THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 2)

Last time, we began looking at a Star Trek fan film from 2007 that had been partially filmed but was never completed. Titled STAR TREK: ORIGINS – “THE WOUNDS OF WAR,” the script was written by CAMREN T. BURTON and produced by MICHAEL DEMPSEY, who also starred as a young George Kirk serving on a starship commanded by Robert April, 30 years before the original series.

In 2020, GLEN WOLFE of the Star Trek anthology fan series THE FEDERATION FILES, decided to “rescue” this unfinished fan film, create a framing story around it, and release the completed production as an original anthology episode titled “FRIENDS AND FOES.” Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet…

We began the three-person interview focusing initially on Michael, who lives in the Lexington, Kentucky area, and Camren, who lives in the Tri-Cities region in southeast Washington state. They discussed their backgrounds, how they first teamed up, and the early evolution of the project. I hadn’t yet gotten to Glen, who lives in northeastern Arkansas, but I’lll be rectifying that shortly.

First, however, let’s dive back into 2006-2007 and learn more about how Michael and Camren prepared to get this production ready for filming…


Glen Wolfe, Michael Dempsey, and Camren T. Burton

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

CAMREN – As it turned out, being more than halfway across the country from everything severely constrained my ability to contribute to the project…beyond creativity.  I reviewed audition tapes with Mike, and we did agree on casting. (Mike was going to be playing George Kirk, long before CHIRS HEMSWORTH!) I particularly remember loving JAMES BUTTERFIELD’s audition as Deyziel because he nailed JOHN BILLINGSLEY’s vocal mannerisms for Phlox, and it was like looking at a younger Denobulan in human disguise. Mike found talented locals in his area with costumes, and we had a few enthusiastic fans around the country contribute with making props.

JONATHAN – Was it easy or hard finding people to be a part of the production?

MICHAEL – I had a very small group of people who were part of that team, and they were all great to work with. But it was hard to pull people in for this. For some reason, there wasn’t much local interest in doing a Star Trek production around here—I really don’t know why. We have a huge independent film base in Kentucky, but I had a really difficult time getting people to join us…even casting roles for it was really difficult. There was just no interest.

JONATHAN – Eventually, though, you had your cast and crew in place. Did production go fairly smoothly?

MICHAEL – The production process was long, drawn out, and rough. We did many, many shoots, and the outdoor scenes were at a nature preserve way out in the middle of nowhere about an hour away. We even filmed some scenes in an unused room at a hospital a couple counties away! That was thanks to the head honcho there being a big Trek fan, and we thanked him by writing him into one of the scenes.

JONATHAN – As executive producer and one of the actors, what was production like for you, Michael?

MICHAEL – Oh man, I did a little of everything…from the very start. If  I wasn’t in front of the camera, I was behind it or holding the boom. I also did pretty much all of the video editing…what I didn’t know how to do, I found someone who could.

JONATHAN – So what happened to prevent “The Wounds of War” from being completed?

MICHAEL – It was largely finished, but there was a lot of post-production to do on it. We had some pick-up shots I wanted to film, but that never happened. I wasn’t able to “get the band back together,” as it were. Then of course, there was the financial aspect of it, not to mention just life in general. The more time that passed, the more difficult it became to pull it back together. Then, when it was evident that we weren’t going to get it started back up, I just made the decision to let it go, and the whole thing has just sat in my old computer all these years.

CAMREN – I should also mention that the Star Trek reboot came out in 2009, and according to what we heard, Paramount and Bad Robot would get litigious against any fan productions involving material from that movie.  This all but killed Origins, as the Kelvin flatly crushed our plan.

JONATHAN – And now—finally!—a question for Glen. How did you learn about Star Trek: Origins – “The Wounds of War” in the first place, and what made you want to turn it into a Federation Files episode?

GLEN – I had been aware of “Wounds of War” since it began shooting years ago. At one point, I bought a lot of their props when the film folded. I reached out to all of the stalled fan films that I was aware of while we were working on “Equinox.” I had the idea to put lost footage on the monitors in the Gateway station. That way, we could give a nod to the producers and actors who were unable to complete their project.

JONATHAN – How did you track down all of those fan film producers?

GLEN – I located the producers/writers through various internet sources like YouTube, Facebook and IMDB. I basically told them that I was a producer of The Federation Files (so they could look it up if they wanted) and explained that I was making a reclamation episode and would like to include any clips from their project as a tribute. Nearly all of the people I contacted replied and were eager to co-operate.

JONATHAN – What made you decide to chose “Wounds of War” as your next “reclamation episode”?

GLEN – When Michael started sending me the footage, I realized that there was enough there to make a complete story—I just needed a little “glue” to stick the fragmented parts together. So I wrote the “filler” story and shot it in a couple weekends.

JONATHAN – What was your reaction, Michael and Camren, when Glen told you what he wanted to do?

MICHAEL – I was ecstatic! I was very excited and happy at the thought of it finally seeing the light of day.

CAMREN – I wasn’t contacted, but I really liked the approach Glen took, basing “Wounds of War” around the admission of Betazed to the Federation.  “Equinox,” I must admit, I have semi-mixed feelings about, but it was great to see the footage I wrote used and released at last though.

JONATHAN – Well, Camren just answered his half of my next question, so this one’s for Michael. Did you and Glen work collaboratively to turn “Wounds of War” into “Friends and Foes,” or did you just kinda hand everything off to Glen and let him run with it?

MICHAEL – I just handed it all off to Glen and let him run with it. I sent him as much as I could find and answered any questions he had about the footage.  He kept me updated along the way, and I would send him anything else he needed (if I could find it).

JONATHAN – Glen, what did you need to do in order to finish this film? Was shooting during the pandemic an issue at all?

GLEN – We shot the “new footage” over a couple different weekends. Basically one afternoon at the studio, one day at a local eatery in Harrison, and one day on the river in Harrison. The restaurant shoot was prior to COVID, so no issues. The Challenger shoot was one person (Kelly’s daughter), and the planet shoot was just two actors who know each other in everyday life. So once again, no COVID concerns

As it happens, the biggest challenge was making the uniform for the stand-in used for Michael in a couple added scenes. I also had to make the “found” items for the characters to get there mental impressions from.

JONATHAN – So, Michael, what do you think of the way it all came out?

MICHAEL – When I saw the finished product, I had a huge smile on my face, I let out a very loud “WOOOOOO!!” and then there was the giddy, uncontrollable “laughing like a little school girl” part of things that caused my cats to run out of the room. It was awesome to see it, and the way it was put together with a new story was just fantastic. It amazed me to see something that was filmed over 10 years ago, combined with new footage and finally released after all this time. Loved it!

JONATHAN – Do you think you’ll ever be making or involved in making other Trek fan films in the future?

MICHAEL – I can definitely say I’ll be involved in another Trek fan film. I won’t be involved the MAKING of one, but appearing in one…absolutely. I’ll even go so far to say that I still have so much footage that was shot from all those years ago, it’s very possible another story could be made if someone (Glen) wanted to work on it.

JONATHAN – How about you, Camren? Are there any other fan films in your future?

CAMREN – Well, there is the fan audio series I had helped start, which was telling the backstory of what happened to the U.S.S. Equinox in the Delta Quadrant. The filming project with John Savage and Eric Nyenhuis caused production on that to be suspended, and then after the filming project, I lost my wife, who was one of our cast.  It was well over a year before I could even stand to look at Trek again.  Since then, my partner on the audio, Charlie Rea, has expressed a desire to resume production, and I’m willing, but a great deal of my time is taken by other demands. For someone without a regular job, I keep quite busy.  The other fact around the Equinox audio series is that we need an audio engineer with time to spare for the project, and after all this time, I have no idea if the cast will be willing to come back…although I admit, it might be something fun they can do safely with the pandemic.

I did recently collaborate with Rob Caves and the rest of the Hidden Frontier writing staff about his upcoming sequel series to where they previously left off, and was able to add some hopefully useful elements. When that will be filmed, I honestly don’t know, courtesy of the pandemic.

As for scripts and projects, these days I am mainly working on my original novel series, and am working with Pearson Media for prepping a potential movie project based off the first book in the series. Rather than spend a long time discussing my book here though, I will instead give you the link to an interview I did on “This Week in America with Ric Bratton” about the book. The audio book is available on the publisher’s website, www.iuniverse.com, if anyone wants to hear it after they watch the interview.

JONATHAN – Wow, that IS pretty busy, Camren! Okay, Glen, let’s finish up with you. What’s coming down the, er, pike on The Federation Files? Any more “reclamation episodes” in the works?

GLEN – No, I don’t have any more unfinished films in the works right now, but I have received some more lost footage from other projects after the release of “Equinox.” I am open to doing more salvage projects if the opportunity presents itself.

As for what else we’ve got coming out, since “Friends and Foes,” we have released “Mask” and are completing “Doppelganger.” After that we have an episode involving the Botany Bay, another Brown and Oakley episode, and a Pike-era adventure. Further out, we have a Mirror episode and are writing another Mudd story.

JONATHAN – Well, I’m glad to know that The Federation Files is continuing to boldly go! Thanks for the interview, guys.

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