Even though Runaway isn’t a Star Trek fan film, Tommy Kraft is a beloved enough Star Trek fan filmmaker that we’re keeping an eye on his latest Kickstarter campaign.
With a goal of $13,000, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. But it’s not over yet! With just over a week to go, Tommy still needs to raise about $3,000 more or else he’ll get zero/zilch/zip/nada from Kickstarter for all of his efforts. 147 backers have gotten Tommy 77% of the way to his goal. Another 50 or so should put him over.
Set to be filmed in the style of a cyberpunk western, Runaway will focus on Maria, an android on the run–falsely accused of murdering her master. Pursued through the forest by ruthless bounty hunters, Maria struggles to reach the Free States and maybe discover her humanity along the way.
The fan series formerly known as Star Trek: Renegades and now officially renamed Renegades: The Series may no longer technically be a Star Trek fan series, but it still features a cast full of veteran Trek actors. Among them are Walter “Chekov” Koenig, Nichelle “Uhura” Nichols, Tim “Tuvok” Russ, Terry “Jadzia” Farrell, Cirroc “Jake Sisko” Lofton, Aaron “Nog” Eisenberg, Robert “Chakotay” Beltran, Gary “Soval” Graham, Manu “Icheb” Intiraymi, and Hana “Molly O’Brien” Hatae.
Not all of them were supposed to be playing their original roles from Star Trek series like TOS, DS9, and Voyager…and now, of course, none of them are playing those roles (wink, wink). But you can now see the entire cast along with extras and a plethora of amazing-looking aliens of a quality and intricacy that have never been seen in any fan production to date!
There are also several production images that have now been posted, with more promised soon. These photos give a better idea of what the uniforms (sans chest insignia) will look like, and they also show the extensive amount of green-screen filming that will allow a wealth of potentially breathtaking CGI backgrounds to be added to what scenes they are filming. Additionally, there are practical (physical) sets like a bar as well as hybrid sets like a starship bridge where the crew sit in actual chairs with real consoles, but the rest of the bridge background will be digitally added later.
Okay, folks, now THIS one is intriguing! As many of you probably know, TOMMY KRAFT is the fan dynamo who wrote, produced, directed, and did about six dozen other things on the wildly popular Star Trek: Horizon feature-length fan film (currently at 1.75 million views on YouTube!). Shortly after releasing Horizon in late February, Tommy announced a Kickstarter for a sequel and was quickly contacted by CBS and strongly advised not to proceed with his new endeavor.
Now we know why, as the new fan film guidelineswere probably already being discussed and would soon be released by CBS and Paramount. One of those guidelines states: “The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray.” Another states: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”
Fast forward to this week, and Tommy Kraft has just launched a brand new Kickstarter for a short film called Runaway, set in the not-too-distant future where an android fights for her life as she races to get to the Free States. He’s seeking $13,000 and has already raised about $4,000 in pledges from 55 backers…one of whom is me. I pledged $35.
It’s interesting to watch the various reactions of the current Star Trek fan series to the new CBS/Paramount guidelines. In the case of Star Trek: Renegades, they dropped the name “Star Trek” from their title, took off the comm badges, and named Walter Koenig’s character “The Admiral.” Of course, we all know who they mean…don’t we? But with no “obvious” Star Trek content, the fan guidelines no longer apply to Renegades: The Series.
On the other side of the United States, Alabama-based Potemkin Pictures has taken a different approach. For the last half-decade or so, the vast majority of Potemkin Pictures’ fan films have actually followed most of the guidelines (before they even came out!): short-duration episodes, no crowd-funding, no perks, original music, home-made costumes, and store-bought props. Their only real “violation”–now that the new guidelines are in place–is “no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.”
Today, JOHN VAN CITTERS, Senior Vice President, Licensing at CBS Consumer Products Inc., gave a lengthy podcast interview to the ENGAGE official Star Trek podcastto host Jordan Hoffman. During that interview, “JVC” spoke at length about the new fan film guidelines that were just issued jointly by CBS and Paramount.
Considering the uproar these new guidelines have incited, along with petitions, calls for letter-writing and tribble-inundation campaigns, threats of boycotts, and of course, my own SMALL ACCESS campaign on Facebook, JVC is to be applauded for “stepping in front of the firing squad,” so to speak, and trying to explain and justify these new guidelines reasonably, calmly, and–dare I say it?–logically. And I have to hand it to my former boss (yep, I used to be a Star Trek consultant for Paramount’s licensing department back when it was still Viacom Consumer Products, and JVC was one of my supervisors), he did a very commendable job of explaining what CBS and Paramount were thinking.
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And when CBS and Paramount give you impossible guidelines to follow for your Star Trek fan series, then you make a non-Star Trek fan series, right?
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Star Trek: Renegades. When the new fan film guidelines were released from CBS and Paramount, Renegades was completing principle filming on two-days of scenes featuring Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols reprising their iconic roles of Chekov and Uhura. But suddenly, Star Trek: Renegades would be in violation of all of the following new fan film rules:
Must be less than 15 minutes and not be a series with recurring characters.
Title cannot contain the words “Star Trek.”
Cannot use imitations of commercially-available costumes or other licensed Trek items (like phasers or custom-designed comm badges).
and most important of all…
Cannot feature any actor who has previously appeared in any Star Trek series of film from Paramount/CBS.
Oh, and they cannot have raised more than $50,000 (Star Trek: Renegades took in $378,000) or given away any perks in exchange for donations (which they also did).
Be careful what you wish for! For years, Star Trek fans have been hoping for guidelines from CBS to help define what was and was not acceptable in the creation of fan films. Today, those guidelines were finally posted publicly…
…and it wasn’t pretty.
The new guidelines would limit all Star Trek fan films to no more than 15-minute short films and no more than two-parts (so you couldn’t divide a one-hour episode into four segments). Likewise, continuing series with seasons and/or sequels would be prohibited.
Yesterday, Blade of Honor completed its 40-day Kickstarter campaign with a very impressive $51,302 raised from 828 backers. Although not technically a Star Trek fan film, Blade of Honor features many notable Star Trek and sci-fi actors, as well as several veterans of Star Trek fan films.
Their posted Kickstarter goal was $30,000 to make a single pilot webisode. By surpassing that goal, Blade of Honor gets to keep the Kickstarter money that was raised. Once the $30,000 goal was passed a few weeks ago, a stretch goal of $58,000 for webisode #2 was targeted and nearly reached. It’s unknown yet whether the extra money will be used immediately or kept in reserve to be used after a second Kickstarter fully funds episode two. For now, however, work can begin in earnest on their pilot.
By now, you’ve probably heard that Anton Yelchin, the Russian-born actor who portrayed the character of Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films, was killed overnight when his car rolled and pinned him up against a brick wall.
Fan Film Factor joins Star Trek fans everywhere in morning the untimely passing of this promising young actor whose portrayal of our beloved Chekov was heartfelt and truly enjoyable to watch. While the rebooted Star Trek had its fair share of detractors, one character who was seldom if ever criticized was Chekov. Anton Yelchin’s energetic performances made the enthusiastic young Russian navigator lovable and engaging.
Four weeks ago, I wrote a very impassioned op-ed decrying that Trekkers should be fans and not lawyers. I am now going to turn myself into a complete hypocrite and become an armchair attorney myself…partly because of the shameless reason that it seems to boost readership of one’s blog but also because I think there’s a fascinating details about the latest Axanar lawsuit news that’s not being reported at the moment.