Monday, October 27, 2014

Trailers In Short - Star Trek You Should Be Seeing

These days it seems we have one source for our new Star Trek needs. J.J. Abrams. (And now I guess we're relying on his conspiracy minded minion, who will be directing.)

But is that true?

Welcome to the world of fan films. And fan films are a vast world, with serious efforts to tell tales of beloved characters and worlds and films that are just for laughs, or love of the franchise.

In that gulf of fan films are many very amateur efforts. Labor of loves that end up put up on places like YouTube for everyone to enjoy. But there are also films that are a serious and skilled effort. These have a lot of blood, sweat, and tears invested in them. They also get cash (and need it) and professionals.

So let's delve into Trekdom and see a couple of the amazing, exciting, and very Trekkie works going on.

Star Trek Continues

I thought I'd start with this because it actually floors me when I see this one. This production tells the continuing adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk, after the TV series ended.

From there they have a cast that are replicating and expanding on the roles from the original series. They also have done an amazing job creating the sets. But beyond that, they've worked magic getting music, lighting, camera work, etc so much like the original series.

You can see the love for that show in the look. It is so beautifully and carefully constructed/ It also means the episodes have come out quite slowly. But they are a treat to watch.

Here's an early vignette they did, taken from the last episode of the original Star Trek series. It shows how they are trying to mirror look and style.

Another thing they have going for this series of shows is that they have been bringing in guest stars. They brought back Michael Forest, who played the alien Apollo. It's allowed them to bring back his character, and show what happen to him. A later episode shows Lou Ferrigno as an Orion.

Episode 1 - "Pilgrim of Eternity"

And the latest episode out is a return to the Mirror Universe, where we see what happen after Kirk left.

If you love TOS, you should check it out.

Star Trek: Axanar

Another production at work now is the Axanar movie. It is telling the story of the end of the Four Year War, between the young and growing United Federation of Planets and the expanding Klingon Empire. The struggle was alluded to in the original series as a critical moment in the development of the Federation, all thanks to Garth of Izar. So the movie will detail the events surrounding the Federation and Klingon actors in the war, and how Captain Garth became the legend that Kirk was inspired by.

The production is taking a lot of effort to meld the shows and other movies together with this story. They are using ship designs seen in Enterprise and in the J.J. Abrams movies. They are taking certain uniforms seen in the original series and Enterprise. They are also bringing forward characters of Trek Lore. Ambassador Soval will be playing a role. We also will be seeing Robert April, the U.S.S. Enterprise's first captain.

To start their production, and to inspire people to donate and support the effort, they began with a short film, Prelude to Axanar.


As you can see, it's stunning to look at. The production value shows. The music, the effects, the lighting, the costuming, the makeup, is all just a banquet to take in.

And they also have an interesting cast. J.G. Hertzler (who played General Martok on Deep Space Nine) is playing Starfleet captain Samuel Travis. Gary Graham is reprising his role (from Enterprise) of Vulcan Ambassador Soval. Richard Hatch (Apollo and Tom Zarek of Battlestar Galactica fame) is playing Klingon General Karn, the mastermind of the Four Years War. Kate Vernon (who is best known in these circles for her role as Ellen Tigh in the modern Battlestar Galactica) is playing Starfleet Captain Sonya Alexander. Garret Wang (Harry Kim from Voyager) has recently signed to play a Klingon captain at the Battle of Axanar (He finally broke past ensign!!!). Tony Todd (He's played Worf's brother Kurn, an older Jake Sisko, and a Hirogen.) plays Admiral Ramirez, Starfleet Commander in Chief.

Having a collection of veterans of science fiction is a treat for fans.

But the concept of the short is great. A historical documentary. They are basing the structure off what you'd find on The History Channel (and in this case you go knowing that it is all fictional).

I love this idea. This has been such an obvious fun, interesting, and cost saving approach. You get to make use of talking heads, cut around the boring parts of events, and amp people up/mess with expectations. Just like all documentarians get to do everyday (Well, some do that.).

It's a great way for small filmmakers to tell their stories. It's like I've said about Dracula. That story is already epistolary. It's ripe to just make a fictional documentary about the threat that Van Helsing and the others faced after the fact. Star Trek, Zombie stories (see World War Z...the book, I mean), war stories. A good scriptwriter, with a good director, and some others who appreciate documentaries can create interesting and engaging story. Isn't that the point of the shows on The History Channel, etc? (...Outside all of there reality show...)

Maybe most people aren't documentary nerds.

But here's the short film in full, to wet your appetite for the full move.

Prelude to Axanar

Being me, I am a little bummed that the Axanar movie will be more a classic style of movie. I'd love to see a line of 20 to 30 minute documentary shorts about this war and other pivotal points in Federation History. Maybe in the future.

The movie itself should be interesting still. They are putting a lot of effort to line up all the skilled people to produce a solid full length movie. They've been fundraising via Kickstarter and have found a lot of support among fans. If you are interested they will no doubt be looking for more support by post production.

I can't wait to see what the final movie looks like. Right now they are entering pre production

And did you notice the little joke at the start? It's narrated by John Gill. He's the Federation historian from the original series episode "Patterns of Force". ...He ended up creating Space Nazis... But before that I guess he made some good historical programming.

Here's some more talk about the short and full length film at FedCon 2014 Panel

Part 1

Part 2

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