Fans gave a sigh of relief in early February when it was announced that the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets in Kingsland, Georgia had been purchased by a fan filmmaker who intended to make the sets available to other fan filmmakers to create their Trek fan productions. The new owner is a fellow by the name of RAY TESI, and his own fan project was STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which had released the 9-minute “Serpent of Yesterday“ vignette in February of last year.
But I was curious about something: how was Ray affording all this?
Y’see, after releasing his fan film vignette, Ray launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to raise $16,000 to continue the production of his fan series. That campaign only made it to $2,351, and the project was shelved indefinitely.
Now, I didn’t know whether Ray had purchased the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA of Star Trek Continues or had gotten them for free (turns out Ray bought them). But I did know that the rent for the warehouse where the sets reside is tens of thousands of dollars per year!
So how is a guy who needed $16,000 in crowd-funding a year ago suddenly able to afford thousands of dollars a month in rent? Did he win the lottery? Rob a bank? Blackmail a rich politician?
It turns out, fortunately(!), that it was none of the above. In fact, when you hear the actual story behind Ray’s purchase of the STC sets, I think that you—like me—will gain a new respect for Ray Tesi and feel truly inspired and positive about the future of this wonderful fan resource.
Here’s the interview…
And for anyone wanting to see how awesome these sets are, here’s a walkthrough from a few years ago (before they added Engineering, which makes it all even MORE awesome!)…
Ever since STAR TREK CONTINUES released its 11th and final episode last November, fans have been asking, “What will happen to those amazing TOS sets???” They can’t be turned into a Star Trek set tour because there’s already one of those in upstate New York, and James Cawley’s license with CBS is exclusive. And despite some fans suggesting the sets just be sold/donated to a museum or to CBS itself, there are use too many set pieces to make relocating them anywhere near practical or cost effective.
The challenge for VIC MIGNOGNA, the showrunner for STC, is that the sets are currently housed in a building in Kingsland, GA that costs about $5,000 a month in rent (according to their 501(c)(3) non-profit filing from 2015). As much as Vic wants to keep the sets open and intact, $60K per year is a LOT to ask any Trekker to pay to keep those sets open.
Enter: RAY TESI. Ray will be the new owner of the TOS sets that were used by STC. Ray is the executive producer behind STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which released its first fan film vignette, the 9-minute “Serpent of Yesterday” almost one full year ago. I interviewed Ray here on Fan Film Factor when he was trying to generate funds through an Indiegogo campaign to complete their first episode. The plans were to shoot the scenes on the Starbase Studios sets in Arkansas. But with the current uncertainty regarding those sets, Ray wasn’t certain he’d be able to rely on Starbase to film his fan project. Now he’ll film in Georgia instead.
Ray has decided to keep the name STAGE 9 STUDIOS, which is what STC decided to call their facility (named after the location of the original TOS sets on the Paramount lot back in the late 1960s).
Obviously, there’s more news to come on this (including plans to restart Starship Republic later this year). I’ve requested an interview with Ray, but right now, here’s the press release that wasjust circulated by Star Trek Continues…