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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old February 22 2011, 09:16 AM   #76
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Another issue is acting. I would be very interested to read what people had to say about how to act, especially on camera.
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Old February 22 2011, 07:58 PM   #77
Captain Robert April
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

That's a whooooooooole 'nother topic...
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Old February 22 2011, 08:02 PM   #78
Ryan Thomas Riddle
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

DrMcCoy wrote: View Post
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.)
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Old February 22 2011, 08:05 PM   #79
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Another issue is acting. I would be very interested to read what people had to say about how to act, especially on camera.
a) Get a Canadian passport.
b) Lose your hair and cover it up with a glued-on dust mop.
c) Try to rip open your shirt as often as possible.
d) Recite your lines in a chopped-up pattern no sane person would use.

How James Cawley can try to recreate that and still keep a straight face is completely beyond me.
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Old February 22 2011, 08:11 PM   #80
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Okay, now that we've got the obligatory slap at Shatner out of the way...
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Old February 22 2011, 08:21 PM   #81
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Another issue is acting. I would be very interested to read what people had to say about how to act, especially on camera.
Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
That's a whooooooooole 'nother topic...
Yeah, and it doesn't have to be here and now. I realize this thread has so far been about camera work, and now sets.
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Last edited by CorporalCaptain; February 22 2011 at 11:51 PM. Reason: spelling error :eek:
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Old February 25 2011, 09:08 PM   #82
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I think one of the things that hampers fan films is the need for the scripts to reference canon endlessly. If you think about it, the adventures in the original 79 episodes of Star Trek rarely have any effect on other episodes. I can only think of two times off the top of my head -- "I, Mudd" referencing "Mudd's Women," and the reference to Corbomite in "The Deadly Years" that harkens back to "The Corbomite Maneuver" subtly when Sulu exchanges a glance with Chekov.

But in most of the Star Trek fan films I've seen, they're constantly referencing minute details from all Star Treks throughout the franchise, often combining elements to make the continuity to fit the canon better and making something that was always episodic television (actually five different series of episodic television -- seven if you include the movies) into something that seems like a sprawling epic that was pre-planned all along.

Now, in theory, this is pretty cool. But in reality, if an audience isn't fully versed in every episode of Trek (sometimes including every comic or novel as well), then the episode won't stand on its own. And, if the fan filmmakers go the extra mile to bring people that maybe aren't as fully versed in the canon up to date, it often makes for some rather clunky exposition.

This is something I grappled with a lot in my writing and have really tried to veer away from. If you approach a Trek fan film as a stand-alone story in the universe, I think you're a lot better off than if you try to pen an episode that combines TOS episodes, 45, 56 and 78 without contradicting anything said in TNG 35, 42, 111 while taking into consideration what was mentioned in episode 27 of DS9 and episode 12 of VOY. And don't forget explaining why the transporters in ENT are one color, but another color in your film.

I think you should just write a good story and add everything else in for seasoning.
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Old February 25 2011, 09:34 PM   #83
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I agree completely. In general, the story of an episode should be completely independent of anything else in whatever universe you're writing for. From our Series Bible:
Avoid excessive references to Star Trek (The Original Series). Please don’t have our characters "name drop" the characters and incidents from the original series unless it is absolutely vital to your story. If your script concerns the tribbles, you may certainly invoke Sherman’s Planet for flavor, but please don’t have one person encapsulate the entire plot of "The Trouble With Tribbles" to another.
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Old February 25 2011, 10:30 PM   #84
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I think small references to the Trek Universe are okay, but they should never be the focus of an entire scene or story thread. If you treat Trek as a future historical time frame, then there are certain events and people to reference. If you were filming a story set in the Navy in the 40s, you'd reference the war and principal people even if the story was set at a stateside assignment. However, that same story should not obsess over those things as a part of it's own unique tale to tell.

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Old February 25 2011, 10:57 PM   #85
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

In Trek terms it's not that much different. In case of Potemkin (movie era after ST6) if there's a plot dealing with the Klingon Empire I wouldn't be surprised if there's a throwaway line about "The Treaty" (Organia) or "The Accords" (Khitomer).
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Old February 25 2011, 11:35 PM   #86
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

This is the sort of thing I was referring to --

Helmsman: "Captain, there's no hope of getting out of this. We're completely surrounded."

Captain: "I heard about Kirk's Enterprise being in a similar situation during their first five-year mission. But in their case, it was unstable piece of transwarp space... and they were able to get away by passing out of our dimension."

Science Officer: "Yes. That was near what later was called the Tholian Empire."

Medic: "Too bad we can't use that now. We're doomed."

Science Officer: "Maybe. Maybe not. I have a friend that served on the Enterprise-D. He was aboard up until she crashed on Nimbus III -- "

Captain: "Ah, yes. Picard's ship. I shed a tear when I first heard about that beautiful lady going down. But the 'E' is a fine replacement."

Science Officer: "Please, Captain. Stay focused. Anyway, my friend, Geordi, told me about the time they used a Tachyon Pulse to open up a small tear in space. A tear that might be large enough for a ship to pass through."

Captain: "A Tachyon Pulse! Of course! Make it so!"

Helmsman: "Not so fast, Captain. Even if we're able to open up a hole in space large enough for our ship to pass through, we'd have to move at at least Warp 6 to get away."

Captain: "So what. The lives of over 430 men and women are at stake."

Medic: "Don't tell me you've forgotten about the Federation Council order of Stardate 47314.5."

Captain: "Oh -- the one about not going to Talos IV?"

Medic: "No! The one that proves that you can't go faster that Warp 5 without being extremely detrimental to all life in the universe!"

Captain: "How could I be so stupid? They don't prepare you for this sort of thing in the Kobyashi Maru."

Helmsman: "Actually, Captain. All may not be lost. We can go faster that Warp 5 in the case of an emergency."

Captain: "Excellent! Science Officer! Release that Tachyon Pulse!"

Science Officer: "Aye, Sir!:

Captain: "Helmsman, Maximum Warp!"

Helmsman: "Aye, Sir!"

Medic: "I don't believe it. You did it again. You turned death into a fighting chance to live."

Captain: "I just hope we come out on the other side near the Bajoran Wormhole. I could really use a stiff drink at Quark's Bar on Deep Space Nine."

Medic: "With our luck, we'll end up in the Delta Quadrant, lost on space with Voyager. I hate that EMP they have as doctor."

Captain: "What's the matter, Doc? Remind you of someone?"

The crew all has a good laugh as they warp off to their next mission...
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Old February 26 2011, 01:22 AM   #87
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

lennier1 wrote: View Post
In Trek terms it's not that much different. In case of Potemkin (movie era after ST6) if there's a plot dealing with the Klingon Empire I wouldn't be surprised if there's a throwaway line about "The Treaty" (Organia) or "The Accords" (Khitomer).
Funny you should mention that. During an encounter with the Klingons, Captain Grigory certainly mentions the treaty, but he doesn't go into into all the details of it anymore than we'd examine the details of the current Russo-American accords while maneuvering in the North Sea.

DestinyCaptain wrote: View Post
I think small references to the Trek Universe are okay, but they should never be the focus of an entire scene or story thread. If you treat Trek as a future historical time frame, then there are certain events and people to reference. If you were filming a story set in the Navy in the 40s, you'd reference the war and principal people even if the story was set at a stateside assignment. However, that same story should not obsess over those things as a part of it's own unique tale to tell.
Absolutely true! For Potemkin, we really aren't interested in sequels (we have a no sequels clause), and we don't want all these references to previous Trek episodes/movies. We want to take our audiences to somewhere new.

@Melonpool: Love it! I always think of that "Warp Five Keeps the Universe Alive!" nonsense as being one of the lowest points in Trek history, along with the VOY statement that we can't turn while in warp. LOL But you're quite right. I don't want any scripts in our inbox where there's anything along the lines of "Well, on Stardate--" BUZZ! Sorry, your time is up.
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Old February 26 2011, 02:04 AM   #88
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

You know, after I typed this up, I thought it might actually make a funny vignette.
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Old February 26 2011, 02:15 AM   #89
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

You should develop it for your series!
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Old February 27 2011, 07:02 PM   #90
Captain Robert April
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Another irritating bit that some folks tend to jump on is the overuse of various TOS soundtracks. Again, look back at TOS: There are plenty of scenes with no music whatoever! Now take a look at the early New Voyages offerings. They don't go ten seconds without some piece of original TOS music in the background.

Music should only be included if it helps the scene, not because we now have access to the original soundtracks.
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