DREADNOUGHT DOMINION just had a FANtastic crowd-funding weekend!

Color me shocked and excited!

It was Sunday afternoon, and I was having a call with JOSHUA IRWIN of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series (Josh was also my director of photography and editor on INTERLUDE). Josh has been deep in planning for his next crowd-funding campaign for not one but TWO new Avalon fan films, both of which will feature the return WARREN HAWK as the Captain Jakande of the Avalon Universe…along with introducing two other really interesting new characters.

Josh and I were discussing strategies and timing, since there’s been a lot of “traffic” in the crowd-funding highway of late. Last month, SAMUEL COCKINGS raised a very impressive $13.7K for his six-film project TREK SHORTS Indiegogo campaign. And although I didn’t cover it, MARC SCOTT ZICREE just took in $86K in the Kickstarter for the conclusion of the “Forgiveness” 2-parter of SPACE COMMAND. That’s a LOT of funds raised during a month that included the delayed Tax Day for those of us in the United States!

This month, it’s GARY DAVIS and DREADNOUGHT DOMINION‘s turn to try to reach $5K in their latest Indiegogo campaign to fund three fan films (two episodes of Dominion plus one of the new fan series PROJECT RUNABOUT).

Now, you folks probably don’t know about what I’m about to tell you, but these three show-runners—Sam Cockings, Gary Davis, and Josh Irwin—have been trying very hard not to step on each other’s toes when it comes to their campaigns. When it looked like Samuel might not make it to his goal for Trek Shorts within the 30-day deadline, I suggested he might take advantage of Indiegogo’s “extension” option to give him an extra 30 days to meet his goal. But Sam was adamant that his campaign had to be over by the time Dominion‘s began on June 1st, as Sam didn’t want to compete for donor dollars (or pounds, in Sam’s case).

The same was true when I spoke to Gary, asking if he’d be willing to extend his deadline if it looked like he’d be coming up short by the end of June. Again, no…Gary did not want to compete with Josh, whose Avalon Universe crowd-funder would be up next.

But as I discussed things with Josh on Sunday, there emerged a small wrinkle. Y’see, one of the first pieces of advice I give to fan filmmakers when they set up a crowd-funder is: “Your campaign launch should NEVER be a surprise!” Always tease the kick-off of the new campaign with at least a few weeks of lead-up—posts on social media, videos, interviews, etc.—building excitement and anticipation.

BUT!!!

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION just had a FANtastic crowd-funding weekend!”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 2)

Last time, we began looking at a Star Trek fan film from 2007 that had been partially filmed but was never completed. Titled STAR TREK: ORIGINS – “THE WOUNDS OF WAR,” the script was written by CAMREN T. BURTON and produced by MICHAEL DEMPSEY, who also starred as a young George Kirk serving on a starship commanded by Robert April, 30 years before the original series.

In 2020, GLEN WOLFE of the Star Trek anthology fan series THE FEDERATION FILES, decided to “rescue” this unfinished fan film, create a framing story around it, and release the completed production as an original anthology episode titled “FRIENDS AND FOES.” Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet…

We began the three-person interview focusing initially on Michael, who lives in the Lexington, Kentucky area, and Camren, who lives in the Tri-Cities region in southeast Washington state. They discussed their backgrounds, how they first teamed up, and the early evolution of the project. I hadn’t yet gotten to Glen, who lives in northeastern Arkansas, but I’lll be rectifying that shortly.

First, however, let’s dive back into 2006-2007 and learn more about how Michael and Camren prepared to get this production ready for filming…


Glen Wolfe, Michael Dempsey, and Camren T. Burton

JONATHAN – Once you had a script, what happened next? How involved were each of you in pre-production and getting things ready?

CAMREN – As it turned out, being more than halfway across the country from everything severely constrained my ability to contribute to the project…beyond creativity.  I reviewed audition tapes with Mike, and we did agree on casting. (Mike was going to be playing George Kirk, long before CHIRS HEMSWORTH!) I particularly remember loving JAMES BUTTERFIELD’s audition as Deyziel because he nailed JOHN BILLINGSLEY’s vocal mannerisms for Phlox, and it was like looking at a younger Denobulan in human disguise. Mike found talented locals in his area with costumes, and we had a few enthusiastic fans around the country contribute with making props.

JONATHAN – Was it easy or hard finding people to be a part of the production?

MICHAEL – I had a very small group of people who were part of that team, and they were all great to work with. But it was hard to pull people in for this. For some reason, there wasn’t much local interest in doing a Star Trek production around here—I really don’t know why. We have a huge independent film base in Kentucky, but I had a really difficult time getting people to join us…even casting roles for it was really difficult. There was just no interest.

JONATHAN – Eventually, though, you had your cast and crew in place. Did production go fairly smoothly?

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 2)”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION is offering to turn YOU into an ACTION FIGURE!

In case you didn’t know, the long-running (since 2014!) fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION has a new Indiegogo campaign trying to raise $5,000 to fund the production costs of three upcoming fan films—two Dominion episodes plus one episode of Gary’s new spin-off series PROJECT RUNABOUT, which will utilize this brand new set that Gary is nearly finished with…

If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still three weeks left, and they’re off to a solid start, having gotten nearly a third of the way to their goal. But every little bit helps, so here’s the link if you’d like to become a backer (and you totally should!)…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dreadnought-dominion-crowdfunding

One of my favorite things about these folks is that they never take themselves too seriously. They’re in this to have fun—and to share that fun with the rest of us fans.Many of their nearly-dozen fan film releases so far have included tongue-in-cheek elements, including a unique episode that broke the fourth wall, one that was filmed before a live studio audience, and another spotlighting a crew member who is actually a member of the Q Continuum and enjoys doing impressions of famous 20th century Hollywood actors!

Heck, just look at this trailer they released last weekend for their next episode “The More Things Change”…

They’ve also done a number of serious stories. In fact, Dreadnought Dominion is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get!

And speaking of boxes, I raised an eyebrow when I saw one of the perks being offered in their latest Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. For supporters who donate $750 or more, show-runner GARY DAVIS will create a personalized action figure of the backer him or herself (or themselves, as we should remember to include non-binary folks)! Granted, $750 isn’t exactly chump change, but then again, only two of these unique perks are being offered.

I was curious about these personalized action figures, so I reached out to Gary with some questions…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION is offering to turn YOU into an ACTION FIGURE!”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 1)

One of the most unique and intriguing aspects of the fan series THE FEDERATION FILES is that it is a true anthology series. Each new episode features entirely different characters and settings and even eras. We’ve seen Star Trek episodes in the present, the not-too-distant future, the 23rd century, the 24th century, and even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Essentially, these folks can tell any Star Trek or Star Trekkish story that they want to.

And by “these folks,” I mean GLEN WOLFE and his partner DAN REYNOLDS, the co-owners of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. They have a growing collection of TOS set recreations, allowing them to create fan films from that era, but they’ve gone far beyond that both in terms of space and time.

Recently, Glen Wolfe “rescued” (my word) a fan film from several years ago that was partially filmed at Retro Studios in Ticonderoga, NY (before it became the official TOS Set Tour) but never completed. That fan film was STAR TREK: EQUINOX, written by CAMREN T. BURTON and starring GARY LOCKWOOD reprising his role of Gary Mitchell from the TOS episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Star Trek: Voyager “Equinox” two-parter. Glen came in, created a new 24th framing sequence, and finished the ill-fated fan film half a decade later. You can read more about that project here.

Late last year, Glen decided to do an encore with another uncompleted fan film from 2006-2007 called STAR TREK: ORIGINS – “The Wounds of War.” Once again, Glen produced a framing sequence and incorporated filmed elements of the the original footage to create an entirely original production—a new episode of the The Federation Files that he chose to call “FRIENDS AND FOES.” Let’s take a look…

This two-part blog interview was actually a somewhat challenging to put together. Obviously, I had some questions for Glen, as The Federation Files‘ show-runner as well as writer/director of this latest episode. But there was also the writer of the original uncompleted episode (again, the aforementioned Camren T. Burton) plus the executive producer and star of the original fan film, MICHAEL DEMPSEY.

What’s so difficult about interviewing three people? Well, I usually try to interview people together, but this time, it was three separate interviews that I’ve needed to merge into one that flows smoothly. (In other words, I need to make you guys think they were all in the same room or zoom call or email chain together when they really weren’t.) But the other challenge was that Michael’s portion of the interview needed to wait several months because he actually contracted a rather serious case of COVID-19 before I could interview him!

So with that as an intro, let’s get into it…

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 1)”

ARES STUDIOS moves “down the street” into a new facility!

Back in 2017, ALEC PETERS closed down the massive INDUSTRY STUDIOS in Valencia, CA and moved all of the AXANAR assets—including the massive and still unfinished Ares bridge set—2,500 miles across the country to Lawrenceville, GA. The new and much smaller facility was dubbed ARES STUDIOS, and the bridge set was effectively completed and debuted to the public by AXACON in November of 2018.

Since then, Ares Studios has hosted film shoots for the two upcoming Axanar sequels, my own Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE, a smattering of other fan film projects, a couple of sci-fi parody projects, and a number of student films for high schoolers in the Gwinnett County School District.

Located in a small industrial area nestled behind a strip mall featuring (among other businesses) a donut shop situated NEXT TO a weight loss center(!!!), the 6,000 square foot space was perfect for housing the bridge set, the captain’s quarters set, other set pieces, props, costumes, and a seemingly endless supply of patches and other perks. The facility also had a front office, reception area, a second office that was often used for a changing room, a small kitchenette, and of course, a restroom. You can see Ares Studios in this video I posted for Interlude Confidential

As great as the space and location was, the main drawback was the rent+utilities, which came to about $4,000/month. And even with a Patreon providing monthly donations from hundreds of donors covering about half of that cost, it’s been a huge drain on Alec’s personal financial resources to the tune of about $20K a year!

Alec was (and still is) looking for property to purchase and construct a small metal building to hold the sets, lowering his monthly expenses. But that in and of itself is a time-consuming process, maybe 2-3 years out. In the meantime, the lease on his current space was about to run out, and his landlord had another tenant looking to take over (meaning there was no real pressure on Alec to renew). So a few months ago, Alec and DANA WAGNER began looking around for a new location, preferably less expensive but still large enough to fit the sets, props, costumes, and perks; provide space for an office and make-up/dressing room; and still be practical and functional for filming.

Many facilities were visited, but one was perfect. Located only about 2 miles down the road, and approximately a 1,000 square feet smaller than the previous space, the overall layout was actually much better. The new space would allow for the sets to all be in the back and the office space and make-up/dressing room to be out in front. It was a bit of a fixer-upper—the restroom was a disaster, and the place needed some walls moved, painting, carpeting, etc. But all of these things were relatively easy to deal with. And best of all, the monthly rent was $1,000 less!

Now, the biggest challenge was moving that incredible bridge set…!

Continue reading “ARES STUDIOS moves “down the street” into a new facility!”

TREK SHORTS actress gets COVID-19…leading to a BONUS fan film! Huh???

Okay, this is a totally wild story (or rather, series of stories)! But first, if you haven’t donated yet to SAMUEL COCKINGS’ Indiegogo for his TREK SHORTS project, you have just a few short days left, and he’s only about $2K short of his goal! Two new small donation perks have just been added, so please try to help him cross the $10.5K finish line before March 31…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

At the beginning of this month, Sam—fan film’s answer to Scotty, Geordi, Miles, B’Elanna, and Trip all rolled into one Brit—released the first of his Trek Shorts: A LONG WAY FROM HOME, starring NIMRAD SAUND, NICK and LUCITA COOK from the INTREPID fan series out of Scotland, with a cameo by MICHELE SPECHT form  STAR TREK CONTINUES. The 19-minute film looked amazing, with jaw-dropping VFX, strong acting, and FANtastic virtual 3D backgrounds.

The Indiegogo, if successful, will fund an additional FIVE Trek Shorts fan films starring notables from such fan series as the AVALON UNIVERSEDREADNOUGHT DOMINIONDARK ARMADA, and Sam’s previous project TEMPORAL ANOMALY. It’s a really exciting and ambitious project, and the campaign got off to a strong start in its first week.

But by the second week, things were slowing down a bit. So Sam decided to quickly put together a teaser-trailer for Trek Short #3, “Hours to Doomsday,” which would star MARCUS CHURCHILL, reprising his role of Ensign Sam Harriman from Temporal Anomaly, along with Nimrad Saund as Lieutenant Keeley. Sam scheduled them both to shoot some footage for the fan film at his home studio on Thursday, May 13…and all was set. Sam had cleared his schedule for the next two and a half weeks to work on nothing else in order to release the teaser shortly before the campaign ended.

And then Sam’s phone rang. It was Nim.

Continue reading “TREK SHORTS actress gets COVID-19…leading to a BONUS fan film! Huh???”

Meanwhile, the “STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS” infringement lawsuit moves forward in district court…

If you read my previous blog, not only are you probably one step closer to earning your law degree, but you now know that “Team Mash-up” (tribbles-creator DAVID GERROLD, artist TY TEMPLETON, and ComicMix head-honcho GLENN HAUMAN) have petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to review the ongoing infringement lawsuit originally filed against them in 2017 by DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE).

For more background on the case, read this update from last month. In short, the judge in the case, Hon. JANIS SAMMARTINO, ruled in 2018 that Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! qualified as fair use and was therefore protected speech under the Copyright Act of 1976…and dismissed all of the infringement complaints from DSE. Not surprisingly, DSE appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court, and a three-judge appellate panel reversed Sammartino’s decision, ruling instead that Boldly was NOT fair use and remanding the reinstated lawsuit back to the lower court for reconsideration.

For the moment, we’re going to skip the whole petition to the Supreme Court part (which I covered yesterday) and focus solely on what is now happening back in Judge Saamartino’s courtroom…virtually, of course, as most California courtrooms are still operating via Zoom calls. Almost as soon as the appeals ruling came down, both the plaintiff and the defendant prepared new motions for Judge Sammartino (a motion is when one party or the other asks a judge to make a ruling), motions that were filed at the beginning of last month. Again, read my update for a deeper dive into what each party is asking the judge to rule on.

When a motion is filed in writing with a judge , the other side has 15 days to respond in writing with an opposition to that motion, usually arguing why the first party is wrong. Then, after the opposition is filed, the first party gets two weeks to file a reply and explain why they are not wrong and the judge should grant their motion.

In fact, this is how ComicMix “won” the lawsuit back in 2018 when they filed a motion for dismissal with Judge Sammatino, asking her to rule that Boldly was fair use and therefore protected from a charge of copyright infringement. After a year and a half of back and forth arguing, she finally agreed and dismissed the case, granting the defendant’s motion. But on appeal, her ruling was reversed, and now the case is back on her desk…only this time with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Boldly is NOT fair use.

Armed with that shiny new appellate decision, DSE immediately made a motion for summary judgment: skip the trial, Judge, ’cause we obviously just won…and give us our money now. But ComicMix also filed a motion based on their belief that copyright registrations for two of the Dr. Seuss books that they allegedly infringed were never properly filed back in the 1960s and have since expired. If so, that’s a bombshell.

Let’s take a look now at each motion, and how the other side is arguing against it…

Continue reading “Meanwhile, the “STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS” infringement lawsuit moves forward in district court…”

STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS “Team Mash-Up” appeals to the U.S. SUPREME COURT!

Oh, the places you’ll (boldly) go!

For tribbles-creator DAVID GERROLD, artist TY TEMPLETON, ComicMix head-honcho GLENN HAUMAN, and DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE), there’s now a chance that one of those places will be the Supreme Court of the United States of America!

You may ask yourself: “Well, how did I get here?” The shortest I can make the answer is this…

  • In 2017, DSE sued ComicMix (et al) for copyright infringement for trying to mash-up Star Trek and Dr. Seuss in a crowd-funded book titled Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!
  • “Team Mash-up” argued their work was protected under the legal doctrine of fair use.
  • Nearly two full years into the lawsuit, Ninth Circuit District Judge Hon. JANIS SAMMARTINO ruled that Boldly was indeed fair use and dismissed the lawsuit before there was even a trial.
  • DSE appealed to a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. A year later (2019), they ruled that Boldly was NOT fair use and remanded the revived lawsuit back to Judge Sammartino’s courtroom where fair use could no longer be used as a defense.
  • In a motion filed last month, DSE asked the judge to just declare them the winner (again, without going to trial) and award DSE $225,000 in damages.
  • Team Mash-up also filed a motion asking for a review of the copyrights for two of Dr. Seuss’s books (that they allegedly copied). Specifically, ComicMix requested a review by the U.S. Registrar of Copyrights because the Sneeches and the Zacks may not have been properly registered and might have fallen into the public domain!

And if you want to do a deeper dive, especially into those last two bullet points, check out this blog.

Okay, a LOT has happened in the last six weeks, and it’s hard to know where to start! When a motion is filed, the other side gets to file an opposition argument, and then the first side gets to reply to that response. So ComicMix has now argued why they think this trial is far from over and they should NOT have to pay $225,000 to DSE. And DSE has argued that ComicMix missed their chance to ask for a copyright review and is now royally screwed.

Oh, and ComicMix just petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review this case! You guys are definitely gonna want me to start there, aren’t ya…?

Continue reading “STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS “Team Mash-Up” appeals to the U.S. SUPREME COURT!”

A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 2)

In Part 1, we began discussing the new TREK SHORTS fan film A LONG WAY FROM HOME. And whoever said that the CBS guidelines “killed off” all Star Trek fan films obviously forgot to inform SAMUEL COCKINGS!

With the talent and ingenuity of Willy Wonka and the uncanny productivity of a factory full of Oompa Loompas, Samuel has lent his considerable VFX skills to more than TWO DOZEN different Star Trek fan projects in five different countries on three different continents! In his “spare” time, Sam is also the co-host of the long-running and prolific TREKYARDS video podcast series. And in his “other” spare time, Sam also created the ambitious fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY, six years in the making!

In late 2018, Sam successfully crowd-funded $7,385 from 114 backers for another ambitious fan project, this time a crossover bringing together characters and storylines from five different Star Trek fan series. Called CONVERGENCE, part 1 was filmed in 2019 prior to the pandemic. But part 2, requiring travel of cast members to England from the United States, Holland, and Scotland, was indefinitely delayed due the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent quarantine orders.

This didn’t stop Sam, though. Wanting to release something that could be produced during the pandemic, Sam came up with the concept of Short Treks, high-quality Star Trek fan films produced on shoestring budgets utilizing Sam’s prodigious CGI skills for exterior starship VFX combined with actors filmed remotely both on location and in front of green screens with super-realistic digital backgrounds composited behind them.

Samuel Cockings on location

But Sam wasn’t content to just make one fan film; he got it in his head to create SIX separate stories, each set in different periods of Starfleet history with different characters and starships. And so Sam launched an Indiegogo with a $10,000 goal. And with 10 days left, Sam is about two-thirds of the way there with more than 100 backers. If you haven’t donated yet and have a few bucks to spare, the perks are pretty cool. Here’s the link (pass it around to your friends, too):

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

But Sam couldn’t wait for the campaign to fund before releasing the first of the six Trek Shorts fan films: A Long Way from Home. It stars NIMRAD SAUND (from Temporal Anomaly) and NICK and LUCITA COOK (from the fan series INTREPID), as well as featuring MICHELE SPECHT (from STAR TREK CONTINUES). It’s a really well done production, having already generated more than 27K views on YouTube in just three weeks. Check it out…

Other Trek Shorts will feature ships and actors from DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, AVALON UNIVERSE, DARK ARMADA, and a couple of other characters from Temporal Anomaly in addition to Nimrad’s Lt. Keeley.

Continue reading “A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 2)”

MINARD joins the AVALON UNIVERSE in “NEW ORDERS” (interview with VANCE MAJOR and JOSH IRWIN)

There’s a lot of love and camaraderie in the fan film community. That’s one of the reasons that I enjoy creating and maintaining this blog. Oh, sure, there’s also some trolls and drama and silly “feuds,” but honestly, I don’t really pay much attention to all of that anymore because it’s pretty meaningless.

What is meaningful—with the emphasis on the FULL part—is all the positivity that Star Trek fan films bring…because when it comes right down to it, we’re FANS. It’s what got me involved in the world of Star Trek to begin with, knowing there was this group of people who loved something that I loved, too, that we could share and bond over…no matter our backgrounds or location or anything else that might separate us. Star Trek brought us TOGETHER!

And that’s why I cheered when I saw this new vignette from the AVALON UNIVERSE

NEW ORDERS might not seem like much. There’s minimal VFX, and only two characters are talking to each other via subspace for most of it, with a third popping up at the very end. But for me, it was so much more—it was a chance for me to watch two dear friends come together to make a fan film.

JOSHUA IRWIN and VANCE MAJOR have worked together before this. Josh (as well as his Avalon Universe collaborator VICTORIA FOX) has appeared in some of Vance’s CONSTAR productions, like “SHAKEDOWN.” And Vance made a very brief cameo in the Avalon Universe episode DEMONS. But this time felt different. New Orders wasn’t simply one of them appearing briefly in the other’s film. It was two fan filmmakers who have become “legends” in our small-but-close-knit community, coming together as equals, and teasing the arrival of an awesome fan-favorite character into a fresh, new universe.

The fun thing about the Avalon Universe is that it’s Star Trekish but without five decades of canon weighing it down…kinda like what Star Trek: Discovery coulda/shoulda been had they just told us from the beginning that it was a parallel Trek universe (then most of us would have forgiven the different-looking Klingons and shiny uniforms and super-advanced tech). So characters from “standard” Star Trek fan films can pop up in the Avalon Universe in completely new ways. In fact, Captain Jakande, who died in my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE, will be making an appearance in an upcoming Avalon fan film, alive and healthy and played by actor WARREN HAWK.

As most of you probably know, Josh and Victoria were my directors on Interlude, and I consider both to be good friends. We often spend hours on the phone. The same is true for Vance, for whom a “short” call between the two of us is defined as anything under an hour!

So when I saw Josh and Vance having their own subspace “call” in New Orders, I decided to ask them both to say a few words about this new project…

Continue reading “MINARD joins the AVALON UNIVERSE in “NEW ORDERS” (interview with VANCE MAJOR and JOSH IRWIN)”