If you read Part 1, you know that I want to keep fighting for a change to the fan film guidelines issued last June by CBS and Paramount.  I’m not ready to give up.

You might remember that when those guidelines were first announced, they were met with cries of panic that the world of Star Trek fan films was doomed.  These guidelines would eliminate, destroy, even obliterate fan films.  (Yep, I used all of those words.)

And you know what?  I was wrong.

Rather than killing the medium of Star Trek fan films, the guidelines didn’t seem to have had much of a curtailing effect at all.  In fact, do you know how many Star Trek fan films have been released in the eight months SINCE the guidelines were announced last June?

Take a guess.

Would you believe…SIXTY???  (If you don’t believe me, scroll to the bottom of this blog entry to see the full LIST.)  Sixty Star Trek fan films in eight months…that’s an average SEVEN-AND-A-HALF PER MONTH!!!!  That’s a larger number of Trek fan films than have ever been released in such a relatively short period of time!

And that total includes everything from 30-second parody vignettes to 47-minute-long full episodes, live action and animated, produced in the U.S. and elsewhere, both continuing series and one-offs.

Now, it’s not that the guidelines actually helped or encouraged more fan films to be made.  The vast majority of these projects were well underway, even in post-production, when the guidelines were announced.

But the important thing is that the guidelines didn’t suddenly choke off fan projects.  In fact, many productions were already in compliance with most, if not all, of the new guidelines.  And those that weren’t were allowed by CBS and Paramount (according to this podcast interview with John Van Citters of CBS Licensing) to be “grandfathered in” as long as they were already in production when the new guidelines were announced.

This is not to say that there weren’t any “casualties” along the way.  Perhaps the most notable was the celebrated Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II, halting all new production last summer for the first time in over a dozen years in favor of transforming their studio into a licensed Star Trek Set Tour.  With three unreleased episodes either partially or completely filmed, there might one day be more New Voyages, but for now, the loss was a hard one for most fans to face.  (That said, there were rumors that James Cawley was planning to shut down his fan series anyway.)

Another fan series to fall victim to the guidelines was the planned Farragut Forward, which was going to be a movie-era continuation of the long-running Starship Farragut series, which was producing its final episode, “Homecoming,” when the guidelines were announced.  Farragut Forward was going to have new refit-era sets and monster maroon uniforms, but if all that work and time and money was only going into at most a half hour of finished product (the guideline limit), it probably just didn’t seem worth it to them.

Star Trek: Aurora, which had already produced and released 4 out of 5 parts of its wonderful second episode, “Mudd in Your I,” decided to complete the final installment and then hang it up for the time being (which is a real shame, I have to say, as that was one of the best fully-animated fan series out there).

And then there was Star Trek: Renegades, which decided to surgically remove all references to Star Trek, even though they were featuring Walter Koenig as Chekov, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, and Tim Russ as Tuvok (plus a half dozen other Trek veteran actors reprising their roles).  So now the guidelines would no longer apply to their web series, and they could do whatever they wanted to.

Also taking a similar route was the fan series formally known as Star Trek: Anthology.  They had been planning to do multiple fans series simultaneously, including a Starship Challenger TOS series, an Assignment: Earth Gary Seven series, and a wholly original series called Mother.  Realizing that they were already kinda going in an original direction anyway, they ditched the Trek stuff and renamed their anthology project The Outer Rim.  They did a quick Assignment: Earth vignette (see link at the bottom) and then said go0d-bye to Star Trek.

But other than those I just mentioned and a few scattered others, the new guidelines did NOT deter Trek fan filmmakers.  Granted, many haven’t exactly “pushed the envelope” over the past eight months.  The vast majority operated within most if not all of the guidelines, even ones that were grandfathered in.  They changed their titles, kept their lengths below 15 minutes, and most weren’t crowd-funding anywhere near $50,000!

The only real guideline most fan series were finding a challenge was the one that says “no fan series.”  More specifically, it says, “…no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.”  That makes it kinda hard to produce a fan series rather than just a fan film.

Again, the filmmaker responses to this challenge have taken different paths.  The various series from Potemkin Pictures simply began changing the name of the “series” with each new “episode.”  So no longer was it Starship Tristan or Starship Deimos with different episode titles in an ongoing series.  Now it was individual fan films, each with a different title like “All in a Day’s Work,” “Be Careful What You Wish For,” and “The Archive.”  Of course, the characters are still the same, the starships have the same name, and the sets are all the same.  So for all intents and purposes, these are still basically continuing series.  But aside from that, Potemkin Pictures is following every other guideline to the letter, and it seems a little ridiculous to expect CBS to go all nuclear on a fan production that is trying so hard to play by the rules.

A few other fan series have taken a similar tact of following all of the guidelines except the no series rule and hoping for the best.  Some, like German-based Euderion and Starshiop Mojave, have already produced two episodes in their series since the guidelines (see links below).  Other series, like Intrepid, Starship Antyllus, Natures Hunger, and Starship Valiant have released only one post-guidelines episode each thus far.  So they won’t raise any red flags (if they raise them at all) unless and until they release another episode or two…especially if they keep their series titles the same.

And then there’s Star Trek Continues, which is trying the ballsy move of ignoring the guidelines completely and moving forward full speed ahead.  They’re NOT doing this in any arrogant “calling their bluff” sort of way.  The show-runners sincerely believe that the guidelines are there not as rules or some kind of law, but rather just a safe harbor that says, “Hey, if you do it this way, you will definitely not get in trouble.”  But, according to the STC folks, the guidelines do NOT say that if your fan film violates one or more of them that you WILL get sued.  (Indeed, a few fan films that have not completely complied have, so far, escaped studio notice or reaction.  So why not STC, too?)

STC Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code

It will be interesting to see what happens in April when STC releases their eighth episode, likely more than 15 minutes long, presumably keeping the name Star Trek Continues, and featuring a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) actress who was very likely paid something (as union rules require it).  Also, as STC‘s financials said in their non-profit filing (see image to the right), folks on the production crew are also getting paid at least a little.  All are technically no-no’s in the guidelines.  But STC maintains that they have a good relationship with CBS, and they feel it will be okay if they release episode 8, followed by episodes 9, 10, and the finale 11 before the end of the year, and then they’ll be done.  Reportedly, the reason for allowing this is because STC finished their crowdfunding for those four episodes prior to the initial announcement of the guidelines.  We’ll see if they’re right.  (I really hope they are, as I’m a proud donor.)

Anyway, the main point is that, regardless of the specifics of how various fan films are dealing with the guidelines, the fact is that most productions ARE dealing with them.  As Mark Twain once famously said after rumors began flying that he was on his deathbed in London and may have actually died: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.

And so it has been with predictions of the death of Star Trek fan films.  Despite many fans still saying that the guidelines will destroy nearly all fan films by stifling creativity and strangling off honest attempts to show appreciation for Star Trek, that just hasn’t happened yet.  And I honestly don’t think it will.  So far, if anything, we’ve seen an amazing and unprecedented SURGE in the release of fan films.  And lo and behold, they don’t all “suck” just because they have to be less than 15 minutes.

So why am I still fighting then?  Why not just stop worrying and learn to love the guidelines?  Well, remember that I’ve never claimed that I want to change all of the guidelines.  Even back when Project SMALL ACCESS did our focus group surveys, only 25% of the guidelines were found to be really problematic by the majority.  So it’s not like there’s a lot out there that I want to change.

But the guidelines aren’t 100% perfect either.  Few things out of Hollywood are on the first attempt.  You almost never see a first draft of a script actually get filmed or the first edit of a movie survive to be the final release.  Things change.  Things improve (hopefully).  And when you look back on the first attempt from the perspective of the finished product, there’s usually a sense that all of those changes really were for the better after all.  (Not always, though.  Whoever got their hands on James Bond’s Spectre and started messing around with Blofeld needs to stop working in the entertainment industry forever!)

So that’s why I’m sticking with the “resistance” movement.  I really do believe that the guidelines can be improved to the mutual benefit of both sides: the fans AND the studios.

But before we can do that, my friends, some of us are going to have to face a very unpleasant, inconvenient truth.

And you’ll find out what that is next time!

The List

And now, as promised above, here is a list of SIXTY Star Trek fan films released SINCE the guidelines were announced…complete with hyperlinks to show you I’m not pulling your leg!

Unless otherwise indicated, each of the following productions came in at 15 minutes or less.  The longer ones can probably be considered to be “grandfathered in.”  I’ve also noted parodies, country of origin (if not the U.S.), animated, and a couple of other unique details where applicable…

Potemkin Pictures has released 10 fan films:
1. “All in a Day’s Work”
2. “Destinies”
3. “Room Service”
4. The Chronicles of Lanclos”
5. “The Greater Good”
6. “Be Careful What You Wish For”
7. “Between Two Worlds” (30 minutes for one episode)
8. “Departures”
9. “Pas de Trois”

10. “The Archive”

Melbourne released two short vignettes:
11. “Pen Pals”
12. “Pen Pals 2”

13. “Chasing the Infinite Sky”
14. “Cease and Desist” (parody)
15. “Starship Explorer – Ep3” (40 minutes, German animated)
16. “Star Tregg – The Origiwool Series” (parody)
17. Assignment: Earth Vignette – “Boredom” (pseudo-parody)
18. Star Trek Continues – “Embracing the Winds” (44 minutes)
19. “Star Trek: Tag Team” (parody)
20. Trek Isolation – “Out of the Fire”
21. Starship Antyllus – “Ripple Effect” (35 minutes for one episode)
22. “Euderion vs. Alien” (19 minutes, German)
“Euderion Infinity – On Asklepios Trails” (29 minutes, German)
24. Star Trek: Aurora – “Mudd in Your I” (final 12 minutes of a 38-minute animated fan film)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – “The Toy Movie” (parody)
26. Star Trek: The Federation Files– “His Name is Mudd” (47 minutes)
27. “RAVEN: Voyager Continues” (32 minutes for one episode)
USS Danubia – “Force Contact” (29 minutes, German)
29. Starship Mojave – “Suspicion” (animated vignette)
30. “Chain of Command”
31. “How Star Trek Beyond Should Have Ended” (parody)
32. “Robot Masters” (animated)
33. Starship Valiant – “Crosses to Bear” (22 minutes)
34. TAS Continues – “Demon World” (animated pilot proof of concept)
35. Star Trek: Dark Armada – “Out of Time” (31 minutes, Dutch, series finale)
Tales From Ten Forward: Charlie X” (parody)
37. Starship Mojave – “Feeder” (30 minutes, animated)
38. Star Trek: Natures Hunger – “Sting of the Prosecution”
39. Starship Intrepid – “Duty of Care” (Scottish, which is still technically British…at least for now)
40. “Chance Encounter” (20 minutes, British)
41. Starship Republic – “Serpent of Yesterday” (debut vignette)
42. “VGER for Women” (30-second parody)
43. Starship Swiftwind – “Any Port in a Storm” (37 minutes, British animated)
44. Pacific 201 – “Down to Earth with Zach Jasper” (teaser vignette)

AlsoStar Trek: The Night Shift” has released 16 parody vignettes of second season TOS episodes between September 2016 and January 2017.

45-60. Star Trek: The Night Shift” (short parodies)

60 thoughts on “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 2) – The DEATH of TREK FAN FILMS?”

  1. I found out why you can’t do no more fan films they want you to use this writers guild of america west Look for the BASIC AGREEMENT OF writers guild it is what the writers half to use. It is in a pdf format and is over 600 pages long.
    My name is kenny smith.

    1. I don’t think my readers are wanting to read through 600 pages, Kenny. If there a specific rule or clause you’re referring to? Feel free to copy-paste the relevant portion into a comment.

  2. I think that Star Trek Continues is on the right course on this issue. The guidelines deliniate the “safe” space. Venture outside at your own risk.

    In the olden days a cartographer would have labeled the area outside the guidelines “Here There Be Dragons”.

  3. As a multiple donor to Star Trek: New Voyages, I was upset to not even be told they stopped production. I found out only when their FaceBook page changed it’s name. Out $450 in pledges with no perks to be sent; no response on their KickStarter page.

    1. Ya hear that, Axanar detractors??? 🙂

      I actually donated to New Voyages, too, and never got any perks. But then again, I didn’t donate for the perks, I donated because I liked the series and wanted them to make more episodes. But I always knew there was a risk that I was throwing my money away. That’s true of nearly all crowd-funding campaigns.

      1. Jonathan – since many Axanar detractors either have ties to or are supporters of STNV, it’s no shock that they ignore that NV has it’s own issues with perks and potentially misdirected donations (how many NV fans were aware the studios were being finished to become a museum rather than to film more episodes? Anyone? Bueller?

        1. Hey, someone’s got to pay the rent to keep those sets open until I can get to Ticonderoga. It was money well spent, I say! (In other words, I don’t mind having donated to the Set Tour and not an actual episode. It’s all good for me.)

    2. Not to mention, Dan, that James Cawley was already in talks with CBS before December 2015, and well before the Guidelines were issued, so STNV was no casualty of the Guidelines…
      There are those that believe CBS had some help in formulating the Guidelines, owing to the fact they were very surgically designed to hit fan films in all the right places…

      1. Hey Colin, the next time you give your opinion on something you know nothing about, please consider the amount of stupidity you are putting on the poor people who have to read through your brainless posts !
        Thanks !

          1. I Donated perks to New Voyages, that puts me in an unusual category.
            The Large poster I printed for them is now in a museum….

    3. Umm… I’m pretty sure Alec Peters is the one who both created and handled that KickStarter fundraiser for New Voyages. Someone might want to ask him about those promised perks.

      1. Sorry, Alpha. You can pin a LOT on Alec Peters when it comes to Axanar and its perks. But New Voyages…that’s totally James Cawley. Look, I used to help prep perk packets for Axanar, and we did nearly two thousand patch envelopes in about five hours (six volunteers including my four-year-old son at the time).

        James Cawley didn’t have nearly that many physical perks to worry about. Axanar had 14,000 donors; Ne Voyages’ 2015 Kickstarter had 788:

        – About 200 backers under $25 were to get everything digitally. So all that would need to be done is to send out about 200 e-mails with attachments and those donors are out of the way.

        – About 300 donors needed embroidered Stafleet emblem patches. That’s maybe an hour or two to stuff into envelopes and another hour or two to address. Then those are done. Some of those people also would get other perks and the digital downloads, so maybe this one takes a couple of weekends to clear out completely.

        – About 90 people would receive a special printed copy of the original set plans. That requires going to a print shop or a photocoppier, depending on desired quality, and then either rolling up into a tube or packing flat with a cardboard insert. But with less than a hundred of these to worry about, it’s not more than a day’s work to deal with.

        – 60 people get T-shirts. That involves e-mailing each to get sizes and then ordering the shirts before individually mailing each one. Considering that not everyone responds to their e-mail, this realistically could take a few months. Diana Kingsbury of Axanar had to deal with several hundred donors who didn’t respond, and it was almost a full-time job just tracking them down. So I could see James taking some extra time on the T-shirts….even if he only had to worry about 60 or so.

        – 12 gallery prints had to be specially prepared and shipped. That could be time consuming.

        – 7 people needed to get dress uniforms made. They donated $500 each, so it’s understandable that these should take more time to do right.

        – A few dozen DVD/Blu-ray sets can no longer go out thanks to the guidelines, so scratch those…unless they were sent out pre-guidelines.

        In November of 2015, the final update for the Kickstarter said:

        I’m assembling all of the digital media in one google drive.

        The physical posters have been printed and will be shipped this week.

        Most if not all insignias have been manufactured.

        So one would assume that all that was left was some e-mailing to donors and some stuffing of envelopes with patches and rolling of posters into tubes. So if perks didn’t arrive for many donors, that means it’s taken nearly a year and a half to do a few hours, or at most a few days, worth of work.

        And note that this work was NOT the responsibility of Alec Peters. He was back in Los Angeles at that point and about a month away from receiving a subpoena. Alec hadn’t worked closely on New Voyages since starting up Axanar in 2014.

        So if New Voyages donors to their 2015 Kickstarter didn’t get their perks, they need to contact James Cawley, not Alec Peters.

  4. ‘(Scottish, which is still technically British…at least for now)’

    Nicola Sturgeon will be thrilled with the Jonathan Lane ‘Kiss of Death’.

    1. The only problem is, if Scotland leaves the U.K., the Union Jack loses the diagonal stripes and ends up looking almost identical to the flag of Norway. That could be a problem…especially for any fans of The Who (the rock band, not the time lord). 🙂

  5. As a intern for the german based fanfilm group “Euderion Infinity” i have to say, there are two groups making fanfilm under the label “Euderion”. “Euderion Original” and “Euderion Infinity”. Both had a common ancestor, but split apart a while ago and are indipendent from each other now. Each one had create one fanfilm after the release of the guidelines.

    1. Oh, thanks for the clarification, Thomas. I haven’t had a chance to look too closely into Euderion yet. Would you be interested in being my guide if I wanted to do a feature on the series at some point? Not knowing how to speak German, it’s tough to do the research myself without help.

      1. Not a problem. If you ever want more infos about, you can ask me. The recent Euderion Fanfilms have english subtitles that should make things easier for the English fans.

        1. I’ve watched part of “On Asklepios Trails”, and it’s pretty impressive. I might reach out to you in a few more months. Thanks for the offer to help. 🙂

  6. Fighting CBS is like the Federation fighting Klingons – CBS is savage and merciless like the Klingons, but we as fans are persistent and stubbornly brave like the Federation – We simply won’t quit until the guidelines are changed to something MUCH MUCH more reasonable that everyone can be happy with… P 🙂

    1. Amil, at what time do you wake up and realize the real world does evolve around Star Trek terminology ! It might be time to take your Captain Kirk poster off your bedroom wall ..

      1. That’s just fifty shades of crappy, Tony. If you don’t want to play Star Trek anymore, fine. That’s your choice. But don’t remove the choice for others or Trek-shame them…and certainly not on THIS blog site! I still own six Trek uniforms…and two of them actually fit me! I’m staring at the 2017 Ships of the Line calendar in front of me right now, and next Sunday, I’m taking my son to Starfleet Academy (the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys) along with my fellow shipmates of the USS Angeles chapter of Starfleet International…a Star Trek fan club I’ve belonged to continuously since 1983. And yes, you can call me Vice Admiral.

        Either this evening, Jayden and I were watching “A Piece of the Action,” and you’d better believe I was reciting the rules to Fizzbin word-for-word as Kirk was explaining the game. No one’s puttin’ the bag on ME anymore! I am a total geek, Tony, and I am DAMN proud of it!

        Amil, you keep displaying that Captain Kirk poster proudly for as long as you want to! You are NOT alone! 🙂

        1. Thanks, Jon – I think it’s probably time to kick this jerk off the site, since all he really does is try to put down everyone else, just for having an opinion and having fun, which are the two main points of this sight – Seriously, what a creep *smdh* I do appreciate the constant encouragement and support from you though – Thank you… P 🙂

          1. Banning people from websites and online groups is, to me, repugnant. It’s a form of censorship, and I believe that other opinions–no matter how wrong some of us might think they are–can still be valid and valuable to read and be exposed to. The problem for me is when things go from contentious to downright belligerent and/or obscene. That’s when the repugnance of the communication itself exceeds the repugnance of censorship for me. But it’s a choice I don’t like to make if I don’t have to. I didn’t like it when Alec did it in the Axanar FB group, and I don’t like doing it myself.

      2. I don’t own a Kirk poster, Tony – I said what I said the way I said it, because I thought it’d be a fun, valid statement based that shows respect for a time-honored franchise that so many of us Trekkies love – While we on the subject by the way – Why are you even here, exactly? If you hate us so much, like you seem to, then, why don’t you just leave – I mean seriously, why hasn’t anybody kicked you off this site for your constant, condescending comments yet? – Jesus…

          1. Well, if you can stomach him, then I guess I can try to do the same – Although, I suppose it says more about him, since all he seems to do is come here and insult everyone else without really offering a solid opinion of his own – It’s like HE has nothing better to do with his time – Anyway, like I said I can tough him out if you can, Jon… P 🙂

          2. Yes, it does say a lot more about him, Amil. Perhaps one day he’ll realize it and feel the shame of it all. Perhaps not. I doubt the Mirror Universe Kirk had any inkling that his behavior was at all barbaric. And in his universe, it actually wasn’t. Who knows which universe Anthony came from…

  7. Ummm…. I’m not sure HISHE’s Beyond thing counts as a Trek fan film. They kind of have a series going on there that makes fun of a lot of movies. Also, Khan has become a recurring character in their Villain Pub series. All in all it is fun times over there.

    That said, good post. I’m in almost total agreement.

    1. I debated including the “How It Should Have Ended” parody, Justin. But in the end, I decided that it counted. It was arbitrary, I admit, but it also brought the total to an even 60, which was much easier to divide by 8. 🙂

      1. But then dividing 60 by 8 still went wrong 🙂 ! (Sorry to be so trivial).

        Jonathan, I think above all, your posts are proving the fight is most definitely worth continuing, and all of us followers owe you a great debt for your tenacity. So – thanks, lots.

  8. Hi Jonathan,
    Do you think there will be a post Axanar settlement surge in fanfilms release rythm ?
    I wonder if the peak is due to some producers rushing to release their stories expecting rules to get even more restrictive or just did as usual ?
    On the opposite, were some others waiting to see how far it could go, to adjust their position ?
    Will the current intensity of production last for long ?
    Thanks for the list, by the way.

    1. I don’t think there’s any rush to beat some kind of assumed escalation in the restrictiveness of the guidelines, Nicolas. I simply think fan films are fun for people to do, and they’re still doing them. Some were in production already when the guidelines were announced. Others have been started and completed since. But it’s getting less and less expensive to make them and make them well, so more people are doing it. And to be honest, it’s not that tough to follow most of the guidelines. In fact, it’s actually much more challenging to break a few of them! 🙂

      And you’re welcome for the list. 🙂

  9. I’m starting to wonder if changd in the guidelines is going to come more from productions testing the boundaries rather than the economic pressure we wish to bring to bear.

  10. To me it’s looking more and more like the whole thing was a vendetta against Axanar and very high quality fan films that show what can be done outside the CBS/P universe.

  11. I too contributed to New Voyages on to get screwed out of perks & episodes. I can’t believe a performing veteran like James Cawley would pack up & quit. Being a musician since I was in 4th grade, I was always told the show must go on. I always made my performances & obligations. No matter how bad I felt, my audience came first.

    I just wish someone else would resume making Star Trek & take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Paramount & CBS are wrong on the guidelines. I wish someone had the spine to fight it all the way.

    Until then, I will write my own. I may not be as good as the Trek writers but someone has to restore the soul of Star Trek to the fans.

    1. “I just wish someone else would resume making Star Trek & take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Paramount & CBS are wrong on the guidelines. I wish someone had the spine to fight it all the way.”

      It’s not the spine that’s a challenge–it’s the money. Anyone with enough money to take a case all the way to the Supreme Court is probably going to be able to easily self-fund their own fan film…and there aren’t many of those out there! 🙂

      Look, Alec Peters had the spine, and even he decided to settle. Why? Because in the end, lawsuits are a very expensive and draining experience…financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually. And even if the Axanar case were taken all the way to the Supreme Court, they wouldn’t be deciding on the validity of the guidelines. No court would. Had Axanar gotten that far, the High Court would only have ruled on the judge’s summary ruling that fair use was an invalid defense. That would have simply gotten Axanar a new trial. And even had Axanar won the second trial with a fair use defense, that would apply ONLY to them and their fan film. All other fan films would still be sue-able. And the guidelines would go on no matter what because there is nothing illegal about them.

  12. As an aspiring writer and lifetime science fiction fan, I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and honestly, from everything I’ve seen, if I had a science fiction story worthy of filming for a movie, miniseries, or series, I would never allow some big corporate bureaucracy to get their hands on it and turn my vision into mass market crap for them to try and make money off of while I lose all control, say over, and ownership of my own creation. Those big corporate studios have never understood science fiction and they never will.

    Instead, I would rather work along side scifi fans at a fan created studio, like the ones that built these great Star Trek fan films, because it has been made very clear to me that those people understand science fiction, they love science fiction, and they are the people I would want to work beside to bring my vision to life. They wouldn’t take it away from me and shut me out to make a buck for themselves. They would keep me deeply involved and allow me to tell my story and see my vision happen as it should be.

    Therein lies the difference between corporate bureaucracy and the devoted fans of science fiction stories. Seeing all the fan productions and their love of good story telling vs CBS/P’s attitude towards the IP they own and the fans of that IP proves that.

  13. “A few other fan series have taken a similar tact of following all of the guidelines except the no series rule and hoping for the best.”

    I nit pick, but this should be ‘tack’ instead of ‘tact’ as the series in question are changing their direction to make progress without excessive resistance. It’s a nautical term, so you know.

    The fan film guidelines could do with some rewording to make them sound less aggressively restrictive where they are not meant to be as restrictive, but there are some sections of them that just need total reworking or abandonment in my opinion which is free of charge and worth what you pay for it. Putting the limitations on at so late a date and after so much has already been done seems unnecessarily punitive, though it is easily understood since, again in my opinion, CBS/Paramount have quickly realized that fans with a good crowdfunding effort can turn out something at least the equal of recent official works in cinematography and something often far superior as story writing, pacing, and story direction go.

    It is their right to shoot themselves in the foot if they want, and I don’t dispute that. I may even give them another bullet so they can shoot themselves in each foot to better explain why the official franchise has seemed so badly crippled and poorly done of late. It’s a shame, really. Star Trek has been an awesome franchise over the years, and at times CBS/Paramount have messed up and actually done something high quality with it, likely by accident based on their usual track record. On the plus side, unlike my Firefly-fanatic friends, I have many years worth of good or entertaining episodes to watch. It’ll do.

    1. Tack and not tact! I should have known that because I sail! (Yes, I know the difference between a line and a sheet. Sheets are tied off to a sail.) 🙂

      1. -grin- I thought I remembered you making a comment about sailing before, which made me wonder. Of course, when one is trying to get all one’s thoughts down as quickly as possible errors are made, as I well know. :-p And spellcheck, while generally helpful, doesn’t help a bit when I replace the proper word with an incorrect but still properly spelled word.

        Read an article from the Wall Street Journal about the impending potential collapse of the studios based on the limitations they work under in the motion picture world. I suppose that, for studios looking at increasing shortfalls of income (Paramount lost around $500 million last year?), clutching more tightly to their IP and squeezing every last dime out of it makes sense from a business perspective, but I would think that they’d be optioning rights to the Star Trek name to fan film studios to try to increase their name recognition and potential for revenue. “Here, you can make Axanar as a Star Trek authorized production, but we will claim the rights to make any toys, books, comics, or other products based on your interpretation of our IP.” I think that a Battle for Axanar simulation where players can take the role of the newly promoted head of Starfleet and decide how to use their forces and income for research and development and/or production of more or more advanced ships would be fun. Especially if it had an option to play as the Klingon leader of the invasion who has to divide his/her time, energy, and resources to the same kinds of choices, plus trying to keep in power and keep control over one’s position in the eternal power play that is the Klingon way of life. Heck, I’m broke but I’d buy that.

        I just wish they’d do more to encourage the growth of their IP with the assistance of willing outsiders rather than just squatting on it like some fat, hateful toad. But, hey, I’m a dreamer.

        1. Actually Patrick, there’s valid reasons for the studios not wanting to dilute their brand with too much outside film production. Internal productions they can carefully control and monitor. Outside fan films require much more oversight, and that can be expensive and time-consuming. Note that no other studio licenses fan films either. We fans often imagine our ideas and fantasies are easy to execute and likely to produce only positive results. In Hollywood and in business in general, that is not always the case.

          In my pre-blogging life, I worked as a business analyst. And part of my job was playing Murphy’s Law forecaster. While everyone else around the table was describing the “happy path” (that really is a technical term–look it up), I had to figure out everything that could go wrong and plan to avoid it. It often made me the least popular person at the table. So when it comes to the ideas you’ve described, I can easily see a whole lot of problems that make the suggestion not worth it for the studios.

          That said, part of the job of business analyst isn’t simply saying, “This can’t work,” but also trying to come up with ways it can. So I could probably help CBS navigate around the land mines of your suggestions if given the chance. But I doubt CBS wants to pay me $125/hour to figure out something that, in their hearts, they really don’t want to do in the first place.

          1. I agree that CBS/Paramount wouldn’t want to do anything like that, but that mainly is because they really don’t know what to do with Star Trek in the first place other than try to milk it for all the milk they can get, which overlooks the fact that it is a bull not a cow. :-p 😀

            The answer you give for why CBS/Paramount wouldn’t want to go with my plan, while accurate and reasonable if somewhat condescending, shows that I perhaps did not make the words on the screen match the concept in my head, so I shall try again. Not sleeping for long enough or well enough every night means I do not always make myself clear.

            In my concept, the fan film creation would continue on as it has been and as it will be within the guidelines (or preferably a more reasonable revision). Those who create a fan film they think is really good and true to the brand could submit it to CBS/Paramount for review. Since CBS/Paramount likely has or will have a group whose sole purpose is to examine similar products for breech of IP rights, this isn’t adding too much to existing plates since a lot of these films would naturally be under review anyway. And/or there are legions of fans who might be willing to earn the honor of sitting on a STFF review board for a set period of time in return for non-monetary rewards (studio tours, Star Trek Fan Film Insider t-shirts, discounts on merchandise, private auctions with silent bids for props, scripts, or memorabilia, and/or whatever else) to judge the films on production values, visual accuracy, storyline adherence to canon, and whatever else is fitting, all under the guidance of a professional to explain and remind of expected standards. Then IF a FF passes scrutiny then it may earn a “Paramount Approved” tag and the ability to display the tag and the Star Trek name on that product in exchange for CBS/Paramount acquiring certain limited rights. This could provide a goal for FF makers “Man, I want to have this film earn a brag-tag!” and for Paramount too through moderate submission fees and the potential for revenue through relatively easily created things like a “Best of Paramount Approved 20XX” DVD each year, books of script to story collections (like the old James Blish TOS books), or other such things. Sure, revenue that this might generate would be peanuts for CBS/Paramount, but the PR boost alone might be worthwhile all by itself. Then CBS/Paramount wouldn’t have to continue running the franchise into the ground as ST: Discovery seems intent on doing with all its revised schedules, odd changes, and twists to canon. Sure, it wouldn’t be as easy as my overview makes it sound, but I think it is better than alienating a fervent fan base even further, because angry fans don’t spend money on one’s stuff. Even if they do like other shows from the company like Big Bang or NCIS (as I do).

            As for judging the films, as I said before CBS/Paramount could easily form a non-monetary-reward review team or three of Star Trek fans (with a paid pro’s oversight) because who is better at judging the minutia of a Star Trek film than Star Trek fans themselves? No, I’m not saying that we can be very harsh when someone steps too far out of line with their divergence from canon (though I might be implying it heavily since I know that even I can be that way at times), but I am saying that Trek fans as a whole are very familiar with what is and isn’t the Trek they know, love, and expect/demand.

            Yeah, it is a pie in the sky idea, and CBS/Paramount would never embrace it. I still think that it could provide a reasonable solution to the whole angry fanbase mess. Plus, if Les Moonves meant it when he referred to Star Trek as a “crown jewel” for the company, he might want to actually do something to both increase the interest in said jewel while retaining reasonable control of the IP and soothe the fans in one fell swoop. Also, I think that my concepts are a heck of a lot less expensive than a peacemaking plan drawn up and implemented by a hot Hollywood PR firm, not that CBS/Paramount would do that either. 😀

          2. My apologies if I sounded condescending, Patrick. Here’s what I know without the condescension…

            Back when I worked with Viacom licensing (and John Van Citters), there weren’t many people in the licensing department, and they didn’t simply handle Star Trek. I am sure CBS Licensing is similar, dealing with shows like Big Bang Theory and NCIS and others in addition to Star Trek. These are busy people. The sixty Star Trek fan films that have come out since the guidelines were announced have a combined run time of more than ten hours! So when you say…

            “Since CBS/Paramount likely has or will have a group whose sole purpose is to examine similar products for breech of IP rights”

            …I don’t think that will be a case. There will likely be no such group, and I doubt that John Van Citters is taking much time to watch the vast majority of Star Trek fan films. Remember that he said in his podcast that they don’t want to be tasked with reviewing everything that fans make.

            Now, does this mean that fan filmmakers are free to violate the guidelines without worrying about repercussions? No. Just because you speed on the highway nine times without getting caught doesn’t mean you won’t get a ticket the tenth time. If there’s another “Star Trek: Horizon” that gets a million views, I’m pretty sure JVC will check it out for himself. If Axanar gets released and comes in at 15 minutes and 24 seconds, he’s gonna know. And I’m certain John will be watching the remaining episodes of STC…mostly because it’s so good. 🙂

            But the vast majority of fan films, I’m sorry to say, won’t be getting the gold-star treatment. I know that you have a lot of things that you WANT to happen, Patrick. And there’s perfectly good reasons to give CBS to justify doing them. The only problem is this: they don’t want to. And until you or someone like you gets Les Moonves’ job, CBS likely won’t be giving Star Trek fan films much more thought. That wasn’t condescension, by the way! 🙂

            It’s simply that CBS has carefully planned what it wants to do regarding Star Trek, and fan films are not a central piece of that puzzle. At most, they are an afterthought or just an inconvenient reality that recently cost the studio a half million dollars to deal with. Now they probably want to move on.

  14. You gave that more coverage than I expected. We all wish for such a person, but as you imply, it’s sort of an unrealistic wish. Totally agree with your reply – well, almost. Last phrase; what about #5? Sorry, you are talking sense (as usual) and I’m being pedantic – not unusual. Am I being a waste of space ? – of your time ?

    1. There’s no such thing as wasting space on the Internet, Bryan! Time? Yes. But if I don’t have it, I’ll just publish the comment with a short answer or no answer. 🙂

      As for guideline #5, that’s going to be an issue for SAG to tackle if they ever decide to. It’s not a part of copyright law, only contract law. So a copyright case (were CBS to sue) would need to first convince the judge that this is really more of a breach of contract case, with the guidelines being the implied contract. And if they get that ruling, then guideline #5 becomes null and void under California law. But a lot of waves have to break in just the right way before that in order to get to that point…and even then, there’s no guarantee of a win.

  15. Thanks to ST: Continues and Axanar, it gave me the fan film bug. I wanted to bring to life the story of the Battle of Klach D’kel Brakt I’ve been working on for the past 5 years. But when CBS established the new fan film rules, it put a kibosh on the hole thing. I’m unemployed and with medical issues, so there is no way I could fund such a project. And seems with the $50,000 limit, there wouldn’t be room for error after finding a cast, cost of purchasing or renting equipment, and compensating musicians, costume makers, and CGI artists. So the dream had to end before it had started.

    1. To be fair, first-time fan film-makers don’t tend to make nearly anywhere close to $50K anymore. Look how much Starship Republic is struggling just to make $16,000 (they’re only at $1,380 with just nine days left).

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