (I still don’t!), and we often had green glows around us from bad lighting against the green screen. It was a learning experience for all of us…especially show-runner Rob Caves, who would use what he learned to go on and produce 70 episodes of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier (and its five spinoff series) over the next decade.
It was also a lot of fun.
But let me tell ya, nothing kills your fan film buzz faster than fan criticism! Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not that fan filmmakers expect to hear only exuberant praise as though it’s a kindergarten play and they were the best carrot ever. It’s just that some Star Trek fans can be downright cruel. I’ve never really understood that. Most of us were made fun of in school and chosen last for sports (I know it wasn’t just me, folks!). And you’d think we of the socially ostracized classes would make more of an effort to not hurt the feelings of others. Instead, for way too many Trekkers out there, our own suffering from the harsh derision of others only seems to have lighted the way toward an expertise at belittling and humiliating our fellow fans…often over the most minor of issues.
BUT NOT ON THIS BLOG, BABY!
That’s my Prime Directive—I refuse to say nasty and negative things about any fan film…even if “everyone knows it sucks.” Even the worst fan film ever took time, effort, and dedication to complete. This blog site is intended to celebrate Star Trek fan films, not denigrate, flagellate, or eviscerate them. (Yep, folks, I’m all about the SAT words!)
And there’s the so-called fan film “feuds.” They’re not welcome here either. Some of you might already be familiar with the many he-said/she-said/they-said/it-said clashes of egos that have become like barnacles attached to the hull of S.S. Fan Film. Others might be blissfully ignorant of the many insults and accusations heatedly hurled back and forth between fans of certain fan series and fans of other fan series. And the show-runners themselves are all-too-often at the dead center of these feuds.
I don’t play those games here on Fan Film Factor. I just like watching these fun versions of Star Trek. I’ve got no horse in this race. I love James and Alec and Vic and John and Tommy and Nick and Rob and Randy and Richard and Scott and Michael and Sky and Tim and Robin and Eric and all the other amazing fan filmmakers out there who had the dream and made it real. I love that they’ve given us all this amazing gift of more Star Trek. Amusingly, it’s the one thing they all have in common.
When I look at today’s fan film show-runners—executive producers, directors, writers, stars…with the big dreams, the big personalities, and sometimes the big egos—I think of the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself. Gene Roddenberry made the first-ever Star Trek fan film—Star Trek itself!—because he was the first-ever Star Trek fan. And fifty years later, we’re all still happily playing in that sandbox he built. And how awesome is that???
Gene Roddenberry (in)famously told his writers on the early seasons of The Next Generation that the main characters must not have conflicts with each other. “In the future, we all just get along.” Some say that was naïve and tied the hands of the writers by taking away a major source of dramatic tension. Others maintain that this forced the writers to focus on the stories themselves rather than just writing soap operas.
This site is all about stories, not about soap operas. On that, I agree wholeheartedly with Gene.
So in my own small way, I want to make this site live Gene’s dream by not giving into the temptations of negativity. If fans want that, there’s many other places to go. But here on Fan Film Factor, RULE #1 is:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD FAN FILM.
(RULE #2 is: If you do see a bad fan film, refer to RULE #1.)