UPDATED – Original Series Set Tour Announces ‘Star Trek Film Academy’ For Fans

It was something that was teased all week long, on Saturday at STLV 17 there would be a BIG announcement regarding the TOS set tours and fan films, this led a lot of people to get excited and conclude that James Cawley the owner of the set tours was making a move and coming back to his roots and producing a new era of his fan series New Voyages.

However, it was during the set tours live panel that included James, Doug Drexler, Daren Dochterman, Denise Okuda & Michael Okuda, that James Cawley himself announced some fascinating and unexpected news.

As of early 2018, The Original Series set tours in Ticonderoga will be opening their doors to the new “Officially Licensed Star Trek Film Academy”, James went on to explain a few things about that this is not him returning to fan films as he once did but more to be a mentor to the next gen of fans who want to make their own films.

“ We are going to be doing this star trek film academy, which means this will allow you guys to actually come and make a movie, this will enable us to teach you and guide you along the way and you will be to take home this little souvenir to treasure, it is similar to the way universal studios operated years ago, this will be way more immersive and you will be here for a whole week, and work with the people who actually made the real Star Trek episodes, “You get to feel and experience what it is like to work on Star Trek…We’re going to pretend it’s 1966 and you’re an employee of Desilu Studios”.


Further information was posted on the wiki site Axamontior by Carlos Pedraza shortly after the live panel ended, (full Axamontior article can be read here)

The Academy

Cawley’s Academy, anticipated to be a week-long experience will take fans through the story and pre-production meetings, rehearsals, lighting, costuming and makeup, then filming and post-production — all alongside industry professionals who have worked on Star Trek, such as Mike and Denise Okuda, Doug Drexler and Daren Dochterman. Fans can participate in front of or behind the camera, Cawley said.

Starting Up

The academy will start a business in the fall, with the first class and their fan films expected in Spring 2018, all using the New Voyages sets and production facilities.

Cawley is excited about the latitude he said CBS has given him with regard to scripts and integrating professional Trek alumni from both behind and in front of the camera into the fan production effort.

While many longtime Star Trek fans have criticized CBS for its fan film restrictions, Cawley reminded the Las Vegas audience, “The people at CBS are themselves Star Trek fans,” who want to support fan filmmaking. 


Just after the announcement, Carlos got to get an exclusive interview with James regarding this news, below you can watch the video which was arranged by Trekzone.org.

As soon as this news hit I was inundated with messages and emails by worried fan film producers, was this going to impact them and their productions, was this another guidelines fiasco in the making?…

Well,  I managed to grab Carlos and get him to ask James some Questions to try and get the info a lot of people had asked me, and I want to thank Carlos for taking these questions and getting the answers.

You can watch the video below to find out more, however, my understanding of these answers, fan films have nothing to worry about.

WHAT WE DO KNOW. – some key notes from the video 

1 – Anything shot will be “Pre-Approved” scripts and you will not be able to go and just shoot anything you want – scripts will be written by Trek Alumni for now! However, in the future, they may! accept third-party scripts. 

2 – It will include many Star Trek Staffers like Mike and Denise Okuda and probably anyone who has worked on Star Trek from the 60’s to today, there has been “talk” about people like Jonathan Frakes taking part.

3 – Hopes to bring in Actors, Directors from the show – For example the actors who have directed on the show.

4 – Classes could be as a large as 100 but they will be split into 2 groups of 50 and two scripts will be worked on at one time.

5 – Spring 2018 will be the first one (hopefully) – This is an extension to the Set Tour, not a stand-alone. 

6 – Pricing, nothing set in stone, however, this is dependent on who is brought in.

7 – Twice a year Spring and Fall, it is all down to the tourist season and James does not want to impact the “tourist season” by running these during peak season.

8 – Length will not exceed 15 min mark (same as guideline 1, although they are not bound by them)

9 – Distribution – films can end up on youtube, James does not see why not as it is a product and he likens it to a “video Postcard”

10 – Where does this fit in with “Fan Films” – Anyone who is making a fan film is making a fan film, this is a “sudo” fan film, it is an experience and it is like “Star Trek Camp”, similar to how Universal and Paramount did an experience years ago (see video for example)

11 – Starbase Studios – is it competition? – 11:35 – 12:04 – not up to James as obviously he does not work for CBS and it is not his game not his rule, however, if you are building out a studio it might be a concern. He admires the fact so many people have picked up fan films and done what they have done it is a testament to Star Trek.

12 – Where does James see fan films in 10 years. 

James’ biggest happiness is people watch them and love them.

James’ biggest sadness is people ended up doing things they shouldn’t have done and it ended up people getting into a competitive nature which it should never have been, it should all be about fun.

13 – Rob Burnett claimed credit for this idea, “whatever” I have been doing fan films for a lot longer than these guys so “whatever” 

14 – This is all about people being able to have fun and dress up and play Star Trek and do it along with their idols so to speak. 

15 – Is this damage control by CBS to repair fan films after Axanar, it is possible, an outreach never seen before by any IP holder. and an acknowledgement by them to the many many fans who have made fan films.