Fan film took seven years to create, with over half a year spent in filming alone.
There's a new Star Trek movie coming out on July 22, and its explosions and J.J. Abrams-produced lens flares will almost certainly stuff the box office with cash. Even so, many longtime fans yearn for another time and another direction; for Star Trek productions that embrace the sometimes kitschy mix of science and philosophy the original series was founded on.
But hope is not lost. Hope, in fact, already arrived from 35-year-old Bavarian filmmaker Jürgen Kaiser, who spent seven years creating an hour-long stop-motion Star Trek film he calls Star Trek Enterprise II: The Beginning of the End (or Der Anfang vom Ende in his native German). It's set after the end of Season 3 of the Star Trek: Enterprise series starring Scott Bakula, who's presented here as an action figure along with series favorites like the characters T'Pol and Tip Tucker.
The whole thing's astounding, really. Not only is the story quintessential Star Trek, but Kaiser poured a breathtaking level of detail into the project, resulting in an experience that's almost as good as the Star Trek: Enterprise series itself. Check it out:
It wasn't cheap. In an interview with Würzburg's Main-Post, Kaiser claims the project cost him about as much as a small car. It all came out of his pocket, and he won't even allow donations out of fears that those who hold the rights to Star Trek might pull his labor of love off of YouTube.
His account of the film's creation is full of the little numerical details Star Trek fans usually love, such as how it took 220 days to wrap up filming while working with a 53-page script and 16-centimeter-tall figures. To achieve the fluidity of action seen in the production, Kaiser used an SLR camera to capture up to 30 carefully arranged frames to create a single second of footage. It wasn't precisely a one-man job as he had help from other voice actors, a composer, and a professional 3D animator for the space scenes, but for well over a year he alone worked on the sets in preparation for the actual production.
The plot is a fun one, featuring surprise guests from the future and Terminator action figures as the mysterious alien antagonists. (There are previous, shorter episodes in his 2009 "Crossroads" arc if you need some background, but The Beginning of the End stands well enough on its own.) The dialogue is all in German, but Kaiser annotated the whole project with English subtitles that exude the same professionalism of the rest of the project. And even though I admit to smirking when I saw the Terminator figurines, Kaiser insists his extreme attention to detail springs out of desire to make this look like anything but a frivolous weekend gig.
"It's important to me that we are taken seriously," he said in his interview with the Main-Post. "This is not a parody, but serious."
But if you need a laugh, consider this—Kaiser claims he's not even a "real fan." In his words, he simply liked the Enterprise series and felt like it should go on for a bit after it was canceled. And he's apparently not even burnt out on stop-motion after all that as he's already working on a stop-motion Ghostbusters film.