STAR TREK vs. STAR TREK – a new fan film project (interview with CHRIS ALLEN)

Ladies and gentlemen, CHRISTOPHER ALLEN Is back!!!

And now you’re wondering: “Who the heck is Christopher Allen…and what exactly is he back from???”

In 2006, Christopher Allen wrote and directed what was—and still remains—one of the most audacious and ambitious fan film genre crossovers ever: STAR TREK VS. BATMAN.  This nearly hour-long production used amazingly accurate costume reproductions from the 1960s Batman TV series, built their own simplified versions of the Enterprise bridge and transporter sets, and even rented an actual batmobile replica for a day of shooting around the Indianapolis area.  You can read more about it here.

Well, that was then.  And although Chris produced some other independent films after 2006, Star Trek vs. Batman was the last the Trek fan production world heard from him.

Until last week.  That’s when someone sent me a link to this…

Could it be?  Are we on the cusp of yet another fan film parody out of Indianapolis???  It seemed so!

I checked around, and it turns out Chris Allen has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $13,400.  And not only is he planning to film in the Indiana State Capitol building (’cause, y’know, he lives in Indianapolis) but also on the TOS sets at STARBASE STUDIOS…one of the first Trek fan films to announcing booking the facility since they relocated from Oklahoma City to Harrison, Arkansas.

Here’s the synopsis from their website:

An ill-tempered, but gentle alien has summoned five of the most renowned federation captains from across space and time to the planet of Delta Fawcett Four. There, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew face off against Professor Xavier’s Enterprise D, Voyager, that weird looking spiky thing from DS9, and the “guy from Quantum Leap” Enterprise in a forgettable, but timeless tournament that will leave your sides half-split with laughter.

SPECIAL GUEST STAR ASHLEY ALEXISS is taken hostage by an evil alien that has been knocking around the galaxy. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock beam down to rescue Kirk’s beautiful space vixen, only to be taken hostage by Captain Pike in a pimped out wheelchair.

Well, that sounded intriguing!

So I contacted Chris, introduced myself (turns out he already knew me from that blog I wrote about his first Trek fan film), and asked if he’d mind answering a few questions.  He was delighted to…

JONATHAN – Chris, you made Star Trek vs Batman back in 2006.  Now you’re back more than a decade later to make a new Star Trek fan film.  What have you been doing in the interim, and what made you suddenly decide to return to the world of Trek fan productions?

Christopher Allen

CHRIS – I stepped away from it after losing my father to brain cancer in 2008. Losing a parent changes absolutely EVERYTHING in one’s life, professionally and personally. You question everything you were taught to believe. Less than six months after that, my wife and I had our first child, so putting bread on the table was my first and ONLY priority. I shifted professional gears and started up my own business to provide for my family.

Two reasons for coming back now…and I really wouldn’t call it a “comeback,” as this is not a full-time return to the movie profession for me. This is a “one-off” production.

The first reason is my eight-year-old son has asked me to show him what daddy used to do and my 15-year-old nephew wants to learn more about filmmaking. Secondly, making movies is therapeutic for myself and many of my crew. It allows us to escape the day-to-day grind of life, and to revisit a universe that all of us have loved for many wonderful years.

JONATHAN – What has changed for you as a filmmaker since you produced your last Star Trek fan film?  What new skills, experiences, and capabilities do you bring to Star Trek vs. Star Trek that weren’t there for Star Trek vs. Batman?

CHRIS – A sharper understanding of marketing and promoting. My 2009 original film A Time for the Heart was selected to be featured at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con film festival. There, I had a front row seat to the endless challenges in promoting anything during the blizzard and chaos that is SDCC. Unless you have deep pockets, it is impossible to get anyone’s attention for more than half a second. There’s just so much content out there now, and the pressure to fit ANYTHING into the confines of “tweets” and “likes” makes this even more of a challenge.

On a side note (and really more of a personal observation), but when I saw a guy’s forehead all marked up with his Twitter handle at SDCC, I just felt that was too much. I had done the Hollywood scene years before, and now as a parent, my life just isn’t all about “me” anymore.  It’s about the ones you love and the relationships we have.  I began giving to projects like For the Love of Spock and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s After School All-Stars Program because, at their heart, they were about a guy (Adam Nimoy) who dearly loves his dad, and caring for our children.  Those are the things that are so much more important than having some Twitter handle written on one’s forehead.

JONATHAN – So who else is on your production team at the moment, and what do they bring to the table?

CHRIS – Greg Fauvergue, Director of Photography from my 2009 fan film, Quantum Leap: A Leap to Di For and Star Trek vs. Batman. This will make our fourth film project we will have worked together on.

Dave Briggs, co-producer of Quantum Leap: A Leap to Di for and actor in most of my films. Over thirty years of acting experience.

Matt Beikes, co-producer and owner of Jazzydog Productions. Twenty-five years of theater and film making experience.

Steve Durgarn, actor and co-producer with Rutledge Productions. Twenty years of acting and film experience.

JONATHAN – It looks like, from the trailer video, that you’re making another parody fan film like Star Trek vs. Batman.  Can you tell us more about what to expect?

CHRIS – Absolutely. Star Trek is a fun sandbox to play in. One lesson I learned many years ago was not to take yourself too seriously. This isn’t Shakespeare. It’s a great chance to let your hair down and play Star Trek for a few weekends. Look for countless hijinks, plenty of punches between Picard and Kirk, and a bombshell ending that will make the fans go “ape.”

JONATHAN – Indeed!  Well, let me turn briefly to your GoFundMe campaign, which you just kicked off last week and currently stands (as I publish this blog) at $115.  Now granted, it’s only been eleven days, but usually, fan productions build up buzz about their crowd-funding campaigns for a few months before launching them.  Instead, you launched your campaign only 27 days before the July 1 deadline (which you stated on your website) of needing $4,569.  Many recent Trek fan film campaigns haven’t reached even half that number.  On your site, you say that if you don’t reach your goal by July 1 that the project won’t happen.  But would you consider delaying the start of production to allow additional time for a more protracted crowd-funding campaign…or is it now or never?

CHRIS  – No. It can definitely be delayed to raise more…plus I’ll be adding in my cash as well. It will take some time for this to simmer on the front burner to get that secret sauce.

JONATHAN – Along the lines of fund-raising ideas, model Ashley Alexiss is an interesting, um, asset that most fan productions don’t have access to.  She has over 5 million followers on Facebook.  Have you considered asking her followers each for just $1?  Even if you got just one-tenth of 1% response rate, you’d have $5K right there.

CHRIS – It’s one thing to laugh and have fun in the Star Trek sandbox. But it’s entirely different to ask fans to pay to see it, especially in this post-guideline reality we’re finding ourselves in.  Asking Ashley’s fans for just $1 is asking too much. Ashley has been very kindhearted in her mentions and tweets through her amazing social media channels, but I’m not asking her fans for anything. Ashley has worked very hard to build her brand, and she’s doing us a favor in appearing in this. It’s similar to investor relations. Show, not tell.

JONATHAN – Fair enough.  So, assuming you do get successfully funded and film in September, when do you think fans will see the finished product?

CHRIS – That’s the real “chicken or the egg” question, isn’t it? We have all the software and gear to put this together pretty quick, so we are very blessed in that area. If we nail the September goal, look for something in early 2018.

For more information or to donate, click on the image below…

Christopher and I completed this interview late last week, just before ADAM “Batman” WEST passed away on Saturday.  Noting the coincidental and somewhat awkward timing of interviewing the creator of the Star Trek vs. Batman fan film so close to Adam West’s passing, I went back to Chris and asked him if he wanted to say a few additional words about the sad event.  Here was his response…

CHRIS – In the blizzard of sympathies and condolences for Adam West, I’d like to shine a light on something that is too often overlooked and/or not discussed in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one.  Grief.

The loved ones in Adam West’s immediate circle are now going through an insurmountable amount of overwhelming grief.  A child has lost his/her parent.  A wife has lost her husband.  A lifelong friend has lost his/her dearest chum. Beyond the glitz and fun of Batman was a father.  A family has lost their wise and seasoned man who bettered not only his family, but legions of people around the world.

Do not be afraid of grief. Be courageous and go to the dark places. Ask your loved one what they are thinking.  And don’t say “let me know if you need anything” because that puts pressure on them. Show up. Bring them a nice warm dinner. Cut their grass. Just do it and don’t tell them. Trust me, that goes a long way when a person is lost in trenches of day-to-day sorrow.

For me personally, I wept for a brief moment yesterday as another chapter of my childhood passed on. I had never met Adam West, but have heard many wonderful stories from my friends who have met him. My immediate thoughts go to his family, who I’m sure are in a very dark place at this moment. All of us as fans will go on tomorrow to our jobs and routines, but a year or even ten years from now, Adam’s children will still have that hole in their hearts from losing their parent. It’s a universal concept all human beings will relate to at one time or another, no matter if they just happen to be Batman or not.

But damn, I will miss him.

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