Although fan films date back to the early days of the original Star Trek series, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that fans were finally able to create something with off-the-shelf consumer products that looked like more than just a crappy home movie. By the late 90s, fans could record and edit footage using digital cameras, do their own 3D effects and Chroma-keying, and even add music through the use of MIDI. Many fans were also getting quite good at costuming. Suddenly, the only limits facing fans who wanted to make their own filmed versions of their favorite genre franchises were their imaginations, creativity, and skills with these new technologies.
So it’s definitely worth taking notice when a top-tier Trek fan film is produced by only ONE man. Well, I should qualify that. His first episode cast was comprised of 17 people (including the creator himself and his wife Jeannette), the original music was composed by John Catney, and a number of CGI 3D meshes and textures were created by other artists. But everything else – the writing, directing, producing, sets, make-up, wardrobe, lighting, sound, camera angles, editing, and 3D animation – that was all in the hands of one guy: Tim Vining.
And he never even had to get out of his chair!
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
— Rear Admiral David G. Farragut
Last time: Between 2005 when they first started production on their pilot episode and the end of 2010, Starship Farragut managed to produce two full-length fan films of about an hour each, two shorter “Crew Logs” vignettes, two animated episodes, and one online comic book. They also moved their production from the Washington, DC area to St. Marys, GA where they began construction of their own TOS sets in a 2,500 square foot facility they called Studio 1.
As plans began to solidify to produce their third (and most ambitious!) full-length feature, Starship Farragut creator and star, John Broughton, announced an unexpected decision of his own: he would be giving up his leading role as Captain Jack Carter and would be stepping back from day-to-day production going forward. Would Starship Farragut be able to continue without its captain? Let’s find out… Continue reading “STARSHIP FARRAGUT, Part 3 (2011 to 2016)”
“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
— Rear Admiral David G. Farragut
Last time: we met John Broughton, U.S. Navy veteran turned starship captain. Broughton played John “Jack” Carter, commanding officer of the USS Farragut NCC-1647, who began his mission during the third year of Captain Kirk’s original five-year mission.
Starting in 2005, John Broughton assembled a dedicated team made up of dozens of family, friends, and family of friends in the Washington, DC area who worked intently on building sets, sewing uniforms, and making props. With help from NEO f/x to do CGI visual effects and James Cawley, who generously allowed John’s team to film scenes on James’ meticulously-constructed Star Trek: New Voyages TOS bridge sets in upstate New York, Starship Farragut managed to film not just one but two full-length episodes and release both during the 2007 calendar year. Their second episode even went on to win the award for Best Fan Film at the Wrath of Con film festival in 2008.
It’s fair to say that Starship Farragut successfully navigated a whole slew of torpedoes that might have sunk a lesser fan production, and they were sailing “warp speed ahead!” into 2008. And that’s where our story picks up… Continue reading “STARSHIP FARRAGUT, Part 2 (2008 to 2010)”
Rear Admiral David G. Farragut issued that order in 1864 at the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War. A century and a half later, a group of dedicated Star Trek fans has followed that order with enthusiasm to make a film series that bears his name.
If you think about it, there are a lot of things that can torpedo a fan film production. From inception to completion, the fan(s) behind it have to have the five Ds: the Dream, Desire, Design, and Determination to get it all Delivered.
Starship Farragut had its fair share of torpedoes to get past, but speed on it did. And through a full decade of filming and production, Farragut has continued to grow, improve, and evolve into one of Star Trek fandom’s MUST-SEE fan-based series. Along the way, Farragut boldly went where no fan film had gone before, blazing a successful trail for other fan series to follow.
Last time, we posted the first half of our really FANtastic interview with Randall “Randy” Landers, the creator and driving force behind of Project: Potemkin. Unlike the more dazzling fan films out there with six-figure budgets, Potemkin has essentially no budget. And yet they’ve still managed to produce 28 separate episodes in four years… and they’re still going strong.
We’ve already learned some of Randy’s secrets (well, they’re not really secrets!), but he’s got a lot more to talk about. So let’s pick up where we left off…
Without a doubt, we live in a veritable renaissance of Star Trek fan films… one after the other they come, dazzling us with intricate and expansive sets, elaborate green screen backgrounds, meticulously crafted costumes, breathtaking special effects, professional level make-up and lighting, and rich music and sound effects. Production teams in the hundreds often include veteran Star Trek actors and professional screenwriters who have worked in Hollywood. Heck, some of these fan films are even being shot in Los Angeles with crowd-sourced budgets well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But what if your budget is missing four or five zeros at the end? What if you’ve got virtually nothing to spend on your fan film? With all the blazing supernovae of independent Star Trek cinematic achievements out there, is it even worth it to make just a simple “fan film” anymore?
Apparently, the answer is wholeheartedly yes, and Project: Potemkin has more than two dozen episodes online to prove it! Continue reading “PROJECT POTEMKIN (interview with Randy Landers), Part 1”
Last time: we followed the history of Starship Exeter’s first episode, “The Savage Empire,” from its humble beginnings in 1995 to its release onto the Internet in 2002. Starship Exeter was a game-changer, helping to usher in the modern age of Star Trek fan films.
Although the producers, Jimm and Josh Johnson, hadn’t initially planned to make another episode, fans weren’t taking “no” for an answer and actually offered to help make it. And so Starship Exeter would get a second episode after all… and this time, they were taking aim at a much higher level of quality.
In December of 2002 when Starship Exeter released its first episode, “The Savage Empire,” it was a total game-changer. Exeter rewrote the rules of what a Star Trek fan film could be and helped to usher in what many call the modern age of fan films. Twelve years later, Starship Exeter released the final act of its second episode, “The Tressaurian Intersection,” considered by many to be one of the few MUST SEE Star Trek fan films out there.
If you’re a true Star Trek fan, you should watch “Mind-Sifter,” the latest episode released from Star Trek: New Voyages.
(NOTE: Two weeks after this blog was posted, New Voyages released another episode, “The Holiest Thing,” but this entry is about its predecessor, “Mind-Sifter,” which was released in December of 2014.)
You shouldn’t watch “Mind-Sifter” simply because it’s a well-constructed, well-acted, and well-produced story. And you shouldn’t watch it simply because it feels like good Star Trek.
No, you should watch it to honor the memory of an amazing woman who almost single-handedly helped to define, grow, and nurture Star Trek fandom while it was still in its infancy. I dare say that we all wouldn’t be here today celebrating Star Trek as passionately as we do if it weren’t for Shirley S. Maiewski, also known as “Grandma Trek.” Continue reading “Fulfilling a 30-Year Promise to the “Grandmother of Trek””