Overview of Fan Films
The following essay has been made obsolete by events of June 2016. For more about those events, see http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/234.html
(Revised June, 2014)
Any film that is not under control of the franchise copyright holder for Star Trek is a fan film for purposes of this website. Whether and to what extent CBS and Paramount currently have a right to exclude others from making Star Trek, the meaning of the name, "Star Trek" and the meaning of the "Franchise copyright" however, could be much debated. That, however, will have to wait for the day somebody decides to get a court decision.
Fan Filmmakers include Star Trek Alumni, other entertainment professionals, adult fans who may or may not have some artistic or other relevant background, fans who have made no other films except pictures of their vacations and birthday parties, even kids who are filming themselves playing 'make believe.' Some are making serious tribute films, others comedies or parodies. I divide these groups into the Professionals whether or not they have worked on Star Trek, The adult fans, who I call 'garage producers,' teen fans who make what I call, 'Teen Trek' and child fans who make 'Kid Trek.'
Some of the products of Star Trek alumni, Trekkers, and Trekkies are of stellar quality. Some are better than some of the authorized professional materials. "Of Gods and Men" (See Blog 24) is a fan film because it is unauthorized and associated with James Cawley, who is Fan Film's Jacob to Gene Roddenbury's Abraham in the Star Trek World. However, "Of Gods And Men" stars professional actors. It is distinguished from professionally produced Star Trek only by the love so evidently put into the project... and the small production budget. Star Trek Phase II is produced by show business professionals, including James Cawley, who worked for Paramount on the later Star Trek series as a costumer, and who appears in both J.J. Abram's "Star Trek" and "Of Gods and Men." The production quality of Phase II films is obviously professional. Phase II has sold props to Paramount. (No $150 million budget, though.) Some credit James Cawley with saving the Star Trek franchise. However, former cast members and James Cawley are not the only Star Trek professionals who has produced fan films. Starship Exeter (Blog 21) includes Paramount Star Trek alumni, and boasts stellar quality work as well. Star Trek: Beyond is also produced by industry professionals, and has a significant volume of output of fan films available for viewing. (see Blog 170). Star Trek Continues is made by industry pros who appear to have no Star Trek experience. (see Blog 27).
Top producing live action garage productions include Hidden Frontier (Blogs 100-105)(California USA), George Kayaian (more than one series, (Blog 34))(New York, USA), Project Potemkin (Blog 31)(Georgia, USA), Star Trek Reliant (Newfoundland, Canada)(Blog 128) and Star Trek Unity (England, UK) (Blog 90). There are also numerous animations, some of which are produced by, e.g. advertising pros, so it's harder to draw the lines for these. Several Audio dramas are have received various awards for quality and content. (All audio dramas are at Blog 247).
For Star Trek Time Lines, See:
I am in the process of assigning Fan Film Maker groups into one of three groups. (A) says they are Actively producing new Fan Films. (B) says that they may have something in the can they are working on releasing, but no serious plans for more after that. (B) alternatively would apply to a group which has plans but have let a lot of time elapse since their last film. A Group partway through a partially released film with more than one year between sections may also be given a (B) if they have no specific release date for their next section. (C) says the group has Completed all Star Trek Fan Films. It may still be producing prose, comics, audio shows, or other fan Trek, but it is done with films.
For the location of fan film producers, here is a map which is a work in progress:
In some cases, all I have is a nation, a state or a province of origin, not a city, so many of the markers (e.g. in Germany) are not exact. They are (with the Exception of "Enterprise," "Titan", and "The Way Back") just somewhere in Germany. In many cases, I don't even have that yet. The map is a map of the world. You can move what you see in the window around with you mouse. You can then zoom in on your part of the world to see what, if any, fan films are made in your area. However, fan film groups in Blog 210 with a two-letter designation are believed to not be active. Most of these have been removed from the map. Those starting with A (as in AB) may have some slow work being done, or may be on hold for a short time (e.g., six months). Some links may also be pre-reorganization of this website. Check the Index, at Blog 250, to find information about a filmmaker with an outdated link.
View Star Trek Fan Film Production in a larger map
Star Trek Fan Film Production Map.
The Original Series("TOS") and The Animated Series("TAS") and Star Trek XI, JJ Abrams Star Trek (JJA) will be referred to here as Golden Age Star Trek. Fan production set at the time of Golden Age Star Trek are fan film links and reviews start at Blog 20, with Phase II/New Voyages. (Roughly, 2250-2349 AD.)
Star Trek: The Next Generation("TNG") through late TNG Movies, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("DS9") and Voyager("VOY") and shortly thereafter time line are here referred to as the "Silver Age" Star Trek. Silver Age fan production links and reviews star at Blog 80. (Roughly 2350-2449 AD.)
Fan productions set in the time of the last series, Enterprise, until Spock enters Star Fleet Academy will be referred to here as "Stone Age" Star Trek. Stone Age fan production links and reviews start at Blog 10,. (Roughly 2150-2249 AD.)
Some fan film productions are set 70 or more years after Voyager returns to Earth. Star Trek Beyond is set 160 years after Voyager. Clearly, this is not Silver Age Star Trek. I will call films set roughly from 70 to 270 years after Voyager returns to Earth Bronze Age Star Trek. Bronze Age fan productions links and reviews will start at Blog 170. (Roughly 2450-2749 AD.)
I was originally unsure how to handle fan films produced based on the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. I once proposed calling it "Iron Age" Star Trek or "Iron Pyrite Age" Star Trek. But that would not fit my 'time line' based system. I then realized that if I were going to differentiate between J.J. Abrams Star Trek and TOS, I also had to make a distinction between the original time line and Trek set in the Mirror Universe. I decided to call it entirely by time line for overall classification.
Most fan websites include only a few episodes, and have only one blog here to for their listings. However, Hidden Frontier is by far the largest website for fan produced Silver Age Trek. It is not created by entertainment industry professionals, although it is located in Southern California. In 2010, it stopped filming new Star Trek Fan Films, and now only produces audio Trek once in a while. One final film was released in 2011. It is also a website which has a clear political agenda, gay rights (or, as they must now be called in some states, "Takei rights."). It has completed an entire fan show series of 50 separate episodes, and has completed filming three new series as well as a non-Star Trek series, some of which continue as audio shows. I will note that the non-Star Trek materials exist, but will not link to them. Hidden Frontier is in Blog 100 , but it's series are in Blogs 101 through, Blog 107. Voyages of The USS Angeles, a fan film series which forms the basis of the Hidden Frontier fan films, is at Blog 107. You can also listen to their new audio series which continues these adventures.
GoAnimate! Is a major website of an entirely different sort. They had tools for easy animations to let anyone make animated Star Trek, although their rights to do this ended in 2012. The work done using Go!Animate has been given it's own website, Star Trek Reviewed - Go!Animate. This is the Table of Contents: Table of Contents for Star Trek Reviewed - Go!Animate
Where to draw the line between major films or groups of small films which get their own blog and small groups of shorts or one-shot shorts that do not isn't perfectly clear. For the time being, that distinction is being made in a somewhat arbitrary manner.
eMBee has been kind enough to provide the following total run times for some select Star Trek Fan Film production groups as of October 10, 2013. The following text is unedited:
Hidden Frontier (35:44:31)
Frontier Guard (2:26:56)
Star Trek: Unity (9:31:41)
Star Trek: Phase II (7:21:29)
Star Trek: Kayaian Films (5:34:36)
Starship Farragut (4:29:10)
Raumschiff Highlander (3:46:33)
Star Trek: Encarta (4:02:10)
Star Trek: The Romulan Wars (3:24:01)
Star Trek: Dark Frontier (3:14:01)
Star Trek: Intrepid (2:17:52)
Star Trek: New Homelands (1:35:33)
Star Trek: Reliant (1:25:09)
Project: Potemkin (1:24:57)
Star Trek: Dark Armada (1:21:08)
Star Trek: Tales of the Seventh Fleet (1:12:37)
Star Trek: Aurora (1:03:56)
Star Trek Continues (1:02:09)
sorted by time, this list includes all series with more than one episode
which i have seen. (i have not yet seen all of Unity or Reliant, but i
have the files so i added them in)
Highlander is sorted before Encarta because i am missing episode 3 which
is not published yet and i am sure it is longer than the 15 minutes
i also included Frontier Guard, but you can skip them if you like.
Unity does not include the first 17 episodes, so there is actually more.
and of course any series i don't even know about yet is also not
included. (i'll get through watching what i have before i pick the next
one from your lists, unless some series happens to make itself known by
a new release like Reliant just did last month, then i'll pick that next)
also not included are individual films like "Of Gods and Men" and others
of significant length. i can compile another list for those some other
time. (alltogether i have seen about 8 hours worth of those, but that
number is meaningless because it is just a fraction of what is out there