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Monday, June 22, 2009 - 11:00 AM - Tampa Indie Film Log for Filmmaker C. A. Passinault

Tampa Star Trek Production Rumors

This post contains speculation about unconfirmed rumors. Officially, there is no Tampa Star Trek production, but the author wanted to explore the possibility, and the potential.

The past few weeks, I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors regarding a new Star Trek series, set in the original series, A new Star Trek original series produced by a team of Tampa indie filmmakers? Rumor, or fact?that is preparing to enter production in the Tampa Bay area. The series, which would consist of an ongoing number of episodes produced, would start filming sometime later in 2009, and would pick up where the original series left off.
It’s been done before. There are several Star Trek fan series in production in the United States, mostly produced by trekkies/ trekkers (whichever applies, and both may. I don't know the difference, and I don't care to, as I am neither). The assorted series are produced on shoestring budgets, much like traditional indie films, and are distributed on the Internet. Of them all, however, the top series would have to Star Trek: New Voyages / Star Trek: Phase II. Although the online series had a shaky (but ambitious and promising) start, the series, starting with the episode “To serve all my days”, is actually getting as good as the original series. In my opinion, New Voyages co-creator James Cawley, who portrays Captain James T. Kirk, is not a good actor, but recent episodes have cast some talented actors with good performances. I was impressed with the performance of Another one of the leaked effects shots from the rumored Tampa Star Trek series.actor Andy Bray (no relation to my friend Sarah Bray, obviously), who portrayed Pavel Chekov in the episode To serve all my days, and did a much better job playing the character than the original actor, Walter Koenig, who was shoe-horned into the episode as “old Chekov”, reprising his original role; that was impressive, and speaks volumes about the acting ability of Mr. Bray. So, could anyone out-Shatner William Shatner, and nail the Jame T. Kirk character better than Shatner? Unlikely, so far, and in my opinion, James Cawley created this series to “role play Star Trek”, and doesn’t even come close to doing a passable job as an actor, let alone approach the acting ability of Shatner (as controversial as that acting is, as well). Well, at least the Star Trek role playing project is coming to life on its own as one of the best works of Star Trek (independent of the IP owners) to come along yet.
To Cawley’s credit, he did built a damn fine recreation of the Enterprise bridge in a barn, and the sets look good. He even got the attention of Wired a few years back, and the series has a substantial fan following and press coverage to date.
Which brings us to the Tampa Star Trek Rumors. To date, I have heard several interesting stories about this project, A third shot of the rumored Tampa Star Trek Enterprise. Looks really nice!and although I am unable to verify that it actually exists, the potential is much too interesting to pass up reporting. Among the rumors, I heard the following.

Please note that these are unverified rumors, and are not facts. I am merely speculating and expressing opinions here, and nothing more.

Rumor: The Tampa Star Trek series, much like New Voyages / Phase II, would be set in the original series, picking up where it left off. The rumor goes on to say that a group of Tampa indie filmmakers were behind the production, much like the Tampa Film Network produced the ill-fated Quiet Place a few years ago.

Rumor: A U.S.S. Enterprise bridge set is being built in an abandoned building in Ybor City. Several other interior sets are being built at another Tampa film location. I would love to see these sets, if they exist.

Joe Davison as Scotty is one rumor which I hope turns out to be true!Rumor: Tampa actor Joe Davison is supposed to be cast as “Scotty”. To be honest, I would love to see this, although I am uncertain if Joe can fit in Scotty's uniform.

Rumor: Paul Guzzo is supposed to make his acting debut in the pilot, playing an Enterprise red-shirted security crewman in a landing party scene, and the Cardassian leader (I’d love to see that!). After Paul's groundbreaking performance as a heartbroken security guard in his highly acclaimed feature film 99, I suppose that he was perfect for the part of a red-shirt. As for Cardassians, they are noted to be arrogant assholes in Star Trek canon, so no acting ability is required there.

Rumor: The Enterprise beams down a landing party to a chaotic planet which is in a state of anarchy. They are quickly attacked. The planet is portrayed by a Ybor City location, which fits, in my opinion, and also in my opinion they could do this scene without any stunt people. All that they would have to so is hang around Ybor with a film crew and a group of actors dressed in Star Trek uniforms, and the attack would happen naturally from all the drunks and criminals who hang out in Ybor.

Rumor: The story involves the Enterprise encountering a Cardassian warship from the future. The Enterprise Paul Guzzo playing a Cardassian? Another wild rumor which I hope pans out!subsequently gets hammered and has to retreat, no match for a Galor-class Cardassian warship from the Next-Generation era. My question is: Wouldn’t the Borg be more fun, and less work for makeup?

Fact: Someone forwarded me the story for the pilot and some screen grabs that they claimed were from the effects team (the picture of the Cardassian and the New Voyages screen grabs were not in those samples). The story is excellent, and the special effects / CG work is incredible (if that’s indeed what it is- check out the pictures for yourself).

Rumor: This is will be ongoing series, released on the Internet much like New Voyages.

The CG model of the Enterprise on Star Trek: New Voyages is good, but not as good as the samples for the rumored Tampa Star Trek series!Well, take it for what it is. This is interesting stuff. Some have brought up that a “fan series” couldn’t be sold, because the production team would be creating works based on the original intellectual property owned by another company. That’s a given, but there are still some intriguing things about such a project which would make it worth doing. For example, such a project would attract a lot of attention (and controversy), because it is a creative work for a property which has a massive fanbase. It would serve as a great marketing vehicle for actors and filmmakers.
What about the legality of producing such derivative work? Well, New Voyages already solved that issue.

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_New_Voyages):

CBS (and previously Paramount Pictures), which owns the legal rights to the Star Trek franchise, allows the distribution of fan-created material as long as no attempt is made to profit from it without official authorization, and New Voyages enjoys the same tolerance.

Can you see the buzz potential for this? I certainly can.Tampa actors would certainly look better than these actors, and the casting might do the original cast justice!
As a filmmaker, and a writer, I can say that I have plenty of my own intellectual properties to keep me busy. I own enough original material right now to keep me busy for the rest of my life. This said, I would be open for a fan-series, which I could never actually sell, as long as I had an expert knowledge of the source material and it would serve as a marketing/ promotional project. Although I am not a Trekkie /Trekker, I do have expert knowledge of the property and Star Trek canon (much like other works of fiction which I get into), and I could do Star Trek justice (even New Voyages has technical flaws which go against canon- in a recent episode, for example, there is an accident in engineering, and one of their “engines” is out, leaving them the use of “only” one engine. Sorry, guys, you meant “nacelles”. The Constitution-Class Enterprise only has one engine, which drives warp coils housed in two nacelles. Also, the context was for warp drive, which is not impulse, so I knew that they were referring to the warp drive. Perhaps they need technical advisors? Although I am not a trekker/ trekkie, I do love all science fiction, and, despite its flaws, Star Trek. I'm also very much into the technical aspects of all science fiction. Unlike most who do sci-fi, I don't need technical or scientific advisors, as I am more versed in technology, space flight, star travel, and time travel than most professionals are).
If these turn out to be rumors, and it doesn’t turn out to be a real project, I would be open to doing a Star Trek series myself. I’ll just leave it at that for now, and I’ll see how this pans out. At any rate, this should make a lot of Tampa filmmakers think.


UPDATED 12/09/10

UPDATED 05/26/11

UPDATED 12/24/11

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