Remastered CHASING THE INFINITE SKY debuts on first AXACON spotlight interview with ALBERT MARTINEZ!

Back in the summer of 2016, ALBERT MARTINEZ debuted a new fan film consisting primarily of breathtaking CGI visual FX inspired by the Kelvin-verse style of starship design. CHASING THE INFINITE SKY quickly went viral with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. One of those viewers was ALEC PETERS of Axanar, and he quickly fell in love with this beautifully crafted fan film, talking it up every chance he could.

Skip ahead two years, and Alec invited Albert to be a guest at AXACON last November. Albert was honored to attend and drove all the way from Texas to Georgia with his wife for the event.

Also in attendance was yours truly, as I had agreed to be a panelist for the mini-con. I knew Alec was planning to record all of the sessions on video to debut later on YouTube, with myself and KEITH M. SEDOR as hosts and interviewers. However, I wasn’t expecting for Keith and I to be put to work immediately on day one…when when everything was just a tour of Ares Studios and not even at the hotel yet! Alec, however, had hired a three-camera video crew plus sound engineer to record right there at the studio…and I was given almost no time to prepare to interview multiple guests, beginning with Albert. Geez, Alec, no pressure!

Usually, my interviews of fan filmmakers are simply audio or text (’cause I can’t afford camera crews!). But today I present to you a special VIDEO interview. At the end, the video also includes a new REMASTERED higher-quality version of Chasing the Infinite Sky. (By the way, Albert Martinez has now joined the Axanar VFX team.)

The following video has been available for the past few weeks to donors who’ve signed up for the ARES STUDIOS PATREON. If you haven’t signed up yet, just a couple of bucks a month will get you early access to videos like this one (as there’s over 22 hours of amazing interviews and panels that will be edited and shared). Also, you’ll help keep Ares Studios open so that fan filmmakers and students and even professionals can shoot scenes on that amazing USS Ares bridge!

I’d just like to give a quick shout-out to BRIAN T. ALEXANDER, who shot and compiled the video, and to JOHN STREKIS, who did an amazing job editing it. All of the Axacon videos are being lovingly preparing by a small, dedicated team of editors and sound people to look as good as possible. Here is the first one…

Star Trek’s DISCOVERY RECOVERY continues! (editorial review)

Admiral, there be SPOILERS here!

At first, I was going to title this blog “Has STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Finally Got Its Groove Back?” Then I realized that it never really had a grove during season one…at least for me.

But the series does seem to have found a new groove that began with the first episode of season two and has continued now into its fourth episode, “An Obol for Charon.” And for anyone wondering what the heck that means, an Obol is an ancient Greek coin that was put in the mouth of a corpse before burial to be taken down to the underworld and used to pay Charon, the Ferryman, for a trip across the River Styx. (Speaking of which, how awesome was this song from 1982?)

Now, the episode itself wasn’t as good the second episode of season two, but it was better than the third episode. And it felt infinitely more Star Trek-like than nearly the entire first season. In fact, let’s take a look at how Star Trek is working its way back into Discovery

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AXANAR fan comic begins PART TWO of “ARCANIS IV”!

AXANAR has inspired several fans, including me, to “expand” that universe. Whether you consider it “Prime” or the “Axa-verse,” for some of us, it’s FUN to play in this particular sandbox. ALEXANDER RICHARDSON (the designer who created the console graphics on the USS Ares bridge set…along with many other graphics for Axanar Productions and Ares Studios) is currently working on full blueprints of the USS Ares. MARK PAYTON has written a multi-chapter Axanar novella titled The Inverness Revision.  And I myself wrote an Axanar short story “Why We Fight,” illustrated by the amazing MARK McCRARY.

But there’s one Axa-fan who has, in my opinion, topped us all. And yesterday was his birthday…Happy Birthday, TREY McELWAIN!  Trey loves Axanar so much that, back in the summer 2017, Trey released a four-page (including cover) Axanar mini-comic book story titled “Trial by Fire.” Not an artist himself, he paid his friend DANIEL FU to illustrate it…and it turned out awesome!

Not content to simply sit on his laurels, though, Trey set out on a much more ambitious undertaking: to make an entire Axanar comic book SERIES! This would be no small feat, and not at all cheap (as starving artists like to eat, and Trey—not exactly in the top 1%—was paying Daniel out of his own pocket, not crowd-funding).

Trey put up a website, Axanar Comics, and began posting pages there as they were completed. Initially, this was supposed to be one per month, but three pages were completed quickly, and instead of waiting, Trey posted them all at once. Within two months, the cover and six additional pages were released, finishing part one. That was last July.

Unfortunately, about that time, Trey suffered a herniated disc in his upper cervical/spinal column. The doctors and physical therapy bills ate up most of his and his wife’s disposable income for several months. So for the past eight months, no new story pages have been released. But actually, that was good news for me! Let me ‘splain…

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NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 2)

Yesterday, I updated you that on Thursday at 1:30pm Pacific Time, the two parties in the DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK mash-up lawsuit will meet in Federal Court in San Diego, CA. The original complaint was filed more than two years ago, and after countless motions, discovery, and an emotional rollercoaster of rulings from the judge, this hearing is likely the last time the two parties will appear before the judge until the trial begins.

Assuming there is a trial.

Barring a surprise last-minute settlement (which, I think, is highly unlikely), Thursday’s hearing could very well result in either the case being dismissed by the judge or else sticking a knife into the defense team to make the lawsuit all-but-impossible to win.

But assuming the case goes before a jury, and if I were a a juror, what argument(s) would be most likely to persuade me that Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! deserves the freedom to be published?

For me, there was one thing that was mentioned—only very briefly by the defense attorney in a previous filing—that in my opinion would weigh most strongly on me as a juror. It was a surprisingly simple question:

What exactly should the defendants have licensed?

Think about it. If the book had been The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Star Trek, then the answer is straightforward: they’d license The Cat in the Hat. If their story was Mr. Spock Meets the Grinch, then they’d license the Grinch, Max, and maybe Cindy Loo Who. But which Dr, Seuss character did David Gerrold, Ty Templeton, and ComicMix use without permission?

The best that the plaintiffs could come up with is the “boy” (their word) who appears on the cover and throughout the original Go! book. However, as with other characters in the Boldly book, this “boy” has been transformed. He wears a TOS command tunic and black pants instead of pajamas. Is that still the same character? The two Zaxes were turned into Spocks. The guy with the Sneeches’ star-machine was turned into Scotty with a transporter.

When does a copyrighted character get changed enough that he becomes a new creation? It’s an intriguing question!

Continue reading “NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 2)”

NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 1)

This Thursday at 1:30pm Pacific Time, the two sides in the ground-breaking DR. SEUSS/STAR TREK mash-up lawsuit will meet in front of Ninth Circuit Federal Judge HON. JANIS L. SAMMARTINO in courtroom 4D of the Edward J. Schwartz Courthouse in San Diego, California.

Last month, I reported the hearing date as January 31. But the lawyer for the defense caught the flu and requested, and was granted, a one-week delay (which is not all that unusual).

In a previous blog, I discussed the history of the case, and what each side is asking the judge to do. In short, the defense wants the judge to end the case before it begins next month…in favor of the defense, of course. This would mean her ruling that their mash-up Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! should be considered (as a matter of law) to be FAIR USE and therefore protected speech. Therefore, any copyright claims would be nullified, and Team Mash-up (DAVID GERROLD, TY TEMPLETON, and their publisher COMICMIX) would be free to publish their book without legal liability. Also, the defense wants the remaining two claims of trademark infringement (different than copyright) dismissed because it is not reasonable to trademark an artistic “style” nor the look of a typographic font.

The plaintiffs, DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE), are trying instead to convince the judge in this case to do the same thing that was done in the AXANAR lawsuit: declare that the mash-up is not Fair Use and, therefore, cannot be defended as such. Likewise, they want the judge to rule that, yes, it is reasonable to hold a trademark on an artistic style and a font. This wouldn’t necessarily end the case (unlike the defense motion,) but a favorable summary ruling by the judge would make the lawsuit all but unwinnable for the defense…as happened previously with Axanar.

So why have I given this case so much attention?

Continue reading “NO TRUCE with DR. SEUSS on FAIR USE! (Part 1)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes a major KLINGON KOURSE KORRECTION! (editorial review)

SPOILERS? WE’VE GOT A FEW. BUT THEN AGAIN, TOO FEW TO MENTION…

Along with much of the United States this past week, hell has frozen over yet again as Jonathan Lane writes a THIRD consecutive mostly-positive blog about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! Granted, my first blog of season two was more noncommittal…yet hopeful. But my second blog was 100% raving praise.

So what about the third episode, “Point of Light”?

I wasn’t prepared to like it. In fact, after watching the manic first three minutes where the camera NEVER ONCE STOPPED MOVING (seriously, watch it again), I was feeling carsick…or maybe starship sick. I knew the Klingons were coming this episode, and I really hated them and their incessant subtitles in season one.

So I was prepared to write a blog titled “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad…” or “Well, that Didn’t Last Long…” full of disappointment that Discovery had stumbled and slipped back into the same old problems. I began to mentally compose my opening complaint that saying, “Attention: trainee half-marathon approaching!” should NEVER be followed by turning OUT the lights so you can’t see what’s coming! “Starfleet stupidity or just idiotic writing?”

Yep, I was totally gonna write a blog like that—but then Amanda happened…

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TEMPORAL ANOMALY is finally released…it’s about time! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

The time has finally come! After nearly six years, TEMPORAL ANOMALY has been released to astound and amaze Star Trek fans. Written, directed, and produced by SAMUEL COCKINGS—the King, Ace, and Jack of all trades involving CGI animation—back in 2013, Temporal Anomaly has traveled a long and challenging path on its way to completion. This included an e-mail directly from CBS saying, “You can’t release this fan film!”

Yep, for only the fourth time, CBS stepped in to put the kibosh on a Star Trek fan film project (the others being Axanar, Federation Rising from Tommy Kraft, and “He Walked Among Us” from Star Trek: New Voyages. Considering there are literally several hundreds of Trek fan films, the VAST majority never hear from CBS. But Samuel did…just weeks before releasing his half-decade labor of love.

The fan film world was all ready, one year ago, to see this long-awaited masterpiece. In fact, I even featured a 38-minute audio interview with Samuel in mid-February of 2018 in anticipation of a March release. But then CBS contacted Samuel, and things came to an immediate halt!

However, in a very unexpected turn of events, Samuel was able to convince CBS to allow him to make certain changes and release the fan film after all, even negotiating a one-time exemption from the 30-minute limit to allow for his full 50-minute film to play out as scripted.

Unfortunately, making the required changes—which included stripping out the music track and finding a composer to re-score the entire feature—took nearly another year. In the meantime, Samuel made other improvements to the VFX, CGI backgrounds, etc. The result is one of the most visually stunning and impressive green screen Trek fan films you are ever likely to see.

And see it you shall, right now (in two parts)…

Pretty amazing, huh? Now take a listen to a FANtastic new audio interview with Samuel. This time, we discuss exactly what happened with CBS and how Samuel was able to convince them to change their minds and let him release Temporal Anomaly…and even make it 50 minutes long! We also discuss the fan film world in general, what makes good CGI, behind-the-scenes stories from Samuel’s production, and updates on his next fan project, Convergence.

If you’re thinking of listening to the following interview before watching the fan film—DON’T DO IT, MAN! There are spoilers in the interview! Watch Temporal Anomaly first, and THEN listen to this…

RENEGADES has lots of MERCHANDISE for sale!

Looking for that perfect after-Christmas gift for the fan film aficionado in your life? How about something from the RENEGADES merchandise collection?

The Renegades folks first began producing their own branded perks waaaaaay back in 2012 when they held their first Kickstarter and raised an amazing $242,483 from 2,367 backers. At that point, the perks were fairly simple: a special edition DVD of the completed Star Trek: Renegades fan film (back then, producing DVDs with the words “Star Trek” on the cover as perks was allowed), a CD compilation of the music, and an extra DVD and soundtrack for Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, their first fan production from back in 2008. There was also an “I’m a Renegade” T-shirt and autographed cast photos.

The following year, their next campaign—an Indiegogo that generated an additional $132,555 from 1500 backers—introduced a prop replica of their Starfleet comm badge from about ten years after Voyager‘s return.

By the time they reached their fourth crowdfunding campaign in November 2015—a Kickstarter for the first full episode “The Requiem”that took in just over $378,000 from 3,379 backers—they had added a patch (of course!) and a mini-poster signed by all of the cast. And even though this poster saidStar Trek: Renegades,” remember that this was STILL half a year before CBS released their fan film guidelines (and two months before Axanar got sued for copyright infringement).

Of course, once the guidelines came out, Renegades quickly dropped the “Star Trek” from its branding (becoming Renegades: The Series), and surgically removed all traces of CBS-owned intellectual property from their next production.

The good news for show-runner SKY CONWAY and fans of Renegades is that this change in branding means that these folks can now sell whatever merchandise they want to based on their fan film content and CBS can’t say a darned thing…yay!

And sell it, they shall! The loot is all located on THE ATOMIC NETWORK website (that’s where Renegades and other productions from those folks are streaming from). And if you’re a fan of the Renegades fan series (as I am), you’ll find this all VERY exciting!

Here’s what they’re offering (with descriptions taken from their website)…

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STAR TREK finally comes to DISCOVERY!!! (editorial review)

WARNING – There’s spoilers off the starboard bow!

People seem to think that I only write negative things about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…that I’ll never accept it and will always find something to criticize: uniforms, Klingons, lack of banter, etc.

Well, the pigs are flying folks! Satan is skating to work! And Jonathan Lane is about to write a 100% POSITIVE review of the latest episode of Discovery, “New Eden.”

What can I say? I loved it. It felt like I was watching STAR TREK…possibly for the first time since Burnham and Georgiou walked across that desert planet at the beginning of the premiere episode. Nothing bothered me…not the uniforms or the “non-canon” console graphics or even Tilly. Heck, I didn’t even mind that the magic mushroom drive once again saved the day.

When it’s good Star Trek—when it FEELS like good Star Trek—all the rest of the discontinuities with canon can be safely beamed out of my mind.

So what made this feel like “real” Star Trek to me…?

Continue reading “STAR TREK finally comes to DISCOVERY!!! (editorial review)”