YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 4)

In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, we got to know STAN WOO, the fan behind YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, a Star Trek fan film featuring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu and JAMES SHIGETA as Admiral Nogura. Star Trek production designer ANDREW PROBERT, who designed both the refit U.S.S. Enterprise and the Enterprise-D, worked on this fan film, as well, providing custom sketches for the refit U.S.S. Yorktown along with other completely new space vessels.

The completed film was released in early April and can be viewed here…

Between 1985 and 1987, Stan and his team shot 160 minutes of footage over a dozen different film shoots both indoors and outdoors. By the summer of 1987, the project was even featured in a two-page article in issue #119 of Starlog Magazine…an article read by a twelve-year-old boy from Ontario, Canada who will be the focus on most of today’s blog: JOHN ATKIN.

Stan and his Yorktown project appeared to be all but unstoppable…until failing college grades in 1987 caused Stan’s father to pull the plug on the entire endeavor. Stan’s education had to come first. And although some minor work (in secret) was done by Stan here and there over the next few years, the project was essentially in suspended animation for more than two decades. Stan had gotten married in 1995, had four children, and didn’t really have the time or resources to complete a full-on fan film…until 2009, that is.

As we learned last time, Stan began thinking about completing Yorktown beginning in 2009 after seeing how prolific Star Trek fan films had become during the past six years. He asked his friend PAUL McCUDDEN, a writer in Hollywood, for help expanding and finishing the script. And a bit of progress was being made.

THE SEARCH FOR STAN

Meanwhile, north of the border in the land of moose and maple, John Atkin was now in his mid-thirties and also a devotee of Star Trek fan films. And in early 2010, he began to wonder: “Whatever happened to that Yorktown project with George Takei from the 1980s?”

He was determined to find out…

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 4)”

YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 3)

In Part 1 and Part 2, we met STAN WOO, who back in 1985 convinced GEORGE TAKEI to star as Sulu and JAMES SHIGETA to appear as Admiral Nogura in Stan’s Star Trek fan film YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the completed film (released on April 5, 2022)…

Also working on the project was legendary Star Trek production artist ANDREW PROBERT, who designed both the refit U.S.S. Enterprise from ST:TMP and also the Enterprise-D from ST:TNG. Andrew custom-designed a “hybrid” TOS/TMP U.S.S. Yorktown that could appear in the film to help establish the time-frame as during the Enterprise‘s refit. Also appearing in the movie was Leonard Nimoy’s assistant, TERESA VICTOR, along with a few other notable names from fandom and even from professional Star Trek.

Andrew Probert (left) meets with Stan Woo at a Taco Bell near Warner Bros. studios in 1986.

Between April of 1985 and March of 1987, more than a dozen separate film shoots at both outdoor and indoor locations produced about 160 minutes of footage which was now ready to be edited. By that point, Stan estimates that probably north of $10,000 was spent—mainly by his father, JEM ONG WOO, who will be credited as Executive Producer when Yorktown is finally released this Christmas of 2020 (fingers crossed!). “When you include the post production equipment purchased, like the Video Toaster Flyer (NLE), yeah, it was probably around that much,” Stan explains. “I also purchased Super Beta and Super VHS editing systems that didn’t quite pan out, but that was still money spent, as I didn’t need the equipment if not for the film.”

In fact, the editing equipment was purchased after Stan visited Stephen J. Cannell Productions (which produced The Greatest American Hero and The A-Team) and spoke with Post Production Supervisor KEN SWEET. “I was inspired to change our post production workflow after Ken told me that 21 Jump Street was going to be shot on film and cut on video. So we had to scan all of the Super 8 Reversal Film on a Rank Cintel Flying Scanner to ¾-inch Umatic SP.” (I have absolutely no idea what that means, but the short version is they took two large canisters of 400-ft-long film reels and transferred them to a fairly high quality—at the time—Sony video tape format in order to be able to edit the fan film.)

Meanwhile, word had spread about this exciting project through an article in the June 1987 issue of Starlog Magazine (#119)…

Click to enlarge

But shortly before the article came out, trouble was brewing for young Stan, who was at that time a student at California State University – Los Angeles while trying to complete his dream fan project in his spare time. And the trouble very nearly spelled the end for Yorktown—at least for another 22 years…

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 3)”

YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 2)

Last week in Part 1, we began looking back (waaaaaaay back!) to the 1980s and the birth of the long-awaited Star Trek fan film YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…with GEORGE TAKEI appearing as Sulu. It was released on April 5, and here it is if you haven’t seen it yet…

In our previous blog, we learned how, in 1985, 21-year-old showrunner STAN WOO was able to convince George to appear in a Trekkie fan film thanks to a decade or so of friendly stalking and a well-timed offer of a glass of bungundy.

Filming began in April of 1985 and continued in earnest through that November. During that time, ten different shoots in various outdoor and indoor locations were completed, including on July 14 at the Chilao Flats campground in the Angeles National Forest…just four miles away from Charlton Flats, where portions of Star Trek: First Contact would be filmed a decade later.

For those who weren’t around in the 1980s, there was no such thing yet as digital video. Movies were shot on film reels and/or recorded to video cassette tapes. Oh, and there was also New Coke. Yes, folks, the debut of one of the biggest beverage blunders in modern history was just four days before Yorktown‘s July 14 shoot, and Stan’s dad picked up a case of the new soft drink at a local supermarket. According to Stan, “George Takei may have had his first sip of New Coke on our set…” and supplied me with the photo at the top of this blog entry to prove it!

By the time November 1985 came along, filming had now been completed on nearly every major scene but one. The segment involved three different admirals in an office on Starbase 7—nothing too complicated, right? But it turned out that this one “simple” scene would delay the production more than half a year…

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 2)”

YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 1)

If any footage can be considered “the holy grail” of Star Trek fan films, it’s the Super-8 scenes from YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, shot in 1985 to 1987 and featuring actor GEORGE TAKEI reprising his role as Lt. Cmdr. Sulu during the time between TOS and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Thirty-seven years in the making, Yorktown was probably the most eagerly awaited, exciting, and mysterious Star Trek fan film of all time! And so many fans have so many questions…

  • How did a young Trekkie barely out of high school convince George Takei to play Sulu way back when the actor was concurrently making Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home?
  • How did this same kid get JAMES SHIGETA (who’s been in about a million things you’ve seen, most notably Die Hard, Midway, and Mulan…but also TV shows ranging from The Outer Limits to Mission: Impossible to T.J. Hooker to Babylon 5 to Avatar: The Last Airbender) to agree to play Admiral Nogura?
  • Did ANDREW PROBERT, the artist who designed the refit USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well as the Enterprise-D for Next Generation really design custom starships for this guy’s fan film, too?
  • Why did it take them so long to finish it?

On April 5, 2022, the completed Yorktown: A Time to Heal, was finally released for fans to watch and enjoy…

There’s no shortage of stories about this project scattered all over the Internet…some less accurate than others. But now it’s time to set the record straight and collect all of these mind-blowing details together in a series of fascinating blogs that will feature direct quotes from original show-runner STAN WOO and current show-runner JOHN ATKIN.

It’s hard to pick one thing about Yorktown: A Time to Heal that’s the most interesting. Obviously, it’s one of the first (if not THE first) Star Trek fan film to feature a member of one of the television casts in their same iconic role…plus other professional actors in major roles. But after a veritable sprint of filming over the first two years, things virtually stopped completely for more than two decades!

Then, once things started up again, fan filmmakers from all over our community got involved to help out. Scenes were filmed BOTH at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma AND on James Cawley’s TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY (one of the only fan projects other than STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES to ever do that). People who worked on AXANAR, STAR TREK CONTINUES, NEW VOYAGES, RENEGADES, STARSHIP EXETER, STARSHIP FARRAGUT, STARSHIP ANTYLLUS, STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE, STAR TREK: EXCALIBUR, TEMPORAL ANOMALY, STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN, STAR TREK: DECEPTION II, THE FEDERATION FILES, and so many other fan productions all pitched in at one point or another to help Yorktown: A Time to Heal move ever closer to completion.

Are you ready to jump down the rabbit hole? I promise, it’ll be worth it…

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 1)”

YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 6)

In  Part Part 2, and Part 3, we learned about how STAN WOO began to produce a Star Trek fan film called YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu and JAMES SHIGETA as Admiral Nogura. The majority of the footage was filmed in 1985-87, but then the project languished in suspended animation for nearly 25 years. (You can watch the completed film here.)

In Part 4 and Part 5, we saw JOHN ATKIN step in, beginning in 2010, to help Stan finally complete his fan film. The two of them worked together to expand the script, adding in new scenes and new characters in locations that wouldn’t have been possible a quarter century earlier. This included scenes with Klingons as well as sequences on the U.S.S. Yorktown bridge, corridors, and hangar bay. Between 2011 and 2013, these scenes were filmed in various cities across North America—including San Francisco, Vancouver, New York, and at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma City during a bitter cold winter storm with no central heating!

By 2013, the visual FX team had three different members. ROLAND BARON was doing outer space shots of the pre- and post-refit Yorktown, Klingon K-fighter, and the S.H.A.R.K. vessel Nagaer—the last three ships all originally designed by legendary Star Trek production designer ANDREW PROBERT. NEO f/x was doing phaser and transporter effects. And TOBIAS RICHTER provided a custom CGI model and animation of the Starbase 7 space station (a design based on the Vanguard Station from the Star Trek novel series).

THE PASSING OF JAMES SHIGETA

James Shigeta as Admiral Nogura

All was going great heading into 2014. But on July 28, sad news came to the production that actor James Shigeta had passed away at the age of 85. In a eulogy post, Stan Woo—who kept up a friendship with James after the 1980s production—shared the following memory: ” I saw him for the last time on December 19th, 2013. When I arrived at his home, he was watching a Pavarotti Special on PBS. He was in good spirits and was sharp as a tack. He asked about the family, and I shared some family photos with him. I also showed him the Yorktown website on my phone to show him some of Roland Baron’s visual effects. That was the last time I saw him. I have a stack of Christmas cards from him. He was at my wedding. When I sent him a birth announcement of my oldest daughter, he sent her a little yellow duckie. He was a true gentleman, and I’m proud to be the producer of a Star Trek fan film with him playing Admiral Nogura.”

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 6)”

FARRAGUT FORWARD blasts past $30K goal, adds two new STRETCH GOALS!

Earlier this week, the folks at FARRAGUT FORWARD did what seemed almost inconceivable to many just two short months ago: reach and surpass a $30K crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo!

Since the publication of the fan film guidelines in June of 2016, no Star Trek fan film (with one unusual exception) has surpassed $25K in crowd-funding (not counting the DS9 and Voyager documentaries, of course). And indeed, after their first four weeks, Farragut Forward‘s campaign was struggling just to get over $3K…only 10% of the way there. And this despite releasing this really amazing PROLOGUE trailer right before the start of the campaign…

But showrunners JOHN BROUGHTON and JOHNNY K. weren’t worried. Instead, they redoubled their efforts to create content and released behind-the-scenes features, interviews, and videos almost daily (sometimes even more frequently!). And while doing all this online publicity and marketing, they also reached out directly to several people they hoped would become significant backers.

“I wish I’d filmed more of all the work that happens behind the scenes during a funding campaign,” says Johnny K., the director of Farragut Forward‘s premiere fan film and the owner of KAOTICA STUDIOS, the company producing the project. “All the planning, the coordination, the late-night production meetings after full days of work…you never see how much work goes into these things until you live it. These are passion projects, and they’re not easy. I’m so happy we are funded and get to see this project come to fruition.”

Now, with just 3 days left in the campaign, and with donations having reached an amazing $33,541, John and Johnny have added not just one but two exciting stretch goals!

If they manage to hit $37K by this Sunday’s deadline, they will build the full movie-era Klingon Bird-of-Prey bridge set. And beyond that, if they reach $40K by the end of this weekend, they will also build the transporter room and full corridor set! 

How did they manage to reach this incredible crowd-funding milestone? As I said, they courted some big donors. Seven backers gave $1,000 contributions while three others gave $5,000 each! But the other $11,500 has come in from more than 125 different backers with donations ranging from less than $10 all the way up to $500. And indeed, as the total began to edge closer to the goal last week, a number of folks doubled down to get FF across the finish line.

“I couldn’t be more excited about what we’re about to do,” adds Johnny K. “Huge thanks to everyone who has supported this project and helped us reach our goal!”

And now, with just a few days left, FF is within $3.5K of being able to construct a full Bird-of-Prey bridge. Can they make it? And how about a transporter room and corridor, too? If you’d like to help them make fan film history, click on the link below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/farragut-forward-a-star-trek-fan-production#/

After nearly a DECADE in the making…we finally have AMBUSH! (video interview with GREG LOCK)

Way back in 2014, there was a Star Trek fan film that held a successful Kickstarter, shot a bunch of footage, and was still not completed as the calendar turned to 2022. Oh, and the title of that fan film started with the letter “A.”

You know from the title of this blog that this fan film’s title was AMBUSH, not AXANAR. But eight years is still eight years. The Kickstarter for this United Kingdom-based Star Trek fan film managed to generate £4,649 in donations, which would be about $7,200 today. Donors were treated to frequent news on the project, with 32 separate crowd-funding and production updates posted in 2014 and 2015. Things slowed down a bit in 2016 with only three additional updates posted, the last of which coming three months after CBS and Paramount announced the new (at the time) fan film guidelines in June.

Then nothing…for over a year. Many of us in the Trek fan film community assumed this was just another case of the guidelines convincing a production to shut down. There weren’t many, but it seemed likely that Ambush might be one.

But at the end of 2017, a quick update to the backers titled “We’re still not dead” assured us that Ambush had not been abandoned. Showrunner GREG LOCK and his co-producer had simply found some paid film production work that had kept them too busy to finish up the project. No other update was provided, but there was a general feeling of optimism.

A few months later (February of 2018), still no release date, but Greg shared a number of “character posters” that showed the unique uniform style and the shuttlecraft interior set that had been constructed…

Unfortunately, nearly another year would go by before the next update in January 2019 that wasn’t so much an update as an apology for taking so long and an explanation why the finished product probably wouldn’t be as ambitious as they’d hoped.

The next update didn’t come until May of 2021, more than two years later, and it was also apologetic. A still-unfilmed scene now looked like it would never be shot, as most of the team had moved on over the previous seven years, COVID was now an issue, and even the technical equipment they’d used had become outdated. But a rough cut had been assembled, and plans were to release a version of Ambush using the footage that was shot, which Greg felt was still pretty decent. Also, perks were going to FINALLY be sent out to donors!

A September 2021 update promised a release soon, as they were close to locking picture on the film…leaving only a final visual grading, a sound mix, and tweaking some VFX. Then two updates in 2022 and finally, on February 15, 2022, this…

So…what took so long? I decided to ask that very question (along with a bunch of others) directly to Greg Lock in this enjoyable video interview across the Atlantic Ocean…

THE FEDERATION FILES shows fans the S.S. BOTANY BAY in “No Good Deed” (video interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)

THE FEDERATION FILES fanthology series is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. That’s because GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas have decided that no era of Star Trek history is out of bounds for them to explore. This has included everything from the 1950s through today into the 23rd century and beyond to the 24th century. It’s a really fun fan series to follow.

Most recently, in what is their overall eleventh completed fan film since their first release (“His Name Is Mudd” back in 2016), The Federation Files takes us both into the Trek movie era and also back to 1996 when the SS Botany Bay was launched following the Eugenics Wars. (You remember that, right? It was only a quarter century ago.)

But for those two eras, Glen managed to construct two unbelievably believable sets for a fan-produced film (plus a Vulcan moon base command center set). The first unbelievably believable set was was a recreation of Kirk’s San Francisco apartment from Star Trek II and III. The other was the interior of the aforementioned Botany Bay in a sequence that looked like it could have been built at Paramount Studios back in 1967!

Granted, as I said, these were fan-produced sets, so they’re not precisely identical. But they’re close enough that a viewer can squint a little and accept that, yes, Saavik has walked into Kirk’s apartment and a Vulcan wearing a space suit has entered the sleeper ship containing Khan Noonien Singh and the genetically-engineered supermen.

Take a look at “NO GOOD DEED”…

This fan film was released way back in early November, and I had wanted to interview Glen months earlier than this. But in December, Glen became seriously ill—as in “had-to-be-hospitalized-and-nearly-died” kinda ill. Rumors flew that he had caught the more deadly delta variant of COVID. Others said he had pneumonia…or both! Either way, it took Glen months to recover, but I am pleased to report that he is now on the mend.

In the following video, we discuss what happened to put Glen into the hospital, along with discussing these impressive set recreations, production of this latest episode, Glen’s experiences being involved with other fan films and series, and all sorts of other things that come up when two Star Trek fan film-o-philes get together and geek out. Oh, and at the 42 second mark, you even get to hear me sing (oy vey!)…

With two and a half weeks remaining, the FARRAGUT FORWARD Indiegogo passes $15,000!

On the one hand, $15K is only halfway to the $30K goal of the current Indiegogo campaign for FARRAGUT FORWARD, the movie-era sequel to the long-running fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT. And with only 17 days left, that means they’ve got just about 25% of the time left to get the remaining half.

On the other hand, few Star Trek fan films have managed to get even as far as $15K since the publication of the fan film guidelines back in June of 2016. And they also spent their first four weeks struggling to get over $3K. So really, they’ve taken in nearly $12K in donations in just the past three and a half weeks…and that is VERY impressive!

One of their donors gave $5K, and three others threw in $1K each…which certainly helps! They’ve also had three $500 donors and eight $200 donors. So that’s $11K right there from just 15 donors. The other 70-or-so backers have given at levels ranging from $5 or $10 up to $150.

So how are they managing to generate so much enthusiasm and support so quickly? Things started rolling after they had a table at the annual FARPOINT Convention near Baltimore, MD at the end of February. And since then, showrunner (and lead actor) JOHN BROUGHTON and director JOHNNY K. have been on a tear releasing engaging behind the scenes content! One of their most exciting offerings so far has been this new video released last week:

But there have been a dozen other, almost daily (sometimes twice daily!) updates posted to this page on their Indiegogo campaign in the last twelve days…some of them rather elaborate and filled with images from pre-production like in-depth looks into building the practical ship models that will be used for the visual FX…

Sneak peeks at the Klingon make-up and costuming…

Updates on early set construction and those awesome monster maroon uniforms…

Plus there are cast spotlights, links to podcast interviews (they’ve been doing a lot of those), and the announcement that the Grand Chieftain of CGI, SAMUEL COCKINGS, has joined the team to provide digital VFX to augment their practical model effects.

And of course, this is the point in the blog where I provide a link to the Indiegogo campaign and ask you to please help support this project if you can because it looks so amazing. Also, it would be totally awesome if a fan film could once again raise $30K—almost like the good ol’ days!

Here’s the link…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/farragut-forward-a-star-trek-fan-production#

The animated STAR TREK: THE PARADISE MAKERS (video interview with GASTON HUCKABAY)

Back in 1973-74, a production company called FILMATION produced 22 episodes of an animated Star Trek series featuring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the original series crew (except Chekov). The animation style was simple and relatively inexpensive to produce. Nowadays, animated Star Trek series like LOWER DECKS and PRODIGY are positively stunning, but back then…well…we were just happy to have ourselves some new Star Trek stories on TV on Saturday mornings (even if half of the voices sounded like JAMES DOOHAN!).

The illustrated, simple cartoon style of the original animated series has been recreated over the years several times by Star Trek fan filmmakers. Among them are the many Trek fan films of CURT DANHAUSER, all of which can be accessed from this playlist) as well as two animated episodes from the long-running fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT, “Power Source” and “The Needs of the Many.”

I’ve sometimes wondered which would be an easier project to produce—a live-action Star Trek fan film or an animated one? The former, of course, would require costumes, makeup, sets, lighting, sound, and proper camera work. The latter, however, would require hand drawings of each new scene, and frame-by-frame animations of the various characters…even if the only things moving are the lips and eyes. Both kinds of productions could easily take months or even years to complete, each with its own time-consuming challenges.

But no matter which format you choose, let me assure you: completing a single fan film story that is more than TWO HOURS long…that is a Herculean task just by itself! But that is exactly what I recently discovered on YouTube: an epic length, high-quality animated Star Trek fan film done in a style similar to the Filmation episodes from the 1970s. Titled STAR TREK: THE PARADISE MAKERS, this production was posted to YouTube in two parts back in 2017. Trust me, you’re gonna want to take a look…

Yeah, it’s a LOT of fan film to get through, but isn’t it really impressive? I certainly thought so! And so I tracked down the fan behind the film, Mr. GASTON HUCKABAY of Dallas, TX, and asked him for an interview.

Gaston has a lot to say about this passion project, how many years it took to complete, which major Star Trek novelist helped him with the production, and the heartbreaking tragedy that happened while Gaston and his team were working to complete it. He also explained why he believed it would be okay to release a two hour and fifteen minute long fan film one year after the fan film guidelines limited the length of Star Trek fan films to 30 minutes.

Here’s our eye-opening conversation…