In my experience, fan films are prone to constructing museum pieces where they need SHOOTABLE SETS.
Making things wild is almost never a mistake and building only what you need for the production according to the plan (i.e. THE SCRIPT) saves cost, time, effort, space, etc.
While it may be nice to have a complete recreation of your favorite spaceship bridge, it doesn't always add up to a practical shooting environment and, at the end of the day, it's what's on screen that matters, not the physical set.
To piggyback off this very excellent observation ...
Some fan films seem obsessed with getting all their ducks in a row to perfectly "recreate" their beloved television show before a single frame is shot.
In other words, they seem to obsess over the details first — perfectly recreated sets (and all of them, including engineering), CGI models (ship, shuttles and other things), and uniforms. Granted a production may need those things and maybe all of them at one point, but they are worthless unless you have a story to tell.
I've seen plenty of fan film threads that showcase the sets and the models to wet fans appetites, but not a nay word on the story, setting, characters or theme. You can have all those pretty, shiny things but without a story ... they're just pretty, shiny things.
What's the story you want to tell? What burns to tell it? What's the theme and who are the characters?
Once you have that, then you'll know the rest — what sets are needed, what models and what uniforms.
Story first ... the recreated details second, imao.
There also seems to be this need to bank sets for future episodes. But fan films and future installments seem a fickle thing. Build for what you need per shoot, and keep the sets from the previous shoot that you might need in the future would seem the more logical approach.
In other words, bank sets as you go along (as NV/PII seems to have done). Professional television shows can build and bank their sets before the first frame is shot because they have the bucks to do so.
Also, if you can't build a full engineering set or briefing room or whatever ... don't be afraid to redress a set — i.e. move around flats and consoles — to approximate those things. Not everything has to look exact, especially if your starship is of a different class. Hell, even our beloved Enterprise
had two styles of briefing room in the original series.
(In the interest of disclosure, I am not an indie filmmaker with a large amount of expertise in this arena. I've only worked on two of DS9Sega
's productions. However, I do have a background in fiction writing — i.e. a degree — and television news production.)