It’s not quite Christmas carols, but it’s close! And I do love a good Acapella group. For nearly a decade, five very talented geeks calling themselves WARP ZONE have produced short YouTube videos (withl millions of views each!) covering the theme songs from sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, action cartoon, and related-genre movies, video games, and TV shows. From Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter to Stranger Things, Westworld, and Game of Thrones to The Simpsons, Cowboy Beebop, and Ducktails—they cover dozens of theme songs we know so well…and all of them while wearing elaborate costumes! You’ll lose time watching them all on this playlist, and even more of their hilarious videos here, but you won’t want to stop (I sure didn’t)! And of course, they did Star Trek (all five Paramount series), which I share with you now…
Oh, and if you do want some Christmas carols, they did those back in 2015. Just click here.
Okay, folks, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! (Well, maybe not ALL of you…but at least a few hundred, I’m sure.) Earlier this week, I revealed the “origin story” of this two-way interview where blogger MATTHEW MILLER from Trekzone.org and I discuss and debate all things AXANAR. Now it’s time to put our money where our mouths are (Australia and Los Angeles, respectively).
Today in Part 1, after a friendly introduction and a brief discussion of some of what we both feel are the inherent strengths of the 2014 fan film Prelude to Axanar, we jump right into some of the most controversial questions regarding this polarizing fan production, starting with the creation of Ares Studios with donor money…
Did “most” of the principal cast and crew abandon the project after ALEC PETERS decided to use crowd-funded money to build a “for profit” studio? Or is that just a rumor-turned-urban-myth?
What exactly is a “for profit” studio anyway? Is someone gonna go out and buy a 60-foot yacht with all the cash that comes in?
Was the decision to try to turn a Valencia warehouse into a soundstage a mistake in the first place?
Did CBS ever tell Alec (before the lawsuit) not to create a studio or not to make more Axanar?
Did the Axanar donors know (back in 2014) that they were donating to build a soundstage, or were they misled to believe they were donating only to produce a fan film?
And we finish up Part 1 with a couple of other hotly-debated topics…
Was Alec Peter sued by CBS and Paramount because Axanar was “too good?”
Were there “unpublished” guidelines for fan films before June of 2016?
Were the guidelines, once they were announced, intended to stop Axanar…or were they targeted on Renegades and the other “arms race” fan productions?
Sound intriguing? Well, strap in for Part 1 of the Blogger-Battle of Axanar…
Come back for Part 2 on Monday and Part 3 next Wednesday.
One of the best TNG-era fan films I’ve seen is Chance Encounter, co-written and directed by GARY O’BRIEN out of Great Britain. It was crowd-funded in mid-2016 for a measly $2,500 (£1,700) and released in February of 2017. Since then, it’s piled up nearly 85K views and was a finalist in three different categories in this past year’s BJO Awards.
So what is Gary doing for an encore?
The answer to that was almost a very disappointing “nothing,” as a Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of this year for THE HOLY COREresulted in pledges that didn’t even reach half-way to Gary’s $11,000 (£8,700) goal…and with Kickstarters, if you don’t make it to your goal, you get zero. But then, a month later on May 7, Gary announced that an angel investor had given him the full amount necessary to complete the entire Holy Core production…!
As you can see from the above Twitter video, there were quite a number of ambitious sets planned for this project, all of them shown with exciting-looking virtual CGI animations. But could Gary pull off building all of these sets for real…?
These days, I don’t typically engage directly with the AXANAR detractors. There’s no point. I’m not gonna change their minds, and they’re certainly not gonna change mine. Any “discussion” we get into quickly breaks down into all the old beating-dead-horse accusations and rumors and criticisms—often with a generous helping of vitriol and vulgarity—and frankly, it’s just a waste of my time.
And yet, in just three days time, I’ll be posting (in conjunction with Trekzone.org) an epic 3-part discussion and debate between myself and noted Axanar detractor MATTHEW MILLER…and I do mean epic! Take a listen to the teaser that Matthew just posted…
When we set out to have our across-the-globe (Matt’s in Australia) audio “smackdown,” we had no idea how long the discussion would last or how heated it would get. There were no rules and only a loose outline of topics/questions to guide us. Our intention was to keep things civil, and for the most part, we did…although not completely.
When all was said and done, we’d managed to go at it for nearly three hours over the course of two days of Skype calls! On the second day, I’d caught my son’s cold, and if you listen carefully, you’ll probably hear from my voice the exact point when the day one conversation ended and day two began.
What makes this interaction between me and Matthew so interesting and enlightening (and dare I say “fun”?) is that we actually interview EACH OTHER. Matt’s done scores of interviews with notable Trek people, as have I. So rather than simply having one of us interview the other, we ask questions back and forth…and tough questions at that! And best of all, unlike the recent pay-per-view Michael Hinman/Carlos Pedraza podcast on Alpha Waves Radio, this one is not only presenting BOTH sides of the controversial topic (rather than a simple echo-chamber), but it’s also absolutely FREE to listen to!
So how did this whole “Blogger Battle of Axanar” come to be?
Ah, how do I describe STAR TREK STUNT DOUBLES to the uninitiated? The words wacky, zany, low-budget, irreverent, unpredictable, funny, low-budget, inspired, creative, one-man show, clever, did I mention low-budget?, wild, crazy, thr0w-caution-to-the-wind, Star Trek fan film parody vignette series all seem to get close…but not quite there yet.
Star Trek Stunt Doubles is a “I’m doing it my way, marching to the beat of my own drummer, if you don’t like it then don’t watch it” labor of love that, to me, is what fan films are all about.
And you may very well not like it. That’s okay. Personally, I love it because I never know what’s coming next. Most of the time, it’s word-for-word recreations of scenes from classic TOS Star Trek episodes, lovingly crafted and redone by one guy in front of a green screen wearing uniforms, costumes, make-up, wigs, fake mustaches, and lord knows what else! Then, just when you least expect it, a character will say something that leaves your head spinning in the What-The-Frak??? moment of weirdness and humor. As I said, I never know what’s coming and when.
And hey, if you don’t like what you see, nearly all the episodes have runtimes of only between 2 and 5 minutes. So Stunt Doubles is hardly much of a time investment. But if you look closely, you’ll realize just how much time and effort its creator, who goes only by the name MrBonk85, has to put in even to get this ultra-low budget fan production done. After all, HE is playing every part! And where does he find all those costumes???
At the time, there were seven Stunt Doubles episodes that had been released: vignette parodies of “The Enemy Within,” “Spectre of the Gun,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “This Side of Paradise,” and “Charlie X”…plus two original shorts not based on specific TOS episodes.
MrBonk85 ended our interview saying he wasn’t sure if he’d be making any more parody vignettes in the future. Well, guess who has released SIX more episodes since then…!
Remember that bridge set that the AXANAR detractors said would never be finished? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint the detractors (no, I’m not), but it’s almost finished, folks! I’d estimate we’re more than 95% of the way there at this point, but that’s just a subjective opinion. The important point is that things have now moved from the “big” stuff to the final little details.
Install rubber matting in section of bridge that needs it.
The edges of the plexis need to all be painted black so light does not bleed around the edges.
Rout out and finish Tactical, Fleet Ops and Pilot consoles and install plexis.
Plexis for Tactical and Fleet Ops upper monitors.
Plexis for controls on Captains Chair.
Replace computers for eye-level monitors with Rasberry Pis to reduce power needs.
Install Plexis for 10 eye-level monitors.
Install lighting above and below consoles.
Green screen or 84″ TV for the main viewer.
Get chairs in place for all stations.
The biggest challenge at this point involves power consumption. The studio can supply 200 amps. Obviously, there’s the lights and A/C for the building and whatever is plugged in at the moment. But the real energy drain comes from the various electrical elements of the bridge set itself.
Now, Alec could opt for a solution similar to the one used recently for the TOS sets formerly known as Starbase Studios that were moved to Dogpatch, Arkansas. That facility didn’t have enough capacity to power all the bridge stations simultaneously, so folks filming there would meed to light one station at a time for close-ups and then try to minimize wide shots showing multiple stations at the same time.
This option was not acceptable for Alec. He hadn’t put four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of both donor money and his own money into completing this incredible set only to be limited to filming it from only tight close-up angles…even though the level of detail provided will make those “hero” shots look pretty awesome!
No, Alec needed a solution where, if he flicks a switch or three, the whole bridge set lights up for filming whatever scene from whatever angle the director needs. But how…?
I’ve got some good news for you and I’ve got some bad news. I also have some neutral news, and I’ll start with that. The fan film formerly known as Star Trek: Raven, later known as Voyager Continues: Raven (or was that Raven: Voyager Continues?) will now be known as STARSHIP PROMETHEUS…with its pilot episode being “Raven.” Is that all perfectly unclear?
The original RAVEN fan film was released in October of 2016, one of the first fan films to come out after the fan film guidelines were announced a few months earlier (although filming for the production had wrapped prior to the guidelines). Initially, show-runner DAVID WHITNEY of Starfleet Studios in Iowa was prepared to challenge the guidelines openly by releasing Raven in defiant non-compliance with the new rules.
Ultimately, though, he only broke two of the “no-no’s”—the video was 30-minutes long but wasn’t released in two separate 15-minute parts, and the title appeared as Star Trek: Raven (the guidelines sy you can’t use the words “Star Trek” in your fan film title). However, the title appeared in the YouTube description as RAVEN: Voyager Continues – A Star Trek Fan Production. So David kinda half-followed the guidelines in that department.
In the end, CBS took no action (and probably no notice). After all, this was still the “transition” period just after the guidelines were released, and fan films released at that time seemed to be allowed a bit of leeway.
Since then, Raven has generated an impressive 130K views. The cast was a mix of older Star Trek fans who weren’t necessarily actors (including JIM VON DOLTEREN in one of his earliest Trek fan film roles—he would later go on to appear in The Federation Files, Starship Republic, and the upcoming Convergence) plus young fashion models…truly an interesting mix!
And even though it was called Voyager Continues (in addition to being called Raven), there was only one brief scene buried in the closing credits showing Seven-of-Nine (played by CAT ROBERTS, who has also appeared in multiple fan series including Star Trek Continues, New Voyages (an unreleased episode), The Federation Files, and The Red Shirt Diaries). Although the missing starship Voyager was discussed, nearly all of the action in Raven took place in the Alpha Quadrant.
Okay, so what’s the good news and what’s the bad news…?
Last week, I published a blog about the MIDNIGHT’S EDGEtabloid-style reporting on Star Trek…and the controversy it often triggers among fans. I myself am more than somewhat conflicted when it comes to this video series and the content it presents online.
I also reported last week that the Fan Film Forum Facebook group was being polled to see whether members wanted to ban all postings providing links to Midnight’s Edge videos because such postings tended to rile up many fans on both sides of the Discovery/CBS fence (supporters and detractors) and result in rancorous commentary.
After a week of voting, the polls closed last night with a final tally of 21 votes to ban and 40 votes not to ban. So by a margin of 2-to-1, there will be NO censorship of Midnight’s Edge on Fan Film Forum.
I have to say, I am very relieved. I’m not comfortable with censorship of anything that isn’t rude and crude, insulting, or patently false. And as I said, Midnight’s Edge isn’t patently false. But it is filled with rumor and innuendo that all too often turns out not to be true.
As an example of one such misleading claim, Midnight’s Edge just this past Tuesday released a legitimate interview with the legendary NICHOLAS MEYER (writer and director of Star Trek II and VI, among other films). He was asked about his proposed Ceti Alpha V project for CBS, and here’s what he said…
Now check out what Midnight’s Edge was reporting about the new Nick Meyer series during the summer of LAST year…
Obviously, their “reporting” from last summer was completely wrong. Meyer has now said that his project was only ever commissioned as three-night event and not a new TV series…and certainly not as a replacement for Discovery.
Granted, back in their 2017 podcast, Midnight’s Edge did say “word is…” and “rumor…”—so Midnight’s Edge isn’t committed to standing behind what they said last year.
But let’s face it, when listening to that second video (from 2017), it’s hard NOT to assume that these rumors are true, right? The narrator’s voice just sounds so sure and confident.
In a perfect world, Midnight’s Edge would report only verifiable facts and not rumors and speculation. But then the world wouldn’t be so perfect for Midnight’s Edge…which I’m certain would not have nearly as many views.
So once again, I advise folks to take what Midnight’s Edge says with a healthy pile of salt and listen carefully and intelligently, not blindly accepting everything they tell you.
The vast majority of the fan film community had no idea that GHOST SHIP was coming (including me)! But just a few weeks ago, on Halloween, the newest full-length Star Trek fan production from JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX debuted on YouTube.
Although shot mainly on the STAGE 9 STUDIOS starship sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, I learned from interviewing Josh and Victoria that some scenes were also filmed at the Arkansas sets originally known as Starbase Studios. Their visual FX were done by Trekyards’ CGI genie SAMUEL COCKINGS, who will soon be releasing Temporal Anomaly and Convergence. Even VANCE MAJOR makes a cameo as the character Erick Minard. So these guys definitely got around the fan film world to make their project.
And what an impressive production it is! A “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” mash-up, of sorts, the film combines spooky zombie horror tropes with comedic moments and fun characters to create a wonderfully enjoyable space adventure. And it follows the guidelines completely, including dividing the fan film into two less-than-15-minute segments. The cast is made up of trained actors along with a crew of experienced film producers. The result looks great, sounds great, and is written, directed, and edited at a noticeably high level.
That might be one of the reasons that the views for Ghost Ship have exploded on Youtube. When I conducted our interview on Wednesday of last week, Josh and Victoria were excited to see their total views had climbed over 8,000. Well, guess what? As I write this 8 days later, they’ve gone viral with more than 105,000 views!
Before I get to the fan and interview, let me take a moment to mention that GHOST SHIP and a growing number of other Trek fan films would not be possible without the generosity of RAY TESI, present owner of the TOS sets in of Kingsland, GA. Ray makes these sets available for free (well, the cost of electricity used during the shoot) to any fan filmmaker following the guidelines. But the $3,000/month rent is paid out of Ray’s own pocket.
Currently, there is an opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit each month (even a dollar makes a difference) through a PATREON. Right now, fans are donating $163 of that $3,000 monthly expense, but there’s always room for more help from our community. To donate, go to:
Pretty good fan film, huh? Want to learn more about how it was made, how long it took to complete, and where to go to find a dozen convincing zombies in southern Georgia? Take a listen to this really fun interview with writer/director Joshua Irwin and producer Victoria Fox…
I know that nearly everyone in America is busy saying “Thanks!” today for this and that. Even before I woke up this morning, I received about a dozen private and public messages from folks thanking me for being their friend, for writing this blog, for reading their blog or listening to their podcast, and for just being me. And to them I say: “Right back atcha!”
But I feel it’s very important for me to thank YOU today for reading my blog. It truly means the world to me! And not just because I made $5.97 over the past week in ad revenue (although, hey, nothing to complain about).
I’m thanking you for two reasons…
1) Love it or hate it, you’re coming here to read what I write, or listen to the folks I interview. That feels amazing, especially since I put so much time and effort into this blog. Whether it’s a multi-part blog feature about the history of a long-running fan series, a 2o00-word editorial, a short 350-word news update, or an hour-long audio interview, all of that takes time to produce.
For example, tomorrow I’ll publish a 55-minute audio interview with the show-runners for the just-released fan film GHOST SHIP. In addition to watching the half-hour fan film (and then re-watching it), I also had to set up the interview (clear time in my schedule to match theirs), conduct the interview, go back later and remove the “um”s and long pauses and places where we accidentally talked over each other (that took about three hours to edit), listen through the finished interview once again, take screen caps for the feature image and interviewee photos, and then write a 400-word intro for the blog. So it’s nice to know that at least a few hundred (or few thousand, if I’m lucky) people are reading and listening.
2) I love fan films. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. And now that I’m hooked, I want to spread the love and appreciation. It’s why I keep doing this blog: not just for me as an ego trip, and not just for you as a fan base…but for all of the fan film creators out there who work even harder than I do. They deserve our support, and Fan Film Factor is here to celebrate them all (or as many as I can cover before I run out of time!)
So on behalf of myself and of the FANtastic community of fan filmmakers out there, thank YOU for visiting my blog.