BONUS: "Star Trek: USS Proxima" -- J.C.'s childhood fan film, PART 1 / by J.C. Hutchins


Filmed in 1992 in a basement with no script, no budget and a borrowed videocamera, two teenagers made a Star Trek fan film. Nearly 10 years later, the footage was edited with music and sound effects, creating this result... Those two teenagers were Louisville, Ky., residents Adam Fisher and Chris Hutchins -- that "Hutchins kid" now known on the World Wide Everywhere as me, J.C.  We recorded the footage for what became Star Trek: USS Proxima in about five hours, spread over two days. I was 16 or 17 at the time. Adam was a year younger.

The locale in which you'll see this fine 16-year-old cinematic masterpiece (or farce, depending on your sense of humor) take place is the basement of my childhood home. For a handful of years, Adam, me and other neighborhood boys would "play Bridge" -- meaning, play in this subterranean Star Trek bridge -- for hours, day after day. We built the set out of scavenged wood, milk crates, old chairs, and broken computer and audio equipment. Our wall-mounted readout screens were chalkboards. We even rigged "red alert" lights and other fixtures to make our bridge as believable as possible.

I have a very clear memory of being electrocuted in the Proxima bridge, while connecting a strobe light to an overtaxed electrical outlet. That knocked me on my ass, and blew a fuse, to boot.

By 1992, Adam and I were the only kids on the block playing Bridge. The fun had died for the others -- understandable, as we were growing up, after all. But Adam and I got a wild idea for one last hurrah: a movie. Neither of our families could afford video cameras, so I borrowed one from Blockbuster Video, where I worked. We shot the footage, and as wise filmmakers, even filmed "special effects" -- i.e., we pointed the vidcam at Star Trek movies playing on a television. Spaceships!

Since there were only two of us, but numerous roles to fill, you might notice that many of the Proxima crew are very similar in appearance. Run with it.

We ad-libbed the story and dialogue as we went, shamelessly stealing the plot of our favorite Trek movie near the end. (We were tired.) It was all so wonderfully, desperately cheesy and bad, but we had a blast. Our plans to take our footage -- and Trek movie videocassettes for our "special effects" -- to a local video editing company died on the vine. As the years went on, I lost contact with Adam, as well.

I don't recall ever playing Bridge with Adam after we made this movie.

When I moved to Florida for my first post-college pro gig, I bought an iMac and used iMovie to create the version of USS Proxima that Adam and I envisioned. I added music, sound effects and those all-important "special effects" shots we'd pined for back in the day. What you see here is the first half of the movie; I'll soon post the second half -- and a "deleted footage" reel in which you'll bear witness to some classic flubs -- in the days ahead.

Watching this movie takes me back, man. I'll likely blog about how Star Trek, playing Bridge, and that tiny basement room made a big impact on my life. But that comes later. For now, just dim the lights, hit play ... and watch the biggest little movie two teenagers could make, 16 years ago.