USS Atlantis NX-63546 presents...
The New Year has always seemed to me to be like the crest of a hill or a mountain pass where you can see not only where you have come from but also look ahead and view the vistas of lands yet to be explored. Think of the calendar, which can be downloaded from the TrekUnited website at http://www.trekunited.com/12days_calendar.pdf (no registration needed), as a road map pointing out some of the interesting byways that you can find in fandom. The theme of this calendar is the same as that of all the Trek Days of Christmas - fan productions! Just as Star Trek fandom is an attempt to achieve a resonance of that which we admire – Star Trek – so too are fan productions a pale reflection of the work of professionals. In they come close on many points, as with some of the more high profile fan films, others are in fields that are devoid of licensed productions, as in paper models and podcasts. However in all cases they are meant to enhance rather than replace professional productions. They're the things that fans make and do to amuse themselves and other fans, in between professional productions.
I truly believe that if you printed out everything that had been written about fan productions and copyright you would cut down a medium sized rainforest in paper! The salient point behind the whole problem as I see it is: are fan productions diverting money away from the copyright owners? The answer has to be no, or if there is any indirect gain it would be so miniscule as to be insignificant and it would certainly be less than the legal costs involved in trying to gain restitution through the courts. The value of fan productions as a publicity and marketing tool far, far outweighs any minor, indirect infringement.
Creatively fan productions work under a whole different set of priorities to their professional sires. A production made for commercial consumption needs to be a financial success and as such it's creators need to mold it to the desires of its audience. A fan production is made by a person or group who have a specific vision that they want to see come into reality. It could be to see more of Star Trek in a specific media, film, audio or print or to explore ideas that the professional productions cannot or will not attempt.
Of course involvement in fan productions are not to everyone's taste. Many, in fact most, see Star Trek fandom as a social community, a chance to "meet and greet" others from around the world who have a similar love for Star Trek. The community that you involve yourself in could be as simple as a meet-up group, a local fan club or a casual circle of friends you have met from conventions. Increasingly, through the power of the internet, this sense of community is becoming global with such organisations as The International Federation of Trekers, Starfleet International and TrekUnited. I like to think that in a small way, the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, can show that during the season of goodwill, Star Trek fans can come together in the spirit of IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations - to show that at least within fandom we can have a United Earth.
Looking through the calendar reminds me of how greatly indebted I am to a diverse team of talented people in many Star Trek fan groups and organisations who have given freely and unselfishly of their time. January – the Hako Enterprise bridge - is an example of one of those grand projects which are created with patience over long periods of time and represent a major accomplishment. Ron Caudillo is working steadily, as he always does, to complete the remaining parts and is asking about next year already!
The fanzines in February will hopefully make you think how easy it is to contribute to one of the many fine newsletters and 'zines out there. Whether it is your local club's newsletter or one the major periodicals, contributing news, photos or commentary. If fiction is your forte search out one of the Trekzine's like Imaginations Unlimited or offer it for publication in one of the 'Genzines' like Acrux. Just remember that all of these things survive by their submissions, without them they are just an editor trying to be in as many places as possible to look like a crowd! March is “The Three Wise Men”, in this case Anthony Pascale of the TrekMovie website, Walter Koenig and Trekdom, the fanzine. My purpose here was to make you think. That’s what science fiction is all about, questioning our values with “What-if?” type stories: what if there was a united “Federation” that was free from war, disease, prejudice. How great would that be? How could that come about? Why can’t we do that in real life? One of the major reason why I am a Star Trek is because I want to believe that humanity can have a positive future, that a caring and ethical use of technology can get us there. But it won’t be the technology that will save us, it will be people such as these, asking the right questions, making the right decisions and fighting for their beliefs.
April shows the four featured podcasts, for whom I have to thank Zach & Kinneas of Hailing Frequency, Dan & C.J. of the Love Long and Prosper podcast, Jim & Doug of Twerpcast and Jim Perry of “Things Are Looking Up with Indiana Jim”. Listening to podcasts is something that I've been doing more of over the last year as I've found more shows that suit my tastes. As you can see from the range of styles and content available from just the four that we've highlighted here, there is much to choose from! Audio as an entertainment media is closer to the capabilities of the average computer user than, say, video fan films whilst at the same time affording unlimited challenges and opportunity for expression and growth. Perhaps most exciting of all is the way that Kinneas of Hailing Frequency is making it possible for them to expand into video production - now that's one of those that makes you go hmmm...
At this point I have to say something about the artwork of the calendar because Derek Kessler (see more about him below) has done what I think is a truly elegant graphic for May! I've had a couple of cocked eyebrows pointed my way about my choice of fan films, but this graphic says it all - IMHO these five fan films are classics that deserve to be featured in a "Hall of Fame"! What more can I say other than to point out that there are fan films in production today that in a couple of years time could be rivaling them in influence and will have earned a place in that hall of fame themselves!
Day six, June, was fun and I would like to thank my old friend, Fleet Captain Robin Van Cleave of the USS Joan of Ark for gathering the lyrics that we made into the songsheets. Doesn't that CD in the calendar graphic look cool? With an earlier start next year I reckon we could make one of those!
The content for day seven, July, was another enjoyable project to research! The list of seven outstanding music videos is straight from the favourites list of the House of L'Stok! This is another calendar graphic that I reckon really fits the bill! Derek has turned another hard subject into an eye-catching composition!
A production such as the PodBooks of Day 8 can only succeed with teamwork and I have been blessed with one of the best! From the guys at TrekUnited who contributed content and hosting, through the pro' quality covers and sound editing from Aric Hutfles and Merodi Media respectively, to each one of the Voice Actors, they have all given of their best! Ladies and gentlemen, the House of L'Stok is honoured to call you friends!
Gaming, as featured on September of the calendar and day 9, was another subject where, the more I dug, the more I found to report on - fascinating stuff but very time consuming to research! Today, I must acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Zach Nicodemous, captain of the UFP media ship, Devilfish - better known as the gaming podcast, Hailing Frequency - who has helped me with content and critique. Your biological distinctiveness will be marvelled at by the House of L'Stok for years to come!
Aric Hutfles, the young comicbook artist who has created your present for Day 10 and the covers for our PodBooks on Day 8 is a great bloke whose work ethic and consistent quality artwork will take him far. You'll notice that Derek's graphic for October is, like most of his work, a live camera shot - makes a change from computer graphics.
Likewise, the eleventh day could not have happened without the card modellers who contributed their time and creativity - Lord GrayTiger, Steve Marshall and Professor Plastik, and in retrospect Ron Caudillo and Butch price for day one's offerings! Your paper engineering prowess will be spoken of with awe in the cardboard engine-rooms of pulped-wood spaceships for eons to come! In this case Derek took a cue from the graphic I did for the 12 days website but did a much better job on the perspective of the background, very effective!
So, with December we come to the calendar itself. I must admit i was mildly surprised when Derek Kessler volunteered to do the calendar since at that time all I knew of him was that he was the head of the news desk of TrekUnited. His profile though shows his wide interests in everything from writing (he has a popular fan fiction series called "Star Trek: Aldrin", look here and here) to technology, especially the stylish Mac / iPod / Apple. Over the past few months I have come to realise that Derek is accomplished in the arts as well as the sciences and it came as no surprise to find that he is studying architecture at university, a discipline that he pointed out is "more of an art than a science, as computers these days are easily capable of computing the structural requirements for most any design."
Lastly, on the theme of time, a word about the ghost of Trek Christmas future. I shall be compiling a list of lesson's learned from this years event and using that to organise a similar event next year. This project is perhaps unique amongst fan productions in that, for it to be effective, it needs to be released on time, something that I have failed to achieve quite dramatically! If this has caused disappointment then all I can do is apologise and promise that my major goal before June will be to organise things using project management principles to ensure on-time production next year.
Thank you for your interest, friends, and remember, if you want some more presents next year, ya gotta be good for goodness sake!
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