Thursday, 30 June 2016

Multi-Arcs are the Key to Ascendance

The amazing Sacraments of Fire has some of the biggest set-up moments in Star Trek novels for some time.

So it's a lucky thing that David R George III gets to carry on the tale in his follow up, Ascendance. Given the fact that this is a direct continuation from Sacraments of Fire you can be certain that this review will feature spoilers so tread carefully.
Let's have a quick recap just to bring us up to speed. The Ascendants first featured in The Original Series novel Allegiance in Exile are on the rise and are now led by the "Fire" aka Illiana Ghemor, the Cardassian agent Kira was corrected to look like back in Deep Space Nine's Second Skin.

Illiana is pretty much narked at everyone and looking for a big win either at the Alpha Quadrant in general or Kira herself. Thing is (and keep up here) we have two Kira's in play. One from a future point after The Fall who is aboard the Even Odds and one from the point in time she was aboard Deep Space Nine during The Soul Key story and the Typhon Pact novel Plagues of Night as its commanding officer.

This is no way a novel for newcomers to the series to start off with. There's just too much going on and rather than saying skip it and move on to something else that's standalone, I'd actually recommend going back through the novels and starting at an earlier point to really understand this strand of the literary series.

It's fairly complicated even if you are coming to this book straight after reading Sacraments of Fire but stick with it because David R George III is one of Star Trek's best writers and just from the first few pages you know this is going to be a great story. Importantly this is a novel that spans two distinctive time periods. One in which Kira commands the original Deep Space Nine and the later one which follows The Fall series in which Ro is now in charge of the brand new space station. As you would expect it's all relevant and ties together as you read further and further into it but while David has, as always, built a very thorough and involving story with just about everything thrown at it (and you can see why it's over a couple of books), he doesn't forget his cast of characters. 

The first half of the book is solely charged with resolving the end of Ascendance and does have a heavy action orientation but the second section in the "present" timeline really does help carry Ro's evolution forward.  In the expanded literary universe she's become a very prominent character with a personality that has grown well beyond her mixed Maquis and Starfleet origins in The Next Generation. David R George III has really recognised the potential with Ro even though her journey is maybe a little forced from Starfleet opponent to commanding officer of one of its most strategic locations. Aside from around we do have the return of Sisko, Quark, Odo Nog and O'Brien from the TV series but there are a lot of characters operating on the station that will be unfamiliar to readers unless they've been following the novel series for some time. 

Learning about them might be best left to a session on Memory Beta and while some of them do have significant impact within the story such as Elias Vaughn and his successor Commander Stinson, you would get away with not being too knowledgeable about them as a lot of the crew do tend to pass through the story. David R George manages to keep the bulk of the story in line with recognisable people rather than diving off into too many literary creations.

That initial section of Ascendance does have its moments and does hat-tip to how far we have come since the end of Nemesis and the climax of Deep Space Nine especially in the brief examination of Ezri Dax's career when she's acting as second officer and acting commander of the station with all those thoughts of future opportunities that we as the reader know will come to pass with the Aventine. After the multi-novel arc that came with The Fall I'd hoped we would have stayed away from book-spanning stories for a while but it doesn't seem that long since we did. Indeed, the Ascendants we meet again in Ascendance have popped up in both Deep Space Nine and The Original Series novels (Allegiance in Exile also by David R George III)) which means that readers not only need to have a decent grasp of the thread here but also in a completely different aspect of the Star Trek literary universe. 

I only recalled that the Ascendants and the Bajorans had shown up in The Original Series literary timeline through a few sentences in this story and for anyone not following that could have rung a few alarms or wonder what they've missed. It's clever to pull in all these threads but as we get further and further down the line I worry that you won't just be able to pick up a Deep Space Nine novel and read it solus because you'll need to understand events that have led to that point. I suppose in a way that's similar to the TV show in its season-encompassing plots but some may not want to have to refer to The Next Generation or The Original Series to fully understand what has been happening. I was just lucky I read The Weight of Worlds!

Ascendancy is an engrossing read that deals with a lot more than you might expect with a thread focusing on Odo, another on Nog and a project he's been working on to bring back a noted character so there's a lot to be going at. Odo's story becomes one of the more insightful aspects of the novel especially with the arrival of another Changeling who seems to have very impressive and accurate shifting abilities. This part of the book certainly kept me guessing right until the end.

Don't be fooled though because Ascendance does bring everything together and in a pretty satisfying manner. There's a lot closed off but David R George III also manages to pull out a few points that will take the literary universe forward and I can't wait to see how they pan out.

Fortunately the split in the timeline and the story means that this almost becomes two separate stories at one point and feels like a Deep Space Nine anthology if there ever was one.  It's a good book with a complex and intelligent plot but not one for the casual Deep Space Nine reader. I suspect that if you are looking like that to dip in and out of I will be recommending getting hold of the recently released Force and Motion.

Enjoyed Ascendance? Was it too deep a story or should there be more of this from the Deep Space Nine stable?

Ascendance is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £7.99 ISBN 9781501103704

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Music to Our Ears

I'm a huge fan of the Michael Giacchino soundtracks to both the 2009 movie and Into Darkness.

Hearing that the same gent would be working on the Beyond soundtrack instilled a lot of confidence and I can't wait to hear what he has produced for this three-quel. To be fair his work has been one of the high points of this reboot hands down.

I'm not a music critic by any stretch of the imagination nor will I ever attempt to be but the released track listing has given a few hints as to what we might be expecting from the movie. Here's the listing with a few thoughts on the movie chucked in for good measure.

1. Logo And Prosper (1:47)

2. Thank Your Lucky Star Date (2:15)

3. Night On The Yorktown (5:36)
Expect this to the big reveal of the edge of the frontier starbase and the crew taking a break from the five year mission.

4. The Dance Of The Nebula (2:22)
Investigating some new part of space following their trip to Yorktown perhaps? Which might lead them to encounter Krall's armada and...

5. A Swarm Reception (2:30)
Self-explanatory but probably a very fast-paced action theme as Krall's ships overwhelm the USS Enterprise.

6. Hitting The Saucer A Little Hard (6:10)
Is this the death theme for the reboot starship? At six minutes it's going to be a long sequence as the Enterprise breaks up and the saucer crashlands on Krall's planet (conjecture).

7. Jaylah Damage (2:50)
A theme that we might see intertwined elsewhere in the film perhaps seeing as how much publicity is being given over to this guest star over Krall? This might well be playing out when she meets up with Scotty as we've seen in the trailer.

8. In Artifacts As In Life (1:51)
So what's this one? Interesting title so could there be an item that has driven everyone to this planet? It would explain that mine/prison facility and the reason that "everyone is here" which we've seen emphasised in the trailer. Is this going to be an Indiana Jones meets Star Trek adventure? What item could be this important it gets its own track?

9. Franklin, My Dear (2:50)
Welcome to the newest starship design in the movie series. A predecessor to the NX Class this is going to be a key element to the movie since it looks like it saves the crew's lives and helps lead their fight back

10. A Lesson In Vulcan Mineralogy (5:17)
OK. Not a lot I can guess from this but could be linked to that "artifact" from track eight but it might also suggest Spock discovers something about the planet. Let's just hope it's not keeping them young - I mean, who would make that the plot of a Star Trek movie...

11. Motorcycles of Relief (3:17)
Well I don't need to think too much about this. We know it's onboard the Franklin as seen in the recent cutaway pics and it's been featured in the trailers too. How it's woven into the plot has to be to do with stopping Krall I guess.

12. Mocking Jaylah (3:26)
Defeated by Krall in the hand to hand combat which was spotted in both the second and third trailers at his ground base. This would then give Kirk a good opportunity to ride in and save the day.

13. Crash Decisions (3:16)
Two possibilities. Either this is out of sequence on the soundtrack and it's actually from earlier in the movie referring to the Enterprise or we're getting to see the Franklin trashed as well. I'm going for the latter to lead into the finale of the movie.

14. Krall-y Krall-y Oxen Free (4:23)
Not a clue.

15. Shutdown Happens (4:35)
Are we thinking that Krall's digging operation/whatever he's doing is ceased rather abruptly through some Starfleet intervention?

16. Cater-Krall In Zero G (2:17)
Looks like this will be Krall versus Kirk in the zero gravity environment we saw at Yorktown in the second trailer but was omitted from the third and final set of clips.

17. Par-tay For The Course (2:46)
All done and could this be the theme to announce the birth of a new USS Enterprise?

18. Star Trek Main Theme (3:45)
Always a pleasure. Welcome back!

As if that's not enough I also believe I may now have seen and heard everything. Not only does Rhianna launch a range of sunglasses partially inspired by Geordi La Forge's VISOR thus revealing her admiration for the fandom but this week we also discover that she's providing a song for Beyond called Sledgehammer. Fans of Peter Gabriel can rest easy that it's not a rehash of his classic 80's song.

I listened to it through for the first time yesterday and I'm not greatly impressed. It works nicely with the trailer building up to that rather repetitive crescendo at the end but overall this is a very average and uninspiring pop song. I'd definitely say that Rhianna has done better material (although maybe not for a while). I'm sure it will still sell millions and become a footnote in Star Trek history as only the second time such an occurrence has happened.

Have to say linking Rhianna and Star Trek was never something I'd considered a possibility and it will be the first time a pop song has been fused with the franchise in the movies. Of course we've had a singer provide a theme before and that certainly split fan opinion didn't it Mr Russell Watson?

Rhianna's Sledgehammer is available right now and the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack will be released on July 29th 2016.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Trailer Three and the Light Revelations

Big round of applause for Paramount/Skydance/Bad Robot for a third and final trailer which tells us nothing more about Beyond. Honestly plotwise it's a blank but that's not to say we haven't got a lot more to chew on in this two minute titillation.

I was only thinking this morning that it must be due and his afternoon we received. Now I could just run through the clips as standard and see what we've got but there really is very little point because about 85% of it is exactly what we've seen already. It's also a little bit "London Bus" with nothing for ages and then two trailers within a matter of weeks of each other.

"We were overwhelmed by something...something we'd never seen before. I know this isn't the last of my crew but this is my last report as the captain of the Starship Enterprise."

The big reveal is Kirk's comment in his final log entry but this isn't unexpected seeing as the destruction of the enterprise has been a key part of every trailer. So too is there a bit more action showing Krall's men taking control of the starship but really it's a reorder of what we've already seen. So instead, here's a drop through of all the new stuff and its potential relevance.

Did you also spot the nice big swirly graphic that Kirk is looking at, presumably on Yorktown? There's one heck of a big nebulous thingy in the centre top which might be the nebula they are sent to investigate which leads them to Krall? The soundtrack does have a track that points to this!

Reflections on the events during the '09 movie versus the Narada, also shots of Kirk's dad on the Kelvin and finally Kirk looking up at the Enterprise being constructed in Iowa also from the same movie.

We also get to see a larger ship as part of the Swarm - there's a three pronged ship not dissimilar to a Xindi Insectoid fighter that screams across the screen at one point. Most likely the command ship or the craft from which Krall is able to board the Enterprise?

Intro shots of Starbase Yorktown - not used as much as trailer two and played down against the rest of the trailer which is very action orientated.

Krall's soldier shooting a trio of Starfleet officers - that is one serious gun he's carrying if it can take out three people in one shot. Krall's forces might not be like anything we've ever seen before so this could be a pretty brutal movie.

Clearer shot of the prison camp space - just as the crew are rounded up. Still no clearer on what that site is or why the crew are being incarcerated there. Are they being forced to dig for something? An artifact?

Rear shot of Kirk and Jaylah on the motorcycle - from the cycle sequence we've had in all three trailers now. Really have no idea where this fits or its purpose but it does look like Jaylah will be key in the fight against Krall.

There's a shot of something launching - could be saucer sep or an escape pod. I'd love to say this is the former and we are getting a shot from the saucer clip as the secondary hull drops away. Thanks to TheIrishTrekkie I've got this rather cool little comparison (left) to the unused Andy Probert sequence designed for The Motion Picture. Nice homage to an unused idea if this is the case. I wonder if the saucer sep is how the crew manage to escape Krall's forces as we also see the secondary hull riddle with holes and on fire beginning a downward spiral.

We get to see the Franklin speeding into a fiery situation towards the end of the trailer. Could this be the big climactic explosion they're escaping from? Also check out the still at the bottom of this article because it looks like the Warp Four starship is heading into some sort of distortion effect as part of its journey.

Longer sequence of Kirk watching the saucer crash from his escape pod. This makes it clear that the saucer makes a planet fall as it drops away from Kirk's view. Check out the fact that there's no bits of the secondary hull attached to it which holds up to the suggestion that the saucer sep is crew initiated rather than being ripped off in the attack. Also check out the ridiculous amount of damage that the saucer is carrying on it's downward spin.

Kirk and Chekov being led through a forest by an unnamed alien wearing a Starfleet evac suit. This is the same alien we saw in that bridge shot a few weeks ago. The biggest shot of the trailer though comes right after that where we have Kirk and Chekov looking down to the crashed saucer section. What is it that they need to get back to find? Also given that the evac suit the alien is wearing has differences to that of Kirk and Chekov's, could this be a lone survivor from the Franklin? Also in line with this they must be on the saucer for a while or it takes a time to get there since their escape from its wreckage takes place in the dark.

That's a decent amount of new shots but nothing really big and jaw dropping to reveal anything about the movie more than we already know. I still can't believe how little we have to go on less than a month to premiere!

The Rhianna track (available now) gives it an almost romantic feel and means that each trailer has its own distinct approach to the film and markedly different considering the journey we've come on since Sabotage blared out over the first one! Funny how she came out as a fan just before this was released huh?! I'm saying nothing.

Rather than give us lots of new material there's been a distinct edge to each tease we've seen whether it's action, more character related or now more ethereal. They're certainly trying to cover every audience base. This one does seem to have a leaning back to the action and thrills of the first trailer but that Rhianna single doesn't make it anywhere near as intense or as Fast and Furious. It's actually nowhere near as obviously an action movie as trailer one but I'm not convinced we're in for deep and meaningful character development when you couple what we see here with Chris Pine's recent comments around not being able to make a Star Trek movie that isn't an action flick. 

Reflecting back on the third Into Darkness trailer in comparison we were handed a lot of new info including much better images of the Vengeance and a brand new trailer overall which gave me a lot to discuss. Beyond is playing a much longer game with a strong poker face. Nothing is being given away and I do mean nothing even at this time.  Looking back on that trailer I felt as optimistic as I do now. I'm keeping fingers crossed that this will still be maintained after 22nd July.

"Let's make some noise..."

What did you spot in the new trailer? Still confident we're in for a better experience than Into Darkness?

Check out my musings on the first and second trailer plus watch the final trailer HERE

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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Where Are We Up To With 2017?

With lots of information coming out of the new show, Ian Kimmins sums up all that we know in one handy post...

As Star Trek Beyond approaches and the excitement reaches fever pitch for our first new Star Trek adventure in a few years, Bryan Fuller has been quietly putting together his staff for the upcoming 2017 Star Trek TV show. 

With only seven months to go until the CBS All Access premiere in January 2017, fans really haven't got a lot of clues as to what to expect. Let's first take a brief look at his team and speculate from what we have heard so far as to what may happen:

Bryan Fuller

Executive Producer, Show Runner, Writer
Is he the best person to run the new series? I think so - without any doubt. When you look at his Star Trek credentials alone he has some great episodes including Drone and the seminal Living Witness (with Joe Menosky!) and of course Bride of Chaotica!. Another reason why I think he is an excellent choice is that he is successful outside of Star Trek with such shows as Pushing DaisiesHeroes and Hannibal.

Gretchen Berg/Aaron Harberts

Gretchen Berg/Aaron Harberts got their start on Beverly Hills 90210. Not a lot is known about both of these writers except that they worked worked with Bryan Fuller previously on Pushing Daisies. They have also worked on popular series such as Revenge and Roswell

Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander has worked on Alias, Hannibal, Lost and Heroes. Note again the links to Bryan Fuller and also Orci/Kurtzman. For those of you who watched Alias he wrote The Box which starred Quentin Tarantino and was one of their highest rating episodes. 

Joe Menosky

Clive and Tiff talked about the addition of Joe on their podcast because this is a huge addition to the super-team. Joe Menosky is well known to long time Star Trek fans as he got his start on The Next Generation writing such stories as Darmok. He wrote a few episodes of Deep Space Nine which were perhaps less successful including Dramatis Personae and Time's Orphan but most of his post The Next Generation work came on Voyager where he co-wrote Living Witness with none other than Bryan Fuller. He also had a hand in Scorpion and Year of Hell which are regarded as two of Voyager's most popular stories. Menosky is usually known for his high concept scripts so we can see why he was chosen for the new series. Also it bodes better for Menosky if the show is starship-based rather than on a static station. NB - forgive the mid-90's headshot!

Kirsten Beyer

After the announcement of Fuller, Meyer (and possibly Menosky). I don't think anyone generated as much excitement as Kirsten Beyer. As far as TV is concerned she is untried but if you have read any of her Voyager novels you will know how great she is at tying loose ends together and making them work well. Her work is so good Pocket Books have given her a solo run on the Voyager novels. The early word is that she will continue to write these in her downtime from the show. To find out more about Ms Beyer please check out fellow SKoSTer Tiff's interview here

Nicholas Meyer

Well what can you say about Nicholas Meyer that hasn't been said before. As one of two people credited with saving the franchise (the other being Harve Bennett) he is well placed to take Star Trek back to its rightful place. He rewrote The Wrath of Khan in 12 days without a screen credit to get in on time! Although he didn't want to limit himself to one genre he was persuaded to come back to help with the writing on Star Trek IV and direct Star Trek VI. A very big shock to the system to hear he was coming in as a writer

Aron Coleite

Aron Coliete is completely new to the Star Trek franchise but he has worked on Heroes but is probably more known from his work on the Ultimate X-Men comic book. He was also involved in the TV show The River starring Star Trek alum Bruce Greenwood (aka Admiral Pike in the Kelvin Timeline). If you get a chance to see this series; do. It's amazing!!

Kemp Powers

Kemp Powers like Kirsten Beyer hasn't worked in TV before. However this is the one that excites me the most. He known as a journalist, author and playwright. If you get to see his play One Night in Miami about Muhammad Ali you are in for a treat. He is likely to bring a real world perspective to the series that might otherwise be missing among the talented team of fantasy and sci-fi writers.

Apart from these faces, a few more announcements were made in relation to staff for the new series they include (just to refresh your memory)...

Heather Kadin

Executive Producer
Not a lot is known about this lady apart from her being Alex Kurtzman's partner in his company K/O Paper Products.

Alex Kurtzman

Executive Producer
Probably Easily the most divisive appointment due to his involvement in the reboot movies. He is also rumoured to be directing the pilot according to Mark Worthington (Production Designer) although this hasn't been confirmed by CBS or Bryan Fuller at this time.

Rod Roddenberry/Trevor Roth 

Executive Producers.
No one is quite sure what there actual role will be. Both are from Roddenberry Entertainment but is it just a marketing ploy to have a Roddenberry involved? We will just have to wait and see!

Vincenzo Natali

Producing Director
The most recent announcement. He has previously worked on Cube which was the cult Nicole De Boer film from the 1990's. He has also worked on Earth Final Conflict with the Roddenberrys and most recently with Bryan Fuller on three seasons of Hannibal

Mark Worthington

Production Designer 
Some of you may have seen his designs online for reported Klingon ships. Unfortunately these designs have been removed. For anyone unfamiliar with his extensive work he designed the opening scene for Lost (yeah - that really inexpensive bit with the crashed airliner that helped make it the most expensive pilot of all time). He has worked on shows as diverse as American Horror Story and Ugly Betty

And the show?

Well it's 13 episodes long will run anything up to 60 minutes to streaming online rather than being on broadcast TV. There has been the note made that the running times could vary episode to episode because of this swanky format on CBS All Access. 

One of the first things we found out was that it will be filmed in Toronto starting in September 2016 and running to around March 2017. Rumour also has it that the sets have been designed and that they will begin construction VERY soon. Apparently the bridge set is stunning.

The designers have been taking inspiration for new starships from sports cars which sounds very similar to what was done for the reboot USS Enterprise. 

The story for the first season arc is written and the first six episodes are broken down. Wow. Now that's progress for you. Interesting that the first season will be 13 episodes but that doesn't confirm anything for subsequent years. I guess this is a case of seeing how the first year runs and then expand from there. If the show maintains that number of episodes for an average run of seven years we will have a total of 91 episodes making it the second shortest series ahead of The Original Series (79) and behind Enterprise (98).

Bryan Fuller has noted that it is not set between The Original Series and The Next Generation which isn't a huge surprise but then that means we haven't got any timeframe confirmed plus we have it on the authority of Fuller that it's not an anthology series. Taking that and the fact that the teaser trailer talked about "New Crews" we can guess that Star Trek is going to have more than one ship and crew at its heart which I also surmise will help with the 13 episode arc.  

Finally, they are currently talking to actors and hope to release some concrete information around San Diego Comic Con - so there's still hope to see Nathan Fillon in the captains chair huh?! I've not seen that many names banded around actually but let's keep our minds open. I'd rather not commit to anyone and be very pleasantly surprised. Remember all, at one point there was a rumour that Bryan Cranston was going to be the villain in Beyond and look where that went. On the point of cast it's been suggested that in the future of the show we might get to see characters from other iterations of the franchise so that final Garak or Seven of Nine appearance could still be on the cards.

What do we hope to see?

Star Trek is coming home. While we like to see the movies - Star Trek belongs in the TV format. The biggest question people are asking is in which timeline will it be in and here's my answer. I don't care!! There I've said it. Star Trek is about the stories it tells - it's morality plays. At the end of the day a good story is a good story regardless of where it's set. I think one issue that might - and I say might - exist is the fallout from the recently announced fan film guidelines and that fans may boycott the show (and Beyond). I don't think that the number of people who will do that will have a massive effect on the audience but it's something to bear in mind.

There has been a move to rename the JJ/Abramsverse the Kelvin Timeline. Maybe more than Bad Robot will be playing in this universe? But then Bryan Fuller has said we eventually will run into established characters so maybe it's the Prime Universe.

The inclusion of such a diverse range of writers means that while we will undoubtedly get to see new concepts, good character conflict and a firm base in the Star Trek universe we will have a good deal of grounding in the real world too and that's going to be important if Fuller and co are keen to provide a relevant social commentary as occurred with The Original Series.  All I know is the eleven year wait for a new series is nearly up and it will be time for this new generation to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Personnel images from Google Images
Star Trek 2017 images from CBS teaser trailer
Information on the new show includes collated data from Collider

What do you want to see from the new show? Worried it might not go in the "right direction"?

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Friday, 24 June 2016

There'll Be Fan Films But Not As We Know Them

After weeks of speculation, Paramount and CBS have unveiled their guidelines for the future of fan films.

The list of points have been posted most prominently on the star site and have sparked a great deal of response due to their apparently severe restrictions which will change the face of fan films as they exist. It's also key to note that these are termed as "guidelines" and not rules - however woe betide anyone who would dare to side step their words. 

If we go back to the very end of 2015 we can see that it was the still ongoing legal battle between Paramount/CBS and the Axanar production which has led to the introduction of these guidelines. I for one totally understand that Paramount and CBS have every right to be invested in the use of their intellectual property but the lawsuit against Axanar certainly stirred the pot and devisely split the Star Trek fandom - were you standing with Axanar or against? That was the question most fans were asking each other as we entered the 50th anniversary year.

While I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of the court case, it is worth saying that even though JJ Abrams announced at the Beyond special event that the suit was going away it is still rolling on with Axanar now counter-suing for losses as well. Oh the fun. However, part of the disagreement did focus on the introduction of fan film guidelines that would stop such instances of productions skirting far more close to the line than the IP holders were happy with as seems to be the case with formerly independent production Axanar.

I'm not a lawyer (yes, honestly I'm not) but the case is still super interesting and certainly the mudslinging, name calling, fan-banning and parody accounts has kept Twitter (and some relevant forums) very entertaining even if it has made the Star Trek fandom look utterly ridiculous at times.  

With the new guidelines announced there was a lot of hate thrown in the direction of Axanar. Whether it's justified or not, the last few months have not been kind to anyone associated with it. Former players have talked out against the project and even persons asked to become involved perhaps through inappropriate means have voiced their concerns about the project. Is the studio being rented to to other productions? What was Peters being paid? What happened to all that donor money - was it spent jetting around the globe to events? Let's not speculate on all the "news" that vomitted out of the original case but the rather scrappy trailer produced recently as well as the latest one minute polished teaser seem to have left fans speechless and shocked at what was promised and what has been produced. As someone who donated I really don't know where I stand going forward or if I will ever see any of the perks promised. Heck, with these new guidelines can Axanar actually be completed? I would say not because there will need to be changes made that will possibly make the project in-viable and what's going to have happened to all that cash?

So to the guidelines.

Well they will certainly mean the end of Axanar as it currently exists and may well have a big effect on series such as Continues, New Voyages and friends of Some Kind of Star Trek, Anthology and Dreadnought Dominion.  Let's break them down and air my thoughts...

1. The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than two segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.

Being only 15 minutes in length for a single story or 30 for a segmented story plus they can only be one offs. This kills the series such as Continues immediately which has hour long episodes and uses standing sets for repeat productions. Say farewell to your long running fan series which will immediately overrun this rule in one go. Just think about Renegades which has only just started filming its second film.

2. The title of the fan production or any parts cannot include the name “Star Trek.” However, the title must contain a subtitle with the phrase: “A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION” in plain typeface. The fan production cannot use the term “official” in either its title or subtitle or in any marketing, promotions or social media for the fan production.

The removal of Star Trek from the title isn't a big thing for Axanar for example but think of the impact for shows such as Continues or New Voyages for example - it's a part of what they are. The inclusion of "A Star Trek fan production on the title card is pretty fine and I don't see there being many issues over that. No shock that you can't use the word "official".

3. The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations or clips from any Star Trek production. If non-Star Trek third party content is used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing.

Basically it's got to be 100% original material and if you don't own the copyright to it you're going to need to ask if it's not a Star Trek property. You can't reproduce anything, copy anything or use anything (clips) from the show or movies. Wondering if this also encompasses using any characters from the show such as Apollo in Continues' Pilgrim of Eternity?

4. If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.

So fan productions can't be making their own uniforms or any items that you can buy in a shop. Surely a sign that Paramount and CBS are looking to reap some sort of financial benefit from the shows because a percentage of those item sales will obviously go back to the IP holders at some point. Could push fan films into designing their own props, clothes and accessories but then does that mean it's not Star Trek anymore...?

5. The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees.

So no paying cast to star in your movie anymore. This also puts paid to getting Star Trek actors to guest on your show as has happened in a few of the New Voyages episodes for example (Sulu, Chekov...). This probably comes off the back of Axanar paying its cast to appear - and remember that three of the gents in their Prelude were former guest cast for Star Trek (JG Hertzler, Gary Graham, Tony Todd) so there's another nail in the coffin (yes, Todd has since left the production). Axanar made a lot of its own uniforms, patches and a lot more. Also productions like Renegades may now have to grind to a halt in light of using a plethora of Star Trek actors and making their own props for the film. 

6. The fan production must be non-commercial:

CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.

The fan production must only be exhibited or distributed on a no-charge basis and/or shared via streaming services without generating revenue.

The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray.

The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.

No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.

The fan production cannot derive revenue by selling or licensing fan-created production sets, props or costumes.

Well that's a big one. Axanar is clearly the precedent for this one as it raised somewhere in the region of $1.2million which has been spent in a variety of ways (none of which I wish to speculate on here I would add again!). The ceiling of $50,000 is interesting because I think this means it remains on a "shoestring" budget rather than moving into some serious TV/movie level budgets that Axanar was certainly prodding at with its seven figure fundraising balance. The perk DVD/Blu-ray has now been eliminated by the guidelines effectively reducing the output to the production's website and maybe to YouTube BUT you can't make any money off it whatsoever. Not a shock really with this guideline because it's protecting the IP and making sure only the licence holders are making money off the item that they own.

This extensive point also ensures that the sites can't even have advertising to bring in revenue or offer any items for sale or as tempters to donate money. For a lot of fan productions the ability to give away items is what has made the difference. Again look at the perks from Axanar including those DVDs, uniform items, ship models and the combadges and rifle props that Renegades offered as a further example.

I think we can all understand this is purely the owners making sure there's no cash being pocketed on the side.

7. The fan production must be family friendly and suitable for public presentation. Videos must not include profanity, nudity, obscenity, pornography, depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any harmful or illegal activity, or any material that is offensive, fraudulent, defamatory, libelous, disparaging, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, or any other inappropriate content. The content of the fan production cannot violate any individual’s right of privacy.

No brainer. It's making sure that the Star Trek brand is kept in good repute and I think all fan productions will be able to adhere to that without any effort at all. One thing they all want is to portray the franchise effectively on the screen and for the enjoyment of the fandom.

8. The fan production must display the following disclaimer in the on-screen credits of the fan productions and on any marketing material including the fan production website or page hosting the fan production: 
Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”
Pretty much the same as the "A Star Trek Fan Production" line that has to be added at the beginning of the movie. Just another subtle reminder to all and sundry who is in charge of the show at the end of the day. I can't pick at this one. Straight forward. 

9. Creators of fan productions must not seek to register their works, nor any elements of the works, under copyright or trademark law.

Fair play. You would be a bit silly trying to copyright something that's already copyrighted and owned by someone else.

10. Fan productions cannot create or imply any association or endorsement by CBS or Paramount Pictures

These last few points don't do anything that's not logical really do they? If it's fan made and glaring says so as per points 2 and 8 then there's no reason why you should be implying the last point here. I guess that Axanar's independence and then comments around the IP holders being absolutely fine with it all must be reasons for this to have been included as the final line.

Commented exec producer for Dreadnought Dominion, Gary Davis when I dropped him a line shortly after the guidelines were announced: "...this is a "gut punch" to stay the least." he said, "These guidelines will bring to an end the Fan Film era as we know it. Under these guidelines any future plans for Dreadnought Dominion would be severely hobbled. The guidelines seem to be aimed at giving consent, yet making it virtually impossible to produce any semblance of a show worth watching.

"We all understand that CBS/Paramount have the right to protect their intellectual property. We further understand that the producers of Axanar overstepped the accepted bounds of crowdfunding, compared themselves with the current Star Trek productions calling themselves a "professional" film rather than a Fan Film, THEN deriving personal income FROM the crowdfunding."

It's good to see that productions - on the whole - recognise the privilege they have been allowed to play in the Star Trek universe but there is recognition that the game has changed and it's a big move by the IP holders.

Continued Gary, "However, just because there was one bad apple, shouldn't mean that CBS/Paramount cripples everyone from producing Fan Films when everyone in the past was adhering to the unspoken "rule" of Fan Films by "not making any money". Its a shame, a travesty, and will really put a bad taste in the mouths of the fans who come to enjoy the genre of Star Trek."

There we have it. A very different day for the fan film community. I like the point that these are guidelines and not RULES but you would be a bit idiotic to ignore them and incur the wrath of Paramount and CBS. Perhaps this won't be the final version and we will see the more prominent productions stepping forward and speaking to the owners about how these rules can be amended. If not then I think we can guarantee an end to the recurring webseries and the more exotic fan films such as Renegades.

It also seems that it will take some time for these rules to fully sink in and it could lead to our favourite web-series existing in a very different format. 

Wrote Vic Mignogna on the Star Trek Continues Facebook page: "Hi everyone, thank you all for your tremendous outpouring of concern and support. First and foremost, we have the utmost respect for CBS and their right to protect their property as they see fit. As soon as we know for sure how the latest developments will impact Star Trek Continues we will most certainly share it with all of you. Star Trek Continues was created purely out of love and tribute, not a desire for profit or self-promotion. Thank you again for all your support. Vic"

Did Axanar become too big? Did those involved believe they were bigger than Star Trek itself? Was it wrong declaring independence? Has it angered people who donated? I think all of those questions aren't as straight forward as they may seem depending on where you sit and that's what's really damaged the fan community - there seems to be no definitive right or wrong when it comes to the people who would be watching the end result.

This will not be the last time we'll hear about these rules as their introduction sends shockwaves across the moviemakers out there. How this announcement will affect productions currently being made or edited is also something that will have to be considered since they were in process before the guidelines were announced. What happens, for example, to the episodes of Continues that are in post-production? I hope that the issues Axanar has thrown up in the last six months do not mean an effective end to fan films but right now I'm very, very uncertain as to what the future holds.

How do you feel about the new guidelines from CBS and Paramount? Is it the end of the fan film?

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