Left Without New Star Trek Episodes, Fans Create Their Own

The next Star Trek movie comes out this week. It's been four years since the last one came out, and more than 40 years since the final episode of the original Star Trek series aired on television. Some fans moved on. Some spent the intervening decades pining away for Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. And some took up the gauntlet Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry threw down in 1966 and started making episodes of their own.

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The new "Star Trek" movie "Into Darkness" comes out today. It's been four years since the last one, and it's been more than four decades since the final episode of the original "Star Trek" TV series. Some old-time fans have moved on. Others have channeled their "Star Trek" obsession into making episodes of their own.

From member station WJCT, Cyd Hoskinson tells us about one fan series called "Starship Farragut."

CYD HOSKINSON, BYLINE: At the end of a short dirt road in tiny Kingsland, Georgia sits the squat, windowless warehouse that's home to Farragut Films. The movie studio doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside...

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HOSKINSON: This is what the production company claims is the largest collection of "Star Trek" sets on planet Earth.

THOMAS WEBBER: Well, we're standing on the bridge of a Constitution class starship. It can be the Farragut. It can be the Enterprise. It can be...

HOSKINSON: It's the annual open house at Farragut Films' studio. Volunteer Thomas Webber shows people around, and Webber knows something about space. He's the planetarium director at the Museum of Science and History in nearby Jacksonville, Florida.

WEBBER: Oh, I love this. I mean, who else can say they spent their Saturday on a starship?

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JOHN BROUGHTON: "Starship Farragut" is an independent film series, but it's based on classic "Star Trek."

HOSKINSON: That's John Broughton, a studio co-founder. He's also an actor, a writer and the series' executive producer.

BROUGHTON: Instead of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, you have Captain Carter, Tacket and Smithfield of the Farragut. It's a different ship, different crew, different adventures.

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UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Shuttlecraft Sagan to Farragut, arrival in two minutes.

HOSKINSON: But the "Farragut" couldn't get off the ground without volunteers like Webber and John Sims. Sims works at a grocery store and makes the 35-mile drive to Kingsland a couple of weekends a month. He does carpentry work, painting, even sewing. His passion is making authentic-looking "Star Trek" uniforms, emphasis on authentic.

Take Captain Kirk's gold tunic. Sims says the real color isn't what you saw on TV.

JOHN SIMS: The command color was actually - it was a pea green polyester diamond weave fabric, but the film stock that they used, the lighting effects and the development techniques of the 1960s made it look like a butterscotch-colored gold.

HOSKINSON: That kind of attention to detail is common at Farragut Films. Michael Struck owns NEO f/x, an audiovisual company based in Oregon.

MICHAEL STRUCK: We have a foley artist that works out of California, and he has the original reel-to-reel tapes from the original "Star Trek" episodes. So what you see on "Farragut" are actual sound effects that were used in the original 1960s episode.

HOSKINSON: Struck makes a lot of money in the real world. But here, in the "Star Trek" universe, he just gets a screen credit. In fact, that's all anyone gets, says Hollywood voice actor and Farragut Films co-founder Vic Mignona.

VIC MIGNONA: The only thing, I think, that people find crazy is that we're not making money at it. We're not selling things. We're not marketing it because it's not our property.

HOSKINSON: The "Star Trek" franchise belongs to CBS and Paramount. As long as Farragut Films doesn't turn a profit, Mignona says, they're good to go. And that business model suits the studio's John Broughton just fine.

BROUGHTON: You don't need a Hollywood budget. You don't need a Hollywood backing to make good quality films, good stories, and that's what "Star Trek" to a lot of us were, were good stories, good characters, and we're trying to replicate that.

HOSKINSON: The studio has made four "Starship Farragut" online episodes so far, and more are in the works.

For NPR News, I'm Cyd Hoskinson in Jacksonville, Florida.

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