TrekMovie visits with Of Gods and Men
The crew for the independent Trek web mini-series ‘Of Gods and Men’ (henceforth referred to as OGaM) did some location shooting in L.A. last weekend and TrekMovie.com was there. The first thing you notice when pulling up to the location is that this does not look like the proverbial ‘bunch of fans in a barn’ scenario. The scene looked like a typical L.A. filming location complete with honey wagons, equipment trucks, trailers, P.A.’s running around screaming into their headsets and extras milling about. What was different about this is that most of the extras had pointy ears. OGaM has turned a little corner of the San Fernando Valley into the planet Vulcan.
A 40th Anniversary Tribute
The idea behind OGaM started with producer/co-writer Sky Douglas Conway. Conway is the man behind the recent Planet XPo in Seattle and previously produced the indy film ‘Roddenberry on Patrol’. A friend of the Roddenberry family, Conway feels that OGaM is a way of carrying on the legacy of Star Trek. “If we believe in the ideals laid out by Gene then it is up to us, the fans, to meet Gene’s challenge,” says Conway. As 2005 came to a close Conway saw that there was no new Trek slated for the 2006 (the 40th anniversary) of Star Trek. Taking inspiration from popular fan films like ‘New Voyages’ he decided that it was up to the fans to make something special for the 40th Anniversary. “I wanted to keep the dream of Trek alive and show how Trek changed the world’ said Conway “that is the theme behind ‘Of Gods and Men’” Conway then solicited help from DS9 storywriters Ethan Calk and Jack Trevino to craft a script. Production began over the summer using the New Voyage’s meticulously built Original Series era sets. The ‘planet Vulcan’ location shoot finished on Sunday and now the film is in post-production.
Russ and Nichols relax on the New Voyages Set
Letting the ‘other’ Trek stars shine
One thing that is unique about OGaM is its cast which is made up primarily of actors who have worked on Trek in the past. The lead stars of the film are Nichelle Nichols (TOS: Uhura), Walter Koenig (TOS: Checkov) and Alan Ruck (Captain Harriman of ST: Generations). The producers originally planned to include George Takei but his schedule couldn’t permit it. Part of the motivation behind the film was to give these stars a chance to shine, as co-writer Jack Trevino put it “mostly for the Star Trek movies it was the ‘big three’ and the others were comic relief…we wanted a story that centered on them” The film rounds out its cast with a number of familiar Trek stars inlcuding Tim Russ (VOY: Tuvok), and Garrett Wang (VOY: Kim), Grace Lee Whitney (TOS: Rand), Chase Masterson (DS9: Leeta), J.G. Hertzler (DS9: Martok), Cirroc Lofton (DS9: Jake Sisko), and Gary Graham (ENT: Soval). They even picked up some lesser known Trek guest stars like Celeste Yarnell (TOS-The Apple: Landon), Crystal Allen (ENT-Bound: D’Nesh), Jack Donner (TOS-The Enterprise Incident: Tal), and Arlene Martel (TOS-Amok Time: T’Pring). “We wanted to try to bring in as many original guest stars as we can. It is not just honoring Chekov and Uhura but the 40th anniversary," said Travino. Usually films cast based on their script and not the other way around, so hopefully this appraoch does not end up being too contrived. That being said having working actors involved is a welcome sign as the acting in previous fan films is probably their weakest link. As Walter Koenig points out “in this case we have a totally professional cast and not just some volunteers.”
Never know who might ‘valk by‘
‘Trek’ meets ‘A Wonderful Life’
The production team are still keeping much of the plot to themselves but have revealed some nuggets. The film is set exactly 40 years after the beginning of the series (and 12 years after the events of Star Trek Generations). Co-writer Ethan Calk sets the stage “at the beginning we have a sort of little reunion between Chekov, Harriman and Uhura…then something happens”. Co-writer Trevino chimes in “and then a lot of things happen and then you have explosions.” From talking to the writers the ‘what happens’ appears to be some divergence into an alternative timeline created by Kirk never being born. “It is ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ meets ‘Star Trek’,” says Conway. Due to the alternative timeline plot some of the actors play ‘alternative versions’ of their original characters (not to be confused with ‘mirror universe’ versions). As Grace Lee Whitney puts it "I am my original character but then kind of different, and in the end I am me again." In addition some actors (like Garrett Wang and Gary Graham) will not be playing any version of their original characters but will portray totally new characters created for the film.
Nichols…Living Long and Prospering
Sticking with Star Trek Traditions…
Even though the story takes a huge diversion the writers assure us that they are staying true to Star Trek continuity “we are totally careful with canon” said Trevino. In fact they go to great lengths to tie in to several episodes of the original series (although they wouldn’t reveal which ones). ‘Star Trek Generations’ is also tied in due to the appearance of Ruck’s Captain Harriman who gets a second chance. “When we got Alan involved we thought this is a perfect opportunity to redeem everyone’s view of him as a bumbling captain,” says Calk. It appears that 12 years after the events of the film, Harriman is still haunted by his role in the loss of Captain Kirk. We are told that none of the main characters gets knocked off, but of course the same can’t be said for the whole cast…so expect a few red shirts to do their duty. That being said the film is to end on an up note and leave room for more adventures in the future.
Masterson makes it look easy to be green
…but made relevant
Although the film is an homage to 40 years of Trek, the team very much want the film to look and feel like a 21st century production. “We tried to have what someone would expect to see in Star Trek while still telling an interesting story that addresses current day issues,” says writer Trevino. Sky Conway goes into more detail saying that like all Trek the film is a morality play, but in this case dealing with modern issues of freedom, war, peace, terrorism, vengeance and redemption. Director Tim Russ also wants the film to look modern, telling TrekMovie that he didn’t want OGaM to look like a typical Trek film, especially during the alternative timeline portions “there is a change in shooting styles between certain parts of the film, some will look traditional and others will look edgy and gritty…more in tune with ‘24’” Russ feels this approach is necessary for a film today saying that audiences may not accept something “staid and traditional."
Crystal Conway and Madison Russ get ready for their big moment
Can it break the ‘fan film’ barrier
Although figures are not available, it would be no surprise that OGaM is the costliest Trek fan film ever made. Of course the producers don’t really use the term ‘fanfilm’ at all, referring to it as an ‘independent film.’ They have big dreams for Of Gods and Men…they want CBS to license it as an official Star Trek product. They point out how CBS have put together ‘fan fiction’ into official trek book compellations (the ‘Strange New Worlds series) and see fan films as just the next logical step. Other fan films like Star Trek New Voyages have the same goal, but it appears according to our sources in CBS that OGaM is the test case. To date Paramount and CBS have taken what they call a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach to fan films. They have had a simple rule that boils down to: do what you like but do not charge money. The OGaM team want to change this dynamic and begin to charge for their mini-series, but only with the blessing of CBS. One major complication with official licensing seems to be the issue of unions, but Sky Conway says that at least for the actors they have that covered. All members of the Screen Actors Guild who appear in OGaM have been paid the ‘internet scale’ rate. No decision has been made by CBS, but the notion of licensing is under consideration. If OGaM does become an ‘offical product’ it could be the start of many more licensed Star Trek films on the net. TrekMovie.com has spoken to another well known producer in Hollywood who is interested in producing Trek for the web but is waiting for CBS open the door to licensed ‘webisodes’. Sky Conway tells TrekMovie that regardless of any decision that gets made, the first of 3 episodes of the Of Gods and Men mini-series will be released by the end of the year.
Check out the Trailer for Of Gods and Men
NOTE: All images above are ‘clickable’ to see the full size
play flickr slide show of OGaM behind the scenes shots from LA and NY
That looks like a lot of fun. I tip my cap to everyone involved with those projects. It’s truly for the love of Trek.
Well, it would be nice, if it’s really just for holding up the spirit of trek. Can’t wait to see more of it.
the acting in the trailer is great! It looks a little “video” – but I’m looking forward to it.
There’s a real stigma about direct-to-video in the West. It’s weird, since it’s a great starting point in the Far East for many directors.
I hope more companies push decent straight-to-DVD, quality productions. Trek, Buffy, Bab 5 and so on are ideal for the DTV market. Indeed DTV Bab 5 is already on the way.
Huge potential here for a re vitalization of Orginal Trek. The original characters and universe of original Trek is super special and if they can capture the same magic this will be one hell of a hit
Trek on! God, Nichols is still a MILF.
can’t wait. everything i’ve seen so far looks very interesting. everyone involved deserves a pat on the back for their time and effort that was put into the project.
I had a chance to be on set one day while they were in NY. I went to be a gofer.
I totaly agree with the pats on the backs. esp since shooting where they were was not like it would have been in a studio in LA or NYC, at one point I sat and watched one scene being done over and over,and everyone was professional, even if it was 100 plus degrees on the set.
And it was very nice to get to talk to some of the performers. and having always wanting to see how a show was put together this was one of the coolest things I had the honor to get to see.
I’d like to thank everyone who allowed me the chance to watch and help.
Can’t wait to see the finished product.
Oct. 16, 2006
Many congratulations to cast and crew for bringing to ST fandom–and the general public–a film made with love and respect in memory of Gene Roddenberry’s faith in, and hope for, humanity. As a trekkie from day one, Sept. 8, 1966, I swell with pride at how GR’s vision continues. Thank you. Keep on trekkin’.
New extended trailer is up on the official site:
This looks like a fan film with access to the stars. Tim Russ as Tuvok is great. In fact Tim has never had a bad Tuvok scene ever. Even with Tim’s amazing Tuvok acting, the style of this film looks poor. Bad photography, no 24p, video game graphics, and the editing is off. It’s a fan film, but a better than usual fan film.
So is this movie set in the Mirror-universe? Everone acts like it is. I hope thats the case, as I’m not a fan of seeing the Enterprise-B Captain turned into a bad guy (unless, again, this is the mirror universe).
The effects are not bad, but I did laugh at all the HUGE explosions. They need to refrain from going over the top on this fan film if they want it to look genuine, and big explosions… well, that just screams Stargate to me… lol…
Speaking again of Captain Harriman… I would love to see them make more films with him as the star (would be great to see the adventures of the Enterprise B!) I think it would be great to see his character evolve as a starship captain, and a great way to once and a while feature some of the classic cast. I think also having a new crew of new characters for Ent-B would be amazing.
I THINK THAT STAR TREK IS ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS THAT WAS EVER CREATED! AND THE CREW IS REMARKABLE. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANYONE LIKE THE ORIGANL STAR TREK. CREW. I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THAT I HAVE BEEN A HUGE FAN OF MR.NIMOY, MR.SHATNER, MRS. NICHOLS, MR. DOOHAN, MR. KOENIG, MR. KELLEY
AND MR.TAKEI SINCE I WAS A SMALL CHILD AND NOW I’M IN MY TWENTIES. BUT THE STAR TREK CREW ARE MY HEROS!!!! AND THEY WILL FOREVER STAY IN MY HEART….
I think this is spectacular! I am so pleased to know that Star Trek truely wasn’t just “another job” for these actors. They must have truely loved their work, and I find that great! I wish I could be involved in something like this, myself. Even if just an extra. As a teacher, I’ll have summers off and can travel. :)
I hope that Paramount does indeed allow them to license this. Hopefully, they are selective in what they allow to be licensed, though. I think that something made by the casts and crews of Treks would most likely be very intune with canon. This will also give the canon of characters not focused much on a chance to have life. I loved the “Big 3,” but I always enjoyed seeing the rest of the cast get some of the light, which happened a little more with each film to in the series. I wonder if we’ll get any insight into the feelings Uhura had for Scotty, which were alluded to in The Final Frontier! I wish Takei could have been free to work on this, too! Maybe someday Shatner and Nimoy would at least make a cameo in a film such as this with these amzing Trek actors who have given their time.
I just found an interesting blurb by Lawrence Montaigne on his website.
Wow. Just had to say it from the future. Lol