“BOLDLY GO!” – the Star Trek MUSICAL moves from STAGE to Youtube VIDEO! (feature)

You don’t have to be a theoretical physicist to write a Star Trek musical…but it sure helps!

BOLDLY GO! – Where No Musical Has Gone Before didn’t start off as a fan film.  In fact, it was only performed six times in front of audiences in late February and early March of 2016 in Pasadena, CA at the Ramo Auditorium at Caltech.  But last month, a year after its too-short theatrical run, the full two-and-a-half hour live performance was posted to Youtube…and now I consider it officially a “fan film.”  And not only that, but it’s one to which I am giving a rating of “Highly Recommended +” because it’s REALLY good!  (And if you don’t want to commit that much time, at the end of this blog, I’m including time codes to skip to the four best musical numbers that are MUST SEE/HEAR.)

The musical is set in the prime TOS timeline with Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the original crew.  There’s Klingons, Andorians, and all the wink-wink references to that Star Trek trivia you know and love—from Khan Noonian Singh and Sulu’s love of botany to Elaan of Troyius and the Space Hippies…and even a poke at the Kelvin-verse timelime!  There’s also satirical chuckles to many of the tropes of musical theater, with 19 different song and dance numbers ranging in style from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gilbert & Sullivan to doo-wop, gospel, tango, and even Motley Crüe (and don’t blink or you’ll miss a quick nod to West Side Story).

Now, if you’re expecting to see something on par with the likes of Hamilton or Les Miserables, I need to mention that this cast is made up of students, faculty, and alumni from the California Institute of Technology plus scientists and engineers who usually build interplanetary space probes for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory!  In other words, set your phaser expectations to “This is musical theater, not rocket science—and these are rocket scientists.”  But really, when you think about it, who better to put on the world’s first-ever full-length live Star Trek musical?!

And who better to direct it that a guest star from an actual episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?  But more on that later.  First, let’s travel back in time (with the help of the Guardian of Forever or a slingshot maneuver or Q or whatever) to see how this ambitious production came to be…

Continue reading ““BOLDLY GO!” – the Star Trek MUSICAL moves from STAGE to Youtube VIDEO! (feature)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 2)

Last time, I discussed the recent release by two of the major networks of official trailers for their new sci-fi shows debuting for the upcoming 2017 season.  CBS, of course, unveiled STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, while FOX surprised (many) genre fans with a new Star Trek-ish series from Seth MacFarlane titled THE ORVILLE.  Both trailers were viewed millions of times with thousands of comments.  But what was very intriguing came from the thumbs-up/thumbs-down ratios.

The trailer for Star Trek: Discovery has about two and a half times more thumbs-down reactions than the trailer for The Orville.  Some misunderstood my previous blog and thought I was calling this a competition—as though fans were going to choose EITHER Discovery OR Orville.  Not quite.  Many fans (like me) might choose to watch both series.

But what makes this interesting is that we have a pretty close comparison of trailers and their reactions from viewers.  The two shows are coveting essentially the same audience (Trekkies and sci-fi fans), so the trailers and series themselves are unmistakably in the same “marketing category.”  The two trailers have almost the same run-length (2.5 minutes) and were released at nearly the same time using the same platform (Youtube).  But beyond that, the two networks are going in very different directions.

CBS is making Discovery available only through paid subscription streaming services (after a free preview of the pilot on CBS).  FOX is putting Orville on their regular network.  CBS went for a very unfamiliar (to Trekkers) production design with dark sets and mostly monochromatic uniforms.  FOX is using a very familiar-looking Star Trek visual approach of brightly-lit sets and and colorful uniforms.

So these two series are coveting the same kinds of fans with very different approaches.  One is very derivative of Star Trek but based within a different universe, and the other is very different but based within the Star Trek universe.  So the word “versus” in the title of this blog entry doesn’t imply that fans must make a choice but rather simply refers to putting the two series side-by-side for comparison, analyzing the very noticeable differences in fan reaction.

So with fans appearing to show a measurable preference for Orville over Discovery—admittedly using only online reaction through thumbs-up/down plus a general trend in posted comments—should CBS be worried?

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 2)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 1)

Before I begin, please note that the title of this blog is the question “Should CBS be worried?” and not the statement  “CBS should be worried.”  I’m pondering, not preaching.

Also, I want to mention up front that I personally enjoyed the new trailer for Star: Trek Discovery and am looking forward to at least checking out the new series.  People seem to think I’m just another Discovery hater/detractor.  Not so!  I am very much keeping an open mind.  But I’m not blind to the reality of the situation either, and that’s what this blog is about.

(And yes, I know that this is a site about fan films.  But it’s also a site about Star Trek…and it’s my blog, so I can editorialize whatever I want to.)


Last week, all of the major networks unveiled trailers for shows that will premiere during their upcoming 2017 season.  Naturally, Star Trek fans were eagerly expecting to see their first extended glimpse of the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series…coming to the subscription-based CBS All Access.

What fans weren’t expecting, however, was a new Star Trek-ish series from FOX starring and produced by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted) and directed by Iron Man‘s John Favreau.  Titled THE ORVILLE, this new hour-long series looked more like the Star Trek of yore: bright sets, colorful uniforms, chest emblems with division insignia, sleek and over-lit starships (some filmed from actual physical models!), and a token alien species or two with big bumpy foreheads.  The Orville is obviously meant to be a campy tongue-in-cheek comedy, but the production values, sets, costuming, make-up, and visual FX looked like…well…WOW!

For two days, fans were aflutter with comments about this surprise new sci-fi series.  And the comments were nearly all positive, with many Trekkers suggesting that THIS was the Star Trek we’d wanted all along (minus the implied parody, of course), and wondering why CBS just didn’t get it.

Then, last Wednesday, CBS had their turn to say, “Hey, we DO get it…and here’s what OUR new Star Trek will look like.”  But did they really get it?

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 1)”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 8) – Size DOES matter!

I started the SMALL ACCESS protest campaign on Facebook last July, shortly after CBS and Paramount released the new guidelines that seemed to spell certain doom for Star Trek fan films.  I’d hoped we could start a “movement” that would make the studios take notice and convince them to revisit and revise the guidelines.

It’s now almost a year later, and the guidelines remain in place…unchanged.  We tried to get bunch of the guidelines changed all at once, but that didn’t work.  And I realized instead that, if we tried to “eat the elephant” in smaller bites (try to change one guideline at a time), then we might have more luck in convincing the studios to listen to us and maybe even work with us.

And our offer would be simple: revise just one guideline, and our members will subscribe to CBS All Access for a month (to check it out, see if we like it).  Revise two guidelines, two months.  And so on.  The first guideline we wanted to target was the “no ongoing fan series” rule (we voted on that), suggesting that Guideline #1 could be rewritten with a revised second part:

The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total. The production can continue featuring the same title, characters, and settings for additional episodes as long as no single story extends beyond two consecutive segments, episodes or parts.

The big question was: would the members of SMALL ACCESS agree to subscribe for a month if the studios made his first revision to Guideline #1?  I published the results of a survey last week in Part 7, but here they are for you again…

Continue reading “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 8) – Size DOES matter!”

Got a DOLLAR? THE CIRCUIT will host a 24-HOUR PLEDGE DRIVE this SATURDAY!

The new sci-fi professional/fan film hybrid series THE CIRCUIT started off their Kickstarter with a goal of $50,000.  And with just 5 days left, they’re at nearly $84,000…and that’s great.

But now they’re trying to reach a stretch goal of (are you sitting down???) $200,000!  Impossible, you say?  Preposterous?  Never happen?  Perhaps.  But $200,000 will allow them to fund an entire season—ten full episodes—and so they’re gonna to make a run at it!

And here’s how…

It all happens this coming Saturday, May 20, for twenty-four hours starting at midnight Pacific Time.  The CHALLENGE is for 100,000 fans to each donate at least $1.  A buck is almost nothing these days (especially at Starbucks!).  I’ve already donated $80 to this campaign, so I’m going to up it to $81.  (See?  Only 99,999 fans to go!)  Their message is being sent out far and wide, and YOU can help send it!

Also on Saturday, beginning at 10am Pacific Time, members of the cast of The Circuit will be streaming a LIVE CHALLENGE SHOW via their Facebook page for 14 straight hours until the challenge ends at midnight!  Confirmed guests on the LIVE CHALLENGE SHOW include:

  • Tim Russ
  • Walter Koenig
  • Armin Shimerman
  • Robert Picardo
  • Olivia d’Abo
  • Cody Saintgnue
  • Manu Intiraymi

…and more will likely show up, as show-runner Manu Intiraymi (Icheb from Star Trek: Voyager) is trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules (there’s 20 actors in the cast!).  There will also be new videos and new trailers as the cast tracks the pledges on their tote board.

Fans will be helping out, as well.  In fact, it was a fan who suggested the 24-hour challenge and another fan who suggested the live show!  And now folks like me (and you!) can help spread the word.  Here’s what people need to know:

WHEN: All day Saturday May 20, 2017 – midnight PDT to the following midnight

WHERE: The LIVE SHOW is at https://www.facebook.com/thecircuitmovie/

WHAT TO DO: Donate $1 here and ask other people to do it, too!

Tweet!  Post!  E-mail!  Shout!  Send smoke signals!  If this works, it’ll make fan film history!


To learn more about THE CIRCUIT, listen to this audio interview with MANU INTIRAYMI:

Manu Intiraymi – show-runner for THE CIRCUIT

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY trailer is finally shown in New York City!

Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly posted the image to the left on their website, and Trek fans saw their first official photo from the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY television series.  But that was only the beginning!

A few hours later, CBS showed off a series of trailers for its upcoming fall line-up—including Discovery—trying to excite advertisers to purchase commercial space for these fresh new shows.  It’s called the Upfronts, and the event takes place each year in New York City (the main hub of the advertising industry).

All of the major networks show off their fall line-ups, and each has a time-slot reserved for their presentation at a different location.  For anyone curious, here is a schedule for this year’s Upfront presentations in New York City:

Monday, May. 15
  • NBCUniversal Upfront Presentation — Radio City Music Hall, 10:30 a.m.
  • Fox Upfront Presentation  — The Beacon Theatre, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, May. 16
  • ESPN Upfront  — Minskoff Theatre, 9:15 a.m.
  • Univision Upfront Presentation — The Lyric Theatre, 11.a.m.
  • ABC Upfront Presentation — Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, May. 17
  • Turner Upfront Presentation — The Theater at Madison Square Garden, 10:15 a.m.
  • National CineMedia Upfront Event — AMC Lowes Lincoln Square Theater, noon
  • CBS Upfront Presentation — Carnegie Hall, 4 p.m.
Thursday, May. 18
  • The CW Upfront — New York City Center, 11 a.m.

THE ORVILLE…coming this fall to FOX!

Some fans were suspicious that the timing of CBS’s reveal of the new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery was somehow tied to the enthusiastic fan reception for another new sci-fi show debuting on Fox, The Orville, produced by and starring SETH MacFARLANE (Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Ted, and a bunch of other funny stuff) and directed by John Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book).  An obvious spoof of Star Trek, the production values, costumes, sets, make-up, lightning, and VFX all looked top-notch…and fans were talking about this new series almost non-stop on social media Monday and Tuesday.  The Orville trailer has already been viewed on Youtube more than 1.3 million times in less than 48 hours!

Many were thinking that Orville looked better than Discovery, and some fans were musing that the strongly positive reaction to Orville scared CBS into rushing out a trailer for Discovery.  But as you can see from the schedule I included above, there was no such panic involved.  FOX went first on Monday, and CBS was simply waiting its turn today.

And now that turn has come.  Int addition to the trailer, CBS announced an extension of the first season of Discovery from 13 to 15 hour-long episodes and the addition of a weekly “Talking Trek” discussion show following the general concept of similar shows like “Talking Dead” on AMC.

Watch the trailer for Discovery here (or view a lower resolution version below if you can’t see it on the CBS site) and tell me what you think in the comments section…

STAR TREK CONTINUES becomes a CBS All Access AFFILIATE!

Things got very interesting on Sunday morning after STAR TREK CONTINUES posted this message on their Facebook page overnight:

Got CBS All Access yet? STC has been invited to join the affiliate program, so you can sign up through our website now. Sign up today!

Almost immediately, fans started conjecturing what this meant for STC.  Were they suddenly being accepted by CBS?  Would they now be allowed to complete their cancelled 12th and 13th episodes?  Were they getting a kickback from CBS?  Would STC be shown on All Access?

The answers to all of these questions appear to be “no.”  Apparently, STC was simply contacted by a division of CBS (likely CBS Interactive or else someone in marketing) and offered the option of becoming a CBS All Access Affiliate, promoting subscriptions to the network’s streaming service through online banners on their startrekcontinues.com website.  (Note to CBS Interactive: the hyperlinks aren’t working from Mac browsers.)

It’s unclear whether or not STC will be receiving a commission for any fans who sign up for CBS All Access.  STC posted on their Facebook pages that they are not being compensated.  However, I just signed up Fan Film Factor for the same program and was required to agree to terms that included the following (which I screen capped)…

Continue reading “STAR TREK CONTINUES becomes a CBS All Access AFFILIATE!”

Watch WALTER KOENIG and TIM RUSS both do HAPPY DANCES for THE CIRCUIT!

With just ONE WEEK left in their debut Kickstarter campaign, THE CIRCUIT is about to cross the $80,000 milestone on their way to their next stretch goal: $100,000!

I recently spoke to show-runner MANU INTIRAYMI (Icheb from Star Trek: Voyager) about this intriguing and exciting project, a hybrid of a fan film with professionals (or is that a professional indie film with fans?).  You can listen to that fun interview here.

Having originally set a goal of $50,000 and achieved that in just one week(!), the next stretch goal was $75,000, which will allow the team to be able to afford incredible CG VFX showing fans more of the city of “Urbiessa” in all its glory.  Now the next stretch goal of $100,000 will fund the following (according to their Kickstarter page):

We NEED amazing PRACTICAL VFX to make a film quality series! The best film quality entertainment is a blend of practical effects and CG. Only the best directors of the day know this, and practical FX can be just as expensive if not more expensive then brilliant computer generated VFX sequences. Ask Thomas E. Surprenant—he only worked on X-Men, The Grinch, Donnie Darko, Halloween, Star Trek: DS9, plus he was kind enough to kick butt for us on 5th Passenger and now he’s down for “The Circuit: Urbiessa.” He makes humans aliens, builds creatures, and does the incredible when it comes to things on camera that are actually ON CAMERA. We need him.

When we REACH our next stretch goal everyone that pledged $25 or more will receive a Limited Edition Mini-Poster! If you pledged $35 dollars or more it will be signed by the cast!!!!! 

So tell you’re friends to pledge, up your pledges, and let’s start reaching for more episodes!!!!!

In the meantime, every time the campaign crosses a $10,000 milestone (starting with their goal of $50,000), they release a video of someone from the cast doing a HAPPY DANCE!  So far, they’ve had dances by WALTER “Chekov” KOENIG, TIM “Tuvok” RUSS, CODY SAINTGNUE from MTV’s Teen Wolf, and MINDY ROBINSON from King of the Nerds (her video is DEFINITELY worth a look!).  And with $80,000 just a few hundred dollars away…we’ll learn the identity of the next happy dancer VERY soon!

To watch all the happy dance videos and/or to donate and help THE CIRCUIT reach $100,000…CLICK HERE!

AKIRA YOSHIMURA reprises his role as SULU on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE…41 years later!

Does a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE sketch count as a Star Trek fan film?  Aw, who cares?  This is still a really fun story…

The earth date was May 29, 1976, and Saturday Night Live (SNL) was about to air the 22nd episode of their first season.  The cutting-edge sketch comedy series had become a late night TV hit, and Elliott Gould was the host for that week’s show.  The writers had come up with a clever skit (that has since become a true classic) entitled Star Trek: The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise.  The legendary JOHN BELUSHI played an over-the-top, Shatneresque Captain James T. Kirk.  CHEVY CHASE played a perfectly deadpan Mr. Spock.  And the awesome DAN AYKROYD played both Dr. McCoy and provided a voice-over of Scotty on the com from Engineering.

During the skit, the Enterprise is chased by a 1968 Chrysler Imperial with a tinted windshield, registered to a 20th century corporation known as “NBC” (which, according to the ship’s computer, used to manufacture cookies).  The starship is boarded by Elliott Gould and Garrett Morris, two executives from the network announcing that Star Trek has been canceled due to low Nielsen ratings.  Hilarity ensues…mostly thanks to the brilliant performances of the main actors.

DORIS POWELL as Uhura, CHEVY CHASE as Spock, John BELUSHI as Kirk, and AKIRA YOSHIMURA as Sulu.

There was only one problem at the time: SNL didn’t have an Asian comedian or actor available to play Sulu.  Rather than leave the helm seat empty (which wouldn’t work anyway, as Kirk orders evasive action during the sketch), the producers grabbed one of the production designers, a Japanese-American named AKIRA YOSHIMURA, to play Sulu.  There also wasn’t a black woman available to play Uhura, so a production assistant named DORIS POWELL was put into a red uniform (with the wrong rank braids).  Both people were given a bit of of dialog to speak, although Yoshimura got nearly a dozen lines (and flubbed two of them)…but hey, at least he was willing to be on camera in front of millions of people!

Flash forward to May 6 of 2017.  Actor CHRIS PINE (who plays James T. Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek movie series) was the SNL host, and the writers decided to once again feature a Star Trek skit.  There was only one problem: it was four decades later and Saturday Night Live STILL didn’t have an Asian comedian or actor available to play Sulu!

Continue reading “AKIRA YOSHIMURA reprises his role as SULU on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE…41 years later!”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 7) – Eating the Elephant!

In the previous entry of this blog series, I shared my thoughts on how to proceed with the SMALL ACCESS protest campaign I created the Small Access Facebook-based group to try to put pressure on CBS and Paramount to revise some or all of the fan film guidelines by having our members pledge to watch the new Star Trek: Discovery TV series on All Access only in groups (with a single designated subscriber hosting viewing parties) rather than subscribing as individuals.  This would be a potential revenue hit to CBS and a way to (hopefully) get them to take notice of our protest.

Our first attempt at convincing the studios to revise the guidelines culminated in a letter-writing campaign that met with no discernible success.  One of the challenges we faced—along with our unfortunately small size—was the fact that CBS and Paramount worked very hard writing these guidelines.  The people involved had to get approvals and sign-offs from numerous stakeholders at higher levels.  And so, convincing the studio executives to make significant changes to the guidelines now requires them to go back through that same time-consuming review and approval process.  And spoiler alert: it also means they have to explain to their bosses that they screwed up writing the guidelines in the first place!  To be honest (and realistic), I doubt that 1,300 irate Trekkies are going to be much of an incentive to get them to do that.

So I realized, sadly, that a wide-ranging change to all or even most of the guidelines wasn’t a realistic goal.  It was just too much of an uphill climb, no matter how passionately some might feel about the righteousness of our “noble” cause.  To the studios, the guidelines are now written in stone….and it’s a BIG stone…elephant-sized, in fact!

But it’s said that if you want to eat an entire elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time.  Could this be a viable strategy with the guidelines?  Could we start with just one bite and work our way forward from there…?

Continue reading “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 7) – Eating the Elephant!”