Fanfilms are a way for budding filmmakers, actors, and crew to get a taste of what making a film is like. But what happens when the fans are professionals already in the business? Star Trek Continues answers that question.
Going back a bit, I mentioned the approach taken with fanworks, how, because they’re made by fans, there’s the possibility of something lacking either through inexperience or lack of budget. With Star Trek Continues, lack of experience isn’t a factor. However, even with permission from Paramount, for-profit doesn’t work, so budgets could be a limiting factor.
Star Trek Continues was meant to finish off Captain James T. Kirk’s five year mission and be the bridge from the original Trek to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The cast includes Vic Mignona as Kirk, Todd Haberkorn as Spock, McCoy portrayed by Frank Namecek for two episodes then by Chuck Huber for the remainder of the episodes, Chris Doohan as Montgomery Scott, Grant Imahara as Sulu, Kim Stinger as Uhura, and Wyatt Lenhart as Chekov. New regular characters were introduced – Dr. McKennah (Michele Specht) whose role as ship’s councellor is an experiment by Star Fleet; Chief of Security Drake (Steven Dengler), Kipleigh Brown as Helmsman Smith, backup to Sulu; Martin Bradford as Dr. M’Benga, picking the role from the original series as played by Booker Bradshaw, and Cat Roberts as Lt. Palmer. A solid lineup, indeed. Chris Doohan is the sone of James Doohan, who originally portrayed Scotty, and while they may not look exactly right, the mannerisms are dead on.
The cast is a strong point for the series. The characters are easily recognizable, not just physically, but in personality. Star Trek Continues also shows just how difficult it is to play Spock. Leonard Nimoy made the character both alien and familiar, given audiences the empathy to understand Spock even if the character found that illogical. Zachary Quinto had the extra challenge of portraying a younger Spock along side Nimoy, who had brought the character through an arc of understanding and bringing his warring selves together in peace. Haberkorn does figure out the role after a few episodes, getting more comfortable in the role. With McCoy, Namecek brought out the warmer side of McCoy, the doctor who cares for all life. Huber brought out the more acerbic McCoy; both are viable approaches to the character. Mignona has William Shatner’s style of acting down pat, not overblown but still fitting the story and the series. The series makes an effort to expand several characters’ roles, especially Uhura’s. Stinger is allowed to have Uhura as more than the woman opening hailing frequencies. Chekov receives a promotion as he tries to figure out what his Star Fleet career will be.
The guest cast includes actors from a number of other science fiction franchises. Michael Forest reprises his role of Apollo from “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Erin Gray, who played Col. Wilma Deering on Buck Rogers in the 24th Century, plays a Star Fleet Commodore in two episodes. Lou Ferrigno, from The Incredible Hulk, puts on green makeup again as an Orion. Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor, makes an appearance and Nicola Bryant, who played his companion Peri, appears in the two part finale. John de Lancie returns to Star Trek alongside original Battlestar Galactica alumna Anne Lockhart in an episode about racism and barriers. Gigi Edgley from Farscape and Rekha Sharma and Jamie Bamber from the new Battlestar round out the guest cast. Special mention to Marina Sirtis for portraying the /Enterprise/’s computer, originally voiced by Majel Barrett, and to Michael Dorn for taking the computer role in the third episode.
The episodes themselves span the range of setting up continuity, returning to ideas explored before, and morality plays much like in the original series. “Fairest of Them All” takes place in the mirror universe after the alternate Spock sends Kirk back to his proper universe, showing the fallout of the events in “Mirror, Mirror.” “Come Not Between Dragons” shows how a situation can change once more knowledge is discovered about it. “What Ships Are For” is as subtle as the original series episode, “Let This Be Your Last Battlefield”; subtle as a sledgehammer and just as needed today as the original episode was in 1969, covering refugees and efforts taken to keep them out.
The music is as important to the story as the dialogue. The score is based on the works of Alexander Courage, re-recorded for the series. Star Trek Continues could have just used a recording of music from the original series. Instead, a new arrangement is recorded to match the action of the episode, whether it’s a battle in space, a romantic scene, or the ramping up of tension. The final episode has the score bringing in elements of Jerry Goldsmith’s music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The sets are indistinguishable from those found in the original series. Sound effects are accurate. Various regular locations onboard the /Enterprise/, such as the bridge, sickbay, engineering, and quarters, are faithfully recreated down to the props. New sets, such as for planets visited, may be made with modern techniques but reflect the style from the original series. Camera technology now allow for shots not previously possible, but those were used to accent the style of the original, not replace. Someone unaware of the nature of Star Trek Continues seeing the sets would be convinced that they were watching the original.
Costuming follows the approach taken with sets. Star Fleet uniforms are recognizable. Romulan uniforms are recognizable. The colours are bright, almost Technicolor. Even the guest stars’ outfits, new to the series, carry elements that fit in with the original series, from fabric to design. The truly alien creatures, such as the ones from “Come Not Between Dragons”, even with the better articulation thanks to modern technology, still look like they came from the original series.
What can fans in the business do in a fanfilm? What they set out to do. They have the experience and the love of the original to bring out the what drew audiences the first time again to give an ending to Captain Kirk’s historic mission. Star Trek Continues is very much Star Trek thanks to the effort of cast and crew.