THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 1)

One of the most unique and intriguing aspects of the fan series THE FEDERATION FILES is that it is a true anthology series. Each new episode features entirely different characters and settings and even eras. We’ve seen Star Trek episodes in the present, the not-too-distant future, the 23rd century, the 24th century, and even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Essentially, these folks can tell any Star Trek or Star Trekkish story that they want to.

And by “these folks,” I mean GLEN WOLFE and his partner DAN REYNOLDS, the co-owners of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. They have a growing collection of TOS set recreations, allowing them to create fan films from that era, but they’ve gone far beyond that both in terms of space and time.

Recently, Glen Wolfe “rescued” (my word) a fan film from several years ago that was partially filmed at Retro Studios in Ticonderoga, NY (before it became the official TOS Set Tour) but never completed. That fan film was STAR TREK: EQUINOX, written by CAMREN T. BURTON and starring GARY LOCKWOOD reprising his role of Gary Mitchell from the TOS episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Star Trek: Voyager “Equinox” two-parter. Glen came in, created a new 24th framing sequence, and finished the ill-fated fan film half a decade later. You can read more about that project here.

Late last year, Glen decided to do an encore with another uncompleted fan film from 2006-2007 called STAR TREK: ORIGINS – “The Wounds of War.” Once again, Glen produced a framing sequence and incorporated filmed elements of the the original footage to create an entirely original production—a new episode of the The Federation Files that he chose to call “FRIENDS AND FOES.” Let’s take a look…

This two-part blog interview was actually a somewhat challenging to put together. Obviously, I had some questions for Glen, as The Federation Files‘ show-runner as well as writer/director of this latest episode. But there was also the writer of the original uncompleted episode (again, the aforementioned Camren T. Burton) plus the executive producer and star of the original fan film, MICHAEL DEMPSEY.

What’s so difficult about interviewing three people? Well, I usually try to interview people together, but this time, it was three separate interviews that I’ve needed to merge into one that flows smoothly. (In other words, I need to make you guys think they were all in the same room or zoom call or email chain together when they really weren’t.) But the other challenge was that Michael’s portion of the interview needed to wait several months because he actually contracted a rather serious case of COVID-19 before I could interview him!

So with that as an intro, let’s get into it…

Glen Wolfe, Michael Dempsey, and Camren T. Burton

JONATHAN – First of all, Michael, how are you feeling? You must have gotten a pretty serious case of the virus.

MICHAEL – I’m finally feeling a lot better…not 100% but a lot better. I had COVID back in the fall of 2020 and was down for about a month before I was able to get back to work. Even after that, I had horrible fatigue, headaches and sinus problems, which caused me to miss work periodically. It wasn’t till my doctor put me on some heavy duty antibiotics and steroids that I was able to kick most of it. I still have the sinus issues, and I have some days where I get run down, but the thing that really bothers me is that I STILL—after almost six months—don’t have my taste or sense of smell back. That’s really difficult to deal with!

JONATHAN – Oh, man, that sucks. I am so sorry that you’re still having those symptoms. So I’m assuming you’d recommend that anyone reading this get vaccinated if they haven’t already?

MICHAEL – The COVID vaccine has been a very controversial issue. I did end up getting mine, but after I got it, I ended up having a reaction to it and got sick all over again. Some people do, some don’t. My mistake was getting it so soon after having COVID. I should have waited longer…probably till this summer sometime. I got the J&J vaccine, if anyone is wondering. My thoughts are—and this is my personal opinion—if the vaccine can help prevent people from contracting COVID, it’s worth getting. I know a lot of folks out there won’t, a lot will. It’s new; people are unsure. This is something we’ve never faced before…and quite frankly, it’s all been pretty damned scary.

JONATHAN – I’ll say! By the way, I got my two shots of Moderna and died a few days later. No, I’m kidding! I did get that “24 hours of hell” after the second shot, but my Advil and I pushed through it, and I’ve been fine ever since.

Okay, on to the regular interview, already in progress. Could you please tell the nice readers a little bit about yourself?

MICHAEL – I’m from right outside Lexington, Kentucky…about 15 minutes north of there in the small town of Paris, Kentucky, where I’m in my 22nd year of law enforcement. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since I can remember. I was very young when I first started watching TOS—probably around seven or so—and I’ve been hooked on it since. I love Trek and scifi in general.

JONATHAN -And moving onto Camren, same question…

CAMREN – Well, Dr. Evil once said: “The details of my life are quite inconsequential.” But as for me, I live in the Tri-Cities in southeast Washington state (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland). I am physically disabled with a number of spinal issues and some other ailments that make it virtually impossible for me to work a regular job. I am therefore virtually focused full time on my writing and artistic projects, when I am not helping out friends with transportation needs (one of my best friends doesn’t drive) or other stuff…or humbly serving the tyrannical demands of my two feline masters.

JONATHAN – Well, speaking of writing, I know that you’ve been a writer of Star Trek fan films going back a VERY long time. How did you first get involved with this crazy and time-consuming hobby of ours?

CAMREN – That’s a bit of a story!  I first found out about the phenomenon when STARSHIP EXETER‘s first episode, “The Savage Empire,” was featured in a Star Trek magazine for its technical prowess in recreating the exact look and feel of the Original Series . It fascinated me that film tech was so rapidly becoming available to regular people on home computers and not just those in Hollywood. I’ve always loved movies, but didn’t really have the equipment, peer support (I live in a predominantly sports-centric area, which can be annoying to a sci-fi geek who’s been hit by nearly every sporting implement you can imagine—I think the only thing that hasn’t hit me is a cricket mallet!), or budget to do anything. 

A few years later, I stumbled across the pilot of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES (“Come What May” may have largely been a testbed, but I found it a lot of fun), and saw that more were coming.  Then I found out about STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER through an article on “,” and was hooked by the series pretty darn quickly.   When I found out about the weekly chats they did at the time, I joined and gained an awesome number of peers, many of whom I still consider great friends.

JONATHAN – And back to you, Michael, when and how did you first get bitten by the fan film bug to make “The Wounds of War”?

MICHAEL – I had been on medical leave after having had surgery due to an injury I received on duty. I had a lot of time to kill and spent much of it either in front of the TV or on the Internet. I somehow came across Star Trek: New Voyages and was amazed that someone had actually done something like that. I watched it over and over and started searching for more and then decided I wanted to do it. So, I guess I have JAMES CAWLEY to blame. [Laughing.]

“The Wounds of War” goes way back…actually, the original fan film was called Star Trek: Origins. I first developed it around 2006 after discovering the world of fan films.

JONATHAN – And how did you two first connect and team up?

CAMREN – It happened shortly after I got involved with a planned fan series called STAR TREK: EXCALIBUR. It was 17 years ago, but I became a staff writer with “Excalibur,” adapting a script from the unproduced 1970s Phase II series (by request), and writing a few others I was quite pleased with. Unfortunately, Excalibur suffered some crucial setbacks from which it never truly recovered. Only a short pre-pilot vignette was produced.

But on the Excalibur forum, I stumbled across mention of another series in preproduction, whose concept fascinated me: Star Trek: Origins.  I began exchanging messages with Mike Dempsey, a Kentucky-based Trekker who conceived the idea. We found we had a good working vibe, and eventually, he named me Head Writer for Origins, and a producer.

MICHAEL – We exchanged emails and discussed Trek, my ideas, his ideas, and he sent me examples of his work—which is excellent by the way—and we went from there. During the development of what we nicknamed “STO,” we added more and more people, added more scripts from other writers, we searched for a CGI person, someone to make costumes, etc. It was a very difficult process, but a lot of fun.

JONATHAN – What did the job of Head Writer entail?

CAMREN – I was evaluating the other writers’ ideas, and often collaborating with them. They’re good people. I’m still in touch with a couple of them, although one dropped out of the production to attend the DAVE school, and I never heard from him again.  A shame, cuz he often made me laugh.

JONATHAN – What was your process for collaborating?

MICHAEL – Camren wrote that script…if I remember correctly, I may have given him a few thoughts and ideas, but he did all the hard work. As I said, we had several scripts or at least several treatments…there was “Wounds of War,” “Aftermath,” and a couple of shorts we had planned out. Cam was there from the beginning.

JONATHAN – So how much of the concept came from Michael and how much was from Camren?

CAMERA – It was initially Mike’s idea, but I had a few ideas to bolster his concept. He was fascinated by the Diane Carey novel Final Frontier and wanted to do something in that vein…but set before it, before Jim Kirk was even born.

So the STO series was going to be set 30 years before the original series, 10 years before the launch of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, and featuring Captain Robert April taking Starfleet forward in its tech development, in the face of growing Klingon aggression, with George Kirk as his XO, Sarah April as CMO, Christopher Pike as a newly minted ensign, Dr. Phlox’s grandson Deyziel (I created that character, and Mike loved the concept), and an ancestor of Beverly Crusher as the com officer.

However, they would be serving aboard a testbed starship, specifically intended to field test new tech and upgrades. which led us to create the Legend-class starship, U.S.S. Yorktown.  It was an exciting project, and I was thrilled to be writing for it. To make things easier, we decided to start small with a number of short episodes to introduce the characters on a more individual basis. This was what led to “Wounds of War.”

JONATHAN – Once you had a script, what happened next? How involved were each of you in pre-production and getting things ready?

Next week in the conclusion, I finally ask Glen Wolfe a question! We also find out why “Wounds of War” was never finished back in 2007, how Glen found out about the project, and what he did to finally complete it. And of course, I ask if there’s any more of these “lost” fan films that Glen is planning to rescue from oblivion.