Producers, Paramount Talk Fan FilmsBy Michelle
August 3, 2006 - 9:11 PM
Fans and professionals discussed the value and limitations of Star Trek fan films - the not-for-profit sequels and spin-offs of the television shows such as Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and Star Trek: New Voyages - a genre whose creativity is restricted only by issues of finance and concern about studio lawsuits.
"There's never been a gay character on 'Star Trek,'" pointed out Rob Caves, who produces Hidden Frontier, which features a same-sex relationship between two Next Generation-era characters. "'Star Trek' has always been about pushing social boundaries and portraying things that might be a touchy subject now, but in the future, it's no big deal," Caves told Variety.
According to Caves, Sprint PCS has held talks with Paramount about licensing Hidden Frontier - currently filming its seventh and final season - as content for their phones. Having spent about $500 per episode, Caves is planning to move on to producing original science fiction.
Elvis impersonator James Cawley, who created New Voyages, called his fan series "a very expensive hobby" and estimated that it costs $70,000 per episode, the most recent of which was downloaded more than 30 million times. The ambitious series has convinced several original series stars and writers to participate and has special effects by Doug Drexler, who worked on Star Trek at Paramount.
"From show to show, you can see the quantum leap in the quality of work. I see this evolving into a production company that will do other stuff," said Drexler, who recommended New Voyages director Jack Marshall for a job on former Star Trek writer Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica. Gabriel Koerner, who created CG spaceship models as a fan, went to earn an Emmy nomination for digital artwork on Enterprise.
Paramount, however, warned that fans cannot attempt to produce for-profit works. "CBS Paramount's trademark rights and the intellectual properties related to 'Star Trek' must always be protected from unauthorized use," said CBS Paramount TV executive John Wentworth. "Our policy is to pursue our legal options when those rights are determined to be violated by anyone." The Finnish team that produced the parody Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning allowed free downloading but sold memorabilia to finance their next film, an original sci-fi feature.
The original Variety article is here.