Fan of: Star Trek
Written by: Dennis Bailey, Jimm Johnson, Joshua Caleb, & Maurice Molyneaux
Directed by: Scott Cummins
Starring: Jimm Johnson (aka James Culhane), Holly Guess, Michael Buford, Joshua Caleb, & Elizabeth Wheat
This week, we’re afforded the opportunity to step back in time with a work that continually makes my eyeballs jump up and down with excitement every time I watch it. Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve been in love with Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) and the adventures of the Enterprise crew. Even to this day, TOS is still very entertaining with interesting stories. Scott Cummins and crew bring us a true to form, retro style, Star Trek adventure that leaves you wanting more! I first stumbled onto the website Starship Exeter when I was considering doing a Star Trek fan film myself. I wanted to see how much of a challenge it would be and what others were doing. At the time, the website had two episodes (or rather one-and-a-quarter); The Savage Empire (the “pilot”) and the start of The Tressaurian Intersection. Exeter Studios, the group behind this project, had already completed their pilot episode and were looking to work on and complete the second one. If memory serves, their budget consisted of mostly crowd funding. And also, according to IMDb, they had a budget of roughly $500K. Well, that’s quite a lot of money for a fan film. However, you can see that production design and execution was very high quality. I’m not sure if the budget amount is accurate or not but the asthetics are pleasing to the eye. So it seems to have taken quite some time, years even, for them to complete The Tressaurian Intersection. At the start of the film, you already have the feeling that you’re going to watch something really cool. The story begins with an “over the bridge” shot of the Starship Exeter and then zooms in on the crew. I was already expecting great effects (at least the effects similar to what you would see in Star Trek TOS) but I was not expecting to see a great production design. The bridge on the Starship Exeter looks remarkably like the bridge on the Enterprise. I was very impressed with the sets that were created for this feature. You definitely have the feel of a Constitution Class Starship. From the computer consoles, to the helm, to the Captain’s chair, right down to the turbo lift. It’s all there. The production designers clearly did their homework here.
The film begins with the crew searching for the USS Kongo. When the trail leads them to a planet, they beam down only to find the remains of the saucer section of the Kongo. What made me glad is that the way the story is set up is exactly the same as it was set up for TOS. It has the introduction, the situation, the cliffhanger, and then on to the opening titles. So once we zoom out to a wide angle of the USS Kongo wreckage, you know that we’re in for a treat.
Jimm Johnson (aka James Culhane; I’m assuming this is his stage name to differentiate him from his producer role) stars as Captain Garrovick, the one who leads from the center chair. I think it’s neat that he dons the “casual” Captain’s uniform that was similar to the one worn by William Shatner for most of season two of TOS.
Even though Garrovick commands the Exeter, I especially liked Holly Guess as the second in command, Commander Jo Harris. It reminds me of Majel Barrett’s “Number One” from the original pilot for Star Trek TOS. I also felt that her performance was very well done. Even though Jimm Johnson did a great job as the starship captain, I may have made the creative decision to make Jo Harris the captain instead of Garrovick. However, this is certainly no slight on Johnson. He certainly did his job well.
I also liked Elizabeth Wheat as Yeoman Vandi Richards. There was definitely a fascinating chemistry between her and Captain Garrovick that was great to watch. Almost similar to the chemistry we have seen with Captain Kirk and Yeoman Rand. However, I think Richards is a far stronger character than Rand and that was a great choice to make. Some of the other characters brought great performances as well such as; Michael Buford’s Cutty and Joshua Caleb’s B’fuselek.
The action sequences in the film are very well done and engaging. The stage is set very well with the Tressaurians and the Tholians (for those who don’t know, we first saw the Tholians in Star Trek TOS) and the tension never lets up. I found myself excited around every turn and it kept getting better.
When we think of fan films we always look to see how the writer and director pay homage to the original work before “going rogue”. They certainly do very well here. This is the way, I believe, fan films were intended. You even get the feeling that this could have easily been done in the sixties within the TOS universe. So congratulations to the cast and crew aboard the Starship Exeter to bring us this great film. Hopefully, they’ll secure enough funding and time to continue making these great episodes. This episode can be seen here.