Monday, January 28, 2008

ST: Beyond - Jan '08

Featured Production for February

What if I told you that I knew about a Star Trek fan film series, that you probably haven't heard of, based on a relatively successful fanfic series that ran from Aug '06 to May '07? What if I told you that between it's debut on Sep 15 last year and Jan 28 this year it had produced nine episodes that average over 13 minutes each? Filmed live? Against physical sets rather than green screen? Put your hand down everyone who said Star Track.

Doesn't ring a bell?

"Star Trek: Beyond" (ST: B) is a StoneWater Production, directed by D. R. Quintana, and co-produced by Marah Anderton & Delmar Rosa. It was started in 2003 as a graphics company for the competitive freelance graphic comic book and located in New London, CT. David Quintana expanded into video production in 2006 with a successful online "Dungeons & Dragons" fan film which was followed by an amazing body of work. Ranging from music videos, "Terminator 4 - End game", movie shorts, "Ghosties' & "Ghosties II" to a full length movie, "Skeleton Crew". Star Trek: Beyond is one of two online series that Quintana is producing, "Inarah, Queen of Vampires" being the other.

Straight off the top I have to tell you, this is not a fan film in the vein of Star Trek: New Voyages - a massive group effort that is dedicated to producing TV length episodes to as high a standard as possible. Nor is it like Hidden Frontier or Intrepid, which rely heavily on greenscreen technology to create their illusion of the future. It is individual and the production has put a bold face to the fact that they have made a conscious decision to favour quantity of production - getting out a short, regular production - over spending months of work and thousands of dollars on uniforms, props and and sets. "Everything in the series was re-made and constructed with the idealism that we would change a lot of things about 'Trek' to make it easier on our part of the production" said David Quintana.

In response to a question on the website's Q & A page, Quintana said, "The idea of this series was not to out-do any one else's vision currently posted on the Internet. But we did study other Internet fan-films; learning much about what they could have done better and we used what we learned to help produce this series. We feel that have successfully separated our project (from others) with the sole fact that the acting, the uniforms, the studio sets, special effects, and more especially, the story writing are far from anything the other fan-films have produced, or could produce."

It's quick. Even accounting for the fact that the episodes are in fact the length of the vignettes put out by other groups, there are a lot of them and the pace of production must be frenetic! He has kept up a roughly fortnightly episode schedule with a six episode season and currently plans to make a total of 20 episodes and "maybe an hour and a half movie".

It's Star Trek but non-canon. There's no getting around the fact that authentic Star Trek uniforms and props are expensive and creating a real set to film in has been the major job of many production groups - Star Trek; Das Vermachtnis is still building sets after 6 years of production! ST: Beyond's sets are the work of co-producer, DelMar Rosa, who has done an amazing job of creating the illusion of a ships bridge with what look like authentic LCARS panels against a simple black background.

The series format is different. Quintana calls it a "soap opera" approach which I assume means that the plot of each succeeding episode relies on the preceding ones for it's development. Before you switch off at hearing the dreaded words "soap opera" consider the fact that each episode is between 11 - 19 minutes in length. There is just no way that a plot could go through the regular format of character development in that length. Like them or loath them the idea of a series of short, connected productions has worked successfully for Afterworld and Star Wars: Clone Wars
and frankly, isn't that one of the ways that Star trek TOS revolutionised TV, by having a continuing character development from one episode to the next that deepened our understanding of the characters?

Inevitably, there will be those who say that this or that way is the right way to go. The large, supportive, communal projects that stick closely to canon deliver the fans a very high quality product! Is Star Trek: Beyond's approach "right"? This approach definitely seems to fill a niche as we can see from the Blog comments. The House of L'Stok does not deal in absolutes - everything is relative except honour!

What works for one person is an anathema for another! It is you, o' hypothetical viewer, who has to answer the hard questions: Does it entertain you? Does it extend your Star Trek fan experience? If it does then take the Pirate King's advise!
"Always follow the dictates of your own heart, M'boy ... and trounce the concequences!"
Star Trek: Beyond
Season 1
StoneWater Productions
Website -
Co-produced by D. R. Quintana, Marah Anderton and Delmar Rosa
Directed by D. R. Quintana
Starring Bernice Tremblay, Marah Anderton, and Prof. William Foster.
Musical support by Within Temptation & Zeca Mahoney.
An online Star Trek fan (tribute) series about the crew of the Alliance Space Vessel (ASV) PRECIPICE, which is sent to the furthest sector of the Kilos Quadrant to explore and map an uncharted sector of space. (Notes are from the viewing pages)

15/09/2007 - Episode 1 "The New Frontier" (11 mins 28s)
After two years of mapping the furthest reaches of the Kilos Quadrant, the crew of the ASV Precipice discover an ancient distress beacon.
Introducing the Season 1 cast: Bernice Tremblay as CPT Quest, Prof. William Foster as CDR "Stitch" Brown; Marah Anderton as CDR Ravine, A.J. Lightsey as LT Parker and Jenn Quintana as LT CDR Kirah. Production began in July, after Bernice was added as the new ship's Captain. This episode was shot in New London, over the course of two hours.

29/09/2007 - Episode 2 "Where Darkness Hides A Clue" (11 mins 51s)
In search of the source of a stray emergency beacon, the crew of the ASV PRECIPICE discover a derelict Borg ship in an unexplored area of the Kilos Quadrant.
Introducing Jeremy Chubb as LT Thaddeus. The second half of this episode was filmed in a parking garage in New London. We thought the lighting and back ground was perfect for the mood of the story.

12/10/2007 - Episode 3 "Left there for a reason" (13 mins 49s)
The distress beacon leads the crew of the ASV Precipice to an oceanic planet where a lone inhabitant lives. How does this new find coincide with the derelict Borg ship?
Bernice was bitten by an insect after the shoot; a nasty infection left a scar on her leg. This is the first night shoot for David. Delmar begged to play the part of LCDR Borders; that scene was shot in Westerly, RI.

25/10/2007 - Episode 4 "The Bou-Doon" (11 mins 27s)
A new enemy attacks the ASV PRECIPICE; an act that could lead the Alliance into galactic tour.
Actually shot the first week of July, BEFORE Episode 3 was even completed. David contemplated scrapping this episode if good CGI failed to work on the battle scenes.

8/11/2007 - Episode 5 "Ghosts Within Us" (17 mins 07s)
A dark nebula infects the crew of the PRECIPICE with a virus which could cripple the ships mission.
Actually the last Episode in production for Season 1. Shot out of sequence in almost 6 different scenes, the episode was in post editing up to the posting date.

21/11/2007 - Episode 6 "Land of a Forgiving God" (15 mins 26s)
The crew of the ASV Precipice stumble on a planet where the dead freely rome. Is it a haven for lost souls or a new type of Hell?
The episode was completed in early August, shot on a hot day in New London. Bill had the Chinese Flu returning from a trip to China. Bernice's work earned her an Award for Best Actress in this Episode.

Season 2

15/12/2007 - Episode 2 "A Matter for The Strong" (19 mins 01s)
The Borg enter the edge of the Kilos quadrant - called the "Outer Marker". The crew of the ASV Precipice are ordered home for a refit.
Introducing Seanna Six as LT Syn-Gin. Bernice stepped up and actually did some co-directing. We fixed the lighting and the sound issues from Season 1. We also introduced Syn-Gin after Marah Anderton relocated to Seattle, WA.

14/01/2008 - Episode 8 "Dance With Me" (14 mins 43s)
The calm before the storm. The Captain has to confront her husband, Joshua. LCDR Wallace reports on board. LT Syn-Gin introduces herself to Stitch.
Introducing Mike Valletta (Lcdr Wallace), Amanda Smith (The Student) & returning role by James Silvia (Joshua). Filmed on a cold night at Groton Long Pt., CT. We were lucky the wind calmed down during the shoot. Shooting Syn-Gin's intro to Stitch was a hoot. David feels that the intro to the First Officer was shot well, introducing extras and making the ship look larger. Mike Valletta is a Goth-Rock singer in Mass., and having him in the series is a real treat.

18/01/2008 - Episode 9 "The Little Thing Inside My Gut" (18 mins 36s)
The Borg Queen captures an Alliance captain and begins a deadly interrogation on him; as Captain Quest is briefed on the Borg by General Teris Rodar.
Actually shot on Nov. 7th. It took 2 hours to put makeup on Kat and prep her for the Borg role. We shot 2.5 episodes worth of film in 6.5 hours. In December, it took an hour to prep Matt for the role as Rodar. We were surprised that the lighting worked out so well on film.

Unreleased - Episode 10 "And Where We Go They Follow"
The Crew of the PRECIPICE are ordered on a deadly mission to contact the Bahn in the Gamma Quadrant.

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