SAMUEL COCKINGS is certainly the Speedy Gonzales of Star Trek fan films…assuming Speedy Gonzales is from Great Britain. Sam produces fan films so quickly that I barley cover one release when another two take its place!
Actually, this time it’s three, but this blog deals with only two of them, which I’ll explain shortly. But first, a little background on Sam and his TREK SHORTS fanthology series…
Unlike some fan filmmakers, Sam doesn’t have access to practical (physical) Star Trek sets—which is actually a GOOD thing! Without being locked into a specific era of Star Trek like TOS or TNG/DS9 or Voyager or PRODIGY or PICARD, Sam ends up having access to ALL of them!
Well, Sam is an accomplished CGI master, specializing in animation but also knowing a bit about 3D modeling and having access to a number of skilled 3D modelers. Together, they have managed to create countless digital backgrounds of bridges, transporter rooms, mess halls, shuttles and runabouts, you name it(!) from two centuries of Starfleet history. And all of this along with starships and enemy vessels for spectacular outer space VFX. Watching Sam’s CGI animations is truly like watching fine art!
So all that’s really left for Sam to do is write scripts and film actors against green screens, right? Actually, there’s SO much more that he does, including properly lighting the green screen shots (not easy!), making digital adjustments during post production to levels for both the actors and the digital backgrounds to look seamless and realistic, equalize sound, add music, edit, and a ton of other little things…and still get these fan films out faster than I can cover ’em! Oh, and there’s one other thing that Sam does, and that’s direct. Sam has aligned himself with a number of very skilled actors, adding a wonderful depth and quality to already-high-quality productions.
If you’d like to watch any or all of Sam’s Trek Shorts fan films, you can access them from this YouTube playlist. One of Sam’s most recent projects was the quickly-written-then-filmed-then-edited-then-released FLIGHT OF THE PROTOSTAR, the first-ever Prodigy-era fan film That one I managed to cover, as it was just after Prodigy had been canceled. But three other of Sam’s films haven’t gotten their own blogs yet. I am now going to remedy that for two of them.
The two Trek Shorts in the spotlight today both star MARCUS CHURCHILL, also of Great Britain, who has been appearing in Sam’s Star Trek fan films ever since the 2013 shooting of the green screen footage for TEMPORAL ANOMALY, which was finally completed and released in 2019. Since then, Marcus has reprised his role of Sam Harriman (at different ranks during the character’s career) in a number of other projects for Sam. One of the most recent was FALLEN HEROES, a retelling of the film Star Trek Generations from a “lower decks” perspective. Take a look…
And the most recent release, debuting in late July, was LEGACY OF THE ENTERPRISE B, co-starring another fine actor who works with Sam, ALEXA BROWN…
I’ve been wanting to do an interview with Marcus for years, but this has been a tall order! As a father with young children who works, Marcus isn’t exactly bursting with free time to answer text-based questions. As for getting him on camera for a video interview, same basic problem PLUS the fact that I’m in Los Angeles and he’s a third of the way around the planet in the United Kingdom!
But I finally got my chance a few weeks ago when Marcus had traveled to Sam’s home in Bedfordshire (about 50 miles north of London) from Marcus’ home in Witham (about 50 miles east/northeast of London) for a film shoot. The logistics for the interview were somewhat challenging. The first priority, of course, was getting all of Marcus’ scenes for multiple fan films shot. Most of that happened in the English late morning and early afternoon while I was still blissfully slumbering in Los Angeles. Upon waking, I checked in with Sam to see if they’d accomplished enough to squeeze in a Zoom call interview. Turns out they did.
So, in the very early morning for me and afternoon for them, Marcus and Sam took some time out at the end of their long shooting day to record a brief interview with me via Zoom before Marcus had to head back home. So this video interview will about about a third of the length of my usual discussions with fan filmmakers.
Another complication was that, for some reason we couldn’t figure out, Sam’s audio through Zoom was coming through on my end. Realizing that time was limited, I quickly decided to open up Adobe Audition on my laptop and record the conversion separately from Zoom to edit together later. I won’t get into the extra challenge of trying to match the video of their moving lips to their spoken words, as my audio was perfectly synced but theirs was a teensy bit off. But it’s all for the greater glory of fan films, right?
Anyway, my apologies for both the shortness of interview and the audio quality. This is, after all, a totally volunteer and amateur operation here at Fan Film Factor. I know, it’s hard to believe!
Anyway, Marcus and Sam and I had a brilliant (that’s how the Brits say it) conversation that I am certain you will enjoy…