Treknobabble #37: Borg and Marriage

Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.

For those expecting some speculative insight into Borg culture with this Treknobabble, I am afraid I must disappoint you. Since the Borg are all connected in thought and their reproduction doesn’t rely on sex (at least by our definition), then I would think the concept of marriage in Borg society doesn’t exist. Oh, right, we weren’t going to discuss this. The title of this Treknobabble refers to an incomplete short film that my friend Dave and I started on one of his infrequent visits.

I don’t think it matters whether or not you watch the film first before reading this Treknobabble. I don’t know if Jay is going to be making any edits. I’m going to be writing about the original version.

Jay had suggested I do a Treknobabble about Star Trek fan films, and provide links to some of my favourites. Frankly, I hate watching fan films although, yes, I do compulsively collect them. I assume the best fan films currently being made are the New Voyages, because they utilize “professional” talent who have worked on the official series, even so far as to getting original actors like Walter Koenig (Chekov) and George Takei (Sulu). The talent also includes visual effects people and writers.

I’ll just comment on New Voyages and then I’ll talk about the fan film I’ve made. Even though New Voyages has approached the quality of televised Star Trek, I still find it lacking. After viewing the Chekov and Sulu episodes, all I’ll say is that perhaps there’s a reason why Chekov and Sulu weren’t given larger roles on the Original Series. But I commend them for trying, especially when no one is making money from doing these films.

When I think of male adult friends getting together and bonding, I think either of families getting together for a meal in the case of married adults or spending time at a strip bar drinking beer in the case of bachelors. I guess the common ground for married or single male adults is the sports bar. Well, my friend Dave and I indulge in neither of these activities when we get together. Instead, we either comb video rental stores for obscure movie titles or put together unscripted home videos based on spur of the moment ideas. (I think Dave comes up with the main concept all the time.)

We haven’t done anything recently, mainly because of an upheaval that sent him to the other side of the country and disrupted his annual visit. But he’s back on this side; however, he’s still several hours away by car. And raising a daughter means he has responsibilities beyond that of making movies. I believe “Borg and Marriage” is our last (and perhaps final?) effort. I can’t remember what year this was made. We always tried to do something different with each successive film. I regret that we never took the opportunity to do anything that was dialog-heavy.

We both love Star Trek, but this was the only time we had done anything related to Star Trek. The theme was specifically related to what was happening in Dave’s life. I won’t get into details, because I’m not sure Dave would want me writing about his life. So I don’t expect anyone who watches “Borg and Marriage” to really understand what’s going on, not that there’s really a plot. I’m only in the film as the Klingon. And the reason why I’m a Klingon rather than a Borg is that I have a full-head Klingon mask and a bat’leth.

Now you have to understand that we typically had only a couple of days to spend on these short films. By the time we did “Borg and Marriage,” we only had two days and were at an age where our energy levels had significantly fallen since our puberty days. This film probably has the least “polish” of all our efforts. I remember Dave had fallen asleep while we were at the three-quarters point of editing. So I gave up the ship as well, as the saying goes.

Since I had the video-making facilities, I thought I would finish the film after he left. I had the raw footage. (For all of our films, We never had time for reshoots.) So I could have cobbled together what we had shot. But for me, the fun was in the shared experience of movie-making, even in the editing. So I never finished the film. I think I have the remaining footage on a videotape somewhere. I recall we shot a scene of Dave being beheaded and a stream of blood shooting in the air. I can’t recall how the film was supposed to end.

Our films had a minimal budget with most of the props being things I had in my house, and settings were at pre-existing locations. For “Borg and Marriage,” I think we went to Goodwill to buy an orange sweater for use as Dave’s Starfleet tunic, and a 12″ baby doll for the beheading. We used a 1.5 litre Heinz Ketchup squeeze bottle I had in my fridge for the blood. (We didn’t have time to make the blood.) For the battle with the Klingon, we went to a dumping area which had mounds of dirt.

While we were making these films, consumer digital editing was in its infancy as they say and was rather expensive. I have a PC with a Matrox Rainbow Runner video editing card installed, but I haven’t bothered installing higher capacity hard drives that are necessary for storing digital video since the processor is only 200 MHz. This is early ’90s technology, I think.

I also have a Panasonic Digital AV Mixer WJ-AVE5 that allows me to dissolve video between two sources as well as the usual pans and wipes. But it doesn’t have the colour replacement feature that television weather people use. (I can’t remember the technical term for this green screen replacement process.) For the head replacement shots, we used the rudimentary picture-in-picture capability of the AV mixer. I haven’t bothered upgrading my video editing equipment.

For the titling, I have used the computer to add digital titles in the past, but this time, you’ll notice we made do with a post-it note! We had some difficulty making the title go away. We didn’t even bother to reshoot it.

As for the audio, I never bothered mixing the audio correctly. I don’t think we did any foley effects for this film. Nor did we do any ADR.

I have this weird notion to someday re-process our short films and make “special editions” with improved visual effects using today’s technology in order to fully realize the vision that Dave and I had. Yeah, right.



  • Your experience isn’t that unusual–there’s a lot of fan productions that run out of steam after a while, and like you noted, the camaraderie is one of the best parts of making these movies. There are a lot of unfinished Trek fan films out there, including one, Yorktown II, made in 1987 that starred George Takei. I wrote a bit about that one in my upcoming book about the history and future of fan films, Homemade Hollywood, which is coming out at the end of November in bookstores everywhere.

    If you want to find out more about the world of fan films, you might want to check out my daily fan film blog, fancinematoday.com, where I just did a piece the other day on a great, unfinished Batman flick, Batman: Reborn.

  • Thx for sharing, Clive. Hope your book, “Homemade Hollywood,” does well. I read the blurb for it at Amazon.com. It sounds interesting.