"Paragon's Paragon" from 1974!

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by F. King Daniel, Mar 28, 2021.

  1. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It looks like a loose adaptation of James Blish's "Spock Must Die!"
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
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  2. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The sideburns!

    It's nothing less than amazing that stuff like this was a) made in the first place and b) still exists. It's history and thanks for posting it!
     
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  3. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Is it the poor picture quality or is Uhura a white woman in blackface??
     
  4. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    On the destruct button until the last minute!
    The latter, unfortunately.
     
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  5. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Glad to finally see this. Decent transfer from film. The one downside is the audio. It seems to be mostly on the left channel, which makes it unpleasant listening on headphones, and the BG sound FX were mixed so loud it's sometimes hard to make out what they're saying. Fortunately, the auto-generated subtitles are not bad and help make clearer what they’re saying.

    EDIT: Unfortunately, currently the CC option is not available on Part 2. :(
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
  6. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    In hindsight, they should have just left her white and called her Lt. Palmer. I guess they meant well.
     
  7. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nice set!
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    The article in Cinmagic claims Schamba is named for an African city, but I can find no such place on that continent. There is a Chamba in northern India near the border with Pakistan. Likewise, there's no Japanese city I can find named Tokato. I think he made this up.

    Weirdly her makeup reads green in many shots, as I pointed out years ago.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
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  9. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Albeit it hasn't been updated in ages, the Paragon's Paragon blog has some fun stuff on it, including a blooper reel (link).

    The film's budget was listed at $1,888, which would be about $10 grand today, possibly more.

    The film's creator, John Cosentino, wrote an article about it in CineMagic #6 (the pre-Starlog-published Cinemagic), published Spring 1976. I first became aware of the article via the My Star Trek Scrapbook blog (link), but...

    I found a complete scan of the magazine on the Internet Archive here (link)!

    The main body of the article is below. You'll want to hit the magazine links to see the accompanying photos and sidebars:

    cinemagic_pg01.jpg

    PARAGON’S PARAGON
    ARTICLE, PHOTOS, AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN COSENTINO

    Paragon's Paragon-Plot Synopsis The scheming Klingons find a way to mute the Organians and their peace treaty, and intergalactic war ensues. The Paragon—stranded and alone—is unable to reach the home front battlegrounds and must therefore make the best use of it's position in the galaxy. A Paragon emmissary [sic]. Mr. Sellek, is sent to Organia via Mr. Carrick's newly developed Tachyon transport system. An unknown energy field around Organia interferes with the transport and two Selleks are formed one good and one evil and each logically explaining why the other must be destroyed.)

    Despite the obstacles—the Organian energy field, the duplicate Sellek, and the Klingon battle forces—the Paragon manages to reach Organia. Weird illusions on the plant's surface fail to overcome Kirk's courage. Sellek's logic, and Carrick's mechanical ingenuity as the triad defeats the Klingons and frees Organia.

    I began in late March 1974 to make an amateur film inspired by the Star Trek television series. It was to be a conservative effort at first But as I began to get involved, this conservatism was quickly forgotten, and a quality feature with as many full scale sets as possible became the new goal. This goal, along with my obsession to produce a better quality film than I had ever done before, drove the original $500.00 cost estimates to $2,000.

    Most of my films have been in the nature of comedy spoofs, yet the movie that originally inspired me to get interested in filmmaking was King Kong. I became so fascinated with the special effects in that movie that I always managed to slip some visual effects into all my own films. So for my version of Star Trek I wanted to make a movie requiring special effects and dramatic acting. Star Trek was the perfect vehicle for me. and it had the added bonus of being familiar to the public. My film, Paragon's Paragon, has a running time of 100 minutes, in super 8 sound/color. Our ship is not the Enterprise, but the Paragon (thus the title). The crew in the film also have their own individual names, and even though our captain is a Kirk, he is not a James T. Kirk I made adjustments like these through out because my film is not and never was meant to be an exact duplication of Star Trek.

    Paragon's time period was moved to a future future Star Trek date to accomodate [sic] changes in hair styles and minor "improvements” in my sets and props. To re name our crew, we went to various international maps and chose names of cities in the nations supposedly represented by our actors. Some examples are: Schamba, an African city, and Tokato, a Japanese city. Some of the names, like Rogart, were invented, and still others were real names: Vogel (last name of one of the actors) and Costa la relative's last name).

    The final script for Paragon's Paragon was 65 typewritten pages. Therefore, I dubbed the production an "epic." The live action portion alone (not including special effects sequences) comprised some 80 rolls of unedited film. Our usable film ratio was not quite one for two: 100 minutes of good footage, and about 110 minutes of outtakes. I kept a log of editing time, and the result is that one minute of completely edited film took an average of one hour to edit.


    CREATING THE LIFE SIZE BRIDGE SET

    The words that overshadowed all of my set building were impression and cost. The sets had to be inexpensive enough to keep total cost from getting out of hand, and at the same time they had to be durable enough to withstand the rigors of months of filmmaking. Dominating all this was the fact that I wanted the final product to create a first impression of being similar to Star Trek. Afterall, that was the challenge of the entire project.

    The bridge set originally was to be what the plot revolved around. It would be the first set to be seen in the film and I was therefore determined to do my best to make the set as impressive as I could.
    Its creation began on scaled down graph layouts of the bridge's floor plan. After completing these diagrams, I took them and a piece of chalk to the basement to draw on the floor - as close to full scale as possible - the floor plan for my bridge. The helm position was used as the center pivot point and a radius (14 feet) was extended, originally only to include Sellek's station but then Schamba's station was added, and finally one half of the elevator was added. I became so involved that I even considered jacking up the floor and moving one of the basement support posts. But my intuition said, "Don't push your luck!" The chalk floor plan, including the captain's chair and the helm positions, was moved, rotated, and adjusted many times before any construction was done. The final position of the set and its components was determined by using a movie camera to view imaginary proposed layouts. I then chose the best set positions relative to the best possible camera angles.

    During actual bridge construction almost every type of building material imaginable was used. The set's floor is made of three-quarter-inch thick plywood sheets, and is constructed in three interlocking sections. Three-sixteenths-inch thick wood paneling was inexpensive, and its smooth back was used as the countertops where the switches are mounted for Sellek's and Schamba's stations. One-half-inch and three-quarter.inch particle board served as material for the upper photo mural windows. Thick cardboard (060 thick) made a good finish surface for much of the helm, the captain's chair, and the ceiling. Before painting the cardboard I moisture-proofed it to a certain degree by coating it with a material called "waterlox." Oil base paints were used on all cardboard surfaces since water-base paints would cause warping and wrinkling problems The only way to tell the cardboard from the wood after both are painted is by touching them. The cardboard proved to be a real asset—I used a total of 200 pounds of it, at a cost of only 13¢ per pound. (Cardboard, sometimes called chipboard, is available at local paper and cardboard manufacturers.)

    I made the various lighted "switches" for the set out of colored clear marbles sunk half way into a hole. The computer wall panels are made of cardboard with hundreds of holes cut out of it. Behind the holes is foggy acetate, and behind the acetate, Christmas lights wired to blinkers. Colored acetate, with appropriate designs drawn in ink, and then sandwiched between thin plexiglass, makes nice unwrinkled computer graphs. Regular 60-watt and 100-watt light bulbs were positioned below or behind the graph panels and marble switches, to light them. In order to scatter and intensify the light reaching the panels and switches, aluminum foil was formed into reflector shapes around each light bulb. Often a light would be close to the flammable set, so asbestos paper was placed between the material and the bulb.

    Sellek's blue light energy analyzer is also lined with aluminum foil, along with a 100-watt light bulb inside, and contains a blue filter at its eye. piece for normal bridge scenes. In order to have the blue glow on Sellek's face be extreme enough that it wouldn't be "washed out" by the movie photofloods, a 500-watt light bulb was required inside of the analyzer. However, with a 500-watt bulb in use, we had no more than a minute to film our scene before the heat began to melt the blue filter. Plexiglass was also installed behind the analyzer eyepiece in case of the light bulb inside exploding. Sellek's station also has a spinning moire pattern on the computer bank wall. A small electric motor turns the pattern. The pattern (No. 18 design — $3.00) and the motor (a 12 RPM one — $7.50) are available from:

    Edmund Scientific Co. 652 Edscore Building Barrington, N.J. 08007

    There is much in the way of moldings, hand carving, filing, and so on required in the bridge's construction that I won't go into here-much of the finishing touches are a matter of personal taste, as is the amount of detail added. The marble switches are a good example of surrounding components that add detail and realism. Each marble, or sometimes a series of marbles, sits within an individual cardboard socket. This socket fits over a larger wooden plate, and the wooden plate fits over an appropriately sized hole within Sellek's or Schamba's control stations (see diagrams). A lot of time is involved in adding these three-dimensional details, but I personally have always found them worth the effort.

    The captain's chair was constructed from a tubular steel porch chair. A one-by-two wood framework was attached directly to the chair to create its basic shape. Cardboard, wood, foam rubber, and vinyl were used to cover the frame. The chair swivels on a threaded plumbing pipe, as do the other chairs in the set (see diagram).

    The helm is one of my more manageable props, since it only weighs fifty or sixty pounds. Its inner framework is basically made of one-by-one wood strips. I obtained these by sawing one-by-twos in half in order to save money).

    Wiring the bridge set required arranging hundreds of feet of wire, plugs, and sockets where I wanted them. The total amount of electricity needed to run the set was 3500 watts. Another 4000 watts of studio movie lights was required when filming on the set, and at this point problems began in overloading the circuits. Nothing major, but an occasional unannounced coffee pot or toaster being plugged in would blow the fuses right in the middle of filming. Fortunately, all of the bridge scenes were shot over a period of three Sundays (morning until night each time), so the electrical overload problem was minimized.

    Other disturbances also occurred during filming. Every once in a while someone would forget that the Starship Paragon was in "flight" and the sounds of a twentieth century dishwasher or toilet echoed across the bridge. Even walking upstairs caused a drumbeat downstairs in the microphone.


    CREATING THE OTHER SETS

    Even before I had finished building my bridge set I was gathering materials for the other sets. I became the observant "scavenger" while parents, friends, and relatives became the providers. Bare spots were to be found in many a home due to my borrowing such things as unusual furniture, art sculptures, draperies, Christmas lights, clothing, and the like.

    The other sets consisted of the cafeteria, the conference room, transporter room, elevator, Sellek's quarters, sections of an alien battleship, a mock-up of a small section of a shuttlecraft, an Organian table, and other smaller props. These sets could be disassembled and often parts of one set could be used in another. Six sheets of plasterboard (four-by-eight feet each) were painted over and over for many of the differently colored rooms. Different divider strips, wall decorations, and props completed these sets. Changing the lighting was a critical factor in keeping the illusion of different rooms in different places. One side of the cafeteria room is permanent since it has a wall food dispenser mechanism which opens, and switches that push in, along with computer tape slots and a blinking "red alert" light. All the sets were designed and constructed by me alone. It's much more difficult to do this sort of thing, but there is a personal satisfaction in the finished product


    THE COSTUMES

    After all of the sets were completed, I began to work on the problem of how I would get the costumes made. The impressiveness of the completed bridge set made it fairly easy to convince my mother into the job of seamstress. Our costume making was done by trial and error, so my explanations may seem broad at times. It should also be pointed out that the pattern companies continually discontinue patterns as new ones come into style. As of the end of 1975, all of the patterns I'm about to discuss were still available.

    With Star Trek costumes in mind, we began thumbing through many different pattern books in order to find the right combination of patterns. A single costume often required two or three patterns to be combined. Custom alterations on the patterns were always required. Usually two final fitting adjustments were needed to get form-fitting individual body shaped costumes.

    The most painstaking procedure in the crew's uniforms was making the pointed collars. We designed our own pattern for the collars, which had to be carefully hand fitted and hand sewn to the shirt and dress necklines. The pattern (see illustration) was still only approximate and cutting adjustments had to be made on the material to prevent wrinkles from gathering in the uniform necklines. The point of the collar is what was aligned first, and sewing started there since it was the most difficult part to get looking nice. We used black velour for the collars.

    The crew shirts were made using a Kwik-Sew brand men's T-shirt with raglan sleeves (Kwik-Sew pattern #143; $1.50). This required one to two yards of material for each shirt. The problem with the pattern is that it is short sleeved. Long sleeves were made by extending the short sleeved pattern layout until a long sleeve length was achieved.

    All of the standard crew uniforms were made using various grades of velour. In most cases, we used an inexpensive ($1.00 a yard) velour material. The difference between inexpensive velour and expensive velour can only be seen on close examination, so we provided better grade velour uniforms only to those actors who were most likely to be in close-ups.

    All of the lower sleeve bands for the uniforms were made of gold rick-rack (available at fabric stores). Along the back shoulder seam of the shirts velcro was used in place of zippers. The shirts would not fit over the actors' heads without the larger opening which velcro made it possible to make.

    I even made my own insignia for the shirts. The insignia were made in three pieces. First came a black velour base piece; onto this was glued gold emblem metallic material, and finally black paper "classification designs" were glued onto this. Star Trek emblems are available (and worth the work they can save) from:

    Lincoln Enterprises
    P.O. Box 69470
    Los Angeles, California 90069

    Write to them for prices. I believe the emblems cost about $1.00 each.

    The women's uniform patterns were so incomplete that my mother had to shape and design most of the necklines and collars herself. This shaping was done a little at a time, while the actress was wearing the dress, until we all agreed that it looked appropriate.

    We started with a McCall's #4737 Miss's dress pattern ($1.50 each). The lower skirt section of the #4737 pattern is wrong for what we were doing and therefore a McCall's #4591 skirt pattern ($1.50 each) was adapted as the lower part of the dress. The entire costume was strictly custom work.

    The Klingon women's costume is much more explainable. It was made using a McCall's #4090 Miss's dress tie-bodice pattern ($1.50 each). A silver-black metallic material was used for the whole dress. This same material was turned around and sewn inside-out to fill in the deep "V" neckline in the dress. Silver cording put the final touches on the neckline. The large fluffy sleeves were designed by my mother, and there is no particular pattern that I can refer you to. Any pattern book will have a fluffy sleeve pattern. A fancy black belt, black nylons, and black boots completed the female Klingon outfit.

    The Klingon commander's vest is made of the same silver-black material as the female Klingon dress, and using a Butterick #3115 tank top pattern ($1.50 each). The wrap around metallic type body sling was easily hand designed. The material for the sling was the brown canvas type jute used to wrap rolls of carpet padding (available at your carpet dealer). I spray-painted the jute silver to make it look metallic, and a large silver trim (from fabric stores) was sewn to it. A long sleeved black shirt, black pants, belt, and boots completed the uniform.

    The Organian elders' costumes were the only relatively easy outfits to make. Men's long sleeved full robe patterns were easy to come by (in any pattern book). Organian boots were made by gluing "fun fur" (fake fur available at most arts and crafts stores) to an old worn out pair of shoes, and also wrapping the fur around the lower part of the actor's leg to make the whole thing look like animal-fur boots.


    MAKE-UP

    Make-up preparations began weeks before our first day of filming. My previous experience in this area dealt with creating space monsters with latex formed heads and latex claw hands or deformed human faces, but nothing close to a human or Vulcan that is supposed to look normal. Therefore, I did what I always do when I don't know something-I find someone who does, and ask. After finding a very cooperative theatrical store owner, I was armed with $40.00 worth of make-up materials and went home to experiment.

    The pointed Sellek ears that I originally made were complete latex ears that covered the actor's whole ear. I had made a clay model pointed ear and then a plaster cast from it; and finally, using liquid latex, I made thin rubber ears. These ears became known as "the ears that brought tears," for as the glue that held them to the actor's ears dried, they began to pinch his ears harder and harder. In two hours time they would turn the subject's real ears a bright painful red. I kept reminding my Sellek of the Vulcan philosophy that "pain is a thing of the mind," but he didn't seem to agree. So the full ears were scrapped in favor of "ear tips" which brought an un-Vulcan sigh of relief from my actor.

    A Sellek make-up job usually required one and a half hours for me to apply. The procedure was as follows: first the actor's skin oil was removed from his eyebrows by cleaning them with tissue and alcohol. Next, spirit gum was applied and stroked into and across his real eyebrows, and let dry for five minutes. This spirit gum treatment helped flatten his eybrows, [sic] and also kept his eyebrows' movements from cracking the derma wax. Dark colored derma wax (Stein's- from your theatrical store) was blended over the actor's eyebrows until they disappeared. Water was used on the tip of my finger to smooth out the wax as I applied it. A pancake make-up was now applied over the derma wax and patted into it, and was also applied to the actor's entire face at this time. A black eyebrow line was then drawn where the slanted Sellek eyebrows were to be placed. Black crepe hair (available at theatrical stores) was glued with spirit gum in lengths of about one half inch at a time along this eyebrow line, starting with a few individual hairs at the upper end and working downward to the thicker part of the eyebrow. As it turned out, we were able to re-use these same eyebrows over and over by carefully peeling them off after filming each time.

    The pointed ear tips were now adhered to the actor's ears using a latex cement. Derma wax was used to blend the ear tips into the actor's real ears. Star Trek-type sideburns were next attached in much the same manner as the eyebrows. After much trial and error, we decided that the actor's real hair looked better than a wig.

    The pointed ear tips were now adhered to the actor's ears using a latex cement. Derma wax was used to blend the ear tips into the actor's real ears. Star Trek-type sideburns were next attached in much the same manner as the eyebrows. After much trial and error, we decided that the actor's real hair looked better than a wig.

    The derma wax used in this process does present two filming problems. It tends to dry out and crack after three or four hours, thus requiring touch-up jobs. It also will melt and become like bubblegum when too near movie lights for too long a time. Thus, extra time was needed in the filming schedule for readjusting the make-up jobs. One unusual re-make-up job occurred when one of the Organian elders unknowingly ate part of his beard at dinner!

    All of the various make-up jobs often took up a considerable amount of time available in making out a filming schedule. In one particular film day's schedule, six make-up jobs were needed. Two Klingon make-ups took two hours; the Organian Elders took about two hours; and Sellek required one and a half hours. That in itself is almost a normal day's work.

    About John Cosentino ...

    John Cosentino was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and now lives in surburban Warren, Michigan. He completed a two year course in mechanical engineering at Lawrence Institute of Technology, but later decided that he did not enjoy engineering. John now works for his father's carpet company, which affords him more time for his main interest: filmmaking.

    John's filmmaking began with several silent, one-reel comedy spoofs with sound, such as The Hussler [sic] and Melvin Of The Apes. The length of these films ranged from twelve to thirty-five minutes. John also produced many sound "home movies" of family get-togethers, trips, etc., before he finally got into a feature-length color/sound film that relied heavily on special effects. This was titled The Final Frontier (no relation to Star Trek) and told of man's progress in space travel from the 1960's through the 2000's. A final color-effects "trip" through the universe (a la Kubrick's 2001) brings two space travelers to a distant planet where they meet their doom in the form of a giant crab-like creature.

    The success and enjoyment of doing The Final Frontier lead [sic] John to planning and making Paragon's Paragon, which has to go on record as one of the most ambitious amateur super 8mm productions ever produced. Aside from the physical acts of building the Paragon sets, doing the make-up, creating the costumes, and shooting the film, months and months of research, planning, and cost estimates were required. It paid off, though, as evidenced by the somewhat remarkable low costs of many of the props and sets (i.e., the four chairs on the bridge set costing only $40.00 in materials).

    The Paragon bridge has brought a measure of fame to the Cosentino household; Star Trek fans are constantly calling and requesting a visit to see the set. John was at first hesitant about such exposure to the public," but he says that so far, only genuinely interested fans have come by. A story about John and his incredible set was recently given full coverage in a Detroit sunday newspaper.

    Aside from filmmaking, John Cosentino processes and prints black and white and color movie film, and does his own still print work. He is also an avid artist, and has done a dozen oil paintings of landscapes and seascapes.


    Title: Cinemagic #6 (Paragon's Paragon; One Cube, or Two?; Star Date 3113.7; Latex Make-Up; Capsule Profile; Convention Report)
    Dohler, Don (editor); Estren, Mark (editor)
    Publisher: Cinemagic Publishing Company, Perry Hall, MD, U.S.A.
    Publication Date: 1976
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A lot of love went into this. So much creativity
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    For those into the technical end of making fanfilms in the pre-digital age, in Cinemagic #7 two readers wrote in with questions, and John Consentio replied:

    Kevin Danzey
    Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

    The best article in issue #6 was
    Paragon’s Paragon, but how did he
    (John Cosentino) film it? I became
    excited while reading the article, be-
    ing able to relate to much of it—
    especially the part about building the
    sets—but there was no information
    on the filming: type of camera, film
    stock, lighting, sound recording, and
    so on.

    Mike Canuel
    Brooklyn, New York

    I had reservations about seeing an
    all Star Trek issue of CINEMAGIC
    but I no longer have any qualms at
    all. Reading # 6 was a joy and a great
    pleasure!

    On John Cosentino’s Paragon’s
    Paragon
    , what did his electrical bill
    come to after filming?

    Editorial Comment: To answer ques-
    tions in both of the above letters we
    queried John Cosentino, who an-
    swers Mr. Danzey with: “I used a
    Canon 814 camera, which has an
    F 1.4 lens and a power zoom range
    of 7.5mm to 60mm. We used a va-
    riety of film stocks: Kodachrome 40,
    Ektachrome 160, Kodak Plus-X, and
    Anscochrome T-100. Ektachrome
    160 was used only for the special ef-
    fects that could not be shot with the
    slower Kodachrome 40. The Plus-X
    and Anscochrome T-100 are film
    stocks that I process myself in order
    to obtain reversed negative images
    for special scenes in the movie. The
    lights consisted of an 1150- watt stu-
    dio lamp, a 650- watt quartz lamp,
    and a half dozen photo flood bulbs.
    Barn doors had to be used with these
    lamps during bridge scenes to keep
    the intense light from washing out
    the blinking Christmas lights behind
    the computer bank panels. Sound
    was recorded on an Akai GX-365
    open reel deck using a cardiod micro-
    phone. ” And to answer Mr. Canuel:
    “To my surprise, the electric bill was
    only about $10.00* extra per month
    while we ran the bridge lights and
    filmed. ”
    *About $90 now
     
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  12. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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