Fan-made Star Trek sets: tourist at­trac­tion

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

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

HANS PENNINK / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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