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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old January 18 2014, 03:04 AM   #241
GSchnitzer
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

Oh, we listen to all the feedback we get, and we take it to heart.

As I indicated in an earlier post, I actually do go through our script with a fine tooth comb for quality control purposes. I actually do a kind of a combined Bob Justman/Kellam de Forest Research script pass to check for, well, all sorts of things—plot holes, clunky dialogue, mischaracterizations, repetition, series inconsistencies—all sorts of things. Once I provide my feedback to the Senior Executive Producer and the script writer, they either implement my suggestions or they don’t; it’s their call at that point. In the case of “Kitumba,” I provided ten pages of copious script notes. Without boring everyone, here are some of my comments (four of the more than 60 suggestions that I provided) to give a flavor of my review:

“Scene 47

“35. For the sword, can we make it a plot point that the sword Chekov has is Scotty’s from 'Day of the Dove?' Perhaps Scotty runs up at the last minute with a “Here you go, Lad—as you requested” and hands it to Chekov—who passes it off to Kirk. It might explain why there is a sword immediately available aboard ship. Might need to revise Kirk’s line about cutting cake.

“36. Grammatical error. McCoy should say “I’d feel a lot more secure if our Security Chief were carrying real weapons.” (Should properly be subjunctive mood 'were' instead of indicative mood 'was.')

“37. Uhura says that you can carry a sword or a yan. Yan is simply Klingonese for sword, so that’s redundant.

“38. I don’t like McCoy’s “You scare me, woman.” It sounds patronizing and insulting to the black woman. Maybe we can say 'You scare me, Lieutenant.' (It sounds more like McCoy and not as much like [our McCoy actor] Doc John.)”

My point is: we actually do perform a meticulous review of the script; we do look before we leap. Sometimes, for all kinds of reasons, the Senior Executive Producer and script writer may choose to leap anyway. Yes, some of the lines are cheesy--far too cheesy for my taste. But there are vast swaths of our viewers who are not lactose intolerant; they really like the cheese. "That 'corvette' line was just the funniest thing I've ever heard." We understand and accept that our fan base represents infinitely diverse levels of viewing sophistication.

Edit: yes, I did go and scare-up a basket-hilt Claymore sword to match Scotty's from "Day of the Dove" in advance of the shoot.


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Just to offer my two cents, frequently the issue is that some posts in this forum cross the line from critique ("I thought her performance was weak") to attack ("she's talentless"), and even when the former is offered, often the counter argument teeters into the latter because people are passionate or/and get their feelings hurt.

I'd venture that we don't going to get much fair critiquing on forums like this. Why? For one thing, members of the productions actively participate in these threads, and many people either shy away from critiquing people they like personally or are overcritical of those they don't. An example I see on this forum all the time is praise for acting or writing that actually isn't even as good as other performances in the same show, but the kudos go to the "popular" kids, or those within earshot, and the reverse is true of those with an ax to grind.
I'm new to the forum, but I've observed this so far as well.

I actually almost feel bad pointing out things I didn't think were done well in these kinds of productions, because I know no one's making money off of them. But at the same time, if the goal is to make something of a high quality that pushes people to reach their potential, the critiques are very valuable (even if they're tough for the folks that visit these forums to hear).

At the same time, when those critiques are informed by negative "history" among people and thus more harshly delivered than may be necessary, things can spiral down a bit.

For what it's worth to doubleoh, who seems to get tangled up with other posters from time to time, I thought a lot of your critiques had merit and hope the Phase II folks read and give them consideration before ultimately doing what they think is appropriate in the filming of future episodes.
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Last edited by GSchnitzer; January 18 2014 at 08:10 PM.
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Old January 18 2014, 01:36 PM   #242
USS Intrepid
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

I love and encourage constructive criticism. I reserve my ire for those who refuse to learn the difference between constructive and just plain mean
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Old January 18 2014, 04:31 PM   #243
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

I often find that people who want to be brutally honest care more about the brutality then the honesty.
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Old January 18 2014, 05:23 PM   #244
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

^^^Too true. On at least two occasions where I have had serious reservations about certain aspects of a production, I have expressed them via PM. It's an old management principle that my Dad taught me "Praise openly, criticize privately". There is so much to praise when a production actually finishes and releases an episode that it seems churlish to express a laundry list of issues. If it's going to be effective, I think criticism of fan productions has to be leavened with understanding of the obstacles that the producers are working under.
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Old January 18 2014, 07:40 PM   #245
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

There's absolutely nothing wrong with criticism. But if getting your barbs in is your primary intent that's not criticism, it's just being a douche.

I'd also add, that most of us who make these sorts of productions, are in no way oblivious to our shortcomings, so many of the usual criticisms that come our way aren't necessarily a great revelation.

On the other hand, most of us also realise we have a great deal to learn, and the truly constructive feedback is often helpful in this regard.
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Old January 18 2014, 09:45 PM   #246
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

When I first participated in this thread, I recognized the semi-professionalism of KITUMBA, but failed to mention, which level of comparison here makes my fan heart tick... so here I go further:

I compare "Star Trek Phase 2" (and, of course their earlier New Voyages outings) more likely with professional productions than Fan Film productions, because the overall quality just strikes another chord with me.

Yes, as Barb constantly reminds us, there are a lot of Fan Films out there for us to enjoy, "dive in" or simply watch. But they always have this similar "feeling" of fan productions on which they are regarded (at least, as far as I'm concerned).

James Cawley raised the bar right from the beginning (and I also take into account "Come What May", because the production design was very, VERY ambitious) and then there has been been a sudden jump (with "To Serve All My Days") that lifted the fan series to another level, regardless which version you take into account, Jack Marshall's (the Director of that episode) vision or both Phase 2's versions (with Chekov's dying/dreaming storyline). It was, where "labour of love" aka amateurism met semi-professionalism. And they never let me/us down afterwards. From that time onwards, it would always be about scripting/acting/editing - and whther we liked the story or not so much. That's where "World Enough And Time" met me completely up to now!

So what was I saying here? Yes, I compare Phase 2 more with professional productions than fan films. That's, how I regard the series.
Star Trek Continues has the same production values, the same semi-professionalism, the same enthusiasm for me. And it doesn't matter for me, that the groundwork has been done by others. I love it equally and compare it equally to professional productions, nothing else.
And, of course, there's Starship Exeter, whose final film will probably come out later this year completed. They have also done such a remarkably job of putting out a 2nd film that was so much on par with P2/STC, that I should recognize, that they have done so years ago.

So, all scripting/acting/editing/mixing issues regarded - I'd compare them with professional tv shows - and I'll praise/criticize them on THAT level.

tl;dr?

P.S.: Both, James Cawley AND Vic Mignogna strike me as very good acting Captains Kirk!
'Nuff said!
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Old January 19 2014, 02:22 AM   #247
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

For what it's worth, just for people's info...all of MY scripts also were gone over by a industry professional story editor who works in the film industry as a story editor and screenwriter. (redundant but wanted to make my point.) As I was Phase II's story editor, I felt it would be a case of "a doctor who has himself as a doctor has a fool for a doctor". So both Kitumba and Mind-Sifter got the Hollywood treatment. (People should remember that what gets put on the screen is not necessarily what was on the page to begin with. Case in point: the "corvette line" was James'.) (Walter Koenig also went over Kitumba for me before we filmed it.)
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Old January 19 2014, 02:39 AM   #248
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

Does that include your Mind Sifter?
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Old January 19 2014, 04:46 AM   #249
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

what? I said that the Hollywood person did a story edit on my Mind Sifter...so I am not sure what you are asking. (I have a completely second version that we long debated.... a more "TOS" version which didn't really do Shirley's story justice, it was just a TOS episode based on hers...and was not really something Phase II was up to filming. The story editor preferred it, but knew why we had to use the other one. )

Mine isn't being used, though, so it's a mute point when it applies to Phase II.
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Old January 19 2014, 04:50 AM   #250
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

or did Walter go over Mind Sifter? Not that I remember. (though I could check) I do remember Kitumba....because his overall comment was "competently written, but hardly special or worth filming".
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Old January 19 2014, 05:19 AM   #251
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

USS Intrepid wrote: View Post
I love and encourage constructive criticism. I reserve my ire for those who refuse to learn the difference between constructive and just plain mean
Me too, though I also hide in a closet and poke pins into little dolls out of a sense of petty revenge.
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Old January 19 2014, 10:15 AM   #252
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

andriech wrote: View Post
what? I said that the Hollywood person did a story edit on my Mind Sifter...so I am not sure what you are asking.
Sorry, my eye skipped over Mind Sifter in your previous post.
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Old January 24 2014, 02:55 AM   #253
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

Finally had a chance to sit down and re-watch Phase 2’s KITUMBA episode without any distractions whatsoever (not easy, let me tell you). The first time out I came away with enjoyment at having seen a fine piece of entertainment. Is it Citizen Kane-level? Well of course not, but the creative team deserves a lot of credit.
Many members have already shared their observations, allow me to do the same:
(1)Spock says ‘’Starfleet has already alerted 29 starships...’’ 29?!? I guess starship includes ships of many different classes, the Saladin pictured at the beginning for one...

(2)First time I think I’ve ever seen a Starfleet officer wearing a wedding ring on his hand. Plus it’s kinda funny to see Gil Gerard barely acknowledge Spock and McCoy, then hail Mr Scott by name...
(3)There seems to be the same Bones reaction shot at 02:24 and 04:12, though the first one strikes me as unnecessary since the Doc seems to be reacting for no reason (he couldn’t yet know the new arrival is a klingon). Speaking of the Doc, I’ve really come to like John Kelley as McCoy and was really disappointed to see him gone in the Mind-Sifter teaser (really glad to see him return) He’s really come onto his own in the role, but he is probably an editor’s worst nightmare during the transporter room sequence (arms down, arms crossed, arms behind his back )...Spock also keeps popping in and out...

(4)Ron Boyd has been around as long as James Cawley and Kelley, and always a welcomed face in the crowd, but he’s just too relaxed and smooth while the original TOS DeSalle was basically Clint Eastwood, squinty-eyed and jaw clenched...

(5)I love seeing Paul Sieber as Prescott again, though it’s kinda weird he would go (character-wise) from Farragut security chief to Enterprise security...And he’s not played as much of a stick-in-the-mud as on Farragut, so not as fun. Perhaps he should have been cast as another crewman entirely.

(6)Loved the scene with the gathering of the Klingons. Well Phase 2 has done it! After disappointing planetside episodes for Exeter (The savage Empire) and Farragut (the Captaincy and For Want of a Nail) with decidedly un-alien settings, this is the second episode that passes the grade (Enemy Starfleet is the other). Sole gripe? would have needed a more judicious placement of the many fans/klingons to have the more authentic ones in the foreground...

(7)Vic Mignona as the main villain...hmm, would have preferred he be more Kang, than Klaa...

(8) The directing/editing at 43 minutes is quite confusing: Kirk brings the Kitumba back planetside and has words with Kargg. He and Peter go back inside the tavern separately. Kirk goes inside with the Kitumba and wonders where Peter is (?). Peter is making out with a female klingon, kissing her for all he’s worth (what was the point of that, though?). Then both Kirks, Chekov and Uhura all step out of the tavern only to be surrounded by Kargg and a squad of Klingons... Cowardly sod, isn’t he? Used to be a Klingon didn’t need help to subdue 4 humans by himself...

(9)At 56:20 my 3rd favorite piece of Star Trek music explodes and I am so giddy. The fighting sequence was terrific but could have been more deadly (meaning, some of the characters might have paid the price). You would think after all the times Kirk has gotten sliced across the chest he would now have quite a collection of scar tissue, but...

(10)Storywise, I get that the focus had to remain small for this story, centering on the Kitumba and the plot by Malka’thon even though a story that seeks to bring momentous change to a whole race/planet might have wanted to show some extra power players and THEIR views on the whole matter (no, not asking to bring in a whole who’s who of the ridge head set, but a few new guys might have added some scope).

Overall, an entertaining hour was spent. My only gripe is that Kirk and the crew just were never in that much danger. The possible need to blow up the ship if ever it is in any danger of being invaded or overwhelmed is mentioned at least twice (by Gil Gerard and Kirk), but nothing ever comes of that.

And finally we get to see Cawley kick ass!!

The FX sequences are lush and just plain amazing. Pony and Tobias, give it up yo!!
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Old January 25 2014, 04:04 AM   #254
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

One question the editor, Mark Lewis put to me and wanted me to discuss, was K’Sia’s bullwhip.


So here we go:


The whip is a VERY difficult weapon to master. Unlike a sword, which can at least be stabbed-with or flailed by even a neophyte and still be dangerous to an opponent, a bullwhip or stockwhip is much less forgiving, and will more likely bite its own user before hurting someone else. That’s why K’Sia carries one; it’s a sign of a skill level few Klingons possess, a sign of more disciplined training than is usually seen with bladed weapons. There’s an elegance to it as well, and unlike a sword, bat’leth, daq-tag or other bladed weapons, a whip can be used to maim OR to gently touch; it can deliver a powerful supersonic blow and can REMOVE a weapon from an opponent’s hand.
The whip seen in KITUMBA was one I had custom-made by a whipmaker in Montana named Jack Perry. It’s one he makes as part of his brand, and is patterned DIRECTLY after the whip used by Vincent Price in DeMille’s TEN COMMANDMENTS.


Just FYI!

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Old January 28 2014, 03:54 PM   #255
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Re: Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

doubleohfive wrote: View Post
siskokid888 wrote: View Post

Everyone has a right to their opinion, but not to be a martinet like jackass. These people invest their own time and money to make this shows for no other reason than to entertain us and have some fun for themselves. The small mindedness in the cruel brickbats hurled at them boggle my mind. Jealousy? Stupidity? Probably both and more.
I'm going to assume at least part of this is directed toward me, as I was one of (if not the only) person calling out the Phase II people on some of their more unprofessional behavior here.

You are right - everyone has a right to their opinion. And you are also right in that the people making Phase II (and all the other fan films) are doing so for fun. While I suspect "entertaining us" is not the sole reason for why these things get made, it nonetheless is an undeniable fact that these episodes are provided at no cost to Joe Q. Fan. These are labors of love. I don't deny that nor do I condemn it.

The problem I have had has been solely regarding the cognitive dissonance of Phase II's PR machine, insisting that their production tries to be as close to a professionally run production as possible, while their more vocal members still see fit to conduct themselves and their business is patently unprofessional ways. Even David Gerrold, who for all intents and purposes is a one-hit wonder, couldn't be bothered to rise above that petty kind of behavior.

As a working professional in basic cable/network television, I find it laughable. As a fan, I find it disheartening.

So I dispute your assessment that it is "small minded" to offer constructive criticism where appropriate. I dispute your assessment that pointing out the obvious disparity between what the producers at Phase II say they're doing and what they demonstrably have been doing constitutes "cruel brickbats" or that it makes me (or anyone else) a "martinet like jackass."

Part of being an artist and creating your art means also putting that art out in to the world. What makes it "art" is precisely the possibility that there will be people who don't like it. Or people who don't "get it." If James Cawley just wants to play dress-up on the Enterprise, he can do that. I suspect that was very much a reason for his starting Phase II to begin with, the same way I suspect it was a consideration for all the fan films that have been done. The point I'm trying to make is that no one is above criticism.
As mentioned by others, there is a BIG difference between honest critiques to try and help improve the product, and down and out nastiness, no matter what your experience is. Jim Cawley is walking away - I don't know him personnally, but I know he has been a professional performer for some time, so I would have to imagine it took some pretty vile stuff to get him to want to stop performing.

I was a professional law enforcement officer for many years. I wouldn't walk into a mall, go up to a security guard, and say "you look like crap, you are doing your job completly wrong, you know nothing of professional law enforcement, now listen to me and do what I say". It is quite unfair to expect a minimun wage security guard without my years of training and experience to meet up to MY expectations of professionalism or performance.

You want to knock JJ Abrams and Paramount studios, go ahead, they are multimillionaire professionals with almost unlimited resources to do what they do. Cut the Phase II folks, and all the other dedicated fan productions out there, a little slack. If you can stomach it.
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