Before I begin, I’d just like to go on record that I’ve had the time of my life here in Las Vegas for the last five days. And CREATION ENTERTAINMENT founders Adam Malin and Gary Berman (and their many employees, volunteers, and celebrity guests) have outdone themselves in putting on a superb 50th anniversary tribute to Star Trek. I laughed, I cried, I kissed about $250 goodbye in the dealers room. It was the best of times; it was an incredible gift to the 6,000 fans who could afford to make it to Las Vegas and ordered their tickets before they sold out. So well done, I say to all of Creation!
On Friday morning at the CREATION 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, I learned of a troubling new policy: fan films are apparently a forbidden topic!
The first indication I had of this new policy came at the end of the panel discussion with Tim Russ, Ethan Phillips, and Garrett Wang (who were each hilarious and not to be missed on stage if you ever get the chance). As their talk moved into the questions-from-the-audience stage, I wandered to the front of the room to get in line to ask my question.
Back in May (a month before the new fan film guidelines were announced by CBS and Paramount), a fan production out of the United Kingdom set out to raise $2,500 in a Kickstarter campaign to fund a short Star Trek fan film called Chance Encounter. They were successful and immediately began to build their one set (the interior of a Type-15 TNG-era shuttlepod), create costumes, and hire cast.
Then the fan film guidelines came out. Would it be a problem for this production? Well, the production is already intended to be a short one-shot film, so the first guideline limiting run-time to 15 minutes and forbidding a continuing series won’t be a problem. The title Chance Encounter doesn’t have Star Trek in it, so guideline #2 is safe. In fact, nearly all of the guidelines have been followed, including a Kickstarter that raised less than $50,000 (significantly less)…although perks were distributed. Of course, the Kickstarter happened before the guidelines were released, so it’s probably okay.
Fan Film Factor founder (and the guy typing this right now), JONATHAN LANE, had the pleasure of doing a podcast interview alongside co-moderator DAVID HEAGNEY, JR. discussing the SMALL ACCESS protest campaign and the new fan film guidelinesreleased by CBS and Paramount.
We were interviewed by super-fan and live radio podcaster Shane Stacks for an hour. In the first half-hour, Shane covered recent sci-fi news and releases, and starting at the 30-minute mark, we dive into discussion about the guidelines and the SMALL ACCESS campaign. Among the questions we answer: what are we hoping to accomplish, will the studios even take us seriously, and is Alec Peters hiding behind the curtain pulling our strings?
One could argue that a documentary doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of a Star Trek “fan film,” but one year ago, director Adam Nimoy raised $662,000 from nearly ten thousandStar Trek fans in a Kickstarter campaign for a movie about the life of his amazing father, Leonard.
To me, that’s the truest essence of a fan making a film about something he loves with the help of other fans who share that love (including $50 from yours truly)!
For the past twelve months, Adam Nimoy (who is both directing and writing the “Spockumentary”), worked tirelessly to research and assemble footage and to interview a vast array of fans and professionals alike about their love not only of Spock but of the man who created the character. The film will feature such notable names as William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Neil deGrasse Tyson, J.J. Abrams, and the late Leonard Nimoy himself.
Two weeks ago, Nimoy delivered the finished film to his distributor for worldwide release. And a week ago, he announced that the film will be released in theaters, on VOD, and via iTunes on September 9, 2016 (the Friday immediately following the 50th anniversary of the broadcast television debut of Star Trek). Nimoy also released an amazing trailer that has me more excited than ever to see this tribute to an incredible actor who gave the world a universally beloved character…
The fan series Project: Potemkin was nearly finished with its four-season run. Thirty episodes had already been produced and released, and only three more remained. Show-runner RANDY LANDERS (read his interview with Fan Film Factor here) had announced that the series would wrap up after the end of season four, although four other series–Starship Tristan, Starship Deimos, Battlecruiser Kupok, and Starship Endeavour–would continue with new episodes.
The remaining three episodes of Project: Potemkin had already been filmed over a year ago and were simply awaiting post-production editing, sound, VFX, and musical scoring. Then the fan film guidelines were released by CBS and Paramount.
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.”
Okay, so maybe Renegades is no longer officially STAR TREK: Renegades, but we all know what it really is. Sure, Chekov will now be referred to simply as “The Admiral” and Tuvok is now “Kovok,” the Federation is now the “Confederation,” and the comm badges are gone from the uniforms. But it’s still a Star Trek fan film at heart, even if all the obvious and direct references to Star Trek have been surgically removed to avoid having to follow the new CBS and Paramount guidelines.
Don’t panic! Tommy Kraft, creator of the hugely popular Star Trek: Horizon fan film, has already reached and exceeded the $13,000 Kickstarter goal he set for his new non-Star Trek independent sci-fi film Runaway. In fact, he’s nearly reached $18,000!
Wanna see and hear what the guy who types all these blogs looks and sounds like? Last week, I was contacted by a news producer for ReasonTV and asked if I’d be willing to come in for a half hour or so and discuss Star Trek fan films. Well, gee, twist my arm!
I’d never heard of ReasonTV, but it turns out it’s the latest offering from the Reason Foundation, which was founded in 1978 and publishes the monthly Reason magazine (voted one of the 50 best magazines in 2003 and 2004 by the Chicago Tribune…for whatever that’s worth).
I was told the news feature would be about 10 minutes long and focus on the CBS/Axanar lawsuit and the new fan film guidelines. Alec Peters and Richard Hatch would also appear in the piece. We’d all be interviewed separately and edited together later.
I drove to the studio (conveniently located only about ten minutes from where I live) and sat for a very pleasant interview. The reporter, Zach Weissmueller, was well prepared with some great questions. This wasn’t just a fluff piece, and my job wasn’t to talk up Axanar. In fact, I think I only even said the word “Axanar” once during the entire interview. Instead, I was asked about the history of fan films and the introduction of the new official guidelines.