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Trek Writer, Fan-Film At Odds Over Takei Episode

Marc Scott Zicree is rewriting history, ‘New Voyages’ producer says

Marc Scott Zicree might not be the first name you think of when it comes to Star Trek. But he has made his mark in a couple of ways, including the story for the popular “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode that pulled everyone out of their makeup, “Far Beyond the Stars.”

His writing since then has been a mix of “Sliders” episodes, some animated series work, and the 2007 “Star Trek: New Voyages” episode “World Enough and Time.”

This was an episode that more or less helped put fan-films on the map, and featured a guest appearance by George Takei, who has been in the news this week after “Star Trek: Beyond” revealed the Sulu character he originated would come out as gay.

Zicree has made no secret of his dislike for the recent fan-film guidelines issued by CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures, and has continued to show support for the fan-film the two studios sued for copyright infringement, “Star Trek: Axanar.” In fact, Zicree visited the official Axanar website to explain why fan-films like “World Enough and Time” need that professional touch.

“In my mind, I wasn’t doing a fan-film,” Zicree said. “I was bringing my A-game, just like when I was a producer on ‘Sliders’ or when I was writing for any hundreds of hours of television I’ve worked on.”

When Zicree wrote the “New Voyages” episode with Michael Reaves, he said he was “not going to step back from this (at) all.”

“We’re going to do this exactly as if we were doing a network show,” he said. “And actually, the level of production is way beyond what any network show would be, because you would never have 700 visual effects shots in a single hour on any network show.”

“World Enough and Time” turned “New Voyages” from a fan-film to a professional production, Zicree said, despite the fact he directed and served as an executive producer for no pay. He was paid a “token amount” for writing the episode, and even Takei was paid a little for his appearance, although it was well below market value.

“So no one was getting rich or doing it for the money at all,” Zicree said. “I worked on that episode for free for three years, and we went post(-production) for a solid year (after) that. But I had to hire an editor to work with me full-time to get that cut, and that editor had to be paid. He couldn’t pay the rent, he couldn’t have made his gas bill if I wasn’t paying him. He was a professional editor working here in L.A.”

Zicree said he had “final cut” on “World Enough and Time,” and that “every frame was my vision” of what he wanted the episode to be.

“I brought an enormous amount of polish to it,” he said. “As I said, it took a full year to do. Not having a professional, it would have taken a decade, and still not have come out right.”

Yet, one person who is not buying Zicree’s recollection of what happened in “World Enough and Time” is the man behind “New Voyages” itself, James Cawley. Writing in a post on a Facebook page dedicated to the lawsuit CBS and Paramount have filed against Axanar, Cawley said Zicree’s memory was “glossy.”

“There were never 300 people working on that episode,” Cawley said. “Yes, he received some token amount for the script. He demanded it, and that was the price we paid to do it. George was paid as we wanted to do it with him, and that was what had to happen to do it. It was never a secret, and as I recall, Zicree paid his own editor because he wanted to. No one else was paid. No salaries, nothing, nada, zip. I and others spent a shit ton of cash to make that and our other stories.”

In fact, Cawley said, Zicree said he treated the “New Voyages” staff so badly, many were going to walk off the set in protest of his “Hollywood attitude.”

“I had to shut down the production to reign him in and get him to realize that we the fans were the reason for the season,” Cawley said. “His meltdown over that was memorable. He was so under the task, he was unable to finish directing and my friend Carlos Pedraza stepped in and up to finish the episode uncredited.”

Pedraza, an independent film producer who actually got his start on fan-films, runs a website dedicated to the Axanar lawsuit called AxaMonitor. He responded to Cawley’s comments on the Facebook page to back up the “New Voyages” producer’s recollection.

“A platoon of folks from L.A. came to work on the production, but the vast majority of people working on ‘World Enough and Time’ were the same volunteers who had worked on previous episodes of ‘New Voyages,'” Pedraza said. “The ‘professional’ first assistant director refused to take the advice from our volunteer who had AD’d before, so it was no surprise we got further and further behind schedule by the time Marc had his breakdown, and some of the L.A. people wilted under the pressure.”

In fact, the director of photography Zicree brought in walked off the set early on and was never seen again, Pedraza said. The bed and breakfast in Upstate New York where everyone was staying was two miles away, and it was the middle of the night, so it would’ve been a long walk.

Dave Berry, who would later work as a director of photography on other independent projects Pedraza produced, took over. Not long after that, Pedraza himself had to step in and take over from Zicree, having to film a long 14 pages in a single day, before many people had to catch planes back to Los Angeles the next day.

“It wasn’t the professionals who saved ‘World Enough and Time,'” Pedraza said. “It was the volunteers who pulled together and provided the leadership, hard work and grit to get the job done on time.”

Reached early Saturday morning, Zicree denied anyone finished his work on the fan-film uncredited, adding he “contractually had final cut” on the episode.

“No other director worked on (‘World Enough and Time’) at any stage,” Zicree told 1701News. “There’s not a frame of it that was shot or edited by anyone else.”

There was a point during the fan-film shoot that two units were running to finish on time, Zicree said, with cinematographer Erik Goodrich working as second unit director on some of the bridge scenes.

“The big emotional scenes, such as the finale with Alana on the bridge, were directed by me,” Zicree said.

Once shooting was finished in “New Voyages'” New York studios, Zicree said he returned to Los Angeles where they filmed the Excelsior scenes. After that, he spent a year in post-production.

“James Cawley was not present for that part of the shoot, but that was the last footage shot on the project,” Zicree said. “And I was the director right up to the end.”

Cawley won’t deny there is no love lost between him and Zicree, who is now working on his own independent production called “Space Command.”

“Marc is all about using this production to further his own career, a stark difference between his goal and all the others who were there doing it,” Cawley said of the “New Voyages” episode. “Did we aspire to be a pro-looking production? Yup. And we were and are proud of it. Did we take salaries and/or compensation? Nope.”

“That was a tough episode to shoot for many reasons.”

This story was updated at 11:54 a.m. to add rebuttal comments from Marc Scott Zicree

Source: 1701News


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