By Eli David
The last several years have seen a plethora of fan films hit the web. It’s no big shock; the internet’s communal aspect combined with new possibilities in visible distribution platforms and low-budget film making beget an environment ripe for filmmakers to adapt their favorite characters to the screen.
When making a fan film (something about which I may know a tad)*, the goal is, ultimately, to stay as true to the source content as possible. Themes that bond fans’ interest are best brought to life by the closest depictions of the characters that live them, in the universe they inhabit. Said process can be ponderous and exhausting, but the most specific recreations strongest represent shared fandom between the filmmaker and the audience.
The bond between fans of the same series makes Voyage Trekkers andStar Trek Continues, in a certain light, companion pieces. Both exist as excellent homage to their shared inspiration, though they take mirror-image approaches to honoring Star Trek.
Funded via Kickstarter campaign (talk about fan initiative!), Star Trek Continues takes a straight approach; the characters are true recreations of the original Enterprise crew. Vic Mignogna shines as Captain James Tiberius Kirk. The fleet of Todd Haberkorn (Mr. Spock), Larry Nemecek (Bones McCoy), Chris Doohan (Scotty), Grant Imahara (Mr. Sulu), Kim Stinger (Lt. Uhura), and Wyatt Lenhart (Checkov) are all instantly recognizable in their roles, and as lovable in them as the original cast. The sets and costumes are dead accurate, capturing the feel of the original series with modern film equipment. (I’d like think) Gene Roddenberry and fans alike would be proud to watch the premiere episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity”. And prepare to geek out when you realize who Chris Doohan’s father was.
By contrast, Voyage Trekkers goes in a completely satirical direction. The featured crew, three top-ranking officers serving aboard a ship for the Galactic Union (the Federation’s copyright-friendly counterpart), are everything the Enterprise crew isn’t: a rag-tag, malfunctioning mess. Certain Star Trek tropes are instantly placable, such as the brash, egotistical Captain Sunstrike (Adam Rini) and the stern and collected Commander Powell (Logan Blackwell). Their send-ups of a starship captain and first officer are spot-on. And though their adventures may look like those of the Enterprise, in them exists only mangled achievement of any prime directive. Dr. Rena (Gabrielle Van Buren) functions as the one sane person in the crew, exasperated by the results of working alongside Sunstrike and Powell to the point that she’s even court martialed on charges of disobeying her captain. The show flips the entire idea of Starfleet and the Galactic Federation on its head, with witty, biting jokes and references that even someone without a Starfleet education can understand. Director Nathan Blackwell characterizes his piece as “a love letter to sci-fi situations and genre conventions.”
Star Trek Continues and Voyage Trekkers are both well worth the watch for any true Trekker (as the son of a Trekker, I understand the other term is akin to an ethnic slur). The humor in Voyage Trekkers is born of a loving sentiment, the type only found in a true fan. Star Trek Continues takes the homage a step further, reviving the beloved characters and canon from the original series. Further highlighting the mirrored aspects of the two shows, Voyage Trekkers premiered its finale last May, while Star Trek Continues… well, continues with its second episode due for release. So as you’ve by now exhausted yourself with the original 79 episodes, not to mention The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, checkout Star Trek Continues on YouTube andVoyage Trekkers on its website.
*Eli David co-wrote, produced, and appeared as Peter Parker in the recent fan short
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness. He is currently working on a fan-inspired series for the web.