Fan Film, Fan Films

Star Trek: Phase II Starts Buck Rogers Web Series

buck rogersStar Trek: Phase II‘s James Cawley announced this week that he and his crew are tackling another Sci-Fi classic—Buck Rogers in the 25th Century—and it’s NOT a fan film! They’ve gotten a license from the copyright holder to create 20 40-minute web episodes, and will debut the series in the fall of 2010. has the exclusive story (kudos to Tony on the scoop) and it’s quite a doozy. The new series will take a retro-styled stab at the character, following the original 1920s comic strip plotline where Rogers is a World War I flying ace who is flung far into the future. To achieve the show’s retro veneer, they’ll be using modern-day technologies like CGI to achieve the steampunk-styled look of the early comic.

The title character will be played by Bobby Rice, who joined the Phase II camp with his recent appearance as “Peter Kirk” in the controversial “Blood and Fire, Part 1″ episode (“Part 2″ is reportedly due to hit the web in March). Cawley himself won’t be in the new series, and insists that the web series will not interfere with production on Star Trek: Phase II.

This is a fascinating advancement for fan films as a genre, because it takes the standard “make a fan film in order to show Hollywood what you can do” idea and carries it one step further. Instead of using Phase II episodes as a calling card to get a job working as a professional in Tinseltown, apparently they used the episodes to convince the rights holder that they could do their franchise justice, creating their own opportunity to turn pro. Sure, skeptics could argue that the franchise owner had little to lose since the copyright on Buck Rogers hasn’t got a lot of years left in it and that the franchise has been dormant for decades, but this move is still likely beneficial for all involved:

• One of the oldest sci-fi characters gets retrofitted for a new medium in a new era, and is introduced to a new generation.
• Cawley Entertainment Company gets a professional series under its belt, which can be used as a calling card for—what? Perhaps an original series, perhaps professional movies, TV series or something else entirely.
• Money gets invested in gear and infrastructure for Phase II, since some of Buck Rogers will be shot at Cawley’s Retro Films Studios in upstate New York,

A profile of Cawley and Phase II is one of the focal points of “The Future of Fan Films,” the final chapter of my fan film book, Homemade Hollywood. Elsewhere in the chapter, I share some insights about where the genre is going, and one of the predictions is that studios will start courting the fan film community to test the waters on whether its time to bring back an older franchise. Now that Frank Miller is aiming to make a Buck Rogers feature film, consider Cawley’s version to be a prediction come true.

Like this story? Tell the world:

3 Responses to “Star Trek: Phase II Starts Buck Rogers Web Series”

  1. Christopher Moshier

    This is really wild. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.

  1. It’s Fracken Great «’s Weblog
  2. Buck Rogers and The World of Tomorrow…Today | Fan Cinema Today
RSS for Posts RSS for Comments