The year was 1998, and the concept of a “fan film” was still unknown, even to most fans. At the time, ROB CAVES was a member of the U.S.S. Angeles chapter of the STARFLEET INTERNATIONAL fan club, and he invited his fellow members to be a part of a new fan series he was calling VOYAGES OF THE U.S.S. ANGELES. It lasted for one full-length feature and five additional short episodes before Rob evolved the series into STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, which lasted for seven seasons, releasing ¬†FIFTY episodes of about a half hour each in addition to spawning no less than FIVE spin-off series.

And in the center of all of this—both literally and figuratively, as her character often sat in the command chair on the “bridge” (shot against a green screen)—was JENNIFER COLE. She appeared in a total of 23 of those 50 episodes, plus 6 episodes of spin-off series STAR TREK: ODYSSEY, 2 of spin-off series STAR TREK: HENGLAAR, M.D., and the crossover fan film (with STAR TREK: INTREPID) OPERATION BETA SHIELD. Jennifer also directed that crossover fan film as well as directing 17 episodes of HF! And all told, on her IMBd page, Jennifer has producer credits on nearly FIVE DOZEN Star Trek fan films from HF and various spin-off series!

What’s most notable about all of this is that Jennifer wasn’t particularly interested in filmmaking before all of this began. Although she lived in Los Angeles, CA, she wasn’t really involved with Hollywood (she worked in a local F.B.I. office, of all things!). She had never taken an acting class or a filmmaking class, and she seldom dealt with the technical aspects of video production like camera lenses or the minutiae of green screen compositing. That was always Rob Caves’ department.

Additionally, Jennifer didn’t exactly have what one might call a “Starfleet” body type. Indeed, she struggled with obesity (as many fans do, including myself). But she never shied away from appearing in front of the camera, and that inspired many other fans to do the same, regardless of their appearance. Jenn was proof for any fan who needed it that Star Trek fan films could be made for the fun of it—even though it was often hard work—and that “anyone could make a fan film.” The trick was simply in having the confidence, determination, and organization to just go for it and make it happen.

And Jenn was amazingly organized! Over the years, after co-founding the U.S.S. Angeles in 1995, Jenn served as first officer, commanding officer, and second officer of the club at various points from then onward. Until her health started deteriorating a few years ago, Jenn found a way to attend nearly every chapter event, regardless of how far she had to drive or fly. One of her favorite places to visit was Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas, and I snapped many of photo of her there enjoying herself…

Continue reading “R.I.P. JENNIFER COLE (1967-2024) of STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER”