Happy Holidays from KIRK, SPOCK, SULU, NOGURA, et. al. in PEACE AND GOODWILL (interview with DAVID CHENG)

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? This is an interesting question when it comes to Star Trek. The earliest mention of the annual winter holiday was waaaay back in November of 1966 when the ninth episode of TOS, “Dagger of the Mind,” mentioned that Captain Kirk had met Dr. Helen Noel at a Christmas party in the science lab. (Noel / Christmas…get it?) Later on, Picard enters the Nexus in Generations and emerges inside of a Christmas holiday with his “family.”

Throughout the 54-year history of the franchise, Christmas has been sporadically referred to here and there (Memory Alpha has a full list), but as often as not, those were just short, offhand references. Never did we see any starship crew deck the decks with buffers of holos …fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…or put presents under trees in the mess hall or sing Christmas Carols (or Marcuses) over the intercoms. And so fans might indeed wonder if, in the Star Trek universe, do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Now, in a brand new release from STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONAL, we get to see what happens at Starfleet HQ and on a couple of familiar starships on Christmas eve. PEACE AND GOODWILL is the fifth fan film that this group has released, and the fourth this year alone! (You can watch all of their releases here.) The latter four were all produced remotely with the actors recording their lines in separate locations and editing the footage together later—what I have taken to calling “fandemic” films.

This latest production has their largest cast yet, six in total, all of them noted cosplayers with impeccable uniforms/costumes. Led by show-runner and director/editor/co-writer DAVID CHENG as Nogura, the cast also includes MIKE LONGO reprising his role of Jim Kirk, the “German Spock” JENS DOMBEK, KEN HAYASHIDA back for a second appearance as Captain Sulu, BILL VICTOR ARUCAN as Admiral Phil Curry, and LAURA SIRKIL as Ensign Mitsuko Nogura.

It’s a fun little slice of holiday happiness and camaraderie among Starfleet’s top brass, a feel-good “Christmas special” for fan film fans to enjoy during this festive season as 2020 comes to a merciful and (with luck) hopeful end. So please enjoy a little Peace and Goodwill

I reached out to David Cheng with a few short questions…

JONATHAN – When did you first get the idea to do this film, and when did you start working on it?

DAVID – In October of this year, I initially thought of having our production team produce a video Christmas greeting card for fans of Star Trek Fan Productions International. This idea evolved into creating a full blown story centered around the Christmas holidays. Of course, we had to come up with a problem that the characters had to deal with, and it went from there. I quickly came up with a script, which we revised, of course, and we started filming it in November. Viewers who saw our previous film, UNREST, will hopefully catch some references to that film in our new film.

JONATHAN – Did you do anything more ambitious this time out than last time, and how much more challenging was it?

DAVID – The story was a little longer than our last film, Unrest, which ran a little over 7 minutes. Peace and Goodwill ran a total of about 11 minutes 38 seconds. Unrest only involved three characters, whereas this film involved six. In this film, we introduce a totally new character, Ensign Mitsuko Nogura, the daughter of Admiral Nogura, who has just started her career in Starfleet.

We did a lot more VFX and 3D modeling for this film, mostly the work of WAYNE HARDING and KEN HAYASHIDA, who doubled as Captain Sulu. Ken used new software to do the rendering, which took hours and hours to process on his computer. In fact, he ran out of space on his laptop and had to go out and buy an external drive to off-load the data so that he could complete the work! This was Wayne’s and Ken’s second time working together, as they also did the VFX and 3D modeling for Unrest. Mike Longo, who plays Captain Kirk, did more digital background work on this film than he did on the previous one.

We also began to realize that, even though there are limitations to how we can film during this COVID-19 environment, we can use green screen in more creative ways. So, instead of having the characters always seated and talking to their monitors, we shot a scene where Admiral Nogura is walking and standing, as well as another scene where Admiral Curry is standing in Nogura’s office and talking to him. It was challenging and liberating to be able to open up the film more in this way. Because of our increased use of green screen, we were able to incorporate digital backgrounds and moving 3D images in a more extensive manner.

David Cheng as Admiral Nogura

JONATHAN – Any interesting stories about production or post-production?

DAVID – As this was a seasonal film—although I think it can be enjoyed any time of the year—we wanted to make sure we finished it in time for release during the Christmas season. Initially, I wanted to release it on November 29, a few days after Thanksgiving. However, as we approached that date, it became apparent that we were not going to be able to finish it in time, so we had to delay the premiere to December 6, which turned out okay because it was still early in the season. So a we had to do a lot of work during the final week and a half to make sure we could meet that deadline.

Because of the theme of the film, I wanted to specifically find appropriate Christmas style soundtracks. It was fun and interesting to see what was out there and available to use, and I was pretty pleased with what I was able to obtain.

Also, the film was truly an international team effort. While several of us are situated in Southern and Northern California, Jens Dombek, who played Captain Spock, shot his scene in Germany. Wayne Harding did his work from the United Kingdom. It was gratifying to see all of us work well together to complete the project.

JONATHAN – So what’s coming out next from you folks?

DAVID – We have a number of projects planned for 2021. You will see the same characters, as well as some new ones. Mitsuko Nogura will hopefully make some more appearances. We already started shooting for a film entitled Outrage, which will explore the cancel culture. We hope to begin production on a follow-up to THE HUMAN ADVENTURE, called The Human Adventure Continues, which I think will be a very interesting story. A follow-up to Unrest is also in the works that will explore more of what is going on at the planet Novus. There are a few other projects that are in various stages of development. I don’t know if we will be able to complete all of them in 2021, but we will be spending time working on them.

JONATHAN – Awesome. I look forward to seeing what you all come up with!