Starship Exeter (fan films)

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Fan Film
Title: Starship Exeter (fan films)
Creator: Jimm Johnson & Josh Johnson of Exeter Studio
Date: 2002-2014
Length: 35-52 mins.
Medium: video, web series
Genre: science fiction
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
URL: Starship Exeter
Artist: Mark Farinas

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

You may be looking for the newsletter of the UK-based Starship Exeter Organisation.

Brainchild of brothers Jimm and Josh Johnson, Starship Exeter is an amateur Star Trek fan film project, the first to embrace the possibilities of the internet video scene. Set within the continuity of the original Star Trek TV series, the first episode introduces a new crew, of a sister-ship to the famous USS Enterprise, the titular USS Exeter. The previous crew perished in the Star Trek episode, "The Omega Glory" [1] and Captain John Garrovick is the cousin of Ensign Garrovick from the episode, "Obsession". The Johnsons were producers (and also starred in the episodes, acting under pseudonyms). [2]

Main Cast

Opening Narration

Space. Endless. Silent. Waiting. This is the new odyssey of the Starship Exeter. Her five year mission: to guard the Federation frontier, to patrol uncharted space and scout alien worlds. To brave the darkness of the last, vast unknown... [John Quincy Garrovick, Episode 2.]


Two episodes and one comedy vignette were released. There were also teaser trailers, a 2003 "Making of..." documentary, to accompany DVD-Rs of the first episode (supplied to cast members and supporters), and a "YouTube" version with a Directors' Commentary. [3]

Episode 1: The Savage Empire

Written and directed by Jimm & Josh Johnson. (35 mins.) Released as downloadable video files via the internet on December 19, 2002. [4] Production and post production took several years, with shooting in Minnesota and Texas, mixed between exterior locations and custom-built sets. The producers strove to make the film using non-digital effects techniques, using miniatures and in-camera effects wherever practical. The story involves a visit to the Andorian homeworld. A young version of the Klingon Chang (of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), is featured, portrayed by Nathan Wolf. Andorian fan Ian McLean sent off his cameo appearance, as Senator Therin of the Andorian Planetary Council, on videotape from Sydney, Australia.

Documentary: The Making of a Fan Film

Produced by Joel Sarchet and Exeter Studio. (84 mins.) Released on DVD-R, 2003. This series of eight featurettes documents the creation and Internet release of "The Savage Empire". Contains extensive behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast, crew and creators, and information on how the props, costumes, sets and special effects were created:

  • The Origin of "Starship Exeter"
  • Filming Locations and Sets
  • Costumes, Make Up and Props
  • The Cast
  • Shooting the Episode
  • The Fight Scene
  • Special Effects and Editing
  • Capturing the Imagination and Looking to the Future.

Vignette: The Night Shift

Written by Dennis Russell Bailey. (Approx. 3.5 mins.) Shot as a trial run and as camera tests at the start of principal photography on Episode 2, it was released on the internet in August 2005. [5]

Starship Exeter Bridge Tour

A behind-the-scenes look at the "Exeter" Bridge set. (Approx 5 mins.) Released 16 September, 2007. Hosted by Jimm Johnson, this featurette [6] was directed and filmed by Dagoberto Patlan at Austin Studios during production of "The Tressaurian Intersection". Edited by Scott Cummins.

Episode 2: The Tressaurian Intersection

Written by Dennis Russell Bailey from a story by Jimm Johnson; directed by Scott Cummins; post-production by Maurice Molyneaux. (52 mins.) A more ambitious production, this episode was shot in mid-2004. [7] Played primarily aboard the titular starship, the film used CGI and elaborate miniatures to realize the interiors of a shuttlecraft and the ruined sister starship, USS Kongo. Model work by Thomas Sasser and others. Stan Ginsel [8] composed an original theme for this episode. [9] Released in segments, the episode suffered a protracted post–production process, with the final complete episode being released via "YouTube" on May 1, 2014, almost ten years from the start of principal photography. [10] Maurice Molyneaux had ushered the project's last instalment to an April 1 (ie. "April Fool's Day") debut of a final teaser trailer on "YouTube": Click here to view that last trailer. He also explained What Happened to Starship Exeter in a long, online thread at TrekBBS. [11]

Documentary: Behind the Scenes

Produced by Exeter Studio. (40 mins.) Details the creation and Internet release of "The Tressaurian Intersection". Includes an interview [12] with composer Stan Ginsel - Click here to view that section.

Abandoned Episode

Fannish Reactions

A January 2, 2003 mention on SlashDot resulted in a deluge of traffic to the Starship Exeter website and exceeded 10,000 hits per hour. The bandwidth demands proved more than could handle, forcing the film to be hosted on a private server. [13] The Sci-Fi Channel website listed the "Exeter" website as their Site of the Week for January 21, 2003, stating, "The end result is an episode that's actually better than some of the 'official' Trek that's been produced, and it just goes to show what fans can do with today's technology and a heck of a lot of determination." [14]

In 2006, Australian fan Ian McLean was asked to host a screening of Episode 1 during breaks in the evening banquet at Conquest (2006) in Brisbane. From his speech:

I'd just started working in a new school, and then "The Savage Empire" premiered on the Internet in the Australian December/January school holidays. When Term 1, 2003, started back, one teacher (who had previously worked out that I was an avid "Star Trek" fan) raced up to me and exclaimed, "Did you see the 'Sydney Morning Herald' article about some wacky American 'Star Trek' fans? They spent over $20,000 of their own money to make a 'Star Trek' episode - they wrote it, acted in it, made their own costumes, special effects - everything - then they put it up on the Internet. It was so popular it crashed the Mac web server for several days!"

"Yeah, I know,' I said with a smirk. 'I'm in it." [15]
From the Conquest Program Book, 2006: "Ian launched his exhaustive Rogues' Gallery of Andorians onto the Internet in 1997, with the aim of cataloguing every appearance of antennaed blue aliens in 'Star Trek' - and was soon contacted by Jimm and Joshua Johnson of the USA, who were developing Starship Exeter, a Trek-inspired fan film. It sounded like a pipe dream, but Ian was invited to make a guest appearance, as Senator Therin of the Andorian Planetary Council, in their first episode, 'The Savage Empire'. Therin's scene was shot in Sydney on video and mailed off to Texas where it was integrated into the main footage. 'The Savage Empire' was released online in 2002 to great acclaim. It has inspired a wave of similar fan films, many with production qualities that seemingly surpass the 1960s source material and take the humble 'Star Trek' fanzine to a new plane of existence. 'Starship Exeter: The Savage Empire' will be screening during the Saturday night banquet." [16]

Re "Starship Exeter: The Night Shift" vignette: "Still no word on the release of the oft-delayed finale of 'The Tressaurian Intersection', the second 'Starship Exeter' fanfilm episode, but in the meantime, the underlings had some fun with this..." Still waiting it out: Starship Exeter ("Have Phaser, Will Travel", 7 January, 2010).

See also Star Trek Fan Films at

Tie-in Comic

In 2004, Kail Tescar created an online comic story in the style of Filmation's Star Trek: The Animated Series, featuring the "Starship Exeter" characters at [17]

Faux ad: Exeter Action Figures

A 2006 faux TV commercial by Church Tucker for "Starship Exeter" action figures, based on the old Mego toy commercials of the 1970s. (27 secs.) The "Wego Corp." customized figures are by Thomas Hudspeth and are modeled after the characters in the fan films. Voiceover: "Beefy". [18]

Fan Fiction

On "TrekBBS" in 2008, Robert Simmons announced a twelve-part mini-series of fan fic stories based on "Starship Exeter" that take place right after the ship (from "The Omega Glory") was retrieved by Captain Garrovick, and leading up to the time before "The Savage Empire". [19]

In an undated statement at Orion Press, a zine publisher, Randall Landers stated his frustration regarding the fic he submitted to Jimm and Josh Johnson:

Question: What happened to the Starship: Exeter novelization?

Answer: We approached Jimm and Josh Johnson about adapting their screenplay, "The Savage Empire," for publication as a fanzine. We were given the go-ahead, and I sat down and wrote out a first draft. I wasn't terribly happy with what I'd written, and I turned it over to one of our other writers who had a talent for fixing problems in stories. She and I worked together on developing their short screenplay into a novella-lengthed story (we sent Jimm and Josh a few chapters from time to time, and we received nothing but encouragement from them). When we came up with what we believed was a really terrific adaptation of their screenplay, another one of our writers then took the adaptation and read it through, pointing out a few more inconsistencies that we'd missed. I gave it a final polish and emailed it off to them.

Unfortunately, their reply was incredible. They called it "amateurish" at best, and said it needed extensive revising among other very derogatory remarks. The email was one of the most insulting I've ever read. I lost my temper with them, and told them we were withdrawing our involvement from the novelization. I know now that they are perfectionists (look at how long it takes them to produce an episode), and that we probably could have worked together and come up with an acceptable product, but it would've taken far more effort than any of my staff would've been willing to extend, especially given the tone of their letter. And while I wished things had gone differently, I think it was for the best for both Orion Press and Starship: Exeter, and I wish them continued success. [20]



  1. 'Star Trek' Fans, Deprived of a Show, Recreate the Franchise on Digital Video (Accessed 20 May, 2019)
  2. Wikipedia (Accessed 20 May, 2019)
  3. Trailer and Directors' Commentary for Episode 1 ("Have Phaser, Will Travel", 11 July, 2008)
  4. The Savage Empire on IMDb
  5. Fan review of The Night Shift (Accessed 20 May, 2019)
  6. Starship Exeter Bridge Tour featurette, (Released 16 September, 2007)
  7. The Tressaurian Intersection on IMDb
  8. Stan Ginsel: Video Producer * Editor * Writer (Accessed 22 May, 2019)
  9. Theme to 'Starship Exeter' (Released 12 December, 2008)
  10. Official Website: The Tressaurian Intersection (Accessed 20 May, 2019)
  11. What Happened to Starship Exeter - The Completion of a Fanfilm on TrekBBS (9 September, 2014)
  12. Starship Exeter: Behind the Scenes, (Released 19 April, 2010)
  13. Update: Exeter Offline (Accessed 20 May, 2019)
  14. Site of the Week, (Accessed 20 May, 2019)
  15. Starship Exeter: The Savage Empire Down Under ("Have Phaser, Will Travel", 30 September, 2006)
  16. Conquest Program Book, Brisbane, Australia, 2006
  17. Home is Not a Place online comic at (Released 2004)
  18. Exeter Action Figures (Released 17 December, 2006)
  19. Fan stories... Starship Exeter: Exeter Rising at TrekBBS (Announced 15 July, 2008)
  20. Questions and Answers: We get questions, we get questions, we get lots and lots of questions... (and newer questions are listed first), accessed July 12, 2019 via Wayback