YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 1)

If any footage can be considered “the holy grail” of Star Trek fan films, it’s the Super-8 scenes from YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, shot in 1985 to 1987 and featuring actor GEORGE TAKEI reprising his role as Lt. Cmdr. Sulu during the time between TOS and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Thirty-five years (and counting!) in the making, Yorktown is probably the most eagerly awaited, exciting, and mysterious Star Trek fan film of all time! And so many fans have so many questions…

  • How did a young Trekkie barely out of high school convince George Takei to play Sulu way back when the actor was concurrently making Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home?
  • How did this same kid get JAMES SHIGETA (who’s been in about a million things you’ve seen, most notably Die Hard, Midway, and Mulan…but also TV shows ranging from The Outer Limits to Mission: Impossible to T.J. Hooker to Babylon 5 to Avatar: The Last Airbender) to agree to play Admiral Nogura?
  • Did ANDREW PROBERT, the artist who designed the refit USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well as the Enterprise-D for Next Generation really design custom starships for this guy’s fan film, too?
  • Why is this film still not finished yet?

Well, it’s ALMOST finished! In fact, a new trailer was recently released (the first new trailer since 2013), promising a release date of this Christmas. The footage looks amazing—see for yourself…

There’s no shortage of stories about this project scattered all over the Internet…some less accurate than others. But now it’s time to set the record straight and collect all of these mind-blowing details together in a series of fascinating blogs that will feature direct quotes from original show-runner STAN WOO and current show-runner JOHN ATKIN.

It’s hard to pick one thing about Yorktown: A Time to Heal that’s the most interesting. Obviously, it’s one of the first (if not THE first) Star Trek fan film to feature a member of one of the television casts in their same iconic role…plus other professional actors in major roles. But after a veritable sprint of filming over the first two years, things virtually stopped completely for more than two decades!

Then, once things started up again, fan filmmakers from all over our community got involved to help out. Scenes were filmed BOTH at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma AND on James Cawley’s TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY (one of the only fan projects other than STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES to ever do that). People who worked on AXANAR, STAR TREK CONTINUES, NEW VOYAGES, RENEGADES, STARSHIP EXETER, STARSHIP FARRAGUT, STARSHIP ANTYLLUS, STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE, STAR TREK: EXCALIBUR, TEMPORAL ANOMALY, STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN, STAR TREK: DECEPTION II, THE FEDERATION FILES, and so many other fan productions all pitched in at one point or another to help Yorktown: A Time to Heal move ever closer to completion.

Are you ready to jump down the rabbit hole? I promise, it’ll be worth it…

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 1)”

Despite fan confusion with the NICHELLE NICHOLS elder abuse GoFund Me, the Kickstarter for RENEGADES: OMINARA passes $43K…

In a cosmic case of bad timing, a brand new Kickstarter debuted two weeks ago for the new RENEGADES: OMINARA fan-produced film starring NICHELLE NICHOLS…at the same time a GoFundMe campaign launched to cover the cost of a lawsuit involving elder-abuse of the beloved Star Trek TOS actress.

First things first: the two campaigns are COMPLETELY unrelated. RENEGADES is a fan-run project from SKY CONWAY, who got involved with Star Trek licensing shortly before GENE RODDENBERRY passed away in 1991. Sky became close friends with Gene and his wife Majel and eventually went on to become a manager for various Star Trek alumni actors, including Nichelle Nichols.

In 2006, Sky wrote and produced—along with TIM “Tuvok” RUSS, who directed —the first “mega” Star Trek fan film to feature multiple big-name veteran actors from the franchise…including Nichelle, WALTER KOENIG, GARRETT WANG, J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, CHASE MASTERSON, ALAN RUCK, and others. He would later go on to produce STAR TREK: RENEGADES and the sequel “THE REQUIEM.”

Walter Koenig, Alan Ruck, and Nichelle Nichols in STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN, filmed in 2006

Meantime, there is a tragic and highly disturbing story (read more about it in this Newsweek article) about a man named GILBERT BELL who entered Nichelle’s life in 2010 (years and years after Sky Conway did) and presented her with a feature film idea. Nichelle would be the co-star, and profits would be split evenly between her and Bell. But the project never happened…if such a thing ever existed at all.

But Bell nevertheless took over as Nichelle’s new “talent manager,” collecting fees from her many convention appearances (usually about $10K per appearance and paid in cash). Meanwhile, Bell convinced Nichelle to allow him to move into the second house on her property (where he still lives), locking in a ridiculously low rent in perpetuity while Nichelle paid all of his utilities. Had it stopped there, things would have been bad enough. But the story gets MUCH worse.

In 2013, Nichelle was in a very weakened state following a hospitalization for pancreatitis. She was later transferred to a Los Angeles area rehabilitation center and nursing home. Diagnosed later with dementia, Nichelle was (according to the Newsweek article) surreptitiously removed from the facility against medical advice by Bell. That same day, Bell convinced Nichelle to sign both a directive naming Bell as her primary agent for health care decisions as well as documents handing General Power of Attorney to him. The next day, Bell also allegedly arranged for new bank accounts to be opened at Wells Fargo, granting him direct access to Nichelle’s assets.

But wait, it gets even worse…

Continue reading “Despite fan confusion with the NICHELLE NICHOLS elder abuse GoFund Me, the Kickstarter for RENEGADES: OMINARA passes $43K…”

COMING THIS WEEK – The complete 35-year history of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL!

You guys are in for a real treat. Assuming you enjoy reading about the rich histories of Star Trek fan film projects (why else would you be here??), then you are going to LOVE what I have coming later on this week!

If you think AXANAR, PACIFIC 201, FIRST FRONTIER or STARSHIP FARRAGUT “Homecoming” are taking forever to come out, those are just wee bairnes compared to YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL! Those other projects have been in development for maybe five years at most. But Yorktown began production way back in 1985!!! That’s 35 years, folks. And while there was a lull in production and post-production which lasted nearly two decades, work started up again in earnest in 2010. But it’s now 2020…and still no Yorktown in sight.

However, that all changed when the first new trailer for Yorktown since 2013 was released on July 5th, 2020…

No, you’re not seeing things. That is indeed GEROGE TAKEI, and he is playing Hikaru Sulu. That’s also actor JAMES SHIGETA from Die Hard, Midway, and Mulan (and a hundred other things you’ve seen) playing Admiral Nogura.

If you’re a hard-core follower of Star Trek fan films, you probably know at least something about Yorktown. But do you know EVERYTHING??? There are so many stories and interviews out there, scattered across the Internet. Finding them all is like a scavenger hunt, and even when you do, many of the stories sound almost unbelievable. A few even seem to contradict each other. What’s true, what’s myth, and what’s legend?

I decided to find out!

I’d actually been wanting to cover Yorktown for many years…the “lost” fan film. But was it really lost? From the time I first began covering Star Trek fan films back in 2015, I’d heard rumors that work was still being done on this fabled project. Eventually, I discovered a Facebook group and joined it, but I’ll admit I didn’t check it all that often. And truth to tell, there were so many other fan films and news and interviews and articles to write that Yorktown kinda fell off my radar more than a few times over the years.

But then that trailer come out, and I had the perfect excuse to do a deep-dive. Little did I realize how deep I was about to go…!

Continue reading “COMING THIS WEEK – The complete 35-year history of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL!”

“HUNTING GROUNDS: The Battle of Terra Nova” – The latest enhanced audio drama from THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES!

Considering that THE ROMULAN WAR fan film project began production three years ago and hasn’t yet been released, show-runner MARK NACCARATO has certainly released a ton of original content for it!

Along with a series of really amazing trailers (all of which can be viewed here), behind-the-scenes production briefs (available here) and the online comic book short stories “Holocaust” and “Intruders,” Mark had also previously released five extraordinary “enhanced” audio dramas called WAR STORIES. These short vignettes would normally be considered pure audio dramas (something which, regrettably, I don’t have the time nor resources to cover here on Fan Film Factor), except for the fact that they each also include an animated visual component.

Most of these War Stories vignettes feature photos along with brief computer animations, while others contain short video clips or even VFX shots. The final effect is to create a series of “personal log” voice-overs from various characters who experienced the Romulan War from a diverse series of perspectives. In fact, one of those characters was voiced by yours truly! You can view and listen to all of them on this YouTube playlist.

With production finished and post-production nearing completion, Mark has just released a sixth War Stories installment called “HUNTING GROUNDS: The Battle of Terra Nova.” It features the earth colony visited by the NX-01 crew in the sixth episode of Enterprise, along with some video clips and a few new VFX scenes. Let’s check it out…

Not too shabby, huh? I reached out to Mark for a little more background on this newest release, along with asking for the latest updates on The Romulan War fan film and when Mark expects to finally have it ready for viewing. Here’s what he said…

Continue reading ““HUNTING GROUNDS: The Battle of Terra Nova” – The latest enhanced audio drama from THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES!”

RENEGADES: OMINARA Kickstarter reaches $29.5K with one week left!

On Monday, I reported on how the second part of the one-hour RENEGADES series premiere, “The Requiem,” would be available for free via YouTube for the first time ever…but only through August 28, 2020. This unusual move is intended to promote the current 15-day Kickstarter for the newest Renegades project, OMINARA, starring NICHELLE NICHOLS and WALTER KOENIG in what is likely to be Nichelle’s final performance in a film (the actress is 87 years old).

Ominara will be the first new Renegades project since “The Requiem” debuted back in 2017. This latest short film is intended to reboot the series by introducing a new character, Ominara, who is the queen of the galactic underworld. Nichelle will play the character in her twilight years, as she recalls her past and the path she chose to become the woman she became. From the Kickstarter description of the storyline…

As the first test subject of the “link,” Ominara (Nichelle Nichols) was exposed to myriad experiments that could be construed as torture. All for the advancement of technology and the “betterment” of mankind. Anton Steiner (Walter Koenig) knew that Ominara’s escape would cause problems for both himself and his company in the future, but he had no idea how much. 

The new Kickstarter has one week left (they started with two), but they have already exceeded their goal of $20,000…in fact, they did so on only the second day of the campaign! Right now, the total donated stands at $29,590…which includes a $5,000 donation, seven $500 donations, plus another 255 individual donations including $33 from yours truly.

Part of the reason for the large number donors is that the finished film will only be shared with backers who contribute $25 or more. Eventually, Renegades will be one of the tentpole pieces of content in the new AtomicTV lineup.

According to the campaign page, money raised in this Kickstarter will go toward the following…

1. Pre-Production – Getting the script written, the sets designed and built, the budgets finalized, securing the permits, the rental of the studio space, the costumes designed and fabricated as well as the props, such as tricorders, phasers, computer screens, etc.

2. Production – Paying the Cast and Crew, the cost of the Lights, Cameras, Grip equipment, Monitors, Food/Meals, Makeup/Prosthetics and Sound Equipment, etc.

3. Post Production – Paying the Editing Team as well as the cost of the CGI Effects, Color Correction, Sound Mixing, and Musical Score. (For this Campaign, the CGI Effects will be marked as a Stretch Goal.)

Plans call for production to begin “immediately” upon funding, likely in the third quarter of 2020. No details have been included about safety measures due to COVID-19 due to the advanced ages of Nichelle and Walter, but I am certain that all appropriate precautions will be taken when filming. The team plans to supply donors with updates and photos as production progresses.

To donate,, please click on the link below…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atomicstudios/renegades-prequel-nichelle-nichols-final-performance

RENEGADES: “THE REQUIEM, Part 2” available on YouTube until AUGUST 28!

Back in June of 2016, on the second day of filming the first hour-long episode of STAR TREK: RENEGADES, “The Requiem,” the production team received a nasty and potentially catastrophic surprise. CBS and Paramount had just released a new set of guidelines for Star Trek fan films that would essentially stop Renegades in its tracks.

The timing of the release might not have been entirely coincidental.

Six months earlier, CBS and Paramount had “stopped” the fan film AXANAR with a huge, multi-million dollar copyright infringement lawsuit. But there were still many other fan productions out there using the Star Trek name and intellectual property. And while Axanar had been the first to cross the million-dollar threshold by raising $1.2 million in donations from thousands of fans, Renegades was hot on Axanar‘s heels with (at the time) over $850K in crowd-funding, also from thousands of fans.

And while Axanar featured one veteran Star Trek actor reprising his role from canon (GARY GRAHAM as Soval), Renegades would feature TIM RUSS as Tuvok, WALTER KOENIG as Chekov, NICHELLE NICHOLS as Uhura, CIRROC LOFTON as Jake Sisko, TERRY FARREL as “Jadzia” (minus the Dax symbiont), ROBERT BELTRAN as Chakotay, ARON EISENBERG as Nog, and even HANA HATAE as a grown-up Molly O’Brien.

The previous year, Star Trek: Renegades had premiered a 90-minute fan film with a red carpet premiere at the historic Crest Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles, calling the project a “backdoor pilot”or “spec pilot” for CBS to consider. Late in 2015, CBS requested (politely) that the Renegades team stop referring to their fan film as a pilot, a request they quickly compiled with. So instead they announced plans to release 12 half-hour webisodes per year (or “season”) oftheir spinoff Star Trek series, with “The Requiem” being the kickoff full-hour episode.

But the guidelines put the kibosh on all of that. No longer permitted to use Star Trek veteran actors or crew people, no longer allowed to pay professions, and constrained to no more than two 15-minute episodes and no sequels or seasons or ongoing series, Renegades had been effectively castrated as a Star Trek fan production before production come even get up to speed.

Continue reading “RENEGADES: “THE REQUIEM, Part 2” available on YouTube until AUGUST 28!”

LOWER DECKS brings balance to STAR TREK… (editorial review)

SPOILER FREE SINCE…LAST WEEK!

Y’know what? I like to laugh. This world is just so darn serious, scary, depressing even…just like Star Trek has been recently.

Recently?

I’m thinking back and trying to remember the last time when Star Trek was just good, old-fashioned fun. I mean, there was the Mirror Universe episode of Enterprise, that was fun. I think that might have been the last time for me. Since 2005, we’ve had the three J.J. Trek movies, which weren’t so much “fun” as they were exhausting and, quite often, aggravating (McCoy cures death with Khan’s blood?). STAR TREK: DISCOVERY has been anything BUT fun (not even the two Harry Mudd episodes or Tilly dropping inappropriate F-bombs into otherwise tense scenes). That show is just a downer. And while I thoroughly enjoyed STAR TREK: PICARD, that one’s not exactly a light-hearted romp through space either.

Not that Star Trek HAS to be a light-hearted romp through space, mind you! But when you watch an episode of Picard, it’s emotionally draining. When you watch an episode of Discovery, it’s emotionally draining. You watch J.J. Trek and it’s physically draining. And heck, the entire third season of Enterprise was emotionally draining. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that. But frankly, folks, I could really use a good laugh right about now!

Sure, there’s a ton of comedy shows out there, and I don’t necessarily need Star Trek to fill that light-hearted void for me. But what I realized after watching the second episode of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS on Thursday was the following…

WE HAVE ALL BEEN TAKING STAR TREK WAAAAAY TOO SERIOUSLY LATELY!!!

Especially the people criticizing Lower Decks for not taking Star Trek seriously enough or not finding it funny, they are definitely taking Star Trek way too seriously. I know this because, for way too long now, I myself have been taking Star Trek way too seriously!

Don’t get me wrong. Taking Star Trek way too seriously can also be a GOOD thing. Heck, I write multiple blogs each week about Star Trek fan films, and I take each of them very seriously. I’ve been a serious Trekkie/Trekker nearly all of my life. I’m fine with taking this show seriously…just as I take aspects of life seriously: family responsibilities, work, health, taxes, politics, what to binge-watch on Netflix.

But all work and seriousness and no play makes Jonny a dull and VERY overstressed boy! I need to bring balance to the Force…and to myself. And in my opinion, so does Star Trek.

Continue reading “LOWER DECKS brings balance to STAR TREK… (editorial review)”

Latest SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter reaches nearly $64K

Back on Tuesday, with less than two days left to reach their $48K goal and still $11K short, I said of the latest SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter: “Don’t count them out completely just yet.” With less than 22 hours to go, they were still nearly $8K short. Show-runner MARC SCOTT ZICREE even posted this impassioned plea to supporters of the project.

Remember that, with Kickstarter, if a campaign fails to reach its goal, the organizers get nothing. But it turns out that the backers of this fan-funded original sci-fi series had a few surprises left in them after all!

A surge in those last 22 hours, which included at least one and possibly two different $10K donations, leapfrogged them past their goal to a staggering $63,852 from 526 people. But it wasn’t just the big donations coming in. A final e-mail went out to veteran donors with just 19 hours left, opening up some new exclusive perks, including a special T-shirt. This rallied enough supporters that the new campaign added nearly 70 new donors during that final day.

With the funding of this latest campaign going more than 30% over the goal, work can continue on production of the second hour of the second episode “Forgiveness,” even as post-production continues on the second hour of the first episode “Redemption” and the first hour of the second episode (got all that?). The full scope of this sci-fi epic will be six 2-hour episodes compromising the first “season,” telling a series of stories of the exploits and adventures of grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren spanning more than a century of time.

So far, SPACE COMMAND has released the completed first hour of their first episode, “Redemption,” which you can view here…

Space Command also recently undertook a very ambitious project: releasing a totally brand new, special two-hour episode featuring 25 different actors and cast members who recorded their segments from their homes (thanks to the pandemic and quarantine). The resulting film, “Ripple Effect” (released on July 1), chronologically spans the entire scope of history that Space Command will cover, from the year 2030 through 2071. These home performances were combined with some previously shot footage to create an immersive montage of all the many storylines that Marc Zicree has planned for the intiial run of Space Command.

Among the actors participating in “Ripple Effect” are NICHELLE NICHOLS (from Star Trek), DOUG JONES (from Discovery); ROBERT PICARDO (from Voyager); ARMIN SHIMERMAN and J.G. HERTZLER (from Deep Space Nine), MIRA FURLAN and BILL MUMY (from Babylon 5), BARBARA BAIN (from Space: 1999), and even NEIL DeGRASSE TYSON (from Cosmos). For obvious reasons, the film lacks polish in places, but overall, it’s actually quite well done and well acted. Some performances are truly magnificent.

If you’ve been a fan of Space Command so far, it’s definitely worth checking out…

Latest SPACE COMMAND Kickatarter in danger of coming up short!

Up until now, MARC ZICREE’s original sci-fi epic SPACE COMMAND hasn’t had much, if any, difficulty raising crowd-funding donations from fans. But we are currently living in the age of a global pandemic, people are losing their jobs and/or being furloughed, and contributions to fan projects aren’t flowing nearly as freely as they used to be.

Space Command got its start waaaaaaay back in 2012 with an early Kickstarter that brought in a staggering $212K from more than 2,000 donors. It then took five years for the project to reach post-production, where a second Kickstarter raised an additional $108K that would help complete the first hour of the 2-hour pilot episode “Redemption.”

third Kickstarter raised $102K more for post-production on the second hour of the pilot. Marc also sold individual $7,500 shares in the venture for supporters looking for a return on investment if/when the series sells. Those shares brought in an additional half million dollars.

A fourth Kickstarter in 2019 raised $86K for production to begin on the first hour of the second 2-hour episode, “Forgiveness.” And finally, this past April, a fifth Kickstarter raised $57K to help fund production on the second half of “Forgiveness.” Add it all up, and that’a more than $565K in donations and over a million dollars total including investment share sales!

Last month, Space Command launched a sixth Kickstarter to fund the remainder of production on “Forgiveness.” Already, the first hour of “Redemption” has been completed and released, and the second hour has been filmed and is nearly complete (it will have more than 900 visual FX shots!). The first hour of “Forgiveness” is filmed and now in post production. And the second hour of “Forgiveness” is ready to film as soon as it’s safe to do so and as soon as this sixth Kickstarter reaches its $48K goal.

And therein lies the problem.

Kickstarter’s rules say that your campaign needs to set a goal, and if you don’t reach that goal—no matter how close you come—you don’t get anything, no one’s credit card is charged, and the campaign is considered a failure. With only two days to go, the latest Space Command Kickstarter is still $11K short of its $48K goal (a miss of nearly 25%).

While it’s not impossible that Space Command can bridge that gap in so short a period of time, the independent sci-fi film project has never had to face such a challenge before. Each of the previous campaigns reached their goals easily and even surpassed them to unlock stretch goals.

But right now, the global economy is in shambles, millions have lost their jobs, and many crowd-funding campaigns are struggling (not just this one). On the other hand, Space Command still has thousands of loyal supporters. So don’t count them out completely just yet.

If you want to make a donation, click on the link below…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spacecommand/space-command-episode-4-forgiveness-part-2

And here is the exciting pitch video from MARC SCOTT ZICREE…

Continue reading “Latest SPACE COMMAND Kickatarter in danger of coming up short!”

PAUL JENKINS and AXANAR part ways!

Well, I certainly had an interesting Saturday morning! Before I get into the news and the statements from PAUL JENKINS and ALEC PETERS on the subject of the termination of their relationship, I’d like to start this blog with something that happened on Friday night…

Several weeks ago, just prior to Alec contracting COVID-19, I’d offered to help edit a new trailer for AXANAR. Normally, the trailers are cut by the editor, MARK EDWARD LEWIS. But post-production funding is only just starting to trickle in, and I’m willing to work for free patches. So Alec agreed to send me all of the raw footage from the Axanar shoots and let me have at it. Cool, I thought.

Then Alec got sick and couldn’t leave the house. So the hard drive with the files on it didn’t arrive here in California until Friday afternoon. I took a look through everything—hundreds and hundreds of video and audio files—and thought to myself: which of these takes are the ones that the director (Paul Jenkins) wants to use? I watched through nearly everything until about 2:30am, and then went to sleep, expecting to (hopefully) set up a 3-way call with Alec and Paul sometime over the weekend or in the coming week to figure out which takes they wanted to select for the trailer.

Then I woke up Saturday to this…

Click to enlarge

Honestly, the first thing that went through my head as I considered my previous plan of going through selects with Paul and Alec was Lt. Kevin Riley’s line from “The Naked Time”: No dance tonight…

But seriously, folks…WTF???

Continue reading “PAUL JENKINS and AXANAR part ways!”