Last week, Paramount Pictures and CBS released a new class of strict guidelines for Star Trek fans who wanted to make their own films based on the long-running franchise. In a new interview on Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a CBS executive said it has no plans to go after fans who make these films, but has to ensure it isn't losing talent in a crowdfunding era.
John Van Citters, vice president of product development at CBS, said that crowdfunding had led to a boom in Star Trek-related merchandise essentially being sold to backers, and neither CBS or Paramount are seeing any of the profit. Citters said that unlike previous fan films, the actual movie was no longer what fans were interested in supporting, but rather the physical merchandise they would receive for supporting the project on Kickstarter or Indiegogo at a certain level. Backer rewards, Citters argued, are specifically what CBS and Paramount are looking to combat with the new guidelines.
"They’re not intended to end fan films, but with the explosion of crowdfunding, abuses have very definitely crept into the process," Citters said. "For many it became more about the item that you were donating to get than it was about supporting a fan production for its own sake."
Citters added that with crowdfunding potentially amassing millions of dollars for production and casting, CBS was also concerned that former stars of the series would be working with fans to create elaborate films. Citters said that once professional actors known for their work in the TV series or films get involved, it’s no longer in the spirit of fan fiction, and CBS doesn't want fans profiting off of its talent.
That being said, Citters said CBS has no plans to go after previous fan films that violate the new guidelines, nor does it have any plans to actively chase down new fan films that just slightly violate the code. Instead, CBS will keep an eye out for mega productions, like the controversial Axanar — which started this entire debacle — and take action if need be.
The guidelines come just a couple of weeks before the newest Star Trek film, Beyond, and months before the debut of CBS’ new Star Trek series. The full list of rules for making a Star Trek-related fan film can be read here.