The Federation Files is a show on the Syfy Network that has been running for over three years now. It’s about a group of alien hunters who track down and kill aliens that invade Earth. This week, we caught up with Glen L. Wolfe, the show’s lead writer and co-executive producer, to talk about the latest episode of the series, “MASK.”
I’d want you to conjure up a scenario. You and your closest buddy have constructed a slew of super-realistic Star Trek TOS sets near your houses. A half bridge set, a sickbay, a transporter room, a briefing room, a hallway, and even the interior of a shuttlecraft are all included. You are free to leave whenever you want, stay as long as you want, bring friends, and so on.
You may even… I’m not sure… Is it possible to make a Star Trek fan film? You knew you’d do it, didn’t you?
And that’s exactly what GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS started doing in late 2017. In fact, they had both been engaged in fan filmmaking for years, working on both other people’s and their own projects. In 2016, The Federation Files debuted the first of several Star Trek anthology-style projects. Much of the episode, titled “His Name Is Mudd,” was filmed when the show was still in Oklahoma at the now-defunct STARBASE STUDIOS. After the sets were relocated to Arkansas, their second episode, “Walking Bear, Running Wolf,” and a portion of their third episode, “Extraction,” were shot at Starbase Studios.
But “Extraction,” which came out in late 2017, was also the first time Dan and Glen shot on their own set…in this case, a shuttlecraft cockpit built with some elements donated by JAMES CAWLEY of STAR TREK: PHASE II after being used in their episode “The Holiest Thing” and completed in a TV studio building that Dan owns near his home in northern Arkansas.
Similarly, scenes from their fourth episode, “Galaxy Hopper,” were filmed at Starbase Studios in early 2018 in the briefing room, transporter room, and hallway sets. However, the episode included sequences shot on a completely new partial bridge set built by Glen and Dan at another of Dan’s studio facilities for the first time ever. The two fan filmmakers formally named their production site WARP 66 STUDIOS (with “WARP” meaning for Wolf And Reynolds Productions and “66” being the year that Star Trek premiered) with both a shuttlecraft cockpit with a bridge set, and additional sets planned.
Surprisingly, their fifth episode, “The Equinox Effect,” which aired in 2019, used virtually none of Glen and Dan’s TOS sets. The TOS sets shown in that fan film were really those leased out by James Cawley in upstate New York in 2015 to the makers of the never-completed STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “The Night of Time,” footage that Glen Wolfe is a well-known author. “rescued” for inclusion in this original episode of The Federation Files. Glen, meantime, was constructing a sickbay, transporter, briefing room, and hallway for WARP 66.
What’s the point of this lengthy history lecture, you may wonder? It all comes back to the point I posed earlier: wouldn’t you want to make some amazing fan films on high-end TOS set recreations if you had full and absolute access to them?
The Federation Files’ sixth and seventh episodes, published a few months apart in 2022, both take place in Star Trek’s “past”—our current day. “Voices from the Past,” the sixth episode, had two detectives investigating into potential extraterrestrial encounters that the government had hushed up over the years. The seventh, “The Green Manifesto,” attempted to link the rapid spread of COVID to a genocidal plot by the evil Major Green in the time period before he became the notorious Colonel Green from TOS’ third season episode “The Savage Curtain,” one of the first “fandemic” films shot with social distancing. Because they were both set in the “past,” the sixth and seventh episodes, like the fifth, did not employ a single TOS set.
Meanwhile, THE AVALON UNIVERSE, another Arkansas-based fan series, was making full use of all of the expanding capabilities of the WARP 66 Studios TOS sets, filming six consecutive fan films there both before and during the epidemic.
WARP 66 Studios was the location for Team Avalon’s shoot.
But I couldn’t help but wonder when I’d see another Federation Files episode set aboard a 23rd century spaceship. It was the third time in a straight that there had been no TOS sets…
…wait, that’s four. The Federation Files published its ninth episode, “Friends and Foes,” in late 2022, combining material from yet another never-completed fan film into an original episode.
The Federation Files then published “Mask,” their eighth fan film, a short time afterwards. Did this one, at long last, include scenes set in the twenty-first century? That’s not even close! Take a look at this:
The detectives Brown and Oakley return in this sequel to “Voices from the Past,” which offers a humorous, exciting, and fascinating tale. But where are those TOS sets, oh where are they? Glen Wolfe was someone I needed to speak with…
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you So, you’ve got these BEAUTIFUL sets… You and Dan even constructed them from the ground up (and some help, of course). Why aren’t you putting them to use?
GLEN – Well, that one was planned because we were working on “Voices from the Past” before to the pandemic. However, the pandemic struck the United States while filming, and Dan wondered if we might make a narrative about a virus. We needed to get one out as soon as possible, so I created “The Green Manifesto” and filmed it at the same time we were wrapping up “Voices from the Past.” In some ways, “The Green Manifesto” was a happy accident.
Then “Friends and Foes” came about as a result of all of the MICHAEL DEMPSEY material I had collected, and it seemed to be a simple thing to shoot during a pandemic.
The actual answer, of course, is that since this is an anthology series, we aren’t bound by any time period, cast, or even settings. So, in general, we film the storylines that make the greatest use of the materials we have at the moment.
JONATHAN – So it just kind of occurred like way, huh? There was no reason for you to avoid utilizing the sets.
GLEN – No, not at all. In fact, our ninth picture, “Doppelganger,” was recently released, and it makes significant use of our TOS sets.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Yes, but I wrote the blog’s introduction months ago, just after the publication of “Mask,” and “Doppelganger” hadn’t yet been published. Then things got crazy, and by the time I eventually got around to interviewing you, a new Federation Files episode with TOS sequences had come out. D’oh! But I’ll get to it in a later post.
Let me concentrate on “Mask” for the time being. Are you satisfied with how it came out?
GLEN – I am, indeed. I just wish I had written more for the alien to do, since the make-up was fantastic. Aside from that, it came out nearly precisely as I had envisioned it.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Are there any more episodes in the works that focus on Brown and Oakley’s characters?
GLLEN – GLLEN Yes, I’m currently working on a screenplay that I want to film this year. But I don’t have any concrete plans right now since I’m presently filming two other scripts. One Brown and Oakley episode each year is my aim.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Major Green, maybe… Is there any chance we’ll see more of him?
GLLEN – Yes, but I don’t have any scripts in the works for him right now.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Finally, do you have any plans to create any new sets for WARP 66 Studios?
GLEN – We’re working on restoring the 360-degree bridge, and I’m thinking of enclosing the conference room and expanding sickbay. Also, for a future episode, we’re constructing a temporary set consisting of the K-7 bar and the Botany Bay interiors.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Those cryogenic chambers seem incredible… Exceptional work! I’m excited to see what you have in store for us next.