Star Trek: Das Vermächtnis (The Legacy) in 2005
Star Trek: The Legacy (Star Trek: Das Vermächtnis) is shaping up to be Europe's most ambitious fan film yet! Christoph Hees, the film's director, has come a long road since he caught the Star Trek bug at a birthday party in 1993/4 and completed his first 'hobbymovie' "Largus" on a borrowed camera, in the Spring of 1996.
It has been a rocky road as well, for after a Construction problem in their first year, 1997, necessitated a complete rebuild, the project went into hiatus for two years, restarting in '99. However from that new start they have gone from strength to strength, completing their first set, the Klingon bridge, by the end of their first Winter.
In 2000 Christoph phoned Willi Wiegand or Vulcan Willi as he is commonly known, something of a fan celebrity because of his uncanny resemblance to Mr. Spock, and asked him whether he would like to play Spock in Das Vermächtnis. Said Willi ... "He had seen me before on the television where I had made an appearance as Spock. I had only to consider, as I had heard it was a fan film but when I saw the first photos of the sets I assured him I would immediately."
Their second set, the Enterprise D of the Next Generation, was completed and their third set, the NCC 1701 of Captain Kirk, had been started, by May of 2003. This was when they achieved international fame in "Trekkies 2", when Denise Crosby, Lt. Tasha Yar of TNG, visited their set and was stunned by the complexity and quality of their work. Understandably this gained them an immense amount of publicity, especially after Trekkies 2 was released on DVD in the US on August 31st 2004.
2005 has been an exciting time for them. In March Vulcan Willi, who had become their defacto spokesman on several English language fan film forums, announced that they were now building a Next Generation shuttle set. The Klingon bridge had been completely rebuilt as the Original Series bridge set and between May and July they shot the Original Series scenes on it. On April 1st, Willi announced to a slightly sceptical world that their much admired Original Series bridge set was for sale for $15,000. Sceptical? Well it was April Fools Day!
However by far the most momentous day for Willi was Saturday May 21st, when he married his girlfriend Irene on the Original Series bridge set in a Vulcan wedding ceremony. Willi's last shooting day was October 15th on the TNG Shuttle set.
By July $30,000 had been spent on the sets, mostly by Christoph personally. The Original Series bridge was still for sale (and still is) the latest asking price being 10,000 euro which would be used exclusively for new sets.
Christoph and his crew hope to release the movie before the end of 2006 but they have to go through the critical period of post-production. The film (it won't be separate episodes) will be between 60-90 minutes long and it will be shown at Conventions and made available on the internet as a free download. A professional synchronstudio will probably dub the film in English if everything goes well.
The story behind the film is a secret, although obviously it is a TNG/TOS crossover. The fact that Captain Jean Luc Picard, played by the director, Christoph, is so young is rationalised by the presence of Q on board.
As they get closer to completion, ST: Legacy and its creators are getting more media attention. In mid October a PRO7 camera team of FOCUS TV was at the set to film a report that will probably be shown at the end of November or start of December. Just recently Willi appeared on RTL, a German private TV station with Dirk Bach, a rather overweight German comedian.
Willi very kindly gave me this interview as part of Week 3 of the Trek United Fan Film campaign.
For more information about Willi and his various projects, checkout his website and forum. On Willi's suggestion I made up a batch of questions for him to pass on to Christoph and I was most gratified with the speed with which he replied …
Kirok - Do you have a favourite TOS episode? Do you still watch them occasionally?
Willi Wiegand - My favourite episode is "Amok Time". Yes, I like to watch the TOS episodes time and again. I've got all of the three DVD boxes, of course.
Kirok - What do you think of the new, digitally enhanced DVDs? Will they bring a new generation of fans to the TOS episodes?
Willi - No, I don't think so. I think that only real Star Trek fans will buy the DVDs.
Kirok - You obviously have a great love of the Vulcan culture and ideals. What did you think of the portrayal of the Vulcans in "Star Trek: Enterprise"?
Willi - Now you´ve caught me on the wrong foot. I haven't seen but a few episodes of "Enterprise", I'm afraid.
Kirok - Have you ever met or corresponded with Leonard Nimoy or any of the other original crew?
Willi - Unfortunately I´ve never been able to meet Leonard Nimoy so far. However, I got to know George Takei during his very first "Galileo 7" convention in 1998. He is a really kind person. He has written me a very nice letter after this convention.
Kirok - I noticed from your website, that you played a Vulcan captain in "Borg War 3 - Atlantis". I've seen their website and not only did they show their film in cinemas but they had videos for sale. Wouldn't this have been a breach of copyright?
Willi - This was my very first role in a movie! In this fan movie, I played a small role as a Vulcan. All I know is that this movie´s premiere took place in a very big cinema already. What a hilarious feeling, seeing oneself on such a huge screen! I don´t know anything else about that.
Kirok - How did you find out about "Star Trek: Legacy" and join them? When was that?
Willi - Christoph Hees, the director, called me in 2000 after having seen me on TV, and he asked me whether I would like to play "Mr. Spock" in his movie. We met and he showed me some pictures of the first few sets... and I said yes at once!
Kirok - I saw the photo of you and your new wife on the TOS bridge when you got married - it must have been a beautiful experience! Does she share your love of Trek?
Willi - My wife has always been a Star Trek fan, and she especially loves the character of Mr. Spock. After meeting me first, she said to me: "Now I've got my own Mr. Spock!" We got married in a civil wedding ceremony on May 20, 2005 and on May 21 we celebrated our "Trekker wedding ceremony" together with 45 friends of ours on the set of our TOS bridge. Especially for this ceremony, I had written a short, funny play which we performed in full uniform. The highlight of this ceremony was when our own "Captain Kirk" (from "Star Trek: The Legacy") gave us the blessing in the end.
Kirok - The original series bridge is admired by everyone who has seen it, can you tell us more about it?
Willi - First of all, Christoph Hees built the bridge of a Klingon ship. He designed the set in a way that allowed him to rebuild it later on into a TOS bridge. He is a perfectionist. He has built every single set in its original size, using photos as his model. Denise Crosby stood on the bridge of the "Enterprise D" in 2003 and said: "Your set looks better than our original one did back then!" In December, we are going to auction off the set of the TOS bridge as well as the set of the TNG shuttle on ebay. We need the space for the final two sets.
Kirok - Now that your last scenes have been shot, do you have plans for anything new? I expect you will become even more popular as a TV guest.
Willi - At the moment, there is nothing yet in planning. I think I'll just wait and see. Right now, I'm really curious about how our movie will turn out and whether the fans will like it. If everything goes right, it is to be completed next year during the Star Trek anniversary. We are going to show the movie at conventions then, and we will put it into the internet so that every fan who wants to see it will be able to download it for free. I don't think that my TV appearances have made me more popular. However, some people at conventions walk up to me and ask me about them.
Kirok - Thank you, Willi and good luck for the future.
Willi - I thank you, too, and I wish you all the best!
Kirok - Christoph, it is obvious from your beautiful sets that you have a commitment to recreating Star Trek to the finest possible detail. How much of it is your own work? You must have a talent for carpentry and electronics.
Christoph - Thank you for the compliments. I´m not the only one working on the sets. Friends of mine are helping me. Alexander Vock helps with electronics and pyrotechnic-effects. Heiko Nonn (my grandcousin) helps me with the colors and the carpets. These two guys are very important for the production and I enjoy working with them. And a lot of people are helping beside them.
Kirok - The photographs that you have released are marvellous. Do you have a set photographer? [NOTE: These and many more can be found in the galleries on their web sites]
Christoph - Not really.
Kirok - One thing I have noticed is that, although you must be very advanced in filming, you have not released a trailer. For most productions, it is the first thing they produce - is this a conscious decision you have made? If so, why? Could we expect a trailer closer to the release date?
Christoph - Most of the trailers are made out of the best scenes. The end result of this is that you expect an even better film than the trailer is. I don't want you to have expectations the movie can't comply. We might make a small trailer with short sequences really close to the release date. Speaking of the filming I'm not the cameraman, I have help in doing this too because filmmaking is teamwork.
Kirok - The Original Series and The Next Generation are poles apart as productions, as a director, what "style" are you aiming at? Do you have any particular influences?
Christoph - Wait and see :o)
Kirok - Music makes a big impression on the viewer, setting the mood of a scene or adding to a character's on-screen presence. Will you have original music?
Christoph – We have our own composer. His name is Marcel Schweder and he will create a new theme for the film with original influence.
Kirok - It must take great determination to hold on to a dream for so many years. What keeps you going?
Christoph - Once you start, the project grows and grows until you reach the point of no return.
Kirok - What has been the high spot in the production for you so far?
Christoph - I´m not sure. There're so many great moments during this project. For example: seeing Willi for the first time in his uniform on the bridge / seeing the first computer animation / having Denise Crosby on our tactical station / seeing some scenes from our film on television....
Kirok - If you could give one piece of advice to someone who was just starting off on a fan film production, what would it be?
Christoph - You have to think about what you start. If you are serious about doing a fan film you really have to think about. It does cost a lot of money and you need soooooo much time - and even more.
Kirok - This must get very stressful at times, how do you relax?
Christoph - I don't spend the whole week on this project. I work with a church group, I spend time with friends, I have hobbies beside Star Trek....
Kirok - It's amazing you find time for such a full life! I would like to thank you for taking the time to share this with us. I'm sure I speak for Trek fans all over the world when I say that we wish you luck.
NOTE: Willi Wiegand's interview was translated by Lioness of the Trek United German Section, Translation Department - many thanks for a skillful job!