CREATION puts a GAG ORDER on discussion of FAN FILMS by celebrity guests!

Creation LogoOn Friday morning at the CREATION 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, I learned of a troubling new policy: fan films are apparently a forbidden topic!

The first indication I had of this new policy came at the end of the panel discussion with Tim Russ, Ethan Phillips, and Garrett Wang (who were each hilarious and not to be missed on stage if you ever get the chance).  As their talk moved into the questions-from-the-audience stage, I wandered to the front of the room to get in line to ask my question.

“What’s your question going to be?” a volunteer came up and whispered to me quietly.  She had already asked the people in front of me.

“I have a question about fan films,” I replied.  I was particularly curious as to Tim Russ’ reaction of having to remove all references to Star Trek from the fan film RENEGADES after a day of filming Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols playing Chekov and Uhura.

“I’m sorry,” she responded, “Questions about fan films aren’t allowed.  Only Star Trek canon.  Do you have another question you could ask?”

I was totally at a loss.  I’d never imagined I’d be asking a forbidden question!  To be honest, I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to know.  “Well, I can try to come up with something before I get to the head of the line,” I said, as there were five people ahead of me and another five or six on the other side of the stage.

“Maybe you could ask about their latest project,” she suggested.

“That sounds fair,” I answered.  And immediately, my mind jumped to: Mr. Russ, your latest project has you directing Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols.  On day one of filming they were playing Chekov and Uhura, but on day two, their character names and identities had to be changed…as did yours from Tuvok to Kovok.  Were you frustrated with having to give up the original plan for the characters?

(Yeah, asking Tim Russ about his latest project would be just perfect!  Thanks for giving me permission, lady.)

But alas, as the final person in front of me stepped forward to ask his question, I was told his would be the final question, and I should go back to my seat.  Drat!!!  So close to getting a juicy scoop for Fan Film Factor!  Oh, well…

And then I heard the guy on the other side mention Prelude to Axanar and how each of the actors on the stage had appeared in fan films themselves.  How did they feel about the current state of PR…

The fan was never allowed to finish his question, but I recorded Creation founder Adam Malin’s response…

“We’re gonna pass on that question because there’s a lot of controversy and discussion regarding it and a lot of confusion,” Adam said, “and we’re not really in a position to have an appropriate discussion about it in this forum.  So if you wouldn’t mind, we’re going to pass on that question.  Thank you.  Not that we have an opinion in either direction ’cause we don’t.  But this isn’t the right forum for it.  So forgive us for that.”

Fair enough.  Polite, respectful, and I understood that Creation, being a licensee of CBS and catering to many Star Trek fans (some of whom have extremely passionate opinions about certain fan films), would not want to wander into the minefield of fan film discussions.  Creation had its own Kobayashi Maru topic here, and later on during the day, as I heard fans discussing this abrupt cut-off of a fan film question (and many fan were discussing it), I actually came to Adam Malin’s defense…at least on this particular occasion.

But then I wandered into the autograph room.  I wanted to chat with some of the dozen or more celebrities there…and they are all so nice!  You don’t even need to buy a photo or autograph, as they’ll happily chat with anyone who walks up to their tables.  Several of them had actually appeared in fan films, and this being FAN FILM FACTOR, I was hoping to maybe snag an interview or three…especially since one of the new guidelines (number 5) now prohibits any of them from appearing in any more fan films.

One of the celebrities, who asked to remain anonymous (for reasons that will become apparent in a moment) shared with me that they would very much have liked to talk to me about fan films because of all the great work that was being done on them.  But they couldn’t because Creation had put a gag order on the topic of fan films.

“A gag order?” I asked.

“If anyone brings up a fan film or fan films in general to us,” they said, “we’re supposed to change the subject or simply say that we’re not comfortable discussing fan films because some are controversial right now.”

“And Creation told you this personally?” I followed up.

“Someone at Creation told my agent, and they relayed it to me,” this actor said.  “And they said that they’d have people walking around the convention listening to make sure we were all following this rule…and that the people would be dressed as fans, not just as volunteers, so we’d never know who was listening.”

I looked around and noticed that no one was standing anywhere near us, which was likely why this actor was sharing this information with me.  I asked if I could mention this on my Fan Film Factor blog, and they said okay, as long as I didn’t identify who had told me this.

So this left me pondering whether or not this “gag order” by Creation was reasonable or unreasonable.  And I invite you, my readers, to ponder this question, as well.  On the one hand, anyone arguing for freedom of speech has to remember that this is a private venue and the celebrities are being paid to appear by Creation.  Despite free speech laws, your boss is able to tell you what you can and can’t say.  For example, if you work at Kentucky Fried Chicken, you can’t blurt out the Colonel’s seven herbs and spices secret recipe.  A sales clerk at Macy’s might be advised by their supervision not to discuss religion or politics with the customers.

In this way, Creation is well within their rights to impose this restriction on their celebrity guests.  But then there’s the spirit of freedom of speech.  Fan films are a part of Star Trek.  It’s not like discussing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton with a guest (which I did at one point) or religion or some convention trade secret.  This gag order applies to a part of the career history of some of these actors…at least the ones who worked on fan films.  And it’s not like any of them speak for Creation.  That much is pretty obvious, since goodness knows some of these actors can get a bit raunchy and risque from time to time!  It’s part of the fun.  But if Creation worried about everything that came out of the actors’ mouths, they’d all be required to speak in mime or interpretive dance!

Now, I do have to admit that the threat of the “Big Brother” listening seemed a little over the top.  But remember that this tidbit was only something heard by an actor through their agent.  We don’t know what exactly was said to the agent or even by the agent.  But this actor did say that a lot of the celebrity guests had discussed this new restriction among themselves, so it wasn’t just one actor being told this.

That said, I did ask one other actor about fan films in general, and they said they’d rather not talk about that subject because it’s kind of a hot button issue.  So take from that what you will.  I didn’t want to put any of the rest of them into an awkward position by asking them to confirm the first actor’s story.

I will say that, despite this moral quandary that sneaked into my day, I’m having a blast at this convention.  Creation has put on a fantastic tribute to the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, with great celebrity guests, ample photo ops, fun events, a decent dealers room, and a real love for all things Star Trek

…except, of course, for fan films.


19 thoughts on “CREATION puts a GAG ORDER on discussion of FAN FILMS by celebrity guests!”

  1. Maybe it has something to do with Alec a Peters hijacking a panel about BSG at Comic Con to talk about Axanar. Or possibly it has something to do with the licence owner of Star Trek currently being involved in a lawsuit with a fan film (also Axanar). Hmmm… I’m starting to see a pattern here…

    1. Oh, I have no doubt that the lawsuit was the reason that CBS is concerned about discussions of Axanar. However, despite the new guidelines stating that fan films are okay (assuming they follow the new guidelines), apparently it’s not just Axanar that is the forbidden topic. Celebrities are not allowed to talk about any fan film.

      1. It’s not true either. Walter Konig talked at length about Renegades on a panel, not quite a “gag order”. I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.

        1. I missed Walter’s talk on Saturday, John. What did Walter say about Renegades? Did he discuss it as a Star Trek fan film or as an independent sci-fi production that was no longer connected to Star Trek? I’m just curious, as there were some other instances of fan films sneaking into the convention experience this weekend that I’ve both noticed and been told about. It might not be a mountain, my friend, but it’s a little more than a mole hill. There’s a lot of stops in between the two.

          1. So reading your follow up post it appears that Renegades and Continues are fine to talk about and that Axanar is the only taboo subject. I therefore stand by my assertion that the real “gag order” is anything by or from Alec Peters and I’m not surprised. Even if we ignore the croudfunding irregularities and the lawsuit, his conduct in trying to craft his own guidelines, tacitly supporting boycotts of CBS and Paramount, hjacking panels unreleated to Trek, and various other social media meltdowns it’s a wonder he was even allowed into the convention hall.

          2. It’s becoming clearer to me, John, why you have such a negative opinion of Alec Peters. You’re operating from a starting point of misinformation. So if you don’t mind, I’d like the chance to correct a couple of inaccuracies in what you said:

            “tacitly supporting boycotts of CBS and Paramount”

            That’s actually the OPPOSITE of what Alec has publicly said. Alec has NOT been condoning the boycotting of either Star Trek Beyond or Discovery. Neither have I. As the founder of the SMALL ACCESS protest campaign, the idea is to actually watch the new series…just in groups. Like Alec, I won’t try to tell people that they can’t boycott if that is what they choose to do, but that’s a far cry from tacitly supporting the concept of a boycott. Remember when I wrote this editorial? Alec Peters feels much the same way.

            “hjacking panels unreleated to Trek”

            I assume you’re referring to the recent Battlestar Galactica panel at San Diego Comic Con where Alec appeared along with Richard Hatch and Mary Anne Butler. “Hijacking” is an usual word to use, considering that it was Richard Hatch’s panel and he (Richard) determined that “Prelude to Axanar” would be discussed (along with “The Second Coming,” Richard’s BSG pilot project from 1999). Trailers for both films were brought along and cued up, ready to go, before the panel even got started. Alec Peters himself confirmed to me that “nothing happens on that panel without Richard’s okay.” Alec Peters has been a part of that panel, at Richard Hatch’s request, for the past three years, and each year, there’s a discussion of fan films included. Part of the reason for that is Richard’s own BSG pilot, and part of the reason is his love of and enthusiasm for “Prelude to Axanar.” Alec also confirmed that with the exception of the short trailer for “Prelude” (they didn’t show the complete film), the total amount of time spent discussing fan films during that 50-minute panel was less than 7 or 8 minutes.

            So “hijack” might not be the proper term to use…at least if you want to get the story correct. Or maybe you could say Richard Hatch hijacked his own panel! 🙂

            Now, I actually agree that the catalyst for the gag order at Creation cons was, indeed, mostly likely the fact there is an Axanar lawsuit. And Adam Malin and Gary Berman are undoubtedly more concerned about addressing Axanar than they are about other fan films. But just to be clear, the two celebrity guests I spoke with confirmed that they were told not to discuss ANY fan film, not simply Axanar.

          3. Well Jonathan, you must not know what “tacitly” means. The definition is “understood without being openly expressed; implied:”. When I said Alec tacitly supports a boycott my reasons are that yes, he does publicly say he is against a boycott but when you look at the Axanar twitter feed it is full of retweets of people advocating a boycott. Also. on their FB pages Axanar “likes” nearly every post or comment advocating a boycott. This is the definition of tacit support and exactly the kind of thing to rile up an IP owner.

            As far as the hijack of the panel goes, I’ve seen a video from it. Richard may have mentioned Axanar but Alec showed the trailer and talked at length about it. At one point Richard looked especially uncomfortable. If Alec has the arrogance to do this on a BSG panel I’m not surprised Creation didn’t want to risk anything like that happening at the 50th for Star Trek.

  2. Gee, my first reaction to Smyth was to reply “what a coincidence! My name is Jon Smith” or John Doe, or Cowardly Lyin if you prefer.

    What is it with these Axanar haters anyways. Well, I’ll say you got one heck of a scoop Mr. Lane. I would love to spread the link around if you don’t think it’ll cause too much trouble. A story like that should go viral in the Trek Fandom arena. Still, pretty amazing that the fear of this issue was enough to put out a gag order. Nice job though, and have a great convention.

    Perhaps you could get someone to do one of those protected interviews with the disguised voice and they sit in the dark with a disguise on too. I could imagine all kinds of click bait titles to go with.

    1. The haters gonna hate-hate-hate-hate-hate. I don’t begrudge them that. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion (says Mr. Scott). And John Smythe wasn’t entirely wrong, and I even said as much in the article itself. Fan films and especially Axanar are a very hot button topic at the moment. And that’s why I didn’t simply trash Creation and do a simple “hit piece.” There’s valid arguments on both sides of the “should they/shouldn’t they” argument. I’m just reporting the news, not judging it.

      That said, feel free to spread the link around. I can always use the visits. Writing a fan film blog is fun…but it’s MORE fun if folks are actually READING it! 🙂

      1. And that is exactly what is wrong with every Axanar fan. I didn’t say anything hateful or even slightly disparaging about Axanar and yet I’m branded and dismissed as a “hater”. I said something possibly disparaging about Peters and simply mentioned the lawsuit. How is that “hating” on Axanar? How does that make me a “hater”?

        1. My apologies, John. “Hater” seems to have taken on a common usage when discussing those who disparage either Axanar OR Alec (often both–they kinda come as a set). But you’re right in that you made some valid points. And simply dismissing you as “just another hater” does you a disservice. So again, I am sorry.

          1. Its unfortunate to see this ban but the 50th is the absolute last place one would want to have taken over by a vitriolic argument between neutral observers of an executed plan to divert hundreds of thousands of donor dollars into salaries and a studio for future for-profit non-Trek use, and the climate change deniers who call any simple unadorned statement of this indisputable fact “hate”. But for this diversion, and perhaps unlicensed Trek merchandise sales, and perhaps other things, Axanar could have been delivered long before the lawsuit. I am glad the con in effect said have your debate in court.

  3. All the more reason that I refuse to purchase ANY LICENSED Star Trek merchandise, go see ANY movie or watch ANY Star Trek television show. If CBS and Paramount want to play hardball with fans, then I’ll just as gladly find another fandom to sink my money into. And this is coming from a FIRST generation Trek fan who watched the original airings on NBC in 1966.

    1. Man, I just spent $500 on a 5-day con ticket, PLUS I bought licensed stuff from the dealers room, AND I even purchased a photo with Rom and Nog. Guess I’m still addicted!

      1. That of course is your prerogative. I’m addicted to several of the fan film productions. but now they can’t be made anymore, so I’ll pass on the “official” stuff. I can find another fandom. (Actually, I already have several that haven’t been nearly as nasty to their fans.) Until those guidelines are lifted, as far as I’m concerned, anything Star Trek can rot on the shelves. They won’t get MY money, which is MY perogative.

  4. I might be able to understand why they don´t want any talk about Axanar, but the rest? I thought CBS is “embracing” fan films. Well, embracing to me is something else. And issuing a gog order on your star guests – and surveying that by secret “agents” is just beyong words.

  5. Wow CB$/Paramount ! Hopefully the rights to Star Trek will get sold to some else that CB$ soon, and we can get past all this crap.

  6. 1. Creation Events are PR and fan sink hole for them to get your $$$ I going one or two and found out they are not a true “Fan” conventions.
    2. I read that the Renegades people talk but told all they are no longer an Star trek film so they answer question on their new venture.
    3, Even with license and all Creation event can not tell actors NOT UNDER CURRENT CONTRACT what they can talk or offer views on current event and actions. THEY have that right as long as it is not stated that they are talking for the studio .
    4. Out side of official events the convention sorry Con job event. has no freaking power to tell anyone what they can talk about. If i was there and caught Any troll listing I would caught would caught them and has the word TROLL stamped to their forehead.

    I love to see the Judge’s order for this “Gag order” Oh wait there is none.. And ONLY a Judge can put out an order to not talk about the events.
    Not a studio or the actors Agents or some crap fake ass Event that more for making ripping $$$ off fans.
    I love to have them try this at world con or any other Big fan event.. I have ConOps maker sure con staff and security grabbed and ejected and little quisling for CBS.
    I worked a lot conventions on the years I know that studios hate them for not being able to control them .
    Creations flew to close the sun and got hit and i sure it just a license deal but a high % of $$$ invested by the studio and CBS . I think it was due to actor charging for autographs and how the “Event collected it.
    Has anyone talk to a SAG legal person really the actions should talk to the reps on this and getting the studio and CBS sanction for over stepping scope of legal control.
    Yes the own the copy right to the character not the actors who play them.
    this needs to be push to as many as we can..
    This gag order BS is way over the scope anything legal.

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