CBS fan-film “guidelines”: Let the tap-dancing begin.

Over HERE at Axamonitor, where they are monitoring the ongoing lawsuit between CBS/Paramount and the producers of Axanar, they provide some coverage of an interview with John Van Citters, who bears the impressive-sounding title of “vice president of product development for CBS Consumer Products,” about the recently released fan-film guidelines designed to govern Star Trek fan-films.

Let’s discuss this shit-show for a moment, shall we?

First up, this comment:

For many years we used a simple guideline, CBS and Paramount in cooperation on this, which is, a Star Trek fan film is a fan creation that is non-commercial. Well, we thought this was simple enough, and helped filmmakers understand the separation we need to keep between professional content and fan films. It’s become increasingly clear not everyone is clear where that line is.

“Not everyone.” Hmm. Though he was trying to make it sound like this has been a growing problem involving many productions, clearly, this is a veiled reference to Alec Peters and the folks at Axanar Productions. Why do I think this? Because they’re the only people currently being sued for violations of copyright. None of the other 672,347 fan productions are currently defending their existence. Not very subtle, Mr. Van Citters.

How about this one?

These are guidelines. They are intended to be something that gives structure, that gives people the limits under which they can operate in. … “Here’s what you can do to keep yourself as a non-commercial entity and respect the professional Star Trek that we are working on, and hopefully have a great deal of fun.”

Guidelines. There’s that word again. We know they’re not guidelines, because in the very next sentence, Van Citters says that they are “limits.” Guidenlines have flexibility. Limits are absolute (no matter what Montgomery Scott might say). And by the way: Have fun with your 15 minute, non-serialized storytelling.

Or this one:

“We’re not looking to micromanage your production.”

Uh, have you read the “guidelines, Mr Van Citters? That’s all they are: micromanagement.

Or this one, relating to the family-friendly requirement (alcohol, drugs, violence, etc):

“We’re not the hand of Q coming down and dictating what you can do in your story. We’re not looking into your business creatively,” Uh, again, there is no other way to read “you can’t do this or this or this,” EXCEPT as dictating what film-makers can and cannot do in their stories.

How about this bit of what-the-fuck-itude?

Van Citters, himself a Star Trek fan from childhood, said he considered the opportunities afforded by the guidelines “a brave new frontier … an official, permitted outlet” granting permission for fan films to be screened at official conventions, and for filmmakers’ to exhibit and fundraise there.

No. No. No. How the hell can you say that fan-films are not official, cannot claim to be associated with the official, and then say that the guidelines are the gateway to official-dom? That makes zero fucking sense and they know it. A fan-film getting to exhibit at an official Star Trek event, and fund-raise there? Are you shitting me?

This guy thinks he should be on Broadway, he’s dancing so fast. Only problem, of course, is that he sucks. His steps suck. His show sucks.

And the audience knows it.

Eventually, CBS will, too. But until then, listen to the tap-tap-tap-ing of the dance. They should have taken my advice back when this started and embraced the fan community. Instead, now they’re trying to bear-hug them to death.


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