Beginning in 2015, the world of Star Trek fan films has had its own, exclusive annual awards show…thanks entirely to the exhaustive efforts of ERIC L. WATTS and the panels of judges whom he has assembled each year. It’s a daunting task: keeping track of, viewing, and scoring so many Star Trek fan films. A typical judge might have to devote as many as 10 or 20 hours to what is essentially a volunteer task. And of course, that effort increases exponentially when you get to Eric Watts himself!
The name of this annual competition was changed to the BJO AWARDS in 2018, in honor of BJO TRIMBLE, credited with saving Star Trek from early cancellation in the 1960s by organizing the “great letter-writing campaign.” Bjo was a guest of honor that year and graciously agreed to the name change. And they have been the Bjo Awards each year since.
Well, ALMOST each year since…
Last year, 2020, was—if you can remember that far back—just a little f’d up. (Yeah, I said “f’d”!) The world transformed into an alternate reality of shutting down and shutting in, and like nearly all social gatherings, the annual TREKLANTA convention, where the Bjo Awards are announced, could not safely take place in person. The event went virtual, but without a physical venue to present at and hand out plaques, Eric elected not to hold the Bjo Awards last year.
This year, however, even though Treklanta is still not taking place, Eric has decided to once again resume the Bjos. But what to do about the “missed” year? Traditionally, each year’s Bjo Award nominees are Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year. Fan filmmakers don’t actively “enter” the competition. Instead they automatically qualify if they meet the following requirements…
1) Be a live-action dramatic presentation set in the Star Trek universe, not animated or CGI, or a satire or parody of Star Trek.
2) Have “Based upon Star Trek, Created by Gene Roddenberry” (or similar) in the title sequence, opening credits or closing credits. (This requirement may be waived under certain circumstances and at the sole discretion of Treklanta.)
3) Have been released to the Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) during the previous calendar year.
4) Have an entry on IMDb.com with full cast and crew credits listed.
It’s #3 in the above list that’s the problematic one…
The year is now 2021. That means this year’s Bjo Awards should be honoring Trek fan films that were released in 2020, right? So where does that leave the offspring of 2019, hmmmm? Forgotten? Lost in time? An asterisk in the annals of Star Trek fan films?
One possibility would be to combine the fan films from 2019 and 2020 into ONE competition this year and suspend rule #3 just this once. But that puts a lot of powerhouses into the mix and would likely make it nearly impossible for the “little guys” to even reach finalist status.
So instead, Eric has decided to hold the Bjo Awards this year for all Trek fan films released in calendar year 2019. So even though the competition will take place in 2021, this year’s competition will be the 2020 Bjo Awards.
At some point in the near future, Eric will try to “catch up” and hold an additional Bjo Awards for fan productions released during 2020…hopefully prior to next year’s Bjo Awards for the crop from 2021. Can he squeeze in an extra awards show before the end of next year? We shall see!
This would be a good time to mention that, if you’re an organized and dedicated fan film supporter and would like to give Eric some logistical help, he is actively looking for volunteers. Leave a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll relay that to Eric along with your e-mail.
Speaking of effort, I’d like to mention two things in particular that Eric has put a tremendous amount of time into. The first is finding qualified (and willing!) judges. There’s nearly ten full hours of Star Trek fan films to watch…and that’s assuming a judge watches each one only once and doesn’t go back to review specific performances, VFX, music, etc. But also, Eric doesn’t let just anyone be a judge. Obviously, members of the fan film community need to be excluded because we’ll likely be biassed (even if we think we’re not). And Eric wants judges who know about creating Star Trek professionally, not just casually. As such, this was the criteria he used in his search. Judges must have…
…an established professional credit in the Star Trek franchise (actor, author, artist, writer, director, designer, producer, makeup artist, stunt double… pretty much anything) OR is a Star Trek fan currently working in the television/motion picture industry and does not have any known association with any previous or current fan film.
With ambitious criteria like that, one would think it’d take quite a while to assemble a panel of judges…and it did! Months, in fact. But eventually, Eric recruited a group of 13 individuals ready and willing to judge the fine work of many dozens (hundreds, if you count casts and crews!) of passionate Star Trek fan filmmakers. You can view the full list of this year’s judges and their credentials here on the Treklanta website.
And speaking of pages on the Treklanta website, the other thing I wanted to point out was that Eric recently spent a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up and overhauling the entire Bjo Awards archive of web pages. You can check out his efforts starting on this page, and here’s Eric to tell you exactly what he did to make everything better…
I’ve created a new home page for the awards that contains general and historical information about the awards, including how and why categories were added, deleted or changed through the years as well as eligibility requirements and other information about the awards as a whole. Then, an additional page for each year that includes ONLY information about THAT year’s awards, including all the films included on the ballot with links to the films, their IMDb pages, web sites for the producers, as well as the full list of all finalists and, of course, the winners, plus that year’s panel of judges.
Each year’s page is now, oddly enough, both shorter AND more informative. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! This wasn’t just about reorganizing the information and presenting it all in a more logical manner. There were also corrections, revisions, updates and adding missing information. The first three years didn’t include the finalists; the last three did. Finalists are now included on all pages.
Hyperlinks to many of the earlier films’ web sites had either changed or no longer existed. All those links have been updated. Plus, and what took the most amount of time, was finding and correcting all the many internal inconsistencies that I found from page to page. Some pages had “Best Makeup & Hairstyling,” others had “Best Hairstyling & Makeup”… sometimes on the same page! Some characters names’ were listed in quotes (John Q. Actor as “Ensign Smith”) while others didn’t (John Q. Actor as Ensign Smith). One film production in particular was listed four different ways: Star Trek Natures Hunger, Star Trek: Natures Hunger, Star Trek Nature’s Hunger and Star Trek: Nature’s Hunger. Which was correct? No colon? No apostrophe? One, but not the other? Both? Executive producers were listed for Best Dramatic Presentation in some places, but not others. Even something as minor as the correct order of row colors (black, blue, black or blue, black, blue) was inconsistent.
Yeesh, that’s a LOT of work. But it all looks FANtastic now, so thank you, Eric.
And now, here is a list of the fan films that qualified for the 2020 Bjo Awards (which will be presented soon here in 2021)…