“A minority female lead is a groundbreaking—“ no, plenty of folks are going to cover that.
“The F/X are CLEARY, not pre-TOS Prime—“ Yeah, let’s skip that can of worms.
“The Klingons are—“ I have absolutely no idea, heard thirty theories, will hear thirty more. (Looks cool, though.)
“It’s on a Streaming service instead of—“ no, I will not argue about this…and no, I will not get off your lawn, grandpa.
“the ship looks like—“ that was done, redone, overdone, then done again during the first teaser.
So, a thousand blogs, ten thousand opinions, a hundred thousand fan theories (some of which are good, and some of which…well, folks, please have your homes tested for lead paint.) What can I say about the new Series? There are a lot of folks who are much smarter than me and very clever analyzing all the little details…and there are folks who are not as smart as me but much louder making assertions and assumptions based on no evidence, or two seconds of footage, or tinfoil hats. How can we write about Star Trek Discovery when we haven’t seen it yet? We can talk about what we know about it: it is Star Trek. But what does that mean?
Let’s go for a little trip down memory lane.
I never Discovered Star Trek. the birth of Star Trek came about a decade before I showed up on the scene. So, unlike a lot of fans, I don’t have a ‘moment’…Star Trek was something my family liked, so it was always on in reruns as I grew up. So, I don’t have a cool story about my first experience with Star Trek. (It wasn’t even the first non-cartoon movie I saw in cinemas…I ended up seeing “Ghostbusters”, and then “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and then saw “Search for Spock”.) But there were plenty of firsts.
I remember being 15 minutes late for the Premiere of TNG. I was at my grandmother’s in Texas, and it was Sunday afternoon that it was slated to air (the wonders of a show jumping directly into syndication…) I had gone to church (because that is what you do when you stay at Mamaw’s) and hung around a bit to play with kids my age, let Mamaw kibbitz with the preacher, that sort of thing, and then she said, “well, let’s go home so you can watch that new Star Trek show you keep talking about.”
so, I missed the beginning. My first sighting of the New and ‘improved’ Enterprise, redesigned to be more futuristic and the like, was as it soared majestically in orbit over whatever alien planet they were visiting to see some station called ‘Farpoint’. I liked the lines of the hull and the glowing blue of the nacelles that swept so smoothly and majestically up from the hull…and found that the teeny tiny saucer on the Enterprise looked really out of proportion and stupid. “what have they done to my ship?!?” I cried, aghast…then the Enterprise flew off and reconnected with the saucer section, and suddenly, not only did the ship look MUCH better, it had a cool new feature with the detachable saucer. The lesson here: sometimes we can be hasty with our gut reactions. Not only did the first episode of TNG get better, but over the years, the series as a whole got better.
I remember being less than thrilled about Deep Space Nine. This was the golden age of syndicated TV: right before all these new networks popped up and really defined themselves, you had outfits doing all sorts of great sci-fi/fantasy shows: Time Trax, Babylon 5, Kung-Fu the Legend Continues, Hercules….Star Trek deserved a spot in among all the PTEN fare. But…a Space Station instead of a Starship? But then I read the TV guide articles (Sure, internet was around back then, but not exactly commonplace) and they talked about the mysterious wormhole to the other side of the galaxy, and how O’Brien would figure out a way to make the whole space station move….so I thought, ‘ok, they fall in the wormhole, and drift around from place to place in a mobile station, far from home, more resources than a Starship, but less mobile…put the crew to the test beyond the final frontier…’ of course, the actual show played out a bit different than the concept I had in my head, and while I thought *MY* idea was cooler…DS9 ended up doing great, and gave us a fascinating Trek series. The Lesson Here: fans tell great stories….but those are not the ONLY story. Someone else—especially guys whose stories are good enough that they get PAID to tell them—are ALSO going to be good.
I remember Voyager. Back to a Starship now, but on the far side of the galaxy (I guess those network execs listened to my cool idea about how they should have done DS9…?) TNG really shook things up, gave us a DRASTIC shift away from TOS in look and feel…it was still Star Trek, but was definitely a ‘strange new world’. DS9 gave us a different kind of story altogether, again going new, with new life and new civilisations…and it laid the groundwork for building that ephemeral thing called ‘canon’.
Voyager gave us a universe. It took the aspects that created the ‘TNG era’, cemented ‘canon’, took a deeper look at the old standards and went a little more in depth, laying the foundations that changed Star Trek from being just a franchise and bumped it up into…a Legacy? I’m not sure, but whatever Trek had become, ‘franchise’ seemed an inadequate word. It gave us our favourites, it fleshed out details, and still managed to surprise us with new discoveries…even about some of those old favourites. The lesson here: Star Trek lives. It perseveres….it keeps on sailing along the horizon, and often the journey matters even more than the destination.
I remember Enterprise. A reimagining (a ‘reboot’ before it was even a word) going back to the beginning, reStarting everything, giving the tired old 1960s tech an upgrade and facelift, while still holding true to the core of Star Trek. It somehow managed to avoid most of the catastrophic clichés and hackneyed tropes that ruin prequels, staying fresh and imaginative, while simultaneously screwing the pooch with fanservice and getting strung along some lousy storylines because that was what fans really wanted to see. The fanbase lost interest, the show overran its costs, the franchise was fatigued….
for whatever reason, the show did not do well, and was cut down before its time. When it had a bad episode, it was one of the WORST episodes of any Trek in the 50-year history of the universe…but when it had a good episode, it was some of the absolute BEST Star Trek EVER. The lesson here: don’t listen to fans. Star Trek is not what it is because the fans made something of it; the Fans are what they are because Star Trek made something of THEM.
I remember Kelvin. Go back to the beginning (the REAL beginning, not some silly prequel story), give us Kirk, Spock and the OG Masters of Sci-Fi. But don’t give us papier Mache Monsters and reused Andy Griffith Sets. We live in a new era, where technology and cinematography allow us to push the envelope visually, create a look that still captured the spirit of Trek, but wrapped it in all the new advances that we had made to make it feel like the future again. (Because, let’s face it, here at the dawn of the 21st century, much of our tech has already greatly surpassed that which TOS envisioned for the future centuries hence…) the heart of Trek is still there, the soul of Trek shines through…Star Trek will not become dated or archaic. The lesson here: the journey is just beginning.
I remember Discovery…
For all of you who are fans, take a minute and name the five best directors/writers/producers that worked on Trek. No matter who you are, somehow, by some miracle, at least one name from your list is part of the Dream team building the new Star Trek series. The cast is made of A-list actors and B-listers who damn well ought to be A-listers. The ship…the ships, the aliens, the imagery….they pored over the archives, selected bits and pieces from the greats of Treks VFX history….pulling from TOS, TMP, the Maroon movie era, TNG era, etc etc etc. this is Star Trek, through and through. The stories, the characters, the actors….all the instruments are in play, and the conductor is about to begin, and a new symphony will resonate through the internet and the rest of the galaxy.
We are going to see some old favourites reborn, revitalised, improved and explored in greater depth. We are going to see new and amazing things. We are going to wax philosophical about sociological and cultural issues through allegory both internal and external and ponder some of the ‘meaning of life stuff’ along the way. We are going to get some of the ‘the world can be a better place’ commentary on contemporary humanity as it contrasts with this vision of a better future. We are going to get some godawful episodes that will leave you wondering if the writers were drunk or if they just lost a bet (if I ever become a successful novelist, I am bound by such a drunken wager to write a story about a worm that poops platinum…I know how painful a bad bet can be) and we are going to get some episodes that will be so magnificently crafted that you say “This. THIS is what Star Trek is.” We are going to get other things that I can’t even begin to think of….and when all is said and done, we are going to get at the very least two or three Years of Discovery….and we will get another 50 years of Star Trek. (and in five or ten years, I’ll write another blog about Discovery, and be able to fill in this ‘I remember Discovery’ section with all that we have learned, and loved, and hated, about Discovery…but I look forward to watching the show, and discovering whatever it has to offer.)
Trekzone.org is Australia’s first Star Trek fan website launching in 2003 Trekzone, was a year 10 High School IT project for its host Matthew Miller, although it sat idle for a few years in 2012 Matthew finally decided to turn it up a notch and really get into producing content for his site.
However, Matthew and Trekzone have not stopped there, and in 2016 Matthew took to the road and produced a mini-series of blogs called Sci-Fi Weekly where he got the chance to meet some of the top scientists in Australia for example Dr Andy Thomas – Australia’s first astronaut, Dr. Anton Wallner, Dr. Geoff Campbell and Dr. Brad Tucker, although a short-lived mini blog series it was one that drew a lot of interest to his site and more recently Matthew was one of the main followers of the Axanar lawsuit producing content that covered, the particulars of the lawsuit and how it has changed the fan film world forever.
James) Hey Matt, tell us a bit more about you.
Matt) I’m a thirty-year-old broadcast engineer in the real world, which sees me working in television making sure people can keep watching our TV signal. I like a good bottle of scotch, a decent TV show (Designated Survivor is a good one right now… I’ve only seen the pilot so far though.) I dislike frauds and people who make huge claims but fail to deliver.
James) Other than Trek, what other TV shows do you like to watch?
Matt) Babylon 5, Stargate are a couple of other Sci-Fi shows I like, also enjoying Dick Wolf’s Chicago series of shows and a few others on TV right now.
James) Well, you should like Stargate lol you have interviewed a few of the main cast :p how awkward would that be if you interviewed someone you had no idea who they were,
As a keen Star Trek fan, do you play any Trek Games, and If not Trek Games then what ones?
Matt) I recently discovered Steam has the entire back catalogue of Age of Empires, man that was a cracking series for its time (and they released a remastered version of number 2!) In the Trek universe, Armada II, Bridge Commander, Birth of the Federation were amongst my ‘lay by’ purchases when I was a junior… I remember waiting for hours for the install and crossing fingers hoping the graphics card was up to spec!
James) So know we know the basics of who you are and some of your likes, because I am nosey lol, what is your day job?
Matt) I work in TV here in Brisbane, they’re good to me and it’s fun to be behind the camera at work – which allows me to not be too burnt out while producing The Trekzone Spotlight (I do feel that they are different sides of the TV business so it’s good fun.)
James) Tell me a bit about your history with Star Trek what does Trek mean to you. What Trek Actors have you met in real life if any?
Matt) Thanks to The Trekzone Spotlight, I’ve met Nana Visitor, Connor Trinneer, Rene Auberjonois, Anthony Montgomery and a few others… also met a few of the guys and girls from Stargate (Richard Dean Anderson was a highlight, so awesome!)
James) I so need! To start doing Cons I think I need to get out more lol. With Trekzone do you go to many Star Trek Conventions?
Matt) One dedicated Trek con when I was 10… we had lunch with Tim Russ! Australia doesn’t get too many dedicated cons, the audience would be there for it though…
James) That is kind of like the UK We have Cons but I think the only Trek-centric one is Destination Europe, everything Trek-centric seems to be states side mostly.
So moving on out of 5 live action series, 1 animated one do you have a favourite Trek Episode and if so why this one?
Matt) That’d be a tossup between DS9 season 4’s The Visitor, TNG Season 6’s The Inner Light and VOY season 3/4’s Scorpion parts 1 & 2. I love some good character focused eps (and Scorpion because the Borg get their ass kicked!) – OK, you only said episode… but can YOU just pick one from 728!? ;).
James) Erm, I guess not for me though I have my go to episodes which I guess they can be considered “favourites”. Out of all the features do you have a favourite Star Trek Film?
Matt) First Contact.
James) Hmmm That is a good choice but, I think a lot of people pick that one, it is one of my faves but my fave film I think and it is controversial lol is Nemesis, not for the story as such as let’s face it, it does lack in a lot of areas but it is just different enough yet similar to be a good trek film. Do you have a favourite Trek Actor/Actress?
Matt) Nana Visitor… she went on such a ride with her character that was so rigid in the beginning, striving for independence for herself and her people after the Occupation, but over seven years developed deep friendships with these aliens that came straight after the Cardassian’ and started running the space station… she even fell in love with the shapeshifter.
James) Worst Trek Episode Why?
Matt) VOY’s Threshold. Need I say more?
James) The Jane Paris BABIES! Lol. Favourite Series & Why?
Matt) Tossup between DS9, for its gritty take on Trek and Enterprise for its optimistic vision of our near future (despite an out of character third season.)
James) Worst Series & Why?
Matt) TOS, purely because I grew up on TNG and those 60’s elements are so 60’s. (It’s not bad, it’s just very different… or original.)
James) You know I am the same, everything seems to be TOS saturated, yes I get it, TOS is what launched 51 years of greatness but like you TNG was my baby but it’s not my fave : -O.
You recently covered a few fan films and you have interviews people like Vic from STC, Do you watch any Fan Films do you watch?
Matt) I’ve caught Hidden Frontier (that series got me excited for my fan series, and then I met Carlos who worked on it!) Continues, New Voyages. Most recently Chance Encounter – good flick.
James) I remember seeing Hidden Frontier YEARS! Ago then I drifted away from fan films it was not until Renegades did I come back and play catch up. Can you rank your top five (if you have them)?
Matt) Chance Encounter, Hidden Frontier, Continues, Intrepid, New Voyages (I haven’t seen much of James’ series.)
James) I have seen all of them you have listed and like you, I have not watched many NV episodes yet, TBH I think once I watched a lot of STC and a few stand alone ones I was TOS’ed out, BUT! I plan to go and watch some of them over the next few weeks as I want to see the ones with some of the TOS cast in.
What other Star Trek fan productions do you watch/listen to etc (Podcasts, YouTube shows etc)
Matt) I’m so short on spare time that I don’t catch very much else.
James) TBH, I am the same with having to “try” to cover as many fan productions as possible, I tend to skim through podcasts to bits that I am keen on hearing, I try to catch Sunday G&T as often as I can, I do watch yours when you interview someone I want to see and Trek Geeks I skim but Dan and Bill do it weekly so I always know I can go to their site and catch up.
As someone who has been involved in the fan community for a lengthy period now, what would you say is favourite parts of the Trek Fandom?
Matt) Meeting strangers with a shared passion the world over.
James) Worst Parts of the Trek Fandom (any bad experiences)?
Matt) Stubborn individuals that believe their way is the only way (to tell a story, to report on facts or even about other people.)
James) Man your diplomatic LOL, do you have any funny stories to tell
Matt) Not necessarily funny, but the spread of Trek fans always surprises me… there are Trekkies in the same suburb as me!
James) What makes you thankful to be a part of this amazing universe
Matt) Finding it tough to be thankful as this universe as thrown a few curve balls at me in the last six months, but I’m in a good place now and cracking on with the podcasts and staying busy for a while.
James) Moving on, we have covered your likes and dislikes in regards to the last 5 live action series, but now I want to tackle DISCOVERY.
I guess the first basic question is, are you looking forward to it?
Matt) Very much so, I’m hoping that The Trekzone Spotlight can help me delve deeper into it.
James) When you first saw the trailer for Discovery were you worried at all?
Matt) I was concerned that they’d be repeating the same ‘mistakes’ as Enterprise (doing a prequel because there is nothing left to explore post VOY)
James) See, I liked Ent a LOT so I get what you mean but I am keen on seeing another new prequel tbh lol. What do you think about the casting choices thus far?
Matt) Very good, it’s another group of relatively unknown / niche actors which are what TNG-era Trek has been about.
James) What are your hopes for Discovery?
Matt) That it survives the first season.
James) Well we know now, that they have ordered another 2 episodes and things do look real good for Season 2.
The departure of Brian Fuller has caused a lot of miss information being floated and a lot of “vocal” fans crying that it now means this series’ days are numbered, are you concerned at all?
Matt) I think Brian should’ve focused on one project at a time. Does anyone know what J. Michael Straczynski is doing?
James) LOL I would prefer some of the old crew to replace him over J. Michael Straczynski tbh but each to their own 😛
What look do you hope they go for, we know its prime time line but do you hope it’s more prime than Kelvin or vice versa?
Matt) Has to prime timeline and character driven – we don’t need a million dollars of special effects to make good Trek.
James) I think with the latest trailer, it is going to upset a lot of people but! I am still excited. What do you hope they do not do with Discovery, as in PLEASE DO NOT GO THERE LOL?
Matt) Avoid the Arcanis sector at all costs.
James) LMFAO! You mean do not Axa it LOL!, another controversial point, that seems to have upset a few people is CBS’ decision to place it on CBS all Access in the states and Netflix worldwide Do you think this move is a good or bad idea?
Matt) It is… interesting. In one way it frees the series from the pressure of rating success, but on the other, there are more accurate viewership figures than broadcast TV’s Nielson boxes.
James) When I first heard of this choice I was not overly happy as tbh Netflix UK, not so good LOL but I think it is the way things are moving now, people in the UK at least tend to watch TV less and less and want to be able to watch things NOW!, I think this is the way things are heading tbh.
Do you think online streaming is the future of televised series and films, just as you use YouTube etc now, is TV on its way out?
Matt) That’s an interesting question, given I work in TV… I think free to air will stick around as long as it has things you can’t get elsewhere (in Australia before broadband internet our prime time was all the American shows, usually on a 6-9 month delay because our TV season is Feb-Nov, but now there is mostly reality TV or sport and news during the day because that’s not available anywhere else.)
That said, in the US it’s different because it is the world premiere of episodes each week… free to air and cable has its niche that way. It is still the most popular medium to reach the masses.
That wraps up part one, in part two I talk to Matt about what his best and worst interviews were, his history in fan productions and what made him stand up and take a stand against that fan production that just doesn’t seem to go away.
Trekzone can be found online at the following links
Hello, my name is Emma and I am a member of Starfleet and the Tactical Officer on the USS Merlin (Region 20). I have identified as Grey-Asexual for roughly a year and as a keen sci-fi fan, I was curious to look into the spectrum of asexuality in the expanded universe. Today I am happy to produce my results.
What is Asexuality?
According to Urban Dictionary, the term asexual is described as “a person who is not interested in or does not desire sexual activity, either within or outside of a relationship. asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the willful decision to not act on sexual feelings. asexuals, while not physically sexual-type folks, are none the less quite capable of loving, affectionate, romantic ties to others.” As a spectrum, asexuality is, much like space, yet to be fully explored.
Asexuality in Star Trek
During my research, I was able to find a few different scenarios featuring blatant asexuality as a theme. Throughout these story arcs, there is a recurring driving force which is that sexuality is considered to be a building block of the human psyche. Any species, alien or otherwise, that are currently not sexually active wish to embrace sexuality in order to further discover what it is to become human. The species that I will be using as examples are The Vaalians from The Original Series episode The Apple, Jn’aii or more specifically Soren from the Next Generation episode The Outcast and Data also from Next Gen.
The Vaalians are discovered by Kirk and the landing party after being attacked by the indigenous flora. The Vaalians do not procreate as it is forbidden and are replaced as needed by the Vaal, who is the driving force behind their community. According to a blog by Women at Warp, which also explores asexuality, “The episode links the Vaalians’ lack of sexuality to the other elements of their society that causes them to stagnate… When the people express concern about how they will survive [after Kirk & co destroy the Vaal who has been operating a sophisticated computer system which is damaging the Enterprise.] Kirk reassures them that they will now be able to lead ‘normal lives’… ‘You’ll learn something about men and women – the way they’re supposed to be.” On a positive note though Spock stands up for the Vaalians by saying that simply because their culture is different to the crew’s expectations does not make it invalid. The episode links the species’ naivety and lack of understanding to the biblical story of Adam and Eve, with the Enterprise away team as the Apple of Knowledge (hence the episode name) and the controlling Vaal as God. I think this is a ‘fascinating’ though relatively insulting look into an asexual society, though the time period must be taken into consideration here as any sexuality other than straight was highly frowned upon. As a result, the fact that there is even a mention of another sexual culture was a step forward.
The J’naii are introduced to us in the Next Generation episode The Outcast which lies out as follows. The Enterprise is contacted by the genderless J’naii who require assistance finding a missing shuttle which has disappeared into null space. In order to track down the shuttle, Soren, a skilled pilot and Riker are sent out as a search party. However, the craft is damaged and Soren is injured. During her treatment by Dr Crusher, Soren is interested in learning more about the female identity as it turns out that Soren is interested in Riker and wants to pursue a romantic relationship with him. This presents a massive problem as the J’aii forbid any expression of gender or sexuality in any form as they believe that it is primitive and is thus a perversion. “Those… who view themselves as possessing gender are ridiculed, outcast and forced to undergo ‘psychotic therapy’” which is designed to forcefully re-educate the individual in order to bring them back into line. The point of the episode was to highlight LGBT rights and homophobia in line with Gene Roddenberry’s legacy who wished to include more LGBT characters in the show. Which in addition to The Apple shows that despite arguments that Star Trek is only science fiction and therefore not necessarily accessible, it is one of the only shows willing to express the many variations of the human psyche.
In the last of today’s explorations, Data is arguably the most mainstream asexual character in modern culture. As an Android, “Data is not human, though he desperately wants to be.” In order to become more human, he engages in sexual intercourse with Tasha Yar which is a continuation of my larger point. In a blog post from 2009, the author, Elizabeth, herself an asexual, theorises that in the Star Trek universe, “sexuality… is contingent on having emotions… This implies that sexual attraction is itself an emotion… it could be that the emotion Data as experiencing was purely his desire to be human, channelled through a sexual circuit.” Data is in many ways a very good example of an asexual and the wider reactions to this, in that many asexuals face harassment stating that lacking sexuality is in a way inhuman, much like Kirk and McCoy’s reaction to the Vaalian’s lack of sexual activity or leanings.
Summing up, it is clear to me that within the Star Trek mythology, asexuality is treated as a somewhat alien trait, lacking emotion and deeper knowledge which is a cornerstone of humanity. However, I am not attacking the franchise, in fact, I celebrate that Gene Roddenberry was forward-thinking and daring enough to encourage other cultures, ideologies, gender and sexual identities when it is still relatively frowned upon in society. This legacy has continued in the Star Trek pathos, introducing Sulu played by John Cho as gay in the new film ‘Star Trek Beyond’. I hope to see this legacy grow in future series and films and potentially include another asexual character.
For a generation of nerds (and I use that term affectionately, for they are my people) growing up in the late 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Star Trek was essential viewing. Every week, Gene Roddenberry’s most famous creation brought us a vision of a hopeful future: a progressive, highly-evolved environment, where mankind has grown up and defeated racism, broken through social barriers, and explored the universe in the name of peace. The show has always been about social issues and bold statements, disguised as space western. While the important issues were lost on many of us young viewers, the cool gadgetry was not. Everyone in my neighbourhood held toy pistols backwards, pretending it was a classic Starfleet phaser. And who didn’t dream about using a Transporter to get somewhere in an instant? It’s easy to see that modern examples of technology can trace their lineage back to Star Trek. One glance around the world of science and technology, and it’s easy to spot Star Trek’s unquestionable influence. Here are ten modern technological marvels that we sometimes take for granted, but were predicted decades ago in Star Trek.
When Steve Jobs took to the stage in 2007 and unveiled the iPad, he cemented Apple’s grip on technology must-have items. There was a certain “cool factor” in using the iPad, which, like the iPhone that preceded it, had a slick interface, groovy apps, and flexibility as a work tool, toy, and multimedia device. It was for many the neatest new items. The thing is, it wasn’t a new concept, with early examples in the original series (TOS in fan-speak), and especially later in The Next Generation, bearing a strong resemblance 20 years prior to Apple’s entry.
How do you travel across the cosmos and understand races from other worlds? Star Trek solved the problem by speaking to alien races across the universe by the Universal Translator trope. Everyone carries a device capable of understanding an alien’s speech and translating it for humans in real-time (I’m still curious as to why their lips don’t move out of sync like on Kung Fu Theater, but I digress). The technology seemed light-years ahead in 1966 but is now a reality. Both Google and Waverly Labs are working hard to disrupt the market first with real-time translation devices (Templeton, 2016), capable of allowing the wearer to communicate with native speakers in French and other languages. No word on how long we’ll have to wait until travellers can speak to a Klingon.
This one might be a small stretch, but it is worth mentioning. We may be a few years away from ordering earl grey tea, hot, but the ability to build small items with 3D printing technology is becoming more common, and cheaper than ever. For a little as $267, budding entrepreneurs and generally bored artists can fabricate small items, normally out of high-impact polystyrene or other thermoplastic media (Hoffman, 2017).
In the future, according to Star Trek, humans who were sick or injured were just a few minutes away from the best in high-tech treatment. Starfleet physicians like Dr McCoy and Dr Crusher would quickly scan a patient and receive a diagnosis as well as an X-ray scan with a medical tricorder. We may not have to wait for the 23Rd Century for a similar device, thanks to Scanadu’s Scout health sensor. While it is not nearly as advanced as something you might see on Star Trek, it does claim provide accurate data on heart rate, core body temperature, blood pressure, and respiratory rate in a painless, efficient manner (Williams, 2015).
Natural Language Processing
One optimistic feature seen since the inception of Star Trek has been the ability to speak to a computer and retrieve information. While efforts to achieve this have been underway since the early days of computer science, the greatest leap has occurred in the last few years. Advances in language processing algorithms have made it easier for computers to grasp the very difficult lexical variations of how humans express themselves. Amazon Echo and Google’s Pixel are two competing examples of NLP research tools that employ keywords for activation (Bhartiya, 2017). Instead of saying “Computer, dim the lights”, users say “Echo, dim the lights”.
A trope virtually invented by Star Trek is the ship-scans-the-planet trope, in which our intrepid crew scans for life signs, planetary conditions, or other details move the story along. The technology is no longer the stuff of science fiction, however. Since the late 1980’s researchers have planned to use earth-based scanners to observe the NIR spectra of light reflected from asteroids to determine their composition, surface mineralogy, and lithology, and claim that the technology can be used to make the same observations of other planetary bodies (Burns, 1989).
As difficult as it is to imagine now, video conferencing has not been ubiquitous for long. Video conferencing has been around since at least 1982 (“Video Conferencing Timeline,” 2015) when Compression Labs commanded $1,000 per hour for the service. The technology, while extremely pricey, was not a new idea, appearing on Star Trek from day one.
Between early TOS episodes, it was not unusual to see a rogue robotic entity come along and steal data from computers, change settings, or sabotage systems through a wireless connection. While it must have seemed like sorcery in 1966, and an easy plot device, this could be construed as an early depiction of Bluetooth technology, decades before it became standard fare with wireless headphone enthusiasts. In fact, Uhura’s earpiece is another prime example of wireless audio, rendered via Bluetooth-style technology.
According to Star Trek’s optimistic future, painful needles will be a thing of the past. If a character needed to be inoculated after a brush with an alien disease, a quick shot of Bones’ hypospray would do the trick. No longer the stuff of science fiction, hypospray technology, or painless injection without breaking the skin, has actually been available since 2012 (Humphries, 2012).
Augmented Vision Glasses
We take our vision for granted. Patients who are legally blind struggle with the most basic tasks. In the future, perhaps that will no longer be the case. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi La Forge, a blind character, saved the day many times, partly due to his extraordinary vision thanks to his hi-tech visor. His character showed that even people who were disabled in some way can be an integral part of the crew, thanks to innovative tools. The concept has inspired developers who have introduced eSight, a visor that corrects genetically malformed retinas in patients with no central vision (“Device helps Pennsylvania girl see for the first time,” 2015). The tool is helping people who have been blind since birth to see for the first time. Similarly, Oxford Scientists created Smart Specs, a visor that captures real-time imagery and heightens the contrast, assisting legally blind users in everyday life (Matchar, 2015). Plus, they just look insanely cool.
For many, the show impacted the career choices of many an astronaut, pilot, or scientist. I myself have been fortunate enough to study engineering and computer science, inspired in no small part by Trek. The show has impacted our culture in profound ways, perhaps more so than any science fiction franchise. For most of us die-hard fans, the optimism of the series lives on. Perhaps in some small way, our modern hi-tech tools can help usher in an era of peace depicted in classic Trek, and take us where no gadgets have gone before.
This weekend my husband and I watched the film Arrival, it was right up our alley as Star Trek fans.
Communication was the focus of this film, the difficulties that we would face meeting aliens without being able to even talk to each other. Deanna Troi brings up this difficulty in The Next Generation:
Deanna: Actually, the fact that any alien race communicates with another is quite remarkable…We are stranded on a planet, we have no language in common, but I want to teach you mine. The disparity, what did I just say?
Deanna: Are you sure? I may have meant liquid, clear, brown, hot. We conceptualise the universe in quite the same way.
Picard: Point taken
Deanna: In your talks, you must be extremely accurate
This idea of how we conceptualise the universe is one of the most significant aspects of how Dr Louis Banks is able to communicate with the aliens in Arrival. The reason Dr Banks has such a hard time communicating with the aliens is that they perceive time differently. Sisko in Deep Space 9 tries to explain time to an alien in the first episode of the series:
Sisko: It can be argued that a human is ultimately the sum of his experiences.
Alien: Experiences? What is this?
Sisko: Memories. Events from my past, like this one.
Alien: The Past?
Sisko: Things that happened before now…You have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.
Alien: What comes before now is no different than what is now, or what is to come. It is one’s existence.
Sisko: Then, for you, there is no linear time.
Alien: Linear time. What is this?
Sisko: My species lives at one point in time. And once we move beyond that point, it becomes the past. The future, all that is still to come, does not exist yet for us.
Alien: Does not exist yet?
Sisko: That is the nature of linear existence. And if you examine it more closely, you will see that you do not need to fear me. In a linear existence, we can’t go back to the past to get something we left behind, so it’s lost.
Alien: It is inconceivable that any species could exist in such a manner. You are deceiving us.
Sisko: No, this is the truth. This day, this park, it was almost fifteen years ago. Far in the past, It was a day that was very important to me, a day that shaped every day that followed. That is the essence of a linear existence. Each day affects the next.
Star Trek dealt with this issue of linear time differently than Arrival. In Star Trek, the alien is taught to understand linear time in order to deal with humans. In Arrival, the heptapods teach Dr Banks non-linear time in order for humans to be able to deal with them.
Both ways the idea of non-linear time is so foreign to us and difficult to represent therefore it makes sense that Star Trek had to opt out for a more simple depiction, however, Arrival takes advantage of their budget to depict non-linear time in an amazing way. Both these stories are hiding their point in plain sight. The issue of language between cultures even between humans there can be a difference in the conceptualization of the universe caused by culture making communication very difficult. Again, we see the way Star Trek brings cultural issues to our attention in a roundabout way.
A step by step guide in pictures is in the gallery below
Directions: the printer-Print
-Print out blueprints and cut them out them out
-Ok, we are just going to stop here for a bit. I got extremely lucky and on my first print, they were a perfect size. Not everyone is going to be this lucky, I suggest one of two things:
A) Print out a size you feel might be close, follow the instructions but just for one gauntlet instead of two and then use this to resize (if need) the next set of blueprints.
B) Short on foam and don’t want to make one you likely won’t use? Well just print two side pieces and make the first gauntlet out of paper, foam is stretchy so you want the wrist hole small enough your fist barely fits. Because my gauntlets have a little stretch, I can get my hand in.
if the material had no give in it then my gauntlets would be too small!
-That last point covers “how these things should fit,” they’re big, to begin with so why make them bigger than needed.
-Got your blueprints, they’ve been cut out.
Lay them down on the foam and pin them down, to keep them from shifting. Use your marker and trace the blueprints out twice, then flip the side piece and trace it two more times. I strongly recommend labelling them, the top of the side-panel blueprint is the right side. In my photos, I labelled right as 2, left as 1 and centre as
C. -Cut out the foam pieces on the inside of the line. Now heat form them, use my finished photo for referenced of pre-shaping, this will help (a lot) when glueing them to be close to their final shape.
-Consult your contact cement instructions, and follow the printer and two different images, the fit probably isn’t going to be perfect I and two different images, the fit probably isn’t going to be perfect I believe this was the cause of a lot of my problems. If you’ve never worked with contact cement, you might want practice glueing a couple of the left-over scraps together to get a feel for it.
Press the seams together carefully and start from the bottom working your way up. When you get to the wrist part you may have difficulties, try moving to the top and working back down, I found that helped me. You might have to hold the seams together briefly ensure a proper hold. If your lines aren’t perfect, well practice makes perfect! If you look closely at mine they aren’t either, I’m opting to make new ones in the future rather than fix these. You can fill any gap with plaster or wood fill, I haven’t found something I like using yet, so I don’t have any recommendations. Qapla’!!
You now have gauntlets, go forth my fellow warrior and never again fear for your wrists or forearms; for they will forever be wrapped in foam!
Notes: I would recommend you look up videos on making foam costumes just to get a feel for this, I like Evil Ted, his first few videos are very insightful. I never made it to the tubing part knowing I’ll be replacing these. I plan on finding a very flexy tube or glue thinner foam around a small rope to make the tubing. That’ll come down to what you find.
The title paraphrases a quote from William Shakespeare: “The devil shall have his bargain; for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs – he will give the devil his due.” (Prince Hal in “Henry IV, Part 1” – Act 1, Scene 2)–Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Era
Before there was “The Next Generation” (TNG) there was a lost series called “Star Trek Phase II” where Kirk and his crew would venture out on their second 5-year mission. This concept would eventually become what we know has Star Trek: The Motion Picture. TNG’s Devil’s Due was based on a story pitch for Star Trek Phase II, the premise of “Captain goes up against a supernatural being” is the gist of both plots and there is even a trail to prove the legitimacy of a contract between the being and a planet. However, a lot was changed from Phase2 until it became a TNG episode.
“Here’s a classic story straight fromThe Twilight Zone, dressed up in science-fiction garb to give Captain Kirk a chance to go head to head with the Devil–Or inStar Trekterms, a malevolent energy being. Like “The Child,” this script was rewritten to become an episode ofThe Next Generation, keeping the same title, with Picard taking a self-proclaimed devil to trail over the fate of a planet, and Data assuming the role played here by theEnterprise’s computer.” –Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Era
In the TNG Picard finds himself going up a con-artist who is trying to pull one over a planet. Kirk finds himself going against an energy base life form, Komether, which has a solid legal claim to the planet. The interesting update between stories is Data being named the Judge over the case instead of the Ship’s Computer, it allowed for more dynamics. In Kirk’s story, he basically outwits then kills Komether for daring hold up this deal, it is even well documented what the being did for the planet. I liked how TNG played It out, it wouldn’t be Picard’s style to interfere if it was truly a legit contract and they did a decent job of keeping Picard motivated to discover the deception. One thing I don’t understand in the TNG episode was Ardra trying to keep the Enterprise and all the personal if she had just let them take their people and leave she may have pulled off whatever heist she was planning. Her story could have used some fleshing out and maybe see her get drunk off power as people worship her then she oversteps her means by demanding Enterprise.
I think the TNG story was better thought out than the Phase 2 version, and I’m glad they made the changes they did when retooling it for TNG.
Spanning almost a decade Starship Intrepid (formally Star Trek: Intrepid) has produced Nine! episodes varying in length and scope, this fan series has been made possible by not only the dedication of all involved but the passion of one man Nick Cook.
Nick originally from London, UK moved to Dundee Scotland where after graduating from university he became a Nurse for the NHS (National Health Service) and is a husband and a father.
In 2007, Starship Intrepid’ first production “Heavy Lies the Crown” debuted.
Watch “Heavy Lies the Crown” below…
Since then Intrepid has featured in many news outlets in such as the UK breakfast show GMTV, CNN, ZDF and Channel 4 News. It has featured in three tabloids, The Guardian, The Scotsman, and The Daily Record.
GMTV Presenter and what some call Day Time TV royalty Lorraine Kelly even had a brief appearance in “Heavy Lies the Crown.”
One person, I wanted to speak to when I founded Trekfanproductions was Nick; over the last twelve months, I have come to admire his outlook on things, where most people have been very negative about the current state of fan productions as a whole. Nick has been a constant beacon of reason and level-headedness and to be honest he is someone a lot should look up to in the way they see things.
I reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in participating in an interview and I am honoured and humbled by his acceptance.
James) Hi Nick, Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to sit and discuss Intrepid with me.
Nick) Hey no worries I am honoured to be asked.
James) So Nick, Tell me more about you, as someone who has been in the thick of a fan production for almost a decade now, what! Does Star Trek mean to you?
Nick) I thought about that quite a lot recently, what with this being the fiftieth anniversary.
There are so many aspects to Star Trek; good storytelling, compelling characters, a rich universe of stories, social commentary, I could go on. Star Trek has been with me for a long time, I grew up with it, and it is almost part of my DNA.
I met so many of my close friends because of Star Trek. I met my wife because of Star Trek, and by extension had my daughter because of Star Trek. In addition, it has taken me places I never thought I would go. I doubt I would have been to California so often, or to Vegas. Yeah, it is just a TV show, but so much of the things that have made my life what it is are in some way linked to that TV show. Besides, I think that is pretty amazing.
James) I have to admit I feel the same I have been thinking just this past few months after everything with not only that lawsuit but with how Beyond was handled.
I guess in a way I am pretty meh about how the 50th has been handled, I love Star Trek but the 50th has sailed past with a whimper it kind of fails if you hold it up to Dr Who but hey ho.
To me and like you Trek is a part of who I am not only in the way I think day-to-day but also I guess in a way I try to lead my life, Acceptance of all things.
Trek REALLY does mean so much to me as if I am sure it does to others.
Nick with FIVE! Live action series and what now 13 movies and even an animated series do you have a favourite episode.
Nick) I have a few, but my all time favourite is probably Who Watches the Watchers. I will not bore you with why, but if you are interested, I wrote an article for Warped Factor on just that topic earlier this year.
James) I love that episode, I think it is one of the highlights of TNG It speaks very much to what in some way we struggle within our daily lives, acceptance that we are all equal no matter how advanced or different in the way we appear.
With this episode being your favourite what hits the other end of the scale as the one “you cannot stand”?
Nick) I know it has its fans, but I cannot stand Spock’s Brain or much of the third season of the Original Series. TNG’s Code of Honour is dreadful, but then so is most of that show’s first season.
Code of Honour probably wins the “Worst Ever” title just for being so racist in its execution. It has always been interesting to me that the Original Series did such a fantastic job with the writing and characterisation in its first season when Next Generation did such a terrible job of it.
James) You know I dislike “Code of Honour”, but I admit I have never seen it in the way you describe, after reading the way you see this episode I am now going to have to re-watch it, even if I cannot stand season one TNG.
As to “Spock’s Brain,” I have yet! To meet anyone who likes that episode lol! In fact, I find 90% of season three of TOS unbearable to watch it seems rather bad in its writing tbh almost a rush job just to push out another season.
So what about Series, now I find this question tends to go one of two ways, people like them all or there is one series that is an I HATE it! where do you stand here?
Nick) I would have to say Next Generation is my favourite series.
I was a fan of the Original Series from the first time I saw it, but TNG took a while to win me over. It was not helped by the terrible standard of writing in the first season, but Michael Piller really kicked the show into high gear in the third season. So many of my all-time favourite Star Trek episodes are from TNG’s third season, so for that reason alone, I’d have to give the nod to Next Gen. Although Deep Space 9 and TOS are pretty close.
Honestly, I do not have one. I like them all. It is like trying to pick your least favourite child. I just cannot do it.
James) I am the same I love all the series, even Voyager! (YES Bill from Trek geeks lol I LOVE VOYAGER! LOL), Season One of TNG, and Season Three of TOS, erm not so much.
Apart from Star Trek, what other TV series you watch and enjoy?
Nick) I don’t get to watch as much TV as I used to, but I always make time for Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. I am quite enjoying Westworld just now, and of course, I like Game of Thrones. I am looking forward to the final series of Ripper Street when it hits the BBC.
I love the Ron Moore Battlestar Galactica. Warehouse 13 was a lot of fun. The Original Twilight Zone still holds up very well. 30 Rock and Nurse Jackie are great, though I am way behind on both of them. I do watch The Walking Dead but lost interest a bit in season six. I could go on, but I should probably stop.
James) Like live series, there have been some amazing Star Trek games brought to the market, do you or have you played many?
James) OK, the last question in this part of the interview, What Trek Actors have you met in real life.
Nick) I have met quite a few Trek actors over the years. I do not like to rate people, because good or bad you do not know what their frame of mind is on a particular day and you only really get a snapshot.
I really enjoyed meeting Marina Sirtis, she is very dry and sarcastic (sometimes a little too much) but so am I. Frakes was nice. Garrett Wang was very personable. I really enjoyed chatting to Don Marshall, who played Boma in The Galileo Seven. George Takei was pretty nice when I met him about twenty years ago as well. Scott Bakula was really personable and down to Earth.
James) OK JEALOUS much lol! Marina Sirtis is on my list of MUST meet people.
Moving on tell me about Intrepid! It is ten years old next year but let us rewind and go back to the beginning, what gave you the idea for it?
Nick) I used to run the local Star Trek club, and for a number of reasons I had decided to wind it down. A few of us chatted a bit about doing an audio novel, but then Dylan Feeney, who wrote our theme, suggested doing a fan film. Steve Hammond later chipped in to say he had a camcorder and the rest is history.
Suffice to say, it turned out to be a hell of a lot more work than any of us thought it would be.
James) But worth it! Otherwise, it would not be ten years old next year.
James) Being one of the longest running fan productions, how do you feel if at all, that Intrepid is different to some of the others out there?
Nick) Perhaps the people who take the time to watch our films are better qualified to answer that question.
For my part, I am not really sure that we are. Most of us who make fan films do so because we want to play in the Star Trek sandbox, and while there are certainly differences in the way the various productions work, and the relative quality of that work, in the end, we are all pretty much-doing variations upon a theme. So I would have to say, apart from being the only Scottish production, I do not really think there is much difference.
Maybe others feel differently.
James) See I feel a tad bias not only because of the fact I am from the UK but I do feel it is you that makes it different, and that is because you tend not to come across as a jerk.
One thing I find about you’re humble and not full of yourself and I find that appealing when watching a film or TV series, many times you watch something and you respect the actor and then you see the person behind the character and it is an instant turn off lol but that is my opinion.
Anyway, lol. What about the scripts, who writes them is this something you do or?
Nick) I have written the bulk of them though Brian S. Mathews wrote our third film, The Stone Unturned, and Steve Hammond has written the script for our next film, Destruct Sequence. David Eversole, who contributed many of Potemkin’s scripts, has also written one for us.
James) Cool, so it is very much a group effort then, how long is the turn around on them?
Nick) There is no set time it takes me to write a script. I have had some that I have churned out in a couple of weeks, to others that I have worked on for months.
It really depends on the idea, and how quickly it comes together in my mind, and on (virtual) paper. It is not unusual for me to be doing rewrites while we are filming, though that is usually a case of troubleshooting. We had to really cut back dialogue on one shoot because we lost time to bad weather and I was literally trimming dialogue between takes (which was not easy on the actors).
James) Ahhh good old UK Weather, Being based in Scotland, How far does the rest of the cast live in comparison to where you tend to shoot?
Nick) Most of them are within about twenty miles, though a few are further afield (Glasgow, about eighty miles) some are from England, one is from Germany and another currently lives in Switzerland.
Most of us work full-time and a number of us have families. Scheduling time so we can get together and shoot can be quite a challenge, and we have occasionally had to cut or replace characters in scenes because we have not been able to schedule a particular actor.
James) Ah, So it is not just scripts that come from afar lol your cast do also, That is so cool, if not a logistical nightmare lol.
What about makeup and wardrobe, who runs this area, a lot of other fan productions I have spoken to either have a makeup artist as a part of the crew or they all chip in, Where is Intrepid with this?
Nick) A number of people have contributed to that over the years. My wife Lucy, who plays Card, David, who plays S’Ceris, Laura who is an actor with the Abbey Theatre and has helped out on a quite a few shoots, and Roísín, who was an actor in a short we shot earlier this year.
The wardrobe is pretty much down to me, I have made at least twenty Starfleet uniforms for Intrepid. Over the years I have also bought some screen-used costumes and more recently some bits and pieces from Anovos. Alec Peters, who most people likely know from Axanar, was also kind enough to donate some distressed costumes from the old Star Trek Experience.
James) WOW! OK even if I dislike him that is VERY! Generous not to mention extremely kind of him to do that for you. Nice one.
What about the Cameraman, Director, and sound person, do you have someone who does this for you?
Nick) Steve Hammond has, for the most part, pulled double duty as director and camera operator. A local actor called J. Scott Murray was our camera operator for another short we shot last year.
James) Out of the episodes you have shot, what one is your favourite?
Nick) Probably Transitions and Lamentations because of the crazy exterior shoot.
Terrible weather, getting soaked in a cave, and a big group of us camped out in the middle of nowhere. It was horrible, but it was also great fun and an amazing bonding experience.
James) Although I HATE camping, that does honestly sound like fun!
James) Having just told me about the cave location, what other places have you been to shot on location?
Nick) We have shot in a number of places. Most of the interiors were shot against either green screen or limited set pieces in our home, though we’ve gone on location to Glen Doll, a forest just outside Dunkeld, an abandoned train tunnel, a crumbling limekiln on the coast near Lunan Bay, and technically Los Angeles. Oh, and we recently shot a short in San Francisco, which was a lot of fun.
James) Sweet! In all the places, you have shot what would be your best and worst places you have been?
Nick) Two best places would be Glen Doll, which is a particularly beautiful and remote location about an hour from Dundee. We shot all the exteriors for our first two films there, and have been back on occasion for others. I also love visiting Los Angeles and working with the Hidden Frontier crew. San Francisco was great too.
In addition, Worst place. Any exterior shoot because it probably rained. A lot.
James) How many Episodes have you done in total.
Nick) Nine, though only three of those have been thirty minutes or longer.
James) I recently after reading about Intrepid realised you did a few guest spots and crossovers, who would you say was your favourite guest star?
Nick) I am not sure we really have guest stars, but Hidden Frontier’s Risha Denney is always fun to work with.
James) Yeah, you did do not forget Lorraine Kelly LOL!, talking of crossovers, what production if you could choose one would you like to cross over with?
Nick) There are so many. I would love to do something with Hidden Frontier again. I would have liked to do something with New Voyages (James Cawley and I did discuss having him appear on Intrepid as Kirk once, though I doubt it would have been practical).
I would also like to work with Farragut. I have recently chatted to a couple of others about maybe doing something, but it has not really gone much beyond that.
James) Interesting! I look forward to a scope on this if it ever pans out :p, going back to the more production side of Intrepid. Running a fan production for as long as you have even if it has been on/off had it been costly?
Nick) Yes though I have never kept a running total on it. Thousands certainly, and it keeps sucking up money, but then whose hobby doesn’t?
James) A hobby is something that does suck up money but in the end, it is for enjoyment so Intrepid must be a hobby you enjoy! With it costing as much as you said, how are you funded?
Nick) Mostly we just go out and buy what we need. We were lucky as far as costumes were concerned because, in the beginning, I had already made costumes for most of the cast, so other than time and materials, which was a minimal expense.
Everyone involved with Intrepid has contributed, be it for materials for props, set pieces, fabric, petrol(gas) expenses, food, accommodation, the list goes on.
James) But worth it, Have you ever crowdfunded or plan to do so in the future?
Nick) We are tentatively planning to crowdfund sometime next year, so watch this space.
James) I will do, Let me know when you plan it and I will run a blog or two to help promote it for you, So if you are planning to fundraise where is intrepid now then, do you have any “In the Can” episodes left to put out?.
Nick) We have three shorts that are edited and awaiting sound work, effects and scoring. There is another film that is about 20 minutes long that is mostly shot and edited but awaiting one final scene and a lot of effects work.
I am hopeful we might get one of those shorts out the door in the next couple of months.
James) Excellent!, Speaking of editing After they are edited, do you watch your own complete episodes after?
Nick) Steve Hammond edited our first film, and did the all the chroma keying and some of the effects work. I think he still likes to watch it for nostalgia every now and then.
I have edited more than half of our films, so I have usually seen them to death by the time they’re released, although I tend to watch at least once after that just so I can pick apart all the faults. You would be amazed how much time you spend second-guessing pretty much everything you do.
James) Actually I understand this completely, in the short time I have had this site live I have spent more time redesigning stuff and redoing stuff than I really should have, so I get that train of thought and how painful it can be sometimes lol.
James) So those are in the can episodes, what about new stuff, can we expect a new Intrepid film soon? And what are your plans to fund these?
Nick) We are shooting Destruct Sequence, which I mentioned earlier, in January. That will probably be about fifteen minutes long. I also have two scripts that will probably be in the thirty-minute range (expect these to be split into two parts) called Echoes (written by me) and Down This Road Before (written by David Eversole).
In addition, we are seriously considering crowdfunding and any funds raised will go to producing these films.
James) That is awesome!, I see you say 5 minutes long I am going to take this as compliance of the new guidelines. With them being a cause of disagreement has this influenced Intrepid much or is it business as usual just with some minor tweaks here and there.
Nick) It has moved the goalposts a little certainly. David Eversole’s script was written prior to the guidelines dropping, so I have been re-working it to fit within the limits.
The only real road bump for us is running time since David’s script was written as a 45-50 minute story. That said, most of our films have fitted within the thirty-minute range, so we are pretty comfortable working to that running time.
James) It does sound like you have the matter in hand when they dropped did they mean you had to scrap a lot of planned stuff?
Nick) Not at all. Yes, we have had to work to shorten one script, but that was entirely our choice, and I was perfectly happy to do it. We have had to change our approach a little, but change is not always a bad thing.
James) I have to ask, what are your feelings on them, as I know to start with everyone was WTF boycotts doom,
I just want to say here, you have been a constant breath of fresh air in not screaming doom and seeing them as an opportunity to push past them and carry on. You are one of a few who has publicly stated your respect for CBS Paramount do you think this is what everyone should feel or do you feel the anger is reasonable but maybe gone that little bit too far.
Nick) I have no problem with the guidelines whatsoever. Like many, I was worried we might have to shut down, but I found the studio to be understanding of our concerns, and happy to address them. We have always been appreciative of the opportunity to play in the Star Trek sandbox, and we have always understood that we are guests.
The way the studio has handled our concerns has done nothing to change that opinion, and I’m confident we’ll be able to continue to make these films as long as we want.
Do I think the anger towards the studio is reasonable? For me, no. I do understand why people are angry; I just do not share that anger. Ultimately, I have no desire to invalidate anyone else’s feelings or tell them how to react, but I do think in time many people will come to realise just how reasonable the studio is being.
James) Thank you, Nick, for your candour, So moving on to the last question of this segment of the interview,
Do you have any regrets in doing Intrepid?
Nick) My only regret is trying to do a story arc. If I could start over, I would never have done that.
Part of me wants to say I regret being too ambitious, but I do not really. I just regret not having the time or resources to realise those ambitions.
James) I find having regrets can be either good or bad, but you should never have them as they teach us important lessons in life.
Nick, I want to move on to the next segment and in this part, I would like to touch on your fan experiences, what other fan productions you enjoy and any advice you would like to impart on others.
So, you were lucky enough to go to DSE50, As someone who so wanted to go but couldn’t, what was it like?
Nick) Bit of a cattle market to be honest, but I enjoyed myself. I have to meet up with some friends and connect with some people I had not physically met yet, and hang around in costume, so I got what I wanted out of it. In addition, I had never been to Birmingham, so it was nice to visit, if only briefly.
James) Going to conventions, producing fan films and knowing a lot of the other fan film producers quite well I would say you have had a certain unique experience with the Star Trek Fandom, What would you say is your favourite part of it you have experienced thus far?
Nick) Honestly, the acceptance and common ground you find with so many fans. It really feels like home, and for the most part, I have found the fan film community to be one of the best examples of that.
James) And what about the not so nice parts as like many in your position you must have had a fair share of not so nice experiences.
Nick) People who really believe having a fictional rank in a fictional fleet, or some other perceived status, gives them the right to boss other people around. I have met a few fans like that over the years, I am sad to say, and it never sits well.
James) Being within the fan production world, do you listen to or watch any others?
Nick) There are just far too many to keep up with these days, but over the years I have enjoyed Exeter, Hidden Frontier, Farragut, Secret Voyage, Aurora, Continues, Phase II, Osiris, Dark Armada, the list goes on.
James) Do you have any you particularly like or dislike, I am not asking you to slate any as that would be wrong but in your opinion how would you compare them IF! At all?
Nick) While I have favourites, I think there is something to learnt and enjoyed about all these productions.
I might not watch them all, I might not even like them all, but I do not think it is fair for me to compare them. They all come from different places, from people with different skill levels, talents, resources, and ideas, so I prefer not to play favourites.
James) And that is very fair, I like you have ones I just cannot watch for whatever reason but I am never vocal about it as it is not fair for me to do so.
Well we are almost at the end only a few more to go, with your experience what advice would you give to someone wanting to make their own series, what should the aim for?
Nick) Start small. Do not try to do complex story arcs with casts of thousands.
Make a short film say five minutes. Read about filmmaking, and writing, and editing. However, most importantly, just go do it and learn from your mistakes.
James) Lastly Nick, What would you like to say to the fans of Intrepid?
Nick) Thank you for taking the time to watch, and for telling us when you liked or even did not like something. In addition, thank you for sticking with us all these years. We have always known we are not one of the “big guys” but we have fun doing what we do and we hope that comes through in our films even if they are not as polished as we would like.
James) Nick, Thank you so! Much of your time, it has been a pleasure and I am so grateful to you for giving me this opportunity.
Nick) It has been My pleasure.
There we have it guys, keep an eye out on Starship Intrepid Facebook page for regular updates about their upcoming releases and I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did talking to one of the finest people I have had the chance to talk to.
We will, of course, bring you updates alongside anything Nick and co-post on their page on our Facebook page and within the Star Trek Fan Productions Group.
This week’s blog is about getting to know the DP and Editor of the upcoming fan production, Melbourne.
Matt Esteron is Founder and creative director, of Mozaic Studios created in 2013. Since then, he and his team have produced a multitude of media from local television commercials to varying films, documentaries, and online content. Mozaic has also assisted in productions ranging from web series’, to corporate videos, PSA’s and more.
Find more information about Mozaic at the following links.
“Matt Esteron joined the crew a bit later than some, but what he lacked in time, he more than made up with ingenuity. He has an enthusiasm for the camera and a way to see things most people don’t. His work with Jeremy behind the camera are second to none”
Vance Major, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hey Matt, thank you so much for taking the time to sit and talk with me about your role in Melbourne.
Matt) Hey James! Thanks for the opportunity to interview! Me as part of the Melbourne Files
It is somewhat rare to find interviews of DP’s and editors ha-ha! I find that most of the people that are interviewed are actors and directors, sometimes writers.
James) Well the whole Idea of the Melbourne files is to show that it is not just the people in front of the camera that play an important role in making the fan productions we see.
It is a group effort from the actors to people like you behind the scenes who work just as hard bringing up the final film.
So, Matt, I would like to start as I always do and ask about you and who you are, can you tell me a bit about yourselves what you do in life?
Matt) Ummm… I would say I am a huge sci-fi nerd! Does not matter the media (shows, movies, games), I like them all! I am somewhat a workaholic, but most of my friends are in some way related to film, so I guess that works out haha! Speaking of, I love cinematography, directing and editing, more specifically, colouring.
If someone were to tell me to choose any job out of that four…it is a tie between directing and being a colourist.
James) What is your history in filmmaking?
Matt) I started watching YouTube videos in junior high and found this channel called Freddiew, and since then I wanted to be a filmmaker.
I started making stop motion videos with my cousin, inspired by the video “Tony Vs, Paul.” I later enrolled in my high school’s video program and won two student news awards at NATAS. The class was heavy on making news stories, which was fun, but that did not stop me from wanting to make narratives. I enrolled at Olympic College and started making short films there, along with a few commercials for my local TV network.
James) Before we move onto Melbourne and more about you can you tell me more about, mozaic-studios.com
Matt) Sure thing, ha-ha!
MozaicStudios started out as a small “Production Company” around where I live. It was not anything big. My cousin and I made a few local commercials after I graduated high school, then we kept going from there. He eventually pursued other career alts. While I continued making video content. Eventually, as I pursued more narrative videos like short films, I wanted to make MozaicStudios less of a “Production Company” and more of a reflection of who I am, what I can do, etc.
It should be more of a blog or a real spot, maybe I can get rid of the “studios” part and just have Mozaic ha-ha
However, for now, that is what MozaicStudios is: a mosaic of departments coming together to make a motion picture.
James) I see you have three awards can you tell me about each of them and what you have been awarded them for.
Matt) So the Runner up for best film was for my first competition submission. The competition theme was Hollywood remake, and I remade a movie that no one there has ever heard of before ha-ha!
It was a lot of first for me, so getting any recognition was cool. The Best Editing award was from another competition, a film festival. At this point, it would have been maybe my 3rd time trying out a film festival, this time directing and partially editing one.
The NATAS awards, probably the biggest awards, were huge!
Just getting out of high school, I submitted a few of my news stories to NATAS through my class and I was awarded for two stories of mine. It was a huge confidence booster to be able to have your content is shown on screen in front of another high school, college, and professional video/news companies!
They sort of stand to be career highlights projects as well.
James) Are those the only three or have you won more?
Matt) Those are three that I have won that have also been “my” projects. I have been a part of a LOT of other projects, some winning awards and other just for online content, but similar to Melbourne, I was not the leader of the project.
A great friend of mine, brilliant filmmaker, Micah Fusco, made a Victorian era web series called Thornbrook. His first two episodes won a Webbie award! I helped in lighting and post work. Melbourne, for example, is one I am going to be personally proud of for a multitude of reasons!
Thank you for answering these it was something I stumbled across that I thought I want more info on
Matt) No problem!! I always love answering questions.
If you need extra content, I have got a short of mine coming up soon called Drone. Jeremy was the sound guy for half of it.
James) Sweeet tell me more about this.
What is it about?
It takes place in a retro sci-fi world. Ridley, the “first” sentient robot, is accidentally stranded in a desert and he has to escape while looking for his memory drive.
It is a short film I am making and leading, starting all the way to last year. However, through budget restraints and scheduling, and especially weather issues and locations, it has taken a long while to get it done. Nevertheless, as of now, 95% is shot and being edited and I could not be more excited for it and another project that had many ‘firsts’ for me.
James) Is it going to be an ongoing series or just a short?
Matt) Just a short.
I would not mind a series or a feature spin-off/remake/whatever if I got the budget to do one, however!
However, the original intention was to make an impressive short film that I want to see
James) For budget have you ever thought of crowdfunding?
Matt) I did! I actually went to Kickstarter! However, the next challenge from there was learning how to advertise yourself and your project.
One thing I have noticed however is how one small project could lead to finding an audience and therefore making crowd funding much easier!
Depending on how successful Drone is received, along with Melbourne, who knows.
James) I see, It will be worth it though if you can get it off the ground, Many people do tend to throw money at larger series affiliated projects like Star Trek Fan Films.
Matt) Yeah, Star Trek fan films are a little bit easier to crowd fund since the audience is already there and inside some sort of collective (not a Borg joke hehe)
James) That is true but like you said a small project sample like a short can lead into more so it is worth keeping it as an option.
Neil Blomkamp (I think that is his name), director of District 9, to my understanding, was given a budget by Peter Jackson after Peter saw Neil’s short film Alive in Johannesburg. It was pretty much the same theme as District 9, but on a much smaller and indie level.
Hearing that was pretty inspiring.
James) That’s the thing Bout filmmaking you never know who’s watching and where it can lead….
Matt) Absolutely, Strive to make every new project impressive, something that will stretch what you know or what you are capable of doing. Be bold or be super boring to the point that it is still entertaining. Know your limits, but see if you can stretch those limits, etc
All those quotes yadda yadda
James) OK, Moving on to the main interview, other than Trek, what other TV shows you watch like B5, Walking Dead, The Flash?
Matt) Some of my favourite shows include:
Battlestar Galactica (2003), Firefly, Netflix’ Daredevil (does that count?), Transformers Prime, and maybe Doctor Who.
James) You said you love gaming what Trek themed games do you or have you played?
Matt) I will be honest and say I have not played many Trek games…! I have played Star Trek Legacy on the PC and Xbox 360 though! I loved being able to play as each ship from each ST series.
James) So being a DP and Editor….
Has a director ever asked you to do something that just goes against your idea of what good cinematography is? What do you do in a situation like that?
Matt) That is a good question!
Sure, there have been multiple times where I have a shot and they will not use it, or I sort of do not think one particular shot would work as well as what is in my head with any production. However, in the end, it is up to the director.
He/she has the final say in what is in the frame, and sometimes the idea that they have is better than yours is! The best thing to do is to swallow your pride, it is not about how cool you can get a shot (I mean, try to if you can), but it is about the story. Best-case scenario, you insert your own style and cinematic quality that fits the stories needs, and it is one that the director really likes.
James) Can you tell me a bit about your role in Melbourne?
Matt) On Melbourne, I am the cinematographer and editor.
I shoot the pretty stuff and edit said stuff to make it even prettier. I work directly under Jeremy and Vance to make sure their vision is met while also impressing them.
James) How do you as a Cinematographer want the director to communicate to you what he wants, assuming he/she does not know that much about cinematography, I know Jeremy was the director on Melbourne were there any challenges on his vision being communicating so you could interpret without misunderstanding?
Matt) Oooh, that is a good question, Jeremy luckily likes my style and believed I would make for a good DP for this project.
Therefore, that helps! Jeremy also had a few overheads and shot lists prepped, so I could easily interpret them. Storyboards would be nice. A lot of the pre-pro work really helped me understand Jeremy’s vision since I am not great in interpreting verbal stuff. Nevertheless, in the end, Jeremy and I loved the stuff we got! I would say the biggest difficulty was not having a real roof above us ha-ha alternatively being confined to shooting almost 30 pages in just 3 days.
I would have loved to mess with lighting some more since lighting is such a huge component in a film, but we have some great stuff anyways.
James) That is a good thing then that you two had a good way of understanding each other visions and wants when shooting Melbourne,
The Cinematographer has a huge influence over many of the working practices in a film: it is his or her responsibility to continue to serve both Production and the Director in the best possible way how much input did you have in the end product of Melbourne?
Matt) How much input did I have.
Luckily, Jeremy is the type of director that likes to leave other jobs to the person of that position. He trusts me enough that I could have a say in how the lighting looks, or how the set looks, but I was also extremely open to his input.
James) Describe a typical week at working in Melbourne is it a full-time endeavour of one for the love and fits in around real life?
Matt) Ha-ha it is DEFINITELY a full-time job! I think I got the least amount of sleep during that production, waking up around 6 am and sleeping around 1 is or 2 am.
However, it is all worth it. To be able to wake up and work on something fun, to pursue a passion is worth any lack of sleep! Nevertheless, right, typical work week wake up and have breakfast. Never skip breakfast! Then head to the set (sometimes still eating breakfast). I like to star things with a goal, “What are we going to accomplish/how many scenes are we going to finish today?” Then as momentum picks up and we start shooting, the rest is history.
James) I have been lucky enough to speak to almost everyone involved within Melbourne, and I know it is something special and not quite, what we always see in fan films.
However, for yourself Why tell this story, what made you think you wanted to DP this fan film?
Matt) Jeremy was really passionate about this project, that’s a big reason why I wanted to be the DP.
Usually when I hear “fan film,” I instantly am turned off by the idea mostly because the people I imagined I would want fan service more than an actual film. Which, sure, let us have some fun to make fanservice videos? But if the intention of this project is to stand out, show people how good a filmmaker we are with a subject like Star Trek, then let’s not get carried away being fanboys/girls.
Jeremy was passionate about it and with him leading, I trusted his judgement and I am glad I did. In addition, the story that was written was dark for Star Trek, and I really dug that! Not saying it needed to be dark, but it was new. On top of that, I got to work with an amazing crew, most of which have never worked on a film set! Some were cosplayers, which helped.
James) This is what I hear from a lot of people I speak to on Melbourne, That the people involved are a great bunch this from my perspective is AMAZING! I tend to be turned off when I hear bad things from cast and crew.
Since we are on the topic of how Melbourne differs from other fan films, can you tell me more from your perspective about the story, and how Melbourne is different?
Matt) Melbourne’s extremely different from other fan films mostly because of the crew.
Jeremy and I have a film background, therefore, aimed to make a story that just so happened to take place in the ST universe. Jeremy has a lot planned for future episodes, some dark stuff that will really push the audience in a positive but shocking way.
Everyone on set was really excited to be there! Even my friend who was on set, who had never seen Star Trek, loved being there because of the attitude! Everyone who was there was passionate and wanted to make the best film we could produce.
James) Is Melbourne the only “Fan” film you have made, or have you any plans to make further fan productions after Melbourne?
Matt) Ha-ha funny how I said fan films have a negative connotation with me and yet here I am I have made a lightsaber fighting video when I was in middle school! Nevertheless, I would not count that as a fan “film.” I am in talks with one of the actors of Melbourne, Kristian, to make a Star Wars short film! That will happen around springtime.
James) Is that the only fan film you have planned.
Matt) I’d love to make a Mass Effect fan film!! A friend of mine and I wrote a pitch for it, and I am thinking about expanding it to do a full episodic series of it if I ever got the budget (and the rights).
That would happen way into the future, but it is a goal!
James) I love Mass Effect it is second on my list of all time Favourite series (yes I know it is not a series like Trek but playing all 3 games, I fell in love)
As a DP and Editor of Melbourne did, you find that getting the cast together when needed was an issue.
I do know that some do not live close by, how did you get everyone together when required?
Matt) LOTS of forwarding planning! The entire crew is made up of, err, well everyone around the US. Jeremy, Kristian, Reshelle, Justin, and I are from the Seattle area.
I know a few people are from Atlanta, some from Alabama. We are everywhere! Reshoots were not an option. A small story, we actually had 4 days to shoot the whole script, but I wanted that 4th day to be for any emergencies. We ended up meeting our goal in shooting everything in 3 days, and had the 4th day as a vacation!
James) So it really was all hands on deck when shooting then if no reshoots could be done this is impressive.
Matt) The only reshoot that was needed was done here in WA with Kristian luckily. However, that could have been on the 4th day easily.
James) A topic I ask people is about the new Fan film “Guidelines” and how they affected the shoot of their fan films, not a great topic but It is an important one nevertheless.
So did they influence you in any way being the DP/Editor of Melbourne?
Matt) Luckily for me, I was not that heavily influenced by the Fan Film Guidelines. I have only heard about what happened. Unfortunately, Jeremy and Vance were the ones that had to deal with the release. However, we managed to make it work still.
James) How do you feel about them? From your perspective, are they as “bad” as people make them out?
Matt) After Jeremy told me the story as to why there was a guideline, I was disappointed. I see why the franchise had to release the film to a certain degree, and hearing about how another fan production abused their rights, causing the guides to happen, I felt like an opportunity was lost. However, Jeremy has high hopes, which helped.
His and our goal was to show the Star Trek community that we could create an amazing film with the guidelines without a budget!
James) I would like to move on to and ask more about you and your history with Trek and your experiences with the fandom.
Therefore, easy question tells me about your history with Star Trek.
Matt) I grew up with the Star Trek movies (along with Star Wars mind you) and really loved them!
The Voyage Home was always a favourite of mine then, and still is to this date, next to First Contact! Star Trek means to me what I think the show intended, to be a better version of yourself. Be kind to everyone; collaborate with one another, to think about the better of everyone rather than being selfish. I think that is pretty cool.
James) The Voyage home tbh is up there with Finial Frontier as my pet hates of Trek Movies lol, What about your favourite Star Trek series, easy to some hard for others since there has been as many series as there has been butter?
Matt) My favourite series would be either TNG or Voyager!
I watched all of Voyager when it was on TV, same for TNG. Deep Space 9 rather has a disadvantage since it was never on, but I am trying to catch up on Netflix. TNG was cool since it was another “exploration” show with some drama and cool sci-fi theories, while Voyager was different. That show still had some exploration stuff, but its end goal was different. It still felt like “Star Trek” even though the goal was different.
James) YES! Someone who likes Voyager lol, so many hate that series yet to me yes it was BAD! In the start but by the time Season 3 came about it found its footing and made me want more of it.
Ok, so what about your favourite Episode, so you have one?
Matt) My fave episode…I have a few, from the Voyager episode where 7of9 goes back and forth in time to stop Braxton, (I think that is his name).
Matt) But if I had to pick one; it would be the last episode of TNG, where Picard is being tested by Q while the episode takes place in three time periods. One, the whole three different time periods was cool, how they were connected.
Two, you can sort of place yourself in Picard’s shoes and ask yourself the same questions that Q had asked. It was an episode that made you think, and it was just enjoyable to watch. In addition, Lt Yar was back!
Ok so these are your favourites but what about the worst series and episode?
Matt) Worst series…I hear Enterprise is bad. I watched some of it, and it was all right. Cool ideas! I liked how it took place before the Federation! However, I did not watch it with my critiquing eyes.
James) Enterprise is really underrated I like it, But then I have yet to see anything “Official” Trek I hate (barInto Darknessthat film is BADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!)
What about your “worst” episode?
Matt) Worst episode…I am not sure, to be honest.
Any episode that bore me I guess. In addition, I do not mean, “It’s Star Trek, all of its boring” but I mean any episode that was boring ABC family drama stuff childish drama or yeah, just boring ones.
James) I get that I have many I will watch because its Trek but I will not go out of my way to repeat it unless I find myself binge watching the series or it is on TV.
James) Have you met any Trek Actors in real life?
Matt) I have not met any Star Trek actors in real life, unfortunately…
James) I am going to see a play with Sir Patrick Stewart in this weekend (http://www.nomanslandtheplay.com/) and I plan to find a way to meet him lol he is on my list of “must meet” Trek Royalty.
Moving on, what are your experiences with the Trek Fandom?
Tell me, what have been your best and worst experiences?
Matt) The best part of the fandom, I would say is the passionate fans! Everyone who is a fan that I have met was always so nice and had good morals, and was just fun people! Some of which, you would not expect to be fans.
I have not had any bad experiences myself, but I hear Trekkies are a bit “too” passionate sometimes, maybe obsessive. Nevertheless, who can blame them; some would say I am obsessive over Mass Effect. Maybe they smell bad at cons. Idk.
Someone compared them to being passionate sports fans, though less loud.
I would say the power rangers fan film starring Katee Sackhoff,
James) Do you watch other fan productions? What would you say are the best ones you have seen thus far?
Matt) Hmm, in no particular order,
James) That one was AMAZING!
Matt) There is an interactive Mass Effect fan video; there were two good Star Wars fan films! One was about Boba Fett, and another was about a surviving force user and a rebel pilot on vimeo!
James) Do you, have any you have seen that would come under the OMG how bad category?
Matt) For the worst…it is hard to judge. Firstly, I will say that I do not really have a list.
Maybe you can count that one person ((Alec Peters)) who ruined the ST community resulting in that guideline thing. ((Axanar)) It is hard to judge fan films since a lot of them come with different backgrounds; maybe some have a film background, but most just want to make a fun project.
James) Yeah when I saw Prelude I was in awe but now I cannot watch anything that has that man’s fingerprints anywhere near it.
Anyway, do you watch listen to other Star Trek Fan Productions?
Matt) Sorry…I have not watched or listened to hardly anything else…
James) We are moving into the last segment of the interview now but one last question regarding Fan Productions, Do you have any regrets doing Fan Films.
Matt) Nah, no regrets, I have learned a lot on this production! In addition, I hope the following films, fans films or original, are the same!
James) So with your experience in the “Film Industry” if you were to impart your wisdom on someone who wanted to:
Edit and become a DP in filmmaking and Make their Film. What would you tell them?
To edit and DP.
Know that they are two very different jobs. Both have artistic values, but for one, you are standing a lot and holding heavy expensive gear, while the other, you are lounging and sitting at a monitor.
Both take up hours to work on, though. If you want to direct DP, being an editor is actually a good route since you will see everything the crew captured, what they did not capture/wish they could capture. Editing is like deconstructing and reconstructing a film. You will learn the importance of pacing, how audio and visuals go hand in hand, and it is a good way to test your patience hehe.
For becoming a DP,
Try watching b-movies. Alternatively, study how films shoot their scenes deconstructs them. See how some directors will have a certain look to their stuff (Steven Spielberg compared to Ridley Scott compared to Edgar Wright compared to etc).
Also, note that lighting is key to good cinematography. You are shot is only as good as the amount of light hitting your camera’s sensor. Lastly, go out and practice. Notice how movies are shot and try them out you. Just keep your ego low enough for the director’s input if he wants something different.
James) Only a few Questions left what would you like to say if anything to the people who will be reading this?
Matt) To fans, I would like to say, you guys are awesome! I love how passionate you guys are, and hopefully, we’ll see each other at cons and screenings!
Always strive to be a better version of yourself! Also, I like the 2009 JJ Abrams movie, and Beyond! (Into Darkness was ‘meh’)
James) Lastly, Matt is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world. (The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions)
Matt) I would like to say, keep things fun, be open minded, but stay focused as well. Do not make fan service videos (especially if you want to be a legit moviemaker), unless you are not aiming for quality.
The worst movies are not the ones with crappy visuals or bad sound FX, but the ones lacking story and characters. That is the “bad” stuff (if you were to consider anything “bad”). However, if you are aiming for quality, you have a good story and characters, a dedicated crew; the product is always the best part! The film is art, but it is also a collaborative effort between people and mediums.
James) Well, Matt that is it, Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.
Matt) No problems, Let me know if there is anything else, I can do. In addition, thanks again for the opportunity!
That is a wrap to Part Two, tune in next week, “Same place and Time!”
Well if my Computer doesn’t decide to cost me yet another small fortune 😛 and break down on me.
Trekfanproductions has been lucky enough to team up with the Vance Major and the Cast and Crew of the fan film Melbourne to present your in-depth knowledge of the people behind the cameras and the actors involved.
We start our spotlight series with the Director and Co-writer of Melbourne Melbourne a new and exciting fan production from the production company called Stormshadow Studios, its owner Vance Major started in fan productions back in 2013 where he was just a volunteer at Starbase Studios.
“Jeremy Minard comes to Starbase Studios all the way from Washington State to deliver this fan film. A lifelong Star Trek fan, his knowledge of the camera and understanding of how things go are clearly shown on the screen.”
Vance Major, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hi, Jeremy Welcome and thank you for taking the time to sit down with me to answer some questions about Melbourne and share your experience in the world of filmmaking.
Tell me a bit about yourself
Jeremy) I work as an on-set sound guy working on getting more directing gigs that are where my passion is.
I am a geek so most anything geek related. I love to listen to music and I love to read. Some TV shows I like are Supergirl she is my favourite hero followed closely by the Shadow. I also love to watch expedition unknown and mysteries of the museum Agents of Shield is good too.
I play some Trek Games they are Trek on-line but it has been awhile since I have played it though LOL. One of my favourite Trek games is Armada that was a blast to play
James) You mentioned that you have experience in Screenwriting and Directing, I would like to start the interview by focusing on your filmmaking experience.
When did you realise you wanted to become a screenwriter? In addition, can you tell me what experience you have in script writing?
Jeremy) I really don’t want to be a scriptwriter per se, I do have several scripts that I have written and want to film but it’s not my goal in life it’s more of an if I have something to write, I’ll write it.
I started out at my church writing stupid little skits then I wanted to make them improved and wound up writing three plays. With each script, I write I get better at it, which is a mark of an artist wanting to stretch and improve on your past works.
Maybe not on your past works but improve your craft and move past your current level
James) How many scripts would you say you have written and what would you say is key for contrasting a great character?
Jeremy) I have four scripts that were written and have been filmed I have 2 scripts ready to be shot, I that needs some re-working and 7 in my head that I need to write including five Melbourne episodes not including the three plays and several skits.
As far as making a great character, well do they feel real. Does what they say and what they do (which is what a character is) make sense for that character.
James) In your opinion, what would you say is the most enjoyable thing about screenwriting?
Jeremy) This might sounds a little weird but when it’s be filmed and people are watching it for the first time, I’m not paying attention to the screen I’m watching and listening to the audience, when they laugh when they are supposed to if all gasp at the same time and at the right time that is my crack!
That’s when I know they understand what I’m trying to show them I’m not really able to do that with the short we recently released called Hidden Fear and it’s kind of a bummer I don’t know how they reacted to the film when they watch it.
James) I think fear is one thing we all share when people like you or me do something that is put in the public eye, critics can be harsh and in some cases evil in what they say, I do find that even the worst critic can make you up your game if you are willing to that is. When writing your screenplays is, there anywhere you find easier to write than others do like a certain place or time.
Jeremy) Sometimes I’ll write when I’m taking my walk its quiet its calm I can be in the head thinking, then when I get home I write in my room sometimes with music sometimes without it, It just depends on the scene and what I need at the time.
James) What about certain times, I know so many writers who find certain times of the day harder to write than others do, when do you write.
Jeremy) I write in the afternoon to evening when I can I am a bit of a night Owl I am the most awake and inspired at that point alternatively when I am inspired. I have had several nights where I am up writing at two in the morning because I have my inspiration and direction and I will go for it!
James) That sounds like a good Idea, one thing I find hardest is to find the right time for myself, I get inspired sometimes when I am half asleep and I find it annoying lol When writing what gives you the most pleasure and what aspects of it do you find harder.
Jeremy) I would have to say one of the most pleasurable moments would be, being in the moment and constructing my world and the characters.
The most difficult parts sometimes you run into a problem, either the story starts to fall apart or you write yourself into a corner and have to find a way out. The hardest part if deleting my favourite scene, I was working on a Supergirl fan film and I had a super cute and fun scene it was my favourite one of the whole show. Nevertheless, after looking at it I realised it did not really serve the story it just did not fit, so I took it out, it sucked and I can use it as a promo later on but it was hard to kill that scene.
James) I agree, when I am in the “Zone” I find the words just flow. I do have to proofread what I write thou lol as sometimes I go off on a tangent and my words become nonsensical.
When you first started out, what were your main obstacles?
Jeremy) Sometimes, it is finding the motivation to sit down and write. Sometimes it is figuring out the story, what the story it is really about.
I have a film I want to make called Relentless. It is a person with a superpower that is electricity. Now it is not really about their superpower or what they do with it, that is just the wrapper of the story itself is about him being bullied so much he becomes the villain.
James) With the screenplays you have written, is there one you wish you had a chance to do over?
Jeremy) This is an easy one “The Heist” However, I am lucky on this one, we have not shot it yet so I can go back to it and fix it including that terrible name LOL.
James) Is there one screenplay you are most proud of?
Jeremy) So far the script I am the proudest of is Scent, it is an Original Indy film I had to stretch as a writer and I’ll have to stretch as a Director on that on. I am working on the budget for that one and we will be doing a Gofundme for it later on.
James) Is there any other writers that inspire you. In addition, what type of story excites you other than Star Trek or Superheroes?
Jeremy) Hmm, Writers I would say Joss Whedon, but other than him I don’t pay attention to other writers I have no idea who wrote some of my favourite shows, films, or games but when I get inspired from a show I go home and wind up throwing out my script and starting over from the ground up.
I love it when that happens I will watch a movie and sit there for a few minutes thinking about my script and I will say I can do better this is part of the reason why my Supergirl script is not complete yet.
As for the type of stories that excite me, it is interesting you brought up Star Trek, Star Trek is not a story it is a wrapper for the story. I love stories that make me invest in them, where they have some mystery or some sort of quest. Stories that make me fall in love with the character and make me want to take the journey with them.
James) Moving on to your history in Directing, when you look for a project what aspects do you find compelling, in addition, what would you say is the best thing about Directing a production?
Jeremy) When I look for something to direct, I lean towards something that talks to me, something that captures my attention and imagination. Reshelle sent me a short story, as I was reading it I could see all the shots the location everything that I wanted to make Hidden Fear.
As far as being a director, I Think the best part is working with some really awesome People, Like Matt if I can swing it I will have him shoot every film I make. I am very precise about who I work with, picking the wrong person can crash a production or make it very miserable. With Melbourne, most of the cast was already in place before I was attached while we had some recasting to do I think we picked the right group the chemistry between the actors and the crew was pretty amazing!
James) What is it that draws you to directing something?
Jeremy) Wow there is so much I love about directing, I love coming up with the camera angles. One place in Melbourne I was working a bridge scene and I disappointed in the way it was playing out very still nothing moving then a shot came to mind. I started giggling like a mad man (wait can you giggle like a mad man?) it was such a cool shot, then getting to the set and seeing it happen like I hoped it would it’s kind of like magic.
The other thing I love is the people I get to work with if I had to work with a bunch of Diva’s I would hate my job. But the people I get to work with are all in they want to make this film they want to do their best and if given the freedom they need to work they will give you ideas you don’t have to take them. Nevertheless, I would say a good chunk of them is good and sometimes even better than what I had come up with in the first place.
The best part is when the film is finished, I get to sit with people who have not seen it yet, and I get to watch their reactions that are the best.
James) When you are knees deep in a project, In your opinion what is the toughest challenge to make sure you get your work done in time?
Jeremy) There is always going to be people and problems standing in your way. Be it is a building manager not wanting you to shoot a scene in his building even if it, unfortunately, would be perfect for your film or an actor that has to drop out at the last minute or even money not being available when you hoped it would be. A broken promise of a set that was supposed to build that was not. These normal things happen the question is will your attitude stop you, or are you going to keep pushing through it.
James) With today’s life becoming more and more focused on social media interactions, how important would you say it has become to use things like Facebook or Twitter to promote your upcoming work?
Jeremy) It’s super important if I don’t have an audience to watch what we do then what’s the point it’ll just sit there on YouTube not getting any views it the only way at the moment where we can get out stuff advertised.
It is also the best way for us to help raise funds to keep making films the team I work with have been pretty amazing and to keep them around. I want to start raising money to pay them they are trained pros and should be paid, But none of it happens without social media and the audience who sees the films!
James) Just a few more questions about Directing then I would like to move on to your participation in Melbourne.
For someone like me, an “outsider” what would you think would be a big surprise about directing?
Jeremy) I am not sure what would be the biggest surprise, In Ron’s interview that he did for Melbourne he was surprised that we did not shoot in order of the script.
James) I have to admit when I found that out myself, I found it perplexing and not to mention it is not only the order of the shoot but the fact in TV you can sometimes be shooting scenes from other episodes. That for me was a big erm OK lol.
Since you started out in the “business” what would you say, has been a big change in directing?
Jeremy) The biggest change I am seeing now is VR stuff that is coming out I am seeing more and more posts looking for people who can shoot that.
James) Lastly, what do you feel that in the industry is missing in today’s world?
Jeremy) Depending on what level of entertainment you are looking at if you are looking at Hollywood, I think a good story is what is missing. They tend to rely on big explosions and fancy effects, At the Indy level all we have is a story they may not look as pretty as what the big studios put out, but we do not have the money to dump into it as they do.
James) So, moving on to Melbourne, Being the Co-Writer and Director of Melbourne was this an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit from script to film?
Jeremy) So the cool thing about writing and Directing is I know the vision I had when writing so it was really easy to shoot what I had written. Sometimes though things work better in my head than they do in actual practice, that’s an easy fix when I walked on the set I just had to tweak a few things.
James) Describe your role in Melbourne how does a typical shoot played out from your Perspective?
Jeremy) As the writer Vance and I worked on the characters and their arcs. Then after that, I started to write the script coming up with the scenes that move the story forward.
As the Director, I get to plan all the movement where I want the actors to stand and where they move and I get to plan the camera angles and moves. But it always good to listen to your people sometimes they come up with a shot that’s better or the actor moves at a different time than you wanted but it looks better than when you had planned. Sometimes it is better and sometimes it is not you, you just have to give it a fair chance to see if fits your vision or not.
James) Did you and Vance have any issues writing the script?
Jeremy) Not to many problems we took a 3-month break from our script to help another fan film polish theirs which they didn’t use, so that was annoying and wasted time that we could have used on our own production.
The other problem that came up was getting a scene to fit, that might take me a couple of days mulling it over in my head, sometimes it a minor tweak to fix sometimes the scene would need a major re-write and sometimes it needed to be deleted and start again from the beginning to make it work.
James) What research did you carry out in the preparation for writing the Melbourne script, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique and not a carbon copy of something else?
Jeremy) Growing up with Star Trek I did not have to do a lot of research for that when talking to Kristjan about how we wanted a ship to look we needed to find reference pics for him.
For when we do our transporter effect we’ll give Matt our editor a clip to show him which one we want, now for episode 2 I’m looking up some Starfleet General Orders for a little guidance for one of our characters.
James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story, and how it is different from other Fan Productions?
Jeremy) One thing we wanted to tell a good story and put it into a Star trek wrapper. We also wanted a more realistic take on Trek bad things to happen to good people and sometimes you just can’t fix it sometimes you just have to deal with the consequences and sometimes people get hurt in the process!.
James) Who did the makeup and wardrobe for Melbourne, did they capture the look you had in mind?
Jeremy) Nate Bright and Daniel Craft did our makeup and Chrissie Harvey did the Starfleet uniforms and Kristjan ( Our Villain) made his one costume for the uniforms there were pre-established so no problem there.
With Kristjan’s we had a basic concept of what we wanted and didn’t want but in this case, we just left it up to him he took what we had and ran with it I got to say I love what he came up with. now for the makeup we knew what we wanted and we told Nate and he gave us some other ideas that we are going to use, He and Vance went back and forth on it for a while throwing ideas back and forth till we came up with what we had. That is the biggest reason why this production succeeded teamwork if any of us said no it is my way or the highway you will wind up burning your production down around you.
James) Tell me one thing that stands out for you during your time Directing Melbourne?
Jeremy) On Melbourne, some of the actors have not acted before. The coolest thing was to see them grow right in from of you. From going from wooden and stiff to being relaxed and digging down deep and showing us what they were capable of it was amazing to watch that happen!
James) Did you have to alter much due to the release of the “Guidelines”?
Jeremy) No not really, for the most part, our story, and script remain intact there are a couple of places where we had to move a piece but we do not have to take them out, so for 99% of the story, we are good to go!
James) I have to ask as so many people shouted Doom or shut down their productions due to them, how do you feel about them were you angry and in your opinion do you think they are fair?
Jeremy) I was annoyed more than anything was, but it is their property and they have the right to say what happens with it, I am just glad we did not have to stop. We had planned on two episodes to make cliffhangers to hook people for the next episode, now we cannot do that, and that ok we can still do the scenes that we wanted to do it just will not take so long for the audience to see them.
As far as them being fair, the thing is they do own Star Trek and they can do whatever they want with it, I think it is very awesome of them to let us play with their toys.
James) So moving on to the last segment of the interview I would like to touch more on the subjects of what Trek means to you, how you see the fandom and what words of wisdom you would like to share with the people who will be reading this.
So what does Star Trek mean to you?
Jeremy) I watched Trek growing up before “The Next Generation” was a thing! It taught me that brains were better than brawn but sometimes you have to fight your way out of a situation.
James) What about your favourite series, I know it may be a bit of an ask due to there being five! Live action series and an animated one but….
Jeremy) That is a tossup between Next Gen and Voyager (I know more hate LOL) I think Next Gen was my Star Trek something I could relate to a bit more it was a modern take on an old classic without destroying TOS and me kind of had a crush and Dr Crusher.
James) What about your least favourite series?
Jeremy) To be honest, this one is hard I enjoy them all I am not sure if I could choose a “worse” series.
James) OK then name your best and worst episodes
Jeremy) Favourite episode has to be “Trials and Tribulations,” they did such a good job recreating the TOS world and bringing the DS9 characters in it. I loved the story and the humour that was in it.
Worst episode hmm, “Inner Light” that will probably get me a tonne of hate LOL it was ok but I think it was overplayed every time there was a marathon it was on I just started to hate it.
James) I am not sure I can agree on your worst episode, although it is not one of my faves it is not as bad as some of season 1 TNG or season 1 of Voyager lol or even the entire 3rd season of TOS lol.
Have you met any Trek Royalty (Actors) as I call them?
Jeremy) I was able to meet Walter Koeing at a Comic-con a couple of years ago not for long just long enough to get my picture taken with him.
James) I find conventions a bit of meh in regards to the picture taken aspect it is like a conveyor belt I find that a lot of money for something like that, yes I could be called a cheapskate lol butt…
In regards to other fan productions, I tend to think of the fan community as a family as such do you watch or listen to anything else?
Jeremy) I Don’t really watch fan films, to be honest, I have seen a few episodes here and there of Valiant, Dominion, Grissom, Exeter, Romulan Wars. I have been meaning to watch Farragut though.
James) Out of the ones, you have seen do you have any ones that stick out to you as ones you would recommend to others?
Jeremy) Out of what I have seen I think Valiant and Exeter were the better ones. However, when I watch other fan films it is hard for me to watch them a fan and not a filmmaker.
Usually, something takes me out of the moment early on in the film. normal its audio quality or a bad cut, it throws me out of the moment, and instead of watching as an audience member I’m watching as a filmmaker at the end of the day, they made a film whether it’s good or bad they started and finished a film you would be surprised how many films don’t get finished.
James) What would you say is the best and worst bits of the fandom in your eyes?
Jeremy) I think my favourite parts of the fandom is just sharing the passion with people I have never met being able to go to comic con and say I love your take on the uniform and not be looked at like I’m weird LOL
As far as the worst bits, for me, that would be, The Jackasses that have! To be right all the time whether they are or not. Or even the guy that jumps all over the smallest inaccuracy I once said that Shatner was the last minute replacement as in Hunter was cast in another show and they needed to find someone new, not as in they went outside and grabbed the first person they found and stuffed him into the captain’s uniform. He rather flipped out it was stupid, people like that just suck.
James) You will not get an argument from me there, I have had so many run-ins with people over the last year I have started to think that certain aspects of the fandom are so toxic it’s so sad.
We are moving into the last section of the interview and I would like to ask you what words of wisdom you would give others in things like acting, directing and writing their own scripts.
Therefore, what advice would you give to someone wanting to start acting or starting his or her own production?
Jeremy) I cannot stress this enough write your script first, do not waste your time getting actors and crew first I see so many fan film doing it that way and then wonder why half their cast disappears.
In addition, do not forget that star trek is not a story it is a wrapper, do not be so wrapped up in making trek you do not have a story that people want to watch!
Remember that Acting is recreating emotion if you are in a scene that you need to be angry in, replay in your head a moment when you were that angry then do the scene, acting looks bad on the camera you have to recreate.
James) What about following your example and becoming a screenwriter or director?
Jeremy) So to be a good writer there are some things you can do watch movies to help learn story structure. Read film scripts they will not only help you learn story structure it’ll also help you learn script formatting!!
Directing is so much more than telling the actors where to stand and the camera placement. You have to know how to talk to your actors, if you talk to them wrong they have a tendency to shut down and not give you their best, you have to earn their trust so you can pull out a great performance and make them look good. also remember that you tell just as much of a story with the camera as you do with your actors, but you have to know what the camera movement means and how it affects your audience.
James) OK random question, Time travel is a reality and you had one bit of advice to give your younger self, what advice would that be when starting out in the world of filmmaking?
Jeremy) Get into film sooner you are going to love it you will not feel like you are wasting your life on other jobs.
James) Excellent 😀
So, Jeremy, we are at the end of the interview, Is there anything else you would like to tell everyone from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world?
Jeremy) The funny thing is I am into the Indy scene I work professionally in the film industry. I am only making six episodes because I do not want to be known as the fan film guy.
I have several films that I hope our fans will like and support as we move forward into content that is more original. Here is what I have seen from the fan film’s they, for the most part, all feel the same the look the same they sound the same.
That is part of the reason I really don’t follow them too closely I see a post that says watch my new film and I’m like why it looks just like everyone else’s there is nothing that draws me in and makes me say I want to see this.
There is a fan film out right now that I had high hopes in but they are so wrapped up in 3rd season TOS they won’t make a story like that would grab my attention. It is somewhat sad to me they could do something amazing but it is not TOS so they will not do it, and they will continue to look like everyone else. I hope that the fan film will learn how to be better filmmakers and make better films; stretch themselves really explore the stories and the characters and do something amazing.
James) Well Jeremy, that is it, I would like to thank you for your time in answering my questions and sharing your knowledge with me I cannot express how much this means to me.
Jeremy) You are very welcome!
Well, that was part one of the Melbourne Files.
The next part will feature Matt Esteron the DP and Editor of Melbourne.
In the meantime check out the trailer for Melbourne below and keep an eye out for the next part.