Let’s look inside the SHOWRUNNER Awards and other fan film competitions (Part 1)

So you say you want to create a fan film awards competition! Actually, unless you want to work really, really hard, you probably DON’T want to create one…at least, if you want to do it right. And when I say “do it right,” there isn’t only one correct way to organize and run a film contest. In fact, there’s several different approaches, all of them totally valid.

The challenge is to set everything up so that the process runs smoothly and inspires confidence in both the process and the results. That’s what I mean by “do it right,” and it takes a surprisingly sizable amount of work. DAN REYNOLDS, who along with GLEN WOLFE, ran the recently-completed DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS, said, “The sheer enormity of organizing was difficult. There was a lot of checking, double checking and triple checking. I don’t think we knew just how much work it really would be to pull something like this off.” Glen said that he mostly concentrated on “…getting ballots returned in a timely manner, getting the presenters to turn their videos in in a timely manner, and then getting the whole award ceremony edited while juggling real life.”

ERIC L. WATTS lists off an even longer “to do” list for the annual BJO AWARDS, including…

  • Recruiting top-level, high-calibre judges;
  • Finding eligible fan films for consideration (filmmakers don’t actively enter the Bjo Awars—Eric includes all qualifying Star Trek fan films released in a calendar year);
  • Researching release dates, runtimes, cast and crew credits, and creating a spreadsheet that sorts and organizes that data; and
  • Spending hours and hours and hours creating the actual ballot.

And of course, none of this includes marketing the awards show and announcing its winners, answering questions from the fan community, and of course, nagging the judges to get their ballots in on time! Plus, there’s a whole host of other efforts involved.

One of the biggest challenges is logistics. And like the duck gliding gently across the smooth surface of the lake, most fans never get to see all of the intense paddling that goes on just beneath the surface to make these fan film competitions run like well-oiled machines.

So if you’re interested in “peeking under the hood,” today’s blog is for YOU…

Continue reading “Let’s look inside the SHOWRUNNER Awards and other fan film competitions (Part 1)”

The shoots must go on – filming MUDD baking in an OVEN!

You’ve probably heard it on the news—or maybe you’re experiencing it yourself. There is a massive “dome of heat” sitting across much of America right now with temperature records being broken left and right. Even in the higher elevation Ozark Mountain area, the mercury on the thermometer outside read 95 degrees last Saturday. And it wasn’t just any kind of hot. It was the southeastern U.S. in June…meaning sticky, humid heat that melts you into a puddle of sweat even if you’re standing in the shade!

But inside WARP 66 STUDIOS in the town of Flippin, Arkansas, well, it was even HOTTER!!! Actually, I should specify that inside one of the WARP 66 Studios, it was even hotter. That’s because their TOS sets occupy two different locations. The bridge and shuttlecraft sets live in a nice, air-conditioned building owned by DAN REYNOLDS in Harrison, AR, and even though the lights and warm bodies can heat things up a bit, those two sets remain pretty comfortable.

However, things are much different in Flippin! GLEN L. WOLFE constructed a metal building on his property that currently houses the transporter room, briefing room, sickbay, corridors, and a swing set area. The building has no insulation, and only one small room inside for the actors to prep has a small A/C unit. The rest of the building is “cooled” by running small fans to move the air around. But when it’s 95 and humid outside, those poor fans are fighting a losing battle, and with the hot lights and bodies inside, you may as well be filming inside of an oven!

“It was dead air inside and hotter,” said Dan Reynolds, who served as director of photography for this oppressively sweltering Saturday shoot. “Thank goodness Glen built it with extremely high ceilings.”

Interestingly, not one but TWO different fan films shot simultaneously on those super-hot sets. The first and more significant of the two (in terms of total footage filmed) was for the next episode from Glen and Dan’s “fanthology” series THE FEDERATION FILES. Titled “MUDD’S MISSION,” this new production brings back two colorful characters from the series’ very first release back n 2016, “HIS NAME IS MUDD“: Captain Charles McCann of the U.S.S. Constitution, played by JIM VON DOLTEREN, and the irredeemable Harcourt Fenton Mudd played with flair by DAVID WHITNEY.

DAVID WHITNEY as Harry Mudd with DAN REYNOLDS (left) and JOSHUA IRWIN (right)

David, who lives in Iowa, actually filmed his scenes a couple of weeks ago during a much more pleasant weekend. “Up until June,” said JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner for the AVALON UNIVERSE, who was also there this past weekend filming pick-up shots for that team’s upcoming release THE NEEDS OF THE ONE, “the weather in Flippin can be pretty mild. In fact, late spring this year has been cloudy and rainy, even into May. But June is about the farthest you can do it. July and August are out for shooting there, and we don’t typically schedule anything until September again.”

So why not simply cancel the hot shoot and come back some cooler day?

Continue reading “The shoots must go on – filming MUDD baking in an OVEN!”

A FATHERS DAY blog as my 11-year-old son JAYDEN discovers STAR TREK fan films…

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to share something special and Trekkish that recently happened with me and my son.

Jayden is reaching the age where he’s developing his own interests that are completely separate from Daddy’s. He’s playing Roblox and Terraria and a bunch of other games on his computer that I’ve never heard of. He watches YouTubers with names like Mr. Beast, Flamingo, and Merg. He codes, builds robots, and does karate. And now that summer has started, hours will go by where I’ll only see him when he comes down from his room for a quick snack (and it’s all I can do to make him eat a nutritious lunch!).

Ah, being the father of an almost-teen…

I am so proud of my not-so-little boy!

But there is one thing that we do almost every day, and that’s watch Star Trek together after dinner. I give the food a little while to digest, and then we’ll head off to my office where I’ll do 25-30 minutes of cardio on the bike while we watch (most of) an episode of Star Trek. It’s been our “thing” since Jayden was 5. We’re going in release order. We began with TOS, then TAS, then back to TOS because Jayden was really young when he first watched them, and I wanted him to remember. Then on to the first four movies, then TNG…with DS9 added as we hit season six of TNG. And of course, we watched Trek V and Trek VI when those came up in the chronological release order.

We’ve also watched LOWER DECKS, PRODIGY, and STRANGE NEW WORLDS—but not DISCOVERY or PICARD. In the case of Discovery, too much @$&%ing swearing, and in the case of Picard…SPOILERS!

Anyway, Jayden has become quite the little Trekkie (thank heaven!) and sci-fi nerd. The other day at the comic book store, he begged me to buy him a stuffed xenomorph from Alien(s)—which he’s seen, of course—with a zipper for a mouth and a second mouth-tongue inside. (We named him Zipley.)

Jayden holds the newest addition to the family: ZIPLEY!

Most recently, we’ve made it to the end of TNG. We only have “All Good Things” left to watch, but it’s time to switch back over to DS9 and complete season two. We’re two episodes away from watching “Crossover,” the first episode of any Trek to feature the Mirror Universe since TOS’s “Mirror, Mirror.”

Not certain whether Jayden would remember that early episode, I fished out the ol’ remastered Blu-rays to watch that as a special “extra” before heading back to DS9. I’d done the same thing earlier in season two when we did a detour to watch “Errand of Mercy” then “The Trouble with Tribbles” and finally “Day of the Dove.” Those three were all in anticipation of DS9‘s “Blood Oath,” which featured the return of Klingons Kor, Koloth, and Kang from those episodes. So as you can see, I am doing all of this VERY methodically!

Last week, we viewed “Mirror, Mirror” and, as I watched the following scene, I got a crazy idea…

Continue reading “A FATHERS DAY blog as my 11-year-old son JAYDEN discovers STAR TREK fan films…”

JUSTIN LEE does it again…STAR TREK: VOYAGER – The ANIMATED Series! (interview)

Well, THAT didn’t take long!

Two months after the release of the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE ANIMATED SERIES fan film (and less than a month after I featured the short vignette here on Fan Film Factor), Toronto-based animator and co-founder of GAZELLE AUTOMATIONS, JUSTIN LEE, has done it all over again!

Previously, Justin took a 2-minute sequence from the top-rated TNG episode “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1” where Picard is kidnapped off the bridge by Borg drones, and adapted it to look and sound just like an episode of the Star Trek animated series from 1973. This creative and unique little video quickly went viral, and as I type this two months after its release, YouTube has it at nearly half a million views! WOW!!!

This time, it’s Voyager‘s turn (what about poor Deep Space Nine???). But while Justin chose one of TNG‘s generally-accepted BEST episodes to adapt, in the case of Voyager, he chose arguably one of the worst—the late-second season episode “Threshold” where Paris and Janeway slowly evolve into giant space-salamanders so they can mate and reproduce. Yeah, just writing that last sentence made me cringe! But watch until the very end because Justin concludes the vignette so perfectly that it almost makes up for the real “Threshold” (or at least acknowledges the ridiculous ending)…

This one seems to be going viral nearly as quickly as the TNG one, with nearly than 300K views in less than a week!

Justin already did a more elaborate interview me last time, but after watching the above video, I had a whole slew of NEW questions. Fortunately, being Canadian (in other words, being super-nice), Justin was more than happy to provide answers at infinite warp speed…!

Continue reading “JUSTIN LEE does it again…STAR TREK: VOYAGER – The ANIMATED Series! (interview)”

What should I do when another blogger CRIBS off my homework? (editorial)

Okay, I am totally stymied about what to do about this—MATT MILLER is now cribbing off my blog!

It all happened yesterday (Tuesday for me) shortly after I published this blog about this past weekend’s shoot in Arkansas for the upcoming AVALON UNIVERSE fan film THE NEEDS OF THE ONE and also the long-delayed CONVERGENCE marathon of filming in Bedfordshire, U.K. JOSHUA IRWIN and his team had shared so many amazing photos and clips on the Avalon chat group of their martial arts fight choreography, and SAMUEL COCKINGS was posting lots exciting updates about his 4-day shoot with all of the Convergence cast. And I thought it would be fun to do a two-in-one blog update on both major fan projects.

So I reached out to both Josh and Sam for short quotes. Sam, exhausted and about to pass out at what was about 2:15 a.m. for him, managed to write me up something surprisingly coherent and send me a bunch of behind-the-scenes photos that no one in the community had seen yet. Josh, also exhausted after the first day at his new job (congratulations, Josh!) dictated some quotes to me over the phone as I typed his comments as quickly as I could. Then he sent me a short video clip of the the awesome fight scene that, like Sam’s BTS photos, hadn’t been shared publicly yet.

In other words, folks, I did the prep work required and then wrote and published the blog, just as I usually do. End of story, right?

Well, not quite…

I got a call Tuesday afternoon from Josh asking me if I’d seen Matt Miller’s post. “Nope,” I said, “I don’t follow Matt’s Facebook posts anymore.” Well, apparently Matt had taken my blog from the morning, split it into two blogs, re-worded it slightly, and posted what was essentially the same content to his TrekZone website. According to the time-stamp, Matt published his pair of blogs roughly five hours after mine went live.

You can access the blogs here and here to compare the content. Or just in case Matt pulls them down for some reason, here’s the screen caps…

Continue reading “What should I do when another blogger CRIBS off my homework? (editorial)”

Two MAJOR fan film shoots on TWO CONTINENTS in one weekend!

I’m not sure what MOST of you did this past weekend, but I do know what a FEW of you were doing…and believe me, it was exciting!

In the mythical land of northwestern Arkansas, JOSHUA IRWIN was making movie magic with the cast and crew from the AVALON UNIVERSE. But this time, he was not shooting on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS. No, instead, Josh and the team were inside of a martial arts gym filming what looks to be an amazing fight scene. Despite many such fights in TOS (Kirk punched almost as often as he kissed!), fan films usually shy away from dangerous stunt fighting because, well…it’s dangerous! But this fight scene is using real black belts and trained martial arts fighters.

Meanwhile, in the equally mythical land of England, across the pond known as the Atlantic Ocean, the Great CGI Wizard of Star Trek SAMUEL COCKINGS finally had all of the actors necessary—after nearly 4-years!—to shoot the raw green screen footage for the mega-crossover fan film extravaganza CONVERGENCE. Crowd-funded in late 2018, Convergence seemed to be cursed by delays in getting actors to England all at the same time and then by COVID. Indeed, in the meantime, Sam has shot the footage for and released many of the TREK SHORTS fan films that he crowd-funded in 2021! But Sam finally assembled the Convergence “Avengers” for a grueling and ambitious—but still fun!—four-day shoot near his home in Bedfordshire, U.K.

The two fan film shoots that took place over this past weekend couldn’t have been more different…and I don’t just mean the actors’ accents! One was shot in a practical location with physical stunts. The other was limited to the front of a green screen, constraining most exaggerated movement by the characters. One was set in the 23rd century the other in the 24th. And one was filled mainly with actors who have previous experience in fan films. The other featured mostly cast members for whom this will be their first fan film!

As a change of pace, I’m going to do a two-for-one blog, spotlighting both of these shoots on different continents by letting each of their showrunners say a few words…

Continue reading “Two MAJOR fan film shoots on TWO CONTINENTS in one weekend!”

Another triumph from AUSTRALIA’s finest Trekkers…OUTBREAK! (interview with AARON VANDERKLEY)

Star Trek fan films remain alive and well “Down Under” thanks to the glorious efforts of Australian fan filmmaker AARON VANDERKLEY and his team. Aaron has recently released his seventh Star Trek fan film, the entirety of which are now collected under the umbrella THESE ARE THE VOYAGES

A professional freelance filmmaker, Aaron began his fan film “trek” back in January of 2016 with the release of the amazingly powerful 6-minute NX-era fan film NEEDS OF THE MANY.  Strong acting, impressive sets, and spot-on uniforms marked his debut.

Then in mid 2017, Aaron released the 12-minute THE DERELICT, an intensely dark and haunting NX-era horror/thriller (very unique for a Star Trek fan film). Again, the acting was top-notch, the uniforms amazing, and now there was even action, suspense, and a few stunts thrown in. It really felt like part of an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

By the beginning of 2018, Aaron treated fans to a third superbly-crafted NX-era film, GOOD MEN, this one only 9 minutes long. Six months later, Aaron released his most ambitious fan film so far, the 14-minute THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE. And in the summer of 2019, Aaron completed what turned out to be a 5-film NX-era story arc with the 20-minute LINE OF DUTY, blowing away fans with a touching and emotional story marked yet again by a top-notch level of acting, production quality, lighting, make-up, sets, costumes, props, sound…the works. In fact, Line of Duty won SEVEN of the categories in the 2020 BJO AWARDS!

Aaron told me in a 2-part interview that he had only ever intended to make five NX-era fan films, and he had no plans to produce anything further in the genre. One of our community’s most impressive fan filmmakers was moving on…the bittersweet end of a short but truly impressive run.

But then, in May of 2021, Aaron surprised the community (in a very good way) by releasing a sixth Star Trek fan film titled BEYOND THE SUN…perhaps his strongest effort thus far! No longer content to linger in the 22nd century or even the 23rd, Aaron leapfrogged into the 24th century with Voyager-style uniforms and a Nova-class starship. It was shortly after this that he branded his releases with the These Are the Voyages… monicker and promised to make more Star Trek fan films.

And Aaron kept his promise with the release in April of OUTBREAK, a brand new Voyager-era story featuring the same ship and crew as his previous production. Once again, the result was a cinematic masterpiece of fan filmmaking. Take a look…

Aaron is always fascinating to chat with because he approaches his productions in a very organized, methodical, and even professional way. For those out there wanting to make fan films of their own, I would consider interviews with Aaron “required reading.”

And here is today’s lesson…

Continue reading “Another triumph from AUSTRALIA’s finest Trekkers…OUTBREAK! (interview with AARON VANDERKLEY)”

Here are the 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARD entries for BEST SHORT SCENE…

As I announced last week, the final submissions for the 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS were made official on June 1, and now the panel of twelve judges—each the showrunner of a Star Trek fan film or series—get to have their chance to pick the winners in 18 different categories…

  • Best Fan Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Writer
  • Best Lead Actor
  • Best Lead Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Sound Design/Mixing
  • Best Visual Effects (CGI)
  • Best Special Effects (non-CGI)
  • Best Musical Score
  • Best Costuming
  • Best Hair & Makeup
  • Best Original Character
  • Best Micro-Budget Fan Film (total production cost $1,000 or less, not including set construction)
  • Best Short Scene (up to 2 minutes)

This final category is one that I personally find fascinating!

Think abut the long history of Star Trek, and there are some amazing episodes. But there are also some really impactful SCENES, as well. Let your mind and memory wander back to the scene of Edith Keeler being killed and Kirk’s reaction (“You deliberately stopped me, Jim. I could have save her. Do you know what you just did?” “He knows, Doctor. He knows…”), the scene of Kirk relieving Matt Decker of command on Kirk’s personal authority as captain of the Enterprise (“You’re bluffing…” “Vulcans never bluff…”), Khan stranding Kirk in the middle of a dead planet (“Buried alive…buried alive…” “KHANNNNNN!!!!!!”), Picard appears as Locutus for the first time (“From this time forward, you will service…us.” “Mr. Worf, fire…”), and the list goes on and on.

Yes, those impactful scenes were from some of the best episodes and movies—but not always. The climactic scene of three Losiras about to touch Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu o the shoulders just as Spock and a security guard beam in and shoot the Kalandan computer in “That Which Survives” was an exciting scene in an otherwise average episode.

And what about Star Trek fan films? Do WE have really exciting, dramatic, and impactful scenes? The judges and I decided to find out by offering the category of Best Short Scene (up to two minutes) for all entries. In retrospect, two minutes may have been a tad too short, and perhaps two and a half or even three minutes would have produced more submissions in the category. So we’ll probably increase the runtime limit next year as we figure out ways to improve the contest going forward.

But for this year, we received 10 solid submissions for Best Short Scene out of the 38 total fan films entered. And it’s an interesting collection of scenes—some serious, some funny, some exciting and suspenseful, some poignant and intense. Take a look at the following, and feel free to share in the comments which one(s) YOU think is/are the best and why…


Continue reading “Here are the 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARD entries for BEST SHORT SCENE…”

The 2022 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS now have their final 38 entries!

My friends, the great experiment: THE SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

In January of this year, two new fan film competitions launched, to join the third (the long-running annual BJO AWARDS) in celebrating our fun and quirky little niche-of-a-niche-of-a-niche of fandom. The first of the two new yearly award shows to begin—and conclude—was the DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS, where the directors of the submitted fan films became the judges (and were not allowed to vote for their own fan film, of course). And once those awards were handed out, it was time to launch of the new SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

Both first-time contests had fresh and unique aspects to them. For example, for the past almost-decade, ERIC L. WATTS of the Bjo Awards automatically entered any Star Trek fan film from the previous year that met the eligibility requirements. So a fan filmmaker didn’t have to do anything to be considered for a Bjo aside from release an eligible fan film in the previous year. The Directors Choice and Showrunner Awards, however, each required a small $10 submission fee to enter (in order to prevent a flood of entries). The Directors Choice also opened their contest to fan films beyond Star Trek—Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.—while the Showrunner Awards limited ourselves to only Star Trek fan films.

All three competitions have the standard categories like Best Fan Film, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Hair and Makeup, etc. But the Directors Choice introduced some interesting outside-the-box categories like Best Ensemble Cast, Best Foreign (non-U.S.) Fan Film, Most Canon Fan Film, Best Animated Fan Film, and Best Parody.

Meanwhile, the Showrunner Awards created categories for Best Original Character, Best Scene (a short clip up to two minutes in length), and Best Micro-Budget ($1,000 or less) Fan Film. We also decided to do something the other two contests don’t do: give out THREE awards per category rather than just one winner and five finalists or one winner and one runner-up.

I keep saying “we” when referring to the Showrunner Awards. That’s because our panel of twelve judges—each the showrunner of a Star Trek fan film or series—brainstormed, discussed, and voted on our categories, entry fees, and rules. Among those rules is that we will use ranked-choice voting, each judge selecting their five favorites in each category in descending order. First choice gets 10 points, second gets 7, then 5, 3, and finally 1 point. A judge cannot vote for their own fan film in any of the top three slots.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the Showrunner Awards was our decision expand eligibility to a 5-year window. For our 2022 awards, any Star Trek fan film released from January 2017 through December 2021 could enter. Of course, that aspect of the “great experiment” carried some risks…

Continue reading “The 2022 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS now have their final 38 entries!”

Does STARSHIP WEBSTER’S latest fan film “SNOWBOUND” prove that RANDY LANDERS is absolutely NUTS??? (interview)

I’m just kidding about you being nuts, Randy…well, kinda kidding!

If you look on the Internet (I’ve heard some people are doing that now), you’ll eventually run into a meme of DANNY DeVITO wearing a white wig pretending to be a pretentious art collector named Ongo Gablogian. It’s from an episode of the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the quote is:

Artists must suffer for the art. That’s why it’s called PAINting!

Well, if PAINting includes clicking multiple points with your mouse on literally tens of thousands of individual frames from a Star Trek fan film, then yes, RANDY LANDERS, showrunner of POTEMKIN PICTURES, has certainly suffered for his art. More precisely, he suffered for the most recent release from the STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group, “SNOWBOUND.” After filming, this fan film took an entire YEAR to finish!

Have a look…

Now, you might watch the above fan film and say, “So a bunch of Trekkies in Lexington, Kentucky went out on a day when it was snowing, shot some scenes, and turned it into a five-minute fan film (not counting opening and closing credits.) What’s the big deal?”

The big deal, my friends, is that it WASN’T snowing when Randy Landers shot it! Here’s what it looked like before Randy’s year-long odyssey of post-production began…

And here’s what it looked like after

Of course, that’s just one still-frame. As I said, there’s nearly FIVE MINUTES of that!!!

So the obvious question this time out is: how on earth (or whatever planet that is) did Randy manage to accomplish this chilling feat? And since Fan Film Factor is mainly about fan filmmakers’ journeys getting from there to here, it’s time for another chat with Mr. Landers…

Continue reading “Does STARSHIP WEBSTER’S latest fan film “SNOWBOUND” prove that RANDY LANDERS is absolutely NUTS??? (interview)”