The latest feature film that is not produced by Hollywood features terrific actors and cinematography. Kenny Smith started production on his “Star Trek First Frontier” film over five years ago. And just recently, to coincide with the Trek Anniversary, he released his movie. Is it perfect? No. Is it worth seeing? Oh yeah…
Because Kenny shot the film before the Star Trek owners (CBS/Paramount) changed their Fan Film Guidelines, he was able to use SAG actors without infringing on Star Trek. But perhaps I should say how this works. A fan film is a fan-made film that is designed to be non-commercial. And typically it will NOT feature professionals. So really, if you are familiar with the Studio’s Fan Film Guidelines, you might think that Kenny was kind of pushing the limits of what the studio had in mind for fan-made Trek films 5 years ago, and again today. Well, Kenny was not the only one making Trek fan-films with Professional talent back then, and currently he is not the only person/studio doing Trek fan films. Hmm, it’s a tad confusing.
Let’s try to clarify how a filmmaker needs to respect the process. All fan film’s borrow elements from the original-production with the hope that the owners will not object. There’s no contract. Even the studios “Star Trek Guidelines” are not a contract. So we have to be careful, some productions like the Trek film “Axanar” were not respectful — and they got sued. But Kenny was, and Kenny is…
This reminds me of the many discussions I’ve had with filmmakers regarding the making of a Parody. If you make a parody of someone else’s work, the fact that YOU call it a parody does not guarantee that you won’t be sued. Because, what if the owner of the original material is not laughing? Get it? It’s a matter of where you sit at the table. On one side you have the guy who wants to do an homage to a film that he loves, and on the other side you have the owner of the original who may or may not like the idea. (Think Firefly…you won’t see many fan films because Fox/Disney ‘mostly’ won’t allow it.) Okay, let’s get back to our Star Trek discussion.
Paramount’s favorite son James Cawley produced a number of Star Trek movies under the Star Trek “New Voyages” and “Phase II” banner, and these involved the use of Cawley’s 9,000 foot Star Trek studio (a duplicate to the 1967 Desilu Trek studio.) Also involved was talent from the original Star Trek, including TOS Alumni Walter Koenig (Chekov) – and George Takei (Sulu) – and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura.) Also an indie-production/studio known as “Renegades” (featuring Tim Russ* of Star Trek Voyager) produced Star Trek films with stars like Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.)
Using pro’s on a fan film is currently not allowed. Unless you’re grandfathered…Like Kenny’s production.
So, just to be clear, whether a fan film is allowed to be distributed is ultimately the Intellectual property owners decision. And we hope that the Studio understands the process that Kenny used to shoot and ultimately release his movie.
Lucky for you and I, we have Star Trek First Frontier released Non-commercially on Youtube. It’s a great film. Kenny spent allot of time and money using SAG talent in order to deliver dialog that works just as well as something produced by the Studio.
Are there flaws? Yes. Kenny reports that because of the Covid situation, he does not have the funds to complete the film with the kind of high-quality CGI images that we are accustomed to seeing in movies these days. And, the audio has severe flaws. The volume goes up/down and the dialog competes with the background sounds and audio effects (SFX.) But don’t dispair.
Just today I heard from an editor that Kenny is working with a few folks to work the bugs out. So, perhaps in 6 months or so we just might see a re-mastered version of the First Frontier film. Meanwhile, I made a 9 minute, introductory remix for Kenny. Below is the clip that I produced as an homage to Kenny (and of course Star Trek.) And just a reminder…this remix is a TEST remix, intended to give you a preview of the kind of quality that I hope to see from Kenny and friends in the near future. It’s NOT intended to ‘add’ — ‘replace’ or take away from Kenny’s feature film.
If you like (or dislike) what you see then I hope you take the time to leave a comment here or on Youtube. And feel free to share this with your friends and especially Sci-Fi groups, pages, and organizations online.
And if you just can’t wait for the remix, then below is Kenny’s full length movie, Star Trek First Frontier. It’s on my “Fan Films” and Movies Plus Android App, and Youtube. Cheers (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
*See Tim Russ and the Atomic Network for a variety of Sci-Fi and Trek-inspired programming featuring talent like Garrett Wang of Star Trek The Next Generation and Terry Farrell of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Tell ’em Dean at Moviesplus/FluentialTV sent you 😉
Support this blog on my Patreon campaign site: https://www.patreon.com/moviesplus PS Late October: I watched the Pilot “Drop Dead Diva” and our FF captain appeared as a Doctor. Yeah!