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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Nabaztag: Do you have a speaking rabbit yet?

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Are we too bored with our first life or am I just missing something. It seems that a seemingly growing part of our global community is fleeing into the world of cyberspace. It started relatively innocent. Nabaztag was developed in France, when is a bit unclear, and started as a speaking rabbit-shaped device that indicated whether you have email. After its huge success in France, English and even Dutch speaking rabbits have been developed. Also the second version of the rabbit is available now, now you can give it commands by speaking to it, after which the rabbit can read RSS feeds or emails to you. Additionally, you can communicate to other Nabaztag owners with audiomessages. The rabbit even has an odor-recognition device and also some other tech-geek stuff like an rfid-chip (?), this supposedly can make the rabbit recognize and read out aloud chipped books.

On the web over hundreds of new communities of plastic rabbit owners and hence friends have arisen. A world I never knew about. Scary actually. For instance, as we speak hundreds of people are actually ‘hacking’ the rabbit to make it do new ‘useful’ things that are not in the user manual. And the N. owners can now communicate constantly about the new colours of their rabbit ears and what else on their thousands of blogs(!). Apparently Nabaztag owners have a lot in common. There are I don’t know how many podcasts and YouTube videos about this little rabbit. People are sharing whole albums of pictures of their new dolled-up rabbits, their rabbit in a plant, their rabbit with sunglasses etc. So all in all, there is no need to ever leave your computer, as your whole social life can revolve around your rabbit and your rabbit-friends! I say.

http://blog.nabaztag.com/ —— Blogging with your Nazbaztag friends
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabaztag ——– Nazbaztag in Wikipedia

Anyone in for a beer???