A few days ago, I posted a bloglooking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not! (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)
But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films? Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!
I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections. Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related. But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right? And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments. (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)
And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…
“Why are you even bothering with this blog?” one anonymous poster wrote to me a little over a year ago. “Star Trek fan films will all be gone soon, even your precious Axanar, and you’ll have nothing left to write about!”
Well, I’m still here…and so are Star Trek fan films! (And I really hope that anonymous person is reading today’s blog because he wasn’t just wrong; he was VERY wrong!)
2017 was a BIG year for Star Trek fan films…possibly one of THE biggest! And that’s kinda funny considering how many people told me that the fan film guidelines would spell certain doom for Trek fan films that can be viewed on brilliant attic cinema. Even I thought that at first!
I will admit that, one year ago, things did seem kinda bleak in fan film land. The Axanar lawsuit was less than a month from trial. The Axanerds and Axa-detractors were going at it like Hatfields and Dr. McCoys. The guidelines had been in existence for half a year, and already the long-ruinning Star Trek: New Voyages had halted production, the also-long-running Star Trek: Dark Armada had released its final episode at the end of 2016, Star Trek: Renegades had become Renegades: The Series-that-n0-longer-had-anything-to-do-with-Star-Trek-beyond-all-the-acrtors, and Star Trek Continues had announced their intention to produce only four (as opposed to six) final episodes to complete their fan series. Even fan films need help with their film production payroll and management software to help keep their shoots organized and running on time.
But I believed in fan films and the people who make them. I had faith that the genre would continue despite the guidelines—perhaps even because of them (since they now gave Trekkers official permission from the studios to create their own productions…albeit within some overly-strict limits).
And Trek fan films certainly didn’t die! In fact, they kept me pretty darn busy with news, features, and interviews all year long. Anyone who believed Trek fan films were on their deathbed at the end of 2016 should join us on this trip down Memory…er…Lane (!) as I take a look back at what fan film news made my blog’s headlines over the past 12 months.
This special post will list the biggest Fan Film Factor news articles for 2017, in order by month, with links to each one of those blog entries if you want to dive in deeper.
And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a few final words from me about what’s coming in 2018…!
Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time writing about and obsessing on Star Trek fan films. After all, few people even know about them, and on a good day, I only get about 1,000 visits to this blog (on a bad day, it’s about 500…and on an Axanar day, it’s about 3,000!). Some comments have even said that fan films are just wasted time with Trekkies playing “dress up,” and most fan films aren’t even watchable. So why do I write this blog?
Well, first of all, someone’s gotta do it, right? I mean, whether or not a fan film is good or bad (and remember my Prime Directive of Fan Film Factor), a great deal of work and dedication goes into each one. Sometimes it might not look that way, but trust me, I’ve worked on enough of them and spoken to enough creators to know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into even the most humble, low-budget fan film. And frankly, someone out there should be covering it all and giving them some credit. Why not me?
Second, I find it really interesting to watch this medium developing and evolving. And this blog is an archive, of sorts, of that evolution. Granted, things were much more ambitious before the guidelines, but it’s still exciting—at least to me—to see what fans can come up with: the stories, characters, sets, props, costumes, VFX, sound and film editing, music, etc.
And third, it’s not as small a world of viewership as you might think! Sure, I only get about 45K-50K visits a month, but fan films like Horizon, Renegades, and Prelude have gotten MILLIONS of views on YouTube! People out there are taking notice of fan films…usually in a good way. And one of the people who took notice was none other than Academy Award-winning actor TOM HANKS!
I’d forgotten about the 2013 interview with Tom Hanks that took place on actor/comedian Kevin Pollak’s online chat show. In it, he briefly discussed Star Trek fan films and STAR TREK CONTINUES in particular. Although he mistakenly said they were based in South Carolina (it was actually southern Georgia), it was clear that he was talking about STC.
At the time, they had only released their first episode “The Pilgrim of Eternity,” but that was clearly enough to make an impression upon Mr. Hanks. I thank STC actor MICHELE SPECHT for posting this little gem a week ago and reminding me of yet another reason I work on this blog site: BECAUSE TOM HANKS WATCHES STAR TREK FAN FILMS! YAY!!! Take a look at this 79-second clip…
Ever since the AXANAR legal team released my Executive Summary of “The History of Star Trek Fan Films” during the the discovery phase of the lawsuit, readers have been asking me to upload the document here on FAN FILM FACTOR. And here it is! Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah).
I had initially written “The History of Star Trek Fan Films” to help out Alec Peters and Axanar. At the time that the lawsuit was first filed a year ago, I didn’t yet understand the intricacies of the case as I do now…and so I almost immediately confused copyright with trademark. I was wrong about that, and so my efforts wouldn’t help Alec win the case outright. But my document would still end up being useful in helping to argue for non-willful infringement if the jury found Alec Peters guilty of infringement.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, willful infringement carries a penalty of $150,000 per violation. Non-willful infringement carries penalties as low as $200 per violation. So the difference between the two types of infringement in a verdict could literally be millions of dollars! And how can my document help to prove non-willful infringement?