Today the suits at CBS/Paramount announced the official guidelines for fan films made by aspiring fans of the “Star Trek” universe. Star Trek fan films have been around for decades but recent endeavors have caught the attention of the franchise owners and they’re worried about legal and monetary infringement of the official films and the upcoming series.
Judging by the quality of the rebooted films and the trailer I’ve seen for the upcoming “Star Trek: Beyond”, they’ve probably come to the realization that the official product is crap and the fan films are out doing them on several fronts. Bruises to the ego and all that.
The official list of guidelines can be found here: Star Trek Fan Films
Some highlights from these very restrictive guidelines that caught my attention include:
1. The films can be no more than 15 minutes in length and a story arc can be no more than two 15-minute features.
There are several fan film efforts that feature television episode length films out there, so films like “Star Trek: Phase II” and “Star Trek: Continues” are out. One film that I really enjoyed, “Star Trek: Renegades” is out as well.
2. 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.
Several of of the fan films featured actors from the various incarnations of the show: George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney, Denise Crosby, among many others took part in these fan films because they’re actually fans of their work. Apparently this is no longer allowed.
Fan films set in the “Star Trek” universe have kept the franchise alive for over 50 years, especially when there hasn’t been any commercial offerings of the show. While there has been much hype and advertising over the reboots of the “Star Trek” movies, I firmly believe that some of that enthusiasm can be attributed to the fan base, including those that make fan films.
“Be a part of a ‘Star Trek’ fan film” has been on my bucket list for many years. With these new rules, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to check that item off my bucket list.
Corporate greed often stifles the more creative and I believe this is part of the issue that CBS/Paramount now has with the fan films. I will admit that some of the latest fan endeavors have really pushed the legal limits of the “Star Trek” universe, but honestly CBS/Paramount should make a better effort to work with the fans that help energize the franchise instead of squashing them like so many bugs. The film length clause and the participant clause really irk me. The film length clause in particular makes it nearly impossible for any sort of imaginative story to be shared with the audience.
I also wonder if some of the big wigs at CBS/Paramount came to the realization that their latest offerings were dumbed down crap and that the fans were doing “Star Trek” better than the official “Star Trek” folks were. I think some egos might have been bruised. Again, working with the fans instead of against them would help in this situation.
“Star Trek: Beyond” is coming to theatres soon and ever since I saw the first trailer, with loud music blaring, motorcycles blaring and a really seemingly obnoxious actress playing an alien that does Karate moves on a planet far, far away, I really couldn’t care less if I see this next movie or not. I have been to many “Star Trek” movies on opening night but this one just doesn’t feel like “Star Trek” to me.
It’s a shame that I won’t be able to watch new fan films to fill the void.