While we're not Trekies here at the 'Bot (Well, R2 is...), we are just nuts for fan films, and an increasingly large number of the better ones are Trek-based. Recently we interviewed the Starship Farragut people (Here: http://www.republibot.com/content/interview-fan-films-mark-hildebrand-di... ), which was great fun and highly informative. We've talked to lots of other people from other independent and Fan productions as well, and as a site we're both interested in and dedicated to the Fan Film Community.
One Fan Film Project that has interested us since day one is the "Starship Exeter" Project. One of the earliest high-quality Trek fanfilms, their first episode went online in late 2002. It was admittedly a little rough, but this was before New Voyages/Phase II began, and it was unquestionably glorious to see those old TOS-era sets again. Indeed, ST:E was instrumental in driving home something the fans hadn't quite yet realized, and which Paramount itself has since learned: We don't want endless new shows with new characters and shiny new toys. What we want - what we wanted all along, dammit - was just Season Four of TOS! Exeter was the first to scratch that itch, really, and they immediately began production on a second episode, which they released online in installments periodically.
It was said that a third episode - "The Atlantis Invasions" - was in preproduction, and would start filming just as soon as "The Tressauran Intersection" finished, and then....and then....and then nothing, really. The project stalled out, leaving myself and the rest of us who were kind of emotionally invested in it undeniably in the lurch.
So what happened?
To be honest, I don't know. Lots of Fan Film projects flame out. Really more die quick anonymous deaths with nothing to show for it than actually end up geting completed, so that's not surprising. But these big glitzy productions usually hang together better, particularly one that was as important to the Trek Fanfilm Community as Exeter was. So I don't know what happened. But not for lack of trying, though: I've spent scores of hours online in the last four years trying to find out what was going on.
Their main website here http://www.starshipexeter.com/ hasn't been updated since 2005 or 2006, and they don't answer their mail. Their studio website here http://www.exeterstudio.com/ hasn't been updated since mid-2005, and they likewise don't answer their email. Their Wiki page here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Exeter is periodically edited now and again, but there haven't been any substantial changes since 2007, and no substantial new information since long before that. I've trolled message boards where members of the ST:E project were rumored to be lurking, and posted a bunch, but never been able to attract their attention. There are rumors here and there about how it's still a going concern, how they're hip deep in production of the third episode, or that it's already in the can to be released any day, or that they're just about to start on it, but none of these have much substance to them when questioned. Ultimately, they're just rumors.
I think we have to conclude that the project has been abandoned.
That's a shame. It was fun. There was always an energetic quality to it, and in their second episode they hit a level of production values that really only ST:P2 and ST:F have managed to equal. I had hoped once they got over their seemingly-eternal production hump, they'd be able to crank out the eps and really make the format their own. I was very interested to see what they'd do next. Alas...
But you know what? Just because they've stopped telling new stories doesn't mean their story has ended. I *Still* want to talk to them. I want to know what happened. I want to know what they planned, what they were hoping for, and what got in their way to keep it all from coming together. There's a somewhat more substantive rumor that one or more of the producers simply got tired of being hobbled by obedience to the rules of an already-overscrutinized universe. Hey, I *Totally* get that! Word is that they've moved on to some other project, an original project. Shiny! If that's true, I want to know about it, and I expect our readers, as well as the people who bought in to Exeter lo those many years ago would want to hear about it, too.
So, faced with a dead end just like when I tried to track down information on Venus Rises some months ago, I'm posting my quandry here on the site, and throwing myself up on the mercy of the internet.
If you were a part of this production, and you've come across this blog entry, please email me at [email protected] or simply post a comment on the site here. We'd love to talk to you about Exeter, and whatever you're working on now, as well as fan films in general. And it doesn't have to be just Jimm Johnson, Holly Guess, Michael Buford, or Josh Johnson, Cody Hammock, Joe Azzato, or the undeniably adorable Elizabeth Wheat either, we'd love to hear from anyone connected to the production in any capacity. Hell, we'd love to hear from the neighbors of the people who worked on the production, if they can put us in contact with the cast and crew. (Y'see what I did there? If they're googling their names, they're more likely to find this article. Sometimes I show promise. This may not be one of those times, but sometimes I do.)
So contact us, let us know, answer our questions, we'd love to hear from you, and I'm sure other people would, too!
In the meantime, while we're waiting, here's part one:
and here's episode two:
and here's a short just goofing around
EDIT: Paydirt! It's August 12th, and I've been contacted by the director of the second Exeter Episode. We're working out an interview now, and we should be running that on the site presently. And if anyone else connected to the Exeter team should happen to stumble across this blog entry, we'd love to talk to you, too! Please drop us a line.