Be careful what you wish for! For years, Star Trek fans have been hoping for guidelines from CBS to help define what was and was not acceptable in the creation of fan films. Today, those guidelines were finally posted publicly…
…and it wasn’t pretty.
The new guidelines would limit all Star Trek fan films to no more than 15-minute short films and no more than two-parts (so you couldn’t divide a one-hour episode into four segments). Likewise, continuing series with seasons and/or sequels would be prohibited.
There’s more carnage, but those two new rules alone would eliminate and destroy nearly every ongoing fan film series from Star Trek Continues and New Voyages to Renegades to Intrepid to Farragut to Potemkin and its many spinoffs…and of course, even Prelude to Axanar (at 20 minutes) would be considered unacceptable.
In short, these new guidelines would obliterate the majority of fan films and certainly NOT be keeping in the spirit of J.J. Abrams announcement from May 20 that “…the fans will be able to [continue] their productions.”
At the center of this controversy, of course, is the fan film project Axanar. Many are already blaming Alec Peters for these devastating new guidelines, although ironically, it was Peters who tried to provide CBS and Paramount with an alternate set of guidelines that would have been more of a win-win than a we-win/you-lose in the studio’s favor.
However, it seems that fan reaction is beginning to shift from vilifying Peters to resisting these new guidelines and trying to find ways to communicate fan disapproval directly to the studios…as can be seen in the growing list of angry comments on this announcement page on StarTrek.com. At this point, blaming Alec Peters and Axanar accomplishes little while voicing fan objections and outrage may be the ONLY WAY to save fan films (that or having Axanar win its legal case).
For his part, Alec Peters has issued the following statement to the press:
After a review of CBS and Paramount’s announcement of their guidelines for Star Trek fan films, I’m really disappointed that this set of guidelines represents the studios’ best efforts on behalf of fans. These guidelines appear to have been tailor-made to shut down all of the major fan productions and stifle fandom. In no way can that be seen as supportive or encouraging, which is very disheartening.
While CBS and Paramount claim to want to encourage the passion of fans to produce “reasonable fan fiction”, the restrictions presented do just the opposite, willfully ignoring over forty years of fan works that helped buoy the Star Trek franchise through some very lean years and enthusiastically spread the magic of the franchise in more plentiful times.
Around the franchise’s 50th anniversary, we would have hoped CBS and Paramount would have taken this opportunity to unite with Star Trek fans in celebration of their creativity, not seek to crush it.