DELAYED RELEASE A scene from the trailer for Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly. Image/Samuel Cockings

CBS Moves Against New Fan Film Over Guidelines

‘Temporal Anomaly’ Now Slated for Release Later in 2018 After Addressing CBS Concerns

The British-made fan film, Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly, was due to be released March 31, 2018, but concerns from CBS led producer Samuel Cockings to delay its release, as he explained in a post on the movie’s Facebook page:

While the intent was to release Temporal Anomaly today we were contacted by CBS and are now delaying release of the film until those discussions are concluded and resolved. These have been polite communications and we thank CBS for their approach in dealing with these concerns.1)

CBS Dispute Resolved

Source: Facebook

UPDATE APRIL 24 Cockings announced he had reached an accommodation with CBS that would allow him to release the now-renamed Temporal Anomaly: A Star Trek Fan Film in three parts later in 2018. In a post on the film’s Facebook page, he stated:

Per my discussions with CBS, Temporal Anomaly will be released later this year to the public in three parts with a new soundtrack and without the first/last scenes. … Other parts of the production that I won’t go into now have been given a guideline exemption by CBS just as Star Trek Continues and others have in different ways. The changes I am making are based on my discussion with CBS to allow the production to be released in a form acceptable to both parties.2)

Producer and Production

Cockings is one of the producers and hosts of the popular “Trekyards” show on YouTube, which examines Star Trek’s starships and technology in great detail.

He said he raised £1,741 (USD $2,440) on Kickstarter to make Temporal Anomaly, though he spent many hundreds more to complete the project.

TREKYARDS’ producers were vocal supporters of Axanar but have distanced themselves from controversial producer Alec Peters to preserve the show’s contacts in the Star Trek community.

CBS Contact

In an interview with AxaMonitor, Cockings said he received an email from someone “on the legal side of things” at CBS, not by vice president John Van Citters, who has until now been the public spokesman for CBS with regard to the fan film guidelines.

Another CBS official, senior vice president Bill Burke, was the one who reached out to fan producer Tommy Kraft during the Axanar copyright lawsuit to call off Kraft’s planned $250,000 crowdfunding effort in 2016 to produce Federation Rising, the sequel to his successful Star Trek–Horizon.


« I didn’t make my film to annoy anyone, just to share my love of Trek and utilize my filmmaking qualifications to make something hopefully special! » Samuel Cockings, producer

Concerns

While Cockings did not specify what precise issues CBS raised with his project, he said their concerns stemmed from viewing the Temporal Anomaly trailer, which was released February 16. “They have not seen the film. Their reference was to the trailer and social media visible to the public,” Cockings said.3)

TNG ACTORS The images of Star Trek actors in official clips included in Temporal Anomaly.

Guideline Problems

CLIPS Among CBS’ possible issues with the Cockings’ film was its use of clips from official Star Trek productions, including the images and voices of actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation, something prohibited by Guideline 2.

TITLE Cockings’ title might have caused problems for CBS as well. Guideline 3 specifies fan films cannot use the words “Star Trek” in their titles and must include the subtitle, “A Star Trek Fan Production.”

RUN TIME Cockings said his “director’s cut” is 50 minutes long — 20 minutes longer than prescribed by Guideline 1.

SCORE Temporal Anomaly uses music soundtracks from various Star Trek movies and series — the rights to which CBS does not control — which is prohibited by Guideline 3.

Watch the 'Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly' Trailer


Do the Guidelines Apply?

Cockings, like some other fan producers, assumed his film was “grandfathered” from having to adhere to the guidelines because it was written in 2013, then filmed in 2013-2014, long before the guidelines were announced in June 2016. He pointed to Star Trek Continues’ use of the old naming convention even after the guidelines:

“I wanted to try and keep the title as intended since it was my aim to capture the feel of a Star Trek episode and … every other film/series had that name,” Cockings said. “Star Trek: Continues even continues to use the original naming convention to this day.”

He remained flexible, however, about the title of his own film: “This was never anything set in stone for a public release.”

AXANAR MEETING John Van Citters was one of two CBS officials who met with Axanar producer Alec Peters in August 2015, followed by a public statement warning of possible legal action.

Grandfathered Productions

It’s become something of an urban myth among the fan production community that somehow productions that began before the guidelines’ release did not have to abide by them, pointing to a podcast appearance made by CBS official Van Citters shortly after the guidelines were released.

In that interview, Van Citters specifically addressed only whether CBS would seek to take down, from such platforms as YouTube, fan films that didn’t conform to the guidelines. He said takedowns would only be sought against productions released henceforward.4) He never said the guidelines as a whole didn’t apply to fan films that had not yet been released.

Samuel Cockings

TNG CLIP TO SET STAGE
Cockings said he wanted to start his film with “a cleverly edited ‘new scene’ of TNG, weaving together dialogue from multiple episodes and any cutaways from the feature films that existed. This was to set up the scene and give the audience a special start. This only lasts about a minute.”
He added he did not realize he was possibly the first fan producer to use original footage in this way. “It seemed natural to me given how I edited together show footage/green screen/new footage for my Stargate fan film released in 2012.”

Aware of the Guidelines

Cockings said he planned to release his film “in a form that represents what was written in 2013 and filmed in 2013-2014. … I am, of course, well aware of the guidelines (not rules) and wanted to try to release the film as intended first and if CBS had any problems I was happy to chat to them.”

He added, “I was of course hoping the age of my film would have allowed it to come out as intended.”

Resolution

Cockings wouldn’t say whether he’d sent the entire film to CBS for review but added that he is providing “more than was originally asked for in our communications, as I wanted to make this process easy for everyone involved.”

See also: CBS Dispute Resolved

While he remained silent on how he planned to resolve CBS’ concerns, he described the process as “a polite dialogue happening.” The amount of re-working of Temporal Anomaly required to address CBS’ concerns was something both parties would have to address.

“It’s a sliding scale of effort, the small things are simple and even the show footage section can be removed and re-tooled,” said Cockings, who planned to use his “10+ filming years of experience to rebuild and re-pace a new intro that still conveys some of the same buildup and interest as the current version does.”

Beyond that, Cockings said he didn’t commit to more “until after our continuing dialogue has ended,” adding, “I very much applaud CBS for how they are working with me on this. At the end of the day all of everything we do is for the love of Star Trek. Why else would I have given five years of my life to this project?”

COMMENTS
Discuss the originally published article in AxaMonitor's Facebook group. and the April 24 update here.

Keywords

2)
Temporal Anomaly Facebook page, Samuel Cockings, 4/24/18. Quotation slightly edited for clarity.
3)
Facebook Messenger from Samuel Cockings to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 3/31/18.