Star Trek FAN FILMS are most certainly NOT DEAD…here’s what’s coming down the pike!

No, not THAT Pike! But if you know one of those crazy people who keeps saying that Star Trek fan films are “dead” or that the guidelines or the Axanar lawsuit “destroyed” Trek fan films forever…well, it’s time for a little reality check!

Not only are Star Trek fan films alive and thriving, but we’re about to be inundated with new major productions at all levels of funding ranging from pocket-change to six-figure budgets.

The past year has already been loaded with a plethora of new fan film releases: Galaxy Hopper, Galactic Battles, Temporal Anomaly, Avalon Lost, The Fighting Fourth, Last Survivor, Diplomatic Relations, Desperate Gambit, The Holy Core, Dreadnought Dominion, All Ahead Full, Children of Eberus, The Looking Glass, Confrontations, To Have Boldly Gone, Repercussions, Stunt Doubles, and the just-released Line of Duty. And those are just the ones I’ve covered here on Fan Film Factor! Check out the Star Trek Reviewed blog for a ridiculously more detailed list including all of the smaller fan productions that I don’t usually have a chance to get to.

But you ain’t seen nuthin‘ yet!

Within the next six months, a host of exciting NEW Star Trek fan films are scheduled for release onto YouTube—some of them eagerly anticipated. Last week, I reached out to some prominent fan filmmakers to get updates on their productions and when fans will get a chance to finally see them.

Here’s just some of what you can look forward to in the very near future…

Continue reading “Star Trek FAN FILMS are most certainly NOT DEAD…here’s what’s coming down the pike!”

Behind-the-scenes on STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER! (a MUST-SEE interview with MATT GREEN and SCOTT LYTTLE)

The era of the “big” professional-looking Star Trek fan films is NOT yet over, folks! In fact, fans are still awaiting four major productions that predate the guidelines of nearly three years ago: Axanar (of course), Pacific 201, the series finale of Starship Farragut (with a cameo by the late-great Stan Lee), and Star Trek: First Frontier. And one of those four fan films is about to cross over from post-production to release…and it’s just weeks away!

I’m sure you’ve already guessed from the title of this blog that it’s STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, a professional-quality fan production that was first conceived back in 2013 by writer/show-runner KENNY SMITH. The story features the first captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Robert April, and his crew on their maiden voyage. The actors are trained professionals, the uniforms and sets constructed to look pre-Pike era (TOS, not Discovery), and the production crew were mostly industry folks with experience. I know the guidelines preclude most of the above now, but all of the production footage was “in the can” nearly a year BEFORE the guidelines were ever announced.

After an aborted 2015 Kickstarter that only raised $30K of a $130K goal, Kenny decided to fund the production himself, filming scenes using a mix of practical sets and green screen shots later that year. Originally planned for a September 2016 release to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, and even though all the live action scenes were filmed, post-production would end up taking three times longer than anticipated!

But they had a very good excuse! The production decided NOT to use traditional CGI animation and instead built a physical 11-foot model of April’s Enterprise (estimated materials and labor cost $30,000) and filmed the VFX the old fashioned way…in a studio in front of a giant green screen!

But they didn’t stop there…

After shooting that gorgeous starship model in early 2017, they next went on to construct an equally-amazing 1/24th scale hangar deck and shuttlecraft for a number of VFX scenes that take place in that area of the ship. Photos of their incredible miniature shuttle bay have only just begun to circulate, and fans’ jaws are dropping left and right!

Fortunately, the two gentlemen in charge of the construction of these incredible models took pictures and videos along the way…hundreds in fact! And I’ve got most of them to show you in this exclusive Fan Film Factoraudio interview with a special video montage “bonus.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you MATT GREEN and SCOTT LYTTLE, the men behind Captain Robert April’s Enterprise and hangar bay…

STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER releases NEW trailer…with never-before-seen footage!

Back in March of 2017, I featured a great 3-part interview (definitely worth reading or at least looking at the photos!) with KENNY SMITH, the show-runner behind the upcoming fan film STAR TEK: FIRST FRONTIER. At the time, a just-released trailer promised a debut of the hour-long film in 2017. Although the trailer disappeared for a short while, it was re-posted in September of 2017, still promising a 2017 release.

That didn’t happen.

However, it wan’t because Kenny and his team were simply resting on their laurels! The script for First Frontier was iniitally written in 2014, and after a Kickstarter in 2015 failed to reach its $130K goal, Kenny decided to simply fund it himself. He built sets (for the era of Captain Robert April, 20 years before Kirk), created costumes, and even constructed a highly detailed $30,000 eleven-foot long model of April’s Enterprise NCC-1701 in order to film visual FX the old fashioned way!

He hired professional actors and production crew (this was all pre-guidelines) and even had NICHELLE NICHOLS record a voice-over. When all was said and done, Kenny spent around $200,000 of his own money (and that was back in 2017…he’s likely now up over a quarter million!).

The majority of the work over the past two years has been on post production: lighting and color adjustments, editing, sound, music, and of course, VFX. Most recently, Kenny and his team built a miniature shuttlecraft and hangar deck “set” for a series of sequences involving a shuttlecraft. Now, when I say “miniature,” it isn’t THAT miniature. Although you can’t tell from this photo taken while everything was still being completed, this shuttlecraft is about the size of a microwave oven!

How awesome is that???

With a planned YouTube premiere only a couple of months away (fingers crossed, people!), Kenny has just released a new trailer. It has most of the same footage as the previous 2017 trailer, but a few new scenes have been added, including a brief glimpse of two-time Emmy nominee actor BARRY CORBIN. We also get to hear Nichelle at the end.

I’m really looking forward to this one…!

FIRST FRONTIER releases its newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 3)

Last time (and the time before that), we began chatting KENNY SMITH, the passionate Star Trek fan who is self-funding his own fan film.  But it’s not just any Star Trek fan film!  STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER is getting fans excited in ways that few other fan films have recently, and there’s several reasons for that.

First, it’s one of the few fan productions recently to build elaborate sets of professional studio quality.  Second, Kenny has hired professional SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Hollywood actors to portray his characters.  Third, Kenny has brought in industry professionals to handle production, construction, and visual effects.  Fourth, he’s going where no fan film has gone before: to the launch of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 under the commander of its first captain, Robert April, who is married to the ship’s Chief Medical Officer (a fact established in April’s only canonized appearance in the animated episode “The Counter-Clock Incident”).  And finally, Kenny and his construction team built an incredible 11-foot model of the starship Enterprise in its earlier pre-Kirk iteration…a model which is being used to shoot visual FX the old-fashioned way.

Although Kenny tried to do a Kickstarter to raise $130K, he only got to $30K and then canceled it entirely—leaving him with zero in crowd-funding.  Instead, Kenny decided to pay for everything himself.  So I just had to ask him…

JONATHAN – If you funded this whole project yourself, Kenny, how much has it ended up costing you in total?

Continue reading “FIRST FRONTIER releases its newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 3)”

FIRST FRONTIER releases its newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 2)

Last time, I began chatting with KENNY SMITH, the show-runner behind the eagerly-anticipated fan production STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER.  This exciting project will feature the first-ever commander of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Captain Robert April and his crew on their maiden voyage directly from dry dock.

Everything about this production looks amazing!  From the costumes to the sets to the 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise constructed specifically to create amazing-looking visual effects.

In Part 1, we learned how Kenny had become a convention promoter, working with most of the main cast members from the various Star Trek series, and also how he made connections with various people in the entertainment industry.  This led to finding a producer to help him bring his fan film script to life.

We continue this great interview by looking into some of the other exciting aspects of this fan film, the selection of cast and production crew members, and exploring why Kenny decided not to use donated crowd-funding to help produce this project…

Continue reading “FIRST FRONTIER releases its newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 2)”

FIRST FRONTIER releases its newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 1)

Can you feel it?  Things just got a whole lot more exciting in the fan film world when STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER released its latest trailer earlier on today.

What makes this new fan production so exciting?  Where do I begin???

  1. It’s a fan film about the very first commander of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Captain Robert April, and his crew on their maiden voyage of exploration.
  2. It’s a fan film that has custom-built sets in the finest traditions of fan series like Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek Continues.
  3. Likewise, the costumes look amazing.  They are very similar to Pike-era uniforms, and the attention to detail and continuity is wonderfully impressive.
  4. It’s using actual Screen Actors Guild actors (not that fan films without professional actors can’t be exciting, too, mind you!).
  5. It’s being self-funded by ONE GUY who decided that he wanted to build an actual 11-FOOT MODEL of the original USS Enterprise (like, from the first two Star Trek pilots…the one with the larger bridge deck and pointy needle/antenna thingies on the front of the nacelles) to film the visual effects the “old fashioned way.”

Here, watch this video (it’s not the official trailer…scroll to the end for that) and tell me you’re not excited, too:

And who is this self-financing super-fan with the meticulous attention to detail?  Born in Florida and still living there today, KENNY SMITH is a convention promoter who is also a U.S. Army veteran who fought in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  But how did those long roads lead him from there to here, making one of the most intriguing, costliest, and intricately produced fan films to come along in quite a while?

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I interviewed Kenny and asked that very thing, right?

Continue reading “FIRST FRONTIER releases its newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 1)”

STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER unveils its first TEASER PREVIEW!

Ten years ago, Kenny Smith wrote a rough draft for a Star Trek fan film that he wanted to direct. It focused on Captain Robert April, the first person to command the USS Enterprise NCC-1701.

Smith wanted to tell the story of the USS Enterprise’s initial mission, to see her being built in spacedock—along with the fleet of twelve sister ships in Earth orbit—and to watch her launch for the first time towards indescribable adventure.

Smith owned the sci-fi convention company I-Con and recently, at one of Smith’s conventions, he met a film producer who was looking for a project to work on. Smith told the producer about his idea for a Captain April fan film, and he loved it. Knowing that the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek was quickly approaching, they set to work on the script.

They also managed to convince Emmy-nominated Lee Stringer (who worked on numerous science fiction projects including Star Trek: Voyager, Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly, to name just a few) to join their team. And to make their visual effects look true to the original series, rather than just creating computer-generated 3D effects, the team went on to build an 11-foot physical model of the original Enterprise…along with sets as close to those in the original pilot as possible.

Also notable about this fan film is the way it was funded. In March of 2015, Smith began a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter with a goal of $130,000. But after two months, he’d raised only $30,000 from just 67 backers. Instead of letting the campaign end in failure, Smith canceled the Kickstarter and announced that he would self-fund the project.

Although they missed their original target release date of September of 2016 (to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Star Trek), they’re still making impressive progress.  How impressive?  Take a look at this: