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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old October 31 2013, 06:48 AM   #16
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Star Trek Redux

It sounds like you're trying to attract interested parties to get things going, but it also sounds like you're far from production. For the reasons I give below, one major concern I have is that this will turn into one of the numerous projects already out there, that stays in development for five or more years without a single frame of footage being made.

With 20 or more scripts already in hand, at this point, I'd worry less about attracting people to write for the show than I would actually making it. Pick one of the 20 scripts and turn it into a pilot. If that's too challenging, pick one scene. Nothing will get people interested in participating as much as seeing what you already have, in the form of a video they can watch.

At this early stage, getting too specific in what's been reimagined doesn't really help such a project, in my view. Star Trek isn't about photon torpedoes, it's about characters in situations. If the stories and situations aren't compelling, then who cares how a photon torpedo operates? Stories don't write themselves, given just the setting.

Finally, in terms of sets, I'd suggest sticking close to TOS (or TNG/VOY) standard sets, if for no other reason than to make use of the resources out there and the work that has already been done by other fan productions. This is especially so in your pilot episodes. Standing on that work will give you a leg up in production, and help you get something made more easily. Even with standard props and sets, you can can still have things operate differently under the hood, if that's important to the story.

Try contacting other successful productions. I imagine they'd be glad to help with suggestions, if not even more concretely, as much as they can. One of the biggest risks I see in something like this is to try so hard to reinvent the wheel that nothing really gets done.

Best of luck!
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Old October 31 2013, 08:44 AM   #17
Maurice
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Re: Star Trek Redux

trekkist wrote: View Post
OK Maurice, how's this?
You're still hand waving. Stop comparing it to other shows. Stop hyping how innovative it is. Stop naming other ships. Those are distracting you from telling us what the show is about. What is the ship's mission? Where? How does the crew feel about it? Are they there willingly?

Your cast as summarized are not people, they're labels. What's interesting about the Captain other than he's a Muslim? I was once a Catholic but that's one facet of who I am and not something anyone would sum me up as. Why is he there? What does he want?

Nobody cares about the length of the ship, etc. Is the ship old? State of the art? A flying deathtrap? audiences care about the relationship the characters have with this tin can they're flying around in, not it's length or mass or how many welds it has.
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Last edited by Maurice; November 1 2013 at 07:00 AM. Reason: Fixed some bad typing and poor grammar from writing half asleep!
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Old October 31 2013, 04:49 PM   #18
trekkist
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Re: Star Trek Redux

Damnit. Look, it is "Capt Y of Starship Z," just as any number of existing fan films. What distinguishes it is just what you're seeing as unimportant -- a re-imagining (size & tech) that (in my view) isn't a reboot, but a closer view than "cannon"; a crew mix that (inasmuch as its possible in 2013) recaptures the "shock of the new" of Kirk's crew's diversity. Why does it matter that Allende's a Muslim? Because today -- in a world divided into opposing politico-religious camps -- THE most shocking hero would be the one we're in apparently endless war with. What the show is "about" IS those things, and the intent/desire to (again, occasionally) bring to Trek not just SF, drama, etc., but contemporary political relevance -- as TOS caught when "A Private Little War" debuted during the Tet Offensive, "A Taste of Armageddon" carried body counts to the ultimate extreme. What the show is "about" IS what I'm "hyping." Within that unique format occur stories. Good, bad, relevant, mundane -- but not situated in a universe specifically characterized other than by the things you keep seeing I shouldn't try to play up.

It's a TOS era series on a stock Connie. What sets it apart is what I've been talking about. A Romulan war era series, a series aboard a lost ship, a non-Connie, etc., would have those elements as unique. My unique elements are technology, Captain & crew mix, and a degree of (hopefully) reflection/commentary on modern issues. And as for "comparing it to other shows" -- without plot details, isn't that how pitches are typically done? "It's 'Basic Instinct,' but with a woman cop." "It's 'Nutty Professor,' but with a black scientist."
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Old October 31 2013, 08:40 PM   #19
David.Blue
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Re: Star Trek Redux

The "shock of the new" is a good point, imho. But IMHO you have two options in going forward.

First, simply accept you're writing fanfic in script format and go for that. Or adapt the format in some way to make it more palatable for the average reader.

Second, knuckle down and get the help/support to put this on in some way. Audio drama, fan film, animated short, whatever.

Good luck!
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Old November 1 2013, 12:40 AM   #20
trekkist
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Re: Star Trek Redux

Maurice, I want to thank you for hanging in on what may not be the most interesting exchange. I know I've been a bit testy, but that doesn't mean I don't value your feedback, which is exactly the sort I showed up looking for.

Production…boy. Everything needed, I lack…CGI skills for a start, an idea where to go to find free professional-grade actors, let alone the wherewithal and/or knowledge for set building or even green screen. I'll be going to the Farragut open house in December, but confess to considerable shyness at the prospect of saying "Hey! Can I rent your sets?" Thinking "practical," I scripted a teaser awhile back…of which I'll ask the same as of what I've posted already. If this existed (today, post-Phase II et al, as vs. when I wrote the damn thing), would it serve as an enticing sales pitch for talent?

David Winfrey

TRAILER

FADE IN:

A slowly drifting starfield.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
You think you've seen "Star Trek."

As the narrator speaks, each word appears one-by-one on
screen. HOLD a beat; then, all but the words "Star Trek"
vanish and we

CUT TO:

A machine-gun-rapid montage of shots, reeling back the years:
begin with scenes from "Star Trek: Nemesis" (or whatever film
is in latest release), proceeding backwards through
"Enterprise," "Voyager," "Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek:
The Next Generation" and the latter series' films, continuing
then through the original series spinoff films, (NOT
including the direct-to-DVD/video "Special Edition" of "Star
Trek: The Motion Picture"), and into scenes from the original
series itself, concluding with a shot of Captain Pike and Mr.
Spock on the bridge (from the original pilot episode "The
Cage"). HOLD on this final (i.e., the very first) image of
"Star Trek," then

CUT TO:

A slowly drifting starfield.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
You think you've seen "Star Trek."
(a beat)
You haven't.

The U.S.S. Endeavour – an original series (Enterprise-type)
starship – explodes into frame and out (a reprise of the
original series title sequence to-and-from pass of
Enterprise).

The following shots appear in synchrony with the Narrator's
words.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as it would have been—

CUT TO:

SFX SPACE

Endeavour in low orbit of the Moon, a gorgeous "beauty shot"
of ship and world alike.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as it could have been—

CUT TO:

A fleet of Romulan "warbirds" (the flat-hulled, bird-painted
original series vessels) falling in close formation toward
the surface of a star.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as it should have been—

CUT TO:

INT. ENDEAVOUR HALLWAY

A striking redhead in a command-blue miniskirt stands in a
ladder alcove.

WOMAN
Ensign.

A hunky ensign steps into the nook—

WOMAN (CONT'D)
This is not an order.

ENSIGN
(stuttering)
Roger that.

—and is pulled into a passionate, full-body-contact kiss.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as it almost was—

CUT TO:

SFX SPACE

A fleet of Klingon D-7s (original series starships) at high
warp, some of the vessels exploding (and otherwise suffering
debilitating damage) mid-flight.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as it never was—

INT. HANGAR DECK

A woman in a Starfleet minidress leaps out of a diminutive
version of an old-style shuttlecraft and begins to run flat
out for the hangar bay's airlock. The shuttle is still moving
from a position just inside the closed hangar bay doors;
the sound of rushing air fills the soundtrack. ZOOM on the
woman as she runs to reveal her eyes are tightly shut.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as it always was—

CUT TO:

INT. BRIDGE

Original series vintage, with a high back on the captain's
chair. In the hot seat is COMMODORE WESLEY (Barry Russo), as
established in original series episode "The Ultimate
Computer."

COMMODORE WESLEY
All phasers to overload power.
Burst the emitters. One salvoed
shot.
(a beat)
Fi—

NARRATOR (V.O.)
—again.

CUT TO:

SFX SPACE

Endeavour hurtling toward the galactic barrier.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as you knew it—

CUT TO:

INT. ENGINEERING

An attractive brunette in an Engineering-red minidress sits
at the main console, eyes going to the ceiling as the engines
howl on the ragged edge of detonation.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" as you loved it—

CUT TO:

INT. BRIDGE

On the main viewscreen, a crystal-eyed, reptilian Gorn.

GORN
(screaming in Gorn-ish)
RUU-HAY!

NARRATOR
"Star Trek" as you made it—

CUT TO:

SFX SPACE

Three tri-nacelled Starfleet Dreadnaughts maneuvering in
close formation, like jet fighters. PULL BACK as the nearer
and farther of the two perform a primary/secondary hull
separation, their saucers banking into and out of frame,
barely missing the single-engined Starfleet destroyers riding
flank.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Again.

CUT TO:

SFX SPACE

Endeavour as she lets go with everything she's got: twinned
phaser beams pulsing from the saucer's underside, photon
torpedo shots between; single phasers lancing unbrokenly from
just in front, and to the left and right of the bridge.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek—"

INT. KLINGON BRIDGE

An old Klingon (original series vintage – no bumpy forehead),
his face and body covered with scars, turns suddenly to face
the (unseen) viewscreen, a look of horror on his face.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
—again.

CUT TO:

SFX SPACE

A haggard-looking fleet of Klingon starships – of various
configurations – is set upon from behind by a somewhat-faster
trio of Romulan "warbirds," the lot exchanging fire.

CUT TO:

A slowly drifting starfield.

IMPOSE TITLE:

STAR TREK

The two words – their font contemporary "Trek" standard –
morph transporter-style into the original series font, and in
time with the narrator's reading of them, become

STAR TREK REDUX

NARRATOR (V.O.)
"Star Trek" Redux—

CUT TO:

A gunfire-rapid series of (hitherto-unseen) "teaser" shots.

CUT TO:

A slowly drifting starfield, which with the last word—

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Again.

—explodes toward us as we go to warp speed.

FADE OUT.

THE END
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Old November 1 2013, 02:39 AM   #21
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Star Trek Redux

'splosions, sex, pew-pew. What's not to love?

So, are those scenes extracted from actual scripted episodes, or is that just a montage of random standalone hooks?
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Old November 1 2013, 06:45 AM   #22
Maurice
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Re: Star Trek Redux

trekkist wrote: View Post
And as for "comparing it to other shows" -- without plot details, isn't that how pitches are typically done? "It's 'Basic Instinct,' but with a woman cop." "It's 'Nutty Professor,' but with a black scientist."
That's the one line pitch. But that's not what I see above. A one-line pitch would be something like "It's Star Trek by way of Das Boot".

The issue with summarizing characters as one word like "Muslim" or "gay" or "Chinese" is that it reduces them to labels and utterly fails to define them by the content of their character. I once pitched a character as "a 'Cafeteria Muslim' [like a Cafeteria Catholic] who picks and choose what aspects of the faith he likes or finds convenient and discards the rest." THAT is a character.


Here's the practical advice I'm going to give you.

If you've never made a film before, this is NOT where to start. Just to shoot this trailer would require access to sets, costumes (not to mention a Gorn suit?!) and whole mess of VFX. It's a whole lot of work, and it's the kind of thing we've seen over and over again. practically every fan made space show tries to create excitement with a trailer full of spaceships going pew pew, and it's tired and isn't going to attract actors.

A good SCRIPT and the ability to prove that you can make a film and finish it is what will draw people to the project.

Here's what I recommend to wanna be filmmakers.
  1. Look to see if there's a 48 Hour Film Project or similar contest in your area, and then either join a team or form a team and go out there and make a movie in two days or whatnot. The actual experience of making a film, even a 4 minute short, will give you a much better sense of what it takes to mount an actual production than just about anything. You get to see all aspects of how a film gets made (write, shoot, edit, deliver) which is invaluable experience.
  2. Read some actual teleplays and screenplays but NOT Star Trek or science fiction ones. You'll learn more about screenwriting when you're not looking at something familiar.
  3. If you write a Trek Fanfilm, try to do one with next to ZERO visual effects. The effects frequently become a bottleneck that keeps films in post for lengthy period or forever. If you can get it all in camera (except maybe some ship flybys) then you actually have a film even if your effects pipeline falls apart.
  4. Partner with someone who has the skills you don't.

Below are some blog entries from 2008 in which I documented the process of making my first completed live action short subject for a 48 Hour Film Project. Maybe you'll find it instructive or terrifying or something.
Part 1: GO! And overnight screenwriting
Part 2: The shooting day
Part 3: Post & Across the Finish Line
Part 4: On the big screen (the screening)
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Last edited by Maurice; November 1 2013 at 08:19 AM.
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Old November 1 2013, 02:09 PM   #23
Duane
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Re: Star Trek Redux

Trekkist, we seem to be a bit alike. I am a writer and not a filmmaker. I was never drawn to it. It seems like you need to find a filmmaker who is in need of a script, and actors in need of a project. I agree with Maurice that filming a trailer won't help much. Proving you can produce a single scene or a few scenes, and produce them well, is much more valuable since it proves you can get it done.

It's hard since the skill sets involved (camera, lighting, costumes, make-up, sets, CGI, audio quality, sound effects, music, editing) can't usually be found in a very small group of people. But if you have talented friends with some contacts it can be done.

You are sort of raising the question "what does it take to get on people's radar?" I'm been watching Kickstarter videos trying to determine what makes some succeed and others fail. Seemingly promising projects like Nobility or David Gerrold's project fail to gain traction, while a documentary about a failing town in Missouri (Rich Hill) hits their funding goal. I've learned a few things from that process, but it's still mostly a mystery to me.
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Old November 1 2013, 03:20 PM   #24
trekkist
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Re: Star Trek Redux

Thanks, and sincerely, again, Maurice…and "terrifying" is indeed the word.

I have read some scripts…indeed took quite a number of courses at a local film school…but have zero actual experience.

The trailer shows its age, unfortunately (and Closed Caption, its all scenes from my pilot script). What would (perhaps) have seemed gosh-wow circa 2003 is (I'm glad to say) old news today. I've also been thinking in terms of an SFX-light production.

I'm in complete agreement as to your criticism re: "Muslim," etc. I think I'll leave off here -- again with thanks for your (and others') advice, but will close by posting a few short character bios, just to show I've more in mind than stock diversity.

David Winfrey

Captain Fazal Allende—Tall, charismatic, of mixed Middle Eastern and Central American descent, Allende was first offered a Starship captaincy at 30, but declined for the sake of his pregnant wife. For some decades a widower due to a planetary disaster, he taught at the Academy before taking command of Endeavour, whose assumption of Jim Kirk’s former patrol route he sometimes regrets. Allende is a “half-breed” eidetic, his memory not perfectly photographic, but near enough he retains the names of his entire crew (indeed, much of Starfleet), and considerable else. He wears his long dense hair in a braid, sports a thick salt-and-pepper beard, and enjoys rank’s privilege in regularly (though not daily; times have changed) pointing his vessel towards Mecca, that he may properly pray. Allende enjoys a strong personal relationship with many of his command staff, who respect both his quiet deliberation and his slow-to-kindle but powerful temper.

First Officer Shelia Hansen—a statuesque blonde, 45 years of age, Hansen has a reputation throughout Starfleet as a hellacious shore-leaver. She entered the Academy when 23, and within two years began a romance with Allende. Upon graduation, she took her lover’s advice to strike out with a vengeance, electing service upon an autonomous, long-ranged exploration cruiser. Shortly into her first mission, she and her crew suffered contact with a spatial anomaly, thanks to which they experienced some years’ duration in what was to the galaxy proper a matter of weeks. On returning, Hansen, highest ranking of her cruiser’s survivors (and thanks to its plight, now 41) confronted Allende as a near-equal, served as his First (in both senses) on the scout Heinlein, only to face his refusal to wed her (or keep a “Captain’s Woman”) on Endeavour. She practices “safe distancing maneuvers” both aboard and ashore, and seems likely to win her own Starship in due course. She is close friends with Endeavour’s Chief Engineer, and a joking thorn in the side to the ship’s Science Officer, who she sees as having a fetish for Vulcan logic he would do better without.

Chief Engineer Regina Brahms—a soft-spoken redhead in her early 30s, Brahms has few peers in her expertise and inventiveness. She declined upon Academy graduation a high post in Starfleet’s engine design department in preference to, as she put it, “playing with real toys” – a number of which (of quite another sort) she shared and/or alternated with Hansen when roommates, back then. Like many another engineer, she takes herself to be Endeavour’s “owner,” but revels in (and indeed, often suggests) the chance to take the ship to her limits.

Science Officer William Daystrom—tall, strikingly handsome, about 22, Daystrom bears the burden of being son to a one-time “boy wonder” whose greatest creation ran amok to the tune of nearly 500 dead. This debacle rendered William something of a pariah at Starfleet Academy, due to which he assumed an almost Vulcan demeanor, becoming, on graduation, a sought-after candidate for Starship duty…yet suspected of being so marked by events that “offers” were few. Allende, well-acquainted with both duty and loss, has given him the chance to show himself a fine Science Officer. Daystrom appears to have few interests outside of his duties, and – having been raised a somewhat conservative Catholic – may well consider the M-5 to have been not merely a tragic mistake, but an Abomination…which if so, would put him at some risk of damnation due the sins of the father.
In his off-hours, Daystrom knits.

Chief Medical Officer Spask—As a full Vulcan, Spask is of indeterminate age. He appears to be forty-five or so, but may be as old as sixty Earth years. He has, in any case, made quite a career in the Starfleet Medical Corps, and had more than enough time both to acclimate himself to humans and all their foibles, and to allow himself the sometime-pleasure of being unexpectedly demonstrative of emotion (at least to the level of a very dry wit) in their presence. Although we will at best allude to the fact, Spask is a distant relation of the first Vulcan to marry a human, an event which was the scandal of Vulcan some 100 years ago. Spask plays the Vulcan harp only under great duress, and quite badly. He will also, on occasion, tell rather bad jokes. As to the latter, though, it is a moot point whether Spask is revealing himself as being humor-impaired – or taking pleasure in playing humans as straight men (sic) in making them the butt(s) of his humor. The smart money would be on the latter.
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Old November 1 2013, 08:27 PM   #25
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Re: Star Trek Redux

As an executive producer, I have to ask, "How expensive and practical is <script> going to be?" We've had scripts submitted that would no doubt be fun to do, but they're just outside the scope of our production. Our motto remains KISS -- Keep It Simple, Stupid. We get into far more trouble when we DON'T adhere to our motto than we do when we keep it in mind, at least.
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Old November 1 2013, 09:43 PM   #26
trekkist
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Re: Star Trek Redux

Well said. Having built furniture (though not sets) I've some idea of those costs, and how they can escalate.

Having a pilot in hand, I chose brief scenes for the above trailer with costs in mind. The Gorn? TOS stock on a view screen (likely a model). A short, close-in corridor sequence. Commodore Wesley on his bridge: modified stock (if that's possible). A hangar via miniature or CGI. Doable, I think…but due to being dated in its impact (we've seen lots of redone TOS era stuff since I wrote that), pointless to run with now. I've vague thoughts as to a story set on a shuttlecraft...

I'm thrilled to see you read scripts (what, no musicals?). I confess to having not heard of your show, but will be devoting some time to it soon. Thanks for the post!

David Winfrey
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Old November 2 2013, 12:44 AM   #27
Maurice
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Re: Star Trek Redux

I'm certainly not trying to scare you off filmmaking. Rather, I'm trying to give you a sense that it's probably not at all what you're thinking it really is. Fan filmmakers typically aim too high from the get go, and their plans are frequently impractical.

This is one reason I recommend things like 48HFP, as they are great opportunities to get experience.

If you have a script, I have a crazy no-budget idea for you: learn by doing. In short get a camera...and it can be ANY camera—even an iPhone or whatnot—get some friends or any actors you can find and actually go shoot the script...without makeup, props, lights, sets, anything. Then just edit it together (there're a fair number of free editing software packages). Sure, it won't look or sound pretty, but what you'll have done is create the equivalent of pre-vis for the whole film. Think of it as a rehearsal. You'll learn tons just from doing that, and it will cost you not much more than time.

That experience will change the way you think about writing and making movies, period. You'll change the way you write scripts. And if you don't love the process, you might realize it's not for you.

Now, on the positive side, you can sorta go from 0 to competence in short order. I'll use myself as an example. Although I made goofy little 8mm films in high school and did computer animation in the 80s and 90s, my practical experience with making movies was really nada. In 2003 I wrote and directed a sci-fi short subject, since abandoned, where my reach exceeded my grasp. In 2007 I helped make a 48HFP film (as writer), and in 2008 directed my own 48HFP film...the first film I completed. The next year for the 48HFP I made this short subject (link), which tied for Runner Up for Best Film and won for Best Costumes and Best Sound Design, which just goes to show it's possible to learn to make something passable in a fairly short time if you're serious about doing good work.
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