In 2016, CBS/Paramount brought a lawsuit against Axanar, a very successful group of fan-film producers who'd crowdfunding more than $1M to make a kick-ass Star Trek video.
CBS made all kinds of arguments about why this was copyright infringement, including the weird and dubious claim that the Klingon language was copyrightable. The ensuing controversy and bad publicity seemed to draw to a close when JJ Abrams told an audience that the lawsuit was "going away", but then Paramount told a judge that it was still on.
Eventually, Paramount settled with Axanar, and now, less than a year later, they've reversed direction, launching an official "academy" to teach Star Trek fans to make their own fan-films, led by James Cawley, producer of Star Trek New Voyages, a seven-year-long series of Star Trek fan-videos that attained a complex, semi-official status within the business side of Trek.
Cawley's courses will teach everything "From gaffing to costuming to special effects," and "fans will work side by side with talented Star Trek artists to create short vignettes from beginning to end."
This marks the first official, CBS-sanctioned fan filmmaking effort in Trek's 50-plus year history. The academy will start business in the fall with the first films expected in Spring 2018. Unlike prior Trek fan films or those made under newly announced guidelines, films done through the Star Trek Film Academy will be able to employ people who've worked on professional Trek productions.
These Academy fans and films will also have access to the New Voyages sets and facilities. New Voyages is a fanmade Web series Cawley helmed from 2008 through 2015, creating about one episode per year. Though the series was not officially a CBS production, sets constructed for New Voyages became licensed as a "Studio Set Tour" beginning in July 2016. Throughout its run, New Voyages featured contributions from major Trek players like George Takei (reprising his role as Sulu) and Eugene Roddenberry, Jr. (as a producer).
Details on exact dates and prices were not immediately available, though the location is likely Ticonderoga, New York given the New Voyages sets will be utilized.
Post-Axanar, CBS unveils first official fan filmmaking initiative in Trek history [Nathan Mattise/Ars Technica]