So read the opening lines of Star Trek: Enterprise's much-maligned opening theme song. But while the song's chirpy lyrics may not have scored well among fans more accustomed to orchestral themes that had accompanied previous Star Trek series, most can probably think back to some point in their lives when they would have felt relevant:
"I will see my dream come alive at last! I will touch the sky! And they're not gonna hold me down no more; no they're not gonna change my mind!"
For Tommy Kraft of Jackson, Michigan, that dream is Star Trek: Horizon, set to touch the sky later this year. The independent Star Trek film has enticed many backers with its impressive visuals, and with a story soaking in Star Trek lore: The Romulan War, the birth of the Federation, and the return of an ancient and enigmatic enemy.
Since getting the project off the ground, Kraft has assembled a great team of people to see it through to its completion. However, it's hard to overstate how much effort Kraft himself has devoted to the project; from writing the script to composing the score, and from hand-sewing many of the uniforms to modeling the starship Discovery inside and out in 3D.
Fortunately, this isn't his first rodeo, but he's nevertheless had to work on improving his skills.
"I have had an interest in 3D modeling and visual effects for a long, long time," Kraft says when asked about his previous. "But, in terms of the 3D modeling and the higher-end visual effects, I didn't really have much experience, and I wasn't that good at it. So, it was definitely a learning curve.
Because of the way I did the project, and having such a long time of being able just to focus on that specifically, it gave me a lot of time to really get into it and learn the ins and outs of it."
Tommy Kraft takes a stroll on the starship Discovery.
A lot of people are surprised to see such a fan film set in the time period of Star Trek: Enterprise, since the series has never been a fan favorite. However, Kraft feels a strong connection to Captain Archer and his pioneering crew, whose terrestrial world views were challenged on a weekly basis. About a year ago, the filmmaker was battling his own "demons of air and darkness", and while his journey may have been free of black holes an time warps (so far, at least), it's nonetheless fueled his desire to explore and learn about the universe, and ultimately provided a lot of the inspiration for Star Trek: Horizon.
Asked if this experience has influenced the film's plot, Kraft gives a long and heartfelt answer:
"I think it totally affects the story, because part of that crisis involved a total change of how I see the world and what I want out of life. And one of the things that's really important to me, personally, is helping people and seeing people work together and come together, and that is of course one of the aspects to Star Trek and the backstory of Star Trek.
So, the story of Horizon reflects that quite a lot, and that's one of the main questions I ask in Horizon: Is it really possible to unite everyone, and not even necessarily just on Earth, but also when you expand that view to an interplanetary view.
And this is very much something that's inspired by these changes that I've gone through and the inspiration that Enterprise has had for me.
It's important for me when I write something- especially something like this that I'll be working on for a long, long time - that I have a strong, personal connection to it and I'm able to get passionate about it. At least for me as a creative, that's what I need."
"250,000 years ago, one race united the whole galaxy, for the first time, in peace. But..."
His passion would appear to be contagious, because the project's Kickstarter campaign has attracted more than 250 backers so far, and with more than $17,000 worth of pledges and a week left to go, the project stands a good chance of doubling its initial goal of $10,000.
Of course, money is only as good as the things you spend them on, and Kraft sees a lot of potential for improving the project. For example, the additional funds will allow the team to upgrade their computer systems, which he predicts will be a great boon to the creative process.
"With my current workstation, when I get really complicated scenes in the visual effects software, it can sometimes take up to 30 minutes to open one menu, and that's something that just makes it very hard as a creative to work on anything. So, upgrading the workstation is pricey to really do it the right way, but it's something that will help a lot."
Some of the funds are also going into creating props and set pieces for the film, which will provide the movie with a lot of depth that's difficult to accomplish with CGI. In true Star Trek fashion, Kraft is even considering bringing in somewhat of a replicator:
"I'm looking at the possibility of getting a 3D printer and just modeling the additional props and printing them out, which is a better alternative than sending them to service because you ultimately have more control over the process."
Star Trek: Horizon is set to join an ever-growing group of independent film projects made possible by crowdfunding services such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. However, for every project that's funded, there are also a number that never make it off the ground.
I asked Kraft what he believed to be the key to a successful crowdfunding campaign, and he identified three main factors: The quality of the project, the quality of the campaign itself, and connections.
Captain Hawke and Commander Jackson Gates inspect an alien forest.
On the subject of connections, Kraft mentioned that there has been an effort to get independent Star Trek filmmakers talking to each other, to share experiences and to get support. Unfortunately, the community is quite divided, with big-budget projects on the one end and low-budget projects on the other.
However, Kraft was very grateful towards Alec Peters from Star Trek: Axanar, who had reached out to Kraft and gotten word of his project out to many Axanar's followers. I could confirm that this had been effective, because that's how I first learned of the project!
However, the strongest card in Star Trek: Horizon's campaign has no doubt been the large amount of professional-looking content that the team has been putting out since even before the project began, from regular production diaries to the film's first teaser trailer and opening scene.
"I've noticed that a lot of the big projects, especially fan films, have had former Star Trek names attached to them. For instance, Star Trek: Renegades has pretty much everybody, and Star Trek: Axanar has a lot of people. And, unfortunately, I don't have any of those big names, but I think it also makes our project unique in that what we're doing is so much smaller behind the camera, but we're creating this huge, cinematic feel and this very high quality project.
And the thing that really helped us was that we had a lot of good content to show people on our Kickstarter page when we launched. So we didn't have the names, but we had content.
So it's building a network and having quality, and showing people - giving them reassurance - that you can really do what you're asking for help to do."
Will we see his dream come alive at last?
You can also follow Star Trek: Horizon on Facebook for regular updates and pictures from behind the scenes.
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