I love Canada. I’ve been there many times—summer and winter (BRRRR!!!)—and there are two things I can assure you of: the place is absolutely gorgeous and the people are some of the nicest and most courteous I’ve ever met anywhere on the planet.
Over the years, I’ve covered many “international” (as in not-made-in-the-United-States) Star Trek fan films—from England and Scotlnd, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia, and I’ll soon be covering ones from Italy and Russia. And I always found it somewhat odd that I hadn’t yet happened upon a current fan group in Canada…the birthplace of WILLIAM SHATNER and JAMES DOOHAN and the current filming location of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. The closest I got was JOHN ATKIN, who is the co-showrunner of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (due out soon) and lives in Toronto. But most of the production on Yorktown happened in the U.S.
And so it was that I took great interest in an announcement that was posted to Fan Film Forum this past Friday by DARREN HANN…
DHann Productions is pleased to announce its exciting new film project- CAPTAIN GARTH: A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION. Based on the character from the original Star Trek series, CAPTAIN GARTH will follow the highs and lows of Garth’s starfleet career post the Four Years War and prior to the original series episode “Whom Gods Destroy” and aims to give an insightful look at one of the most fascinating and tragic characters within the Star Trek iconography.
CAPTAIN GARTH is being produced in the province of Newfoundland, Canada, and is produced by Darren Hann. The production team includes various members who have brought the geek fandom favourites like STAR TREK: RELIANT (web series) 11 Episodes, STAR WARS: Inner Demons (short film), STARGATE: REPLICATION (short film), and PLAN 9.5 FROM OUTER SPACE (short film) all of which can currently be found on youtube and Vimeo.
As per the Fan Film Guidelines set by Paramount and CBS, CAPTAIN GARTH will consist of two 15 minute episodes, shot with a cast and crew of amateurs, and is self-funded.
Of course, the announcement attracted my attention for another reason beyond the location being Canada’s easternmost province—and that was the use of the “G”-word: Garth. Up until now, in the fan film world, Garth has meant AXANAR—more specifically PRELUDE TO AXANAR, INTERLUDE, and the upcoming Axanar sequels. And Garth has also meant ALEC PETERS. So many folks in the fan film community (including I) were wondering if this new production might be somehow linked to Alec or the Axanar project, or if it was going to be a completely separate story with no tie-ins to the Axanar fan films that have come before.
To get the answers to these and other questions, I reached out to Captain Garth showrunner Darren Hann, who lives in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, just a few short kilometers from the colorful coastal capital city of St. John’s…
JONATHAN – Welcome to Fan Film Factor, Darren, and to the community at large!
DARREN – Thanks, Jonathan.
JONATHAN – Before we dive into your fan project, let’s first get to know you a little better. What do you do for a living, and what’s your level of involvement in sci-fi on a scale of casual to committed to obsessed?
DARREN – I am a business owner. I am the co-founder of Sci-Fi on the Rock, Newfoundland’s premier comic convention in its 14 year operating.
I am the CEO of Atlanticon, which is a comic convention located on the west coast of Newfoundland running 8 years strong.
I am also the host of the television show Pocket Universe, a program on the RogersTV network. Every week on Pocket Universe, I interview local people who have an interest, hobby, business, or passion for all things geeky, nerdy, or just out there.
As for my level of obsession, I’ll let you decide. Here’s a photo of me in my Star Trek collection room…
JONATHAN – Wow!!! I thinkI’ll put you down as a hardcore Trekkie.
DARREN – That sounds about right!
JONATHAN – Do you have any prior experience/training in filmmaking and/or theatrical production?
DARREN – Yes, I have been producing, directing, and writing fan films—along with me own work—for over 20 years…plus producing stage productions. Here’s some of the things I’ve done:
Fan film series
STAR TREK: RELIANT (11 episodes)
Live stage productions
Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog
And there’s more. You can check out my listing on IMDb.
JONATHAN – Okay, so you’re not exactly coming of of nowhere, then! How large of a production will Captain Garth be in terms of number of cast members and production crew?
DARREN – We have about 20 cast and a crew of about 25.
JONATHAN – How did you find and assemble your team?
DARREN – There are a lot of sci-fi fans in general in Newfoundland, and when I say sci-fi, I mean everything from Star Trek, Star Wars , Doctor Who, anime, etc. As happens anywhere, over time you work with a lot of people in the industry, and we all work well together and get along great. So when someone starts a new project and needs, say, a director or a sound person or a costumer, it usually just takes a post or message in a local group and you got the crew you need.
JONATHAN – What skills is your team bringing to the project? Are the actors trained? Is the production crew experienced? Or are they planning to “learn on the job”?
DARREN – A lot of our team has worked in the industry for years and has a mixed amount of experience. Most of our actors are trained, but we do have some that are new to acting and just learning, and we welcome everyone to be a part of our project.
JONATHAN – Will you be playing a lead role like you did in Star Trek: Reliant?
DARREN – No, I am a behind-the-scenes producer/showrunner this time. I will play a very, very tiny background actor…just enough to say I was in it. My love is really producing and filmmaking.
JONATHAN – Will your production be shot on sets, indoors/outdoors on location, on green screen with virtual backgrounds, or some combination?
DARREN – Our production is being filmed mostly on green screen with some practical sets.
JONATHAN – How long do you expect the run-time of the final film to be?
DARREN – As per the fan film guidelines, our film will be divided into two 15-minute episodes which will be available free for everyone to watch on YouTube and other platforms.
JONATHAN – What made you choose to do a fan film about Garth specifically?
DARREN – Actually, Garth was not my first choice for a main character in this Star Trek fan film project.
I wanted to do a fan film based on a background character or guest character from the original series that already had a bit of a backstory or starting point. I looked at and wrote a story about Nurse Chapel and Dr. Roger Korby before he discovered Exo III. I wrote another story about Lt. Kevin Riley and a second attempt on his life but this time made by an escaped Kodos the Executioner. But both stories just didn’t work out the way I wanted.
Then one day, while watching “Whom Gods Destroy,” I noticed that the character of Captain Garth already had a beginning and an end to his story, and that the middle of his story would make a great fan film.
JONATHAN – There’s a lot of established fan film canon (or “fanon,” as I like to call it) when it comes to Garth in Star Trek fan films—thanks to the fan films Prelude to Axanar, Interlude, and the upcoming Axanar sequel fan films. Are you familiar with these productions?
DARREN – Yes, I am familiar with them, and I think they are great and I enjoy watching them. But our Captain Garth is a clean story with no connection to that Garth. And although Axanar and a war was mentioned by Captain Kirk in the episode that we are using as a basis point in our story, we are not making any reference to either in our film for two reasons. First, it is already being covered by the Axanar film, and out of respect to that production, there is no need for us to try to tell a similar story. Second, it is not relevant to our story, as our story is more about the man and his current situation and downfall to becoming an inmate.
Yes, there is a novel written about Captain Garth and a game made by, I believe, the FASA company, but we did not use any of that information at all. I actually sat down one afternoon and wrote out everything that was said in the episode and built our story solely on that information.
If people are expecting a war story in our fan film, they will be disappointed. There is no mention of a war at all in our script, and our character is based solely on events from the TV episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” This is a story that follows a Starfleet captain from greatness and having everything to losing it all in a very short time.
JONATHAN – Alec Peters said on a recent podcast that you’d reached out to him. Can you tell us a little about that?
DARREN – Yes, I reached out to Alec Peters through a friend because I wanted to do what we call here an ARC, which stands for “Artist Respect Chat,” which is when one artist is working on a project and another artist is working on a similar project. The artist will usually let the other person know what they are working on and assure them that what they are doing may be similar in some ways but that they will be essentially completely different. It is also a courtesy to let the other artist know that you are not in competition with them and that you are not looking to steal their thunder, for a lack of a better word.
Here is what I wrote to Alec.
Hello Alec, I have asked [mutual friend’s name] to introduce us out of respect from one producer to another. I wanted to let you know about the fan film that me and my team are currently working on. It is based on Captain Garth leading up to his incarceration, well, well after the FASA universe war, as he is trying to start a new chapter in his life.
As a courtesy, I wanted to let you and your team know so no one would think we are trying to step on anyone’s work or take anyone’s thunder. We think Axanar is great and we wish you guys all the best.
Alec wrote back with a very nice response saying, “Thanks man. It’s a big multiverse and good luck.”
I told him I appreciated his response and wished him and his team good luck in the future.
I did mention the FASA war in my ARC because I wanted him to know that if anyone reading about this is familiar with all the background info out there on Garth that they will put it into perspective and realize that there will be a very, very big gap in our timeline from any war that may have been in Garth’s history up to the start of our story.
JONATHAN – If I may ask, what kind of budget will this fan film require? Are we talking a few hundred, a few thousand, or tens of thousands of dollars or more?
DARREN – Probably the middle one.
JONATHAN – Will you be doing any crowd-funding for this fan film?
DARREN – No, I won’t be doing any crowd-funding. I have always, and always will, finance my own projects, whether it be a film or stage production. In my 20-plus years of making fan films and stage productions, I have never crowd-funded any of my projects. And my reason for this is that I don’t expect anyone else to pay for my hobbies and also because, in my little crazy mind (LOL), if the film or stage production was to be a flop (which some of mine have been in the past, and I have no ego about admitting that), then the people who donated and supported me would be upset and feel that I let them down with their donation money. And I would never want that.
JONATHAN – And finally, how far along in the production are you, and when do you expect to be able to release the completed Captain Garth fan film?
DARREN – All I will say is that we are where we should be with the project at this stage and that we are still on schedule for a June 2022 release date.
JONATHAN – Well, I can’t wait to see what you give to us next summer, Darren. The best of luck to you and Team Garth!
DARREN – Thank you, Jonathan. I really appreciate the opportunity to interview with you.