Here are the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARD entries for BEST SHORT SCENE…

A week and a half ago, I announced the 27 Star Trek fan films competing in the 2024 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS. And we certainly have some heavy-hitters this year! In fact, as I was assembling the online ballot form for our 12-judge panel, I was marveling at how many amazing actors and actresses (40 in all!) would be vying for our best leading and supporting categories. This is gonna be super-tough to judge this year, and those fan films that win in each our our 23 categories should feel like they’ve really earned something special. And as I’ve said before, I only wish that more fan films could win—but in the end, there’s only three award levels in each category.

Speaking of categories, this might end up being the final year for the Best Short Scene category. I’ll need to discuss it with the judges, of course, but unlike most of our other categories, Best Short Scene has been somewhat anemic when it comes to submissions. Last year, only five entrants included short scenes as part of their submissions. And this year, that number has decreased to four, each of which you can view below.

Initially, I thought the idea of choosing one particularly engrossing and dramatic scene (of 2 minutes or less) from a fan film was a unique and exciting concept for a category. I got the idea from watching an Academy Awards broadcast a couple of years ago with a similar collection of short scenes from each of the ten nominees for Best Picture. I figured the same kind of thing might be cool to do for the Showrunner Awards, and so I suggested it to the judges, and they agreed.

However, your typical Hollywood motion picture is 2+ hours long, so there’s a lot to choose from. Your typical Star Trek fan film is 15-30 minutes long, and doesn’t have as many dramatic scenes of 2 minutes or less. And that’s why I don’t think we’ve seen many submissions in this category.

Also, now that we have the new TREKS IN 90 SECS contest going on, the Best Short Scene has become somewhat redundant as well as potentially confusing. As such, this could be the last year for this particular category.

That said, Best Short Scene is still very much a part of the Showrunner Awards, and we’ve got four excellent submissions this year. So please take a look, and good luck to each of our entrants…

The 2024 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS now have their final 27 entries!

Submissions for the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS are now complete. The window of eligibility to enter this year was January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2023—a five-year range—although the majority of our submissions were released last year. Next time around, we’re going to shrink that window down to three years, as the judges and felt that five years is fine for a long-term starship mission but might be a little much for fan films.

This year, we have a very impressive 27 entries combining for a total of just under 9 hours of viewing for our 12 showrunner judges (including yours truly). Last year we had 21 entries with a combined runtime 5 and 2/3 hours. So once again, anyone saying that Star Trek fan films are “dead” is full of caca!

As we’ve done for the previous two years, the winners will be announced on Star Trek‘s anniversary of September 8, 2024. There are 23 categories this year, with three winners in each category: Admiral, Captain, and Commander level. I salute all of our 27 entrants for 2024, and I wish each of them the best of luck. (Honestly, I wish they ALL could win!)

I realize that I say this every year, but once again, we have some really amazing Star Trek fan films this time—of all different run times—that cover the gamut from comedic to dramatic to suspenseful to thoughtful to parody/farce and even a music video! Some are episodes of ongoing fan or fanthology series, others are stand-alone releases. There are fan films shot on sets, on location, on green screens, some with heavy VFX, some light on VFX, a few with elaborate make-up and costuming, cool props, and several really standout acting performances and even original music. We truly have some of the best of the best that the world of Star Trek fan films has to offer this year!

So I strongly encourage you to watch as many of these marvelous productions as you can. Here are all of our entries for 2024 alphabetically by title…

Continue reading “The 2024 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS now have their final 27 entries!”

TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE releases “LA MORT DE LA GUERRE” (“The Death of War”) featuring AVALON characters in the PRIME universe! (video interview with JOSH IRWIN, CAITLYN BAILEY, and others)

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA (at least for now, the studio will be relocating soon) has provided TOS sets for countless Star Trek fan films and series, including STARSHIP FARRAGUT, STAR TREK CONTINUES, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, THE AVALON UNIVERSE, and so many more. And not to be outdone, the studio itself has its own fanthology series: TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE. Beginning in 2019, NZS has released seven fan films:


And the seventh, which was premiered on May 23, is titled “LA MORT DE LA GUERRE” (“The Death of War”), written by JOSHUA IRWIN and directed by Josh along with TYLER DUNIVAN. It came out extremely well; take a look…

The film features the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur, but not the starship in the Avalon Universe that Josh’s films usually spotlight. No, this time it’s the ship and crew from Star Trek‘s Prime Universe, most recently seen in last year’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS.

This fan film also represents a somewhat unique pairing of resources, as not only was Neutral Zone Studios involved in the production, but so was the other major fan film studio featuring TOS sets, WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. Co-owner of WARP 66, GLEN L. WOLFE, traveled down to Georgia, bringing along a plethora of TOS tunics and uniforms for both actors and extras to wear. Also joining the production team were FRANK PARKER, JR. from CROSSROADS: THE GEMINI PROJECT (this time playing a Romulan) as well as VANCE MAJOR playing Eric Minard from CONSTAR. Even GARY DAVIS from DOMINION MEDIA got into the act by providing a last-minute photo of a “Sulu scope” for a close up shot of the tactical readout at the helm station.

Heck, even I worked on this fan film as a creative consultant. That meant that I provided Josh feedback and suggestions at various points during the months-long post-production and editing process. That might seem like an easy-peasy way to sneak into the credits, but I’ve actually watched through different iterations of this film more than a dozen times(!!!), marking down time-code and making extensive notes. Combined with the 50 to 70 people who worked on this project during the two days of shooting on the sets, this was truly a group effort of the many.

In the spirit of that sense of camaraderie and collaboration, my fellow fan film fanatic, JEFFERSON KELLEY of BEYOND TREK PODCAST, organized a group discussion of this excellent fan film, inviting a number of people from the production as well as myself, as well as CHEETO and ZAM from the NERD TUBE podcast. So rather than just doing one of my typical Fan Film Factor video interviews, Jefferson has offered to make his group podcast available for me to post here. It was a very fun, lively, and enlightening discussion. Enjoy…

A new category added to the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER Awards…


There’s less than two and a half weeks left to enter you fan film into this year’s Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS. We’ve already had more than a baker’s dozen submissions covering the eligibility period of January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2023. Next year, the 5-year window of eligibility will decrease to 3 years, so if there’s an older Star Trek fan film you’d still like to enter, now is your chance. And hey, if there’s a more recent Trek fan film you want to enter, now is also your chance! Here’s a link to the submission form…

Three weeks ago, I posted a blog spotlighting the twelve judges for this year’s awards. Today, I’d like to discuss our newest category (just added for 2024): BEST GREEN SCREEN COMPOSITING. The name pretty much speaks for itself, but I personally feel that compositing actors who were filmed in front of green screens against sci-fi backgrounds has become much more of a fine art form in recent years.

I’ve recently begun watching a long-running fan series that began in 2008 that has always presented a majority of its scenes as green-screen composites. And comparing those early releases to their later work really illustrates how far both the technical and artistic aspects of chroma-keying have come over the years.

Today’s fan filmmakers are currently doing some truly impressive and in some cases groundbreaking (at least for fan films) things with compositing—from generating realistic 3D backgrounds that move and pan with the actors, to getting actors to interact with animated elements of their backgrounds, to matching the lighting on the actor perfectly to the lighting of the background…and quite a bit more than even that! I’m very excited to see which of this year’s films the judges select as the best three in this category.

And for anyone with is curious, here are the other 22 categories for this year’s Showrunner Awards

  • Best Fan Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Writer
  • Best Lead Actor (submitter may enter up to three actors)
  • Best Lead Actress (submitter may enter up to three actresses)
  • Best Supporting Actor (submitter may enter up to three actors)
  • Best Supporting Actress (submitter may enter up to three actresses)
  • 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 Set Design
  • Best Props
  • Best Original Character
  • Best Scene (up to 2 minutes)
  • Best Micro-Budget Fan Film (total production cost $1,000 or less, not including set construction)
  • Funniest Fan Film
  • Most Clever Easter Egg

And remember that the deadline to enter for this year is May 31 at midnight Pacific Time. Here’s the submission form link once again…

The SHOWRUNNER AWARDS are not the same as TREKS IN 90 SECS…

I think I screwed up (a little).

Back in February, I announced a brand new contest for Star Trek fan filmmakers: TREKS IN 90 SECS! The idea was for filmmakers to create self-contained stories that could be told in 90 seconds or less. Those ultra-short fan films could be submitted to yours truly on or before the end of July and then be voted on by readers of my blog. The three fan films with the most votes would get the most amazing prize ever: bragging rights! (Sorry, no Vegemite. I can’t afford it.)

I was asked at one point if submissions to Treks in 90 Secs could go a little over 90 seconds, and I said okay. But I added that I would enforce a hard limit of no more than 2 minutes.

That may have been where I screwed up.

Last month when I announced that submissions were now open for the third annual Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS, I forgot to mention that this was a completely separate competition from the Treks in 90 Secs contest. And I’ve since discovered that a few people thought they were the same contest.

Why did they think this? Well, one of the categories for the Showrunner Awards is “BEST SCENE (up to 2 minutes).” For that category, the entrant must create a separate, self-contained YouTube or Vimeo video of what they think is the best continuous sequence from their fan film. The sequence cannot be longer than two minutes.

And so, here’s a blog clarifying the differences between the two contests:


  • Open to Star Trek fan films of any length released between 1/1/19 and 12/31/23
  • Deadline to enter for this year: May 31
  • Click here to submit a fan film through an online form
  • Cost to enter: $10/entry plus $1 per additional category (23 categories total)
  • Judged by a panel of twelve fan film showrunners
  • Certificates awarded to the winners


  • Open to any Star Trek fan film with a total runtime not to exceed two minutes (preferably 90 seconds)
  • Deadline to enter for this year: July 31
  • To enter, e-mail me the link at jonathan (at ) fanfilmfactor (dot) com
  • Cost to enter: absolutely free
  • Judged by Fan Film Factor readers; votes tallied online
  • Nothing awarded to the winners except pride

Actually, now that I have a spiffy logo for Treks in 90 Secs, I might give something to the winners after all. Not sure yet, but I’ve got a few months to decide.

All right, you may all return to your regularly-scheduled lives…already in progress.

How I used A.I. technology to bring the voices of SPOCK AND McCOY back to life in “AN ABSENT FRIEND” (part 3: legal and moral questions)…

In part 1, I discussed how I used Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to turn a Star Trek inspired fan script that I wrote back in 2010 into an audio drama featuring the voices of Spock and McCoy. I utilized ElevenLabs‘ voice synthesis algorithm to convert sound clips captured from a variety of sources into a series of back-and-forth dialog between the two characters. Ultimately, I wound up with an approximately 15-minute long audio drama.

Part 2 covered how I managed to take the audio drama and turn it into an animated fan film with the help of an amazing illustrator by the name of MATT SLADE, music composer MATT MILNE, and my longtime childhood friend MOJO. Indeed, in the end, I was the only person involved in this production whose named didn’t start with the letter M! The finished product came out looking like this…

And now the moment that I am certain many of you have been waiting for: the legal and moral questions of “Can Jonathan legally do this?” and “Should Jonathan ethically do this?” These are both complex subjects to tackle. But let’s dive in…!

Continue reading “How I used A.I. technology to bring the voices of SPOCK AND McCOY back to life in “AN ABSENT FRIEND” (part 3: legal and moral questions)…”

How I used A.I. technology to bring the voices of SPOCK AND McCOY back to life in “AN ABSENT FRIEND” (part 2: the art, animation, and music)…


In part 1, I explained how I had used Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to synthesize the voices of Spock and McCoy to speak the words of a script I originally wrote as a short story back in 2010. In it, Captain Kirk has just “died” saving the U.S.S. Enterprise-B (in the feature film Star Trek Generations), and Bones is getting angry-drunk mourning the untimely passing of his longtime friend. Spock finds McCoy sitting alone in an unnamed bar and offers to join him. It’s the last thing the doctor wants—a Vulcan with no emotions—but, ironically, the thing he most needs. And Spock needs McCoy, as well, even though the Vulcan would never openly admit it.

The story was always intended to be a sort of a two-actor stage play, simple but poignant, giving a glimpse into how these two longtime friends and colleagues deal with the loss of AN ABSENT FRIEND. But the story/script sat quietly on my hard-drive for more than a decade, unused and mostly unpublished, waiting for its “moment.”

That moment came when I discovered the ElevenLabs website (thank you, RAY MYERS!), which can generate synthesized speech from any decent voice sample of a minute or two. Assembling verbal snippets from LEONARD NIMOY and DeFOREST KELLEY from various sources, I set out to create an audio drama of my script. The project took me a couple of months, and I explained the nuances of how I did it in part 1.

Now in part 2, I’ll explain how I got from that audio drama to this completely animated Star Trek fan film…

As I mentioned in part 1, after I completed the audio drama, I was frustrated by the subtle inconsistencies between sentences (especially for McCoy) due to my generating the voices in short segments. This was a necessary evil due to the limitations of the early A.I. technology, but it still bothered me.

Then I had an idea…

Continue reading “How I used A.I. technology to bring the voices of SPOCK AND McCOY back to life in “AN ABSENT FRIEND” (part 2: the art, animation, and music)…”

How I used A.I. technology to bring the voices of SPOCK and McCOY back to life in “AN ABSENT FRIEND” (part 1: the audio)…

While some Star Trek fan films have begun to Artificial Intelligence ( A.I.) in limited ways to age and de-age characters and also to create brief visuals and short bits of dialog, my new animated fan film AN ABSENT FRIEND is the first time that A.I. speech synthesis has been used to generate ALL of the voices. And what’s more, two of those voices are sampled from the late LEONARD NIMOY and DeFOREST KELLEY, allowing the beloved characters of Spock and McCoy to live on.

The obvious question that might come to mind for some people would be: Is this legal? The short answer is “yes…at least for now.” That could change in the not-too-distant future, but no law governing or restricting the A.I. generation of a deceased actor’s voice in a fan film exists at the moment. I will dive more deeply into the legal status of voice A.I. in Part 3 of this blog series (along with the ethical considerations). However, right now in Part 1, I would like to discuss how I managed to digitally recreate the voices of these two deeply-missed actors, and in Part 2, I’ll be covering how I and my illustrator, MATT SLADE, turned an audio drama into a full animated Star Trek fan film.

First, though, let’s take a look at this groundbreaking project…

A.I. has exploded across the planet in the last year and a half, and it’s certainly become a bit of a mixed bag. The term itself is an umbrella for a wide range of digital breakthroughs whereby computers are doing some incredible—and occasionally worrisome—things. A.I. is being used for everything from generating business presentations and news articles to writing millions of lines of computer code in seconds. A.I. digitally de-aged an 80-year-old HARRISON FORD in the fifth and final Indiana Jones feature film last year and also completed an unfinished Beatles song despite two of the original band members having died decades ago.

Law enforcement is using intuitive software to sift through endless social media postings to track down wanted suspects and potential terrorists. On the other side of the moral spectrum, however, some students are using A.I. software to write their school essays for them, while a few political campaigns have begun to generate false images and articles to spread realistic-looking fake news to unsuspecting voters. Earlier this year, a New Hampshire robocall seemingly from Joe Biden that told Democrats not to “waste their vote” in the primary was actually faked by a supporter of one of the other primary candidates. And of course, the recent Hollywood writers and actors strikes worried that A.I. would make many of their jobs all but irrelevant.

My own mind was blown last year when I saw A.I. used to create an actual Star Trek fan film! THE RODDENBERRY ARCHIVE released the following short fan film featuring a deepfaked face of Leonard Nimoy as Spock put onto the body of actor LAWRENCE SELLECK…

Continue reading “How I used A.I. technology to bring the voices of SPOCK and McCOY back to life in “AN ABSENT FRIEND” (part 1: the audio)…”

How DOUG DREXLER was almost fired from STAR TREK for working on a FAN FILM for NEW VOYAGES!

It’s hard to introduce DOUG DREXLER…not because there’s nothing to say about him but because there’s way too much to say about him! He and I both grew up as Trekkies in New York City, but the main difference between us was that I shopped at The Federation Trading Post in midtown Manhattan and read the unauthorized U.S.S. Enterprise Officer’s Manual while Doug managed the store and wrote that book (among several others).

And then, of course, Doug went on to move out to Hollywood, win an Oscar for make-up for Dick Tracy, and then work pretty much continuously on Star Trek from the third season of TNG through the end of Enterprise (and later, on STAR TREK PICARD). I moved to L.A. and worked for the Star Trek licensing department from 1996-2003, but seriously, no comparison there…Doug wins hands down!

Doug began as a make-up artist on TNG (being nominated for two Emmy Awards along the way). He then became scenic artist and production illustrator on DS9, working under MIKE OKUDA on graphics but also designing props. Then, when Voyager and, later, Enterprise debuted, Doug went on to work on the digital VFX at Foundation Imaging. (Years later, Doug would become CGI VFX Supervisor on the Battlestar Galactica reboot, for which he won two “Outstanding Special Visual Effects” Emmy Awards plus three additional nominations.

Doug also contributed to the four TNG feature films and the remaster of the director’s cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as working on the Borg Invasion 4D ride at Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas (which I worked on, too, although again, Doug had a much more awesome Trek career than I ever did!)

And there’s one more thing that Doug and I have in common (aside from some of the people we know): we’ve both worked on Star Trek fan films!

It’s generally accepted that the “golden age” of Star Trek fan films was ushered in just after the turn of the millennium with series like STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER from ROB CAVES and STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES from JAMES CAWLEY. What is not so widely known is that Doug Drexler worked extensively on the first two episodes of the latter series…while still working professionally on Star Trek at Paramount! Operating under the pseudonym “MAX REM,” Doug did VFX, make-up, casting, editing, and served as executive producer on “Come What May.” Doug also was the cowriter (along with Star Trek scenic artist—and my friend—JIM VAN OVER, writing under the pen name “ERIC KORNGOLD”) on the second episode “In Harm’s Way.” Both fan films debuted in 2004 (before there even was such a thing as YouTube!). You can watch those two episodes below…

Continue reading “How DOUG DREXLER was almost fired from STAR TREK for working on a FAN FILM for NEW VOYAGES!”

Meet this year’s JUDGES for the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS…

The submission window for the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS is now open and will remain so until midnight Pacific Time on May 31, 2024. Any Star Trek fan film released publicly between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2023 is eligible for entry regardless of the person or team producing it. (Why would anyone do it differently, right?)

The online entry form is located here…

They say that two heads are better than one, and if so, then our judging panel is six times better than that, as we once again have a panel of twelve judges, each one a showrunner of either a Star Trek fan film or series. We have seven judges returning from last year, two returning from the year before, and three “rookies” whom we welcome to the Council of the Twelve. (That’s not the official name, but it does sound pretty cool in a Battlestar Galactica kinda way. That said, we’re still exclusively Star Trek, although we do all love a wide variety of sci-fi.)

The departing judges all left amicably for different reasons usually involving time commitments. One of them is actually writing a book! I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank all of them and remind them that their chairs at the table will be kept open for them should they ever wish to return. (There’s no rule against the Council of the Twelve becoming the Council of the Fifteen or some other number!)

Anyway, as I did last year, I’d like to dedicate a blog to introducing this year’s panel of judges and what they’ve done in the world of Star Trek fan films…

Continue reading “Meet this year’s JUDGES for the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS…”