LIEF Productions

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hidden Frontier hits Mainstream Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck, guys! You've earned it!