This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas! I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!
It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.
Of course, I had no answers. Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details. My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com. And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…
“I’m just takin’ a Greyhound on the Hudson River line…”
Billy Joel first sang those lyrics back in 1976. Forty years later, you can take a Greyhound up alongside the majestic Hudson River from New York City four hours north to Ticonderoga, New York (a very scenic drive, I might add!)–or you can fly into Burlington, VT and meander over across Lake Champlain in about 90 minutes–and live the dream of every Trekkie. You can walk around the original USS Enterprise NCC-1701, lovingly recreated by uber-fan and Elvis impersonator extraordinaire James Cawley and his team at Star Trek: New Voyages.
Originally used to film nearly a dozen episodes of Cawley’s amazing fan series, the sets were recently converted into an officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour open to the public six days a week (closed Mondays). For less than 25 bucks a head, er, body, you can walk where few fans have gone before, take all of the pictures and videos you want, and brag to your friends that you got to visit this one-of-a-kind exhibit. (Yeah, I know there’s one just like it in Georgia, too, but Star Trek Continues‘ sets aren’t open to the public nor are they officially licensed.)
One fan who braved the four-hour trek (sorry, pun couldn’t be helped) from Manhattan to Ticonderoga is New York City-based comedian Tom Kelly. So just in case you don’t think you’ll be able to make it up there yourself–or if you’re looking for a reason to actually go–just take a look at this very entertaining and fun video…
When CBS and Paramount announced their new guidelines for Star Trek fan films, the fates of two long-running, celebrated fan series seemed to be in jeopardy. Star Trek: New Voyages (having released nearly a dozen full-length TOS fan episodes since 2004) and Star Trek Continues (with six full-length TOS fan episodes plus three vignettes released since 2012) both appeared to violate multiple new guideline rules. These included run-times over 15 minutes, more than $50,000 in crowd-funding, perk give-aways for contributors, the use of professional actors and crew, and of course, simply having an ongoing fan series in the first place!
Would these two venerated fan series finally come to an inglorious end? It seems the answer is “yes”…and “no”…and “maybe.” Let me explain…
Last time: Marc Scott Zicree discussed the first professional fan film, “World Enough and Time,” the fourth episode release from Star Trek: New Voyages back in 2007. Roughly 200-300 people worked on the production (235 names appear in the credits plus another 50 on the “Special thanks” list. A number of team members were actually Hollywood industry professionals…including George Takei himself reprising his role of Sulu, plus Marc and his co-writer Michael Reaves, his editor Chris Cronin, many of the department heads, the visual effects team, and the production unit who shot the USS Excelsior scenes in Los Angeles (the majority of the episode was filmed in upstate New York on the New Voyages TOS sets).
Even today, nearly a decade later, “World Enough and Time” remains high up on the list of MUST SEE fan films. And it provides a magnificent example of the kind of engaging, emotional, and dramatically satisfying production that can be achieved using a mixture of fan amateurs and industry professionals working together to create a true labor of love.
Of course, such a fan film would now be impossible to create and release under the new guidelines issued by CBS and Paramount. Industry professionals are barred from working on a fan film, although this particular guideline may violate California’s Business and Professions Code: Section 16600. Even if it does, however, fan films are now limited to 15-minute episodes or, at most, two 15-minute parts totaling no more than 30 minutes. The depth of character development and story complexity required for “World Enough and Time” could never be squeezed into such a constrained time limitation…nor should it, say many fans.
Marc Zicree is a rabid Star Trek and science fiction fan who has written and produced hundreds of hours of network television over a career spanning decades…including episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
As our 2-part interview with Marc concludes, he finishes discussing “World Enough and Time” and then dives head-first into what he thinks about those darn guidelines…
Back in 2004, Star Trek fans’ collective jaws dropped when they got their first look at Star Trek: New Voyages, an original fan film series shot on sets meticulously recreated from the original TOS bridge, transporter room, and captain’s quarters. Show-runner and lead actor James Cawley reportedly funded the construction of these sets with $100,000-150,000 of his own money.
Other set recreations would follow: sickbay, the briefing room, expansive corridors, and many more. Eventually, the New Voyages (also known as Phase 2) sets located in Ticonderoga, New York had replicated nearly the entire layout of the original TOS shooting sets at Desilu Studios on the Paramount lot fifty years ago.
Along the way, Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase 2 produced and released nearly a dozen original fan films, each dazzling fans. But then the new fan film guidelines were released by CBS and Paramount, potentially signalling an end to this venerable TOS fan series. Fan wondered if they would even see these amazing sets again.
Well, wonder no more! Although the fate of Star Trek: New Voyages as a fan series is still unknown, an announcement was just made on the Star Trek.com website that the TOS sets in upstate New York would now be open to viewing by the general public…on officially licensed set tours! Yes, officially licensed!!!
Some fans believe that Axanar was the first fan film to use professionals or, at the very least, the first to pay them. Both of those assumptions are incorrect by nearly a decade.
The first fan film to feature a known Star Trek professional in their credits was the debut episode of Star Trek: New Voyages in early 2004, “Come What May,” which featured Doug Drexler as visual effects artist (under the pseudonym “Max Rem”) while Doug was also actively working doing the digital FX for Star Trek: Enterprise and also for the new Battlestar Galactica.
New Voyages’ next episode, “In Harm’s Way,” likewise included Doug Drexler…this time as an executive producer. It also featured veteran Star Trek TOS guest stars William Windom (reprising his role as an older, time-displaced Commodore Matt Decker), BarBara Luna, and Malachi Thorne (also voicing his former role as Commodore Jose Mendez as well as playing a Klingon).
Fans became concerned earlier today when the Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II Facebook page went off-line. After Tommy Kraft was urged by CBS to shut down Star Trek: Federation Rising earlier this week, fans worried that the venerable and highly-popular New Voyages would be next!
Some people have noticed that the Star Trek New Voyages / Phase II Facebook page, run by James Cawley, has been taken offline. This is his statement: “You may tell folks, I have taken the facebook page offline personally. It has nothing to do with CBS.”
This Facebook page will continue to represent the fan film project.
If you’re a true Star Trek fan, you should watch “Mind-Sifter,” the latest episode released from Star Trek: New Voyages.
(NOTE: Two weeks after this blog was posted, New Voyages released another episode, “The Holiest Thing,” but this entry is about its predecessor, “Mind-Sifter,” which was released in December of 2014.)
You shouldn’t watch “Mind-Sifter” simply because it’s a well-constructed, well-acted, and well-produced story. And you shouldn’t watch it simply because it feels like good Star Trek.
No, you should watch it to honor the memory of an amazing woman who almost single-handedly helped to define, grow, and nurture Star Trek fandom while it was still in its infancy. I dare say that we all wouldn’t be here today celebrating Star Trek as passionately as we do if it weren’t for Shirley S. Maiewski, also known as “Grandma Trek.” Continue reading “Fulfilling a 30-Year Promise to the “Grandmother of Trek””