There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at STARBASE STUDIOS recently, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, you might want to read up on the current situation if you don’t already know about the lawsuit and all of the other drama going on of late.
All right, strap in. Let’s start with this past weekend when a group of 5th and 6th graders from Parkview Elementary School Music Club got a chance to film a music video project on the amazing TOS sets of Starbase Studios, currently located in Marble Falls, Arkansas.
The field trip was set up by their teacher, KEVIN CROXTON, who had composed the music for THE FEDERATION FILES’ second episode Walking Bear, Running Wolflast summer. In exchange, Kevin had asked show-runner GLEN L. WOLFE for the opportunity to bring Kevin’s music students (they’re local) to the sets to film a video project. So this past weekend’s excursion has been planned for nearly 7 months.
And, really, isn’t this what Starbase Studios is all about? Sets by the fans, for the fans…and even attracting a whole new (next!) generation of young fans. So what could possibly be wrong with that?
I know I usually cover fan films, but today I’m looking at a full-length COMIC BOOK…written by well-known fan filmmaker MARK LARGENT.
Mark gained notoriety as the creator of the hilarious STALLED TREKseries of 3D-animated Trek parodies using puppet/muppet versions of our favorite characters. The first Stalled Trek was the 15-minute episode “Amutt Time” and the other was the award-winning “Prelude to Ax’d-We Are” (which I worked on, as well). But before there was Stalled Trek, there was a comic book!
Well, actually, the comic book existed both before AND after Stalled Trek. Let me explain that statement. Back in late 1991, Mark Largent and his friend Mark McCrary both wanted to break into the comic book industry, Largent as a writer and McCary as an artist.
TNG had just aired the 2-part episode “Unification,” which featured the elder Spock trying to bring the Romulans and Vulcans back together. A month later, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country came out and looked to be the final appearance of the original TOS crew. No one imagined that the seventh Trek feature would bring back Kirk (and the kill him off) or that Scotty would appear in a TNG episode called “Relics” a year later.
Fans might not remember that, back then, the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was the only hint anyone had of what happened in between the two series. So after seeing “Unification” and then Trek VI, the two Marks decided to create a story that would fill in the missing 78-year gap of time between Trek VI and the beginning of TNG…leading up to Spock’s decision to go to Romulus and showing the final fate of James T. Kirk. (Remember, this was years before Generations.)
Largent wrote the script, and McCary pencilled some 60-odd pages. They created Starfleet uniforms that seemed to be a reasonable guess of what was halfway between the “monster maroons” of TOS and the jumpsuits of TNG, and the story featured most of the main TOS characters. They photocopied the pencilled pages and mailed them to DC Comics, which was publishing Star Trek comic books at the time. But they never heard back.
Then came the TNG episode “Relics,” and it completely screwed up their story since they had featured Scotty along with Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Now only an “imaginary” story at best, the comic book project was abandoned—until something happened nearly a quarter century later…
This past Monday evening, STAR TREK CONTINUES show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA posted a very special video onto the STC Facebook page. Principal photography was completed last February on the final STC episode, “To Boldly Go.” Shortly thereafter, Vic walked the corridors of the amazing TOS sets on a rainy day in Kingsland, GA, filming himself using a selfie stick as he discussed his feelings about wrapping up the series after nearly six years.
In the background, you can see how the sets are laid out in the warehouse, what some of the Enterprise “walls” look like from the other side, and how close everything was from the edges of the soundstage itself. They certainly filled that space.
The video shows a quiet and thoughtful moment for Vic, similar to one I experienced several years ago during my final visit to the Star Trek: TNG sets on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. For several years, I and friends from a local Trek fan club used to give docent tours in uniform once a month before the museum closed its doors forever. While I can’t completely equate that experience to Vic’s in terms of time commitment and dedication, I still understand a little of how he felt when he made this video.
Everyone else was gone (or so it appears on Vic’s video), and it was a final chance to take in everything this project had meant to him personally for those many years. Like Vic, I also did my final “set walk” alone. I stayed there for about 45 minutes in silence (the museum was now closed to the public and we’d been helping get props organized and stowed—I was the last one there). I sat in Picard’s chair, walked around Worf’s station, stood in the transporter, and took one last look at all the humorous details Mike Okuda had hidden in Geordi’s engineering cutaway of the Enterprise-D: Nomad, an airplane, the rubber duck. And for no reason whatsoever, I gave one final tour…to no one. I went through every part of the docent speech my friends and I used to give for the tourists, as I’d long ago memorized every line. It was just a special moment with the sets…one last time.
And while Vic obviously still has access to his sets, I can imagine how deeply introspective he must have felt when he made this video—and I’m glad he decided to share it with us…
Just before the start of the new year, the anthology series THE FEDERATION FILES released its third full episode: “Extraction.” Produced by GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS, this episode was written by Glen and features Dan as the captain of the USS Nikita, a dreadnought-class starship. Glen also appears briefly as a shuttlecraft pilot.
But the cast is much more extensive than that. The 12-minute fan film features Romulans, a Starfleet bridge crew, shuttlecraft pilots, and a team of TOS-era MACOs. The episode also features a Starfleet shuttlecraft interior set that took about four weeks to build. The control console, front view ports, and one panel on the the left side were supplied by JAMES CAWLEY and were used previously for one of the episodes of Star Trek: New Voyages, “The Holiest Thing.” Glen and Dan built out the rest or the interior, including the iconic lightbox ceiling, and the electronics were custom made by Glen. The shuttle interior remains standing at Dan’s WARP TV studio in Harrison, Arkansas, available to use in future fan films.
The rest of the episode was filmed both at STARBASE STUDIOS (mostly before the recent controversy) and by a second unit in a rock quarry close to the Harrison studio during a few hours while Romulan make-up was being applied to JIM VON DOLTEREN and ALLYSON MARX back at the studio. In total, about four days were spent filming all the scenes, mainly during July of last year.
Dan reports that he and Glen will soon be choosing one of the remaining ten scripts that Glen has already written to film as their fourth production in The Federation Files anthology series. Now that Glen has moved to Arkansas, Dan expects them to have a lot more time to brainstorm, write, create, and produce new Star Trek. .
How quickly the next episode gets started and produced depends on the resolution of the current lawsuit regarding the Starbase Studios sets. From what I understand, there is some hopeful progress happening in that situation. I’ll report more as soon as I’m cleared to.
A few days ago, I posted a bloglooking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not! (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)
But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films? Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!
I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections. Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related. But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right? And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments. (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)
And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…
“Why are you even bothering with this blog?” one anonymous poster wrote to me a little over a year ago. “Star Trek fan films will all be gone soon, even your precious Axanar, and you’ll have nothing left to write about!”
Well, I’m still here…and so are Star Trek fan films! (And I really hope that anonymous person is reading today’s blog because he wasn’t just wrong; he was VERY wrong!)
2017 was a BIG year for Star Trek fan films…possibly one of THE biggest! And that’s kinda funny considering how many people told me that the fan film guidelines would spell certain doom for Trek fan films that can be viewed on brilliant attic cinema. Even I thought that at first!
I will admit that, one year ago, things did seem kinda bleak in fan film land. The Axanar lawsuit was less than a month from trial. The Axanerds and Axa-detractors were going at it like Hatfields and Dr. McCoys. The guidelines had been in existence for half a year, and already the long-ruinning Star Trek: New Voyages had halted production, the also-long-running Star Trek: Dark Armada had released its final episode at the end of 2016, Star Trek: Renegades had become Renegades: The Series-that-n0-longer-had-anything-to-do-with-Star-Trek-beyond-all-the-acrtors, and Star Trek Continues had announced their intention to produce only four (as opposed to six) final episodes to complete their fan series. Even fan films need help with their film production payroll and management software to help keep their shoots organized and running on time.
But I believed in fan films and the people who make them. I had faith that the genre would continue despite the guidelines—perhaps even because of them (since they now gave Trekkers official permission from the studios to create their own productions…albeit within some overly-strict limits).
And Trek fan films certainly didn’t die! In fact, they kept me pretty darn busy with news, features, and interviews all year long. Anyone who believed Trek fan films were on their deathbed at the end of 2016 should join us on this trip down Memory…er…Lane (!) as I take a look back at what fan film news made my blog’s headlines over the past 12 months.
This special post will list the biggest Fan Film Factor news articles for 2017, in order by month, with links to each one of those blog entries if you want to dive in deeper.
And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a few final words from me about what’s coming in 2018…!
It’s no secret that the creator of The Orville, SETH MacFARLANE, is a major Trekkie. He’s said as muchin interviews. But few fans realized that Seth’s preoccupation with our favorite sci-fi franchise went BEYOND simply watching it or collecting stuff or even doing Captain Kirk impressions. Yep, Seth MacFarlane actually made his own Star Trek fan film!
And no, I’m not talking about The Orville (although many have argued that he’s made a kind of Star Trek “fan film” in creating that show). I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness amateur Star Trek fan film…where a teenaged Seth sits in the center seat on a home-made bridge set, wearing a do-it-yourself command tunic, barking orders at a friend wearing pointed ears while an AMT model of the refit USS Enterprise—complete with a drooping left nacelle—speeds across a blue screen chroma-keyed with a cheesy black hole space effect.
Here, take a look…
But believe it or not, Seth MacFarlane would go on to have many MORE opportunities to publicly geek out as a Trekkie…from playing James T. Kirk on real TV to hiring Patrick Stewart and even appearing on two actual Star Trek episodes!
It’s amazing how much movie trailers have changed in the last few decades!
Three months ago, I shared a link to a fan video from 2016 that featured a modern take on the trailer for STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. The updated trailer was created by JONATHAN WORMAN, a talented video editor based in Toronto, Canada who has worked on commercials, music videos, shorts, and documentaries over the past eight years. Posting under the name “Orange Band,” Jonathan’s Wrath of Khan trailer has already garnered more than 100,000 views on YouTube.
Then, last month, Jonathan Worman did it again! This time, he tackled STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. And…wow! Considering how relatively slow the pacing was for the first Trek feature film (I still think it’s a good movie…just slow), this new and updated trailer makes the film look like a real thrill ride!
As with the modern Khan trailer, I can only imagine the excitement from fandom had this been the trailer released in 1979. (That said, we were all still pretty ecstatic anyway when The Motion Picture premiered—our first new live-action Star Trek in over a decade!)
And while the Khan trailer has taken nearly a year to reach 100K, this Motion Picture trailer has already surpassed that total Modern Trailerin just five weeks! (Amazing what happens when a video goes viral.) So take a look at what all the excitement’s about…
And for comparison, here’s what the original 1979 trailer looked like…quite a difference!
POTEMKIN PICTURES holds a truly unique distinction in the world of Star Trek fan films. After several years of producing three dozen episodes of the fan series Project: Potemkin, the production company branched out to launch additional fan series: Starship Deimos, Starship Tristan, and Battlecruiser Kupok. And this past July, the first episode premiered focusing on the crew of the USS Endeavour.
Overseeing these various series is RANDALL LANDERS, who began shooting Project: Potemkin back in 2010 in Albany, Georgia (here’s a great interview with him) and then moved to Pelham, Alabama, where he currently lives. Randy serves as executive producer and edits just about all of the episodes. He also directs some of the episodes, provides the occasional story and/or script, sound effects, and even makes the rare appearance in front of the camera.
Randy and his team are a fan film-making MACHINE! For years, there was something new released from Potemkin Pictures at least once every month or two! But things have slowed down recently. Their last offering, an episode of the Klingon-based series Battlecruiser Kupok, was released at the end of August. In the three and a half months since, we’ve seen nothing from any of the Potemkin series.
Then, late last week, there was a fan film release from a brand new Potemkin Pictures production crew: TRITON. With the fan film guidelines now nixing ongoing fan series, this new offering is not called Starship Triton but rather is simply credited to the “Triton Production Crew.” But one would assume that, like the other series, it will focus on the missions and crew of a single starship.
While most Trek fan films are set in TOS, TNG, or NX-01 periods, all of the Potemkin Pictures series (I mean “production crew projects”) are set in a time after Star Trek VI and before TNG. This latest production focuses on Commander Janice Rand, recently reassigned from the USS Excelsior where she served with Captain Sulu. Somewhat unavoidably—considering where the new series is filmed (Alabama)—Rand has developed a distinctive southern drawl. But if you can get past that, this looks like a promising new fan series…even if we can’t call it a fan series.
You can access the entire nearly FIVE DOZEN fan films released thus far by Potemkin Pictures at their website.
And here is the first offering from the Triton Production Crew: “New Orders”…
Yep! Just six days ago, I was asking if the SPACE COMMANDKickstarter could make it over $80,000 (they were less than $7,000 away from that second stretch goal). Now, with only 11 hours left, they’ve just crossed the $100,000 mark.
This means that fans now get to see a third trailer for the project (see below), and that the project will fund at least HALF of the 2-hour pilot episode…with funds to spare! And if they manage to hit $130,000 before the end of the Kickstarter tonight, that’ll fund post production for an additional half hour.
Already, scenes have been filmed for the first SIX HOURS of Space Command, which is half of the complete initial season. Those three 2-hour stories—“Redemption,” “Forgiveness,” and “The Great Solar War”—feature such notable genre actors as Doug Jones, Bob Picardo, Mira Furlan, Bill Mumy, Bruce Boxleitner, John Hennigan, Faran Tahir, James Hong, Mike Harney…as well as their worldwide talent search winners Ethan McDowell and Bryan McClure!
And now, here’s a few words from show-runner MARC SCOTT ZICREE…
We’re now moving full speed with our line producer, VFX artists and the rest of our team working on AMAZING scenes and sequences.
Within the next few months, you’ll have the first half-hour of our two-hour pilot in hand, and then it’s on to the rest!
If you want to see a FULL SCENE, here’s a wonderful encounter between Synthetic human Dor Neven (Doug Jones) and mining foreman Yusef Sekander (Robert Picardo) in Yusef’s quarters in the mining facility on Ceres in the asteroid belt!
The entire time with Space Command, there’s never been a network or studio making it happen – it’s been all of us willing this into existence and making it happen.
As I say often, compassion and love can be a counterweight to all the hatred and chaos in the world; they can make a present a future worth living in for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren.
It’s up to us to make that world, and that universe.
That’s what Space Command is all about, and it’s what I’ve dedicated my life to, in my work and in my life. Thanks for your faith and for staying the course.