Jonathan Lane is a guest writer on the Axanar Blog.
Last week, we featured the first part of our interview with Brian Matthews, the creator of Stone Trek, and his amazing voice-over artist, Wally Fields. Stone Trek is one of the most inspired, creative, and well-executed of all the Star Trek fan film mash-ups, a series of nine cartoon shorts created by Brian Mathews and released online using Adobe’s Flash software between 2000 and 2007. Merging the two distinct television franchises into a completely fresh hybrid, Brian and his team took us where no caveman had gone before…
JONATHAN: So now that you had the team in place, what was the process for making an episode?
BRIAN: Jim would provide a “formal” script for me to go off of, and then we’d tweak it a bit here and there. He made things real simple and straightforward; we didn’t clash about too much. Then Wally would do the voices in about a week or so. Meanwhile, in addition to the Flash animation, I was doing the music and sound effects. I was digging around the Internet looking for proper sounds. There was a lot of Hanna -Barbera stuff available to make it more authentic. I also decided to add in a laugh track, as The Flintstones originally had one. I couldn’t find any downloadable canned laughter tracks, so I had to record bits of the audience reactions from comedian videos. And of course, I had to compose all the original music.
JONATHAN: There’s so much that is just so wonderfully inspired in Stone Trek. For example, instead of beaming down, your crew drops down…
BRIAN: That was a conundrum at first. I was trying to imagine all kinds of schemes, lowering them on ropes – crazy stuff – I was even thinking at one point of just landing the ship (I think I have a drawing of that somewhere). And then it just came to me in a flash: just pull a lever and open up the trap door, and there you go. Cartoon characters can’t get killed when they fall, so I was just extrapolating further on that idea.
JONATHAN: So you came up with that yourself. But there are so many other pieces of inspired stuff, like the communicator is a clam (I call it the “clammunicator”) and the shuttlecraft is a shuttle log. Did you think of all of that, or was it Jim Jenkins, or was it some combination?
BRIAN: Mostly that was me, although Jim came up with a few things here and there. But the majority of the little touches and contraptions came out of my brain. I was just on a creative tear when it came to Stone Trek. Jim wrote the dialog and thought up the stories, including all the gags in the “Star Trekkin’” short.
JONATHAN: I love that one! But I should ask you about it. In late 2001, after releasing four “normal” episodes of Stone Trek, you decided to do what I guess would be called a music video with Stone Trek scenes played over the song “Star Trekkin’” by The Firm. It used the Stone Trek characters but without any voice-overs…only the song. Why the sudden change in format?
BRIAN: Yeah, that was Jim’s idea as a way to celebrate Star Trek’s 35th anniversary. I’m not even sure if I’d heard the song before. He had an outline for what he wanted to do. We needed to bring the Klingosauruses around at some point, and Jim’s outline managed to do that. In fact, pretty much all of the ideas in this short were Jim’s, and all I had to do was animate and find some sound effects. No voice-overs were needed. It was real simple to do, and I think I got that episode done in about a month.
JONATHAN: How long did it usually take to do an episode?
BRIAN: On average, I’d imagine—since I wasn’t working on them full-time because I had a job and whatever else was going on—maybe three months per episode, per part. Jim probably took about a week to write each script. He was as inspired as I was at the time to be working on them.
JONATHAN: Let me ask you about the dead redshirts. Stone Trek was known for keeping a dead redshirt tally and also for having cameos of actual fans as the redshirts who would get killed…
BRIAN: That was an idea I came up while doing one of the two “Deadly Ears” episodes. The first redshirt I killed off in the first episode was just a nobody, which was a cute idea: just come up with clever ways to kill off another redshirt in every episode. And then it hit me: what if I made fans the redshirts that get killed in the episodes? I had been in contact with Kail Tescar over at one of the Star Trek Animated websites, and he was an early proponent of what I was doing. He even has a Stone Trek page on his site. So I had the idea to use him as the first official red shirt to be killed in “The Deadly Ears, Part 2” since he was my online buddy at the time. And since I had a website, I put up a page that said if you want to be a redshirt, send me photos of yourself and get in line and we’ll see what happens. And I had a whole list of people I never got to!
JONATHAN: And finally, your last episode was released in 2007, and then there was nothing more. There were some rumors in 2013 that you would be starting up again, but so far, nothing. Will we ever see new Stone Trek again?
BRIAN: I have a bunch of outlines for some of the other episodes that had drawings on my website. Like “The Doomsday Thingie,” with a little bit of tweaking, I have a whole script ready for that episode…and it is freaking hilarious. Every time I read it, I laugh my ass off. I would love to do that one someday. I also have a script for “The Gallstone Seven” where they crash on the asteroid, and Kirkstone has got that Federation guy on board that’s giving them crap about getting off to where they need to be…
JONATHAN: I can imagine him looking like Mr. Slate…
BRIAN: That’s not a bad idea! This character’s problem with Kirkstone is that all the bathrooms on the ship aren’t working right now, and they’re going to take him to a bathroom on a starbase. So this guy is really ready to get underway!
I already have a teaser done for a new story. I don’t have any voices yet, just scenes and animations. There’s actually going to be more 3D-ish stuff in terms of things moving. It’s gonna be a little upgraded from the way it used to look now that I have all this 3D software I’ve been playing around with. If I ever do this, it’s gonna look better…
JONATHAN: So what do you need to give us all another episode or three?
BRIAN: Well, I’ve got Wally on board, assuming I can pay him.
BRIAN: So now I just need some money…and to finish up the script. Not being much of a writer, it’s a long process for me. But I’m getting stuff worked out.
JONATHAN: Have you ever thought of doing a crowd-funding campaign to raise a few hundred or few thousand dollars for new episodes?
BRIAN: As a matter of fact, I’m gearing up to do a crowd-funding campaign for early next year. I’m just trying to figure out what kinds of perks to offer and how best to spread the word.
JONATHAN: Heh, I think you just did! But I’ll be sure to let our readers know when your campaign goes live.
In the meantime, anyone wanting to check out Stone Trek, eight of the animated episodes are at the top of the list on this page and the final episode (part 2 of “Marooned on Tatooine”) can be found here.