LIEF Productions

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.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hathaway releases first trailer

NW Ohio, USA, Website, Forum

Early in February, the "USS Hathaway" fan film group released their first trailer. Available as a free download from their website, Media page, it features footage of the cast not previously seen., their cgi and a hint at the storyline.

One of the things that has drawn the most comment has been the makeup used on Natalie Bostelman to turn her into R'Meera, the ship's half Caitian, half human counsellor. It must be a time consuming job! First Brad airbrushes on her overall skin tone, then hand paints her "stripes". Her nose or "muzzle" was originally a store bought one - it can be seen in the closeup on the trailer - but is now a "custom made foam latex prosthetic made by Dennis Blackwell who recently joined us and does work professionally with prosthetics here in Northwest Ohio." The second shot of R'Meera on the trailer shows her new "nose job". Dennis, like everyone else on the cast does double duty, playing the part of Krag.

The cgi has been well received, trivia buffs might note that the sfx (sound effects) for the Hathaway's phasers is different. Brad notes that "ST2: The Wrath of Khan"(TWOK), which occurs immediately prior to their storyline, is the only time you hear ships fire phasers in the TOS shows, at all other times photon torpedoes are used.

To critics who feel that their plot is not original enough, that it is trying to be a sequel to TWOK, Brad says...
Trust me, we are definitely not going to be a series of "sequels". There are two items we are using. First and obvious is Genesis. This is more of a convenient "jumping off" point for us. Our second episode will be a completely original storyline. But our third will have some relation to the Cetacian Probe from Star Trek: IV. We feel that for continuity's sake we have to touch on this since the effects were Federation wide but of course our episode will be on the 23rd century side. Having said that, the ideas that are bouncing around, I believe you'll be quite pleased with. After that we are free of any Federation wide events for at least six in-story years.
The story definitely follows up on events from TWOK and TSFS, but while TSFS was about Kirk and co. risking their careers to get their friend back, our story is about Starfleet dealing with the aftermath of these events as they relate to the quadrant powers. We're using TWOK and TSFS as a jumping off point to introduce our ship and characters before moving on to our own storylines.
In fact he specifically pointed out that R'Meera's mixed ancestry might play a significant role in the future.

Brad freely admits that they will be working on their Thespian skills in preparation for filming in _. "The acting is probably most fan film's downfall to some degree or another. It's hard to get professional actors to work for free, at least in Northwest Ohio. We have a lot of people giving a lot of effort so whatever drawbacks we have will be sure to improve."

For my part, I saw a cast with a lot of raw energy who sound committed to shaking the dust off the movie era and giving us a top rate show! They might not all be professionals but they are approaching the filming in a professional manner.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New Voyages, news snips, new trailer

Whitney Matheson in an interview published in her "Pop candy" Blog asked George Takei about his projected appearance on "New Voyages" ...
Isn't that amazing? This is the 40th anniversary of the show, and there's still this vibrant, intense interest in Star Trek. This young man, James Cawley, apparently has access to a lot of money. He negotiated with Paramount and got the right to do his versions of the original Star Trek, on the condition that he not charge for it. And so he's going to make it available to all the fans via the Internet.

That's really taking technology into your hands -- that's something we never dreamed of in 1966. He's been able to bring together a lot of people who deeply love Star Trek, including people that bring various technical, artistic and writing talents with them. We're supposed to commence filming sometime in September in New York.

An article by Mark McGuire titled "Fans at the helm" is about the most in depth I've seen, give some insights into the past history of New Voyages and James Cawley that I'm sure haven't been in print before!

Just a couple of teasers ...
As you might imagine, this story really begins with childhood fandom. Like many kids in the 1970s, Cawley collected action figures and models from what's referred to in "Trek" circles as "TOS (The Original Show)." As an adult, he went to conventions, and started amassing actual artifacts, particularly uniforms. Cawley has one of the costumes worn by the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner; Cawley has heard of similar costumes selling for $150,000.

On the "Trek" convention circuit, he struck up a friendship with William Ware Theiss, the costume designer for TOS. Cawley signed on as a freelance tailor, and for two years in the late '80s did piecework for Theiss on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Around 1995, Cawley decided to take his fascination with all things "Trek" to another level, and started building a re-creation of the Enterprise's bridge in his grandfather's Ticonderoga barn.
... and a legend was born!

After the announcement last month of David Gerrold joining the new Voyages team, the pool of production talent contributing to flagship of trek fan films just gets bigger and richer.

On the 17th, the two executive producers, James Cawley and Max Rem, announced the writing team for episode three, "World Enough And Time" will be Marc Scott Zicree and Michael Reaves. Marc, who will also be directing the episode, gave us some background information on how they had come to make to make the pitch to Cawley and, more importantly, some hints as to the storyline! Rather than give spoilers here, checkout the feature on the NV website or keep tabs on Michael Reave's blog.

On the 22nd, James announced that he had heard from from Ron B. Moore...
StarTrek’s visual effects supervisor for more than 18 years. After speaking with New Voyages VFX Guru, Max Rem, Ron contacted James to tell him how much he enjoyed New Voyages. While complimenting the cast and crew on what they’d accomplished, Ron said, “I would love to be a part of it.”

"Who am I to say 'No' to Ronald B. Moore!" exclaimed James.

Not to be confused with Ron D. Moore (writer, producer, director), Ron B. Moore is perhaps best known for his visual effects supervision of Star Trek’s: The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, Enterprise and the feature film, Generations. His film credits include: Ghostbusters, 2010, Frightnight, Solarbabies and Moonstruck.
When asked on the NV forum as to the "division of labour" between Ron and Max Rem - the pseudonym of their visual effects supervisor for "New Voyages" - Mr. Cawley said, "Max calls the shots when it comes to the VFX. Ron is a Great guy, He contacted his friend Max, and then they contacted me."

On Feb 27 they released their trailer for the latest episode, "To Serve all my Days", on their website. Or should we call it a teaser? The snips of action that we saw just seem to make it that much harder to wait until "Summer, 2006" for it's release! To keep our attention they have just released the first of the planned vignettes, "Center Seat". Both of these are available for free from their Downloads page.

Impact 25 battles on

The battlers from the north of England, Impact 25 are still on track for their filming. After buying their camera in Novemeber OrbThesela and Angel, the two writers, were putting together a book of short stories to sell on Caffe press in hopes of raising some cash. Major website updates were held up by server problems, and they had hopes of some footage to show "within the next few months". They still didn't have a full cast but were holding preliminary auditions with the local theatre groups.

Their January update on Planet Fandom said that they now had a full main cast, although they were still casting for reoccurring characters and extras. Costumes were underway and makeup tests have been completed, ships design has been finalised, a lot of incidental music has been written and approved and rehearsals were going well.

On the bad side, they still haven't secured storage space for their sets, some of the scripts had been retrieved after a a computer crash, hardly anyone has had time to update the forum and website updates had been held back because the webmaster had been very busy with home improvements. (It's that real life getting in the way again!) "A small side project we were helping a friend with has thrown some plans into disaray but things are getting back on track now."

I have this update from somewhere - can't find the source link at the moment ...
costumes are well underway, makeup tests are being performed, scripts re-writes are going on and preparation for filming is happening. We've got some updates for the website and I've been told they should be put up any day now.We had a setback when our cameras were stolen, so far we have replaced one but we still have to get at least one more so anyone who see's a camera going cheap let us know.
Good luck, guys, its hard enough putting a fan film together without having to watchout for thieves!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Excalibur Stagecraft

Alerted by an upddate on the Trek BBS on Feb 6, I saw that Excalibur had "finalized the deal for our stage and we move in tomorow morning and start set construction tomorrow. We are scheduled to begin filming our first episode the begining of April.

Shooting over to their forum I saw that Joseph Kerezman, their executive producer, had posted that they had signed the lease on Jan 31 and photos were up on the web site on their Sets page.

On the way past, I noticed that their latest update (Feb 8) on the home page said that their "Pilot script and our second episode scripts are finished. 8 of the 10 first season episode stories are set" In other news, Excalibur T-Shirts are available, "a Major Announcement is coming soon" and they have an agreement with a composer for an original score which might even be recorded with a real orchestra rather than being done by computer!

Exeter branches out into other media

Starship Exter - Website, Forum

The director of "The Tressaurian Intersection", Scott Cummins, has started producing podcasts featuring interviews and inside information about the production of Starship Exeter. Available as a free download from the Exeter podcast page in the iTunes store, expect to see interviews with "actors, musicians, effects and crewpeople and basically all the folks involved". You'll need to have iTunes installed to do this and if you "subscribe" to it, you'll have the new podcasts automatically downloaded for you to listen to as they become available.

The first podcast was put online Jan 28 and the second on Feb 6. Holly Guess, who plays Commander Jo Harris, the Exeter's executive officer, was supposed to be interviewed for the Podcast #2 but had a rather important real life role as "mother giving birth" at the time so it will have to wait for #3!

Speaking of iTunes ... if you have a video iPod and want to make sure that you get the latest acts of "The Tressaurian Intersection" as soon they are released did you know that you can subscibe to have them downloaded (again, for free) from the video podcast listing? That's correct, every time Exeter release a new segment, it should start downloading automatically when you log on to iTunes next. They promise to make "The Savage Empire" available in the same way

Interestingly, the subject has been raised of putting out Starship Exeter Audio drama episodes to which bfuselek has said that "there are some plans to do an audio production, but i'm afraid that in order to do it right, we won't be able to devote the time and energy until after TTI." elsewhere he said "we are looking into the possibility of doing "atlantis invaders" as our first audio adventure..."

In another thread on the Exter forum the musical director finally got some attention. Ben Jasmine of crateWatchers of Arizona says he's having fun with the project.
Actually, I don't use a real orchestra for the music. Instead, I use very sophisticated sample librarys, probably more expensive than an non-crazy person would want to spend! However, as you can hear, it gets the job done.......Plus it's a LOOOOOOOOOT cheaper ... I've done tons of research on music of this period, and watching the old episodes. I work real close with Jimm and try to capture what he invisions, without straying too far from TOS feel.
Exeter are thinking about putting together a soundtrack CD and marketing it once all the acts have been completed. This is a perfectly legitimate way of recouping costs, since as original compositions and orchestrations they own the material.

Something I have totally missed over the past months, was a thread, once again on the Exeter forum, that showed that steps are afoot to make an Exeter Flash animation! A script, written by John Hazard who has extensive experience as a Flash animator with, has been given the ok by the Exeter producers. To be drawn in the visual style of "Star trek: The Animated Series" (TAS) and voiced by the original actors, negotiations are under way to involve Kail Tescar and his team at . A new forum member, Euripedes, was particularly taken with the idea, but suggested using a different animation software.

... the latest version of Cinema 4D has a very nifty plug-in, called Sketch and Toon. The output of this plug-in is nothing short of amazing, and could solve certain problems when used in conjunction with a program like Poser ... it could make for some nice traditional cell animation similar to styles used in Anime or Batman: The Animated Series ... maybe this program would be a viable solution?

Exeter has a reputation for quality work and they have an established and active fanbase so expanding on the productions that they can provide Trek fandom makes perfect sense!

ST: Defiant in 2005

Location: Virtual studio on the Internet
Website ; Alternate Website ; Forum

Formed in late August of 2004, Jeffrey Bridges along with a few close friends and family members, formed Pendant Productions, an audio production group dedicated to making radio dramas like the old radio serials of the '30s and '40s.

Their first project was based around "Star Trek: Defiant" (ST:D), a text based story list that he had started over nine years previously (which is still around, though it's pretty quiet these days). Jeff started the Audio Drama series at the request of several group members. Finding enough sound effects and a decent audio-mixing program, he started the project at Quantum Realities and it's still going.

Defiant moves rather slowly, production-wise, because it is more for the entertainment of the original group than anything else, and, to quote Jeff, "it's important to us that everyone be able to individually voice the characters that they created more than a decade ago."

As with its cousin, Darker Projects, Pendant Productions have branched out. Inspired by the old radio serials from the 1940s they have ongoing serials for Superman (11 episodes on line already!), Batman and Wonder Woman. They are also producing a feature-length James Bond adventure as well as two original sci-fi serial concepts in development and plans for an Indiana Jones adventure and a follow-up to the James Bond feature. They are even looking into adding web-comics to their repertoire.

Section 31 Files in 2005

Location: Virtual studio on the Internet

The audio drama series "Star Trek: The Section 31 Files" (ST:S31) recently released the sixth episode of their second season, "Fallout" - a significant achievement in a year and a half! They are part of the Darker Projects Audio Works who do a variety of different Audio drama projects - from tales of zombies (Alive Inside), horror and suspense (Night Terrors), original SciFi (Generation 1) and fan audios of Dr. Who, Quantum Leap and He Man. ST:S31 is a compelling dramatic series that found its genesis in an earlier series centring on the USS Defiant at Quantum Realities.

They started their first season in August, last year and since then have completed a 10 episode season (two of which were double episodes) and are on to the seventh episode of their second season! An absolutely amazing work load - and for the fan a large body of work that covers an epic storyline with well developed and engaging characters, action, intrigue and humour!

Eric Busby is the driving force in this group. He writes, directs and does the post production work for most of the episodes … and in common with most if not all fan groups, he has to hold down a day time job to pay for the expenses of the production. He has a team to help him, of course. In fact one advantage of an audio production is that his cast can be, and is, spread all over the world! Try doing that with a live action show without spending a year on Green-screen post production!

In January they are more than half way through their second season. The storyline tells how the surgical strikes of the daring crew of the Nosferatu affect the political climate of the Star Trek universe in the wake of The Dominion war. Under attack from the Tholians and the Borg, the alliance of the United Federation of Planets begins to fracture. A faction known as the Divine Celestial Imperium takes advantage of this unrest and begins to consolidate its position. The teasers for the next episodes tell us how in quick succession …
  • In the shadow of death, the crew comes together to mourn the loss of one of their own.
  • In the midst of acts of terrorism destabilising the Federation, the daughter of Kahless has been kidnapped and it's up to Section 31 to rescue her. But will they be in time?
  • Equity Corps holds the crew of the Nosferatu captive. Meanwhile one of the crew makes a startling discovery.
  • Countless worlds have fallen. All the stars shall go out... There is only horror now.... Horror and death....
  • In the aftermath of the storm trilogy.... everything changes.
Receive the episodes by downloading them from the Darker projects website or as a Podcast available from any of the Podcast directories or add them to your RSS Feed reader.

The future? Well, its to be hoped that Section 31 will continue to provide it's large fanbase with quality audio drama. Over the past year, Eric has been a strong advocate of cross-fertilisation of Fan Production groups. ST:S31 for example has strong ties with "Star Trek: Hidden Frontiers", who have in turn given a recurring role to one of their characters, General Korg, and the actor who plays him, Karl Puder.

Another Star Trek project that has been "on the boiler" at ST:S31 for quite a while is "Star Wars: Crossroads". It was planned to be a feature length audio drama set for release sometime in Winter/Spring 2006 however work on this project is now on hold. Two episodes are already available and it seems to be an elegant premise for a Star Wars / Star Trek crossover as can be seen from this snip from Wikipedia … "A certain Q we are all familiar with … is forced to enlist the help of not only the Federation, but also a civilisation from an entirely separate dimension and reality. With not only our universe at stake, the New Republic faces the exact same disaster. … In this adventure we learn not only about new aspects of both legends, but the answers to many questions that have arisen in past events in both realities' histories. … The production is set to take place shortly after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi."

Another interesting snippet I found, was in a post on the Hidden Frontier forum from Eric dated Aug 14 …

"For the moment we are limited to the audio field. However we have plans to make a series of short flash based films sometime in the coming year."

They have a head start: experience in Script writing, audio production and editing as well as a proven track record on meeting a schedule. All they need is someone with video production experience, perhaps Eric has someone in mind?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pioneers in 2005

Location: Naples, Florida, USA

Kevin Cho, who brought Pioneers back from the brink of extinction at the end of last year, has settled into a new cooperative relationship with "Star Trek: The Section 31 Files". Kevin is an amazing talent, a Trek fan since he was four, who started this project in 2003, at the tender age of 14! A young man with boundless energy, talent and perseverance, his audio productions are constantly developing as he gains more experience. He is one of the group of fans who are exercising their audio and video creation skills in fan films as a way of adding to their "portfolio" or demo reel on the assumption that it might help them ease their way into the professional entertainment media.

He started off as part of "Starship Independence Audio Studios", in conjunction with Chris Edmund who developed his "ST: Morning Star" from the same group. Kevin changed the name of his production to "Star Trek: The Audio Frontier" under the banner of "Starship Napoli Audio Studios" (since he lives in Naples, Florida) which later, rejoining with Chris, became "Independence Audio Productions" and finally in Jan. '04 "Pioneer Audio Productions" as "ST: Pioneers".

Although he has had various websites of his own, his "home-away-from-home" has always been the Hidden Frontier Forum, who have constantly supported and encouraged him. One of his earliest voice actors was Lee Andrew, the British head of the German fan film group "ST: Andromeda".

Perhaps because Kevin and his production group are learning the ropes as they go, the pace of production might appear slow compared to, say, Section 31 Files. The first script of their pilot episode, a three parter named "New Frontiers", was sent out to the actors on Dec 16, 2003. However it was not to be concluded until April 9th 2005 as a crossover with a "Star Trek: The Section 31 Files" episode called "Bold Venture".

Part of the problem has been that Kevin has lost everything to do with Pioneers at least twice! Kevin and his family have been hit by hurricanes Charley, Dennis, and this year, Wilma. Wilma destroyed 1/4 of the roof of their house, and Dennis caused a loss of power in July '04, which made his system files corrupt. The cast, crew and supporters rallied around to help him put the pieces back together by supplying him with copies of the lost material.

A little thing like a hurricane can't keep a good man down though! Less than a week after losing everything to hurricane Dennis and without a website online, Kevin still posted a trailer for the next episode of Pioneers!

Perhaps as a result of their joint project, "Bold Venture", Kevin was invited by Eric Busby, the head of "Darker Projects" the makers of "ST: The Section 31 Files", to join their group. As Kevin put it, "The series [ST: Pioneers] will continue under the direction of Darker Projects. While the staff will stay about the same, Eric Busby and his diligent cast and crew will be able to offer more assistance to the Pioneers group here in Darker Projects."

Such seems to have been case for since the merger on Aug 27, Kevin has skipped episode 5, to come back to it after resolving some continuity issues, and released episodes 6 & 7. These are two parts of what will probably be another trilogy, "The Forgotten War", which unless I miss my guess, is shaping up to be a hard-hitting social commentary in the best tradition of cutting edge Trek!

"The Federation continues its expedition into the far reaches of the Beta and Delta quadrants, however a conflict looms over the horizon. With Starfleet already spread thin to protect against the Tholians, Breen, and other aggressors including a rebel group of the Federation, they are hardly in a position to fight on another battle front."

Kevin is a proud Asian American and this storyline explores his feelings about the Korean socio-political problem: a race divided by politics and manipulated by a foreign power. Thought provoking, this type of thing is not easy to pull off.

I'm confident Kevin can do it!

Episodes are available as a Podcast from dozens of Podcast directories like Loomia or Odeo. Alternatively you can add them to your RSS Feed reader. You don't even need to lift a finger to get the latest episodes - it's like having a Radio station tailored to your needs!

New Voyages in 2005

Location: NY, USA

December has been a time of changes at "Star Trek: New Voyages" (NV) as well, with the surprise departure of Jack Marshall, one of the original creators of this hugely successful fan film group. On December 28th Jack announced on the NV forum that … "In every persons life the need for change comes and thus, that time has come for me. Work on the show continues in the capable hands of Max Rem and Erik Goodrich and I look forward to seeing it myself one day."

His co-producer, James Cawley responded by simply saying "Thank You. We have had our creative differences, but let me say, I wish you well, on whatever the future holds. Much Success, Peace and Happiness to you."

Other than the two statements there has been a complete information blackout on the subject on the New Voyages Forum. There is however every reason to believe that Jack is, as he says, just moving on. He elaborated on this on the TrekBBS by saying amongst other things "Put simply I'm tired ... I've got a film I'm shooting in February and I'm part of an X project (to be revealed later in January) as well as pitching shows to investors and others. Cow Creek Films is getting some real offers and it's time I moved on and secured a future for my family and my team rather than wallow. If you hear any other reasons I left, it's a load of crap."

Jack Marshall rose to fan fame in 2002 when he used his editing skills to "improve" the 1989 movie “ST V: The Final Frontier”. Surgically removing "deadwood" from the movie, he left a "fan's cut" that caught the attention of aficionados around the country. At the time Jack, his wife Pearl and a group of friends had just founded Cow Creek Films as a non-profit film company with the goal of partnering arts projects with charitable organisations.

The following year, in between projects, Marshall made the acquaintance of James Cawley, a professional actor and Elvis impersonator, who just happened to be the owner/builder of a recreation of the original Enterprise bridge! With Cawley’s props & acting experience and Marshall’s production company all that was needed was a CGI master in the form of Max Rem, the pseudonym of a professional visual effects and makeup artist, and the result was the genesis of ‘Star Trek; New Voyages”.

They have produced two episodes in 2004, "Come What May" in January, now classified as the "pilot" episode, and "In Harm’s Way”, episode one, in October and 2005 has been taken up with production work. Originally they planned to film their next two episodes simultaneously. "What Lies Beneath" was written by veteran Deep Space Nine writers Jack Trevino & Ethan Calk and "re-introduces" the characters of Chekov and Sulu. The other episode, "To Serve All My Days" has been penned by none other than D.C. (Dorothy) Fontana who, as story editor, could be said to be one of the foremost creative influences on the original series! To cap it off, Walter Koenig, the original Pavel Chekov, has guest starred as an older version of the character he created in the original series!

Shortly before the start of filming in September it was announced that Trevino & Calk were to turn their script into a movie, a two hour presentation, to be filmed in 2007 depending on finance. At the time though this was given as the reason for a major change in their filming schedule. The Fontana "webisode" was confirmed for filming in September as planned however the Trevino/Calk script was postponed until 2006.

The filming at Wheelock's Garage, Port Henry, New York in September went well, as reported on the Capital News 9 report , for some candid shots of the cast and filming checkout the report by cast member Ron Boyd ("Lt. Desalle") on the New Voyages forum. There were a number of guest appearances besides Walter Koenig and Mary Linda Rapelye: Tim Brazeal, co-creator of Trek United, played a Klingon and Larry Nemecek, author & editor of Communicator magazine, played "Esterion" Captain or was he a Tellerite? .

The visitors were behind the camera as well as in front of it, most notably Emmy award winning make up artist Kevin Haney who ran the whole makeup department for new Voyages in this episode. His Tellerite makeup would have been appreciated most by John Whiting. John was another cast visitor who does his own makeup for the role he plays in ST: Hidden Frontier, a Tellerite named Dr. Henglaar.

It was around this time that to fill in the gap until the release of their next episode probably in March '06, they decided to release a series of ten minute "vignettes". Filmed in September at the same time as episode 3, it was planned that they would be released beginning in late October of this year, and every 4 to 6 weeks after that. The Vignettes run about 10 minutes each and feature characters from STNV. Currently there are 5 vignettes in post-production. They include:
? "Center Seat" written by Erik Korngold, featuring DeSalle and Sulu.
? "Review" written by Jeffrey Quinn, featuring Spock and Chekov.
? "Co-Pilots" written by Jack Trevino and Ethan Calk, featuring Rand and DeSalle.
? "No Lesson Complete" written by Erik Korngold and Ethan Calk, featuring McCoy, Uhura and Chapel, with technical advice from Denise & Michael Okuda.
? "Change of Command" written by Erik Korngold.They have all been directed by Erik “Gooch” Goodrich, at the time the 2nd Unit Director, who shot all the Barbara Luna and Malachi Throne scenes for “In Harm’s Way".

The first vignette "Center Seat" was intended to be done quickly using stock visual effects from "Come What May" and "In Harm's Way". However when the visual effects producer, Max Rem saw the rough cut of Center Seat, "he insisted we give him the time to create all new effects shots to match the quality of the performances". Given the extra time, their composer, Patrick Phillips is going to create an "appropriate theme" as well.

The last estimate for the release of the first vignette was Christmas but the New Year has come and it is still in post-production. Remember, fan films are made by amateurs who have real life work and family commitments, deadlines are self-imposed and the prevailing philosophy is that quality comes first.

So what can we expect from New Voyages in 2006? Well, episode 3 and the vignettes are in the can and just need post production to come out in staggered releases over the year. Unfortunately, the Trevino & Calk script which was originally slated to be episode 3 and was then re-engineered into a movie, is to be trimmed down to a regular one-hour episode. It won't even be the fourth episode!

About the new episode three, "All The World and Time", all we know so far is that Grace Lee Whitney, "Ensign Rand" of the original series will continue the run of TOS actors who have appeared on new Voyages.

Perhaps it will be written by Carlos Pedraza? Carlos has said that he and James Cawley "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" Bobby Rice, who plays Lt. Ro Nevin in Hidden Frontier, has agreed to Star in the lead as one of Capt. Kirk's three nephews, Peter Kirk. Perhaps a movie era series? Whenever it is played out, one can expect that with the combined talents of Messrs. Cawley and Pedraza, it will indeed be unique.

Perhaps New Voyages might broach a new frontier for fan films? Consider this quote from James Cawley on the CBC.CA Arts & Entertainment website ...

It's Cawley's belief that Paramount may eventually be convinced to license selected fan films, as it has done with fan fiction in the past. If the studio let him charge users a dollar per download in the future, he says he'd be willing to give Paramount 75 per cent of the money raised.

Just imagine what they could do if they could recover their costs!

Mainstream media sees New Voyages as the stars of the Trek fan movie movement, especially since the D.C. Fontana script with an Original Series actor starring in it! During their filming last year, an article about them in "Wired" was written. The latest media attention though is an interview on G4 TV on Jan 12 of James Cawley and Jeff Quinn. From their website I was as surprised as everyone else to read "… did you hear the scoop? Cawley and Quinn are deep in talks with the great George Takei, who may appear as Sulu again!". The full interview is now available for downloading from the "Videos" section of the "Attack of the Show" website.

George Takei playing Sulu? A great actor playing a wonderful character. It will be interesting to see how they handle that script since there is a strong aversion amongst fans these days to time travel stories. Well they have the acting and scripting talent … I'm sure they'll pull it off!

If there was any debate as to the connections that James Cawley has within professional Trek circles, the latest from the refurbished website's news page would have to put the capper on it! David Gerrold has announced (Jan 15) that he would be joining the NV production team!

Mr. Gerrold is the writer of three of the most memorable of the Original Series episodes: "The Cloud Minders", "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "I, Mudd" as well as two episodes for The Animated Series, "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "Bem". The man has even won the Hugo and Nebula awards!

Specifically he has two stories in mind …

"The first is a re-worked Blood and Fire, which was originally pitched for TNG, but ultimately rejected for it's controversial storyline, dealing with an AIDS-like virus and homosexuality."

… Mr. Gerrold also plans a sequel to what is arguably the most famous Star Trek episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles." "I've had this idea for a long time, but we were never able to do it on the original series. There is a twist," explained Gerrold with a mysterious smile. "What starts out funny won't be for long."

Interesting times, my friend, interesting times!

Morning Star in 2005

Location: England

"Star Trek: Morning Star" (MS), the 2003 brain-child of Christopher Edmund, was in the planning stages for around a year or so, changing its name two or three times along the way. Originally "Star Trek: Independence", it then became "Star Trek: New Worlds" and finally "Star Trek: Morning Star". Catastrophe struck when for some unknown reason, the web-service he was with when he made the pilot episode erased it from their servers! It has been remade and is out now in three parts. There's a problem with part 3, act 2 - the version that is out now is wrong however it is planned to be re-made over Christmas 2005.

The series is set a year after the movie "Star Trek: Nemesis" and the pilot episode, "Dragons Teeth", deals with an attack on the U.S.S Defender by the Tholians. The crew and ship of the series get the defender's distress call but when they board the ship they find the crew totalled by an alien invasion force called "exomorphs". These are a non-humanoid semi-intelligent creatures, who have acid based weapons that they shoot from their mouths, an exoskeleton and powerful claws.

The basic storyline of the series, is that a sub-space vortex has opened up in a nebula within federation space and an alien force called the "sky-are" have attacked the U.S.S Orlando with positron weapons so powerful that they ripped through the ships shields. With the crew captured, tortured for information and then carved up into bite size pieces, the sky-are then download the ship's computer core. When the they fail to check in, the vortex is found and, presuming that they were dragged through, Starfleet command sends in three more ships to search for the missing Orlando. When this task force in turn fails to check in, Starfleet assumes the worst and sends in the Federation reserve fleet under the command of Admiral. M. J. Bandit accompanied by the recently launched U.S.S Morning Star for tactical support.

After a major battle near the Beta Quadrant end of the vortex, it collapses and the fleet is stuck at the wrong end with the possibility that the vortex might only reopen in a year or two. The fleet decide to stay and put down roots, which leads to the formation of the Beta Quadrant United Federation of planets or "Beta Federation".

The hardest part of this project is to find a guest cast of voice actors so anyone who wants to help should feel free to email Chris at The first season will be 10 episodes in total with following seasons cut down to 6 episodes each. Season 1, episode 4, "The book cover" is scheduled for December.

Monument in 2005

Location: France
Website: None

"Star Trek Monument" is a French Fan Film, a collaboration between Constellation Studios and Unification, the French Star Trek Fan Club, which started in November 2003 with the exterior Forest scenes. Work continued in December 2003 and January & March 2004 with Green-screen work in the studio. Post production work must have started because on March 9th it was reported on the Unification website that the first images had been released. Previously on Feb 11th they had released the official photos. There's been no more news, nor have we been able to contact them. There doesn't seem to be any release date as yet.

Update - I've noticed that Unification also has a news item about a parody that this groups is supposed to be making at the same time called "The Young and the Trekless" which is a take off from - you'll never guess! - "The Young and the Reckless". This item was dated march 28th and mentions that Monument is to be released in 2005 and that they are to have a website in line soon. Sadly, neither seems to have eventuated.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hidden Frontier in 2005

Location: Palmdale, California, USA

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... ;-)

Final Odyssey in 2005

Location: International

"Star Trek: Final Odyssey" is best described as a potential Fan Film Series that Sciverse Productions is thinking of putting together. "While there is no guarantee that “Final Odyssey” will ever be made, we have high hopes..." This is a group of writers, poets and artists from America, Israel and Japan, with little or no experience in producing films. Most of the filming will take place on location in Israel, perhaps some on the Isle of Ghia in Scotland as well as some third-world locations currently undisclosed.

Their concept is to return to the days when men where brave pioneers and space was all about exploration. They will explore the relationship between man and machine in a way that reflects the WWII submarine genre, sort of a “Das Boot” meets “The Right Stuff” and “Apollo 13” with a little “Band of Brothers” thrown in with stars as a backdrop. “Star Trek: Final Odyssey” will also be the first series, we hope, where the captain will only be a background character, with extended focus on the doctors, engineers, and the enlisted-midshipmen, or the common man.

Set in 2270, between the Original Series and ST: The Motion Picture, the Pilot Episode: “The Chronic Argos”, centres on the part played by older ships, such as the Daedalus and Wasp Class Cruisers which by then were only used for academy training, supply, and survey vessels. Due to their small size and limited power the crews of other, more powerful starships ridicule them.

Could be good. A series where the ships are not super-duper, cutting edge, shiny-new big-boy-toys but old war-horses? A focus on the ship as a community? Sounds like the makings of good drama, taking Star Trek to a new level, without being trendily "gritty" - I especially like the idea of extending the storylines throughout the crew. Star Trek had too few episodes "below decks".

Because they are still at a very early stage in pre-production, "Sciverse Productions© is reluctant to release any information pertaining to the primary mythology and universe in which “Final Odyssey” takes place." A brief synopsis of the pilot-episode has been posted on the “episodes” page, of their web-site, although it is subject to change.

Interesting that this should be described in terms of other films. Perhaps this might help to keep things in context, to make them relevant to the modern world? In this writer's opinion, Trek cannot hope to survive as anything other than a 60's phenomena unless it keeps in contact with the realities of the modern world.

Monday, February 06, 2006

USS Hathaway in 2005

Location: NW Ohio, USA

This fanchise has taken the novel approach of taking a minor element from one of the TV Series - in this case the USS Hathaway, a Constellation class starship, from it's single episode appearance in the second season TNG episode: "Peak Performance" - and weaves a whole fictional history around it. A live action movie set against green screen backgrounds, it is set in 2285, the same year as "The Wrath of Khan" and "The Search for Spock". It will feature original storylines against the backdrop of the turbulent canon events of the time such as the Genesis Controversy and later the Cetacean Probe.

In the 24th Century she was at the end of her career, but this series goes back to the beginning of the ship's history. The pilot episode "Genesis" takes place six weeks after the events in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and deals with the aftermath and political fallout of the "Genesis controversy". The crew includes Cpt Jeffery Pierce (played by Brad Hathaway, the Exec. Producer), Cdr Lara Maximillian, an Orion female raised by humans, and Lt R'Meera, a half Caitian/human female, the science officer and pilot participant in the new concept of "ship's counselor".

They have an ambitiously large ensemble cast, including a female Chief Engineer, a Vulcan doctor, tactical and communications officers and Ensign Roger "Skip" Donovan, the "cocky young pilot".

Brad Hathaway, Exec. Producer of USS Hathaway, says "Our visual and audio inspiration comes primarily from what the producers consider the best of the Star Trek movies, The Wrath of Khan. We hope to explore issues that are current to today's world, in much the same way as the original Star Trek did in its day."

They certainly seem to have the moves right! Their CGI looks good and they have been complemented on the quality of their backgrounds, costuming and make-up. In fact, they've shown a boldness not often seen in Fan films by casting not just one complex alien make-up - a green skinned Orion, First Officer, Cmdr Lara Maximillian, - but two - a Caitian/Human female, Lt R'Meera. The make up and "cat’s eye" contacts were too much for the first actress to try for the part of R’Meera, Christen Heilman, and it was one of the reasons why she eventually had to give up the part.

The Hathaway, like most new groups, is striving to keep interest alive in the pre-production period. For example in late September, Traeonna Wagener who plays the Orion 1st Officer, built them a snazzy new website and forum.

With scheduling conflicts being the most predominant of their concerns right now, the estimate of release for the first episode has been revised to the 1st Quarter 2006.

Tales of the Seventh Fleet in 2005

Location: Morris County, New Jersey, USA


"Tales of the Seventh Fleet" (TOTSF) is an anomaly.

As a production it does not compare with the likes of "Exeter", "New Voyages" or "Hidden Frontiers" and yet it is known, loved and respected by the majority of the fan film community. It is a shoe-string production on home made virtual sets and yet from the onset it drew the technical interest of its peers.

The secret is in the people involved.

Reading through the various Forum archives to get a feel for the background on this fan group I have gained the unshakeable impression that they are primarily Star Trek fans. They aren't doing this to replace or improve on the originals - they are doing it to celebrate the original. They know the Star Trek canon inside out and want to explore and expand on that original without adulterating it.

Technically they are your average, amateur theatrical troop - they perform for the love of performing! They aren't looking at their work as a stepping stone to professional acceptance. They continually state that their work is a learning curve, that they are trying this or that to improve their production. Filming and audio techniques, post production and CGI, scripting and acting - when they are not performing they are thinking about how they could improve on their work.

They have been incredibly prolific. They released "Return To Doomsday" in April 2004, "Upgrade" in May 2005 and finished filming their third episode, "A Touch of Home", in November, 2005. The two completed episodes can be downloaded for free from the website of the USS Justice.

The "USS Justice" is a fan club based in Morris County, Northern New Jersey, part of Region 7 of Starfleet International (SFI). From the start this Fan film group has been called "Tales of the Seventh Fleet" because, although the USS Justice is the prime mover, the flagship of the series, they have thrived with the support from the other Trek fan clubs in the region. Their policy has always been that they will help any ship in the region produce a fan film - it doesn't need to include the USS Justice or be based on the Star Trek "movie era" as theirs have been.

In an online interview with Eugene R."Gene" Hendricks, the shows director, I asked... "When you say any ship, if a ship from another SFI region came to you with a viable project, you'd help?"

Gene: Of course. We only chose Region 7 because its our region and the ships are in the area. We'd be willing to help anyone out, though. It'd just require being more ... creative.

Kirok: I'm interested in what you said to Jacqui [My daughter who has taken an interest in fan films recently] - 'If you can get a uniform and a green wall, we can include you!' In your opinion could an inter-region - even international! - project work on green screen?

Gene: Definitely! For example, we can take Jacqui and put her onto a background of a ship's bridge and then put that into our view screen. Cut that into the screen and it's seamless.

Kirok: Getting back to some background on your history, "Return To Doomsday" was released in April 2004. When did the Justice get the Fan Movie bug?

Gene: The idea came up before I joined the club. They had the idea of doing a Starfleet Marines project, but that was a little too ambitious. I joined in September of 2002 and we started talking about different ideas for recruiting. The video project was one of them. Ed actually had the Doomsday Machine idea and we figured, if nothing else, it was a good Proof of Concept.

Kirok: The CO of the USS Justice, Edward C. Tunis III, has a big input in things. Could you expand?

Gene: Ed's the driving force behind us. He is really big into Trek and has all of these ideas on what we can do. He's pretty much the reason that we got to be William Shatner's honour guard during a paintball game.

Kirok: I remember seeing that in "Communique".

Gene: Ed's always got an idea on a new story or new character we can try and use in the series. He may not be the most technical of our crew, but he's one of the most creative and probably the hardest working.

Kirok: Gene, Have you had any previous acting experience? I noticed that you co-wrote that last script and you've acted, directed and sound engineered - you're a real Jack-of-all-trades!

Gene: My only previous experience was a 6th grade play I was in. My sister, on the other hand, has a degree in Musical Theatre. I have written some things, though. Everything else I picked up as I went along.

Kirok: How about the lady who plays Dr Lupia? Your wife?

Gene: Yup.

Kirok: Ah! The family that plays together ... There is an obvious ... comfortable ... relationship between you on screen

Gene: I'm glad that comes across. We tried to make the situation as realistic as possible. Although, neither of us are quite what the characters are. Still, it helps, since neither of us are really actors.

Kirok: She joined at the same time as you? Is she a dedicated Trekie ... or does she just want to share your passions?

Gene: Same time as me. We actually were at a convention when we joined. She was actually into TNG when it came out, I, on the other hand, am a hard core TOS fan. Makes for interesting conversations.

Kirok: Drama! Marital conflict!

Gene: Not really. Just ... interesting.

Kirok: What about the other characters that we see on the Fan film? Stoeffles for example."

Gene: Most of those are outgrowths of our Role Playing characters. Stoeffles, Enigma, the Lupias, all RPG characters. Not the stories, but the characters, at least, initially. They've grown since then.

Kirok: Thanks for letting me read your latest script. Could I get away with a tease by saying that I reckon that having a subplot off the ship is a great idea? One of the things that I thought held back your first two episodes was that they were limited because the live action all took place on board ship. With the introduction of an off-ship scene you are really opening up the plot opportunities.

Gene: Even though the off-ship scene is also CGI backgrounds? That's one of the things I tried to do in the script, it's one of the beauties of green screen. I, as editor, know that you just need stuff to cut to so I wrote it with an A and B plot from the beginning.

Perhaps part of their secret is that they are never standing still, as a fan film group they are continually forging ahead. For example they completed filming their latest episode "A Touch of Home" on Nov 27. Now, as you might guess there is a lot of work that needs to be done to a film between it getting "in the can" and when it is ready for release. This is especially true of a production like TOTSF which relies heavily on "green screen" - filming the actors is only the start of the story! This is normally when the film crew will go into seclusion until their work is done.

TOTSF is not just a fan film group though, it is also a Trek Fan Club and as such they not only have a commitment to making as polished a film production as they can but to having fun as well! Part of that, like most clubs, includes "meet and greet" and in their case they have some pretty interesting stuff on their table when they attend a Con!

On the weekend of October 15-6 they attended UberCon (, the area's premiere gaming convention, held at the Meadowlands Sheraton in East Rutherford, NJ. Cast & crew manned the tables to answer questions and take patron's photos against a "blue screen" which "transported" them the Bridge of the USS Justice, the Transporter Room, Engineering, or to an alien planet. One lucky UberCon attendee even won a walk-on role in their next episode in a free raffle!

Not many clubs can do all that! Said Gene …" We had 44 people get their pictures taken, on various backgrounds … 10% of the attendees, which is amazing! I'd say about 1/3 of those asked for more information on the Justice … we had a few celebrities get their pictures taken. Jennie Breeden, the Guest of Honor and comic artist … She immediately put it on her table and displayed it for everyone to see. We also had Keith R. A. DeCandido, author of "Articles of the Federation" and "Tales from the Captain's Table," get his picture taken on an alien planet."

What struck me was that, not only was there a lot of fan interest in TOTSF and the other fan films that they were showing, there was a lot of professional interest as well. "CJ Henderson, Origins Award-winning author and Trek fan, … expressed interest on working on a script for TotSF!" as well as negotiations regarding "future guest appearances at Ubercon and Dreamation for the coming year. In fact, Dreamation has promised to showcase us and we'll (most likely) be debuting "A Touch of Home" at their convention!"

All this got me thinking about the place that their fan film production held in the overall scheme of things. Looking through their recently updated website I could see that they weren't a single issue club. I asked Ed Tunis about the USS Justice we don't see on film: What are their club meetings like? Do they have members who aren't involved in the fan film?

Ed: Some of the cast has started out simply as "friends of the chapter" but like the Borg we eventually assimilate them. :-) The club meetings are for the club not just the video project. The JUSTICE does a lot more than just the videos. But normally all our functions are very laid back.

Kirok: The USS Justice goes back way beyond the current fan film project. Could you give us some background on the club and your own part in it?

Ed: The Starfleet chapter known as the USS JUSTICE has been around now for OVER TEN YEARS! Some of our first projects were hosting a mock Star Trek trial and a STARFLEET styled USO show! The core group really isn't into the politics of STARFLEET International, hence why you don't ever see us kissing anyone's butt. We are about being fans of the show which is what this is suppose to be all about.

Kirok: One club function even I had heard of was the paintball shootout with Shatner. For an Original Series fan this would have been a day to remember!

Ed: That would be the Shatnerball 2003. I've been playing paintball since 1986 (almost as long as I've been in SFI) and I missed out on the 2002 game do to eye surgery. When we found out about the 2003 game being in Pennsylvania, I had to jump on it and do something. When we found out the them being US Calvary, I talked the group of about a dozen or so of us who were attending to go the "extra mile" and have yellow stripes placed on our pants and all wear kepi hats to go with the theme. Since I was in touch with the promoter and I pointed out what we were doing we were asked to be Mister Shatner's honor guard. We actually got to repeat the honor in 2004 out in Joliet, Illinois, when we dressed as gangsters for the 2004 match. It was something to play for charity along side William Shatner. The group spend a good part of the morning with him privately. Show me another fan club that can state that claim!!

Kirok: Gene was saying that the idea for a fan film was first suggested as a way of increasing membership, has it?

Ed: We were introduced to the fan film series, Hidden Frontier, based out of California and with the advancement of computers and video, we figured - heck we could probably do this too! It was obvious to us that doing such a project would not only be fun but would encourage others to check our club out and maybe even be apart of it!

Kirok: Gene has re-affirmed the clubs offer to help other Starfleet chapters get started with a fan film project. Have there ever been any approaches?

Ed: I can't fully comment since some groups are still in the developmental stage, but yes a couple other Region Seven Chapters have expressed interest. We've been trying to work with them to see if another "side of the story" can be told by staying true to not only TotSF but their own chapter's fiction.

Kirok: Of course you act in the fan film, what other positions do you serve in?

Ed: LOL - it would be easier for me to list what I don't do. :-) Not only do I share the role of "head cheese" on the whole production, I also do camera work, video capturing, boom mic operator, public relations, assistant script writer, directing, sandwich guy. Everyone does double if not triple duty here. I was also instrumental in a lot of the new interior shots we now have for episodes 2 (UPGRADE) and on. And no I'm sorry I don't want to give out that trade secret.

Kirok: What is the future for "Tales of The Seventh Fleet"? What direction would you like to see the Justice move towards in the future?

Ed: Obviously we will continue to see the ongoing adventures of the JUSTICE but I would like to see other chapters get over their shyness and take our hand in helping them be apart of the TotSF family. As far as the future time line goals of the JUSTICE, all I can say is we have a plan and every step we take both story and production wise is inching us towards a story goal that is vastly overlooked by all the Trek genres.

With all the new startup, concept groups around at the moment one might forgive the crew of the Justice if they were to rest on their laurels. However after seeing some raw footage from episode 3, it seems to be pretty safe to say that Tales of the Seventh Fleet will be raising the bar for new starters to aim at!

My thanks to Ed and Gene for their help in the making of this article which appears in substantially the same form in Communique, the Newsletter of Starfleet International.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Starship Farragut in 2005

Location: Washington D.C. area, USA

The newest American fan film group, based in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, was officially launched at the Shore Leave Convention only a few months ago. Storyboarding, casting, costumes etc have all gone well.

The series trailer was originally planned to introduce the core cast of four: Cpt Jack Karter, first officer Cdr R.T. Tacket, engineer Lt Cdr Michelle Smithfield and security chief Lt Hank Prescott. The first three are friends whilst the fourth, the security chief who had been on the ship previously, is the odd one out.

Although most of the cast & crew are from the Greater Washington, DC Area, John Broughton, SR., the producer's father, travelled from Cincinnati, OH to take part in the filming as Commodore Broughton.

One element of the Original Series that I am happy to say has been revived is the return of the little red mini-dress! Tonya Bacon who plays Ensign Alissa Moretti is sure to be a winner with the young (and not-so-young) male demographic. Another interesting revival is their idea to use a physical model for their exterior ship scenes.

They have just finished filming the exteriors for a trailer in the first week of October in a national park outside of DC. The Interiors, using greenscreens for the trailer (they will be building sets later), was filmed in November, with editing and post production planned over the rest this year. Slated for finish at the end of December, the trailer is to be officially launched at the Farpoint Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland which starts February 17.

Unlike many productions that rely heavily on sets and greenscreens they are going to use more live locations to capture much of the essence of a weekly 'exploration' of other worlds.
Their current schedule is for a ten episode "season" although they admit they will be lucky to get out two episodes a year. They now envisage their first episode, "The Captaincy", in pre-production from Nov. to Jan. next year to start filming in the 1st Quarter of 2006.

As with most groups, the crew roster is in constant flux with current vacancies for a Lead Costume Designer and cameraman. They have also picked up new members such as a fight choreographer and caterer.

Star Trek: Unity in 2005

Location: International

Star Trek: Unity (ST:U) is ground breaking in a number of respects, primarily in that it is one of the first large scale machinima projects. Using a computer game engine, in this case Half Life 2 (HL2), to create visually dramatic and creative new environments, the group can utilise the talent and creative drives of Star Trek fans from all over the world.

As a virtual project, ST:U is out on the cutting edge. Using Hammer - a HL2 map editor - they can model as well as map and with the much-anticipated arrival of HDR lighting to Hammer, mappers will soon be working with the latest generation of map design software. Moreover, since modellers aren't working in "real time", they don't have to worry about tracking polycounts and can fully ultilise the dynamics of the virtual environment.

Even in a virtual environment though the production still needs a costume and props department! In this case though costuming means artists who can "skin" the characters and props means artists who can create new items as 3D meshes, like their new hand phaser/phase pistol.

The overall design of the USS Unity is undergoing constant revision, although released graphics help to demonstrate the direction the ship's design is headed. Work is also being done on three new alien species. In all, the plan is for the creation of six new alien starships.

Everything you hear on a virtual project such as this must be added from the ground up! Not only does the Audio department work with the musicians and actors, collecting, reviewing and correcting their sound files, they must collate it all on multiple tracks to form an essential dramatic element of the production. The project's Audio Director then supervises the clean up of 'noise' on the multiple sound layers and helps create, develop and maintain a sound effects library. This not only provides the explosions, bells and whistles but the ambient background noises that give us audible clues as to the scene's location.

Because the live actors spoken lines are simply sound files emailed in to the sound engineers, they can live anywhere in the world, as can virtually any member of the cast or crew! This is why it is a truly international project!

The action takes place in 2173 and will focus on the crew of the USS Unity and their exploration of a new, uncharted region of space, twelve years after the founding of the Federation. The series will begin with "The Powder Keg", a three part episode arc, with four more episodes currently being outlined, each episode will feature a teaser and four acts. The episodes will mostly be a continuing serial but there will most likely be stand-alone episodes as well in the future. "The Powder Keg" was released in November as a novelisation.
Although later incarnations of Trek have focused on inter-species conflict and in some cases, warfare," says Tanveer Naseer (Kracko), the Unity's PR Director "Star Trek: Unity has as its focus character dynamics and the relationships between the crew and those they encounter. While some encounters will invariably end in conflict, it is the drive of the crew of the USS Unity to reach out to new species, as well as familiar ones, with the arm of diplomacy and friendship. The hope is that in doing such, they will help expand humanity's understanding of the universe and its place in it.
In August, the Project Manager Frederik Egger, stepped down, for practical & personal reasons, to act as a Creative Consultant. Story/Scripts Director Dany Rioux, whose role has now been filled by Ani Manjikan, took his place. Mike Cugley, a regular on the Star Trek: Intrepid team, also joined ST:U as a Graphic Artist - Hammer Mapper at this point.

In September in answer to the many requests to see more of the Unity's visual elements, never before seen design images were released of both Unity's interior and some brand new alien ship designs. While these designs may change drastically from now to the final product, these images help to give an idea of the novel and dramatic look being created by the graphics team.

The graphics design team is trying to create a visual style which has not been seen in any other the Star Trek incarnation, whilst still showing its kinship to Star Trek look. Their goal is to strike a balance, to exhibit the show's development from 'Star Trek: Enterprise', whilst hinting at the classic Trek look of The Original Series.

The first promotional trailer for Unity had its premiere at the UberCon convention in New Jersey (courtesy of Gene Hendricks of Tales of The Seventh Fleet), however it was decided to wait until October 31 to share it with the rest of Trek fandom as a treat for Halloween.

Tanveer generally puts a monthly update on the Unity website but says that "there might not be any for the next two months or so since I'm busy working on a 'special' project that I hope fans will find entertaining and informative. Currently about 1/3 completed, [it] will involve the assistance and co-operation of several people including some from other fan Trek productions. I'm hoping that I will have it completed by the end of January or early February with a public release date soon after that."

As regards the release date of their first episode, Unity (perhaps influenced by the reaction to Exeter's delayed first act?) have decided to play it close to the chest. Said Tanveer … "As of December last year, we've had to reassess when we could have our premiere episode out. Rather than set an arbitrary date this early in the game, we're focusing on continuing work on the series and only plan to announce a release date once we are close to completion of the first episode."

Star Trek: Das Vermächtnis (The Legacy) in 2005

Location: Haiger, Germany

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.

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!

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 - 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!