Portage public relations expert and sometime screenwriter Rick Chambers is about to see his third screenplay in the continuing voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the big screen in "Mind-Sifter," based on one of the most loved short stories from the Star Trek universe.
It's the second time a Star Trek episode has beamed into Kalamazoo, specifically to the Alamo Drafthouse, which also screened Chambers' last effort.
"Rick and I have known each other since we worked together at Western Herald quite a few years ago," says James Sanford of Alamo Drafthouse, "and I am delighted to see how he took his love of 'Star Trek' to such an amazing level: He was always a huge fan and now he's actually creating his own additions to the franchise. We had a terrific response to the screening of his 'Holiest Thing' episode last year and we can't wait to host his new film."
The senior executive producer of Star Trek New Voyages, James Cawley, contacted Chambers in November 2013 and asked if he would be willing to write the teleplay for "Mind-Sifter."
"The story was published in 1976 in a paperback book titled 'Star Trek: The New Voyages,' and it's been extremely popular in Star Trek fandom. So it's an immense honor for me to be part of bringing it to life," says Chambers says.
Cawley was a friend of the story's author, Shirley Maiewski, who passed away in 2004, and Cawley was given permission to produce an episode based on her story, Chambers says. Maiewski, is widely known as "Grandma Trek" for her involvement as a Star Trek writer and advocate, and "Mind-Sifter" has long been admired as a tale that captured the magic of the original series.
"I remember being captivated by Shirley’s story when it was first published, and I’ve been in love with it ever since," Chambers said. "It was a huge honor to be part of bringing her story to life. The talented cast and crew of Star Trek New Voyages did an amazing job."
"Mind-Sifter" will debut Wednesday, Jan. 21. The free event will include a panel with actor Brian Gross, who portrays Captain James T. Kirk in the series, along with Chambers. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the episode beginning at 7:30 p.m.
In "Mind-Sifter," a tortured Kirk is lost in the past and presumed killed, and while his shipmates struggle to come to terms with his death, newly promoted Captain Spock (Brandon Stacy) is faced with a resentful crew, an enemy threat, and haunting mental images of his suffering friend.
"’Mind-Sifter’ is a powerful tale about loss, loyalty and determination," Gross says. "The events in the story completely upend the lives of the Enterprise crew. That made the episode challenging and fun to do, and I’m looking forward to watching it on the big screen in Kalamazoo."
Those who attend the screening in costume will help raise money for early grade reading initiatives in the community. For every person in a Star Trek costume or other science fiction outfit, Rick Chambers & Associates will donate $10, up to a total of $500, to United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region to support local programs aimed at childhood literacy.
"Knowledge, entertainment and imagination all rely on our ability to read," Chambers says. "This is a great way to have fun at the screening while helping more kids read well at a young age."
Chambers, owner and president of public relations firm Rick Chambers & Associates LLC and author of the novel "Radiance," has long loved the Star Trek stories. He says his motivation to craft the screenplays
"has been the chance to write in a universe that inspired me to be a writer at a young age. Star Trek offers an incredible space for storytelling. One of its strengths is how it tackles social issues in unique, thought-provoking ways. That's a great opportunity for any writer."
Produced by Cawley Entertainment Co. and Retro Film Studios LLC, Star Trek New Voyages presents new adventures of the starship Enterprise crew based on the original Star Trek TV series. Guest stars in past episodes including original series actors George Takei, Walter Koenig and Grace Lee Whitney.
"It's been a blessing to be involved, not just for the writing, but also for the many great relationships I've made with the people involved," Chambers says. "They come together each year, from all walks of life, out of their shared love for '
Star Trek.' It's amazing to experience that."
Kathy Jennings is the managing editor of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. She is a freelance writer and editor.
Aboard the bridge of the starship Enterprise in Star Trek New Voyages
: Captain James T. Kirk (Brian Gross, seated), Mr. Spock (Brandon Stacy, left) and Dr. Leonard McCoy (Jeff Bond).
Captain James T. Kirk (Brian Gross) is interrogated by Klingon Commander Kor (Clay Sayre) in "Mind-Sifter," the latest episode from Star Trek New Voyages
Captain James T. Kirk (Brian Gross), lost in the past with no memory and held in an asylum, is aided by Dr. Jan Hamlin (Rivkah Raven Wood) in "Mind-Sifter," the latest episode from Star Trek New Voyages
Rick Chambers aboard the bridge of the starship Enterprise in Star Trek New Voyages.