It was truly one of the most extraordinary moments I’ve ever experienced at a convention. And for the rest of my life, whenever someone uses the word “bittersweet,” my mind will remember seeing the finale of STAR TREK CONTINUES at L.A. Comic Con with the entire cast, some guest stars, writers, directors, VFX and make-up people, crew, about 200 fans…and my son Jayden.
But in addition to “bittersweet,” I would use words like amazing, inspiring, suspenseful, intimate, dazzling, heartfelt, loving, and incredibly satisfying to describe both this final episode and the nearly 90-minute discussion that followed.
THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS!
In fact, when this episode is finally released onto the Internet on Monday, November 13, I recommend you rush to watch it as soon as you can and allow yourself NO advanced knowledge of anything. There are truly unexpected surprises in this episode, and you don’t want them ruined. “To Boldly Go, Part II,” as promised, will end Kirk’s five-year mission with drama, emotion, and an intensity seldom seen in fan films.
It’s a MUST SEE-PLUS-PLUS-PLUS!
As director JAMES KERWIN commented to the audience, he loved hearing everyone applauding at just the right moments, some sniffles at others, all the reactions he was hoping for. This one hits on all cylinders, folks, and is a beautiful way to wrap up eleven top-notch episodes and five unforgettable years of this beloved fan production.
Anyone wanting to put down show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA or trivialize the accomplishments of these dedicated and talented individuals…well, you’re going to need to do it elsewhere. As a proud donor and follower of this celebrated fan series, I will stand up for Star Trek Continues every single time!
And speaking of Vic, he respectfully asked for anyone who was recording Sunday evening’s live panel discussion to please not share the video until after the episode had a chance to circulate…as many details were mentioned that could spoil the viewing experience for others.
So I have some wonderful footage from the Q&A session that I will share in a few weeks. But for now—and I hope Vic will indulge a proud father—I would like to share this one SPOILER-FREE response to a question from my son Jayden, as Vic Mignogna explains his production in a way that any seven-year-old can understand…
Thank you, Vic, for that answer. And thank to everyone on the STC team for sharing Vic’s dream with appreciative Trekkers who have waited five decades to see Kirk’s historic five-year mission finally reach its conclusion.
Last time, we looked at an overview of what made STAR TREK CONTINUES unique among fan films. This week, we’ll take a closer look at how this fan series got its start and some of its earliest fan film releases.
Months before producing and releasing its first full episode in 2013, STC filmed three short vignettes in May of 2012 to “introduce themselves” and get their space legs.
The first vignette, about four minutes long, recreated the ending of “Turnabout Intruder,” the final first-run episode of TOS to air on television. But instead of ending on the depressingly somber line from Kirk, “If only…” the vignette CONTINUED the scene (get it?), following Kirk, Spock, and Scott into the turbolift and onto the bridge. Joined a few seconds later by McCoy, the somber mood is lightened by a good-natured poke at Spock by the doctor, and then Kirk orders the Enterprise to rendezvous with the Potemkin. The music shifts to an uplifting, optimistic melody, portending new and exciting adventures into the future. The camera pans out to reveal the entire bridge crew as the credits roll.
You can watch the vignette here…
And if you’re curious, here’s a couple of still-frame comparisons to the original version of that same scene from TOS…
This first vignette was released onto the Internet on July 31, 2012 and served to do more than simply say, “Hey, we’re here! Look what we can do!” It also introduced four of the main actors who would be starring in the new series.
NOTE: About a year a half ago, I published a 3-part blog tracing the fascinating history of STAR TREK CONTINUES. In honor of their penultimate episode being released this past week and their series finale next month, I will be reprinting these blogs and adding an additional blog or two covering what happened between then and now.
Those were the last two words uttered by Captain Kirk before Star Trek the original series was canceled in 1969.
Kirk was referring to the tragic descent into hate-filled insanity of his former love, Dr. Janice Lester. But for me, these two words were so much more powerful: If onlyStar Trek hadn’t been canceled. If onlyStar Trek could have…
TOS fans always felt a pang of frustration that the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise was cut short after only three years in space (and on the air). Sure, in 1973 an 1974, we got to see 22 animated episodes of the series, voiced by the same original actors, but we never got to see the end of that five-year mission.
Even when Star Trek crossed over into motion pictures, the end of Kirk’s first mission was still a mystery. And the days of seeing those those bright red, blue, and gold uniforms and those amazingly colorful starship Enterprise sets—those days were gone forever…except in reruns, of course.
I used to have this dream where I was watching an episode of TOS that I’d never seen before. Of course, I’d seen every episode dozens of times, so when I woke up, I’d sadly remember that there were no “lost” episodes of TOS.
Back in 2013, STAR TREK CONTINUEScame in like a lion with a sequel to the TOS episode “Who Mourns for Adonais” that featured Michael Forest reprising his role as Apollo.
Now, as 2017 comes to an end, so does the 5-year mission of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 as Star TrekContinues goes out with a bang! Their series finale “To Boldly Go” is making its debut to the public today with the first of two parts. The conclusion will debut in 11 days at a live screening at L.A. Comic Con, and then the final episode of STC will be released onto the Internet for the general public on November 13.
Both parts were written by noted Canadian sci-fi author ROBERT J. SAWYER (his first-ever work for STC). He is one of eight authors in history to win all three of the science-fiction field’s highest honors for best novel of the year: the Hugo Award (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula Award (which he won for The Terminal Experiment); and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan). Sawyer is a huge Star Trek fan, which you’ll be able to tell almost immediately when you watch the episode.
I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers, so with the exception of gushing about a top-level performance by guest star NICOLA BRYANT (companion “Peri Brown” to the 5th and 6th Doctors on Doctor Who), I’ll simply tell you to note how awesome the music sounds. A full orchestra made up of more than 40 student musicians from New York’s Empire Film Music Ensemble in Rochester, as well as several professional instrumentalists, recorded the brilliant compositions of Andy Farber.
While Star Trek: Discovery darkly reminds us that it is now 2017, this penultimate episode of STC is a like a warm, comfortable blanket wrapping us up once again in the TV magic of the 1960s (or if you weren’t there in the 60’s, then the 70’s or whenever you first discovered TOS).
Perhaps more than any other episode of STC, “To Boldly Go” will remind you of everything that Star Trek was, is, and can be when there is love and dedication…something the STC team has shared with us fans during the course of their own five-year mission.
And now, please enjoy the first half of this most wonderful gift to Star Trek fandom…
And then there were two…only two more episodes of the cutting-edge and widely-celebrated fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES. The final duo of episodes will be a two-parter entitled “To Boldly Go” and will bring a long-awaited conclusion to Captain Kirk’s 5-year mission on board the U.S.S. Enterprise…something fans never got to see when the original series was canceled in 1969 after only three seasons. The story of Star Trek picked up again a few years later (Trek time) with the first motion picture, but fans never got to see how the 5-year mission actually ended.
Now they will…thanks to the folks at Star Trek Continues.
STC has a long-standing tradition of premiering their new episodes at conventions before releasing them onto YouTube. Their most recent offering, “What Ships Are For,” was shown to cheering fans at Florida Supercon in Ft. Lauderdale the weekend of July 27-30 and then uploaded to the Internet shortly thereafter.
The initial plan was to debut “To Boldly Go (Part One)” at the Salt Lake City Comic Con the weekend of September 21-23…and then to bring their marvelous series to a triumphant conclusion with a screening at the New York City Comicon the weekend of October 5-8.
However, those plans were made before it was announced that Star Trek: Discovery would premiere that same weekend as the Salt Lake City con on September 24. Not wanting to step on the toes of CBS with an unnecessary Trek distraction, STC decided to move the Part One premiere to New York and then debut Part Two a month later (or so) at a convention to be determined.
Now that finale date and location have been announced, and it’s a biggie: STAN LEE’s L.A. COMIC CON! It’s not quite San Diego’s Comic Con (thank Zod!!!), but it’s a major event here in Los Angeles and one I’ve attended for the last few years with my son. Naturally, we will both be going this year, and on Sunday just before the convention ends, stars VIC “Kirk” MIGNOGNA, TODD “Spock” HABERKORN, CHUCK “McCoy” HUBER, and GRANT “Sulu” Imahara will be on hand to screen the series finale for convention attendees!
Currently, plans are set to release “To Boldly Go (Part One)” onto the Internet on October 18 and “To Boldly Go (Part Two)” on November 13. If those dates change, I’ll be sure to let you know.
It’s a bittersweet time for fans of STAR TREK CONTINUES. After five years and what will soon be eleven episodes, the celebrated fan series is finally coming to an end this November. That’s certainly the bitter part. The sweet part is that we are being treated to four new episodes in a single year. The first two, “Still Treads the Shadow” and “What Ships Are For” have already been released, and the final two-parter, “To Boldly Go” will debut publicly with Part 1 on October 18 and Part 2 on November 13.
What’s also sweet is that STC typically releases blooper reels for most of its episodes. These short glimpses behind the scenes show how much fun the cast and crew had in creating these wonderful productions.
You can see all of their blooper/gag reels—along with all of their episodes and other special features—by clicking here. Scroll down for the bloopers and features.
And here’s their most recent blooper reel release for “What Ships Are For”…
Many are calling it one of STAR TREK CONTINUES’ best episodes yet! I’m sure some will complain, as someone always does, it seems. And admittedly, the first half of the episode does move more slowly than the second half…but oh, what a second half it is!
Without stepping into spoiler territory, this episode heartens back to the golden age of TOS when many of the episodes provided viewers with a mirror from which they could see and examine one or more of the complex issues of the day: the war in Vietnam, racism, the hippie movement, the ever-growing spectacle of television itself.
“What Ships Are For” does just that with one of the most controversial and divisive political dilemmas of today…told in a creative and ultimately poignant way. Unlike many fan films, this episode of STC doesn’t rely on space battles or some threat to the ship but rather focuses on a society facing a crisis of change—a change that could quite literally tear them apart. And right in the middle of it all are Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise. Sound familiar? If you named just about any of the original series episodes, you’d probably be right! And for me, that’s the reason “What Ships Are For” worked so well.
The episode also worked well because of the amazingly strong performances of their guest cast for this episode. Anne Lockhart will be familiar to sci-fi fans as the actress who played Lt. Sheba in the original Battlestar Galactica. (She is also the daughter of Lost in Space star June Lockhart). Elizabeth Maxwell is an accomplished voice-over actress. But most impressive was a tour de force performance by actor John de Lancie, best known to fans for his portrayal of omnipotent intergalactic troublemaker “Q” on TNG, DS9, and Voyager.
Despite this being “only” a fan film (HA!), de Lancie gives his all to this role, delivering his lines with a poignancy that makes the plight of this alien society feel real and tangible to the viewer rather than simply being some plot contrivance intended to comment on a currently charged political issue. De Lancie’s performance, I believe, elevated other performances in the episode, especially that of star Vic Mignogna, who delivered a magnificently powerful Kirk speech at the end. The two performances together actually bought a tear to my eye.
See for yourself how good the episode was, and then feel free to post comments with spoilers below. And if you don’t want spoilers, please watch first before reading the comments on this page…
Later on today, STAR TREK CONTINUES will debut its ninth full episode, “What Ships Are For” (with special guest stars John de Lancie and Anne Lockhart!) in front of a fan audience at the Florida Supercon in Ft. Lauderdale. The rest of the world will get to see the episode tomorrow! (Indiegogo donors—like me—got a special advanced screening link yesterday, so I’ve already seen it. And it was really good, folks. Definitely worth your time to check it out when it’s released…especially the second half. No spoilers, but I cried a little at the end. Very powerful performance by John de Lancie.)
Early last month, STC announced the release schedule of their final three episodes, with special previews of each episode during conventions where the STC cast would be appearing. In addition to episode XI “What Ships Are For,” the release dates for episodes X and XI were given, as well: “To Boldly Go (Part One)” would premiere at Salt Lake City Comic Con the weekend of September 21-23 and “To Boldly Go (Part Two)” would premiere two weeks later at New York City Comicon the weekend of October 5-8.
But that was before CBS announced the premiere date of Star Trek: Discovery was going to be September 24. Oh, dear. STC‘s penultimate episode would be premiering just as the world would be focused on the first new StarTrek to hit television screens in a dozen years! Obviously, the timing of the two releases within a day of each other would not be in the best interests of CBS or STC.
So VIC MIGNOGNA posted the following message to fans of STC:
When we scheduled the releases for our 2-part finale at Salt Lake Comic Con & New York Comic Con, the release date for Star Trek: Discovery had not yet been set. When it was announced that it would air on Sept 24, we decided to make some adjustments to our release dates out of respect and support for CBS and ST: Discovery. We don’t want anything to detract from the excitement and anticipation of ST: Discovery!
We will now show a sneak peek of Episode X at New York Comic Con on Sunday, October 8. and will debut it publicly on October 18. Our final episode, XI, will be released publicly on November 13, with a sneak peek of the episode to be screened at an event prior (TBD). Exclusive episode posters will be given to the first 300 fans at both events!
So a bad news/good news situation for STC fans. The bad news is that we have to a little longer for the next new episode of STC and an extra month or so for the finale. The good news is that we don’t have to face the reality of the last-ever episode of STC until November instead of October.
Earlier today, ALEC PETERS posted the following blog on the AxanarProductions.com website. As it’s very relevant to my editorial blog entry from yesterday—and it makes some excellent points—I asked for and received Alec’s permission to re-post the blog in its entirety here on FAN FILM FACTOR. (Please note that the opinions expressed and descriptions of events presented are solely those of Alec Peters.)
There is a a lot of talk lately about how Star Trek Continues has decided to openly violate the Star TrekFan Film Guidelines that CBS put in place last year. STC has already violated the guidelines with the release of their last episode, and is making 3 more roughly 50 minute episodes that violate at least 5 Guidelines including length (close to 50 minutes) and the use of Star Trek actors.
I would highly recommend you read Jonathan Lane’s Fan Film Factor article on the matter here:
Jonathan provides a very fair view of the matter, as he likes both Axanar and STC. And Jonathan calls out Vic for his hypocrisy in attacking Axanar for violating “guidelines” that never existed, while violating the actual written rules himself. And lets be clear, Star Trek Continues has neither been “grandfathered” in (total nonsense), nor do they have a special deal with CBS. They are simply stating that “we think CBS will be OK with us doing this.”
But I am going to argue that this is actually good for fan films.
Now let’s be clear, I don’t like Vic. He has been lying about Axanar since he stormed out of the Prelude to Axanar Premiere we invited him to in 2014. But I support Star Trek Continues as I do all fan films. I don’t let my feelings for Vic cloud my feelings for a very worthy fan film series. Along with Star Trek New Voyages, they have done wonderful things in the fan film genre.
Now what is ironic is that while Vic refuses to help anyone else in fan films, (he famously asked Tommy Kraft for a role in the Horizon sequel while telling Tommy he wouldn’t lift a finger to help him) and has refused to allow others to use his sets (unlike James Cawley or Starbase Studios who generously allowed anyone to come use their sets), Vic’s decision to ignore the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines may well help all fan films moving forward. How is that?
Well, CBS always hated policing fan films. Having communicated extensively with with John Van Citters, (Head of Star Trek licensing), Liz Kolodner (VP CBS Licensing) and Bill Burke (VP CBS Consumer Products) about fan films for years, and having advocated extensively for guidelines, I knew that CBS didn’t WANT to have to worry about fan films as they saw it as a huge waste of time. They were too busy making money to have to worry about a bunch of fans making films. I once joked with John Van Citters that CBS treated fan films with “benign neglect” and that was good, as fan films did nothing but help the franchise. And CBS told me over and over how it would be impossible to come up with fan film guidelines because of 50 years of Star Trek contracts and agreements with unions, guilds and actors.
Well, clearly that wasn’t the case, since they were able to come up with Guidelines pretty quickly after they sued Axanar. And while many feel the guidelines are too severe (e.g. limiting fan films to 15 minutes and no more than two installments) or even possibly illegal (it’s questionable if CBS can tell you who you CAN’T hire for your fan film) – the guidelines are what they are. They provide some general rules to follow if a Star Trek fan film producer doesn’t want to run the risk of getting sued by CBS.
So how does Star Trek Continues violating the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines help all fan films? Well, it just supports what we at Axanar have known for a while. Axanar was sued because we didn’t look like a fan film. Not because we made “profit” (we didn’t) or that we built a “for-profit studio” (we didn’t…STNV did that), both reasons made up by people who don’t know what they are talking about, but because Axanar looked like it came from the studio.
Now CBS doesn’t want to sue its fans again. The 13 months of the lawsuit was not good for CBS and Paramount from a PR perspective. And the Guidelines were basically a way to put a lid on the “arms race” of professionalism taking place.
But what we see here is CBS giving Star Trek Continues a pass. And why? Because over a year ago, CBS said to me, “No one is going to confuse them with real Star Trek.” And that is the crux of the matter. Yes, Star Trek Continues, like Star Trek New Voyages, have excellent production values, with amazing sets, brilliant VFX and visuals, and excellent costuming and props. They LOOK amazing. But the acting is mostly amateurs, and that is the main reason fan films don’t have widespread appeal. (By the way, I love Chris Doohan as Scotty in STC. Simply brilliant). But ask fans what they think of fan films, and the overwhelming # 1 reason they give for not watching or liking them is the acting. And this is one of the main reasons I decided to give up the role of Garth in the feature film.
So, as long as you aren’t too good – and stay in familiar territory – it appears you are in a safe harbor. Want to break the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines? Just don’t make something that CBS perceives as a threat. There’s no question that from a marketing perspective, fan films are actually very good for the Star Trek franchise, and the powers that be at CBS know this and will allow you to break many of the guidelines as long as you aren’t overly ambitious. And since no one is really raising money for their productions anymore, I don’t think CBS has to worry about this. STC is spending the money they had previously raised and why they cut down on the number of episodes they were making.
So, while I won’t advocate a fan film maker break the CBS Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines, I think what Star Trek Continues has shown is that CBS isn’t going to worry about a product that they don’t see as threatening. And that gives all fan film makers a little breathing room.
Last Wednesday, STAR TREK CONTINUESannounced that none other than actor JOHN “Q” DE LANCIE is going to guest star in the ninth episode of their fan series, “What Ships Are For,” which will premiere the last weekend of July.
And now I am about to get myself into a shatload of trouble! But before I jump into the smoldering volcano of fan film frenzy and fanatical fealty, let me state the following up front:
I love Vic Mignogna (not romantically, just as a fan). Yes, I’ve heard him called every name in the book by people who don’t like him. I’ve heard vitriolic complaints about Vic’s ego, lack of integrity, and even his acting ability. (And I’ve heard similar rants about Alec Peters, by the way.) The fact is: I don’t care! I think very highly of both of these men…and for very similar reasons. But for right now, let’s focus on why I love Vic.
Every fan production has one bright sun at the center of its solar system. And for STC, that has always been Vic Mignogna. He’s a leader and inspiration to his production team. He makes things happen. He has set the tone for an endeavor where everyone gives 200% and does it all with smiles while having a blast. You can see it in their behind-the-scenes videos, and I’ve seen it in person at cons I’ve attended where the STC cast is in attendance…with Vic right there in the middle of the enthusiasm.
I also think Vic does a fantastic job being James T. Kirk. Many have attempted the role—from the late/great John Belushi to Jim Carey and even Carol Burnett to fan film actors James Cawley and Brian Gross. Each has brought something different and unique to the character. So before any of you criticize Vic Mignogna for his performance, imagine yourself trying to portray the legendary captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and tell me if you could do any better. As far as I’m concerned, Vic nails it.
So regardless of everything else I am about to say in this blog editorial, let me state for the record that I am a big fan of Vic Mignogna and a HUGE fan of (and proud donor to) Star Trek Continues.
And with that, it’s time for Jonathan to jump into the volcano…