In Part 1, I began talking to “Time & CGI Master” SAMUEL COCKINGS about his latest two TREK SHORTS releases DESTINY CALLS (which premiered on November 30 of last year), and BACK TO YESTERDAY (which was posted this past February 10).

They join a looooooong and ever-growing list of Trek Shorts that Sam has written, produced, often directed, and provided jaw-dropping VFX for (along with his team). Indeed, last year alone, in addition to Destiny Calls, Sam released no less than EIGHT other Trek Shorts—almost one per month…!

You can watch all 20 of Sam’s Trek Shorts releases, dating back to 2021, on this YouTube playlist. Meanwhile, here are Sam’s latest two productions, both dealing with time travel in some way, if you haven’t seen them yet…

Sam and I have already discussed Destiny Calls in Part 1 of our interview. So now we shift our focus over to Back to Yesterday

JONATHAN – There’s a striking family resemblance between Lt. Mark Davis and William Davis.  How are these two officers related?

SAM – Indeed! Mark Davis actually first appeared in Flight of the Protostar. Mark is the Wrath of Khan-era chap in the picture behind the desk, which is in fact an A.I. photoshop of me altered into an older and bearded TWOK picture.  The idea was that Mark is Will’s uncle. I did “try” to act different for him. I hope it came across…even a little. 

William Davis’s Uncle Mark Davis in a monster maroon uniform in the background in FLIGHT OF THE PROTOSTAR.

JONATHAN – I’m assuming there was some significance in using the Captain Hunter character (played by INTREPID show-runner and lead actor NICK COOK) from the Prodigy era as opposed to his time as captain of the U.S.S. Intrepid or any other point in his career.  Likewise, the T’Kon planet in both films is the same…and I assume is the same one from 2022’s PURSUIT OF A DREAM.  Any tidbits of information that you can provide to us about your decisions to use this Daniel Hunter and this planet?

SAM – So, the T’kon planet in Pursuit of a Dream is a ringed planet and an archive planet. We have not seen that planet in a Trek Shorts film.  The planet Hunter is orbiting in Back to Yesterday is, in fact, the same planet Davis finds himself above with the Enterprise-G at the end of Destiny Calls. If you re-watch Destiny Calls, we call out Hunter’s discovery of this planet and its T’kon secrets. In Back to Yesterday, we see Hunter having just arrived at the planet.

As for the reason for this specific Hunter:

A. More #SaveProdigy love,
B. It’s really awesome to have him on Dauntless and see that ship more in live action,
C. That planet is important in ***** REDACTED​​​​​ *****. So seeing it here puts it more into the audience’s mind for its later appearances.

It’s all one big tapestry of canon for Trek Shorts, so it’s a set up and a payoff at the same time. It had to be this Hunter…on that ship…in that uniform.

Nick Cook on the bridge of the U.S.S. Dauntless

JONATHAN – Speaking of Nick Cook, he was recently down in your neck of the woods for a shoot or two.  How many days did you guys spend together, and how many fan films did you shoot footage for?

SAM – Nick came down once in January to meet with SEÁN FERRICK of Trek Culture, and we had him shoot a guest spot for an EMMA THORNE short film (since you can’t come all this way and not shoot). And then he came again in February, and we shot this film at the very very tail end of the main shoot for the ​*** redacted project *** We had two “spare” hours, and my dad asked…well, told me he wanted to work with Nick. Soooooo, we made that happen. Ha!! Nick spent one day with us each time—did it during days off between shifts at his day job…lots of travel…crazy! 

San’s dad Steven Cockings with Nick Cook

JONATHAN – This is the second Trek Short to feature your TREKYARDS partner, STUART FOLEY, and the first one where he got to interact with a character in the fan film rather that only recording a log (which he did here, as well).  Will we be seeing any more of Captain Foley, and by that, I mean, actually seeing and not just hearing?

SAM – Indeed, his first guest shot was as a historic recording in Pakled Resurgence. When this new TOS film came into being, it was clear that it could and should be set on the U.S.S. Foley and give Stuart another, larger chance. He was thrilled and, yes, there is more written for him, and small set ups for those stories have already been placed in other films…you just don’t know it yet.

“Captain” Stuart Foley

JONATHAN – Ah, yes, the U.S.S. Foley commanded by Captain Foley! How the heck did that happen??? I mean, 20 monkeys and 20 typewriters and infinite time and all that, but really, what are the odds on such a coincidence?  And doesn’t it get awkward?  If the captain wants to beam up from a planet, does he take out his communicator and say, “Foley to Foley…”?  When hailing another vessel, does he say, “This is Captain Foley of the starship Foley…”?  Wouldn’t that run the risk of confusing an alien species making first contact into thinking that all Federation starships were named after their captains?  It would seem that Starfleet might take actions to avoid this potential situation by rechristening the starship, as they did on DS9 when the U.S.S. Sao Paolo was renamed Defiant.

SAM – So, this is really a question for Stuart, but as far as I can recall, he designed his Dreadnought variant years and years ago, refined it as we did more with Trekyards, and then had it built. Even when he had the first CGI model made, I was not back to doing my own films in any large way, so had no specific expectation to ever include it.

Stuart wanted to call his one-and-only design the “Foley” Class because he wanted to leave something of himself in Trek lore. So, the name Foley-class came first. Then, when it came to Stuart maybe appearing in any of my films, he wanted to play his Trekyards persona “Captain Foley,” since that’s the name he has created for himself over the past ten years. So now we have Captain Foley of the Foley-class…then Stuart decided he wanted to be on the main version itself, the Foley. So yes, Foleyception!

In his actual TOS canon lore brain, the reason the Foley-class was named the way it was is because “Captain Foley” died in a heroic way, and they named the new experimental class after him. Then it turned out he did not die, and he eventually returned to service. That’s his reason, and he wanted that all to be maintained if we were to finally see it on screen. We at Trekyards are super used to Foley of the Foley, but certainly I can see how a newcomer may scratch their head. 

JONATHAN – Then call me a newcomer with an itchy scalp! But let me take just a quick moment to acknowledge the amazing background music by your composer, MATT MILNE. He has outdone himself scoring these latest two releases. How much direction do you typically provide to him, or is it more of a “just make it sound nice and Star Trekkish”?

SAM – He is a marvel, for sure! So, as I do my edit, I create a temp track and find music that I “could” use for a release, as in it fits my tone and pacing and themes. This gives Matt a signpost to follow. He then does his magic, which sometimes does stray quite a bit from that, as he brings in his own experience and knowledge of our characters musical themes.

Once I get a full “first draft” version from him, I sit down and have a real listen, make notes, and highlight additional beats of motifs to tie elements together, or sometimes specific small riffs from Star Trek to highlight for a second pass (e.g.. the Star Trek IV theme to represent time travel, etc.). Then, because writing music is hard and time-consuming, whatever Matt submits for version two is what we go with…ha! More often than not, it’s pure magic! Really talented chap; we hope he will stay with us for the whole project. We love Matt. 

JONATHAN – I totally agree! And finally, will 2024 be another year of one fan film release per month (or close to it)?  If so, what’s coming up on the horizon…or on the Horizon, for that matter?

SAM – Ha! Absolutely not. That one-a-month was only due to my getting shorts ready to lead up and then release DURING a big 2023 Indiegogo. Events changed, and we had to push that into 2024, but the films were still either done or close, so I decided to release them, build up the channel, and get those stories out…stories which provide important backstory.

This one-a-month was actually extremely challenging and took far more of my time than I had planned. I think I achieved some tremendous things, but unless this was my proper full-time job, it is impractical beyond belief to try and maintain a one-a-month release schedule…unless they were very simple, but I always want to add some creative flare.

Our 2024 plan is kind of in flux at the moment, but we have two small, simpler backstory pieces we want to release before the **** redacted​​​​ *** project. If that is delayed further, then we have two other, medium films, of which one is a backstory piece, and the other was originally the next film…before STAR TREK: PRODIGY got cancelled and changed the course of Trek Shorts.  The next film was a NIMRAM SAUND (Anna Keeley) film and was very far along in the edit, although no keying or music or anything was done yet. 

JONATHAN – Well, it nevertheless sounds like there’s still a lot of Trek Shorts simmering in the Cockings cooking pot, Sam. And just between you and me, I’m okay if it’s not one-per-month for yet another year. It gives this over-worked blogger a bit of a break!

SAM – Always happy to oblige, Jonathan.