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.
When CBS and Paramount announced their new guidelines for Star Trek fan films, the fates of two long-running, celebrated fan series seemed to be in jeopardy. Star Trek: New Voyages (having released nearly a dozen full-length TOS fan episodes since 2004) and Star Trek Continues (with six full-length TOS fan episodes plus three vignettes released since 2012) both appeared to violate multiple new guideline rules. These included run-times over 15 minutes, more than $50,000 in crowd-funding, perk give-aways for contributors, the use of professional actors and crew, and of course, simply having an ongoing fan series in the first place!
Would these two venerated fan series finally come to an inglorious end? It seems the answer is “yes”…and “no”…and “maybe.” Let me explain…
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.
Back in 2004, Star Trek fans’ collective jaws dropped when they got their first look at Star Trek: New Voyages, an original fan film series shot on sets meticulously recreated from the original TOS bridge, transporter room, and captain’s quarters. Show-runner and lead actor James Cawley reportedly funded the construction of these sets with $100,000-150,000 of his own money.
Other set recreations would follow: sickbay, the briefing room, expansive corridors, and many more. Eventually, the New Voyages (also known as Phase 2) sets located in Ticonderoga, New York had replicated nearly the entire layout of the original TOS shooting sets at Desilu Studios on the Paramount lot fifty years ago.
Along the way, Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase 2 produced and released nearly a dozen original fan films, each dazzling fans. But then the new fan film guidelines were released by CBS and Paramount, potentially signalling an end to this venerable TOS fan series. Fan wondered if they would even see these amazing sets again.
Well, wonder no more! Although the fate of Star Trek: New Voyages as a fan series is still unknown, an announcement was just made on the Star Trek.com website that the TOS sets in upstate New York would now be open to viewing by the general public…on officially licensed set tours! Yes, officially licensed!!!