'Hidden Frontier' Creator Talks Fan Film Development

By Michelle
January 4, 2006 - 4:13 PM

One of the creators of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier said that fan films are a great place to learn about film production, but it can be difficult to to turn work on such projects into a career in movies, particularly for directors and producers.

"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," explained Rob Caves, one of the executive producers of Hidden Frontier. Caves told Trek United that formal film school training is "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."

Such films, he added, "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 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, he added, the roles can provide material for demo reels, "but directing a fanfilm won't really get a directing job, and producing a fanfilm won't really help you become a producer."

Caves explained that Hidden Frontier is following the same copyright rules that Paramount gave to Star Trek: New Voyages, worrying that "what happens to one fanfilm could domino into all fanfilms." He believes that Paramount will continue to support fan productions so long as the franchise is treated as a hobby rather than a moneymaker, saying, "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." Hidden Frontier withheld one episode, "Yesterday's Excelsior", turning it into a graphic novel because of concerns about the use of clips belonging to Paramount.

Caves said that he and his fellow filmmakers are considering creating an original science fiction universe so that they can collect donations instead of having to rely exclusively on their own funding. "Or is it more important to keep it Trek and continue to be limited by budget?" he wondered. "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."

For more on Caves and his other interests, see the original interview at Trek United.

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