If the release of the new guidelines by CBS and Paramount was the shot heard round the fan film world, then the subsequent response by the show-runner of Star Trek Raven was the first hint of return fire.
Or was it?
A week after CBS and Paramount published their guidelines for Star Trek fan films, an announcement went up on the news page for Star Trek Raven, a little-known fan series based in central Iowa filmed at Starfleet Studios (not to be confused with Starbase Studios in Oklahoma). The production had only released three short vignettes so far (this, this, and this), but Raven was about to become one of the most talked about fan films.
On July 1, the lead producer for Raven, David Whitney, posted this proactive statement:
The rules which pertain to direct copyright infringement and intellectual property will be adhered to. The rules which do not directly support their copyright, and copyright law, will be ignored.
Last time: Marc Scott Zicree discussed the first professional fan film, “World Enough and Time,” the fourth episode release from Star Trek: New Voyages back in 2007. Roughly 200-300 people worked on the production (235 names appear in the credits plus another 50 on the “Special thanks” list. A number of team members were actually Hollywood industry professionals…including George Takei himself reprising his role of Sulu, plus Marc and his co-writer Michael Reaves, his editor Chris Cronin, many of the department heads, the visual effects team, and the production unit who shot the USS Excelsior scenes in Los Angeles (the majority of the episode was filmed in upstate New York on the New Voyages TOS sets).
Even today, nearly a decade later, “World Enough and Time” remains high up on the list of MUST SEE fan films. And it provides a magnificent example of the kind of engaging, emotional, and dramatically satisfying production that can be achieved using a mixture of fan amateurs and industry professionals working together to create a true labor of love.
Of course, such a fan film would now be impossible to create and release under the new guidelines issued by CBS and Paramount. Industry professionals are barred from working on a fan film, although this particular guideline may violate California’s Business and Professions Code: Section 16600. Even if it does, however, fan films are now limited to 15-minute episodes or, at most, two 15-minute parts totaling no more than 30 minutes. The depth of character development and story complexity required for “World Enough and Time” could never be squeezed into such a constrained time limitation…nor should it, say many fans.
Marc Zicree is a rabid Star Trek and science fiction fan who has written and produced hundreds of hours of network television over a career spanning decades…including episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
As our 2-part interview with Marc concludes, he finishes discussing “World Enough and Time” and then dives head-first into what he thinks about those darn guidelines…
Some fans believe that Axanar was the first fan film to use professionals or, at the very least, the first to pay them. Both of those assumptions are incorrect by nearly a decade.
The first fan film to feature a known Star Trek professional in their credits was the debut episode of Star Trek: New Voyages in early 2004, “Come What May,” which featured Doug Drexler as visual effects artist (under the pseudonym “Max Rem”) while Doug was also actively working doing the digital FX for Star Trek: Enterprise and also for the new Battlestar Galactica.
New Voyages’ next episode, “In Harm’s Way,” likewise included Doug Drexler…this time as an executive producer. It also featured veteran Star Trek TOS guest stars William Windom (reprising his role as an older, time-displaced Commodore Matt Decker), BarBara Luna, and Malachi Thorne (also voicing his former role as Commodore Jose Mendez as well as playing a Klingon).
Last time: Ryan T. Husk, executive producer of the independent sci-fi series Blade of Honor, discussed the cast and crew of this exciting new project that’s currently raising money for its pilot episode (and possibly more episodes!) via Kickstarter. This web series features a number of Star Trek actors like Tim Russ, Aaron Eisenberg, and Cirroc Lofton, plus professional actors from other series, including Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica and James Kyson from Heroes. There’s also a bunch of veterans from Star Trek fan films like New Voyages and Horizon.
Ryan’s insights into to film industry have been fascinating, to say the least! As our interview concludes, we start off by discussing what differentiates an independent film from a fan film. And then we jump into how to set up and run a crowd-funding campaign… Continue reading “BLADE OF HONOR (interview), part 3”
Last time: we began a great conversation with Ryan T. Husk, executive producer of the new independent sci-fi series Blade of Honor, currently holding a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $30,000 for its pilot webisode (which they’ve reached, but they’re now trying to raise enough for a second webisode!).
This exciting project stars a number of major Star Trek actors like Tim “Tuvok” Russ, Aaron “Nog” Eisenberg, and Cirroc “Jake Sisko” Lofton, plus professional actors from other series, including Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica and James Kyson from Heroes. There’s also a bunch of veterans from Star Trek fan films like New Voyages and Horizon.
Beyond simply talking about Blade of Honor itself, Ryan shared some amazing insights into what producers do in Hollywood and why the same people frequently seem to keep working together project after project after project. And that was just part 1!
So let’s jump right back in as we learn even more about what goes into an independent film production from the bottom up and top down….
Initially, Ryan T. Husk was going to sit in on that fascinating conversation that I recently hadwith Alec Peters and Mike Bawden about the Realities of Crowd-funding. But ironically (or perhaps appropriately) Ryan couldn’t participate because he was busy launching a Kickstarter campaign for a brand new, original sci-fi fan series call Blade of Honor.
Even though Ryan’s new project wasn’t technically a Star Trek fan film, it features a number of Star Trek actors both from the various television series as well as several Star Trek fan film veterans. So even though I usually limit myself to mainly Star Trek fan films, I was intrigued enough by Blade of Honor that I figured I’d make an exception.
What I didn’t expect was to get some of the most amazing insights from Ryan…so much so that I was almost tempted to turn this interview into parts 5 and 6 of “The Realities of Crowd-Funding” 4-parter! Instead, just sit back and enjoy one of the most thoughtful fan filmmaker interviews I’ve done so far…
Last time: we learned the fate of the Starship Exeter bridge set was not oblivion. After decaying in a Texas barn for years, it was moved to Oklahoma City in 2010 by John Hughes to be used for a new production called Starship Ajax. John advertised for volunteers on Craigslist, and two guys from the concert industry became leaders of the project in their own right: Richard Wells and Scott Johnson
Shortly thereafter, John Hughes decided to concentrate primarily on his fan film, leaving Richard and Scott to complete the bridge restoration and set up Starbase Studios, a place where fan filmmakers could shoot their Star Trek stories for free on an actual TOS bridge recreation set.
But not all went swimmingly. As we continue our interview with Richard and Scott, we learn what happened after when the hand of nature once again threatened this beautiful bridge replica…
If you read my recent blog about Starship Exeter’s second episode, you’ll recall that when we last left the magnificent Exeter bridge set, it was rotting, unused and forgotten, in a barn in central Texas. What happened next is the amazing and heartwarming story of Starbase Studios.
How’s this for a first? A parody fan film of another fan film! And not just any fan film…it’s a parody of Prelude to Axanar!
Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are is a love letter to the amazing fan production that has become so popular… and it also doubles as a bit of light-hearted satire on this whole copyright infringement controversy. Oh, and it’s pretty darn funny, too!
So how did this Axanar parody come about? Who can we blame?
Last time: Having raised $126,000 from their first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign at the end of 2013, Star Trek Continues now had enough money to produce three new episodes. Indeed, by the time their Kickstarter ended in early November, they were about to start a seven-and-a-half day shoot at their 9,800 square foot studio in Kingsland, GA.
But work on their second episode had started many, many months before their Kickstarter campaign even began. The first thing required, of course, was a script…and for that, they needed a story.