Recently I had the pleasure of discovering a new web series called Star Trek Continues, which is an independent video series produced by independent filmmakers not associated with CBS, the licensor of the Star Trek property. Essentially what they’re aiming to do is continue Captain Kirk’s original five year mission (the series ended three years in) and have even gone as far as to duplicate the look and sound of the original series (using modern digital technology, of course). It’s a phenomenal undertaking and according to fans has been a welcomed contribution to the Star Trek lore. Included here is an interview with filmmaker and actor Vic Mignogna, one of the talents behind the new endeavor and the face behind this series’ incarnation of Captain James T. Kirk.
Vic Mignongna (VM): I have loved Star Trek since I was 9 years old. It has always been a dream to play Captain Kirk and walk the corridors of the Enterprise. About a year and a half ago I directed an episode of Starship Farragut and really connected with the guys. So we decided to partner up, move to a bigger facility, build all the sets from TOS (the original series)!
Q: Who are the people you work with to make this happen and how you all came together?
VM: Myself, Steven Dengler, Michael Bednar and John Broughton are the core people behind this venture. There are, of course a ton of other amazing and talented people who have given of their skills and passion to make this a reality. The cast is comprised of people I invited to join us.
Q: You’re basically continuing on with a five year mission, which in and of itself could take five plus years to pull off – what is it about Star Trek that inspires you to dedicate so much of your life to recreating it – especially since you don’t own the property?
VM: I would have to say that the original series of Star Trek inspired me and challenged me creatively. I started building props, making costumes, making films, drawing, painting, sculpting, acting…. all because of my love and passion for that show. I also love the kind of stories that TOS told – ethical dilemmas, moral quandaries, social issues, character interaction. Those are the kind of stories I want to continue telling that I feel have been, for the most part, lost in the subsequent series of Star Trek.
Q: Speaking of property ownership, can you elaborate on how the law works that allows for this? Teach young filmmakers about why they can do it too!
VM: There is no law. We are simply relying on the good graces of CBS to allow us and other fan productions to exist. They graciously do so AS LONG AS we are not monetizing it in any way. We are not to make money or profit financially from their property. But that’s not a problem for us, since that’s never why we wanted to do this in the first place.
Q: Let’s talk aesthetics, can you elaborate on how you achieve the look and feel of the original show? What are some tricks you used to work out the details?
VM: It’s a combination of things. Lighing is extremely crucial. Our DP Matt Bucy is one of the most amazing and gifted guys I know, and he has nailed the lighting and look of TOS. Then there’s camera composition, angles and movement. The accuracy of the sets is extremely important, and we have made sure that they are as accurate as possible so as not to distract from the story. Finally there is actor movement and performance.
Q: Describe the typical production of an episode of Star Trek Continues:
VM: We develop a script and set shooting dates. We get everyone’s availability and form a shooting schedule based on the specific demands of the episode. Meanwhile costumes, props, make up requirments, etc are all being prepped. Then we all fly down to the studio and have the time of our lives!
VM: Myself and another friend, Jack Marshall, came up with the idea of starting to bridge the gap between TOS and TNG. It involved introducing an experimental holodeck as well as the first on-board ship’s counselor- Dr McKennah.
Q: Has CBS or Paramount reached out to you yet? Is so, what happened? If not, what do you anticipate your collective reactions to be?
VM: We have had no formal communication with CBS. But I’m fairly confident that they have seen what we’ve done thus far. As I said earlier, they are graciously allowing STC and other fan productions to continue, as long as they dont monetize commercially.
Q: Anything you’d like to add, plug or support?
VM: We recently launched a kickstarter to help fund the next three episodes, and it was an astounding success. I was blown away by the generousity and response of the fans. We funded the first episode ourselves because I felt it was wrong to ask people to give money to something we hadnt proven we could do yet. But after a “proof of concept” in the form of “Pilgrim Of Eternity” we felt it was time to ask the fans to help if they wanted to see more of STC. And they responded in an unprecedented way!
THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and enjoyed Star Trek Continues thus far. We plan many more adventures! -Vic