LIEF Productions

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hidden Frontier hits Mainstream Media

It has been a great month for Star Trek fan films in the mainstream TV & print media and Star Trek Hidden Frontier has garnered its fair share of that attention. The current media circus started with a New York Times article on June 18 which featured Starship Farragut in an impressive colour spread with Hidden Frontier mentioned as one of the major productions. It was inevitable that the TV networks would pick up the news and with their proximity to 'Tinsel Town', who better to interview than Hidden Frontier?

Started in 2000 by Rob Caves and a group of friends who had previously worked together on video projects on the USS Angeles, they have made 45 episodes to date. The magnitude of their accomplishment becomes evident when you consider that this averages out to one episode every month and a half over 5½ years! An absolutely gruelling pace, all the more astonishing because it was done it on a shoestring budget!

On June 19, Rob, Hidden Frontier's Executive Producer, announced on their forum that Hidden Frontier was featured on NBC's The Today Show that morning. As with the NY Times article, other fan films were mentioned and there was an interview with George Takei as well. However the focus was definitely on Hidden Frontier, with the Today Show crew spending the better part of the afternoon at their 'studio' interviewing them and filming one of their scenes being taped.

It was interesting for me, because this was the first time I had seen the Hidden Frontier Studios - actually, a converted spare family room at the back of Rob Caves' home! Rob came across as sincere and confident on the clip, which is available for download from the Hidden Frontier website. It was a big occasion for the indefatigable cast and crew, now in their seventh and last season. Producer / Director, Jennifer Cole snapped photos during the shoot (viewable on the Hidden Frontier gallery) and fellow cast members Risha Denney, JT Tepnapa and Adam Browne, dropped Father's Day plans to come and be interviewed!

The publicity didn't do them any harm, with the Hidden Frontier website running slow for the rest of the day, hit hard with downloads of their episodes presumably for new viewers! The story was re-aired that evening and the following morning on Counterpoint on MSNBC.

"Look for more Hidden Frontier in the news soon!" said Rob at the time. Next up was ABC who came to a tape an episode in production on June 26 and although they weren't given times Hidden Frontier were told their story should be aired on July 7th and possibly throughout the weekend. "They spent several hours with us, getting shots of our production process, and interviewing Jenn, JT, Adam, John Whiting and I." Said Rob. Aired across the nation and on ABC affiliates, the clip can be viewed right now on the ABC website. A thirty second version will be airing tonight July 7th on KABC in the Los Angeles area. As with the other clips, a range of productions were mentioned, not all by name, along with an interview with Walter Koenig.Perhaps most interesting was that ... "A reporter from Variety also came to that shoot and interviewed most of us. I'm told that article should go to print sometime this week."

Earlier in the month, Rob Caves and cast member J.T.Tepnapa, who plays Corey Aster and is a director in his own right, gave an interview to Michael Ricci of, about the gay themes in Hidden Frontier. In a way that could almost certainly never have been done by any professional production, this fan-made production portrays a future where a person's sexuality is accepted without stigma.

"There is a very real reaction to seeing gay people portrayed as ordinary members of a starship crew." Said Rob, "It does have the power to change hearts and minds about accepting gays as people, and not viewing them as second class citizens."
The article is a revealing, behind the scenes look at the personal journey that Hidden Frontier represented to these two men.

The timing of all this publicity was exceptionally fortunate for them, just a week before the release of their latest episode. The third episode of their final season, Past Sins was pre-released to readers of their newsletter, and has now been made available for wide release as a free download.

"The Tholians may have fallen back to lick their wounds, but Starfleet and her allies cannot afford to let down their guard. The stake of the entire galaxy rests upon the shoulders of the first side to locate and secure the Grey's Dyson Sphere, and in the fight for control of the currents, all the stops have been pulled."

The episode, helmed by long-time director Jennifer Cole, has hidden surprises for aficionados of fan films…

  • Rebecca Wood, who has previously played villains Glinn Betras and Vindenpawl, has taken over the role of the Trill helmswoman, Jenna McFarland who has not been seen since she was played by Adrianne Lange in the middle of Hidden Frontier's third season. Check out the interview with Becky in the Newsletter section of the website.
  • Michael J. Kirkland (IMDB) returns as Doctor Henglaar's incarcerated brother, Falo.
  • Gabriel Köerner, (IMDB) who shot to fan stardom in Trekkies, and who previously appeared in the first season episode "Perihelion" as Cpt Matt Jillson, a Bajoran in command of a Nova-class starship, returns in a pivotal guest spot. Gabriel - it's not known if he was asked to surrender his cell phone before shooting started - has recently been working on special effects for the new Battlestar Gallactica.
  • Michelle Laurent, is another old friend (she had a cameo as the bartender in the "now-infamous holodeck scene" of "Vigil") who is making a return as Trill researcher, Dr. Tesla Mor. The beautiful Michelle is better known though for her portrayal of the amazing amazon herself, Wonder Woman, in Redcape Cinema's "Wonder Woman: Battle Of Justice". Again, the timing couldn't be better for sci fi fans, with Redcape's newest fan film, "Wonder Woman: Balance Of Power" due to premiere on July 13 and be available for wider release on July 15.
Star Trek Hidden Frontier, named by Fan Films Quarterly as "the #7 most pivotal moment in Fan Films history" and slated to make an appearance at the 64th Worldcon in August, is not an isolated phenomenon. They are a respected member of the burgeoning fan film community which is taking root in Southern California, across America and around the world. For six years they have been pioneers in the field and now, with only five more episodes in their final season to go, speculation is rife. Where to from here?

Well, for the immediate future checkout Rob's article at the end of their newsletter of June 16 but beyond that he isn't giving too much away. "We are currently developing two projects. I can't talk about details of either one yet, but we're hoping to have a teaser for one of them in time for Trek's 40th in September!"

Good luck, guys! You've earned it!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Trek Web Comics, April

Star Trek Animated Series Comics

The latest internet comic book by Kail Tescar of is based on a teleplay from the Animated Series which was never used, "The Patient Parasites", by Russell Bates, which has now been released for free download. Kail has also included info on the story that Mr. Bate's wrote for The Animated Series, "How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth".
In a strange coincidence, Joseph Kerezman of ST: Excalibur had adapted this unused Animated Trek script to use for a future episode of Excalibur at the same time! After further investigation, the original writer surfaced on their forum and gave his permission to use his copyrighted material. So if you like the comic you could be in for a future treat since there appears to be a very good chance we could see this adapted as a live action fan film!

Trek Fan Comic Updates
Elite Farce - No updates. Laz Rojas has probably had his hands full getting Starbase 11 functional!
Enterprise Oddities - Website is down and the artist (Ivy Mae) hasn't responded to emails since early August.
USS Atlantis - in early Feb 8742 posted that he was working on episode 3

Star Trek returns to the comic world!

Normally I don't write about professional production - there's plenty of other people watching that! - but two items in the news recently make me think that, although CBS Paramount might not be doing any professional TV or movies, they are making a renewed assault on licensing out the Star Trek franchise.

Following a lead from Michelle on Trek Today, I was led to the Comic Book Resources web site, which had the single statement "IDW have the Star Trek license." Checkout their web site, they have a very extensive line of comics covering all genres and a proven track record with franchise tie-ins. It could be in good hands.

Also in April we found out from ICv2 that September is the scheduled release date of the planned Manga style comic series by Tokyopop previously reported in the last issue of the LIEF Erikson. The report also gives a summary of the substance of the first volume which will be an anthology of five stories from the period of the original series.

looks like something for all tastes!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Star Trek: Parallels an Enterprise Live Action Fan Film!

A group of Dutch and Belgian Star Trek fans have announced last month that they have amalgamated as "Fan Trek Productions" to create [… drumroll please ...] a live action, "Enterprise" fan film!

"Star Trek: Parallels" -

As first reported on the ST: Intrepid forum …
The setting is in the Enterprise universe, nearing the end of the war with the
Romulans (think just before the events in "These Are The Voyages" and Archer's
speech). We're following the crew of the NX-03 "Discovery" on a venture out for
resources to help the upcoming Federation with the Romulan threat.
Although there have been rumours of this for months, this is the first official news we have had of this venture. They are right at the start of pre-production and possibly years from a produced episode, by sharing expertise and resources with Star Trek: Dark Armada, they will have a head start.

The other member of the partnership, Dark Armada are working solidly and steadily towards their own fan film series with their first test films shot this month. I'll keep you posted of new developments.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

HF gives us "Heavy Losses"

The battle has been lost, and now the crew of the USS Excelsior is fighting for their very lives! "Heavy Losses", Hidden Frontier's 43rd episode, is now available for general download! Featuring the return of archvillain Siroc (Jim Davis), the premiere of the Season 7 promises exciting new twists in the Hidden Frontier storyline as it winds it's way to its climactic ending. Available, as always, as a free download in high and low resolution plus a preview and blooper reel.

"Heavy Losses" was featured on the Hidden frontier's table at the Grand Slam convention in Pasadena on Mar 10-12. Rob Caves was there giving out 300 free CD's, candy canes and pretzels - sounds like good fun as well as fattening! Many of the cast and crew were there including Risha Denney (Cpt Shelby), Barbara Clifford (Cdr Elbrey & resident costumer) and John Whiting (Dr. Henglaar & makeup). During the con. Wil Wheaton & Chase Matsterson visited the table -check out Rob's photos on the Hidden Frontier website.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Feb Trek papermodels update

Been busy (understatement of the month!) so this is a quick catch up on recent Trek papermodels ...

From a Jan 26 post on the new Papermodels Google group it looks like Jim Lionmane is working on a Star Trek saber class.

Surfduke2001 has been adding models his folder for projects from The Fitzgerald Space Club in the Star Trek & other Scifi Paper Models SmartGroup including a radioactive drum and Pod (needs pepakura viewer). In response to an enquiry from him for a HakoPhaser, Butch Price released his previously unposted "Away Team Accessory Pack" which he was designing for his Trek Hakos. "The pack also contains a couple of communicators and a Tricorder. ... Remember, this was an Alpha [build]... I put mine together, so I am sure you can muster some success."

Speaking of Hakos ... Butch has now released the Uhura and Chekov hako figures, "A bit more cartoony (is that a word?) than the rest of the clan, but I wasn't trying to maker her (Uhura) too provocative; and Chekov is a tough one to make unique, as he has few truly distinguishing features. But this puts the standard bridge crew together : )" Good one, Butch! Now we just need some Nooclear Wessels!

In February. Diego Cortes (Enterprise, Daedelus...) released a krestel shuttle from Babylon 5 and said "I´m working in an old project, one star trek ship, but not federation."

Looking for a card model of the Enterprise-B? Carlos of Brasil who last year gave us a beautiful Enterprise-E has made a prototype, photographs of which can be seen on the Portuguese language Yahoo! group modelismodepapel. Unfortunately my Klingon is better than my Portuguese!

Not canon but dear to all Trek fans, the NSEA Protector from "GalaxyQuest" is now on the Lower Hudson Valley site. Jon Leslie says "A worldwide effort has come together to bring this model to reality. Bill worked on the mesh, Rick on the unfolding, Paul and I on coloring and putting it together as a release"

Alerted by a post by Steve Marshall on the Papermodels II Google group I found "Pirates of the Federation" a "Constructible strategy" game based on the commercial game "Pirates" which has four series so far, Pirates of the Spanish Main, the Crimson Coast, the Revolution and the Barbary Coast. Basically they are a strategy game using ships made from pop-out cards available from games shops.

"Pirates of the Federation" has printable cards which make into such Original Series ships as ...
Federation: Constitution class, Larson, Miranda, Oberth, Loknar
Klingon: D-7, D-10, L-9, Bird of Prey, D-7 Upgrade
Romulan: V-8 Bird of Prey, V-7 Whitewind, V-4 Wing of Vengence, V-11 Stormbird
Orion Pirates: Lightening, Wanderer
Other races: Lotus, Monarch
... my personal favourites are the Miranda class and the Klingon Bird of Prey! These tiny models are ingenious - there are instructions on the web site.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Farragut releases first trailers

Location: Washington D.C. area, USA
*New Forum:

Farragut have been the subject of a really interesting, in depth Blog by Proxima - a lot of info that I haven't seen anywhere else. If you're interested in Farragut, you have to check it out.

Following a succcessful showing at the Farpoint convention in Baltimore on February 17-19, Farragut have released two editions of their first trailer, a short version and a long version. Don't forget to choose "Wide" from the size drop down box under the screen to get the right screen width. [EDIT 31/03/06] They now have mirror sites, courtesy of James Pauley and NEO f/x.

Probably the star of the trailer is the overall presentation and special effects which have been provided by the NEO f/x team. It had the feel of a movie trailer! The logos, text, timing, fades all worked together well. The CGI looked good. Evidently the Constitution class mesh (they decided against a live model as reported last month) that they use was created 'in house', it certainly looks good and moves well. Their Greenscreen work and the backgrounds are top notch.

A close second would have to be the music. After listening to the orchestral backing for the trailer it should come as no surprise to find that the composer for Farragut is Patrick Phillips, who has worked on Exeter and is the composer for New Voyages. "Patrick actually has license to the original scores from the Alexander Courage estate for use on New Voyages. While based in the same era as TOS, the producers of Starship Farragut wanted a more cinematic sound to their project, and Patrick was able to hit the mark with the scores he produced for the trailers. While unique, they still have the "Trek feel" to them."

Whilst on the subject of sound, the Sound engineer is another fan film regular, Ralph Miller, who has previously worked on Exeter, New Voyages and Excalibur. "Ralph actually has access to the original sound library of Star Trek...not just the sfx CD commonly used. However, having the sound effects is only a small part of the whole Trek experience. Ralph actually creates environments of sound including backgrounds, Foley, etc. His skill as a sound designer, and his knowledge of Trek, allows him to reign as the 'official Trek sound authority'."

The latest production update is for filming to be done this summer (May/June), according to the director and assoc. producer, Paul Sieber, "... preproduction is already in progress. Full CGI sequences are currently being processed, final exterior locations are being scouted, as well as interiors, and set plans are being finalized."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

K'Pinky and the Brain


This little beauty is an example of satire done right. Short, sharp and slips the d'k tahg past their guard into the heart of the matter! This is what you get when you let Klingon mutant mice loose at the cutlery! With an list of guest stars doing cameos - I haven't seen Boris and Natasha in years! - it's fast moving but witty. Media? Not sure, he's photoshopped action figures for some of it, but I think there is a fair amount of original artwork in there as well

My thanks to Keela sutai-Septaric for the heads-up on this one on the Starfleet-L list.