STARSHIP ANTYLLUS questions faith and God in “AS IT IS WRITTEN…” (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN)

Star Trek has never shied away from discussing God and faith and the nature of the universe. Captain Kirk once asked, “What does God need with a starship?” Gene Roddenberry himself often postulated the question “What if God were just a child?” (with characters like Charlie Evans, Trelane, Gary Mitchell, and the irascible Q). TNG had episodes like “Who Watches the Watchers?” Even the animated Star Trek episode “Jihad” took on the subject of religious extremism and holy war.

Star Trek fan films haven’t avoided the subject either. Earlier this year, the TNG-era THE HOLY CORE explored questions of fractured belief and strife. Prior to that, STAR TREK CONTINUES featured the return of the god Apollo in its premiere episode โ€œPilgrim of Eternity.โ€ And POTEMKIN PICTURES has released a whole bunch of fan films that have touched on spirituality and religion, including an early episode of PROJECT: POTEMKIN titled “Archway” where the crew encounters an actual portal to hell.

The said, the topic of God and religion is still somewhat of a rarity in most Trek fan films. So when a fan filmmaker takes the subject on so directly, it’s worth a closer look. And thus, after watching the 13th episode of STARSHIP ANTYLLUS—“As It Is Written…”—I decided to ask writer/director/lead actor GEORGE KAYAIAN about his decision to tackle such a delicate and often controversial subject.

Let’s take a look at the full episode first. It has a very exciting and dramatic final act…

And now, here’s George’s take on the episode’s theme…

I wanted to feature a story that was timely and covered an area that has interested people for a long time now. I wanted to tackle the nature of faith and religion and what it means to those who follow and practice it in their lives. It was important to see all the points of view, and play out how it affects what you do in your life because of it.

The aliens in the episode are divided because some believe and some don’t. This has led to conflict, and when the Federation is called in, they have to somehow help and yet remain neutral to a degree. There is a mysterious, sacred plant that is at the heart of the matter—does it represent God, or is it just an excuse to practice religion? The trick for me was to show both sides. It isn’t about good or bad guys. Both feel they are doing right for their species.

For Captain Allen, he must help while putting his personal feelings aside. I tried to feature him as the one caught in the middle—trying to keep the peace and respect the beliefs of the conflicted aliens at the same time.

Religion is a difficult topic to write about because, no matter your opinion, someone will be offended. But here is where Star Trek shines—the human condition can be examined as a metaphor, and the minefield of the subject navigated, because using aliens provides a buffer that the audience can safely react to. I believe enough in the intelligence of my audience that they will see the story and get the point, without feeling judged because it’s framed in a science fiction setting.

So far, I’ve been very happy with the response to the episode! A lot of hard work went into it, and it’s nice when it’s appreciated.

I also asked George about how many more Antyllus episodes are left, as he’s previously mentioned that he does have a series finale planned…

As far as how many Antyllus episodes are left—that is hard to say. Lately, new ideas have been popping into my head, so it’s just a guess how many more there are. The overall story is written and mostly filmed, but if I stopped now, they’ll be twenty episodes in total. That still may be the case.

For me, it’s all about what I want to say with these characters. If there are points to be made, then it’s now or never, as they say. I don’t want to let anybody down—or end it too quickly. I love my fans, and I love doing this. Let’s put it this way: you’ll be the first to know when I male up my mind, Jonathan!

Thanks so much, my friend, for keeping my series alive to so many! You rock!

You rock, too, George. Keep up the FANtastic work!

19 thoughts on “STARSHIP ANTYLLUS questions faith and God in “AS IT IS WRITTEN…” (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN)”

  1. Wait… what about “The Guidelines”? I’ll watch the episode shortly, but can’t help but wonder how there can be so many… and well over 30 minutes!

      1. They get SUED… right? Or at minimum, a Cease & Desist letter from CBS/P? It sure would be nice to see NOTHING happen, and fan films can return to doing shows like they were doing BEFORE those “Guidelines”.

        1. You are incorrect.

          Read the following quote from the guidelines very carefully…

          “CBS and Paramount Pictures will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional and amateur and meet the following guidelines.”

          Now, take moment and think deeply, and then answer the following question:

          Does it say anywhere that a fan film that does NOT meet the guidelines WILL be sued or, at minimum, sent a cease and desist letter?

          1. So anything like Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, etc, are too professional… and MUST abide by the guidelines? I must admit, I’m quite confused. :/

          2. Well, now you’ve confused me, Willie.

            The simple answer is that the guidelines are just that: guidelines. They are not rules or laws. Break one or two or even all ten, and you MIGHT get sued. Or you might not. All CBS and Paramount are saying is that if you follow ALL of the guidelines, you will NOT get sued. As to what happens if you decide to break a few guidelines, that’s entirely up to the studios. So far, in the case of nearly every fan film released since the guidelines, that has meant nothing happening. Only one fan production was contacted (Samuel Cockings of “Temporal Anomaly,”) and he was able to come to a compromise agreement that allowed him to go over the time limit but not use pre-existing footage from the TNG movies or pre-existing Trek music. Aside from that–even when STC violated multiple guidelines on four consecutive occasions (paying salaries, using veteran Trek actors qnd other professionals, exceeding the time limit, having Star Trek in the title)–CBS and Paramount chose to do nothing.

            Go figure.

          3. My understanding of how STC was able to finish, was because they had already raised a significant mount of money for their series BEFORE the Guidelines were released, and were given permission to “Complete the Mission” by TPTB, and so they did. Amazingly so. ๐Ÿ™‚

            New Voyages APPEARED to simply “implode” the moment the Guidelines came out, and instead, licensed their amazing sets as a “Tour” site, and have found success there. I would have liked to see their final episode(s?) released… but alas.

            As a fan of ALMOST everything Trek, discovering quality fan films was like a GIFT that kept giving. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Even now, i still discover some that, while the production values cannot match STC and NV, they tell some great stories… and I can easily look past the much lower budget production, to just ENJOY some NEW Star Trek! ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I am NOT a fan of DSC, I’ll just leave it at that.) ๐Ÿ™‚

            I hope that there WILL BE some more good fan films that “bend” the Guidelines a little, and are allowed to keep going! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Thanks for this blog. I enjoy reading it! ๐Ÿ™‚


          4. The details of how STC managed to skirt the guidelines for their final four episodes have never been revealed, but most fans suspect that your hypothesis is correct. Also, CBS was, by that point, much more interested in a smooth rollout of Discovery. The lawsuit against Axanar backfired in the worst way for CBS, as the case went on for eleven and a half months longer than CBS general counsel Jonathan Anschel ever thought it would…and the final result was not the deathblow to Alec Peters that they’d originally hoped for. Even worse, the media coverage along the way was never a net positive for CBS, as most of the coverage of Discovery leading up to the launch mentioned that CBS was still suing its fans. So my suspicion is that CBS chose to look the other way with STC, even though doing so undermined any future legal arguments that Trek fan films were potentially damaging to their franchise. (If they’re so harmful financially, then why allow for one of the most blatant violators?) So CBS just “let it go.” Personally, I’m glad that STC was able to finish and release so many episodes even post guidelines.

            As for New Voyages, James Cawley had one foot out the fan film door long before the guidelines ever came out. He’d announced his “retirement” from fan films multiple times before mid-2016, and most reports were that he just wasn’t enjoying the experience anymore and hadn’t been for a while. The challenge with Star Trek fan films is, if you want to do them at a certain level of quality, you need to plan things out very carefully (not do things by the seat of your pants), and–even harder!–let go of being in total control of everything. There’s too many tasks going on simultaneously for one person to be a micro-manager. Unfortunately, NV ran into both of those hurdles somewhat often. It wasn’t as big of a problem at the beginning, but as aspirations and expectations got bigger on both sides of the YouTube channel, challenges were taken on that proved beyond successful completion. That’s one of the reasons three episodes remain unfinished.

            But beyond those fan series and Axanar and Renegades, the super-high quality Trek fan films simply didn’t exist. Even Horizon, while excellent, was still limited in scope to what could be shot in front of a green screen. The others all used sets in some way (although Axanar was planning for sets going forward).

            Axanar is, of course, still happening, and similar projects like Interlude are still possible (at least, I hope they are!). ๐Ÿ™‚

            Renegades, I’m sorry to say, just didn’t have the staying power. While the stuff produced is impressive, they always seemed to be aiming higher than they could pull off. Even now, the new “un-Trek” series is still mired in a state of almost perpetual pre-production. I wish them well, of course, but I just don’t think there’s any gas in that engine at the moment. I hope I’m wrong.

            But other than that, the vast majority of fan films were always done at a more modest level. STC, NV, Axanar, Renegades…those were always the rare exceptions. But other fan films can still be very, very good!

          5. Thinking of VERY, VERY good… I just watched the “Galactic battles” multi Sci Fi universe crossover… and it was AMAZING! ๐Ÿ˜€ Then i watched their “How we did it” video… and was even MORE blown away! THEY DID **EVERYTHING** with green screen!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Knock me over with a feather! I could have sworn they were ON SETS making those scenes… but no! That was some AMAZINGLY GOOD green screen work, for sure! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Not everyone can do that, of course, which is why I will look past some lesser quality, and just enjoy the stories. ๐Ÿ™‚ It also amazes me just how good some stories and productions can be, on shoestring budgets! ๐Ÿ™‚ This recent one with the “Ahd-Blah” (if I am EVEN spelling it right) was a great story, and I enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I liked the portrayal of the plant’s caretaker character. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thank you very much, Randy. As a longtime fan of your various shows, it’s indeed an honor for you to say such kind remarks. It’s appreciated very deeply. Happy Holiday season to you and your family!

  3. George is what a true gentleman is in fan films. Non judgmental and just an honest guy. His stories are always thoughtful and you can tell he puts his all into them.
    Living legend doesn’t begin to define him

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