Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Issue 5 - Acrux: The Audition!

Radio drama, as a form of mass-media entertainment, was close to extinction at the start of the 21st century. The public had been lured away by the instant gratification of TV's eye candy and radio in its turn had dropped drama as part of it's programming, focusing instead on news, talk shows and music.

It was in 2001 that audio production and distribution was revolutionized by the release of the iPod and the development of the internet as a public access and distribution platform. Podcasts began springing up as amateurs created their own shows giving news and views on subjects that interested them and it was only a matter of time before creative fans realized that they now had the tools and distribution medium to make and share their own audio dramas.

2008 has been a year of consolidation and diversification in Star Trek audio dramas as existing groups build on their experience and new fans realize that this represents an accessible way of breaking into fan productions. Star Trek: Defiant and Star Trek: Lost Frontier, from Pendant Productions and Darker Projects respectively, still represent the benchmark against which other groups are measured but their position at the top is being assailed by some newer groups that are good and getting better.

Star Trek: The Continuing Mission for example came on the fan production scene at the end of 2007 promising professional level production and delivering just that with two more episodes in '08. Star Trek: Unity released their first episode at much the same time and have followed it up, one year later, with their second episode, the conclusion to the first.

Frequency of production is a problem for all fan productions and audio dramas are no exception. Star Trek: Dimensions, which released a well-received premiere episode in August, has addressed this with a bold decision to voluntarily go into hiatus until March '09 when they hope to have three full seasons finished and ready to roll!

Creatively, Star Trek audio dramas represent a wide spectrum of styles from Star Trek: Eras character-driven 'broad canvas' that spans two hundred years of Star Trek to Star Trek: Excelsior's RPG based, plot-driven action. In between you have the political drama of Star Trek: Diplomatic Relations, the ill-fated Starfleet Renegades and Star Trek: The New Frontier and the unique Star Rabbit Tracks.

This issue of Acrux fanzine, Day six of The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, is yet another installment in my annual review of Star Trek fan productions, this time covering Trek audio dramas produced and planned in 2008, posted on our Blogsite, to be released on completion as a twenty page fanzine.

[And the fact that I'm punching out issues of Acrux like they're going out of fashion has nothing to do with making up my bimonthly quota for the year! Click the thumbnail to see the 'zine cover]

Click the links to read the articles ...

Monday, 5 January 2009

Issue 4 - Acrux: The Movie!

The public preconception that fan films are all low quality took a severe beating in 2008! The level of production expertise and the quality of scripting and acting has made major advances with certain trends emerging that are working in favour of the production groups. Two groups in particular are garnering a lot of media attention.

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men brought together the best of the amateur, fan production talent and a wealth of professional talent and experience and created a movie that was critically well received. It must surely have opened a few eyes in the entertainment industry for the way that it showed that popular entertainment need not necessarily cost millions of dollars per episode.

James Cawley's, Star Trek: Phase II is another show that has raising eyebrows with it's Nebula and Hugo nominations and it would be easy to say that is due to it's use of professionals who voluntarily want to be involved. They have however remained true to their roots by ensuring a strong contingent of fans in their cast and crew with a regular call for volunteers.

Rob Caves is also branching out into original work with his latest proposal, Frontier Guard, whilst maintaining his commitment to fan film-making by mentoring a number of spin-off series from his recently completed, seven season epic, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier: Star Trek: Odyssey, The Helena Chronicles and Federation One!

A trend that is growing is the concept of joint productions. Star Trek: Intrepid and Areakt Films have proven this with two excellent examples of what can be accomplished by combining their resources of equipment, manpower and talent with the films, Orphans of War and Operation: Beta Shield. Another trend that this Scottish fan production group is perfecting is the vignette, short films that add depth to the plot and characters.

Starship Farragut is following both these by developing on it's strategic partnerships with other fan groups, such as Star Trek: Phase II, and NEO/fx (who are independently creating an animated series based on the Farragut fictional universe) as well as producing vignettes of their own in between the filming of their full sized episodes.

These are just the stars of the Star Trek fan film community, though, they represent the tip of an iceberg that encompasses a vast range of fictional styles and media. For the fifth present in The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, Acrux fanzine is producing what will become an annual Star Trek fan film review, starting as posts on our Blogsite that will grow into a twenty page fanzine which will be published at the conclusion of the serial posting.

[Those who can read between the lines will guess that I don't have the fanzine finished but I don't want to keep you waiting any longer. This will allow me time to compile a better 'zine whilst giving you, O Hypothetical Reader, your present in installments. Click the thumbnail to see the 'zine cover]

Click the links to read the articles ...