I was having a discussion a couple of days ago with one of the many Trekkers who is furious about these new Star Trek fan film guidelines from CBS. “It’s obvious that they just wanted to destroy all fan films forever!” he said with anger and disgust.
“I’m not sure that’s true,” I responded. “I think they sincerely wanted to help fan films by making these guidelines.”
He was shocked…especially since I’ve gone so far as to set up the SMALL ACCESS protest. He couldn’t believe I was being serious! But I was.
My wife is an attorney, and I used to work closely for many years with the Star Trek licensing department (back when they were still Viacom Consumer Products). Granted, I wasn’t in the conference room at CBS when these guidelines were written up, but I still think I know what happened and why it happened…and it was all because the wrong people were in the room.
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And when CBS and Paramount give you impossible guidelines to follow for your Star Trek fan series, then you make a non-Star Trek fan series, right?
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Star Trek: Renegades. When the new fan film guidelines were released from CBS and Paramount, Renegades was completing principle filming on two-days of scenes featuring Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols reprising their iconic roles of Chekov and Uhura. But suddenly, Star Trek: Renegades would be in violation of all of the following new fan film rules:
Must be less than 15 minutes and not be a series with recurring characters.
Title cannot contain the words “Star Trek.”
Cannot use imitations of commercially-available costumes or other licensed Trek items (like phasers or custom-designed comm badges).
and most important of all…
Cannot feature any actor who has previously appeared in any Star Trek series of film from Paramount/CBS.
Oh, and they cannot have raised more than $50,000 (Star Trek: Renegades took in $378,000) or given away any perks in exchange for donations (which they also did).
By now, you’ve likely heard that CBS and Paramount have finally, after decades of silence, released a series of guidelines for Star Trek fan films to follow and not get sued. Unfortunately, the guidelines were written by a group of over-caffeinated lawyers and licensing employees with little to no understanding of the concept of Star Trek fandom. In short, these rules would essentially obliterate nearly all past and current Star Trek fan films and series.
From their announcement on StarTrek.com, CBS seems almost proud of themselves, feeling that they’ve done fandom some kind of favor. And even though nearly 200 (as I write this) comments have been posted with about 90% highly negative reactions, I doubt that CBS or Paramount will see the devastating reality of what they’ve done…
Be careful what you wish for! For years, Star Trek fans have been hoping for guidelines from CBS to help define what was and was not acceptable in the creation of fan films. Today, those guidelines were finally posted publicly…
…and it wasn’t pretty.
The new guidelines would limit all Star Trek fan films to no more than 15-minute short films and no more than two-parts (so you couldn’t divide a one-hour episode into four segments). Likewise, continuing series with seasons and/or sequels would be prohibited.
Yesterday, Blade of Honor completed its 40-day Kickstarter campaign with a very impressive $51,302 raised from 828 backers. Although not technically a Star Trek fan film, Blade of Honor features many notable Star Trek and sci-fi actors, as well as several veterans of Star Trek fan films.
Their posted Kickstarter goal was $30,000 to make a single pilot webisode. By surpassing that goal, Blade of Honor gets to keep the Kickstarter money that was raised. Once the $30,000 goal was passed a few weeks ago, a stretch goal of $58,000 for webisode #2 was targeted and nearly reached. It’s unknown yet whether the extra money will be used immediately or kept in reserve to be used after a second Kickstarter fully funds episode two. For now, however, work can begin in earnest on their pilot.
By now, you’ve probably heard that Anton Yelchin, the Russian-born actor who portrayed the character of Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films, was killed overnight when his car rolled and pinned him up against a brick wall.
Fan Film Factor joins Star Trek fans everywhere in morning the untimely passing of this promising young actor whose portrayal of our beloved Chekov was heartfelt and truly enjoyable to watch. While the rebooted Star Trek had its fair share of detractors, one character who was seldom if ever criticized was Chekov. Anton Yelchin’s energetic performances made the enthusiastic young Russian navigator lovable and engaging.
Last time: Ryan T. Husk, executive producer of the independent sci-fi series Blade of Honor, discussed the cast and crew of this exciting new project that’s currently raising money for its pilot episode (and possibly more episodes!) via Kickstarter. This web series features a number of Star Trek actors like Tim Russ, Aaron Eisenberg, and Cirroc Lofton, plus professional actors from other series, including Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica and James Kyson from Heroes. There’s also a bunch of veterans from Star Trek fan films like New Voyages and Horizon.
Ryan’s insights into to film industry have been fascinating, to say the least! As our interview concludes, we start off by discussing what differentiates an independent film from a fan film. And then we jump into how to set up and run a crowd-funding campaign… Continue reading “BLADE OF HONOR (interview), part 3”
Four weeks ago, I wrote a very impassioned op-ed decrying that Trekkers should be fans and not lawyers. I am now going to turn myself into a complete hypocrite and become an armchair attorney myself…partly because of the shameless reason that it seems to boost readership of one’s blog but also because I think there’s a fascinating details about the latest Axanar lawsuit news that’s not being reported at the moment.
The long running fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT is currently in production on its final episode, “Homecoming.” After that episode is released, Farragut Films will transition into a new movie-era fan series to be called FARRAGUT FORWARD. You can read more about that new series here.
In the meantime, Starship Farragut‘s final episode had initially shot a series of exterior scenes last October. But as post-production ramped up, the producers felt that the footage and performances from these October shoots could be enhanced and improved for a better final product.
Over the past weekend (and also during a weekend last month), Farragut re-shot those exterior scenes…and they report that the results will bode very well for the overall quality of their swan song episode.
For people who complain that fan films suffer from poor acting and a general lack of quality, this is a wonderful example of a fan series going the extra mile to present the best finished product possible. So a big hand for Starship Farragut!
After last week’s announcement confirming that Nichelle Nichols had joined the cast of Star Trek: Renegades to reprise her iconic role of Nyota Uhura, the production confirmed that actor Alan Ruck would also be reprising his role of John Harriman, captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701B, from Star Trek Generations. Ruck previously played Harriman in the fan film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Ruck is also well known for playing the role of Cameron Frye in the 1980’s hit movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and also as a regular on the long-running TV series Spin City (although reading his IMDb page is like looking at the phone book!).
Renegades executive producer Sky Conway also confirmed that Terry Farrell would be appearing in their two-part finale episode “The Requiem,” reprising her role of Jadzia. This has left fans scratching their heads, as it was widely assumed at the end of DS9‘s sixth season that the Jadzia host died and the Dax symbiont was transplanted into Ezri (otherwise, one might have thought Worf would be at Jadzia’s bedside constantly as she recovered). However, it’s worth noting that Sky Conway’s announcement did say simply “Jadzia” and not “Jadzia Dax.” It’s also possible that Jadzia might be seen in some kind of flashback. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
And finally, Conway also confirmed that Renegades lead Adrienne Wilkinson will be returning to her role of Lexxa in the “Requiem” two-parter. These actors will be joining other Star Trek veterans like Tim “Tuvok” Russ, Cirroc “Jake Sisko” Lofton, and of course, Walter “Pavel Chekov” Koenig in his farewell appearance as Chekov.
For more information about Star Trek: Renegades or to donate to their ambitious production, visit their website.