MELBOURNE – Interview with VANCE MAJOR OWEN, Part 1

At the end of March, a new Star Trek fan production titled MELBOURNE (just that, no “Starship” in front of the name) posted its debut fan film: “Storm Front, Part 1.”  One of several fan series shot on the sets of STARBASE STUDIOS (while they were still in their previous Oklahoma City location), Melbourne initially released two ultra-short vignettes, “Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”.)  But fans were really waiting for their first full episode to see what this new fan production would be all about.

Most successful Star Trek fan projects have a driving force behind the production, and in the case of Melbourne, that driving force is show-runner/producer/writer VANCE MAJOR OWEN (his friends call him “Vman”), who lives in Kansas with his wife of 17 years and his newborn son, Royce.  I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Vance for a very friendly interview.  In fact, “friendly” is one of the best adjectives I could use to describe this warm and humble film producer from the Sunflower State.  Since having our interview, we’ve actually become good friends, have spent hours on the phone talking Trek and swapping “Daddy” stories, and he’s invited me to appear on camera in an upcoming episode of Melbourne anytime I can get myself over to Arkansas (the new home of Starbase Studios).

So here’s what Vance had to say…

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STARBASE STUDIOS completes move to ARKANSAS and reaches $3,500 funding goal!

The year ended on a VERY happy note for the folks from STARBASE STUDIOS, the only full TOS bridge, transporter, and sickbay sets open to any fan film to use at any time they want to schedule to shoot their production.

You might recall from my previous blog that Starbase Studios lost the use of their warehouse location in Oklahoma City after nearly half a decade of enjoying free rent.  The building was being sold, and Starbase Studios had until the end of the year to get all of its amazing set pieces removed and transported to a new location.

Dan Reynolds offered studio space that he owns in northern Arkansas to be the new home for Starbase Studios…also rent free.  And although staying in Oklahoma City would have been preferable, nothing beats free rent!  So the decision was made to relocate.  But deciding is easy…actual MOVING is the hard part!

Super fan and fan filmmaker Glen L. Wolfe stepped forward to handle the move, paying the costs up front for trucks and gas and driving the 6-hour (one-way), 333-mile distance back and forth himself…and it was more than just one trip (five actually!).  The hope was that $3,500 could be raised from donations to a GoFundMe campaign to reimburse Glen his out-of-pocket expenses…’cause Glen ain’t exactly part of the 1%.

That $3,500 goal was reached on December 30, just as the last of FIVE TRUCKLOADS of set pieces were being loaded for a December 31 journey to Mountain Home, Arkansas.  So STARBASE STUDIOS got out in time, funded its move, and all the set pieces arrived safely in their new home.

So what’s next?

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STARSHIP VALIANT releases its second episode “CROSSES TO BEAR”!

In July of 2014, STARSHIP VALIANT became the first of what would eventually be MANY Star Trek fan productions filmed at STARBASE STUDIOS (in Oklahoma City) to release a completed project onto the Internet.  Their debut episode, “Legacy” featured scenes filmed on the bridge, on location outdoors at a cemetery, and in a house.

Back when the episode was first filmed, Starbase studios did not yet have any other sets besides the bridge.  The following year, though, Starbase Studios built a 2-bed sickbay set, and Valiant was able to film an additional prologue sequence that helps explain event that happen later in the episode.  In July of 2015, a special edition was released with brand new footage inserted at the beginning.

The premise (and promise) of Starship Valiant was, in the vision of show-runner (and lead actor) Michael L. King, to explore the human side of serving in Starfleet.  Being in command is a heavy burden.  And so while many other fan films enjoy focusing the action and excitement of the battle itself, Valiant would show the aftermath.

It’s been two and a half years since Starship Valiant debuted.  Since then, actors/characters from that production have appeared in cameos in other Starbase Studios-produced fan films like Dreadnought Dominion, Melborne, and His Name Is Mudd.  But fans were still eagerly awaiting a sequel to “Legacy.”

What they got, however, was more of a prequel.  Set several years before the events of “Legacy,” the new episode “Crosses To Bear” does not feature Michael L. King’s character of Commander Bishop at all (although Michael still wrote and produced both episodes and directed this second one).  Instead, this 22-minute story focuses entirely on Chief Medical Officer Roger Floyd and a very traumatic event in his life–two, in fact.  And watch for an important, bare bones appearance by a very familiar Starfleet officer…played by fan film rookie Frank Jenks, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Las Vegas (great guy!).

The entire production team–actors and crew–did a very impressive job on this release.  It’s definitely worth watching…which you can do right here:

You can learn more about Starship Valiant on their website and on their Facebook page.

Why STARBASE STUDIOS is moving to ARKANSAS…

CoverSTARBASE STUDIOS is moving from Oklahoma City to Arkansas!  And here’s why…
As you may have read in my blog about the history of Starbase Studios, these folks rescued the amazing TOS bridge set that had been built for the second Starship Exeter fan film “The Tressaurian Intersection.”  That meticulous 360-degree set had been rotting away for years in a barn near Austin, Texas, until it was transported to Oklahoma City and lovingly restored by a group of dedicated fans.
But these folks didn’t just restore the bridge set.  They turned it into an invaluable, one-of-kind resource for fan film producers.  Anyone was welcome to come and film anything they wanted on this bridge set (and, later, the additional sickbay and transporter room sets that would be constructed) for just the price of the electricity that was used (maybe $50/day).  Although there are two other studios in the U.S. featuring TOS sets on sound stages (Ticonderoga, NY for Star Trek: New Voyages and Kingsland, GA, originally for Starship Farragut and later for Star Trek Continues), those studio runners didn’t offer the same kind of open-door, come-any-time-you-want policy as Starbase Studios.

Continue reading “Why STARBASE STUDIOS is moving to ARKANSAS…”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and STARSHIP VALIANT cross-over in “CHAIN OF COMMAND”!

chain-of-command-dreadnought-dominion-and-svBack in April of 2015, a new Star Trek fan series called DREADNOUGHT DOMINION premiered with its initial episode, “Haunted.”  Three months later, a second episode, titled “Anchors Aweigh” (a bit of a prequel to the first episode), made its debut.  It wasn’t the only TOS-era fan series to feature the crew of a non-heavy cruiser class starship, but it was the first and only one to feature the crew of a Starfleet dreadnought-class starship based on the mid-1970s Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual.

dreadnought-dominionThanks to a 3D model created by Kenneth Thomson, Jr. and Thomas Phong, the beauty shots of the tri-nacelled USS Dominion in the opening credits and during the episodes were gorgeous.  The two episodes were filmed primarily on the very impressive TOS sets in Starship Farragut’s Studio Two in Kingsland, GA (also the shooting location of Star Trek Continues).

A year earlier, another fan series, Starship Valiant, made its debut on YouTube with an introduction vignette titled “Legacy.”  Valiant was filmed using the TOS bridge set at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma City.  (The following year, a “special edition” version of “Legacy” with added footage was posted after Starbase Studios built a new sickbay set.)  Valiant has since completed principal filming on its second episode “The Ties That Bind,” although post production is still ongoing and the second episode hasn’t been released yet.

So what do these two fan series–filmed in different locations in different states during different years–have in common?  A man named Vance…

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STARBASE STUDIOS is on the move – CAN YOU HELP???

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Click on the image above to donate today!

In past years, crowd-funding campaigns for fan films have helped to cover the cost of set construction, 3D visual effects and post-production, studio build-outs, and any number of costs associated with filming.

But now your much-needed donations can help pay for…

A TRUCK!  (Oh, and movers.)

Actually, this is pretty serious, and it could effect multiple fan films!  So get ready to take out that credit card or Paypal login, ’cause you’re really gonna want to help on this one, folks!

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STARBASE STUDIOS (interview with Richard Wells and Scott Johnson), Part 2

Last time: we learned the fate of the Starship Exeter bridge set was not oblivion.  After decaying in a Texas barn for years, it was moved to Oklahoma City in 2010 by John Hughes to be used for a new production called Starship Ajax.  John advertised for volunteers on Craigslist, and two guys from the concert industry became leaders of the project in their own right: Richard Wells and Scott Johnson

Shortly thereafter, John Hughes decided to concentrate primarily on his fan film, leaving Richard and Scott to complete the bridge restoration and set up Starbase Studios, a place where fan filmmakers could shoot their Star Trek stories for free on an actual TOS bridge recreation set.

But not all went swimmingly.  As we continue our interview with Richard and Scott, we learn what happened after when the hand of nature once again threatened this beautiful bridge replica…

Continue reading “STARBASE STUDIOS (interview with Richard Wells and Scott Johnson), Part 2”

STARBASE STUDIOS (interview with Richard Wells and Scott Johnson), Part 1

CoverIf you read my recent blog about Starship Exeter’s second episode, you’ll recall that when we last left the magnificent Exeter bridge set, it was rotting, unused and forgotten, in a barn in central Texas.  What happened next is the amazing and heartwarming story of Starbase Studios.

Continue reading “STARBASE STUDIOS (interview with Richard Wells and Scott Johnson), Part 1”

Starbase Studio’s STARSHIP GRISSOM releases its debut episode!

Grissom

The first episode of the TOS-based educational fan series Starship Grissom is now online.  This series is written by a group of teachers from Highland East Junior High School in Moore ,Oklahoma and is designed so educators anywhere can download and use it in the classroom.

A complete set of lesson plans and introduction videos, in a variety of subjects, is also released with each episode.  All lessons meet Common Core and STEM standards and can be modified for Advanced Placement or Special Education students.

The goal is to provide a complete teaching resource using science fiction to promote interest in science, technology, and education.

Watch Starship Grissom‘s debut episode “Planet L-197” here:
http://grissom.starbasestudios.net/ep1.html

Feedback from the Star trek community is greatly appreciated.