Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today in New York, shooting begins on the biggest of an accelerating series of big Star Trek "fan films," Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, produced by Sky Douglas Conway and directed by Tim Russ (of Voyager), the team that did the affectionate non-documentary, Roddenberry on Patrol. (I came in late to a screening of this at the Scotty convention, but what I saw was terrific--smart and a lot of fun.) This production is also in association with James Cawley of “New Voyages," and is making use of their sets in New York. Other filming will take place in Los Angeles

Starring in this adventure are Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and Grace Lee Whitney of the original series, Alan Ruck reprising his role of the captain of the Enterprise B in Star Trek Generations, plus other Trek alumni including Chase Masterson, JG Hertsler, Gary Graham, Crystal Allen, Tim Russ and Garrett Wang (who will play a villain.)

You can read the full press release at Trebweb, but I was especially taken with this paragraph: And it’s not at all about money. What makes Star Trek: Of Gods and Men special is that all these creative talents have united because of a common vision. They all believe in a series that was created by a visionary named Gene Roddenberry and the philosophy that it promoted – that all individuals are created equal and that one day all the peoples of the Earth will unite to live, work and play in harmony.

This really is the amazing thing. It's true that although people don't generally realize it, well-known actors in Hollywood and New York, including very big stars, do spend a lot of time workng for free or very little--doing readings, plays and small films, for a varety of reasons: to encourage new writers and their work, to give back to their art form, to express skills of their craft that may not be fully used in the roles they get in TV or film (where playing cops and criminals can get old fast), or for a cause they believe in. But it is still extraordinary that so many people would contribute their time and talent to keep expressing a vision that has inspired so many, beginning forty years ago this fall.

In this case, those donating their services include writers (Sky Conway, Jack Trevino and Ethan H. Calk) and all the other creative and tech people. It is further evidence that Star Trek was always a product of a shared vision and commitment, of many hands that worked together to create this story universe.

These productions are getting so professional that there needs to be a new name for them. Fan films won't do anymore. Tim Russ calls it a "nostalgia-based production," which is closer, but nostalgia has the connotation of something that's over. Paramount may think so, but for many people and well as many fans, the human adventure continues in the Star Trek story universe.

The finished film is expected to be available in three 30 minute episodes, downloadable from the Internet, by year's end. For more information, visit Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.

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