The TOP 10 fan film news stories of 2017

A few days ago, I posted a blog looking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not!  (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)

But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films?  Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!

I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections.  Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related.  But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right?  And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments.  (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)

And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…

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2017 Star Trek fan film YEAR IN REVIEW!

“Why are you even bothering with this blog?” one anonymous poster wrote to me a little over a year ago.  “Star Trek fan films will all be gone soon, even your precious Axanar, and you’ll have nothing left to write about!”

Well, I’m still here…and so are Star Trek fan films!  (And I really hope that anonymous person is reading today’s blog because he wasn’t just wrong; he was VERY wrong!)

2017 was a BIG year for Star Trek fan films…possibly one of THE biggest!  And that’s kinda funny considering how many people told me that the fan film guidelines would spell certain doom for Trek fan films.  Even I thought that at first!

I will admit that, one year ago, things did seem kinda bleak in fan film land.  The Axanar lawsuit was less than a month from trial.  The Axanerds and Axa-detractors were going at it like Hatfields and Dr. McCoys.  The guidelines had been in existence for half a year, and already the long-ruinning Star Trek: New Voyages had halted production, the also-long-running Star Trek: Dark Armada had released its final episode at the end of 2016, Star Trek: Renegades had become Renegades: The Series-that-n0-longer-had-anything-to-do-with-Star-Trek-beyond-all-the-acrtors, and Star Trek Continues had announced their intention to produce only four (as opposed to six) final episodes to complete their fan series.

But I believed in fan films and the people who make them.  I had faith that the genre would continue despite the guidelines—perhaps even because of them (since they now gave Trekkers official permission from the studios to create their own productions…albeit within some overly-strict limits).

And Trek fan films certainly didn’t die!  In fact, they kept me pretty darn busy with news, features, and interviews all year long.  Anyone who believed Trek fan films were on their deathbed at the end of 2016 should join us on this trip down Memory…er…Lane (!) as I take a look back at what fan film news made my blog’s headlines over the past 12 months.

This special post will list the biggest Fan Film Factor news articles for 2017, in order by month, with links to each one of those blog entries if you want to dive in deeper.

And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a few final words from me about what’s coming in 2018…!

Continue reading “2017 Star Trek fan film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

SETH MacFARLANE’S many STAR TREK fan films!

It’s no secret that the creator of The Orville, SETH MacFARLANE, is a major Trekkie.  He’s said as much in interviews.  But few fans realized that Seth’s preoccupation with our favorite sci-fi franchise went BEYOND simply watching it or collecting stuff or even doing Captain Kirk impressions.  Yep, Seth MacFarlane actually made his own Star Trek fan film!

And no, I’m not talking about The Orville (although many have argued that he’s made a kind of Star Trek “fan film” in creating that show).  I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness amateur Star Trek fan film…where a teenaged Seth sits in the center seat on a home-made bridge set, wearing a do-it-yourself command tunic, barking orders at a friend wearing pointed ears while an AMT model of the refit USS Enterprise—complete with a drooping left nacelle—speeds across a blue screen chroma-keyed with a cheesy black hole space effect.

Here, take a look…

But believe it or not, Seth MacFarlane would go on to have many MORE opportunities to publicly geek out as a Trekkie…from playing James T. Kirk on real TV to hiring Patrick Stewart and even appearing on two actual Star Trek episodes!

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New video added to JOLLY stuff: “All I Want For Christmas is You – Star Trek Mashup”

Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas, everyone!  And Happy New Year, too!  Thank you all for being a part of this wonderful blog.  And in celebration of this joyous holiday, I present this very well-edited Star Trek mash-up with the popular song “All I Want for Christmas Is You”…

DVDs for STAR TREK CONTINUES? There’s good news and bad news…

Now that all 11 episodes of STAR TREK CONTINUES have been completed and released, the question rings out: Will there be DVD’s available for sale?

Some Trek fans like having DVDs of their favorite fan films, and some productions have obliged.  However, with the guidelines now forbidding the sale or distribution of fan films on DVDs or Blu-rays, most fan producers are opting not to release their episodes on disc except in the rare circumstance where they are given directly only to people who worked on their productions.

However, Star Trek Continues hasn’t exactly been following all of those guidelines.  So the question of whether they will continue that philosophy and release DVDs anyway is certainly a fair one to ask.

And now STC has answered.  In an e-mail sent out Saturday, executive producer VIC MIGNOGNA said the following:

Thousands of you have been asking for years if our series would ever be available on DVD & Blu-ray. Because there is significant cost in having discs and artwork pressed & packaged, it’s not feasible for us to make physical discs since we cannot sell them. That’s the bad news….
 
Now for the good news.  From the cast & crew of STC, our Christmas present to all of you is this: ISO image files (files in the .iso format) of all four volumes (and all 11 episodes) of our series are now available for free download on our website at so you can burn your own DVDs & Blu-ray discs:

www.startrekcontinues.com/downloads.html
 
You can also download the artwork inserts & disc art for all four volumes for free as well!
 
But that’s not all! We have made available the full-sized 24”x36” posters of all 11 episodes for free, including a custom STC poster I created which is displayed in this newsletter. [See the image at the top of this blog -Jonathan] All of our final shooting scripts can be downloaded as well.
 
But that’s not all! Many of you have asked about the original music that has been composed & produced for STC. We are releasing all of that music for free download, as well as the artwork and disc art for “The Music Of Star Trek Continues.”
 
So let’s recap:

  • DVD & Blu-ray disc .iso files for all four volumes (all 11 episodes) of STAR TREK CONTINUES
  • Artwork inserts and disc art for all four volumes
  • The official posters from all 11 episodes, full-sized and ready to print
  • “The Music Of Star Trek Continues” CD file download
  • Artwork for the music CD case insert and disc
  • All 11 STC shooting scripts in .pdf format 

All for free!
 
Merry Christmas from STC!

How would STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE look with a MODERN TRAILER?

It’s amazing how much movie trailers have changed in the last few decades!

Three months ago, I shared a link to a fan video from 2016 that featured a modern take on the trailer for STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.  The updated trailer was created by  JONATHAN WORMAN, a talented video editor based in Toronto, Canada who has worked on commercials, music videos, shorts, and documentaries over the past eight years.  Posting under the name “Orange Band,” Jonathan’s Wrath of Khan trailer has already garnered more than 100,000 views on YouTube.

Then, last month, Jonathan Worman did it again!  This time, he tackled STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE.  And…wow!  Considering how relatively slow the pacing was for the first Trek feature film (I still think it’s a good movie…just slow), this new and updated trailer makes the film look like a real thrill ride!

As with the modern Khan trailer, I can only imagine the excitement from fandom had this been the trailer released in 1979.  (That said, we were all still pretty ecstatic anyway when The Motion Picture premiered—our first new live-action Star Trek in over a decade!)

And while the Khan trailer has taken nearly a year to reach 100K, this Motion Picture trailer has already surpassed that total Modern Trailerin just five weeks!  (Amazing what happens when a video goes viral.)  So take a look at what all the excitement’s about…

And for comparison, here’s what the original 1979 trailer looked like…quite a difference!

Potemkin Pictures’ TRITON production crew releases its FIRST fan film: “New Orders”!

POTEMKIN PICTURES holds a truly unique distinction in the world of Star Trek fan films.  After several years of producing three dozen episodes of the fan series Project: Potemkin, the production company branched out to launch additional fan series: Starship Deimos, Starship Tristan, and Battlecruiser Kupok.  And this past July, the first episode premiered focusing on the crew of the USS Endeavour.

Overseeing these various series is RANDALL LANDERS, who began shooting Project: Potemkin back in 2010 in Albany, Georgia (here’s a great interview with him) and then moved to Pelham, Alabama, where he currently lives.  Randy serves as executive producer and edits just about all of the episodes.  He also directs some of the episodes, provides the occasional story and/or script, sound effects, and even makes the rare appearance in front of the camera.

Randy and his team are a fan film-making MACHINE!  For years, there was something new released from Potemkin Pictures at least once every month or two!  But things have slowed down recently.  Their last offering, an episode of the Klingon-based series Battlecruiser Kupok, was released at the end of August.   In the three and a half months since, we’ve seen nothing from any of the Potemkin series.

Then, late last week, there was a fan film release from a brand new Potemkin Pictures production crew: TRITON.  With the fan film guidelines now nixing ongoing fan series, this new offering is not called Starship Triton but rather is simply credited to the “Triton Production Crew.”  But one would assume that, like the other series, it will focus on the missions and crew of a single starship.

While most Trek fan films are set in TOS, TNG, or NX-01 periods, all of the Potemkin Pictures series (I mean “production crew projects”) are set in a time after Star Trek VI and before TNG.  This latest production focuses on Commander Janice Rand, recently reassigned from the USS Excelsior where she served with Captain Sulu.  Somewhat unavoidably—considering where the new series is filmed (Alabama)—Rand has developed a distinctive southern drawl.  But if you can get past that, this looks like a promising new fan series…even if we can’t call it a fan series.

You can access the entire nearly FIVE DOZEN fan films released thus far by Potemkin Pictures at their website.

And here is the first offering from the Triton Production Crew: “New Orders”…

Why I miss THE ORVILLE and I don’t miss STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial)

I already miss The Orville.  I know it’s only been gone for a week, but I just faced a Thursday night without that curious combination of sci-fi, quirkiness, high production values, and low-brow humor.  It’ll be nine long months until I see Bortus and Yaphit again…three-quarters of a year before I find out what new practical jokes Gordon and John play on Isaac, whether Alara has to open another “jar of pickles,” and what else Ed and Kelly can find to argue about.  I feel totally invested in these characters, and I can’t wait to watch more of their adventures together.

And then there’s Star Trek: Discovery.

It’s been on hiatus for nearly a month, and as I lament my now-Orvilless Thursday nights, I realize that I haven’t really thought much about Discovery in the past five weeks.  I honestly don’t miss it.

It’s not that Discovery is a bad show.  As I’ve said many times, I enjoy the series and appreciate the work and attention to detail that has gone into it.  I’ll still be watching the final six episodes of season one when the series returns on January 7, but it’s mainly because I want to learn if I’m right about Lorca being from the Mirror Universe and whether Ash Tyler is really a genetically-altered Voq the Klingon.  And frankly, I don’t much care who wins the Federation/Klingon war because—I’m sorry to say—I just don’t feel invested in the whole storyline or the characters.

Why is that?

I mean, I’m a Trekkie!  Why wouldn’t I care about who wins a war with the Klingons that could destroy the United Federation of Planets???  Sure, you can say it’s because they don’t look like “real” Klingons or those don’t really look like Starfleet vessels or 23rd century uniforms.  But it’s still a war.  If there were a war in the Orville universe, you’d better believe I’d be rooting for the Planetary Union over the Krill.  And I’ve only known this Orville universe for three and a half months, nearly as long as I’ve known the Disco-verse (whether or not I consider it canon).

So why do I just not care about what happens on Discovery?  Why am I not invested in the characters and their fates the way I am for The Orville?

Continue reading “Why I miss THE ORVILLE and I don’t miss STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial)”

New video added to FUNNY STUFF: “Bohemian Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition”

Yes, yes…I know this is usually a blog about Star TREK fan films.  But hey, it’s a Star WARS weekend with The Last Jedi opening, so deal with it.  This is one of my all-time favorite Star Wars fan projects.  Released four years ago, it’s creatively brilliant, incredibly well-produced, and most of all, absolutely hilarious!  It took a team of both students and faculty in the Digital Video Program at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona…plus dozens ofStar Wars cosplayers from the local Arizona community.  With nearly four million views, the force is strong with this amazing fan film / parody / music video masterpiece!

DR. SEUSS / STAR TREK Mash-up takes a HIT in its INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT! (part 2)

Yesterday in part 1, we discussed the copyright side of the infringement lawsuit that was filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) against Star Trek “Tribbles” creator DAVID GERROLD and comic book artist TY TEMPLETON for their proposed “mash-up” book Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!  The project generated $30,000 in a Kickstarter that was promptly shut down (and the donations frozen) when DSE asserted their ownership of the Dr. Seuss property.  A lawsuit quickly followed in late 2016 accusing the mash-up creators and their publisher ComicMix of both copyright AND trademark infringement (two different things, as I’ll explain shortly).

It’s now a year later, and a whole flurry of legal posturing has been going on back and forth…before the trial even gets started!  During the summer, Judge JANIS L. SAMMARTINO of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court in San Diego dismissed the trademark complaint portion of the lawsuit, leaving only the copyright claim to adjudicate.  And even there, it looked like the judge was leaning strongly in favor of accepting a fair use defense from “Team Mash-up” (as I like to call them) and dismissing the rest of the case, as well.

But DSE was not about to go gently into that good night!  And after pulling out all the legal stops, and after a court hearing at the end of last month, Judge Sammartino just issued an Order Denying Motion to Dismiss that not only allowed the copyright portion of the lawsuit to continue and go to trial, but DSE lawyers also convinced her to CHANGE HER MIND and reinstate the trademark complaint!

How the heck did that happen???

Yesterday, I explained the reasons that the judge didn’t grant a fair use defense on the question of copyright infringement.  Today, we’ll take a look at the trademark side of things and discover why we can blame Godzilla for the judge’s decision to resurrect the trademark question…

Continue reading “DR. SEUSS / STAR TREK Mash-up takes a HIT in its INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT! (part 2)”