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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old March 3 2008, 10:42 AM   #1
Twain
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Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

There's a dispute bubbling among SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) members as to the professional legitimacy of Star Trek:New Voyages following the nomination of the episode World Enough and Time for the best screenplay Nebula. The argument is a bit churlish -they say it's not a professional production so it shouldn't be eligible - but understandable given the award's traditional antipathy towards tie-in fiction of any sort.

Now Marc Zicree, co-writer of WEaT and writer on TNG and DS9, has weighed in with his point of view in a recent statement prepared for the SFWA. The argument Zicree constructs is interesting... But what's more interesting is how incredibly candid he is about how connected New Voyages (now "Phase II") actually is. The show's fannish producers have traditionally been tight lipped about the privileged position New Voyages enjoys as a fan film. Not Marc Zicree.

He tells us that World Enough and Time was produced with the full co-operation and knowledge of Paramount (from "Business Affairs on down"), that he was given directorial advice by no less than JJ Abrams while shooting the show and that several key personnel were paid for their involvement - including George Takei, Grace Whitney and Marc himself. The show had many professional crew members on board, hired by Zicree's own production company, including a professional editor, Chris Cronin, who worked at industry rates. He also mentions that a day of shooting actually took place on the Universal lot.

Marc's statement makes for a very interesting read. You'll find it at Lee Whiteside's SFTV blog.
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Old March 3 2008, 10:58 AM   #2
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

"As co-writer, director and executive producer of “World Enough and Time” (and also as someone with a thirty-year career as a writer-producer in network television), I’m glad to clarify things and categorically state that “World Enough and Time” was a professional production that utilized literally hundreds of men and women, many of whom work full-time in film and television, and that it was done entirely with Paramount’s knowledge and approval, and in no way violated their copyright."
O_o
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Old March 3 2008, 05:26 PM   #3
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

Interesting...
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Old March 3 2008, 08:02 PM   #4
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

Unless they are actually licensed by Paramount, then yes, they are absolutely in violation of copyright. I've yet to hear one word about them being licensed, though. And someone's being paid? When is THAT allowed?

The more I hear about these, the more I'm wondering just how "fannish" these really are. Crawley whines and moans about how bad the movie's Enterprise looks, and then suddenly he's joined the cast. They change the name. Half the cast (that we know of, anyway) walks away.


Something's up with this, and the truth will out. Eventually.
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Old March 3 2008, 08:58 PM   #5
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

OmahaStar wrote: View Post
Unless they are actually licensed by Paramount, then yes, they are absolutely in violation of copyright. I've yet to hear one word about them being licensed, though. And someone's being paid? When is THAT allowed?

As far as I know, the Cawley's production company and the NV/PII are a non-profit; however, as an employee of a non-profit, I can assure you they do pay. Now, I wouldn't presume to speak about the particulars of Cawley and his company. I can only speak about what I know through my own experiences. Non-profits do pay their employees.

I find nothing suspicious about these people getting paid for their work.
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Old March 3 2008, 09:24 PM   #6
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

middyseafort wrote: View Post
OmahaStar wrote: View Post
Unless they are actually licensed by Paramount, then yes, they are absolutely in violation of copyright. I've yet to hear one word about them being licensed, though. And someone's being paid? When is THAT allowed?

As far as I know, the Cawley's production company and the NV/PII are a non-profit; however, as an employee of a non-profit, I can assure you they do pay. Now, I wouldn't presume to speak about the particulars of Cawley and his company. I can only speak about what I know through my own experiences. Non-profits do pay their employees.

I find nothing suspicious about these people getting paid for their work.
You work for a non-profit. That's pretty much a charity, right? In what way is a fan film a charity? How are any contributions to them tax-deductible?
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Old March 3 2008, 10:19 PM   #7
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

For the record, since I'm kinda the one who started this whole thing: it's the legal status of the script in question that remains a sticking point for many people, myself included. Is it a licensed product, or is it the next evolution of fanfic? There is also a question of whether or not a loophole in the Nebula rules is being exploited for New Voyages' benefit. SFWA has ruled it eligible, but a lot of voters still seem to have questions that haven't been answered yet.
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Old March 3 2008, 10:56 PM   #8
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

One thing that these films are not is an "evolution of fan-fic." They're coming from a largely different group of people, motivated somewhat differently and are based in different sets of skills and talents. Referring to them as an "evolution" of some kind of prose fiction is equivalent to referring to television shows or films as an "evolution" of short stories or novels - one can make the argument by stretching a point and ignoring most of the relevant information.

Likewise, whatever "antipathy" the SFWA may have historically shown to "tie-in fiction" is not relevant here; what would matter is what their history is with the nomination of scripts for episodic television or franchise films for the Nebula. "Blink," for example, is an episode of the new "Doctor Who" - it's no more or less an "original work" than "World Enough And Time." Debate their relative quality if you like - I'd certainly vote for any episode of Davies' "Doctor Who" ahead of any fan film I've ever seen - but one is no more or less equivalent to "tie-in" fiction than the other. Has the SFWA tended to privilege original scripts over scripts featuring established characters or franchises? I doubt it.

I was nominated for half a Nebula about a million years ago, and much as I appreciated that I also learned and accepted that a certain amount of log-rolling always goes into getting onto the ballot. It's good to have such friends, but also good not to take awards - much less simple nominations for potential awards - very seriously.

Last edited by Admiral Buzzkill; March 3 2008 at 11:12 PM.
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Old March 4 2008, 01:21 AM   #9
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

And your argument is completely missing the point that has evolved since that LJ entry was made, Starship Polaris.

The point of order right now is whether or not the script was written and produced under legal permission from the copyright holder. That point remains unclear for many people. They claim to have "tacit approval," which has resulted in SFWA allowing the script to remain on the ballot, but "tacit approval" is not the same as a non-copyright-infringing, work-for-hire product. "Blink" was written and produced with the approval of the copyright holder. We can't be so sure about "WEaT."

Really, this is nothing that the general public need worry about. This is an internal SFWA matter. "WEaT" is going to remain on the final ballot. That's a final decision from the president. However, there is a portion of the voting base that remains unconvinced that it is eligible to be on the ballot.

I just thought I'd try to clear up the mess that has settled out from this since it first began, that's all. No sense fighting the same fights twice, or even three times in some instances.
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Old March 4 2008, 01:28 AM   #10
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

OmahaStar wrote: View Post
middyseafort wrote: View Post
OmahaStar wrote: View Post
Unless they are actually licensed by Paramount, then yes, they are absolutely in violation of copyright. I've yet to hear one word about them being licensed, though. And someone's being paid? When is THAT allowed?

As far as I know, the Cawley's production company and the NV/PII are a non-profit; however, as an employee of a non-profit, I can assure you they do pay. Now, I wouldn't presume to speak about the particulars of Cawley and his company. I can only speak about what I know through my own experiences. Non-profits do pay their employees.

I find nothing suspicious about these people getting paid for their work.
You work for a non-profit. That's pretty much a charity, right? In what way is a fan film a charity? How are any contributions to them tax-deductible?
I teach for a non-profit art college, and I'm not privy to the tax deduction information and all that. It is not, for me, I assure you charity. I draw a salary. As for how this works with NV/PII, I am not qualified to say.
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Old March 4 2008, 01:42 AM   #11
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

TerriO wrote: View Post
And your argument is completely missing the point that has evolved since that LJ entry was made, Starship Polaris.

The point of order right now is whether or not the script was written and produced under legal permission from the copyright holder.
Whatever the "point of order" may be within the SFWA there are a number of different points being discussed in this thread regarding fan films, Paramount's relationship with "New Voyages" and so forth - I'm satisified to go on discussing those and leave the usual political bickering within SFWA to the usual suspects.

I suppose it's too much to hope that Harlan Ellison will rouse himself and shamble forth to chivvy and harass the membership in the old manner.

Non-profit corporations are that, not necessarily "charitable." Several of the fan films are organized as literary or educational not-for-profits.
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Old March 4 2008, 02:19 AM   #12
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

TerriO wrote: View Post
And your argument is completely missing the point that has evolved since that LJ entry was made, Starship Polaris.

The point of order right now is whether or not the script was written and produced under legal permission from the copyright holder. That point remains unclear for many people. They claim to have "tacit approval," which has resulted in SFWA allowing the script to remain on the ballot, but "tacit approval" is not the same as a non-copyright-infringing, work-for-hire product. "Blink" was written and produced with the approval of the copyright holder. We can't be so sure about "WEaT."

Really, this is nothing that the general public need worry about. This is an internal SFWA matter. "WEaT" is going to remain on the final ballot. That's a final decision from the president. However, there is a portion of the voting base that remains unconvinced that it is eligible to be on the ballot.

I just thought I'd try to clear up the mess that has settled out from this since it first began, that's all. No sense fighting the same fights twice, or even three times in some instances.
Sounds to me like it's "non-copyright-infringing" but not "work-for-hire".
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Old March 4 2008, 03:06 AM   #13
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

Fine, obviously I came into this discussion late here, but I was just trying to set the record straight on what was going on. I'll bow out now and go back to what I was doing.
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Old March 4 2008, 10:24 AM   #14
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

Likewise, whatever "antipathy" the SFWA may have historically shown to "tie-in fiction" is not relevant here
Ah - but it does seem important to the people kicking up a fuss. Terri Osborne writes tie-in fiction. Keith Candido writes tie-in fiction. The Nebulas ignore it.

So, their argument is that New Voyages/Phase II isn't sufficiently professional because a) it's not "officially sanctioned" and b) the creators weren't paid to make it.

Marc Zicree's statement refutes the second objection partially - it turns out that many of the crew and even some of the cast were paid "industry rates" for their contribution. They did a professional job on a shoot run along professional lines. As for argument "a" - I personally think it's only a matter of time before the studio confers its official blessing. Already, CBS/Paramount appear to be tacitly sanctioning the series. As Zicree says "it was done entirely with Paramount’s knowledge and approval, and in no way violated their copyright."

Even if these conditions aren't met, my view is that professionalism is also a quality, like craftsmanship, that doesn't necessarily need to be measured by the exchange of money or contracts. And WEaT is a well crafted piece on a extremely tight budget. It speaks to a level of professionalism beyond the arbitrarily capitalistic definition given above.

Further, there's an inferrence in the argument's comparitive choices that because official tie-in fiction is produced "professionally" (i.e. for money, officially) then it is somehow more worthy of consideration than WEaT. I am not an expert on tie-in fiction - but the material that I've tried to read has been universally lacking in the kind of quality I see in the best original science fiction. Perhaps that's the real reason why none of these works have ever been considered for the Nebula.

---

By the way - I edited and expanded my original post into an article for cult TV and film news site, Den of Geek. Read this extended version via Digg.

Last edited by Twain; March 4 2008 at 01:19 PM. Reason: Adding article link.
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Old March 4 2008, 11:10 AM   #15
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Re: Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

TerriO wrote: View Post
Really, this is nothing that the general public need worry about. This is an internal SFWA matter. "WEaT" is going to remain on the final ballot. That's a final decision from the president. However, there is a portion of the voting base that remains unconvinced that it is eligible to be on the ballot.
But not entirely an internal SFWA matter, as it also affects other fan film productions, directly or indirectly.

I, for one, shall be very interested in seeing how this settles out.

I have long agreed with the sentiment stated elsewhere that professionalism and being a professional do not necessarily go hand in hand. I am pleased to see that re-stated here.

I have no opinion on the stances the various factions in SFWA are taking, but I remain convinced that their decision will help set precedents that will be far-reaching.
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