Rebranding a Fan Film Project

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by CJCade, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. CJCade

    CJCade Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I had a concept for a fan film project before the new guidelines. When they dropped, the entire idea went on the back burner. With winter coming and more free time (since I do a lot of seasonal work during the summer), I am starting to think about it again.

    The story I want to do, over several episodes, no longer works within the Trek universe because of the guidelines. I've been working on ideas to rebrand it into it's own thing, but some things have me wondering. How much needs to be changed to really rebrand it?

    Could I still have warp speed, or should I use something else or just call it something different? Can transporters still be called transporters, or should I rename them or use a different concept. How about phasers? I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

    It basically comes down to how much can I use without changing the concept of what it is,what it does, and/or the name of it and still have the project be considered it's own thing instead of Star Trek? Hope that makes sense. Interested to hear thoughts about this.
     
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  2. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Rename everyone and everything, and redesign all costumes, props and sets. Then you should be good, even if the characters still act like the originals. They can trademark names and appearances, but not behavior, as there are real people that act like that, even having never seen any of the shows.
     
  3. CJCade

    CJCade Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The good thing is that there were only a few established races, most were going to be totally new, so very little to change there. Costumes were a new take on the traditional design (TNG/DS9/VOY Era) and probably different enough to be ok. The main ship was totally new, a hybrid of Federation and three other races' designs. Characters were all original, no canon characters in sight. It's even set in a distant galaxy on the fringes of the known universe.

    I really want transporters to still work and be called the same, even if they do need to look different. Same with phasers and warp speed. That is where I am really wondering if it should be changed or if I can do that. Would those type of things make CBS/Paramount say it's still Trek or are they able to be used outside of Trek without infringing on rights?

    I'm pretty sure I've heard warp used elsewhere. Same with transporters. Not so sure about phasers though. That, though, is my conundrum.
     
  4. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Easy enough to avoid the term phasers.

    Shipboard - arm main weapons, fire a warning shot, target that ship, put one across their bows, fire all weapons, lock primary...etc.

    Personal - issue sidearms, draw weapons...

    You get the picture.
     
  5. CJCade

    CJCade Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    True enough.
     
  6. Karzak

    Karzak Commodore Commodore

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    My advice: write the first one -rebranded or not - and get your first draft done before dismissing it as a fan film. It may well be that the idea you have could work within the guidelines, , but you don't know it yet.

    Everyone wants to do a "series." Make sure you can get through episode one before planning episodes 2-22.
     
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  7. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    Remember, the rules are just guidelines, not laws; you are a true amateur project, and will most likely not bring down the wrath of CBS, even if things are not perfectly aligned. I would make your project the way you want to and see what happens. The worst thing that'll come about IMO would be that you are asked to stop, at which point you can rebrand. There is no need to overthink it at this early stage, IMO.
     
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  8. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It sounds like you're half way to making your own universe already.

    If that's not the case, and you really do want to hold onto the Star Trek universe, consider what the central theme of your project is and aggressively edit it down until you have something that might fit inside the guidelines. Sometimes a focused, tightly edited short film can be more powerful than a longer film with similar themes. Ever scene should serve a narrative purpose and propel the film forward. If it doesn't, cut it.

    However, if the scope of your story can't fit within the guidelines, and your characters and plot are only tangentially related to Star Trek, you may end up with a stronger story if you leave Trek entirely. Remember that Star Trek has a great deal of baggage in the form of its tropes, lore, technology, culture and politics. You may find your underlying plot more workable and your themes easier to express when freed from these restrictions. Of course, this does mean a lot of world-building work on your part, but if the story is happening out in the depths of space, you can hint at a larger universe and let the viewers' imaginations fill in the blanks.

    I'm fairly certain that Warp, Transporters and Phasers are all trademarked. If you're going to jettison everything Trek in your film, it would be best to not only rename things, but substitute entirely new technologies. You could, for example, replace Impulse with Quantum Vacuum Thrusters, Replicators with biomechanoid 3D printers, and Warp engines with a drive that temporarily converts the matter that makes up the ship into a coherent beam of tachyons. Some of these technologies might be more limited, but for narrative purposes that may be desirable, as it helps prevent deus ex machina and makes the crew seem more vulnerable and thus more relatable.
     
  9. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You don't have to go quite that far. Renaming your FTL drive, and perhaps using a different effect for it (though Trek has been doing that themselves lately) should suffice with regard to Warp drive.

    Like I said before, what separates your production from theirs is the names and appearance. Everything else can be as close or as far away as you want, as long as the differences in terminology and looks are obvious.
     
  10. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If I follow your logic, we can just use more generic terminology (and different effects). Something like this:
    • Warp Drive => FTL Drive
    • Impulse Engines => Sublight Engines
    • Shields => Shields? (Don't think this is trademarked.)
    • Phasers => Blasters? Lasers? "Weapons" seems too generic. (I think "Disrupter" is trademarked.)
    • Jefferies Tubes => Maintenance Corridors
    • Photon Torpedoes => Antimatter Missiles
    • Tricorder => Scanner
    • Communicator => Comms? Radios?
    • Replicator => Molecular Printer
    • Nanites/Nanoprobes => Nanomachines or Nanobots. (Is this even trademarked?)
    • Cloaking Device => Optical Camouflage? ("Opti-thermal Camouflage" in Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.) Trademark?
    • Holodeck => Holographic Simulator
    • Tractor Beam => Tractor Beam (Used in Star Wars, so should be generic.)
     
  11. Jedman67

    Jedman67 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Transporter = Teleporter. You can even keep 'beam' although I'd switch "energize" for "initialize" or something. As long as you have enough 'plausible deniability' to say that it's not star trek, they"ll probably leave you alone. Many scifi franchises have borrowed heavily from star trek in the past 50 years, so you should be fine.
     
  12. CJCade

    CJCade Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Some excellent ideas and suggestions. Thanks!
     
  13. dmac

    dmac Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Teleporter belongs (maybe if they claimed it) to Blake's 7
    Transporter was a 1958 device from The Fly
    digital conveyor . Galaxy Quest
    I forget who used the Transmat, probably come back to me at 3 Am in the morning.
     
  14. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Exactly. I'm doing something similar for a story of my own. I'm eager to see it published once it's done.
     
  15. dmac

    dmac Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In my humble space adventures I could pick out any 4 or 5 letters to call the engine system. The reader/viewer only needs to know that it makes the ship go really fast. I also find that explaining how they work is boring, what's of interest, is how they break and that's how you define what makes them work.
     
  16. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think it's the look that CBS would take issue with over terminology. Doctor Who uses loads of Trek terminology, but get away with it.

    If your ships have a saucer and nacelles, and your characters wear brightly coloured jammies I think you're more likely to get in the shit than if you mentioned warp factor 5.
     
  17. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    I still think if you are completely amateur, with no big fundraisers and staying below the radar, CBS will leave you alone in general. Shrug.
     
  18. trynda1701

    trynda1701 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Doctor Who has used that term, probably others have used it.

    I think as long as terms and effects are renamed, you should be ok. After all, FTL as a conceit has been used in a LOT of science fiction. Plus, Trek wasn't the first to use the idea of a teleporter type device, earliest that comes to mind personally is in one of the old Buster Crabbe serials, either Flash Gordon or Buck Rodgers, I can't remember which! There are most likely other earlier examples?
     
  19. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    There was a 6th Doctor episode of Doctor Who that I distinctly remember he used a phaser. Now, I don't know if it was spelled differently. Is a fazer the same as a phaser?

    Doctor Who also has had teleporters or transporters or transmats. Not remembering the specific term.

    Masters of Orion I know used the term "warp" for one of their propulsion upgrades. Come to think of it, they also has phasers. No Man's Sky has phase beams.

    Star Wars used the term Star Fleet.

    It might be best to avoid the same terms where possible. If you're really hung up on using specific terms it might be best to think about why - because they sound cool / have an emotional connection to you or are the terms integral to the story? If you can change the terms that might save you grief down the road while still being able to keep the same functionality. You can still have FTL, instantaneous matter transmission, food replication (an episode of Animaniacs called it a food synthesizer), energy weapons, torpedoes, subspace or hyperspace (both Star Wars and Babylon 5 used hyperspace).

    MASERS are real world weapon concepts.

    Apparently disruptor is not a copyright as Star Wars expanded universe has used the term, The old series UFO appears to have had a weapon called a disruptor gun.
     
  20. The Return of Zombie Cheerleader

    The Return of Zombie Cheerleader Moar Nu Trek Pleeze Premium Member

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    I think "Phaser" is about the only term that is a Star Trek original.