Portage writer helps keep Star Trek universe alive

Rick Chambers remembers being 4-years-old, his eyes glued to an episode of Star Trek, mesmerized on one hand and overtaken with fear on the other.

"When I was young, the show scared the heebie-jeebies out of me," Chambers says. "But I was fascinated by the stories. As I got older, I would fill spiral notebooks with stories that I had learned from the show."

The iconic science fiction show, which aired from 1966-69, had a profound impact on him. Little did Chambers know that he would boldly be heading into the show itself. In 2011, he found himself on an online message board discussing a recent episode for the show Star Trek: Phase II, an Internet-based continuation of the original series produced by Cawley Entertainment Co. and Retro Film Studios LLC and filmed in upstate New York. 

"I asked if there was an open submission policy for scripts," Chambers says. "A producer responded pretty quickly. She said, ‘Well, there is.’ I got to work on an idea."

The result was a script for the episode Bread and Savagery, a follow-up to an episode from 1968 dubbed Bread and Circuses. After a flurry of edits, the new episode was filmed in the summer of 2012 and is currently in post-production.
But you don’t have to wait to see one of Chambers’ scripts made real.

A second episode penned by him, 
The Holiest Thing, was shot last summer and is being screened for the public Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in downtown Kalamazoo. Admission is free.

In the episode, Capt. James T. Kirk (played by Brian Gross) and his crew encounter a mysterious and deadly disaster, a new alien threat, and the most important woman in Kirk’s life. Gross and Chambers will participate in a question and answer session after the screening, and non-perishable food donations for Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes will be accepted.

The event is only the second time that a Star Trek: Phase II episode has been given a public showing on the big screen, Chambers says. The first one was in Hollywood.

Not surprisingly, bringing a screening to Kalamazoo was "my idea," he says.

"This is not some guys with a camcorder in a garage somewhere," he adds. "This is high-quality people making high-quality stuff. People who come to the screening will be impressed."

Star Trek: Phase II has been producing new episodes since 2003. As an example of the dedication to the Star Trek franchise, most of those working on the show – including Chambers – do it for free.

Chambers, former director of external affairs and communications at Pfizer Inc., currently runs his own communications and public relations consulting firm, Rick Chambers and Associates LLC, from his Portage home. A former journalist before making a successful foray into the PR world, Chambers’ first love has always been science fiction writing, he says.     

He is an award-winning short story writer in the genre, and author of the 2010 novel "Radiance."

"Star Trek was what really made me into a writer," Chambers says.

Chris Killian is a freelance writer who travels the United States in search of good stories and now is in Kalamazoo.
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