Sunday, July 3, 2016

From the fan-film guidelines to Rihanna, and Beyond — My take on all those Trek headlines, in one fell swoop

Wow. I picked the wrong week to go off-the-grid into bad wi-fi back home in Soonerland...!

I have so much to get done with "5-0 Fever" con summer and the Trek tour bearing down, plus a new On Speaker archival CD edition to get out ... and a nice website redesign for Trekland, finally, and Portal 47 both in the works...

But I have to say a few things about the crazy going down in Trekland the last few days—starting with the fan film guidelines came out the day I traveled to SoonerCon. (Of course. Oh, and the reaction.)

So take an extra 4.7 minutes and I'll wrap it all up for now in one subspace blast and say...

REALLY, Trekland? So much hate and trolling and boycotting...and, right NOW?

Take a breath and step back a sec. Let's put it on the main viewer, shall we?

It's July, 2016. We have a Star Trek feature film that is not only looking more like Star Trek to the hardcore than its two priors... but an exciting episodic series under an award-winning Trek vet with a mix of both Trek alumni and newer voices ...on a platform that will not be ruled by ratings numbers or even note-popping censors ... and, in Rihanna's "Sledgehammer," a Bond-like music hit and video mix from an actual fangirl superstar that will cross generations, continents and media to bring all-new eyeballs to all things movie-Trek and start the pipeline of fresh cadets and warriors and drones all over again.
Rihanna's "Sledgehammer" video w alt-Enterprise: Anyone else see a "The Doomsday Machine" homage here?

PLUS an awesome 50th anniversary that *is* living up to far more than just party hype—with major conventions around the globe, concerts and museum /science tours and the return of the 1960s original 11-footer Big E to its rightful place of inspiring honor in the Smithsonian, complete with a highly researched paint and detail restoration. I just missed seeing the 1701 in 1976, saw it in 1986, was disappointed in 1992... and can't wait to glimpse her return to glory in a couple weeks, right before Shore Leave.

And this is all grabbing mainstream media attention ...smack in the middle of the Big Bang Theory Era. That's what they used to call "synergy."

How people can be poking holes in all that positive, franchise-refreshing force for good is just beyond me. Really. But hey, don't misunderstand: I'm not saying go vanilla—I'm just saying go smart.

What I really refuse to do is get too sucked into the time and negativity sink over the Axanar lawsuit and all the tangent spinoffs from itwhile still avoiding any "deer in the headlights" blindsidingWhile you might be feeling a bit down that the Golden Age of Fan Films seems to be over, let me just suggest that it might simply be ...evolving. For I remember all the prior times "Paramount" was decried by fans— from the marketing study and boycott over Spock's death threatened for The Wrath of Khan, to the upset over the "new" upstart TNG without Kirk/Spock/McCoy... and the yell over every new iteration of series to come. And somehow, it all came out in the end just fine. I even hear Star Trek AND its fandom hung around and pressed on.

Look, my low-key friend John van Citters of CBS licensing is now an unlikely Internet star front-and-center over the "fan film guidelines" (thanks to Jordan Hoffman's new official podcast Engage)—but that's the same JVC who used to point out to me years ago, at the clamor for embracing such "rules," how "a Lucasfilms model of 5-minute festival entries would never fly with Trek fans so let's just leave it in the gray area to avoid getting those lawyers involved"--the guys who care less about promotion and brand-building, and more about fiduciary duty and legal precedent. As is their oath. 

That's how I know what a huge leap these guidelines were, for the corporate machinery to agree to as much as they did—even as, to some fans, that 15/30-minute limit may seem restrictive...which is inevitable. There will be a bit of customizing in reaction, on a case-by-case basis ... but look, guys: For nearly two years, I've been worried. I mean, I've been soooo proud to have acted in, and remain a part of the think thank, for Continues; I appeared in New Voyages early on, and have supported Starbase Studios back home in OKC plus any other project that asked for it, on principal.  And yet, sadly, the boom does seem unsustainable in some ways: Today's zooming crowdfunding and temptations mean it was increasingly likely this ever-more-overloaded plane was going to have a rough landing on the choppy sea of expectations sometime— and becoming more apparent every month to many of us.

And face it: As I've said for a couple years now, I was also expecting a lot of the fan-film fire to go out—by fan producers, if not backers and attention spans in general—once a Trek series got going again, sucking all the air out of the room with new canon content to follow and fathom. That's right around the corner, now.

Question is, when and where and how rough would that landing be, who'd take charge in the crisis (if anyone), and who would get hurt in the crash? And would the "owner" CBS/Paramount get blamed, no matter what?

The post-guidelines world will not be this way forever—just ask the website owners who freely post scene clip frames today, unlike in 1996 when C&D's by Paramount went out as frame-grabbing exploded ... or the "official" editors like me four years later who could not mention actors' non-Trek crossover projects in depth—until we could. (Professor X in a Trek mag, anyone?) Or the idea of limiting later-generation Trek cast and crew to only licensed conventions (ca 2001).

The truth is, things in any pop culture franchise "poppish" enough to be alive are always the edgiest on the cutting edge—the fun frontier where no attorneys or rights-protectors have gone before. Until everyone does go there, at least, and things settle down....and then start up again in another paradigm. That's just the world we live it. It's unsettled, but it's ever-fresh: And it's the price you pay for having an incredibly attractive, thought-provoking little space show that keeps attracting new fans, new iterations, new business ...and refuses to die after 50 years.

The other truth is this: For all the meme meltdowns online past and present, fan film fandom... con-going regulars  ....hell, all Internet Trek fandom... are just a drop in the bucket among all the armchair fans out there. You know: the folks who watch the shows, buy the books and toys, and raise their kids with Trek?

And now... a boycott? Really?
Aside from the basic math, consider the timing.

Because Vulcan's Forge was never like this: We are FINALLY emerging from wandering the Trek desert of the last 12 years, and have now a transition time from what *was* to what *is*—whether it's fan film parameters or a hit music/movie video or a for-pay streaming platform in the fast-changing media landscape. Same as 1979, 1982, 1987, 2001 ...and 2006.

Thank the Prophets it's happened again. It means we're still alive... and that a 100th anniversary Trektennial in 2066 is a pretty sure bet.

Oh—and beyond our selfish fun? Star Trek remains a good bet for a wracked world that could really use some hope and intelligent futurism in its free time right about now. 

Just like in 1966.


Mo said...

Well put. I will support any production that is true to the spirit of Trek. As one of those people that got a c&d in 79, I know that you right and when paramount/CBS stops making money and gets bored with their toy, the fans will still be there.

Mark Freece said...

I love Trek! Since I was a we lad in the early 70s. Born in 66, actually. Gene Roddenberry had his issues with Desillo. I think he'd have a major issue with the fan guidelines. I totally want to boycott just on principle but, my love for Trek word rule out. What's really asham is the Trek universe is all about cooperation and the Prime Directive, no money or prejudice. So sad "big business" is missing the heart of that. So sad 😞

Anonymous said...

Your a fucking moron.people hate new trek because its not star trek.its shit lame and its too late to bring us a real film as u call it.people are fed up due to fucking things up to much and no creativity.

Larry Nemecek said...

Well, Anonynmous, I'm sorry you see it all as hopeless. And that total changes in writers and director do not mean the latest film can be any different from the first two.

But at least you were honest about it—at least, as honest as someone posting as "anonymous" can be.

Larry Nemecek said...

Mark Freece: Thanks for taking a second to let your rational mind kick in on top of your emotions. They may not be your undoing after all.

But I'd just point out that "big business" looked the other way and let fan films go on pretty low-key for about 12-13 years now.