YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 4)

In Part , Part 2, and Part 3, we got to know STAN WOO, the fan behind YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, a Star Trek fan film featuring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu and JAMES SHIGETA as Admiral Nogura. Star Trek production designer ANDREW PROBERT, who designed both the refit U.S.S. Enterprise and the Enterprise-D, worked on this fan film, as well, providing custom sketches for the refit U.S.S. Yorktown along with other completely new space vessels.

Between 1985 and 1987, Stan and his team shot 160 minutes of footage over a dozen different film shoots both indoors and outdoors. By the summer of 1987, the project was even featured in a two-page article in issue #119 of Starlog Magazine…an article read by a twelve-year-old boy from Ontario, Canada who will be the focus on most of today’s blog: JOHN ATKIN.

Stan and his Yorktown project appeared to be all but unstoppable…until failing college grades in 1987 caused Stan’s father to pull the plug on the entire endeavor. Stan’s education had to come first. And although some minor work (in secret) was done by Stan here and there over the next few years, the project was essentially in suspended animation for more than two decades. Stan had gotten married in 1995, had four children, and didn’t really have the time or resources to complete a full-on fan film…until 2009, that is.

As we learned last time, Stan began thinking about completing Yorktown beginning in 2009 after seeing how prolific Star Trek fan films had become during the past six years. He asked his friend PAUL McCUDDEN, a writer in Hollywood, for help expanding and finishing the script. And a bit of progress was being made.

THE SEARCH FOR STAN

Meanwhile, north of the border in the land of moose and maple, John Atkin was now in his mid-thirties and also a devotee of Star Trek fan films. And in early 2010, he began to wonder: “Whatever happened to that Yorktown project with George Takei from the 1980s?”

He was determined to find out…

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YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 3)

In Part 1 and Part 2, we met STAN WOO, who back in 1985 convinced GEORGE TAKEI to star as Sulu and JAMES SHIGETA to appear as Admiral Nogura in Stan’s Star Trek fan film YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL. Also working on the project was legendary Star Trek production artist ANDREW PROBERT, who designed both the refit U.S.S. Enterprise from ST:TMP and also the Enterprise-D from ST:TNG. Andrew custom-designed a “hybrid” TOS/TMP U.S.S. Yorktown that could appear in the film to help establish the time-frame as during the Enterprise‘s refit. Also appearing in the movie was Leonard Nimoy’s assistant, TERESA VICTOR, along with a few other notable names from fandom and even from professional Star Trek.

Andrew Probert (left) meets with Stan Woo at a Taco Bell near Warner Bros. studios in 1986.

Between April of 1985 and March of 1987, more than a dozen separate film shoots at both outdoor and indoor locations produced about 160 minutes of footage which was now ready to be edited. By that point, Stan estimates that probably north of $10,000 was spent—mainly by his father, JEM ONG WOO, who will be credited as Executive Producer when Yorktown is finally released this Christmas of 2020 (fingers crossed!). “When you include the post production equipment purchased, like the Video Toaster Flyer (NLE), yeah, it was probably around that much,” Stan explains. “I also purchased Super Beta and Super VHS editing systems that didn’t quite pan out, but that was still money spent, as I didn’t need the equipment if not for the film.”

In fact, the editing equipment was purchased after Stan visited Stephen J. Cannell Productions (which produced The Greatest American Hero and The A-Team) and spoke with Post Production Supervisor KEN SWEET. “I was inspired to change our post production workflow after Ken told me that 21 Jump Street was going to be shot on film and cut on video. So we had to scan all of the Super 8 Reversal Film on a Rank Cintel Flying Scanner to ¾-inch Umatic SP.” (I have absolutely no idea what that means, but the short version is they took two large canisters of 400-ft-long film reels and transferred them to a fairly high quality—at the time—Sony video tape format in order to be able to edit the fan film.)

Meanwhile, word had spread about this exciting project through an article in the June 1987 issue of Starlog Magazine (#119)…

Click to enlarge

But shortly before the article came out, trouble was brewing for young Stan, who was at that time a student at California State University – Los Angeles while trying to complete his dream fan project in his spare time. And the trouble very nearly spelled the end for Yorktown—at least for another 22 years…

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YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 2)

Last week in Part 1, we began looking back (waaaaaaay back!) to the 1980s and the birth of the long-awaited Star Trek fan film YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…with GEORGE TAKEI appearing as Sulu. We learned how, in 1985, 21-year-old showrunner STAN WOO was able to convince George to appear in a Trekkie fan film thanks to a decade or so of friendly stalking and a well-timed offer of a glass of bungundy.

Filming began in April of 1985 and continued in earnest through that November. During that time, ten different shoots in various outdoor and indoor locations were completed, including on July 14 at the Chilao Flats campground in the Angeles National Forest…just four miles away from Charlton Flats, where portions of Star Trek: First Contact would be filmed a decade later.

For those who weren’t around in the 1980s, there was no such thing yet as digital video. Movies were shot on film reels and/or recorded to video cassette tapes. Oh, and there was also New Coke. Yes, folks, the debut of one of the biggest beverage blunders in modern history was just four days before Yorktown‘s July 14 shoot, and Stan’s dad picked up a case of the new soft drink at a local supermarket. According to Stan, “George Takei may have had his first sip of New Coke on our set…” and supplied me with the photo at the top of this blog entry to prove it!

By the time November 1985 came along, filming had now been completed on nearly every major scene but one. The segment involved three different admirals in an office on Starbase 7—nothing too complicated, right? But it turned out that this one “simple” scene would delay the production more than half a year…

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YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 1)

If any footage can be considered “the holy grail” of Star Trek fan films, it’s the Super-8 scenes from YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, shot in 1985 to 1987 and featuring actor GEORGE TAKEI reprising his role as Lt. Cmdr. Sulu during the time between TOS and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Thirty-five years (and counting!) in the making, Yorktown is probably the most eagerly awaited, exciting, and mysterious Star Trek fan film of all time! And so many fans have so many questions…

  • How did a young Trekkie barely out of high school convince George Takei to play Sulu way back when the actor was concurrently making Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home?
  • How did this same kid get JAMES SHIGETA (who’s been in about a million things you’ve seen, most notably Die Hard, Midway, and Mulan…but also TV shows ranging from The Outer Limits to Mission: Impossible to T.J. Hooker to Babylon 5 to Avatar: The Last Airbender) to agree to play Admiral Nogura?
  • Did ANDREW PROBERT, the artist who designed the refit USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well as the Enterprise-D for Next Generation really design custom starships for this guy’s fan film, too?
  • Why is this film still not finished yet?

Well, it’s ALMOST finished! In fact, a new trailer was recently released (the first new trailer since 2013), promising a release date of this Christmas. The footage looks amazing—see for yourself…

There’s no shortage of stories about this project scattered all over the Internet…some less accurate than others. But now it’s time to set the record straight and collect all of these mind-blowing details together in a series of fascinating blogs that will feature direct quotes from original show-runner STAN WOO and current show-runner JOHN ATKIN.

It’s hard to pick one thing about Yorktown: A Time to Heal that’s the most interesting. Obviously, it’s one of the first (if not THE first) Star Trek fan film to feature a member of one of the television casts in their same iconic role…plus other professional actors in major roles. But after a veritable sprint of filming over the first two years, things virtually stopped completely for more than two decades!

Then, once things started up again, fan filmmakers from all over our community got involved to help out. Scenes were filmed BOTH at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma AND on James Cawley’s TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY (one of the only fan projects other than STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES to ever do that). People who worked on AXANAR, STAR TREK CONTINUES, NEW VOYAGES, RENEGADES, STARSHIP EXETER, STARSHIP FARRAGUT, STARSHIP ANTYLLUS, STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE, STAR TREK: EXCALIBUR, TEMPORAL ANOMALY, STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN, STAR TREK: DECEPTION II, THE FEDERATION FILES, and so many other fan productions all pitched in at one point or another to help Yorktown: A Time to Heal move ever closer to completion.

Are you ready to jump down the rabbit hole? I promise, it’ll be worth it…

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COMING THIS WEEK – The complete 35-year history of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL!

You guys are in for a real treat. Assuming you enjoy reading about the rich histories of Star Trek fan film projects (why else would you be here??), then you are going to LOVE what I have coming later on this week!

If you think AXANAR, PACIFIC 201, FIRST FRONTIER or STARSHIP FARRAGUT “Homecoming” are taking forever to come out, those are just wee bairnes compared to YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL! Those other projects have been in development for maybe five years at most. But Yorktown began production way back in 1985!!! That’s 35 years, folks. And while there was a lull in production and post-production which lasted nearly two decades, work started up again in earnest in 2010. But it’s now 2020…and still no Yorktown in sight.

However, that all changed when the first new trailer for Yorktown since 2013 was released on July 5th, 2020…

No, you’re not seeing things. That is indeed GEROGE TAKEI, and he is playing Hikaru Sulu. That’s also actor JAMES SHIGETA from Die Hard, Midway, and Mulan (and a hundred other things you’ve seen) playing Admiral Nogura.

If you’re a hard-core follower of Star Trek fan films, you probably know at least something about Yorktown. But do you know EVERYTHING??? There are so many stories and interviews out there, scattered across the Internet. Finding them all is like a scavenger hunt, and even when you do, many of the stories sound almost unbelievable. A few even seem to contradict each other. What’s true, what’s myth, and what’s legend?

I decided to find out!

I’d actually been wanting to cover Yorktown for many years…the “lost” fan film. But was it really lost? From the time I first began covering Star Trek fan films back in 2015, I’d heard rumors that work was still being done on this fabled project. Eventually, I discovered a Facebook group and joined it, but I’ll admit I didn’t check it all that often. And truth to tell, there were so many other fan films and news and interviews and articles to write that Yorktown kinda fell off my radar more than a few times over the years.

But then that trailer come out, and I had the perfect excuse to do a deep-dive. Little did I realize how deep I was about to go…!

Continue reading “COMING THIS WEEK – The complete 35-year history of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL!”