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!
If you’d like to try to help Tommy reach $20,000, you have until midnight Eastern Time to make a donation. Click here to visit the Runaway Kickstarter page.
UPDATE: Runaway finished up with an impressive total of $18,830 from 226 backers (including $35 from yours truly) pledged to help bring Tommy Kraft’s project to life! Yay, Tommy!!!
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.
You can watch the video below (it’s very well-produced and informative) or click here to read the text piece that goes along with it.
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.
Wow! Them’s fightin’ words!!
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!!!
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.
To find out more and/or to donate to Tommy’s project, click here to visit his Kickstarter page.
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 guidelines were 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.”