Hey, you–the one who made a fan film! Want to get it into an actual Film Festival?
This is the kickoff year for the BERLIN SCIFI FILMFEST, and they’re seeking out fan films (in English!) to join a slate of science fiction films being entered by independent producers from around the world!
Usually, fan films are relegated just to conventions and small fan gatherings. But the folks at the Berlin SciFi Filmfest are reaching out to fan film folks like me specifically to spread the call for entries for their inaugural festival on November 17th and 18th of this year at the BabylonCinema in the heart of Berlin, Germany.
When I was first contacted, I noticed their rules had only one category for fan films with a run-time requirement of 25 minutes or less. I mentioned that some of the best fan productions in the Star Trek genre were at least a half hour and potentially at long as 100 minutes (I was thinking Star Trek: Horizon). So they divided fan films into TWO categories:
Short Fan Film (max. 30 minutes)
Feature Fan Film (min. 30 minutes).
Initially, I was concerned when I saw this rule:
You must have all copyright clearances, including music, for all the work you submit to us.
But then I noticed the very next rule:
Fan films are an exception as they are always homages to existing franchises. We do accept and want Fan-films in the festival.
I also checked to confirm that there is no release date requirement for any entry. So even if your fan film was made three, five, or even ten years ago, it’s eligible.
Entry fees for submissions made before July 15 are a very reasonable $15 per film. After that, it goes up to only $20 through August 15, $30 through September 15, and an extended deadline until October 10 of $40.
Earlier today, ALEC PETERS posted the following blog on the AxanarProductions.com website. As it’s very relevant to my editorial blog entry from yesterday—and it makes some excellent points—I asked for and received Alec’s permission to re-post the blog in its entirety here on FAN FILM FACTOR. (Please note that the opinions expressed and descriptions of events presented are solely those of Alec Peters.)
There is a a lot of talk lately about how Star Trek Continues has decided to openly violate the Star TrekFan Film Guidelines that CBS put in place last year. STC has already violated the guidelines with the release of their last episode, and is making 3 more roughly 50 minute episodes that violate at least 5 Guidelines including length (close to 50 minutes) and the use of Star Trek actors.
I would highly recommend you read Jonathan Lane’s Fan Film Factor article on the matter here:
Jonathan provides a very fair view of the matter, as he likes both Axanar and STC. And Jonathan calls out Vic for his hypocrisy in attacking Axanar for violating “guidelines” that never existed, while violating the actual written rules himself. And lets be clear, Star Trek Continues has neither been “grandfathered” in (total nonsense), nor do they have a special deal with CBS. They are simply stating that “we think CBS will be OK with us doing this.”
But I am going to argue that this is actually good for fan films.
Now let’s be clear, I don’t like Vic. He has been lying about Axanar since he stormed out of the Prelude to Axanar Premiere we invited him to in 2014. But I support Star Trek Continues as I do all fan films. I don’t let my feelings for Vic cloud my feelings for a very worthy fan film series. Along with Star Trek New Voyages, they have done wonderful things in the fan film genre.
Now what is ironic is that while Vic refuses to help anyone else in fan films, (he famously asked Tommy Kraft for a role in the Horizon sequel while telling Tommy he wouldn’t lift a finger to help him) and has refused to allow others to use his sets (unlike James Cawley or Starbase Studios who generously allowed anyone to come use their sets), Vic’s decision to ignore the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines may well help all fan films moving forward. How is that?
Well, CBS always hated policing fan films. Having communicated extensively with with John Van Citters, (Head of Star Trek licensing), Liz Kolodner (VP CBS Licensing) and Bill Burke (VP CBS Consumer Products) about fan films for years, and having advocated extensively for guidelines, I knew that CBS didn’t WANT to have to worry about fan films as they saw it as a huge waste of time. They were too busy making money to have to worry about a bunch of fans making films. I once joked with John Van Citters that CBS treated fan films with “benign neglect” and that was good, as fan films did nothing but help the franchise. And CBS told me over and over how it would be impossible to come up with fan film guidelines because of 50 years of Star Trek contracts and agreements with unions, guilds and actors.
Well, clearly that wasn’t the case, since they were able to come up with Guidelines pretty quickly after they sued Axanar. And while many feel the guidelines are too severe (e.g. limiting fan films to 15 minutes and no more than two installments) or even possibly illegal (it’s questionable if CBS can tell you who you CAN’T hire for your fan film) – the guidelines are what they are. They provide some general rules to follow if a Star Trek fan film producer doesn’t want to run the risk of getting sued by CBS.
So how does Star Trek Continues violating the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines help all fan films? Well, it just supports what we at Axanar have known for a while. Axanar was sued because we didn’t look like a fan film. Not because we made “profit” (we didn’t) or that we built a “for-profit studio” (we didn’t…STNV did that), both reasons made up by people who don’t know what they are talking about, but because Axanar looked like it came from the studio.
Now CBS doesn’t want to sue its fans again. The 13 months of the lawsuit was not good for CBS and Paramount from a PR perspective. And the Guidelines were basically a way to put a lid on the “arms race” of professionalism taking place.
But what we see here is CBS giving Star Trek Continues a pass. And why? Because over a year ago, CBS said to me, “No one is going to confuse them with real Star Trek.” And that is the crux of the matter. Yes, Star Trek Continues, like Star Trek New Voyages, have excellent production values, with amazing sets, brilliant VFX and visuals, and excellent costuming and props. They LOOK amazing. But the acting is mostly amateurs, and that is the main reason fan films don’t have widespread appeal. (By the way, I love Chris Doohan as Scotty in STC. Simply brilliant). But ask fans what they think of fan films, and the overwhelming # 1 reason they give for not watching or liking them is the acting. And this is one of the main reasons I decided to give up the role of Garth in the feature film.
So, as long as you aren’t too good – and stay in familiar territory – it appears you are in a safe harbor. Want to break the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines? Just don’t make something that CBS perceives as a threat. There’s no question that from a marketing perspective, fan films are actually very good for the Star Trek franchise, and the powers that be at CBS know this and will allow you to break many of the guidelines as long as you aren’t overly ambitious. And since no one is really raising money for their productions anymore, I don’t think CBS has to worry about this. STC is spending the money they had previously raised and why they cut down on the number of episodes they were making.
So, while I won’t advocate a fan film maker break the CBS Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines, I think what Star Trek Continues has shown is that CBS isn’t going to worry about a product that they don’t see as threatening. And that gives all fan film makers a little breathing room.
Last Wednesday, STAR TREK CONTINUESannounced that none other than actor JOHN “Q” DE LANCIE is going to guest star in the ninth episode of their fan series, “What Ships Are For,” which will premiere the last weekend of July.
And now I am about to get myself into a shatload of trouble! But before I jump into the smoldering volcano of fan film frenzy and fanatical fealty, let me state the following up front:
I love Vic Mignogna (not romantically, just as a fan). Yes, I’ve heard him called every name in the book by people who don’t like him. I’ve heard vitriolic complaints about Vic’s ego, lack of integrity, and even his acting ability. (And I’ve heard similar rants about Alec Peters, by the way.) The fact is: I don’t care! I think very highly of both of these men…and for very similar reasons. But for right now, let’s focus on why I love Vic.
Every fan production has one bright sun at the center of its solar system. And for STC, that has always been Vic Mignogna. He’s a leader and inspiration to his production team. He makes things happen. He has set the tone for an endeavor where everyone gives 200% and does it all with smiles while having a blast. You can see it in their behind-the-scenes videos, and I’ve seen it in person at cons I’ve attended where the STC cast is in attendance…with Vic right there in the middle of the enthusiasm.
I also think Vic does a fantastic job being James T. Kirk. Many have attempted the role—from the late/great John Belushi to Jim Carey and even Carol Burnett to fan film actors James Cawley and Brian Gross. Each has brought something different and unique to the character. So before any of you criticize Vic Mignogna for his performance, imagine yourself trying to portray the legendary captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and tell me if you could do any better. As far as I’m concerned, Vic nails it.
So regardless of everything else I am about to say in this blog editorial, let me state for the record that I am a big fan of Vic Mignogna and a HUGE fan of (and proud donor to) Star Trek Continues.
And with that, it’s time for Jonathan to jump into the volcano…
If you’re looking for Klingons in a Star Trek fan film, you can certainly find them…but it’ll take some work! And usually the Klingons are just there to be the bad guys (at least in TOS and movie-era Trek fan productions).
But there is one production which guarantees a Klingon in every episode…and they’re not there just to be the bad guys. Well, yeah, they are the bad guys, but not to their way of thinking!
BATTLECRUISER KUPOK (pronounced “kuh-POOK”) debuted in September of 2015 as the eighth episode (“The Battle Of Alawanir“) of the third season of the long-running fan series PROJECT: POTEMKIN. It was a unique episode, self-contained and presented with its own opening monologue:
Space…it is ours for the taking. These are the missions of the Imperial Klingon Cruiser Kupok. Its never-ending quest: to seize unclaimed worlds, to seek new cultures and species to serve us, and to further expand the Klingon Empire!
The idea was to create a fan series completely from the point of view of the Klingons, to show them in their “natural element” without any influence from or even interaction with Starfleet.
Their low-budget fan series was later given an independent run of its own the following March with the release of their second episode, “Sanctuary.” A few months later, the fan film guidelines were released, and all of the Potemkin Pictures projects were forced to drop their series titles (like Starship Deimos, Starship Tristan, and of course, Battlecruiser Kupok) and instead treat every subsequent release as a new fan film with a completely new title.
Since then, the Deimos and Tristan production teams have released a combined total of nine new fan films (plus two that completed the run of Project: Potemkin), but nothing from the Kupok team…until now!
Based in Pelham, Alabama, Kupok‘s latest episode “A Gathering Storm” was written and directed by Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS. It asks the question: what happens when the Klingons try to conquer a planet full of Renaissance Faire attendees? No, I’m just kidding! Well, I’m KINDA kidding.
Last time, I introduced everyone to TREY McELWAIN, a super-fan of AXANAR who is going where no Axanerd has gone before (yet) and releasing a short comic book based on the fan film Prelude to Axanar.
Based in Austin, TX, Trey works in the veterinary field and also runs the Axanar Fanpage on Facebook (different from the Axanar Fan Group). But his latest project takes his passion one step farther.
Trey told ALEC PETERS about his desire to create a 3-page comic book adaption of a portion of Prelude to Axanar, and Alec thought it would be a great idea. There was no official “permission” given, nor is there any direct oversight of Trey by Alec. This is simply a fan producing his own independent Axanar project to share with others (for free, of course).
As I mentioned in Part 1, this is not the first time a fan film has been adapted into comic/written form. In 2002, the fan film Starship Exeter was featured in an 18-page comic. Seven years later in 2009, Starship Farragut also got its own comic that was 48 pages long! Both comics were produced by Kail Tescar on his StarTrekAnimated.com website. And more recentkly, there has been a series of fan film novelettes released based on the fan production Star Trek: Phase II.
Our interview with Trey concludes this week, beginning with a very important question (especially considering that this is an Axanar-related project)…
Unlike the USS Enterprise in Star Trek II, no, we didn’t make it. Our attempt to sign up 500 social media accounts to all automatically post/tweet the same message at the same moment last Tuesday came up short with only 109 participants.
But hey, live and learn, right? Or how about…if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. We’re doing a little but of both!
My Chief Social Media Officer (yeah, that’s kind of a thing), Commander LEE QUESSENBERRY, has just launched a NEW HeadTalker campaign. This one has a much less lofty goal of only 50 participants…and we’re already nearly there with 43! We can, of course, go over 50, and the more the merrier! And we’ve still got 15 days left!!
There’s a couple of other changes you might notice. First, the name of the campaign is now “United For Star Trek Fanfilms“. That works in THREE important elements of our message. Obviously, we’re all about Star Trek. And we’re also all about fan films. And of course, we’re united. No need to push the name “SMALL ACCESS” as few people outside of our group even know what that is. (And hey, that’s part of the problem…and the challenge!)
We also have a slightly new message that will be posted/tweeted on Friday, June 30 at noon Eastern Time:
“I am joining a cause (@smallaccesstrek) because I want to see #StarTrek #FanFilms succeed! #FF #FollowFriday https://hdtk.co/rWuJm“
As before, this one includes the @smallaccesstrek Twitter account and a hashtag for #FanFilms. But this time, we also included #StarTrek (yep, we forgot to include that one the first time—d’oh!) as well as #FF and #FollowFriday. What are those? I didn’t know either, so I asked Lee, and he said, “Follow Friday is an old twitter holiday like Throwback Thursday or Taco Tuesday. So on a Friday, if there’s someone you follow that you think others would find interesting, you #FF or #FollowFriday. It’s been a while since I actually did a FollowFriday request on Twitter, but it seems it is still a thing.”
So here we go again, folks! If you have a spare moment (and a Facebook or Twitter or other social media account), please click on the image below to help us out…
Ladies and gentlemen, CHRISTOPHER ALLEN Is back!!!
And now you’re wondering: “Who the heck is Christopher Allen…and what exactly is he back from???”
In 2006, Christopher Allen wrote and directed what was—and still remains—one of the most audacious and ambitious fan film genre crossovers ever: STAR TREK VS. BATMAN. This nearly hour-long production used amazingly accurate costume reproductions from the 1960s Batman TV series, built their own simplified versions of the Enterprise bridge and transporter sets, and even rented an actual batmobile replica for a day of shooting around the Indianapolis area. You can read more about it here.
Well, that was then. And although Chris produced some other independent films after 2006, Star Trek vs. Batman was the last the Trek fan production world heard from him.
Until last week. That’s when someone sent me a link to this…
Could it be? Are we on the cusp of yet another fan film parody out of Indianapolis??? It seemed so!
I checked around, and it turns out Chris Allen has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $13,400. And not only is he planning to film in the Indiana State Capitol building (’cause, y’know, he lives in Indianapolis) but also on the TOS sets at STARBASE STUDIOS…one of the first Trek fan films to announcing booking the facility since they relocated from Oklahoma City to Harrison, Arkansas.
An ill-tempered, but gentle alien has summoned five of the most renowned federation captains from across space and time to the planet of Delta Fawcett Four. There, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew face off against Professor Xavier’s Enterprise D, Voyager, that weird looking spiky thing from DS9, and the “guy from Quantum Leap” Enterprise in a forgettable, but timeless tournament that will leave your sides half-split with laughter.
SPECIAL GUEST STAR ASHLEY ALEXISS is taken hostage by an evil alien that has been knocking around the galaxy. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock beam down to rescue Kirk’s beautiful space vixen, only to be taken hostage by Captain Pike in a pimped out wheelchair.
Well, that sounded intriguing!
So I contacted Chris, introduced myself (turns out he already knew me from that blog I wrote about his first Trek fan film), and asked if he’d mind answering a few questions. He was delighted to…
Last November, a crowd-funded Star Trek project got sued for copyright and trademark infringement by a major rights holder.
No, not Axanar! That was the previous year, silly (although the Axanar lawsuit was still going on when this other lawsuit was filed). In this new case, however, the defendant was none other that renown Star Trek screenwriter/author DAVID GERROLD (the man who gave us tribbles!) along with Marvel/DC (and others) comic book artist TY TEMPLETON and their publisher ComicMix, LLC.
Gerrold and Templeton had created a parody mash-up book based on Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go! In their new book, Dr. Seuss was mashed-up with Star Trek to create Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!with pages that that adapted the originals on the left to look like the ones on the right:
The accompanying rhymes were obviously Seussian, as well…things like.
You can get out of trouble, any that’s knotty, because in a pinch you’ll be beamed out by Scotty.
Weird things will happen, and they usually do, to starship explorers and their marvelous crew.
They launched a Kickstarter in late 2106 and took in $30,000 before the rights owners of Dr. Seuss’ collected works had the campaign shut down for an alleged copyright violation. The following month, a full infringement lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dr. Seuss Enterprises by law firm DLA PIPER, LLP. Here is the 19-page Seuss Complaint if you’re interested in reading it. It’s very similar to CBS and Paramount’s initial filing against Axanar, citing the same demands for $150,000 in statutory damages per violation PLUS attorneys fees.
The Axanar detractors were quick to pounce. SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN, one of the most prolific posters of petulance and profanity, had this to say:
You believe its fair use? You would be mistaken. It’s intellectual property theft and they came right out in their campaign and acknowledged that they were poking the bear to get sued. David Gerrold is a blatant IP theft [sic] who supports other blatant IP thieves such as Alec Peters…
O’Halloran was referring to the following message included in the “Risks and Challenges” section on their original Kickstarter page:
While we firmly believe that our parody, created with love and affection, fully falls within the boundary of fair use, there may be some people who believe that this might be in violation of their intellectual property rights. And we may have to spend time and money proving it to people in black robes. And we may even lose that.
But it’s looking like they might actually have a chance to win…
As you might recall from last week, Lee Quessenberry and I kicked off a HeadTalker Campaign to try to get 500 people to agree to have a message posted to their Twitter, Facebook, and/or other social media account(s) at noon EST on June 13. The message would say:
“We want to change the Star Trek #Fanfilm Guidelines. Follow Small Access Trek to find out how you can. https://hdtk.co/VSsvF“
The idea was to get the message to trend long enough to bring some more attention, eyeballs, and ultimately (hopefully) members to the SMALL ACCESS campaign to get CBS and Paramount to revise at least one of the fan film guidelines.
With less than 24 hours to go, we’re just short of 100 out of the 500 sign-ups we need. So barring a miracle (or Spock sacrificing himself in engineering), to quote Sulu, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”
No, we’re probably not.
So what does this mean for SMALL ACCESS? Well, in the words of Monty Python’s peasant: “Not dead yet!” In fact, we’ve taken in 45 new members in the last two weeks, which is 3.5% growth. No, it’s not the hundreds and thousands we need, but it’s better than stagnation or collapse. I choose to see the glass as 3.5% full.
And hey, even if we don’t grow large enough to succeed in our holy quest, we’ve still got a great group that’s spreading the gospel of Star Trek fan films…and I very much want that group to continue.
So what happens next? I’m not sure yet. Probably we’ll try another HeadTalker campaign with a smaller goal number. But I’ll be contacting Lee Quessenberry this week to get his ideas for plan B, C, D, and possibly E. We’ve got a few months before Star Trek: Discovery premieres, so there’s still time to grow this group some more. I’m willing to give it a chance if you are.
And hey, if you happen to know 407 people with social media accounts who might be willing to help us make it to our 500-person goal before noon tomorrow, please ask them to sign up here:
I awoke this morning to the news on my alarm clock radio: “The actor who played Batman in the 1960s has died. Adam West passed away last night after a short battle with leukemia. He was 88.”
Adam West was always “my” Batman, just as William Shatner was always “my” Starfleet captain. The two shows, Batman and Star Trek, were kind of joined at the hip. They both premiered in 1966 and ran for three seasons (on different networks–Batman was on ABC). Both series were created just as color television was becoming widely available…and both series made ample use of a vivid palette and bright hues because of this fact. The shows shared many notable guest stars, including Yvonne Craig, Julie Newmar, Lee Merriwether, Frank Gorshin, Grace Lee Whitney, and Joan Collins. (Betcha didn’t know about those last two! Take a look–there were actually 13 famous actor crossovers between the two concurrent series.)
And of course, the two shows each featured a leading man with a unique (some might say “over the top”) style of acting. William Shatner was known…for…his…dramatic…
But Glen Weldon, author of the book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, made this comment about Adam West’s delivery of this lines:
“He inserts pauses that are not merely pregnant but two weeks overdue. Those pauses were of course a deliberate choice — he wanted the viewer to see Batman’s intellectual processes, the way he thought through a puzzle and excitedly seized upon the answer.”
It was campy and dazzling all at the same time. But it just felt right…from both actors. I can’t imagine anyone else doing as much, er, justice to those two roles. Despite the Vietnam War, civil rights, assassinations, riots, and social upheaval, the 1960s were still a simpler time—at least on network television (and at the time, there was nothing other than network television if you watched TV). And these two men helped define it.
As a child of the 70’s, I watched both shows repeatedly. And these two characters, played so ironically by these two actors, helped to shape me as a person. I saw role models who were brave and strong, willing to stand up to the bad guys and fight for what was right—whether it was with a phaser, a batarang, or just their wits…always with their wits. They were human, of course, but also something more. They had a moral compass that was unshakable. They knew what was right, and there was no gray area.
As I said, a simpler time. Two decades later, their franchises would evolve with other captains and darker knights. But Adam West always saw himself as a Bright Knight, a version of Batman untainted by the dark turn the character took in later years.
While I loved the Michael Keaton and Christian Bale interpretations of the characters (the jury’s still out on Affleck…and the less said about Kilmer and Clooney, the better), there will always be a special place in my heart for Adam West. His voice will always be unmistakable. And really, what other actor would have done stuff like this—week after week after week—for three years?
C’mon–admit it! It was brilliant comedy.
I was so heartened to see Adam West’s career continue in later years on shows like Family Guy, despite some unavoidable typecasting. But he embraced it all, and his fans, in a way that William Shatner only did after a decade of resisting and trying to deny the inevitable truth that he would always be Captain Kirk.
But Adam West was and always will be Batman…a special kind of Batman that carved out his own special batcave in our hearts and minds. As he goes off to answer that great bat signal in the sky, I can only say this: