TOMMY KRAFT became the first Star Trek fan filmmaker to be “shut down” in the period after CBS and Paramount filed their lawsuit against Axanar. In February of 2016, Tommy released the amazing STAR TREK: HORIZON, a 104-minute Star Trek fan film produced quite literally in Tommy’s parents’ basement for a production budget of only $28,000. The film was set in the era of Star Trek: Enterprise during the Romulan War and featured the crew of the USS Discovery NX-04.
Although Tommy initially said there would be no Horizon sequel, the exuberant fan response led him to reconsider, and by April, Tommy was planning to launch a new Kickstarter to fund Federation Rising, once again featuring the crew of the USS Discovery NX-04. In hindsight, we now know that Tommy had unknowingly chosen a Starfleet vessel with the same name as the upcoming new Star Trek television series. But all we knew back then was that Tommy was contacted by CBS days before the launch of his Kickstarter campaign and told in no uncertain terms that they would strongly advise him against moving forward in any way with his project. They weren’t belligerent or threatening; they were simply reaching out proactively…in much the same way they did NOT do with Axanar. Hoping to avoid the same fate as that other fan film project that he had worked on (yep, Tommy was on the production team for Prelude to Axanar), Tommy opted to shut down his project before it could even get to the launch pad. You can read Tommy’s statement here.
Instead, Tommy and his production partner, Ryan Webber, decided to create an original non-Star Trek production titled PROJECT DISCOVERY, examining mankind’s earliest forays into manned interplanetary spaceflight in the mid-21st century. Tommy and Ryan launched a Kickstarter campaign in late April with a 2-month time frame and an ambitious goal of $250,000. Although they got off to a strong start, just short of a month into the campaign, pledges had stalled in the $17,000 range. Reluctantly, Tommy and Ryan canceled the Kickstarter and decided to pursue other projects.
Tommy moved onto a new non-Trek film production called RUNAWAY. And this time, not only was he successful with his Kickstarter, he has knocked the project out of the ballpark!
Tommy launched his Kickstarter campaign for Runaway on June 30 of last year with a much less ambitious goal of $13,000…and ended up taking in nearly $19,000 when the Kickstarter ended just three weeks later (including $35 from yours truly).
This time, Tommy had a different partner…whom he’d never even met in person! Michigan-based Tommy Kraft teamed up with another filmmaker based out of New York City named Harrison Heller. Harrison, a video editor for People magazine, also freelances as a director and director of photography. He’s won awards for animated films that he’s written and directed which have screened at film festivals around the world.
Tommy and Harrison have known each other for more than ten years, having connected via the Internet and bonded over their love of film making. Harrison wrote the script for Runaway, while Tommy handled cinematography, production, music, and visual effects. The two men share credit as co-directors and co-editors.
The cast features a few faces familiar to fans of Star Trek: Horizon and other Trek fan films. Paul Lang, an L.A.-based actor who played Captain Hawke of the U.S.S. Discovery, plays the hardened “Barrett” in Runaway. Rico E. Anderson, who played Ambassador Salak in Horizon and also appeared in Star Trek: Renegades along with a role in the 2005 Academy Award-winning short film Mighty Times: The Children’s March, plays the complex character of “Renzler” in Runaway. And Detroit-based Callie Bussell, who co-starred in Horizon as Romulan defector Lt. T’mar, puts in a very impressive performance in Runaway as “Maria,” the runaway android being hunted.
The World of RUNAWAY
In the best traditions of science fiction, Runaway provides a prism through which we as a society can take a look at ourselves. Whether it’s a metaphor for escaped slaves fleeing southern states during the American Civil War or a portrait of the hatred and paranoia that some citizens feel about illegal immigrants in this country, Runaway gives us a chance to view ourselves from a “safe” distance while still experiencing an emotional impact.
The following is not a spoiler so much as a backstory. It comes directly from the Kickstarter page for this project…
The United States. 2065. Paradigm Industries, one of the world’s top robotics manufacturers, has produced advanced biomechanical workers nearly indistinguishable from humans — except for their trademark gray eyes. These androids, often referred to by the derogatory slur “grays,” have become status symbols of the rich and powerful as well as an increasingly important part of the work force.
Two years ago, in 2063, a mysterious computer virus infected all of Paradigm’s networked androids, causing them to become self-aware. The “singularity,” long prophesied by scientists and futurists, had finally arrived. Slowly, the machines began to demand rights from their human creators. Most states refused to consider the machines anything more than property, and bounty hunters called “dark coats” hunted down errant androids who attempted to shake off the yoke of slavery.
However, a few states such as New York and California granted the machines legal rights and the freedom to pursue their own destinies. These states became known as “The Free States.” Silicon Valley, the birthplace of the androids, was flooded with runaways, and California soon took on the nickname “The Silicon State.” Meanwhile, a secret network of human sympathizers gradually grew across the country–hiding runaways from the Dark Coats and helping them on their journey to freedom.
The 20-minute finished film was just released this past Friday. And while I know that it isn’t a Star Trek fan film (which is what we cover here on FAN FILM FACTOR), it was made by and features three actors from a very popular Star Trek fan film. So I figure it’s kinda “grandfathered in” and deserves to stay “in the family.”
So without further ado, I present for you Runaway. Enjoy…