Since the next Star Trek film is being released on May 8, this Friday, I decided to revisit some of the fan produced material that Paramount has allowed to exist. Some of it is quite good and some of, not so much. It all has heart and all has an unofficial blessing from Paramount, which is quite impressive in its own right.
Before I go on, let me give a little background on the Paramount position for some of this material. See, about ten years ago, Paramount was on a mission to wipe all of the ‘rampant theft’ of its intellectual property called Star Trek. There tons of sites that had images, sound and video clips, music and other material from the various films and television shows. Needless to say, Paramount made few friends. Its stance, while necessary to protect its property rights, was overly draconian at times. Well, since then, things have changed.
Several very talented people sought out permission from Paramount to produce and distribute their own Star Trek films and videos. Paramount agreed and without charging them substantial sums of money. Instead, Paramount imposed limitations and if they could work within those limits, then they could produce and distribute Trek related material.
The resulting efforts, good and bad, are remarkable in the amount of work that went into these productions. In fact, several of the efforts were so well done that they attracted Hollywood talent. In several cases, actual actors and technical people who worked on the films and episodes took part including George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney, Nichelle Nichols (who is still a very beautiful woman) and others from Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Next Generation and the original.
In my research, I discovered that ‘Star Trek Phase II’ is even using some of the unused scripts from the aborted ‘Phase Two’ television series from 1978-79. Star Trek Phase II is the rebirth of Star Trek New Voyages. The episodes have relatively high production values and are pretty well done considering they have next to nothing for a budget. So far, four episodes have been produced and released. The fourth episode, Blood and Fire, was actually written by David Gerrold and is a script that was originally penned for Star Trek the Next Generation. The script was shelved by Paramount because it featured a gay crewman. The story was adapted by Carlos Pedraza and produced as a two part episode. Part two has not yet been released. It features an appearance by former TNG regular, Denise Crosby. Phase Two is the brainchild of James Cawley, who also plays Captain Kirk.
Another well done fan series is Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. This is a mini-series and not a ‘regular’ series like Phase II. Of Gods and Men was directed by Tim Russ and features Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo, Ethan Philips and Garrett Wang. Again, the production values are quite high, the effects are pretty good and the story is good as well. Because the principal cast and part of the crew were involved in production of the ‘real’ Trek, this one has more of a Trek ‘feel’.
Other fan produced material include podcasts, PDF magazines, online stories, comics and more. I don’t know how much of this material has the same agreements with Paramount that Phase II and Of Gods and Men have, but I am guessing there is something in place since Paramount seems to be living with all of the material.
If you are a Trek fan and want more, give these a try. Start out with the first of the Phase Two shows and go from there. Don’t expect Emmy award winning material, but I think you might be surprised with the quality of some of this material. I sure was. Oh, it is all free too.