TRISTAN Production Crew releases new episode: “THE MONSTERS ARE WITH US”!

The folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES currently have two production teams actively releasing new Star Trek fan films.  The DEIMOS production crew has released four episodes so far, ranging from 6 to 15 minutes.  And the TRISTAN production crew (based in Pelham, Alabama where show-runner RANDY LANDERS lives) has just released their eighth episode: “The Monsters Are With Us.”

Like the rest of the several dozen films released over the past seven years by Potemkin Pictures, their budgets are meager, their costumes simple, and their sets minimal.  Their cast members are recruited from local drama programs at nearby colleges and from community theater actors.  But their stories have always been their strength, that this latest offering is no exception.  It’s a fun little exploration of first contact gone screwy, with a compelling mystery that doesn’t get resolved until the end.  I think that, given the right conditions, a story concept such as this one could have been expanded into the A-story of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Instead, we get a 14-minute, low-budget fan film with lots of heart.

It’s also worth noting that both Potemkin Pictures production teams have recently begun incorporating green screen compositing of actors against static backgrounds.  Although this method of placing characters into virtual “sets” has been used extensively in numerous fan films since the first episodes of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier back in 2000, the Potemkin Pictures production teams have relied almost exclusively on practical (physical) sets like a bridge and transporter platform, and on-location filming both indoors and outside.  I believe “The Monsters Are With Us” marks Team Tristan’s first foray into green screen, using it this time to create virtual corridors inside the Constellation-class starship Tristan.

You can watch the latest production below…

And while everyone ELSE talks about Industry Studios…let’s look at some WILDFLOWERS!

Yesterday, as many of you probably already know, ALEC PETERS broke the Internet by making this announcement.  Although the INDUSTRY STUDIOS Indiegogo campaign has raised $20,000 and still has 14 days to go, it looks like it will fall far short of the $60,000 goal (or their six-figure stretch goals).  And this has necessitated some hard decisions on the part of Alec, his team, and a few key donors.

It’s also led to a flurry of activity, accusation, and antagonism (I love alliteration!) on the part of the Axanar/Alec “detractor brigade”…along with a whole bunch of rumors that I’ve seen spring up like, well, like wildflowers during a California super-bloom!

And speaking of wildflowers, I’ve had a wonderful spring break vacation with my family this past week.  We visited Santa Barbara, Solvang, and finally Pismo Beach.  And this past Wednesday, while Wendy and Jayden enjoyed a lovely beach day, I took the car and drove 200 miles round trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument…a.k.a. “the middle of nowhere.”  Paved roads are a rarity there, but in a good rain year, the wildflowers can be stunning!  And this year, the bloom was indescribable…except through photos (and not even then, because you can’t smell photos).

So what do wildflowers and dirt roads have to do with Star Trek fan films and Industry Studios?  Absolutely nothing!  But unfortunately, the timing of Alec’s announcement corresponded with the final two days of our family vacation along the scenic Central California coast.  Today we drive 190 miles down US 101 back to L.A.  Then we unpack.

And while I have a lot to say about the breaking Industry Studios news and the crazy rumors (like eviction or that there never really was a landlord—sheesh, really???), I just don’t have the time at the moment…I have to pack up my computer in just a few more minutes!  Also, the situation itself is still developing and unfolding, and new details will be coming over the next few days and weeks.

So yes, expect some coverage here on Fan Film Factor with Jonathan’s usual colorful commentary.  But for right now—since it’s my blog and there’s no rules about what I can feature—I’d like to invite you to enjoy a different kind of colorful commentary and enjoy a sampling of 45 (out of 600!!!) of the best wildflower photos that I took at Carrizo Plain last Wednesday.  Just click on any of the images below…

A day-trip to the middle of nowhere yielded one of my best wildflower picture days ever!

Posted by Jonathan Lane on Friday, April 7, 2017

RENEGADES releases the trailer for “THE REQUIEM, PART 2” and seeks $80,000!

By now, you’re probably aware of how Star Trek: Renegades became RENEGADES: THE SERIES on the day the new fan film guidelines were announced…and how they surgically removed all traces of Star Trek from their Star Trek fan film.

But the show must go on!  And filming completed for both Parts 1 and 2 of the first full episode of Renegades, “The Requiem,” after the release of the initial 90-minute pilot.

Starring Walter Koenig as an aging admiral named “Pavel” with a strong Russian accent, Nichelle Nichols as another unnamed admiral, and Tim Russ (who also directed it) as the Confederation Security Chief Kovok—plus a half dozen other Star Trek acting veterans from various series—“The Requiem, Part 1” was already completed and released and can be viewed here.

Now the time has come to finish post-production on Part 2, and that means another round of crowd-funding.  Their first round of crowd-funding for “The Requiem” (called episodes 2 and 3 at the time) came via Kickstarter at the end of 2015 and raised more than $378,000!  That covered production (sets, costumes, make-up, actors, production crew, equipment, studio, etc.) but not post-production (visual effects, sound, music, color balancing, editing, etc.).

A separate crowd-funding campaign for post-production was held using Indiegogo last August with a goal of $60,000 for “The Requiem, Part 1” and $150,00 for the completion of both episodes.  And they nearly made it!  A total of $138,580 was raised…allowing them to complete and release “Part 1” and nearly complete Part 2.

So let’s see, doing the math, Renegades needed $150,000 and raised just over $138,000.  So that leaves…$80,000???  Yeah, you were probably gonna say $12,000, but this is crowd-funding math!

Aw, I’m just teasing…although Renegades really is asking for another $80,000.  But like certain other fan productions (you know the one I’m talking about), when you’ve done successful crowd-funding, there’s always room for scope-creep, and Renegades is promising lots more than originally planned:

We are seeking post-production funding to expand and finish our visual FX work, and to finish up the audio, mixing and color correction. This campaign will also allow us to add many new VFX shots to enhance the story and dramatically increase the visual production value – if you’ve viewed part one, you’ve seen what an amazing job the team has done with the effects! Renegades: the Requiem is so close to public release, and we are eager to offer the dramatic conclusion to the film. Spoiler alert: the Renegades universe will never be the same!

You can donate by clicking on this link.

This time out, they’re doing their own internal crowd-funding campaign (no Kickstarter or Indiegogo) with some great perks.  And in just two days, they’re already raised more than 10% of their goal!  Please consider making a donation if you can.

And if you’re on the fence, this trailer for Part 2 should definitely put you in the mood to open your wallet!

 

VOYAGER CONTINUES releases its latest short episode “DERELICT”!

In the genre of Star Trek fan films, the universe (quadrant?) of the series Voyager is a rare setting.  But one stalwart fan believes that the indomitable Intrepid-class starship, lost for seven years in the Delta Quadrant, is the perfect subject matter for a Trek fan production.

I interviewed David Whitney of STARFLEET STUDIOS as he was completing post-production on his first VOYAGER CONTINUES project: STAR TREK: RAVEN, which debuted last October as a 32-minute fan film.  That film concentrated on events in the Alpha Quadrant during the time that Voyager was missing but ended with a scene on Voyager itself.

Now, half a year later, David just released his second effort, a 9-minute short film titled “Derelict.”  This one focuses on two members of the crew—Harry Kim and Seven-of-Nine—on board a, you guessed it, derelict spacecraft. And while Raven used mostly green screen sequences where actors were composited against virtual backgrounds created in CGI, “Derelict” uses practical (physical) sets with consoles that had originally been created for and used by the television series Stargate Atlantis!  (Those were provided to David Whitney by Glen L. Wolfe of the Trek fan series The Federation Files.)

“Derelict” a relatively small production, with only two actors who appear on screen along with two brief voice-over sequences.  One of the voice-overs is a captain’s log from Kathryn Janeway that will stop you in your tracks wondering if a fan film somehow managed to convince Kate Mulgrew to appear!  But in fact, it’s actually the voice of a male actor named Liam Holwarth-Mulgrew (he legally changed his name to add the “Mulgrew”) who does one of the best Janeway impressions you’ve ever heard.

Starfleet Studios is based in Iowa and doesn’t have the resources that some other fan productions do—like elaborate studios and professional or semi-professional actors and production crew.  In fact, “Derelict” was filmed almost entirely in a garage!  That said, if you celebrate fan films as I do, then you view projects like this for all that they DO accomplish, often with very limited budgets and resources.

So take a look…

STAR TREK CONTINUES releases their eighth episode: “Still Treads the Shadow”!

Once again, STAR TREK CONTINUES proves itself the undisputed king of the Trek fan film genre.  This isn’t meant as a slight against any other fan film or series.  It’s simply that STC‘s eight full episodes just get better and better and are all but flawless in their interpretation of classic Star Trek.  They tell stories that are both well-written and extraordinarily well-produced and well-directed…with excellent editing, musical scoring, visual effects, costumes, make-up, lighting, and of course, meticulously recreated TOS sets.

“Still Treads the Shadow” was written by Judy Burns, a professional Hollywood screenwriter and producer with a long list of credits.  And her very first one was as co-writer for the third season TOS episode “The Tholian Web”…which should be kept in mind as fans watch this latest episode from STC.  (No spoilers!)  Also of note is a guest appearance by Battlestar Galactica series regular Rekha Sharma (one of the final five “sleeper” Cylons), who has an extensive list of Hollywood television roles.  The episode was directed be Julian Higgins, who also directed the sixth episode of Star Trek Continues, “Come Not Between the Dragons.”  Both episodes were magnificently directed.

In the finest traditions of Star Trek, this latest episode provides wonderful literary themes that serve to richly enhance the viewing experience.  The title, “Still Treads the Shadow,” is taken from poetic masterpiece The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  A passage from that epic poem is quoted during the episode, and I highly recommend that you click that link I just provided and (re)read that classic work (especially if you skipped reading it in high school!).  It will provide some interesting insights into the symbolic “ancient mariner” who appears in this episode.

So now the question is: what will CBS and Paramount do…if anything?  STC has now finished production on its final four episodes (this being the first of them) and plans to release all of them over the next several months.  And although the $200,000 in crowd-funding was completed shortly before the new fan film guidelines went into effect, the run-time of this episode is 54 minutes (longer thsn 15 minute), it’s part of a continuing fan series, it features paid professionals including alumni of studio-based Star Trek productions (including writer Judy Burns and star/executive producer Vic Mignogna himself, who worked on Star Trek Online), and of course, it has the words “Star Trek” in the title.

The STC folks hope that they’ll be permitted to complete their run, having told me in a conversation last August that the guidelines don’t say that a production WILL be sued if it fails to follow all of the guidelines, only that it WON’T be sued if it does follow all of the guidelines.  Fingers crossed that they’re correct!

In the meantime, “Still Treads the Shadow” premiered yesterday at the Fan Expo Dallas convention with a sneak preview for donors.  But now it’s available for everyone.  Enjoy…

FIRST FRONTIER releases it newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 3)

Last time (and the time before that), we began chatting KENNY SMITH, the passionate Star Trek fan who is self-funding his own fan film.  But it’s not just any Star Trek fan film!  STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER is getting fans excited in ways that few other fan films have recently, and there’s several reasons for that.

First, it’s one of the few fan productions recently to build elaborate sets of professional studio quality.  Second, Kenny has hired professional SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Hollywood actors to portray his characters.  Third, Kenny has brought in industry professionals to handle production, construction, and visual effects.  Fourth, he’s going where no fan film has gone before: to the launch of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 under the commander of its first captain, Robert April, who is married to the ship’s Chief Medical Officer (a fact established in April’s only canonized appearance in the animated episode “The Counter-Clock Incident”).  And finally, Kenny and his construction team built an incredible 11-foot model of the starship Enterprise in its earlier pre-Kirk iteration…a model which is being used to shoot visual FX the old-fashioned way.

Although Kenny tried to do a Kickstarter to raise $130K, he only got to $30K and then canceled it entirely—leaving him with zero in crowd-funding.  Instead, Kenny decided to pay for everything himself.  So I just had to ask him…

JONATHAN – If you funded this whole project yourself, Kenny, how much has it ended up costing you in total?

Continue reading “FIRST FRONTIER releases it newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 3)”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES – Have you voted yet?

Last week, I invited folks to vote on just one of the fan film guidelines that they thought the SMALL ACCESS group should focus our energies on trying to convince the studios to revise.

Initially, we set out to encourage multiple changes simultaneously from CBS and Paramount and pretty much got nowhere.  And while we still have a veeeerrrrry steep mountain to climb, we might end up with a better chance of success asking for just one change rather than many.

And so we set up a survey over on the Small Access Facebook Group, and so far, we’ve had just under a hundred votes.  Two-thirds favor a focus on the second half of the first guideline: “…With no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.”  And with about a quarter of the vote, the notorious 15-minute limit is currently in second place.

But there’s still time to vote because, to be honest, I haven’t had a chance to work on the next entry of my “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check” blog series yet.  And since I’m on vacation next week (heading up the California coast with the family and my camera), there might be a solid two weeks left to vote.

Here’s the link for the poll if you haven’t voted yet or want to encourage others to:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallaccess/permalink/465593603781344/

And in the meantime, if you want to help me write the next entry in the blog series, how do YOU think we should proceed from here?  We’ve got 1,300 in the Small Access group…92 of which are bothering to vote.  We’re not exactly a “movement,” but we’re not entirely invisible either.  A full-on boycott with just 1,300 people is pretty meaningless, though.  And I doubt we’re going to convince every fan filmmaker out there to simply ignore the guidelines and risk getting sued.  So what else is there?

I have a few ideas, but I’m curious first to see what other people think.  Feel free to comment on this page or, if you’re a member of SMALL ACCESS (and if you aren’t–why not???) on that Facebook group page.

FIRST FRONTIER releases it newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 2)

Last time, I began chatting with KENNY SMITH, the show-runner behind the eagerly-anticipated fan production STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER.  This exciting project will feature the first-ever commander of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Captain Robert April and his crew on their maiden voyage directly from dry dock.

Everything about this production looks amazing!  From the costumes to the sets to the 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise constructed specifically to create amazing-looking visual effects.

In Part 1, we learned how Kenny had become a convention promoter, working with most of the main cast members from the various Star Trek series, and also how he made connections with various people in the entertainment industry.  This led to finding a producer to help him bring his fan film script to life.

We continue this great interview by looking into some of the other exciting aspects of this fan film, the selection of cast and production crew members, and exploring why Kenny decided not to use donated crowd-funding to help produce this project…

Continue reading “FIRST FRONTIER releases it newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 2)”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 5) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE…continued!

Last time, we began looking at all of the fan film guidelines one at a time, wondering if we could choose just one to present to the studios with a request for reconsideration.

Why choose just one?  Don’t we hate all of the guidelines?  Don’t we want everything to go back to what it was when the only rules were “Don’t charge to see your fan film” and “Don’t make any profit”?

Well, actually, no…at least I don’t feel that way anymore.  Actually, I never wanted to get rid of all of the guidelines, and I only ever thought that maybe four of them were truly problematic for fan films.  As I discussed in Part 2, the guidelines didn’t kill Star Trek fan films.  In fact, since the guidelines were announced last June, more than SIXTY Trek fan films have been released…some of which did not follow the new guidelines but many did.

And then in Part 3, I discussed how the guidelines weren’t a completely bad deal for fan producers.  By providing a safe harbor, much of the guesswork, uncertainty, and outright fear could be avoided by fans wanting to ensure they would not answer the door one day to a person holding a subpoena.  Of course, the guidelines are still very restrictive, but they are far from impossible to follow.

However, I still believe there is room left to improve the guidelines to make them less constraining for fans while still protecting the interests of the studios.  But the reality is that the more changes we fans try to get made to their guidelines, the less likely the studios will be to cooperate.  So last week and this week, I’m looking at all the guidelines in an attempt to choose just one to focus on—one little compromise.  If we can adjust just a single guideline, it’s still a win for fans…and we go from there.

But which one?

Last week, we quickly eliminated nearly half of the guidelines because they weren’t really problematic.  Then we began looking at the second group of guidelines, a category I called…

Continue reading “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 5) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE…continued!”

FIRST FRONTIER releases it newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 1)

Can you feel it?  Things just got a whole lot more exciting in the fan film world when STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER released its latest trailer earlier on today.

What makes this new fan production so exciting?  Where do I begin???

  1. It’s a fan film about the very first commander of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Captain Robert April, and his crew on their maiden voyage of exploration.
  2. It’s a fan film that has custom-built sets in the finest traditions of fan series like Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek Continues.
  3. Likewise, the costumes look amazing.  They are very similar to Pike-era uniforms, and the attention to detail and continuity is wonderfully impressive.
  4. It’s using actual Screen Actors Guild actors (not that fan films without professional actors can’t be exciting, too, mind you!).
  5. It’s being self-funded by ONE GUY who decided that he wanted to build an actual 11-FOOT MODEL of the original USS Enterprise (like, from the first two Star Trek pilots…the one with the larger bridge deck and pointy needle/antenna thingies on the front of the nacelles) to film the visual effects the “old fashioned way.”

Here, watch this video (it’s not the official trailer…scroll to the end for that) and tell me you’re not excited, too:

And who is this self-financing super-fan with the meticulous attention to detail?  Born in Florida and still living there today, KENNY SMITH is a convention promoter who is also a U.S. Army veteran who fought in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  But how did those long roads lead him from there to here, making one of the most intriguing, costliest, and intricately produced fan films to come along in quite a while?

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I interviewed Kenny and asked that very thing, right?

Continue reading “FIRST FRONTIER releases it newest trailer! (Interview with KENNY SMITH, Part 1)”