LIEF Productions

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ST: Hidden Frontier in 2005

Star Trek: Hidden Frontier

On December 12 Carlos Pedraza, the long standing scribe of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier (HF) posted on their forum that he was resigning, citing "creative challenges we were unable to resolve." Whatever the cause, the split seems reasonably amicable although it sent shock waves through the ranks of the HF supporters!

Three days later, Carlos and James Cawley, Executive Producer for Star Trek: New Voyages (NV) announced that they "are working together on a very Special "New" Trek series! Together we have co-created a VERY unique concept, that will take place in the 23rd century." Mr. Cawley, who plays Cpt Kirk in NV, is no stranger to HF after playing Cpt Mackenzie Calhoun in a cameo on their recent episode, "Vigil". Bobby Rice, who plays Lt. Ro Nevin in HF, has agreed to star in this new series as one of Capt. Kirk's three nephews.

Hidden Frontier sprang from the USS Angeles, a Starfleet International chapter in Southern California. During the mid 90's, the Angeles put together a live action, episodic, VHS video series which was distributed & sold for the cost of the materials, only to club members and featured many club members as performers.

Rob Caves has been the prime mover in this project right from the start, aided by a core of dedicated fans. What has characterised the success of Hidden Frontier?
Well first and foremost has to be the sheer bulk of the body of work that they have presented! Six complete seasons spread over five years! Forty two episodes! These guys are not fly-by-night! They've "paid their dues" and deserve respect for the dedication they have shown. This is compounded by the fact that they have done it all without sets and a zero-budget for costume and make-up.

The decision was made early on, partially because of this lack of sets and partially to reduce the amount of work required in post production for each episode, to do their Chromakeying (green screen) live, through a hardware keyer, to tape. This is in contrast to other productions that do their Chromakey work in post production, such as TOTSF and Intrepid.

Unfortunately this causes a slight "halo" effect which for some casual viewers is an insurmountable problem. If you look beyond this and immerse yourself in the story though, most fans find the production an entertaining and challenging production.

Challenging? One of the frontiers that Hidden frontier has explored has been the inclusion of a gay male couple as a major plot element. Make no bones about it, this was no easy thing to do, to strike a balance that was neither a token to political correctness nor gratuitous sexuality. Frankly in my opinion it was a triumph of script, direction and acting that never has been - perhaps never could be? - assayed by a professional company.

Their dramatic statement has garnered them kudos from the gay community, such as the media attention at Boston's Gaylaxicon last July, however it is just one thread in a larger tapestry. As the show's producers cautioned, it only played a role in six or seven episodes of the 40 that had produced to date

Their gruelling schedule has paid off with some solid performances. The second half of season six started with "Beachhead" in August, followed by "Vigil" in September and the season finale, "Her Battle Lanterns Lit" in November.

They have been amongst the first to grasp new innovations as well. For example, not only can you get a "blooper reel" for most episodes, many of them are in low and high resolution (meaning smaller or bigger downloads) and they are amongst the first to make their episodes available in a format suitable for viewing on the new iPod videos!

This hugely successful series decided quite a while ago that this season, their seventh, would be their last. There have been pleas for a movie but so far the producers have only announced an extended final season of nine episodes instead of the normal six.

HF have just announced, on their newly redesigned website, that Dan Crout, who wrote or contributed to more than 13 of their previous episodes, has been signed on as their new staff writer …

"I'm happy to be working with the staff on the final season of Hidden Frontier. I'm honored to be asked back, and humbled by the steady and exciting progress that's been made over the three years I was away."

Dan will pick up the pace after "Heavy Losses", which was written by outgoing writer and loyal fan, Carlos Pedraza. When asked about what he and Rob Caves have in store for season 7, Crout said, "Summing up, we have a scorcher of a storyline on tap for season 7, with a little something for each of our characters, and enough tears of joy and heartbreak to swamp the Queen Mary. Stick around for it."

Well as they say, with every ending, there is a new beginning … Could this be an opportunity for HF to breath new life into their five year odyssey? To end the saga with renewed vigour? Keep your eye on the HF website, their forum or subscribe to their Newsletter.

I'll wager you'll see a few surprises over January.

As the production of Hidden Frontier moves into its final season, Rob Caves has consented to share with us his views from the producer's chair as he looks over the past and into the future.

  • Kirok of L'Stok - Rob, as a director/producer, you will be aware of the delicate problem that is faced by fan film makers regarding Viacom's copyrights of everything to do with Star Trek. This last year there has been a virtual explosion of new productions, what have you learnt over the years and what advice would you offer newer production groups?
  • Rob Caves - I can't really talk about copyright issues beyond what we've put forth on our site or encyclopedia, but rest assured we don't have any special arrangement with Paramount or anyone else. We're just holding to the same guidelines that were handed down via New Voyages and their limited talks with Paramount, that are now public knowledge. There are a couple of threads on where Jack Marshall explains exactly what those guidelines were.
    I would say to current and new productions, just use good judgement and when it doubt, play it safe. What happens to one fanfilm could domino into all fanfilms. I've seen far too many groups jump to sell merchandise, DVD's and ask for donations, often before they even have something to show for it. Just use common sense folks. It's my opinion that Paramount will support fanfilm as long as we treat their franchise well, and use it as a hobby. An expensive hobby. That means we shell out a lot of our own money for our hobby, not ask others to bear our burden, in my humble opinion.
    Trek copyright is a very sensitive issue, but from the fanfilm maker's point of view, it is less about the letter of the law, and the legality of what we're doing, and more about how our actions are perceived by Paramount. They are the law when it comes to Trek fanfilms. Every fanfilm I've seen so far in the Trek genre could be shut down by Paramount, so that is why it comes down to making sure you're not giving Paramount a reason to take you down.
  • Kirok - Act 1 of the popular second-season episode, ‘Yesterday's Excelsior’ was never released as a video but as a graphic novel, was this due to external circumstances or is it an example of the guidelines you mentioned at work?
  • Rob - The withholding of Yesterday's Excelsior Act 1 was our own protective decision long before New Voyages was on the scene. As much as I'd love to include the first act, it does use clips from Paramount Trek to illustrate a changed timeline and I'd rather play it safe until I hear from PAR that it's ok to release it. The graphic novel does a pretty good job of showcasing it.
  • Kirok - Have you had any professional training in drama or cinematography?
  • Rob - I went to film school, Manny Coto's alma matter in fact, LMU, and produced shorts as well as worked in Hollywood for a while, but in all honesty, that's not needed to make a fanfilm, or even a good fanfilm. Often you'll learn the most important things in the field, and by trial and error.
  • Kirok - Do you think working on a fan film is an experience that could help someone wanting to break into "show business"?
  • Rob - Fanfilms can be a great place to learn the art of film production. But I'm not sure if there are any real practical ways to turn it into a career in show business. I've seen lots of people come out of Hollywood to work on fanfilms, but I don't think I can name one person who has made the transition from fanfilms into Hollywood as a result of their work in fanfilms. For actors, fanfilms can be something to put on their demo reel, so that is a help to their careers. But directing a fanfilm won't really get a directing job, and producing a fanfilm won't really help you become a producer. You almost always have to work your way up in the Hollywood framework starting out as a PA (Production Assistant), often know as a gopher.
  • Kirok - Is making fan films still enjoyable?
  • Rob - Fanfilms are absolutely enjoyable! As they should be! Why else would someone spend their own money and time on something they can never profit from?
  • Kirok - How about Star Wreck VI: In The Pirkinning? This is enjoying an amazing international success! What do you think about parodies?
  • Rob - The Star Wrecks are great parodies, some of the finest I've seen even if I don't get all the humor. But I also don't think they satisfy the Trek fan for new Trek adventures. I think that's why we also need serious dramatic efforts. I think they can both serve important purposes in the fanfilm world and I applaud the efforts of all involved.
  • Kirok - This is the last season for Hidden Frontier, can you tell us anything about your future plans?
  • Rob - There is a *lot* of talk about this right now, and quite a big debate about what course to take. Is it time to create an original science fiction universe so that we can at least ask for donations? Or is it more important to keep it Trek and continue to be limited by budget? There are a few lucky folks who don't have to worry about the budget as much, and their Trek efforts shine in visual appeal and in other ways too. But for the vast majority of us, budget will always be a consideration, and so having done a Trek fanfilm for 6 years, I think we have to at least consider the possibility that it may be time to move in an original direction. Since we've concluded there is little or no way to get into Hollywood through a Trek fanfilm, at least an original concept may have a better shot in that regard. But again, it's all on the table at this point, and we're watching other projects closely for clues as to where it would be best for HF to go in a year.
  • Kirok - Fans are making more and more films, do you think this is a pointer for the future direction of fandom? Or is it just a "curiosity", a fad, that will die off?
  • Rob - I think that as long as Paramount is not making Star Trek, and there are fans alive that remember the shows or grew up with the shows, there will be Trek fanfilms. (Paramount willing of course). Even when Trek was on the air there were several fanfilms. So as a hobby, I think fanfilms are here to stay. On a more professional level, I don't know. The shows that become *too* professional may wander off into something more lucrative, or find a way to go pro. Unfortunately, there is really no way to know.
  • Kirok - If you could start of with a new, "clean slate" would you do things differently?
  • Rob - Oh absolutely. If I knew HF would grow to what it is, or go on for so long, seasons 1 and 2 of HF would be very different. Back then it was just for fun. If a few people watch, that's great. If I had to do it again, I think the biggest worry is that you're going to screw up and lose the dignity that you had. I think I know just a bit better how Berman and Bragga must have felt constantly having to come up with something new. It's hard! And one or two bad episodes and you've pissed people off. But at the same time, it's kind of fun to think up new concepts and try to put a new spin on Trek. I'm just thankful we have the opportunity to do that with this genre.
  • Kirok - What do you think of the current success of fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter...) as against Science Fiction?
  • Rob - Harry Potter is a great universe, and I enjoy the books and the movies. So is LOTR. I think if anything, it's a reminder that scifi needs to be nurtured or people will move away from it. And we all have a great opportunity there. I want to personally ask every fanfilm maker out there to press yourselves, to make science fiction a big part of your fanfilms. The prevailing trend right now seems to be to turn Trek into pure drama, soap, pure action, or model it after other popular shows. And I admit, HF has been guilty of this on occasion. But let's push ourselves to raise the bar. Not settle for anything less than science fiction concepts, mystery, wonder, and yes, SCIENCE in every episode we make! It can be done. I think we owe it to the genre to make sure sci-fi doesn't get amalgamated into other genres.
  • Kirok - If you were given a multi-million dollar budget what would you choose as a film project?
  • Rob - Star Trek of course! If that's not an option, I guess another scifi universe that could be the next big franchise?
  • Kirok - What was the last Science Fiction that you read that impressed you?
  • Rob - When I read, it's usually something totally unrelated to Trek or scifi. We all need a break sometimes... ;-)

HF - Most popular eps & The Excelsior Ball

Over the past couple of months, "Star Trek: Hidden Frontier" have been running a poll on their forum to find the most popular episodes of each season [drumroll] ... The envelope please? And the winners are ...

The season 4 winner "Piracy of the Noble" won the overall vote as the best HF episode of any season.

Hidden Frontier look like making their last season one to remember! They have started off the year with the "Excelsior Ball", a free event at the LAX Four Points Sheraton Hotel on February 4th which was a wild old time with the chance for fans to finally meet and mix with the cast and crew!

The preview for the first episode of season 7, "Heavy Losses", was released at the Ball and for those unlucky souls who do not live in the SoCal area, it was released on the 'net during one of the Monday night chats, then in the sneek peek forum (on Feb 18 with production stills on the 21st) and is now available on the main website along with the production stills and bloopers. The Season 7 Titles in HiRes are also on the sneak peak forum if you are a registered member.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

ST: Constellation in 2005

Star Trek: Constellation
Location: Arkansas, USA

Jimmy Champlin, The driving force behind "The Constellation Project" is the producer of not one but two Trek fan film projects - "Star Trek: Constellation" and "Star Trek: The Continuing Voyage". The concept behind ST: Constellation is a novel idea, as described on their forum (and on Slice of Scifi #021, released Aug 25) "Imagine if Star Trek had been a TV series based on a mid 1950s sci-fi film ...

'Constellation' aims to be the 1950s Star Trek film that never was. From our cinematography, to our characters, to the music, and the style of FX, we hope to capture a 1950s feel, with modern production quality. Our inspiration is drawn heavily from the fan-produced community… other inspiration lies in old films like "The Forbidden Planet" and "The Day The Earth Stood Still". We hope to make a film much like "Sky Captain"... a modern film that brings to mind memories of the heyday of sci-fi."

ST: Constellation is definitely not Star Trek "Canon" in that it doesn't attempt to mesh with any of the produced series. The chronology and technical references that are used explore "fanon" or fan invented canon, for example the USS Constellation, NCC-1017, is a design created by Masao Okazaki, the Lancaster-class cruiser, for his "Starfleet Museum".

The Klingon characters are based heavily on John Ford's novels "How Much For Just The Planet" and "The Final Reflection" which depicts them more like Samurai than barbarians. Bearing in mind that this is meant to be a '50's era production, you will find the Klingon's names and designations have a definite "Soviet" feel and the plot revolves around a "Cold War" type scenario.

In 2221 the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire have signed a treaty banning the construction of any vessel capable of striking at either of their home planets, an echo of the missile ban treaties of the 1960's following the Cuban missile crisis. The launch of the USS Constitution in 2244 causes an arms race that escalates tension and causes an opportunistic Klingon commander to consider a daring plan to invade the Federation!

Star Trek: The Continuing Voyage
Kirok - Information about "The Continuing Voyage" (TCV) has been pretty hard to find, you've not had the same depth of info about the Republic as you do about the Constellation. Could you give us a run-down?

Jim - Well, TCV is set during the period of time after Season 3 TOS, and is intended to run fully concurrently with The Animated Series (TAS). The ship's capabilities, internal arrangement, personal equipment, everything will be made to mesh with that seen in TAS. As far as the story goes, we're looking at doing very true to feel TOS style stories... a lot of "message" here, but not preachy and cerebral like NextGen Trek got. There's a couple of slightly dark episodes that I, personally have been penning, as well as one "cheezy 60s sci-fi" episode.

Kirok - How come you have two projects? That's pretty ambitious, is there a history behind it?

Jim - TCV grew out of "Constellation" co-creator Sammi's desire to do her own TOS show. The project is understandably hers, rather than mine, while "Constellation" is my baby. Sammi had a desire to do something with Romulans, from what I remember. We could never do that in the 2240s, as they hadn't resurfaced yet. Over the past months, TCV has also come to be something else for Sammi. It's morphed from a live-action show into a full CGI venture. Two reasons there: ease/cost and learning. Sammi wants to learn 3D animation, so she figures there's no better way to learn it than to actually do it.

Kirok - I say two but that doesn't include ST: Vixen. There were references to it as late as April then in September you talked as if it was dead. It's obviously been a learning experience!

Jim - "Vixen" was our first shot at an animated adventure. It was set totally in the "Constellationverse", and was going to follow Captain David Billingsley (named for John Billingsley, actually!) and crew in various adventures in the time between "Constellation" and the beginning of TOS.

Kirok - Where does Enterprise figure in all this? It makes sense that a "retro" 50's production like Constellation wouldn't use Enterprise but those beautiful shots of the Enterprise and Republic running side by side suggest that you might have a story in mind there.

Jim - For "Constellation", it's set in what's pretty much an alternate universe based on the "old school" Trek history. I've still got a place for Archer and crew, and their adventures, but on a very different ship in a very different 2150s. Essentially, when you think of the "old days" of Constellation, just imagine Greg Jein's USS Daedalus, and the SS Valiant, and that's the look and feel of things. For TCV, Sammi is going rather hands-off with history. Several reasons. To be true to the style of TOS, there's just not that many historical references, only when it serves the story do you need a "tie-in" to something previous. Another reason, is a personal one for her. In TCV, though, there'll be things that are made for the few of us "old schoolers" that are left, but also will make the big-time Enterprise fans smile. TCV will be able to fit with the full Trek storyline.

Kirok - At times you sound frustrated about the lack of voice actors, have you thought of striking a deal with Eric Busby of Darker Projects or Kevin Cho of ST: Pioneers. You know you have an option of an Australian male or female if you want it.

Jim - It's something I've considered before, and may likely do in the future. I'd love to have great talent like theirs. Everybody is free to participate with us in any way they feel they can. Trek by the fans, for the fans. If Eric or Kevin read this, and are interested, I hope they'll contact us! If not, I may extend the first invitation myself!

Kirok - I know you've talked about live action and animation as possible production formats, what's the current status? Will both projects be the same format or one live action and the other animated?

Jim - At the moment it looks as though "Constellation" will be live-action and TCV will be a full CGI production.

Kirok - You described your animation process as "a 3D rendered cartoon. The ships and characters will be 2-dimensional objects moved around using a 3D animation app, to look like drawn cartoon characters." Someone pointed me to something I watched last night on "" called "The Legend of Gorath" that was done in a similar fashion (I've never watched South Park). It sounds a big departure from the VR you did in Vixen but will give higher resolution graphics. How come the change? Quicker?

Jim - My own project, "Star Trek: The Adventure Continues" will be done in the cartoon style. My animator, Steve Johnson (who also did Vixen) has been working with machinima and low-poly 3D animation for some time, and has lately been developing his cartoon style over the last few months. I saw it and wanted to do a show using it. In the time since, he's worked on several other projects, testing and refining his stylings. He's right now doing a 3D animated take on the DOOM motion picture. Sammi's "The Continuing Voyage" won't be the 2D style, but more along the lines of the Starship Troopers CGI series. It's not the same level as the "Final Fantasy" film from a few years back, but she hopes that it comes as close as possible! I'd suggest contacting her for further info on TCV.

Kirok - What do you think of Flash as an animation option? Look at the success of Xombie - they're making it into a movie! Stone Trek was beautiful and Enterprise Flashed has shown that a one-man operation can keep up a monthly schedule.

Jim - I dig Flash. It's something I've really wanted to learn for some time now, but I always find myself starting off on something else that catches my interest. First it was radio, then writing, then 3D, now I've got a budding interest in programming! I've actually considered using Flash as a distribution medium for "The Adventure Continues". Setting up a site for it, and building interactive menus and such with Flash, much like the Brothers Chaps' "Homestar Runner".

Jim - Thanks again for letting us be part of TrekUnited, and PlanetFandom. Star Trek lives! Live long, and prosper.

Kirok - Thank you for your ground-breaking work!

An animated series has many advantages over live action: cost wise, organisational and conceptual. For example, depicting alien species can be done with makeup and prosthetics, as with the Klingons and Cardassians , but it is increasingly being done by computer graphics.

Could The Continuing Voyage be a pointer towards a richer exploration of the Star Trek universe than could be done live?

Friday, January 27, 2006

ST: Andromeda in 2005

Star Trek: Andromeda
Location: Osnabruck, Germany

Lee Andrew, an Englishman who has lived most of his life in Germany, has been instrumental in almost single-handedly recruiting every major German fan film group to the Trek United campaign. Their four clips and an interview will be joined soon with another interview depending on the workload of one of Lee's co-creators, Arbian Shabaj. At the moment they are looking to release their first episode this year.

The origin of ST: Andromeda goes way back to 1997 when a group of friends produced an audio drama series called "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Series". The desire was always there though to produce a Star Trek fan film and over time the crew gained the experience and resources to finally make their dream come true.

In June of 2004 they officially launched their website and on July 24 they shot their first scenes although they only released their first teaser in October of that year. The pace of work has always been slow for Andromeda, mainly because of two factors, lack of manpower - it is basically a three man operation - and a dedication to high quality work.

The cast of ST: Andromeda is also the production crew. Friedrich Bensch plays Commander Bensch, previously assigned to the USS Lakota before a stint on a research station, who is now assigned to the USS Andromeda. Arbian Shabaj who wrote the storyline behind Star trek: Andromeda, plays an admiral who was kicked out of Starfleet during the Dominion war, only to be reinstated and continue a distinguished career. Lee Andrew is not only the captain of the USS Andromeda, but the scriptwriter, 3D animator, sound and video editor, special effects guru as well as being webmaster of the forum and website. Lee has even found the time to lend his voice to one of the characters in the Trek Audio drama "Star Trek: Pioneers"!

One member of their team who you won't be seeing on camera is Clifford Hoeft, who joined them as lead graphics designer in September, releasing their first Film poster in October.
2005 has mainly been a year of improvements to their online presence, a new version of the first scene, their first wallpaper, a podcast and, in June, a short video Interview "showing current production status, information and commentary on the pilot episode from the cast and crew."

In keeping with the amateur status of the production crew, they are after all learning their trade as they go along, details of the finished product are at the moment sketchy. They see their pilot episode as a "Technology and Ability Demonstrator", with episodes of between 45 to 60 minutes in German with English subtitles. In common with many Trek fan films, ST: Andromeda will be live action shot mostly against Green Screen backgrounds with stunning CGI ship scenes.
STOP PRESS! This is the latest update from Lee:

Our release date is now set for the end of 2006, as we now have another actor working with us, but can't start shooting his scenes until June this year. With post production following, I estimate another 6 months for the overall editing and such, hence release at the end of 2006.

We have a new download to watch. (first part of our Scenic-Art-department) and we will release more footage as we progress. This year we will have a lot of progress, and we will release more things in shorter intervals, so you can actually really see our progress. ;-) Next up though, is the second download from our Scenic-Art-department.

originally published in the "The LIEF Erikson", January 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

Starship Exeter in 2005

Starship Exeter

I cannot help but feel that Starship Exeter has had an unlucky year in the public eye and it has been totally undeserved. They started with the ambitious objective of releasing their latest episode, "The Tressaurian Intersection", as a series of five weekly instalments, beginning on March 17. Part of the idea was to give themselves some leeway in post-production however it would also have the practical effect of spreading the download fever that accompanied the release of their first episode!

Unfortunately they got off to a delayed start when their teaser - the introductory section leading up to the titles - was delayed to July 1st. perhaps they thought their troubles were behind them for the next instalment, Act 1, was scheduled for a week later on the 8th and the other acts to follow shortly after.

In actual fact we had to wait until October 27th.

I say this is unfair because, let's face it, this is a fan production, we will get it for free, so who can say we have the right to hold them to scheduling commitments? Their only commitment is to produce the best film they can! Most fans realise this and the message comes through clearly from their fans, that the fan film community would prefer to see a good fan film arrive late, than a bad fan film now!

There is no denying though the disappointment that the delay caused and this sentiment has caused a reaction amongst other fan film productions, so that none are so bold as to commit themselves to a firm release date.

The oldest American Trek Fan Film production company, Exeter Studio's first episode "Savage Empire" was started way back on Christmas Eve 1995. "We were sitting around my dad's office, and I said, 'We should try to make our own episode,' " Jimm Johnson recalls. "My brother [Joshua] said, 'Yeah, and we should have an Andorian in it.' ". Their aim, as they state on their website, was (and still is) to produce "an original self-produced pilot intended as a concept for a new television serial based on the look and feel of the 'Original Series.'"

Over seven long years Jimm and Josh pretty much created the whole thing themselves from scratch. They were not just the producers, they researched and wrote the script, rented warehouse studio space in Minneapolis, Minnesota for two years, sewed costumes, built sets, played the two lead roles and shot much of the production. It was all pioneering stuff as they battled with the emerging technologies of video editing, computer graphics and the internet in their post production.

The pay-off finally came on December 19, 2002, when the first episode of Starship Exeter, "The Savage Empire", made its internet debut! As recounted by Dennis Bailey "A mention of The Savage Empire on " article in January of 2003 resulted in an upsurge of demand so great that Apple Inc., which hosts, had to shut the site down for six hours while mirror download servers were set up" A more subtle effect of the success of Savage Empire was the impression it made on the Star Trek fan community, who realised what could be done - several existing fan film groups point to Exeter as their genesis.

How do you follow up on a success like that then? The Johnson brothers ended up with two scripts to follow up on Savage Empire, "The Mighty Galvanaut" and "The Atlantis Invaders", however "Galvanaut" was eventually dropped from the line-up. A new story was added, "The Tressaurian Intersection", with a teleplay written by Dennis R. Bailey, an established screen writer with two Next Generation episodes - "Tinman" and "First Contact" - to his credit.

When Tressaurian was in pre-production Maurice Molyneaux contacted Jimm Johnson about helping rewrite one of their scripts. "I took a shot at Atlantis." Says Maurice "My involvement with TTI was originally just to give feedback on the script. Enough of my suggestions were incorporated that they were nice enough to add my name to the "Story by" credits."

A strong web presense gained them a dedicated core of followers, and as filming drew closer all the preparations started to come together. An interesting article by Dan Murphy, who played a red shirt (and survived!), tells of the casting calls in late May of 2004, the costume fitting in June and the start of shooting in mid July at the Austin Studios. The local News 8 crew even filmed a segment with their "Morning Girl" putting on a Starfleet Uniform and re-enacted a scene with the Exeter Crew on the bridge. See C.D.Hall's and Jenny Taylor's web site amongst others for some great candid set shots.

The volunteer/amateur cast and crew numbered about 50, some coming from a considerable distance. Dennis Bailey drove all the way from Washington DC, and nearly gave the director, Scott Cummins a heart attack when he introduced himself!

Filming wrapped on August 1st with only a short on-location scene, some pick-up shots and special-effects sequences still to do. Unfortunately they were unable to get the filming done of their 3rd episode, "The Atlantis Invaders", which is now on hold until they have finished episode two.

The trailer for the second episode was released on Dec 1st and from there, as I have said, it has been been a long tough haul through post-production! Why is the pace so slow? To paraphrase a point made elsewhere, you can either have money to spend on a project or plenty of time to spend on your project, but if you have neither you have to compromise your standards.

Exeter are adamant that they will not compromise on production quality however they don't have any money to spend, so... they are taking as much time as is needed to get the best results possible from the unpaid volunteers who are contributing.

So what does the future hold for Starship exeter? Well there will be at least one more episode, "The Atlantis Invaders", which has a script and a certain amount of pre-production work done on it. However, in common with other fan film groups, they are feeling the restrictions of only producing fan films on a virtually "zero" budget! jimm Johnson has been quoted in the Herald Journal as saying "In the future, [he] hopes to produce original movies so they will be in complete control of marketing, as well as production."

originally published in the "The LIEF Erikson", January 2006