Now that the SMALL ACCESS campaign has grown to nearly 1,300 members and 85 packets of the Focus Group Report have already been mailed out to CBS and Paramount executives, it’s time to try to spread the word far and wide…or at least try my best to do so.
And thus was I pleasantly surprised and excited to get the following e-mail from Matthew Miller of Trekzone in Australia:
Hi Jonathan, just wondering whether you’d like to join me on a Trekzone Spotlight podcast to discuss Project Small Access?
I really love these guys! The Star Trek short fan film, CHANCE ENCOUNTER, is cruising along smoothly at high warp, and they’ve just launched a new website with their first trailer on the home page (posted below).
The attractive website has production news (all of the video updates posted so far), bios on the cast and crew, and a brief but informative “About” page with the following back story:
It began when Gary and Paul decided to embark on another short film project together. This would be their ninth collaboration in about 11 years.
Originally the premise had nothing to do with Star Trek, or even science fiction. Rather, it had a contemporary setting and the hope was to tell a gentle story that showed men and women as equally capable of listening to, and helping one another on issues of both life and love.
Various scenarios were conceived of and abandoned before Paul hit upon a soft science fiction element in one of the many draft outlines he was writing. This sparked an idea in Gary who saw that with a sci-fi element in the mix, and the the themes of decency and respect being explored, that maybe they had hit upon a great Star Trek idea.
Paul agreed and after several more draft outlines were produced, the pair decided that they were ready to try and raise some funds to make the film a reality. And so they launched their first Kickstarter campaign to great success, exceeding the modest amount they had hoped to raise and thus securing their funding. Whilst they would still both contribute financially to the film themselves, the generosity of the Kickstarter backers ensured that the project was now able to be made.
Word is beginning to spread about the Fan Film LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN, and I’m very encouraged so far. After just one week, we’ve already had 75 packets mailed to executives at CBS and Paramount with the focus group results and recommendations from the 1,200+ members of the SMALL ACCESS Facebook group.
Now, 75 packets might not seem like much (especially considering that the original Star Trek letter writing had over a hundred thousand letters), but keep in mind that 1) word is only just starting to get out about this initiative, and 2) the packets are supposed to contain a 37-page Focus Group Report and optional Cover Letter, which will use up a lot of toner and paper and cost about two to three bucks per packet to mail (more from outside the U.S., although I don’t expect as many international fans to participate due to the higher postage costs). So each mailed packet represents a greater amount of time, effort, and investment by a fan then just sending a 1-page letter or copy/pasted e-mail. I was actually kinda worried that we’d only get about one or two dozen packets sent…so 75 in a week is pretty awesome. (And remember, only one copy has to get read by the right executive!)
During the next week, Mike Bawden will be trying to get us some press coverage in the mainstream media, but there’s already been some interest just around fan circles. Earlier today, I did a podcast for an upcoming episode of TrekZone (look for it this weekend). And Shane Stacks told me he’ll be mentioning the campaign on the excellent Shane Plays Radio and Podcast.
And I’m even being covered by other blogs!!! And that brings us to…
As promised, RENEGADES: The Series has released a special video of the final curtain call Walter Koenig would have playing the character of “Pavel Chekov” (or at least an admiral with a heavy Russian accent who has had a iconic career in space). It’s a magical moment as filming wraps, and the cast and crew both applaud the living legend.
The video was released because Renegades managed to raise more than $120,000 for post production on their 2-part episode “The Requiem.” They set out to raise $60,000 for the first part and got there in less than a week. Passing that goal, they now need to reach $150,000 for part 2. So they’re almost there!
If they raise another $30,000 by midnight Pacific Time tonight, they won’t have to do another campaign anytime soon (until they make MORE episodes!). Maybe a tall order, but you do still have about eleven more hours (as I post this) to make your donation. Just CLICK HERE!
And in the meantime, please enjoy WALTER KOENIG’S final curtain call as Chekov…
Last time: We met Paul Olsen, the man who spent eight months back in 1978 and 1979 painting the original model of the refit USS Enterprise for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Now, 37 years later, Paul wants to build it again: bigger, stronger, better, and painted to have the same opalescent shine as the original.
And Paul won’t be doing it alone. Richard Taylor (who designed the refit Enterprise) and Jim Dow (who built the original model) will be part of the team, as well. And the cost for this rebuild: $3 million!!! (They intend to build a 12-foot model that will last for hundreds of years plus a virtual reality display room that can be transported around the world.)
Right now, Paul and his team—with the help of Nichelle Nichols, Rod Roddenberry, and Tim Russ—are trying to raise $50,000 through a Kickstarter campaign ending on September 11. That will go towards a PR tour where Paul will attempt to raise the millions of dollars he’ll need to make this Trek fan dream a reality. He’s also trying to get official authorization for the project from CBS licensing, and that’s where we’ll pick up our interview, already in progress…
Even though Renegades: The Seriesis no longer technically a Star Trek fan film, Walter Koenig is still playing a very old Russian admiral with a thick accent and a long history of service to the Fleet. In other words, even if they’re not calling him “Chekov,” we all know in our hearts that this will be the final time Walter plays that legendary role on film (he has said as much).
When filming wrapped last month on the Renegades 2-parter “The Requiem,” there was a magical moment when Walter Koenig walked off the set of the Icarus, the final time he would be playing Pavel Chekov (with or without the name). The production crew all applauded, and it was captured on film. Wanna see it?
The Renegades team has promised to share that once-in-a-lifetime video clip with fans if they help the RenegadesIndiegogo campaign reach $120,000. As I type this, they’re just over $106,000 with less than a week to go! So if you haven’t donated yet, please hop over there and consider giving a little something. (And if you have already given, maybe you’d like to give a bit more…hmmm?)
In the meantime, Renegades has released this awesome new teaser to get you even more excited:
IF YOU WANT TO HELP US GET THE FAN FILM GUIDELINES CHANGED, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE…
In 1968, NBC received 115,893 letters from Star Trek fans pleading for the network not to cancel their favorite show…and it worked. Star Trek was renewed for a third and final season.
It is now 2016, and fans have a new opportunity to make their voices heard. This time, the imperiled entity is Star Trek fan films, restricted by a new set of guidelines issued by Star Trek license holders CBS and Paramount. Not all of these guidelines are threatening to fan films. Nearly half of them are perfectly acceptable as written. Another a quarter of them simply need some minor tweaking to better clarify what the studios are trying to communicate. It is only the small number of remaining guidelines that have overshot the mark and wound up too restrictive to allow fans the creativity and passion that the studios themselves say they want to encourage fans to showcase.
A week after the guidelines were announced, John Van Citters of CBS Consumer Products Inc. appeared on a podcast and said the following:
“All of this is definitely a conversation. We hope very much that this helps settle things with Star Trek fan films, that it provides some clarity for everybody, and that we can see what is working and what is not working…and we can follow up accordingly with that.”
But how do fans approach the studios to share our concerns? There is no official mechanism for fans to sit down with the CBS and Paramount executives to try to find a fairer compromise between the best interests of both parties. There is no single fan representative who speaks with the collective voice of fandom. Even fan filmmakers themselves are all over the map in their responses to the guidelines. So how can fans provide their feedback and recommendations to the studios?
The little fan film that could continues to prove that it can. In the latest of what have become almost weekly video updates on production, the British-based short fan film reported the completion of principle filming this past weekend, posting a video showing all the cast members together for the first time. Now the project enters the post production phase, and I can’t wait to see the finished product!
The SMALL ACCESS group on Facebook began as a protest against the new fan film guidelines issued by CBS and Paramount. But it quickly grew into something more significant. Rather than simply complaining about the guidelines or arguing over whose fault it was they were written in the first place, the group began discussing each of the guidelines one-by-one. Opinions were shared, surveys were taken, and in the end, over 1,200 fans participated in one of the largest Star Trek focus group research projects ever!
Now those results have been compiled into a massive 37-page report written up by Jonathan Lane (yeah, that’s me), a former creative director and focus group coordinator with decades of experience in researching what consumers and product users like and don’t like. When it came to the guidelines, half were considered fine as currently written (according to polling results). Another quarter only needed minor revision tweaks for clarification. And it was only a few remaining guidelines that required more significant compromise solutions.
The report compiles these results into a series of recommendations by the fans to the studios for revising the guidelines in a way that both respects the studios’ interests in protecting their intellectual property while also allowing more flexibility for fan filmmakers to create their productions.
Next week, fans will be invited to mail printed copies of this report to key executives at the studios in a new LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN. If enough fans participate in the weeks leading up to the actual 50th Anniversary of Star Trek (September 8), it’s our hope that the news media will cover this campaign, which will put pressure on the executives to at least read and consider our suggestions rather than ignoring them completely.
Is it a stunt? Yes. Is it a long shot? Yes. But it’s at least worth a shot, right? After all, what other mechanism do fans have to engage a conversation with the studio execs who wrote and enforce these guidelines?
The letter writing campaign will kick off next week, but the report itself has been made available for early viewing on the SMALL ACCESS Facebook page. If you’re interested, please take a look. Next week, you’ll get a chance to make Star Trek letter-writing history…again.
Many Star Trek fans dream big, and I love that…I really do. But what I love the most is a fan with a plan to make that dream a reality. I spoke to one such fan recently. And although I started my interview thinking his was a crazy dream without a prayer of ever happening, by the time I finished, I’d gone to his Kickstarter page and made a donation. This isn’t a fan film, but it’s a cool enough idea that I’m making an exception and sharing it with all of you.
This dreamer is Paul Olsen, and the dream is to rebuild the model of the refit USS Enterprise exactly as it appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture…only 50% larger (12 feet long!). The model would travel the world in its own special display, be painted with a opalescent finish to exacting specifications, and be built to last for centuries.
Crazy, you say? Crazy awesome, you say? Not a chance of it ever happening, you say? Well, before you turn away and get on with your life, take read through this interview and see if you start believing in the dream—and the fan with the plan—just like I did…