When it comes to fan films, Star Trek is no stranger to mash-ups. Fans have taken Star Trek into the Star Wars universe and vice versa. Kirk and Spock have met the 1960s TV Batman and Robin. Heck, the Enterprise has even picked up Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz! (I’ve already done a feature on Star Trek vs. Batman. The others are coming.)
But by far (at least in my opinion) the most inspired, creative, and well-executed of all the Star Trek fan film mash-ups is Stone Trek, a series of nine cartoon shorts created by Brian Mathews and released online using Adobe’s Flash software between 2000 and 2007.
Stone Trek is NOT some silly crossover where the USS Enterprise travels back in time to Bedrock and Fred Flintstone beams up to meet Captain Kirk. Instead, it’s a complete hybrid of the two shows, an entirely new entity combining recognizable elements of both but ultimately emerging as something totally unique and original.
The interview also addresses the confusion and misinformation currently circulating about whether Axanar is behind the SMALL ACCESS campaign…which it is not. While I happily support Axanar and write this fun blog on the Axanar website, I’m way too busy with FAN FILM FACTOR and SMALL ACCESS to run everything past Alec Peters, and he’s way too busy to micromanage me. So we’re two ships in the same fleet fighting the same enemy, but Alec has his battles, and I’ve got mine.
Anyway, here’s the full interview for your viewing pleasure. Let me know what you think…
Last time: We met Paul Olsen, the man who spent eight months back in 1978 and 1979 painting the original model of the refit USS Enterprise for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Now, 37 years later, Paul wants to build it again: bigger, stronger, better, and painted to have the same opalescent shine as the original.
And Paul won’t be doing it alone. Richard Taylor (who designed the refit Enterprise) and Jim Dow (who built the original model) will be part of the team, as well. And the cost for this rebuild: $3 million!!! (They intend to build a 12-foot model that will last for hundreds of years plus a virtual reality display room that can be transported around the world.)
Right now, Paul and his team—with the help of Nichelle Nichols, Rod Roddenberry, and Tim Russ—are trying to raise $50,000 through a Kickstarter campaign ending on September 11. That will go towards a PR tour where Paul will attempt to raise the millions of dollars he’ll need to make this Trek fan dream a reality. He’s also trying to get official authorization for the project from CBS licensing, and that’s where we’ll pick up our interview, already in progress…
Many Star Trek fans dream big, and I love that…I really do. But what I love the most is a fan with a plan to make that dream a reality. I spoke to one such fan recently. And although I started my interview thinking his was a crazy dream without a prayer of ever happening, by the time I finished, I’d gone to his Kickstarter page and made a donation. This isn’t a fan film, but it’s a cool enough idea that I’m making an exception and sharing it with all of you.
This dreamer is Paul Olsen, and the dream is to rebuild the model of the refit USS Enterprise exactly as it appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture…only 50% larger (12 feet long!). The model would travel the world in its own special display, be painted with a opalescent finish to exacting specifications, and be built to last for centuries.
Crazy, you say? Crazy awesome, you say? Not a chance of it ever happening, you say? Well, before you turn away and get on with your life, take read through this interview and see if you start believing in the dream—and the fan with the plan—just like I did…
Before there was Renegades: the Seriesor Star Trek: Renegades, there was Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. And if you are a student of fan film history (or you want to be), this article is required reading.
You see, Star Trek: Of Gods and Men marked a turning point for fan films…several turning points, in fact. It was the first time a major fan film used the resources of another major fan film for shooting. It was the first time multiple Star Trek acting veterans all appeared together in the same fan production reprising their iconic characters. And it was the first time a major fan film had done a stand-alone feature-length film. (Other fan series had done hour-plus length episodes, but these were all for ongoing fan series. Star Trek: Of Gods and Men was a one-shot story with a movie run-time of nearly 90 minutes.)
A look at this groundbreaking fan production from 2008 actually allows us to look at its fascinating place in the grander history of all Star Trek fan films…
Last time: David Whitney, the show-runner for Star Trek Raven (and two other Trek fan films) produced by Starfleet Studios in central Iowa, shocked the fan world on July 1 when he announced his productions would be ignoring the new CBS and Paramount fan guidelines that, in his words, “do not directly support their copyright and copyright law.”
A day later, in an apparent about-face, David eliminated the parts of his announcement dealing with ignoring the new guidelines and instead stated “We are going to try to conform our film, now called ‘Starfleet Studios Raven Part One’ to the new rules.”
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”