A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 3)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last time: Having released a very impressive debut episode, Pilgrim of Eternity,” in May of 2013, STAR TREK CONTINUES was ready to bring fans even more episodes from what they imagined would have been the never-produced 4th and 5th seasons of TOS Star Trek.  They just needed one thing: money.

Vic Mignogna had funded their first episode himself as a way of telling fans, “Hey, this is what we can do.  Please donate so we can make more episodes like this.”  Some of the sets had already been built by the team at Starship Farragut, which agreed to share their studio with STC.  Other set pieces, like the briefing room and captain’s quarters, had been partially constructed in Oklahoma City for the never-made fan film Starship Ajax, and Vic purchased them from Ajax show-runner John Hughes to take to Georgia.

In 2012, Farragut Films moved to a larger studio in Kingsland, GA, with 10,000 square feet to expand into.  With their combined resources, the two productions were now able to have a TOS bridge, transporter, crew quarters, briefing room/mess hall, sickbay, and corridors.  New set construction—including improvements for the existing bridge—were overseen by local contractor William Smith, who became the de facto “custodian” of the entire set, as he lived close to the studio.

But a fan film needs more than just sets.  There was also rent for the sound stage, rent for the equipment, utilities, prop creation, costume production and rental, make-up supplies and equipment, and post-production costs for things like hard-drive storage.  Add to this costs for travel and lodging for out-of-town cast and crew plus food for everyone during the week and a half of filming.  And while most of the team were volunteers, some professionals were working at a discounted rate (about 10% of their normal fee).  It all added up!

STC-15Vic determined that if STC could raise $100,000 in a crowd-funder, they could afford to make three additional episodes.  The campaign was held in late 2013, and on November 6, the Kickstarter (or KIRKstarter, as they called it) finished with $126,028 from 2,981 backers.  That was more than enough for three new episodes!

Let’s take a closer look at each of them…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 3)”

ROBERT MEYER BURNETT resigns as director on AXANAR!

Almost from the very beginning, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, who directed and co-wrote the film Free Enterprise with William Shatner and Eric McCormack, has been almost as synonymous with the AXANAR project as Alec Peters himself.  He edited Prelude to Axanar and is credited by many as being a major reason that this mockumentary-style fan film came out as well as it did.

For the past three years, Rob has been listed as the director of the upcoming Axanar fan film, originally intended as a 90-minute feature film.  In fact, Rob directed the impressive 3-minute “Vulcan scene” vignette, planned to be a part of that final feature.  After a legal settlement with CBS and Paramount, the Axanar production has now been shortened to two 15-minute mockumentary-style sequels to Prelude.

Rob has been one of the staunchest supporters and cheerleaders for the project (probably even more than me!) and has been involved in pre-production efforts, podcasts, convention appearances, and social media outreach for Axanar over the past two and a half years.  But with the move of Alec Peters and the Axanar sets across the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta, GA, the logistics of a bi-coastal collaboration became more of a challenge.

Yesterday, Rob announced that he was moving on from the production…

Continue reading “ROBERT MEYER BURNETT resigns as director on AXANAR!”

HARRY MUDD – thief, swindler, con-man, liar, rogue…and SOCIOPATHIC MASS MURDERER??? (editorial review)

I really enjoyed the seventh episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

…until I didn’t.

Perhaps the title “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” forgives Harry Mudd’s descent into a bloodlust resulting in the repeated serial killing of Captain Lorca and the rest of the Discovery crew while stuck in a repeating time-loop.

Perhaps having that kind of “cosmic undo” power made Harry snap and become someone other than the lovable but conniving scoundrel we’d come to know and laugh at over the past 50 years.  And maybe that insanity was, in fact, only temporary—and ten years later, Mudd will return to just being, as Kirk said, a thief, swindler, con-man, liar, and rogue…and no longer a mass murderer.

As I watched this week’s episode, I actually thought it was a lot of fun.  As countless other fans noted, it was like the movie Groundhog Day, only told through the perspective of the other residents of the quiet hamlet of Punxsutawney, and where Bill Murray is replaced by a malevolent sadist who is out to kill all the townspeople and destroy the town itself.  And of course, the parallels to TNG‘s wonderful fifth season episode “Cause and Effect” are also pretty evident…except that the spatial anomaly is replaced by a homicidal lunatic who is out to murder the crew and obliterate the Enterprise-D.

But really, it was fun watching and re-watching and re-re-watching Lorca get murdered and the Discovery blow up time and again.  I’m not sure what that says about me—or about the writers on the show who came up with a script that included such scenes!—but perhaps because we all knew it was a time-loop and that nobody would die at the end, that makes it all okay, right?

Right???

As I thought more about the episode, though, I began to wonder…

Continue reading “HARRY MUDD – thief, swindler, con-man, liar, rogue…and SOCIOPATHIC MASS MURDERER??? (editorial review)”

STAR TREK CONTINUES gives fans a SNEAK PEEK at their FINAL EPISODE!

It was truly one of the most extraordinary moments I’ve ever experienced at a convention.  And for the rest of my life, whenever someone uses the word “bittersweet,” my mind will remember seeing the finale of STAR TREK CONTINUES at L.A. Comic Con with the entire cast, some guest stars, writers, directors, VFX and make-up people, crew, about 200 fans…and my son Jayden.

But in addition to “bittersweet,” I would use words like amazing, inspiring, suspenseful, intimate, dazzling, heartfelt, loving, and incredibly satisfying to describe both this final episode and the nearly 90-minute discussion that followed.

THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS!

In fact, when this episode is finally released onto the Internet on Monday, November 13, I recommend you rush to watch it as soon as you can and allow yourself NO advanced knowledge of anything.  There are truly unexpected surprises in this episode, and you don’t want them ruined.  “To Boldly Go, Part II,” as promised, will end Kirk’s five-year mission with drama, emotion, and an intensity seldom seen in fan films.

It’s a MUST SEE-PLUS-PLUS-PLUS!

As director JAMES KERWIN commented to the audience, he loved hearing everyone applauding at just the right moments, some sniffles at others, all the reactions he was hoping for.  This one hits on all cylinders, folks, and is a beautiful way to wrap up eleven top-notch episodes and five unforgettable years of this beloved fan production.

Anyone wanting to put down show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA or trivialize the accomplishments of these dedicated and talented individuals…well, you’re going to need to do it elsewhere.  As a proud donor and follower of this celebrated fan series, I will stand up for Star Trek Continues every single time!

And speaking of Vic, he respectfully asked for anyone who was recording Sunday evening’s live panel discussion to please not share the video until after the episode had a chance to circulate…as many details were mentioned that could spoil the viewing experience for others.

So I have some wonderful footage from the Q&A session that I will share in a few weeks.  But for now—and I hope Vic will indulge a proud father—I would like to share this one SPOILER-FREE response to a question from my son Jayden, as Vic Mignogna explains his production in a way that any seven-year-old can understand…

Thank you, Vic, for that answer.  And thank to everyone on the STC team for sharing Vic’s dream with appreciative Trekkers who have waited five decades to see Kirk’s historic five-year mission finally reach its conclusion.

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 2)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Cover 2Last time, we looked at an overview of what made STAR TREK CONTINUES unique among fan films.  This week, we’ll take a closer look at how this fan series got its start and some of its earliest fan film releases.

Months before producing and releasing its first full episode in 2013, STC filmed three short vignettes in May of 2012 to “introduce themselves” and get their space legs.

THE VINGETTES

The first vignette, about four minutes long, recreated the ending of “Turnabout Intruder,” the final first-run episode of TOS to air on television. But instead of ending on the depressingly somber line from Kirk, “If only…” the vignette CONTINUED the scene (get it?), following Kirk, Spock, and Scott into the turbolift and onto the bridge. Joined a few seconds later by McCoy, the somber mood is lightened by a good-natured poke at Spock by the doctor, and then Kirk orders the Enterprise to rendezvous with the Potemkin. The music shifts to an uplifting, optimistic melody, portending new and exciting adventures into the future. The camera pans out to reveal the entire bridge crew as the credits roll.

You can watch the vignette here…

And if you’re curious, here’s a couple of still-frame comparisons to the original version of that same scene from TOS…

STC-8
A comparison of the original “Turnabout Intruder” (left) and the recreation of the scenes by STAR TREK CONTINUES.

This first vignette was released onto the Internet on July 31, 2012 and served to do more than simply say, “Hey, we’re here! Look what we can do!” It also introduced four of the main actors who would be starring in the new series.

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 2)”

Is STAR TREK: DISCOVERY getting TOO PREDICTABLE? (editorial review)

SPOILERS AHEAD!  BIG, HUGE, MASSIVE, GINORMOUS, HULKING SPOILERS!!!  (Don’t say you weren’t warned!)

Last week, I commented on the fan theory that Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery isn’t from “our” universe but rather from the Mirror Universe.  At first, it sounded like a pretty wild theory.  Now, I’m pretty well convinced that it’s the truth.

Is that the “discovery” that the series is named for?  After all, these show-runners are all about things having multiple layers of meaning, like episode 5’s title “Choose Your Pain.”  Maybe Discovery is not just the starship’s name but also alluding to the crew’s discovery that their captain is from another universe…a much meaner and nastier universe, as it turns out!

What?  You don’t believe me?  (Well, actually, some of you probably do.  This theory is already spreading rapidly through fandom—at least those watching the show—and a growing number are, like me, getting on board with the idea.)

Here’s the clues…

Continue reading “Is STAR TREK: DISCOVERY getting TOO PREDICTABLE? (editorial review)”

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 1)

NOTE: About a year a half ago, I published a 3-part blog tracing the fascinating history of STAR TREK CONTINUES.  In honor of their penultimate episode being released this past week and their series finale next month, I will be reprinting these blogs and adding an additional blog or two covering what happened between then and now.


Cover 1“If only…”

Those were the last two words uttered by Captain Kirk before Star Trek the original series was canceled in 1969.

“If only…”

Kirk was referring to the tragic descent into hate-filled insanity of his former love, Dr. Janice Lester. But for me, these two words were so much more powerful: If only Star Trek hadn’t been canceled. If only Star Trek could have…

…continued.

TOS fans always felt a pang of frustration that the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise was cut short after only three years in space (and on the air).  Sure, in 1973 an 1974, we got to see 22 animated episodes of the series, voiced by the same original actors, but we never got to see the end of that five-year mission.

Even when Star Trek crossed over into motion pictures, the end of Kirk’s first mission was still a mystery.  And the days of seeing those those bright red, blue, and gold uniforms and those amazingly colorful starship Enterprise sets—those days were gone forever…except in reruns, of course.

I used to have this dream where I was watching an episode of TOS that I’d never seen before.  Of course, I’d seen every episode dozens of times, so when I woke up, I’d sadly remember that there were no “lost” episodes of TOS.

Until there were…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 1)”

STAR TREK CONTINUES releases their 10TH EPISODE: “To Boldly Go, Part 1”!

Ten down, just one more to go!

Back in 2013, STAR TREK CONTINUES came in like a lion with a sequel to the TOS episode “Who Mourns for Adonais” that featured Michael Forest reprising his role as Apollo.

Now, as 2017 comes to an end, so does the 5-year mission of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 as Star Trek Continues goes out with a bang!  Their series finale “To Boldly Go” is making its debut to the public today with the first of two parts.  The conclusion will debut in 11 days at a live screening at L.A. Comic Con, and then the final episode of STC will be released onto the Internet for the general public on November 13.

Both parts were written by noted Canadian sci-fi author ROBERT J. SAWYER (his first-ever work for STC).  He is one of eight authors in history to win all three of the science-fiction field’s highest honors for best novel of the year: the Hugo Award (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula Award (which he won for The Terminal Experiment); and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan).  Sawyer is a huge Star Trek fan, which you’ll be able to tell almost immediately when you watch the episode.

NICOLA BRYANT with the 6th Doctor, COLIN BAKER, in 1986…and today in the penultimate episode of STC.

I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers, so with the exception of gushing about a top-level performance by guest star NICOLA BRYANT (companion “Peri Brown” to the 5th and 6th Doctors on Doctor Who), I’ll simply tell you to note how awesome the music sounds.  A full orchestra made up of more than 40 student musicians from New York’s Empire Film Music Ensemble in Rochester, as well as several professional instrumentalists, recorded the brilliant compositions of Andy Farber.

While Star Trek: Discovery darkly reminds us that it is now 2017, this penultimate episode of STC is a like a warm, comfortable blanket wrapping us up once again in the TV magic of the 1960s (or if you weren’t there in the 60’s, then the 70’s or whenever you first discovered TOS).

Perhaps more than any other episode of STC, “To Boldly Go” will remind you of everything that Star Trek was, is, and can be when there is love and dedication…something the STC team has shared with us fans during the course of their own five-year mission.

And now, please enjoy the first half of this most wonderful gift to Star Trek fandom…

Are YOU a CAPTAIN LORCA? Am I??? (editorial review)

Spoiler warning!   Beige Alert!

“Choose Your Pain.”

That was the title of the fifth and possibly best-yet episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  Like many of the strongest stories of literature and cinema, the title “Choose Your Pain” works on multiple levels.

  • “Choose your pain” is what the Klingons say to the captives on their prison ship before beating the living crap out of one of them.
  • Michael Burnham is, arguably, choosing her pain when she holds onto the loss of Captain Georgiou and wallows in her seemingly endless morass of un-Vulcan-like self-pity and guilt.
  • Saru, likewise, is holding onto the loss of Captain Georgiou but also to his pain at having not been chosen to be her first officer and thereby not being able to learn from her experience and wisdom in the same way Burnham did.
  • Captain Lorca can and should get his eyes fixed, but he chooses not to.  He holds onto the pain the light causes him and lives in mostly dark places, a harsh reminder of the heartrending decision he made during his previous command of the USS Buran.

(Please note, there’s a theory currently making its way around fandom that the Lorca we’ve seen so far is actually a Mirror Universe counterpart of the “real” Lorca.  The reason the Buran was destroyed was to eliminate any witnesses—including the “good” Lorca—and that the whole interchange was orchestrated by Section 31 in order to acquire a captain who knew how to be ruthless in fighting the Klingons.  The reason that Lorca refuses to get his eyes fixed—a problem stemming from being transported to this universe—is that he doesn’t want the doctors to discover what he really is.)

Obviously, my blog today assumes that the above theory is NOT the case.  Instead, let’s just assume that Lorca is merely a man who was forced to make a tragic decision to destroy his ship and kill his crew to save them all from slow, painful deaths on Qo’Nos.  For this, Lorca has chosen to keep his pain as a reminder…and potentially as self punishment for what he did.

Like Lorca, I and many other Trek fans who are either not watching the show or frequently complaining about it are choosing to hold onto our “pain.”  We simply can’t seem to let go of our issues with the new series and  enjoy Star Trek: Discovery for everything it gives to us as fans.  Like Lorca, we choose to continue living in our dark places.

In short, WE ARE LORCA! Continue reading “Are YOU a CAPTAIN LORCA? Am I??? (editorial review)”

The BEST TWO Trek fan films you’ve NEVER seen! (interview with AARON VANDERKLEY, Part 2)

Last week, we met AARON VANDERKLEY, the Australian filmmaker behind the two excellent Trek fan films, NEEDS OF THE MANY and THE DERELICT.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Media degree, majoring in Screen Production, with minors in both Scriptwriting and Screen Acting, the 24-year-old Aaron went on to do film production professionally in Western Australia.

As I did in Part 1 of this interview—to avoid you folks inadvertently reading any spoilers—I heartily recommend that you watch the two fan films first (last week, about a thousand people did so) and then read the interview:

And now, let’s conclude an awesome interview with Aaron Vanderkley…

Continue reading “The BEST TWO Trek fan films you’ve NEVER seen! (interview with AARON VANDERKLEY, Part 2)”