Fan-made Star Trek sets: tourist attraction
On its many voyages through space, the Starship Enterprise has endured bridge-shaking blasts from enemy ships and infiltration by scheming aliens. Now it’s being invaded by tourists.
Sets mimicking those of the 1960s TV series StarTrek — including Capt. Kirk’s bridge, sick bay and engine room — were built by fans for an internet film series produced in this Adirondacks mountain town and are now open to paying customers who just can’t get enough of the 50-yearold franchise.
“The entire set ... how close it is to the actual TV show, you feel like you’re really there,’’ said 16-year-old Tiffany Schubert of Peru, New York. “It makes you just want to be in the show and have the same experience — being attacked by aliens, as bad as that is.’’
Schubert wore a red Starfleet shirt during a guided tour on a recent Star Trek convention weekend with her father, who came dressed as Spock. They heard a red alert, stood on transporter pads (Dad gave a live long and prosper hand sign) and poked around the bridge. The sets are doppelgangers of the originals down to each blinking light and 3-D chess piece.
James Cawley, a 50-year-old Elvis impersonator, began the years-long process of building the sets in 1997 after inheriting a copy of the original Enterprise blueprints from a costume designer on the original show.
Cawley and fellow fans released their first StarTrek: New Voyages web film in 2004, with Cawley portraying Kirk. Cast members call what they do “playing StarTrek,’’ but the production values became quite high, with some episodes involving up to 200 people and attracting original Star Trek actors George Takei and Walter Koenig (reprising their roles of Sulu and Chekov, respectively.)
“It was a fun little lark, and it just exploded,’’ said Cawley, who produced 11 full-length episodes, which have so far garnered more than a million views.
In June, the companies — calling themselves “big believers in reasonable fan fiction’’ — released guidelines on how fan filmmakers can avoid objections, such as not raising more than $50,000 and keeping individual episodes to under 15 minutes.
Cawley said: “I’d been making these films because I enjoy the people that come from all over the world that love the same thing that I do.”
Opening the sets to visitors became a way to keep the fans coming. He obtained a license from CBS
Keith Schubert (left) dressed as StarTrek’s Mr Spock, and his daughter Tiffany Schubert (right) talk with James Cawley in Ticonderoga, New York, early this month.