No, not THAT Pike! But if you know one of those crazy people who keeps saying that Star Trek fan films are “dead” or that the guidelines or the Axanar lawsuit “destroyed” Trek fan films forever…well, it’s time for a little reality check!
Not only are Star Trek fan films alive and thriving, but we’re about to be inundated with new major productions at all levels of funding ranging from pocket-change to six-figure budgets.
The past year has already been loaded with a plethora of new fan film releases: Galaxy Hopper, Galactic Battles, Temporal Anomaly, Avalon Lost, The Fighting Fourth, Last Survivor, Diplomatic Relations, Desperate Gambit, The Holy Core, Dreadnought Dominion, All Ahead Full, Children of Eberus, The Looking Glass, Confrontations, To Have Boldly Gone, Repercussions, Stunt Doubles, and the just-released Line of Duty. And those are just the ones I’ve covered here on Fan Film Factor! Check out the Star Trek Reviewed blog for a ridiculously more detailed list including all of the smaller fan productions that I don’t usually have a chance to get to.
But you ain’t seen nuthin‘ yet!
Within the next six months, a host of exciting NEW Star Trek fan films are scheduled for release onto YouTube—some of them eagerly anticipated. Last week, I reached out to some prominent fan filmmakers to get updates on their productions and when fans will get a chance to finally see them.
Here’s just some of what you can look forward to in the very near future…
FOR REALS??? Yep! According to show-runner ERIC HENRY, the looooooong-awaited (like, as long as AXANAR!) crowd-funded production PACIFIC 201 is nearly ready for release. “Ha!” you say, “We’ve read that one before!” Yes, perhaps you have. But this time, Eric sounds very confident.
He explained that the live action scenes with the actors have all been shot and mostly edited. What still needs to be completed now is the many VFX shots, which are in progress. In particular, there are two very VFX-heavy sequences that require the most work. “We’ve only really scratched the surface on those,” says Eric.
He is estimating that we should finally get our chance to see this story of what happened 40 years after that founding of the Federation around Christmastime. Will he make it? I’ll keep you posted!
Here’s one of the short vignettes that Eric released along the way, giving us a flavor of what was to come. It remains one of my all-time favorite fan produced short films…
STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER
This fan film was shot a year before the fan film guidelines were even announced and tells the story of Captain Robert April‘s first mission commanding the newly-launched USS Enterprise NCC-1701. FIRST FRONTIER was supposed to be released on April 1…which would have been SO appropriate! But here it is, half a year later, and the film is nowhere in sight. What happened?
Show-runner KENNY SMITH put tens of thousands of dollars of his own money into production—sets, costumes actors, make-up, equipment, crew…even an amazing 11-foot model of the original USS Enterprise for filming VFX shots the “old fashioned” way (read more about that here). He even released this exciting trailer in January…
An industry visual effects artist (who has chosen to remain anonymous) noticed that many of the VFX shots looked like they could use a little professional help, and so he sent Kenny an e-mail. The man’s resume read like a list of Hollywood’s top blockbusters (mostly in the superhero genre), and he was offering his services to turn First Frontier into a cinema-quality film while still retaining that look and style from the first Star Trek pilot “The Cage.” How could Kenny possibly turn down an offer like that?
They’ve been working together these past months, redoing every VFX shot in the entire film. When it’ll all be completed is unknown right now, as the VFX guy does have a rather demanding day job. But they’re working toward the release of a new trailer in the next month or two showing the new footage so fans can understand what a huge difference this fellow is making. I can hardly wait to see the footage myself!
AVALON UNIVERSE: DEMONS
The previous two Avalon Universe fan films, GHOST SHIP and AVALON LOST were both excellent. Neither was crowd-funded, but their third offering, DEMONS, raised $6500 in an Indiegogo campaign back in April. Directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX (who are also directing my fan film, INTERLUDE) are both industry professionals and, with their passion for both Star Trek and filmmaking, have quickly risen to be considered two of the top fan filmmakers in our community.
Production has been going solidly at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas, and only one more shooting day still needs to happen. Meanwhile, that virtuoso of VFX, SAMUEL COCKINGS, is busily finishing up his usual eye-catching CGI animations, and Josh expects to have Demons ready for prime-time (or at least YouTube) before the end of the year.
THE FEDERATION FILES: “THE EQUINOX EFFECT”
Back in 2015, a fan project calling itself STAR TREK: EQUINOX held a Kickstarter that managed to raise $6,249. That might seem like decent money in today’s fan film environment, but back then it was far short of the $230,000 they’d tried (and failed) to raise on Indiegogo.
Part of the reason for such an ambitious budget is that it was an ambitious production, bringing in two Star Trek veteran actors—GARY LOCKWOOD as Gary Mitchell and JOHN SAVAGE as Captain Rudy Ransom from the Voyager 2-part episode “Equinox”—each reprising their Trek roles. The Kickstarter money was used to shoot a short opening segment of the fan film, titled “The Night of Time,” on James Cawley’s TOS sets in upstate New York. The result, shall we say, had its moments…
Ultimately the production was shut down shortly after the release of the guidelines and some questionable dealings from show-runner ERIC NYENHUIS (the details of which I won’t go into them here). But another member of the production was GLEN WOLFE, current co-owner of the aforementioned WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas and co-show-runner of THE FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series.
Glen decided to rescue the footage from “The Night of Time,” replace one of the actresses (you can probably guess which one), and wrap an episode of The Federation Files around what could be scavenged. The result, as you can see from the poster above, will feature the Guardian of Forever, the Borg, and apparently Data! “The Equinox Effect” will premiere, according to Glen Wolfe, this December.
Following that, Glen and his partner, Dan Reynolds, are already working the next releases from The Federation Files, episodes titled “Friends and Foes” as well as “Doppelgänger.” No premiere dates have been announced for either yet (still too early).
THE ROMULAN WAR
A lot of folks, including me, are REALLY looking forward to this one! THE ROMULAN WAR will be the first Trek fan film since PRELUDE TO AXANAR to take a look at a major interstellar conflict in Federation history using a mock documentary (“mockumentary”) style of storytelling. The visual effects promise to be stunning. Just take a look at what’s been released so far…
Although much of the principle green screen photography was already completed when show-runner MARK NACCARATO launched an Indiegogo last summer that took in $13K, there was still quite a bit left to do. A majority of those funds were intended for post-production—mainly that awesome CGI both in space and as virtual backgrounds behind the actors—although a few live-action scenes still had to be shot.
Mark suffered a personal family loss earlier this year, which delayed production somewhat. So the release of Part 1 has been pushed back from August to the end of 2019…with Part 2 slated for sometime in 2020. However, while we wait, Mark has been releasing a very fun series of “enhanced” audio dramas (one of them starring me!) telling “War Stories” from the perspectives of various people who fought in the Romulan War. You can view them all here. The next one, the fifth War Story, will be out in the next week or two and should tide us over for a few more months until the big premiere in December.
DREADNOUGHT DOMINION: “THE HEIST”
With a history going back more than half a decade, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION spent most of that time releasing fan films where their mighty three-nacelled starship was sitting idle in Spacedock. It was kinda funny after a while, so they continue to be a fan series that doesn’t take themselves too seriously…which is very refreshing.
The group, led by show-runners GARY DAVS and RANDY WREN, films primarily at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, former home to Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut. But now that the USS Dominion is finally boldly going places beyond Earth orbit, we’re about to see some of the crew beam down to an actual planet in “The Heist,” a new release scheduled to premiere on October 31.
STAR TREK RAVEN: “Regression”
In late 2016, Starfleet Studios in Iowa released STAR TREK RAVEN with its initial episode titled VOYAGER CONTINUES…or was that vice-versa? Two years later, show-runner DAVID WHITNEY announced that the Raven series would now be known as STARSHIP PROMETHEUS. But apparently we’re now back to the original STAR TREK RAVEN…even though the new episode features Seven-of-Nine, Janeway, and Chakotay…but it also features the purple-haired, silent Raven. The episode has already begun shooting and should be out, according to David, in either December or January.
INTREPID has been around a loooong time (over a decade!) from before the guidelines when they used to be able to call their series STAR TREK: INTREPID. Based out of Dundee, Scotland, it’s a labor of love by a team of very dedicated fans led by NICK COOK, who plays Captain Daniel Hunter of the USS Intrepid.
Their most recent episode, “The Story,” was released back in February of 2018…so it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new Intrepid. But there’s quite a bit coming, and some of it quite soon! Nick reports that, hopefully before the end of the year, we’ll see not one but TWO new Intrepid episodes!
The first, “Dissonant Minds,” includes exterior footage that was shot way back in 2012(!!!), after which they’ve had numerous problems completing the production. But now they’re finishing up the last VFX shots, and once they’re done, it’s ready for YouTube! The second is “A Treasure for the Ages,” which is also awaiting some final VFX and then post-production will wrap up. Part of that fan film was shot aboard the historic RRS Discovery, the ship Robert Falcon Scott sailed to the Antarctic in 1901. So that’s cool, right?
A third film, “Destruct Sequence.” was shot in 2017, but it was almost entirely green screen, meaning that post-production is more complicated. So there’s no estimated release date on that one yet. A fourth film has yet to be titled but is also entering post-production. After that, “Echoes” is about to start filming, followed by “Down This Road Before”…plus they have a number of short vignette scripts ready to shoot.
So Intrepid is definitely here for the long haul! Here’s some coming attractions of what’s what’s ahead…
THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES
Over the course of a few years, VANCE MAJOR appeared as the character of Erick Minard in about three dozen different fan films…30 of which were written and directed by Vance himself. They were mostly short vignettes focusing on Minard during his long Starfleet career, produced with money found in the cushions of Vance’s couch.
The films weren’t exactly Hollywood blockbuster quality, but Vance didn’t care if the lighting was bad, the sound levels too low, or a power cord was visible in the doorway. Vance wasn’t making these fan films to dazzle but simply to share his unique ideas and tell the stories he wanted to tell.
Last year, Vance raised $500 to buy TNG-era uniforms to use for his next fan series: THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES. This time, the series would be focusing on the members of Minard’s crew in the 24th century. Like his previous saga, Constar would have about three dozen episodes. But whereas the Minard releases were spread out over years, the 36 Constar Chronicles episodes will all debut on YouTube ON THE SAME FLIPPIN’ DAY! No Trek fan series has ever done that before.
So set your alarm clocks for December 8 and get ready to binge-watch like you’ve never binge-watched before!
THE LEXINGTON ADVENTURES
THE LEXINGTON ADVENTURES is another ultra-low budget fan project. This one raised $650 in a GoFundMe a year ago and finished filming all of its scenes last month. So now the project shifts into post-production mode. Show-runner JOEY BONICE is working with Vance Major to launch the premiere episode of this new fan series sometime in early-to-mid 2020.
Last November, SAMUEL COCKINGS (of Trekyards and Temporal Anomaly fame) raised $7,385 from 114 Indiegogo backers for what is the first-ever FIVE-WAY Star Trek fan film crossover project: CONVERGENCE. Actors from Temporal Anomaly, Intrepid, Dark Armada, and Starship Republic will be joining together to fight the adversaries from Star Trek: Renegades.
Unfortunately, these various actors live in England, Scotland, the Netherlands and the United States…and getting them all together in the same studio at the same time has proven to be a challenge. To complicate matters more, one of the actors was injured this past year (they’re fine now). So while the first of two shoots already happened before the crowd-funder, it’s looking like the second shoot won’t happen until sometime in 2020.
However, this doesn’t mean that things aren’t moving forward in other areas right now. Samuel reports: “[M]ost of the space shots are either completed or in the last stages, and the digital sets are all but done. A lot of progress has been made since the late 2018 Indiegogo, but the major progress will, of course, happen once Part 2 is filmed! We hope for a 2020 release.”
STALLED TREK: “THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FORECLOSURE”
The first STALLED TREK, a puppet parody entitled “Amutt Time,” was one of the most creative and hilarious Star Trek fan parodies ever produced. That was back in 2012. In 2016, Stalled Trek creator MARK LARGENT collaborated with a fan film blogger named JONATHAN LANE to parody the Axanar lawsuit in another hysterical romp titled PRELUDE TO AX’D-WE-ARE. Both are totally worth checking out if you haven’t already.
Last year, Mark successfully raised$4,181 from 114 Kickstarter backers for a new Stalled Trek puppet parody to be titled “The City on the Edge of Foreclosure.” Unfortunately, he later learned that the 3D software he’d been using would no longer be supported on the Macintosh platform (guess what kind of computer Mark has). But Mark is now teaching himself Blender 3D and porting over all of the previous character and background CGI models to the new software. Work is progressing slowly but steadily…although no hard release date has been announced as yet.
Back in June, though, to show donors and fans how things are coming along, Mark released this comical short vignette to tide us over…
AXANAR and INTERLUDE
It’s not really a race, but Axanar and Interlude are both shooting in the next month and a half (Axanar is shooting next week!), and we’re both aiming to have our respective fan films ready for a private screening at next year’s San Diego Comic Con. We’ll see if we make it. Even if we don’t, I’m confident that Interlude will be completed and released in 2020. As for Axanar, well, fingers and toes are crossed because I can’t wait to see it!
And the rest…
The above list is just a sampling of what’s in production and/or post-production. But there’s other Star Trek fan films and fan series out there like POTEMKIN PICTURES (now located in Lexington, KY), which is always cranking out new episodes of its various series, STARSHIP ANTYLLUS, and Stunt Doubles. Plus, there are Trek fan productions around the globe in countries like Canada, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, and even Russia (to name a few), along with Trekkers right here in the U.S. working on turning their dreams into YouTube videos.
So no, my friends, Trek fan films are FAR from “dead”…just the opposite, in fact!