John Van Citters, CBS‘s Product Development Vice President, was the guest on this week’s episode of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast.
In the podcast, Van Citters answered fan questions and provided “insight into the process and discussing the potential these guidelines have for the future of Trek fan films.”
“I thought it was important to give John Van Citters an opportunity not only to clarify some of the guidelines, but to let him explain the rationale behind them,” said podcast host Jordan Hoffman. “There has been a lot of speculation about this process. No doubt there is a period of adjustment up ahead, but I came away from this conversation with a much clearer understanding, as well as enthusiasm for what kinds of fan films await in the future.”
Many blame Axanar Productions for the new restrictive guidelines, but while they may take part of the blame, the concern about fan films has been rising over the years. “A lot of the impetus for this is what we had seen happen with fan films in recent years, and what we felt needed to be done in order to protect fan-films for the long term,” said Van Citters. “It seems a little counter-intuitive in putting some form of restriction on fan creativity. But it’s something that needed to be done in order to cure some abuses that have been out there, and kind of refocuses this around the fan experience and creating more stories.”
With the new rules, stories are limited to fifteen minutes (or two-connected fifteen-minute stories). Crowd fundraising is limited to $50,000 per fifteen minutes. There is no limit on self-funding a project, however.
Fans can still make costumes, said Van Citters. This seems to contradict the new guidelines, but if a production decides to purchase costumes instead of making them themselves, CBS want them to go through official channels.
“What we are doing is creating a set of guidelines that are out there,” said Van Citters, “and enable people to know that if we stick within the guidelines, we are not going to hear from CBS, and we’re not going to hear from Paramount. And we have nothing to worry about.”
The guidelines are “are not intended to end fan films. But with the explosion of crowdfunding, abuses have very much crept into the process…And that’s not really in the spirit of fan fiction, not the fan-fiction that I grew up with, and what many people grew up with.”
The podcast, which runs for an hour and seventeen minutes, can be heard here.
A partial transcript of the podcast can be found here.