Monday, 25 May 2015

Our Star Trek

What does the last 50 years of Star Trek mean to you?

A new and rather good documentary from Chris Tevebaugh goes some way to examining that very question with input from names including Larry Nemecek and Star Trek Continues' Vic Mignogna and Todd Haberkorn.

Said Chris, "From concept, to shoot, to edit it was about six months [work]. My team put this documentary together as a passion project; we’re young people just getting into the film world. 

Clocking at ten and a bit minutes,  SKoST was given a sneak peak shortly before the release with still some minor touchups to be made but that in no way detracted from the fine work we got to see.

Our Star Trek: The Fifty Year Mission has real heart and sense of true nostalgia. Utilising the sets for Star Trek Continues adds a wonderful retro feel to the whole piece and reflects back on the franchise origins.

The project was put together through the solid efforts of the team while all were juggling other jobs, meaning production time was purely voluntary during it's six month evolution period.

Explained Chris Tevebaugh; "I had always wanted to do a Star Trek something, but I never said it out loud; I didn't think anyone else would be interested. But after getting turned down for a grant to do a really awesome shoot my producer Erik Lee suggested we do a documentary… about Star Trek! Uh, yeah?! We both just wanted to dive deeper into the Star Trek world, to talk to our heroes, to actually be there. It’s the same thing that a lot of fans want, but we happened to be film-makers so we invented ourselves a way onboard the Enterprise."

Speaking with Mignogna, Haberkorn as well as Chuck Huber (McCoy) and selected crew from the show, reveals the thoughts behind the Continues vision and what the team hope to achieve as well as how they are attempting to preserve the pioneering spirit of The Original Series. Their work is incredibly precise, thoughful and that attention to detail can clearly be seen as coming from the heart. It's not a cheap adventure either with the inclusion of "professional crew members and professional actors" which has certainly been true of the first three episodes released and once more emphasises the hard work given to regularly producing top quality new Star Trek.

"We shot during the last few days of the fourth episode." recalled Chris, "The Star Trek Continues filming schedule is kept under wraps so when planning the documentary we had no idea how little time we would end up having to get ready and shoot. After our initial conversation with the producers in November we learned that Continues would shoot in six weeks, so we scurried to get a Kickstarter going even though the concept for the film was still evolving. 

"The Kickstarter didn't end until the shooting of Continues episode four was almost complete. We raced down to the sets with a few days left and put the movie together in what was one giant two-month heart attack."

I can definitely say that the near-coronary experience was well worth it(!) as the time flies by. What really strikes me about this great (if not short) piece of film-making is how tight the editing is and how insightful those conversations with the cast and crew from Continues is around their involvement with the series.  The continuation of the franchise through motivated groups of fans is key and Tenebaugh has given a small window into one very successful team who are flying the flag with all their might and succeeding as well as uncovering the moments which motivate them to go that bit further.

Inter-cut with memories from the Continues cast and crew, we get to find out classic moments and what made them so for different people. Those key scenes are remembered word for word and their effect is clear in the faces of those who are recalling them. It does make this a very personal journey even running at just ten minutes. Certainly I found myself reminded of the Great Bird's vision and what Star Trek was designed to be about and in turn that made me think just how the Abrams movies have/haven't achieved that. Will fans of those films then want to explore the franchise further if they discovered that The Original Series was so markedly different? I did find myself pondering that question as I surfed the waves of nostalgia.

"My team and I are very proud of the final movie." said Chris, "When making a movie, and particularly one with a nearly non-existent budget, things change and evolve. Film-making is problem solving at its heart and so the final project is not even close to any of the original concepts that were pitched. Considering what we found when we got to the Enterprise set, the movie we made is 100% the movie that needed to happen."

Chris and the team are already receiving some great, useful feedback on early versions of their work which is showing that their plan for Our Star Trek was on point; "My team is very good at setting the bar high for ourselves. They always exceed my expectations and this project is showing that. The Star Trek community has really been gravitating to the message. I think it’s an important time to be a Trekkie, a lot is going on right now. 

"The new movie is looming, rumors are constantly popping up about a new canon show, the fiftieth anniversary is coming up next year and fan films are hitting a real stride. It’s a good time to remind ourselves about the core of what Star Trek is, and who better to do that than the people who understand it best.

So what's in store for Chris now that the work is complete and out there for all to see? Is there a chance we might get to see some more Star Trek productions in the future after such a promising documentary?

"I think I go about my movies the same way Star Trek goes about an episode. I ask myself what needs to be said or thought about and I follow that story. At the moment I’m in pre-production on a non-related short comedy about Halloween. After Candy Corn is done I’d like to see if another episode of Star Trek Continues is in the works. 

"I’d love to do a more specific documentary about their filming script and ask the kind of detailed questions that never get asked. It’s an idea I’ll reassess at some point. I’m also curious what Star Trek fans want to know; I’d love for people to send me deep/dumb questions, things you’re usually not allowed to ask. 

"The great thing is I don’t have to answer to a studio, so I can ask harder questions. Comments about a next doc or anything else can be made on the movie’s Vimeo page."

Whether you're a fan of Kirk, Spock or McCoy, the reminiscences here are well documented, precisely edited and well-presented and you get Vic Mignogna performing his very, very best Shatner. I just wish there were another ten minutes because it does feel over before it's really begun. Should they ever decide to do another or a sequel or anything, I'll be watching.

You can check out the documentary right this second by clicking here

All images screenshot and courtesy of Star Stuff Cinema

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