Marc Zicree Talks About New Voyages

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Twain, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. Twain

    Twain Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    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.
     
  2. Arkady

    Arkady Lieutenant Commander

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    O_o
     
  3. Data Holmes

    Data Holmes Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Location:
    zone.33 lounge at club Planet Noir
    Interesting... :vulcan:
     
  4. OmahaStar

    OmahaStar Disrespectful of his betters Admiral

    Joined:
    May 15, 2002
    Location:
    OmahaStar
    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.
     
  5. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    The Bay Area

    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.
     
  6. OmahaStar

    OmahaStar Disrespectful of his betters Admiral

    Joined:
    May 15, 2002
    Location:
    OmahaStar
    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?
     
  7. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2001
    Location:
    Doing a little bit of writing
    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.
     
  8. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    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: Mar 3, 2008
  9. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2001
    Location:
    Doing a little bit of writing
    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.
     
  10. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    The Bay Area
    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.
     
  11. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    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. :lol:

    Non-profit corporations are that, not necessarily "charitable." Several of the fan films are organized as literary or educational not-for-profits.
     
  12. Data Holmes

    Data Holmes Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Location:
    zone.33 lounge at club Planet Noir
    Sounds to me like it's "non-copyright-infringing" but not "work-for-hire".
     
  13. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2001
    Location:
    Doing a little bit of writing
    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.
     
  14. Twain

    Twain Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    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: Mar 4, 2008
  15. Thalek

    Thalek Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Location:
    Sol III
    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.
     
  16. TRP

    TRP Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    To support Thalek's post, it also does not follow that "fan" produced necessarily means amateur. Two of the biggest fans I know of are Manny Coto and Michael Okuda, among others--

    The appeal of NV/P2 that has been a draw for many professionals is that the fans of the original series have come together to continue it. The hybrid production that is P2 encompasses fans from all spectrums and localities.

    --R
     
  17. OmahaStar

    OmahaStar Disrespectful of his betters Admiral

    Joined:
    May 15, 2002
    Location:
    OmahaStar
    Actually, that's exactly what it means. Coto and Okuda were paid to work directly for the copyright holder. Fan films by their very nature don't work for the copyright holder. Sorry to completely deflate your argument, but it was so weak anyway.
     
  18. TRP

    TRP Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    It doesn't deflate it at all--it strengthens it. Just because a fan film is made by fans doesn't mean the fans are not professionals too. FAN Film does not necessarily equal AMATEUR Film as has been argued.

    Manny asked us to contribute to the Defiant episode of Enterprise and Mike has been a contributor to us--both fans, both professionals, and both have a passing aquaintance with NV/P2.

    I'll leave it to the other fans who are professionals to identify themselves if they so choose, but it doesn't take much imagination to read our credits at the end of an episode to see where some of our professional participation comes from. The key is they are all FANS.

    --R
     
  19. OmahaStar

    OmahaStar Disrespectful of his betters Admiral

    Joined:
    May 15, 2002
    Location:
    OmahaStar
    Man, you really don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about, do you?

    And the two completely separate entities - one with the copyright holder, one without - are the same how? George Takei appeared in an episode of Voyager. That was legally done by contract with the copyright holder. He also appeared in a fan film under the name of "New Voyages" which was not legally done by the copyright holder. The same person worked on both. So what? They're not the same, but you're blindly arguing that they are.
     
  20. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    "Fan film," "amateur film" and "unlicensed film" are overlapping rather than congruent sets, with "fan film" being the least well-defined of the offerings. Maintaining that if a video is one of these things it is automatically the other two is a failed argument.