Creative works are not only the product of people, they're also the products of a time and place. As the world keeps changing, it is impossible to recreate something from the past. While artists often wish to duplicate what they love, they can only approximate it. Paradoxically, the closer they get to it, the more they've succeeded in doing nothing more than an good imitation. And since the originals are everywhere to begin with, is an imitation necessary?
The nut graf of the blog post seems to be the most pertinent to fan films and their filmmakers.
Fan films, in particular the surge in TOS-inspired ones over the years, seem to slavishly concern themselves with the superficial style — costuming, set dressing and, unfortunately, the canon minutiae — but often forget that the style and its substance was informed by the time in which the original was created and those who worked on it.
Moreover, fan films seem so concerned with the very thing they are attempting to recreate that they often forget to notice other shows made in the 1960s. By not doing so, fan films don't get a broader sense of the time and seeing how those works may or may not have influenced those working on TOS.
As we used to say in my MFA program, art — literature or otherwise — is in conversation with the other art made at the same time whether or not it is consciously aware of it.
Works of art are often as much about when they were created as what they are, as that informs how they are made. Just because times have changed doesn’t mean it’s impossible to recreate things as they were from the past, but because you're not in that original moment it's easy to miss some of the ineffable qualities of the work being simulated.
To bring this back to the subject of fan films, I think the lesson here is that you can slavishly recreate the settings, sound and visual style of a show and yet fail to grasp that the show was more than just those few elements. So what typically emerges is something that looks and sounds like the original, but without the same soul. To use a sci-fi cliche: it's usually a pod-person/production.
I agree with these two observation. And I'll add some of my own.
It's one thing to recreate TOS, but it's another to take that as a jumping-off point and making the work wholly your own while, at the same time, tapping into the visual and story spark of the original.
"The Tressaurian Intersection" is a grand example of this. The STARSHIP EXETER bunch used TOS as a starting point, but managed to craft an episode that plays on what we expect from TOS but building on it to make the work their own.
STAR TREK: PHASE II/NEW VOYAGES continuously frustrates me in this regards. There was a point where PII/NV could've taken TOS and truly made it their own, building on the orignal series and taking it a step beyond. Perhaps even surpassing the original in tackling controversial subject matter head on.
In other words, doing what TOS did best — use the prism of high-character drama and science fiction to tell stories that are about something relevant to our lives today.
"Blood and Fire" was not it and its allegory/themes were about 20 years too late.
I thought "To Serve All My Days" (original edit, not "A Night in 1966") and "World Enough and Time" were steps in the right direction to get PII/NV to that next level. There were stylistic touchstones of the original, but a serious attempt to play further with the form.
For example, TSAMD was a Russian play set to TOS with grand performances from Andy Bray and Walter Koenig (its lacklauster b-plot is an argument for another time). And I really had hopes that NV/PII had the balls to keep Chekov dead and take their Trek into a new direction.
WEAT had its own unique soundtrack and style that echoed the original but still gave the work its own sense of self.
But the reliance on track tapes from TOS and storytelling techniques from TNG — i.e. the characters reacting rather than driving the action of the story — from the more recent episodes has the production falling more into simulacrum.
Moreover, the desire to connect PII/NV to the dots of canon also hamper the filmmakers from truly making the work their own.
Although, I look forward to "The Child" because I hope it does what TSAMD and WEAT did best — by being a work that is both TOS and its own at the same time.