The ‘Fan film’ phenomenon: 50,000 fans follow a home made Star Trek series

In the past seven years, Rob Caves from Pasadena (US) has gained 50K fans with a “Star Trek” movie he’s been filming at home. You can check the first episode on the YouTube link below! Why not try this at home yourself? Do a remake of Apocalypse Now, or Harry Potter, or your write and produce your own episodes of your favourite soap series!

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By Deborah Netburn, Times Staff Writer
July 7, 2007

THE house — a three-bedroom stucco ranch in South Pasadena with daffodils in the front and a carport on the right — looks normal enough.

But walk through the living room with its overstuffed couches, ignore that door on your left where a young man is getting leopard spots painted on his face, and you’ll end up in a small room with a stained beige carpet and two bureaus whose contents are described by pale yellow sticky notes affixed to each drawer. Among them are Bajoran earrings, Alien PADDs (person access data devices), Sirol mind devices, hairpieces, ears and Klingon blades. This is the set of “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier,” the longest-running series in fan film history.

First, a definition: Fan films are movies made by people outside the entertainment industry who write or improvise a script set in a familiar universe (like “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” or “Batman” or “Harry Potter”) and shoot it themselves. It’s not illegal as long as nobody makes any money from it — although some companies, Marvel in particular, don’t like their characters and worlds messed with. Anyone can do it, but it’s not easy. Time-consuming. Costly. And if you want to do it really well, there are actors, special effects, props, background music, costumes, makeup and distribution to consider. That’s when making a small fan film becomes a Herculean labor of love.

Rob Caves, creator and executive producer of “Hidden Frontier,” wanted his series to be good. He’s a diminutive 28-year-old with an almost unnervingly calm demeanor. As a kid watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” with his father, and later “Deep Space Nine” on his own (he never liked the original series), he leaned less toward the usual “Trek” fan impulse of “I wish I lived there” and more toward “I want to make that.”

Caves inherited the South Pasadena house from his grandmother, and for the last seven years he has spent most of his weekends in the back room or spaces much like it, directing scenes, holding a boom mike, filling in for missing actors, solving technical problems, consulting on costumes, shaking the camera for the “ship just got hit” shots and doing all the other thankless things an executive producer of a fan film series has to do. (To make money, he works as a freelance film editor, when he has time.)

Most weekends he is joined by a cast and crew that numbers in the 30s — a mix of plus-size Trekkies, slim aspiring actors, gray-haired former aspiring actors, a couple of wannabe screenwriters and a handful of soft-spoken (and less soft-spoken) gay men who fell in love with “Hidden Frontier” because of the same-sex relationships it (tastefully) explores.

Since he first made “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier” available for free downloading on the website http://www.hiddenfrontier.org (“Boldly going where no fan film has gone before”), Caves and his revolving team (not everyone sticks around when nobody is getting paid) have completed 50 episodes of the series.

Traffic on the site picked up when the last official television series, “Star Trek: Enterprise,” ended in 2005, and fans scavenging for any new “Star Trek” material began to find Caves’ work in snowballing numbers. “Hidden Frontier” picked up so many viewers that some cast members started getting recognized at official “Star Trek” conventions they were attending as fans. Now 50,000 people download each new episode, and even more watch the series on YouTube, Ifilm and other video-sharing sites. […]

Full article: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-trek7jul07,0,5370738.story?coll=la-home-center

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