After five years, PACIFIC 201—Part I finally premieres! (audio interview with ERIC HENRY and MARGARET HERBENER)

It’s been an awesome three months for long-awaited Star Trek fan films! Back in September, the hour-long STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER premiered after being in production and post-production for five years. In October, it was time for THE ROMULAN WAR, which started production back in 2017, to finally release the first of its two-part documentary-style fan film.

And now, on November 13, one of the most eagerly-awaited of all Trek fan films (right up there with AXANAR and YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…the latter of which is scheduled to debut next month), PACIFIC 201 launched the first half of its two-part fan film. Originally crowd-funded with a $26K Kickstarter way back in September of 2015 and a$32K Indiegogo campaign the following year, Pacific 201 was the brainchild of Harrisburg, PA-based showrunner ERIC HENRY.

What makes Pacific 201 so unique and exciting is the time period it covers in Federation history. The year is 2200. It’s four decades after the end of the Romulan War and the founding of the United Federation of Planets, and still more than six decades before the time of Kirk’s five-year-mission. Earth and the Federation are at a crossroads. Those who remember the horrors of the Romulan attacks fear a return to deep space exploration and the risk of provoking new enemies. But a new generation born after the war dreams of returning to a renaissance of exploration and discovery.

This push/pull of paranoia vs. positivity was put on display in one of my all-time favorite fan vignettes, DOWN TO EARTH, which Eric released back in late 2016. In this short film, the first officer of the USS Pacific is grilled by a talk show host who is anything but fair and balanced when it comes to restarting the exploration of space. The following summer, another Pacific 201 short vignette was released, featuring the new captain. (You can watch that here.)

Over the years, Pacific 201 seemed always on the cusp of debuting. Back in 2018, a series of images were released along with a promised premiere date of spring 2019. That didn’t happen. But then earlier this year, a new trailer with some amazing footage promised a release date of August 2020.

Missed it by that much!

But who cares? Part one of Pacific 201 is finally out, and it was totally worth the wait. Take a look…

Pretty awesome, huh?

I set up a phone interview with Eric Henry for a couple of days before the premiere (after getting just a sneak peek of a short 2-minute scene). But when I called, producer and star MARGARET HERBENER was there, as well, finishing up some last minute editing with Eric. She was just about to head out, but I invited her to stay for the interview if she and Eric wanted—and they were both up for it. So two for the price of one, folks!

Take a listen to a FANtastic interview with the writer/director and also with the producer/star of Pacific 201

UPDATE: Pacific 201—Part 2 debuted six weeks later. Click to read more about it and watch the video.

7 thoughts on “After five years, PACIFIC 201—Part I finally premieres! (audio interview with ERIC HENRY and MARGARET HERBENER)”

  1. It amazes me how good these are. If only CBS / Paramount were more supportive to the fan film community (i.e. lose the guidelines). A robust fan film community would grow the entire fan base and make more money for the copyright holders.

    1. To be honest, John, the guidelines are a way for CBS to unofficially sanction fan films. While no one fan film is ever “approved” or “endorsed” by the studio, by not going after fan filmmakers for infringing, CBS is giving most fan films their tacit blessing.

      Are the guidelines too restrictive? Yes, I still think so, but not all of them. Many I can certainly live with, and others are being quietly skirted without much hassle. Even Pacific 201 goes over the 15-minute limit–just not by much. And as Eric said in the interview, CBS probably just wants to see an attempt/intention made to stay within the guidelines. As many have said, they aren’t rules, and breaking them is no guarantee of consequences. It’s simply that following them is an almost-guarantee of no consequences.

      And I daresay that the fan film community is fairly robust. Many fan films are being made and certainly watched. Sure, they’re not getting views in the millions, but Pacific 201 has gotten 12K views in less than 36 hours, the new Axanar trailer has gotten 288K views in two weeks, and Star Trek: First Frontier is over a million views in just two months!

  2. I agree with John Craft. If the major companies would relax their need to control, for money, they would in effect make more money because of the private sectors making films. Not everyone wants to see major block buster movies on the big screen. Those kind of films have to much restrictions and guidelines. The private smaller based film, to me, has better well based stories. Even at times better than those big block buster movies with high paid actors. I will put my bets and money to the private sectors.

    1. “I will put my bets and money to the private sectors.”

      I think you’ve just given the studios’ number one reason for not encouraging or endorsing fan films, Rick. 🙂

  3. Interesting. Dialogue is a bit stilted and the officer at sensor console seems I don’t know a bit lacking but it’s a fan film and kept my interest. I can’t expect perfection.

  4. Another fascinating interview. I’m astounded by the commitment put in to tweaking the final product to get it as good as it can be. Makes me feel guilty that I’ve only watched it once… so far. In my line of work, as a design engineer, we make a prototype, test it, learn and go again. Beyond test screenings, it’s not so easy with films and harder still with fan films. The onus is on getting it right first time.

    On that subject and, on the basis that it never hurts to ask, I don’t suppose there’s any more progress on Interlude you can share? Don’t worry, I’d rather have it right than have it early. Do you first quarter 2021 is still realistic?

    1. Kevin Croxton just finished the music about a week ago, but he still needs to do a few tweaks. However, his mother just had surgery, and there’s some other things going on is his life, so I’m not sure how long it’s going to be until Kevin can do the tweaks. I’ve got three things I’d like him to address (a total of maybe 20 seconds of music), and Victoria had a few notes, as well. We’re trying to get our heads together to present a unified set of instructions to Kevin.

      Aside from that, there’s about three other fairly minor things (well, one of the “minor” things isn’t so minor and is driving Josh crazy), and then it’s off to Mark Edward Lewis for sound-mixing. As for release date, I’m just not gonna promise anything until the darn thing is finished! 🙂

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