SAVE SCI FI’s OPEN LETTER TO CBS AND PARAMOUNT PICTURES:
Ever since the original Star Trek aired in 1966, the Star Trek Fandom has been one of, if not the most passionate and dedicated fandom ever. Over the years, especially during droughts between movies and series, fans have kept the franchise alive through audio-dramas, written fanfiction, and fan films. CBS and Paramount have been extremely generous in allowing fans to go ahead with their productions without any strict regulations, until recently when they released their official Star Trek fan film guidelines. Until this point the unspoken agreement had been that fans could produce their own independent productions based off the Star Trek universe as long as they did not profit from said productions. At no point were the fans trying to take over the franchise or claim it as their own. They only wanted to share their ideas and entertain others, with no other goal in mind. Within days of this announcement, almost every major Star Trek fan film has announced indefinite suspensions of production.
CBS and Paramount released these guidelines following several months of an in progress lawsuit against Star Trek: Axanar, it caused a lot of controversy among the fandom. While several of these guidelines are completely reasonable and understandable, there are several that have caused particular concern among the fans and the various fan film projects. One of the main concerns lies in guideline number one:
The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.
This requirement, in essence, eliminates 90% of the fan films both currently in production and those created previously. This limit eliminates the opportunity of a fan film to properly tell a quality story. 15 to 30 minutes, with no follow-ups, is not enough time to build up characters and tell a full story. This also limits the fans’ ability to tell multiple stories with the same characters, and the characters are often the center of the stories. The other major concern lies in guideline number five:
The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees.
This requirement basically boils down to, if you are a professional who works in, or in any way are associated professionally with the film industry, you cannot be hired or donate your services to a fan production. This is extremely limiting to fan productions, in that the quality of any future productions is limited to an extremely low degree. If this guideline specifically stated only that if you are currently an employee of CBS or Paramount, you could not be involved, that would have been at least somewhat understandable. By limiting fan films to having no help whatsoever, from any professional, CBS and Paramount have effectively cut out their legs from beneath them. Not only are they limiting the quality of fan productions, they are also preventing any professional in the film-making industry from taking part in sharing their own stories set in the Star Trek universe. This guideline goes beyond limiting fan film productions. It also limits the individual right to expression of many fans in the entertainment industry.
There are of course other items of concern in the guidelines released by CBS and Paramount pictures, however the best people to discuss those affected: fans involved in said productions. In that spirit, we at Save Sci Fi urge CBS and Paramount Pictures to agree to open a dialogue with the fans, and more specifically, those in charge of the numerous fan films that have played a significant role Star Trek fandom. These individuals, more than anyone, are best qualified to negotiate a more reasonable set of guidelines with official representatives. Please allow fans to provide input so that we might resolve the situation in a way that favors both CBS and Paramount Pictures, and the fans have been so devoted to them over the last 50 years.
To the fans, if you agree, please sign this petition:
~ Save Sci Fi