I’m extremely troubled about something that happened last week on Facebook, and I’m not sure what to do about it other than bringing it to the attention of my readers.
As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been putting in a fair bit of effort over the past few weeks trying to help encourage donations to the current GoFundMe campaign for the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series. They’re doing pretty well so far, about 18% ($3.6K) of the way to to their $20K goal. If you’d like to give a little sumthin’, by the way, here’s the link:
Now, helping fan productions get the word out for their campaigns is nothing new for me. Over the past three months, I’ve written multiple blogs about SAMUEL COCKINGS’ TREK SHORTS crowd-funder back in May and GARY DAVIS’ campaign for DREADNOUGHT DOMINION in June. Naturally, I’d also want to help out JOSHUA IRWIN with his Avalon GoFundMe…not only because he’s a Star Trek fan filmmaker but because he did an awesome job as DP and editor on my fan film INTERLUDE and because he’s a good friend.
So last week when I posted to Facebook a “progress” graphic like the one at the top of this blog, I shared it with the usual collection of Star Trek and fan film groups on Facebook that I’m a member of. I do this with all Fan Film Factor and related posts to increase visibility, and invariably, I either see an immediate “Your post has been shared with your group” message or, within a few minutes to a few hours, “An admin has approved your post.”
What I don’t usually see is a DECLINE notice like this one…
Now, two things immediately struck me as odd about the note from the admin at the bottom. The first was that a Facebook group called “Star Trek Fan Films & Audio Dramas” was restricting anything related to JJ Trek. There’s almost no Star Trek fan films set in that universe anyway, but why exclude the few that are? I mean, even if you loathe J.J. ABRAMS and the motorcycle he rode in on, why should the “sins of the producer” also be an albatross worn around the neck of a fan filmmaker? (What a wonderful mix of metaphors!)
So I looked at the rules of the group, just to be sure. And lo and behold…
7) No Kelvin universe fan films will be permitted. Nor will discovery based fan films
Gee whiz, people! Granted, the group is run by two fans, BOB PIKE and DOUG FITZ who are very publicly NOT fans of the three most recent Star Trek reboot movies or the new Star TreK: Discovery series. I’m not certain which of the two wrote the note that accompanied the decline of my post, but do know that Doug has tried privately on multiple occasions to convince me that VCBS Star Trek showrunner ALEX KURTZMAN will some be fired and that Discovery is facing imminent cancelation. (Still waiting for both of those developments.)
The second thing that quickly wandered into my brain when the admin posted that Avalon was “related” to JJ Trek was…WTF??? How did they arrive at THAT conclusion? Have they actually watched any Avalon episodes? With the exception of some of the uniforms, Avalon is totally TOS in the look of the sets and starships, the technology, and most importantly, the entire feel of the stories. And if you want to know why the uniforms are a little different, Josh explains in this short video from his first crowd-funding campaign back in 2019…
Maybe the admins really haven’t seen Avalon before. After all, if they didn’t like JJ Trek and saw those uniforms, maybe they figured, “We won’t like this!” and avoided it completely.
So not knowing which admin I was dealing with, I just made a follow-up post with an image of the U.S.S. Excalibur that I sometimes use for blog thumbnails. It certainly looks like a classic TOS Constitution-class…albeit with a blue glow on the nacelles. But it’s certainly NOT the oddly-shaped Enterprise from the reboot franchise.
You can see what I wrote at the top of the following screen cap, and the admin’s response at the bottom…
There is so much wrong here that I’m not even sure where to start. Obviously, I could make the ol’ cliche IDIC argument of “Can’t you embrace what’s different even if you don’t necessarily like it?” But that starship sailed a long time ago for fans like Bob and Doug. The IDIC argument would likely be shot down before the the photon torpedo even got loaded in tube. They passionately hate all things JJ Trek. I get that.
But Avalon ISN’T JJ Trek, folks. In fact, beyond the uniforms, there is nothing even remotely similar to the reboot.
And so rather than arguing IDIC, I’d favor going with the Star Trek credo of exploration and discovery—learning all that you can rather than going off half-cocked. If anything, the latter is what J.J. Abrams’ crew does. They warp the entire fleet off to Vulcan without sending anyone in first to reconnoiter and find out what’s going on. Once on board Nero’s vessel, Kirk literally leaps before he looks. Lather, rinse, and repeat for the two sequels.
So if Bob and Doug really believe in TOS over JJ Trek, shouldn’t they—I don’t know—maybe WATCH one of the Avalon episodes before actually rejecting it sight unseen??? Isn’t that the logical thing to do, Mr. Spock?
And of course, what really sticks in my craw the most is that the group is called “Star Trek Fan Films & Audio Dramas.” Avalon Universe falls under that heading. The group isn’t called “Star Trek Fan Films & Audio Dramas That Don’t Have Anything To Do With JJ Trek Or Discovery!”
As I said earlier, not many fan films even touch on JJ Trek or Discovery, but honestly, why penalize and exclude those that do? Toxic fandom is bad enough without ostracizing a small segment of fan filmmakers who produce something you don’t like. And heck, maybe you would like it if you just gave it a chance.
Now, I understand that it’s technically their Facebook group and they get to make the rules. And I guess I wouldn’t be be quite as incensed if Star Trek Fan Films & Audio Dramas didn’t have 2.7K members. For comparison, Fan Film Forum has 1.7K members. So for me the issue is that rejecting posts about Avalon Universe removes an important source of social media exposure at a very critical time for them, as they try to crowd-fund. You would expect that a group calling itself Star Trek Fan Films & Audio Dramas would want to be as supportive as possible of such efforts. So I find their stubborn close-mindedness both frustrating and extremely disappointing. Shame on them.
I’m not calling for a boycott of the group or anything mean or vindictive like that. So if you’re a member of that group and/or post there regularly, feel free to continue to do so if you wish. But if you’ve read this blog and believe as I do that innocent Star Trek fan films don’t deserve to be excluded from a major Facebook Star Trek fan film group just because the admins have a pet peeve against certain kinds of Star Trek, let them know with a comment.
Sure, they might not approve what you write (I assume they’ll decline me when I try to post this blog to their group). They might even kick me out of the group…and if so, I’ll certainly let you folks know. But if enough members of that group make their feelings known—even through rejected comments and private messages—maybe (just maybe) we can get through to the two admins.