City Paper is not for tourists
Most Star Trek–fan films begin paying obeisance to the “voyages” of the fabled Enterprise. Not so John Broughton Jr.’s Starship Farragut franchise. His series of space operas begin with the more action-oriented phrase, “These are the adventures.”
“My favorite episodes of Trek were the ones where there was action and fighting going on,” says the 30-something Marylander, who works as director of marketing for a government contractor. “I wanted our series to focus more on that, where Kirk was getting beat up or fighting Klingons.” To that end, the one-time tae kwon do orange belt hired professional stage-fight choreographer Daniel Awkward to manage the interstellar fisticuffs, and to make sure the actors don’t get hurt.
Broughton’s adventures take place not on television or in theaters or even in space, but on the Web at starshipfarragut.com. (The pilot episode, “The Captaincy,” is scheduled for completion in September.) The enterprise is part of the ever-expanding universe of fan films, crafted by filmmakers not content to wait for Hollywood studios or unhappy with the official versions. It was such a fan-film series, Star Trek: New Voyages, that convinced Broughton to boldly go where many have gone before.
Where the popular New Voyages posits a continuation of the original missions, Starship Farragut’s angle is that the ship is one of the dozen other “Constellation-class” starcruisers besides the Enterprise. “The Farragut was mentioned in the original series,” Broughton says. It was Capt. James T. Kirk’s “first ship coming out of the academy.” Broughton notes other “parallels between my character”—Capt. John Thomas Carter, wearer of the orange Star Fleet tunic—and America’s first admiral, specifically the “damn the torpedoes” attitude.
The captain and crew may be different, but the look is the same. Props are painstakingly fabricated during “construction parties,” costumes during “sewing parties.” “They’re made to the exact specifications,” Broughton says, waxing rhapsodic about the 45-degree beveled edge required for the painted-wood “computer discs.”
Although the Farragut crew could call on years of detailed schematics for sets and costumes, and employ digital camcorders and software to make the ’60s-style space travel convincing, the dramatic arts proved more difficult to master. “Acting, directing, filmmaking—all of that was a challenge,” says Broughton. From zero to warp-factor five took Broughton six months. “I had to purchase a lot of the equipment to make it happen, because I could not get a cameraman committed to the project. They were all flaky, all the ones I spoke to. They acted like you had to work around their schedule and stuff.”
Not so with actor Tonya Bacon, a communications officer both on the Farragut and off (she works in public relations). A Trek fan “by way of family,” specifically her brother, Bacon’s other qualification is “extra cartilage.” “One of my ears is a little bit more pointed at the top than the other,” she says. “So I was the one in the family that was referred to as Spock.”
Fan films have progressed enough that Walter Koenig, the original Ensign Pavel Chekov, appears this year in an episode of New Voyages. And the Farragut team is proud of a partnership with that series whereby the two starship’s captains, Kirk and Carter, will cameo in each other’s episodes.
While Broughton would love for Paramount to come calling, he’s content for now with a small shout-out on StarTrek.com—and the power that sitting in the captain’s chair conveys. So even if it does violate the Prime Directive, expect Capt. Carter to beam down to imperiled planets often. “With,” says Broughton brightly, “phaser ready to go.” —Dave Nuttycombe