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”?
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?
Nick) I occasional play Star Trek Online. I used to be an avid Star Trek role player and played a lot of Elite Force when that came out. My favourite game was probably the old 25th Anniversary Game and the sequel Judgment Rites. Starfleet Command was a lot of fun too.
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.