Friday, February 19, 2016

Where No Fan Has Gone Before: Star Trek Fan Productions

                While Fan Productions probably exist of any media, the Star Trek fan productions are among the most well produced.  Entire sets have been recreated to give the series an authentic feel.  Both Original Series and the Next Generation Era (including Deep Space Nine and Voyager) have fan production made about them.  The “seasons” (if they are called that) have at most nine or ten episodes, because fan production is either completely out of pocket or through crowd-funding such as kickstarter.  Here are some of the most well-known of the Star Trek Fan Productions.
                The longest running fan production, as well as with the most episodes, is Star Trek: Hidden Frontier.  The concept for the show takes place in the post-Deep Space Nine/Voyager era after the Dominion War featured in Deep Space Nine.  In Hidden Frontier, the USS Excelsior and Deep Space 12 live in the “Brier Patch” region of space (known for a nebula with unusual properties) and battle against an advanced species called The Grey, along with Tholians and an Andorian.  The show received some criticism for relying almost completely on green screen/CGI sets instead of physical sets.  The series starred David Dial as Rear Admiral Ian Quncy Knapp of Deep Space 12, Rasha Denney as Captain of the USS Excelsior, and Larry LaVerne as Captain Tolian Naros of the USS Helena (and a former Executive Officer of USS Excelsior).  From 2000 to 2007, 50 total episodes were produced.  The show also has several spinoffs, some of which are completely CGI. 
                The miniseries Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, is notable for having many original Star Trek actors participating in the fan production, including Nichelle Nichols as Captain Nyota Uhura, Walter Koenig as Captain Pavel Chekov, and Alan Ruck as Captain John Harriman from Star Trek: Generations.  Tim Russ, who played Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager, directed the three-part miniseries and also had a supporting role as Tuvok in the miniseries.  In this story, set in twelve years after Star Trek: Generations, the three captains converge for the dedication of Original Series-era Enterprise, set up as a museum for the era James Kirk’s 5-year mission.  Unfortunately, the ship is the closest to respond to a distress call from the planet M-622, which houses the “Guardian of Forever” and meet Charlie Evans a human with extraordinary but uncontrollable mental powers, who blames Kirk for his imprisonment for forty years.  He goes into the Guardian of Forever and travels back in time to kill Kirk’s mother before he was born, which alters the timeline for the worst.  It’s up to the three Captains and their crew to set the timeline right.  The first 30 minute part was released in December 2007, and the second and third parts were released in 2008. 
                There are two fan productions which are set in the Original Series era, both of which purport to be during the “missing years” of the five year mission which the original series, only last three seasons, failed to reach.  The first is Star Trek: New Voyages, later called Star Trek: Phase II (named after the first planned sequel series, which never premiered).  Many of the episodes were reworked episodes from the original series or from Phase II scripts, with Star Trek writers finishing writing the original scripts for the first eight episodes.  The most recent 10th episode, The Holiest Thing, was released in January 2016.  The second fan production is called Star Trek: Continues, featuring instead wholly original stories, premiered in 2013, and is notable for being filmed and edited in the style of the original series, including the same aspect ratio and act breaks.  This production has released five original episodes so far. 

                There are other notable fan productions, including Starship: Farragut (an original series sister ship), Star Trek: Renegades (A pilot for a new Star Trek series made by fans) and Prelude to Axanar (short film) and Star Trek: Axanar (an Original series era feature film that was unfortunately hit with a copyright lawsuit).  If you are a Star Trek fan, check out these fan productions, and admire the talent of these non-Hollywood creators honoring one of their favorite television and movie franchises.  

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