STARSHIP FARRAGUT’s finale “HOMECOMING” is coming along… (interview with STEVE SEMMEL)

Starting in 2005, Starship Farragut began releasing a series of nearly a dozen high-quality fan productions—including full length episodes, vignettes, and even two animated projects (featuring voice-overs by TIM RUSS (not playing Tuvok from Voyager) and CHASE MASTERSON (not playing Leeta from Deep Space 9). Along the way, they constructed an extensive TOS set recreation that was eventually shared with, and later sold to, VIC MIGNOGNA of STAR TREK CONTINUES. (Read the full and fascinating history of Starship Farragut here.)

At the end of 2014, Farragut Films decided to transition themselves ino the first full-budget, set-based regular fan series to be set in the Trek movie era.  The actors had aged a decade since the earliest episodes of Starship Farragut, so jumping the series forward seemed logical. In fact, the new series was to be called Farragut Forward. But it never came to be. Instead, at the end of 2015, the group crowd-funded a series finale episode called “Homecoming,” and raised $15,787 from 207 donors on Kickstarter.

Things seemed to be going smoothly on “Homecoming.” Filming took place in early 2016 with some outdoor reshoots being completed in June of that year, according to donor updates. In early 2017, donors were treated to a two-minute teaser-trailer with an unexpected cameo by Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE (who passed away in November 2018). The trailer looked promising…

But after an October 2017 update from show-runner and lead actor JOHN BROUGTON saying that post production was about 50% completed, two and a half years went by without any further updates to donors or new trailers or news of any kind.

That changed this past April when a new update was sent to Farragut donors by STEVE SEMMEL. Steve came on board the project last September to help compose the score, and he had some good news. Steve would be taking on the title and duties of Post-Production Supervisor, and along with Special Effects Supervisor KEN THOMSON, Film Editor JAYN PENNINGTON, and Music Scorer CARL HAYES, there would now be a concerted effort to bring “Homecoming” to completion (and to YouTube) in 2021.

Naturally, I was curious to learn more—not just about the status of the project itself but about Steve, how he came to be involved with the project, how he got the “promotion” from Composer to Post-Production Supervisor, and what tasks he and others will be doing to bring “Homecoming” home…

JONATHAN – Welcome to Fan Film Factor, Steve. I’m glad to hear that “Homecoming” is going to be happening after all. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Steve Semmel models the new tie-dye department tunic!

STEVE – I’m a full-time software engineer. I’ve worked in several industries in my career, including four major financial institutions, one of which is my current gig. I graduated SUNY-Binghamton (now Binghamton University) in 1990 with a degree in computer science and a non-degreed minor in music and musical theater. I played in several orchestras, shows, bands, jazz ensembles on saxophone and various other instruments, and I was the musical director of a couple of shows for a college volunteer non-credit student-run theater group, actually making me uniquely qualified for Star Trek fan films. 

JONATHAN – Wow, “a college volunteer non-credit student-run theater group”—that’s a LOT of nouns and verbs turned into adjectives! Obviously, you’ve got some musical chops, Steve.  Have you done composing for films or fan films before?  

STEVE – No, never. 

JONATHAN – Have you done any post-production previously? 

STEVE – I’ve never worked in television or films ever before, but I produced my own jazz album in 2001.

JONATHAN – Oh, that’s cool! Now, you came on board Farragut pretty recently (last September).  How did you initially get involved with it? 

STEVE – I discovered Starship Farragut and Star Trek fan films completely out of the blue in June of 2018 when I got a smart TV in my living room for the first time in my life and discovered you could watch Youtube videos on TV! How cool is that?

I had already just started to watch some of the STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes through Facebook links from my teens-friend ANDY FARBER, who I had discovered did the music for STC. Through that, I had found links to Starship Farragut and STARSHIP EXETER, and then I further learned that Star Trek Continues was an offshoot of Starship Farragut!

Anyway, at this point I think that Starship Farragut is the greatest thing ever in the universe since sliced bread, an original Trek spin-off with a new crew and new adventures in another authentic TOS ship…oh, and with original music and a new theme song! How cool is that?

Well, then I visited the studio in Kingsland, GA and met MICHAEL BEDNAR, and then I reached out to John Broughton and volunteered to help him finish his last episode technically, musically, or whatever way I could.

JONATHAN – Four years of post-production isn’t unheard of in fan films.  You’re in excellent company: TEMPORAL ANOMALY, PACIFIC 201, FIRST FRONTIER, even some episodes of INTREPID

STEVE – Hey! Don’t forget Starship Exeter: “The Tressaurian Intersection”—10 years post production!

JONATHAN – Another great example! I’ve actually got a blog explaining why it took the Exeter folks so long to finish.

So what happened with “Homecoming” to stretch things out so much after production wrapped back in 2016? 

STEVE – I’m still trying to piece together the chain of events that occurred in 2016, but I can tell you that several of the previous volunteers all dropped out at once for multiple different reasons, and for three years no one was working on this project or doing anything with it at all. What I’ve learned so far about how that gap happened is a very long and complicated story that I don’t really wish to invest any more time into trying to figure out.

JONATHAN – Fair enough. Now in February, you went from Composer to Post-Production Supervisor.  What led to that “promotion”? 

STEVE – I think I just pestered John Broughton so much that he had absolutely no other choice than to offer me the job. Oh, and since then, he’s promoted me again to Executive Producer.

JONATHAN – Well, congratulations again! Now, I kinda know what an Executive Producer does (since I’m doing it myself at present on INTERLUDE)…and that’s pretty much everything that nobody else wants to do. But what does a Post-Production Supervisor do? 

STEVE – I was still trying to figure out what a Post-Production Supervisor did before I got promoted to Executive Producer. I suppose if you look at it from Ken Thomson, Jay Pennington, Carl Hayes, PAUL SIEBER, and John Broughton’s perspective, the answer would most probably be: a Post-Production Supervisor bugs everybody a lot about everything all the time. Yes, that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

JONATHAN – Don’t tell anyone, but that’s kinda what an Executive Producer does, too.

Okay, at this point, how much of “Homecoming” is finished?

STEVE – As of this moment—June 28, 2020—the VFX are done through the Teaser. The music is done for the Teaser, Act One, and the first three scenes of Act Two. 

JONATHAN – And what do you still have to do? 

STEVE – VFX for Acts One through Four, and music for the remainder of Act Two through Act Four. 

JONATHAN – Who is doing what? 

STEVE – The music for Acts Two and Three – me, the music for Act Four – Carl, the VFX is Ken, and the editing is Jay.

The late and legendary Marvel Comics founder STAN LEE makes a cameo in the FARRAGUT finale “Homecoming.”

JONATHAN – What are the biggest challenges you’re facing right now in getting “Homecoming” completed? 

STEVE – This is a side job for everybody here…including me. There used to be a time in Starship Farragut history where the post-production volunteers were somehow able to work on this like this was their full-time job and devote months to it straight without anything else on their plate. Go figure, right? Like, how’s that even possible?!?

Well, regardless of trying to figure that out, I can tell you that we don’t have that here anymore. My current major financial institution gig from Question 1 is my secondary responsibility. My primary is my family, and hobbies like Starship Farragut fall after that. All the other guys I mentioned above, similar stories.

JONATHAN – Well, that kinda leads into my second-to-last question. You announced that you’re expecting a premiere sometime in 2021.  Do you know yet if it’ll be in the first or second half of the year?

STEVE – Oh heck, second half most definitely! Holidays most likely. Anything sooner would be a Scotty miracle, and that’s another ship.

JONATHAN – And finally, now that you’re a part of the world of Star Trek fan film creation, do you think you’ll want to work on any more in the future? 

STEVE – Well, I’ve already written an original theme for Kenneth Thomson’s STARSHIP SALADIN. Does that answer the question?

JONATHAN – That it does, Steve. Well, again, I’m glad to hear that work is once again progressing on the Farragut finale! I appreciate you taking the time to give us the latest news.

STEVE – Thanks for the questions, Jonathan, and I’ll talk to you all again for our next update. Peace, music and LLAP!

2 thoughts on “STARSHIP FARRAGUT’s finale “HOMECOMING” is coming along… (interview with STEVE SEMMEL)”

  1. Very cool and a shame, as well.
    Farragut was fun series and you could tell it was done with a lot of Trek love.
    Sucks when real life gets in the way of life’s passion, though.

    1. Don’t let what’s gone distract you from what you do have…and that’s nearly a dozen quality fan films from this group over a decade. That’s a fine achievement!

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