Four TREK SHORTS in three blogs – Blog #2: FIRST MEETING (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

Last time, in an attempt to catch up with fan films’ answer to The Flash, SAMUEL COCKINGS—who has premiered EIGHT different (and very impressive!) releases of his TREK SHORTS fanthology series already this year—I published the first of three consecutive blogs to cover four of his recent fan film offerings. Here are links to the blogs for Sam’s 2023 releases that I’ve already spotlighted…

The most recent blog covered Broken Reality, the first part of a trilogy of Star Trek/Stargate crossover fan films from Sam. That release (from May) starred EMMA THORNE as Ensign Laura Reed, MATT MILLER as Ensign Stuart, and RHEA KHEEHN as the Starfleet Computer.

Today Sam and I will be discussing First Meeting, which was released in late August and stars, once again, Emma Thorne as Ensign Reed encountering for the first time NIMRAN SAUND as Lieutenant Anna Keeley. Also appearing in the film is Sam’s father, STEVEN COCKINGS, as the TOS-era Lieutenant Lee Galloway (along with some random Romans). Before we continue our interview with Sam, let’s take a look at First Meeting

And now, here’s Sam…

JONATHAN – So how did First Meeting come to be?

SAM – Because Nimran only comes down maybe 3 or 4 times a year because she lives so far away, I like to shoot as much footage as I can during the two days that she’s here (she always comes down on a Friday night and stays through a full weekend). We also had Emma down here one of those days, as we were doing reshoots for our upcoming V’Ger fan film. I knew going into the weekend that there’d be about three hours available before Nim had to leave, and because I like to utilize every minute that we have, I decide d to write a new fan film.

And because I knew we’d also have Emma, I figured the film could tell the story of the first meeting of those two characters—characters we see grow and change and evolve in other films as we traces their careers. And this also provided the chance

Samuel Cockings

We also hadn’t released Dad’s film, This Side of Morality, that long before the shoot, and a lot of subscribers to TREKYARDS had said it was really nice seeing my father as a TOS character, Lt. Galloway. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to include all three of them?”

And then I thought we could set it aboard the U.S.S. Horizon, which is totally underused in my films despite being my original design along with RICK STERNBACH. You’d think I’d use it all the time, but I don’t.

JONATHAN – Wait! Time out! You designed an original Starfleet ship along with Rick Sternbach? THE Rick Sternbach who worked on Star Trek for decades and designed the Voyager and countless other Starfleet, Klingon, Cardassian, and I can’t even begin to name all the stuff he created for Star Trek??? THAT Rick Sternbach???

SAM – Yep, me and Rick…legendary designer whom I’ve admired for even longer than I knew that he was a designer. I’ve seen his sketches since I was very young. But I’ve known him now for years from Trekyards, so I got him to agree to design a ship with me. And it was one of the highlights of my career.

The gorgeous U.S.S. Horizon, co-designed by Sam Cockings and Rick Sternbach!

We co-designed the ship together. I came up with the basic shapes. He did a full detailed pass. He fixed all the problems. He detailed it with future ideas, we modeled it, he tweaked a bit more, and it looked super-authentic because, unlike a lot of the new Trek ships where they just kinda design anything they want to, Rick is very much the inventor of all of these elements (or in some cases, the co-inventor along with ANDREW PROBERT).

So Rick was able to go through his checklist: “Well, of course it has transporter emitters, and phaser strips, and ancillary thrusters, and big windows and small windows…” And so all of the things that fan designers tend to miss, he had them all and reinvented some wheels and kept it similar.

JONATHAN – Well, that’s really awesome! I had no idea you’d co-designed it with Rick Sternbach, and it IS a very spiffy-looking ship.

SAM – Thanks, Jonathan. I am super-proud of it. It’s a really, really nice ship that we will eventually see more of, just not as much so far.

JONATHAN – Okay, so back to the script you wrote. You were saying how you thought it would be fun to tell the story of the first meeting of these two strong female characters…

SAM – Yeah, that was a fun aspect of creating this film because we had just seen Emma in early/mid-TNG era, and now she’s in a First Contact uniform. She looks the same, and she still seems so innocent and nervous. So that brings up a whole bunch of questions. And even Keeley, when she hears the name Laura Reed, she says, “You’re the one…” And Emma says, “Yes, I’m that Ensign Reed.” And Keeley says she’s sorry about what happened to her.

So obviously something has happened, and that was a nice way of jumping forward a significant amount of time and tease what happened. And it’s fun to internally tease future stories…which, technically, took place in the past from this episode’s perspective.

JONATHAN – So they are going to have previously taken place at some point in the future in the past. I think that’s the future pluperfect past subjunctive conditional tense.

SAM – Yeah, something like that! LOL. Anyway, if I know all the journeys of all the characters, then I can incorporate those journeys in various films when relevant. And if you eventually watch them all in chronological order (as opposed to release order), then you will see the evolution of these themes go on.

Nimran Saund as Lt. Anna Keeley

For example, this episode has Keeley being happy, which I know how important that is to her. And there’s Reed being positive, which won’t always be the case. And in fact, my favorite comment about the film was, “These two people are going to be great friends. I can’t wait to see their journey.” And then NICK COOK, who knows some of what’s coming because he’s filmed with them, replied to that person’s comment with a “Yeah……”

So we all know what’s coming, so this kind of audience reaction is really satisfying for us. And the two actresses had fun playing this scene because they know it’s off-type for them.

JONATHAN – Let’s shift over to your dad, who has now appeared in three of your Trek Shorts fan films, 2021’s A LONG WAY FROM HOME (as a holodeck Roman soldier), 2023’s This Side of Morality (as a Starfleet officer AND a bunch of Romans), and this latest First Meeting (as a holodeck Starfleet officer AND a bunch of Romans).

Sam’s dad Steven Cockings as Science Officer Lee Galloway

SAM – Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but this film actually allowed me to accidentally fix my own canon issue. In A Long Way from Home, Keeley is fighting Dad the Roman…because that was a COVID film, we had the props and costumes, that was the fun idea. But then Dad wanted a Roman film (because he’s very into Roman history and reenactments), so I made him a TOS Roman film where he accidentally spawns 500 clones of himself and creates a famous incident called the Galloway Conundrum. Now in First Meeting, Keeley is dealing with Galloway, and Ensign Reed knows about the Galloway Conundrum. What does this tell you about Keeley? She obviously likes Romans and is actually doing the holodeck program of the Galloway Conundrum which actually leads to A Long Way from Home where’s she’s fighting a Roman from the Galloway planet!

So I’ve now managed to successfully connect the first Trek Shorts film to this later Trek Shorts film explaining why Dad’s face looks like TOS guy and Roman guy…and also the guy who Emma knows, who will appear in her next film. So how cool is that? I get to retcon my own logic and make it make sense!

JONATHAN – As you say in British: brilliant!

SAM – It just happened to come together; I didn’t plan it. But just having dad in the film allowed it to happen. Because I don’t want there to be plot-holes. I’m trying to make everything in my fan films fit logically and connectively and improvingly, if that’s a word. So that was a really nice way of squaring that circle…and allowing you to see Nemesis-era meets TOS and then holodeck and then Dad being cute and then being sad. You know, the ultimate “what if.”

JONATHAN – So I guess your dad is okay with how much you’re making him work to be in so many of your fan films?

SAM – Well, remember that his TOS film was his Christmas present for last year. But he’s asked to be in more of my fan films, but I think it was more in the abstract, not really knowing what that request actually meant. So when I said to him, “Hey, Dad, can you be in a film this weekend?” he said, “What? Oh…” Because he had a lot of work to do. But I said, “You’ve got to be in it this Saturday at 3pm.”


“But you want to be in it!”


So he’s there, he’s in full TOS in our local park with people walking by, pointing a phaser at Nim…and he doesn’t want to be there…and it’s cold.

JONATHAN – He must REALLY love you, Sam.

SAM – Well, he had stuff to do that day. It wasn’t so much he didn’t want to do it. He wants to do more Galloway, just not that day. But I had both the gals there, so that was the day. But it’s worth it in the end. It was really nice to have a three-hero crossover…and to get to see a first meeting, because I find that super-interesting as a concept.

Next time, we wrap things up with a two-fer as we look at and discuss Sam’s most recent two fan films, both of which deal with the U.S.S. Protostar from the just-saved-from-streaming-oblivion STAR TREK: PRODIGY.

If you’d like to support Trek Shorts with a monthly financial contribution, Sam now has an ongoing Patreon campaign: