A mud-map to the development of the House of L'Stok
So, you want to make a fan production? When most people think of a fan production, they think in terms of a fan film. They might have seen an episode of Star Trek: Phase II (until recently known as New Voyages), Hidden Frontier, Exeter, Farragut or Intrepid and thought, wouldn't it be great to do something like that? Well, the good news is you can!
Unfortunately, the bad news is ... it ain't easy!
A full length, live action episode will require the construction of extensive sets which could cost thousands in materials, as well as costumes, props, lighting, cameras, storage space ... and time! Oh, my goodness, yes! It can take anything between two to six years of planning, scripting, constructing, rehearsal, filming and post-production.
There are, however options that can be fun to do, create an entertaining production and be a significant personal and group achievement... without mortgaging your life for years on end! I'm not suggesting that you compromise on quality, but there are compromises that can be made ...
Be very aware though, even these low-key options require significantpersonal investments. For example, it will definitely be a learning experience, so you must be prepared to acquire new skills and develop existing talents. You will need to take on extra jobs: everyone wears at least two hats as a member of the cast and crew of a fan production.
As of the start of this year, I am developing a production group that will explore the options open for low budget fan and Indie production, because some people have original ideas that they want to develop, too. The truth is that, whether you are playing mind-games with someone else's copyright or dealing in completely new fiction, the mechanics of production are exactly the same. I will be focusing on five media options:
Each of these "steps" is an achievement in itself. Some group members – and it will of course be a team effort - might be quite happy to continue with creating written fiction, perhaps turning it into scripts for audio or video production. Other cast & crew members might be happy to stay with audio drama and this is a very viable option in and of itself because Australia has a strong tradition and market for radio drama.
You might be forgiven for thinking that I am aiming low but I can only stress that this is only meant to be a "proof of concept" proposal – I'm not building any media empires here! It is meant to give the participants an introductory experience of a wide range of media so that they can ask themselves, "Where do I want to go to from here?" Believe me there is a whole spectrum of possibilities that can be explored, all of it fun and challenging!
The next question is – fan production or Indie? Will it be based on an established copyright, one of the 'fictional franchises' like Star Trek or Dr Who, or will it be totally original work?
Anyone who's got this far in my fanzine will guess that I have an ulterior motive to create a Star Trek fan production in Australia. Reality must prevail, however: our population is spread so thinly, with such vast distances between that getting the numbers together for a large production will not be easy. Add to this the fact that the average Aussie doesn't have the same disposable income as our American cousins and the smaller fanbase with costumes and props and you'll start to realise the obstacles.
I believe the answer is to develop fan productions in partnership with independent productions. Australia has a strong amateur theatre culture but few venture into video or audio. Our university's are pumping out video and audio trained individuals into an entertainment industry that has to fight tooth and nail against overseas productions. Cosplay is immensely popular and yet ... I've never heard of anyone taking, what is to me at least, the next, logical step.
Whatever I end up doing, completing any of the steps listed will be an achievement to be proud of. I am committed to this because I firmly believe that an involvement in fan productions can be a positive step towards encouraging a viable, small scope, media network within the Australasian region.