THE FEDERATION FILES releases its 4th fan film: “GALAXY HOPPER” (interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

THE FEDERATION FILES is an anthology Star Trek fan series from show-runners GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS, both currently based in Arkansas. In fact, Glen is 50% owner of what remains of the TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS. But more recently, Glen and Dan constructed a new TOS bridge set for use in their latest Federation Files fan film, “Galaxy Hopper.”

The Federation Files first launched in October of 2016 with the 47-minute “His Name Is Mudd” featuring the crew of the USS Constitution.  Ten months later, their second anthology episode, the 28-minute “Walking Bear, Running Wolf,” featured two live-action characters who had previously been seen only in the Star Trek animated series: Ensign Dawson Walking Bear and Lt. M’Ress of the USS Enterprise.  Most recently, in January of 2018, The Federation Files‘ third production,  the 13-minute “Extraction,” featured Romulans, a Starfleet shuttlecraft interior, and the dreadnought-class USS Nikita.

Through it all, the one constant (aside the use of the Arkansas sets for filming) has been the “Wolf/Reynolds Production” logo at the end.  With the release of their latest Federation Files episode, the Star Trek/Star Wars crossover “Galaxy Hopper,” Glen and Dan come together once again for a very exciting and good-looking fan effort on board the USS Lexington. What stands out this time—in addition to a really awesome astromech droid!—is a brand new TOS bridge set constructed specially for this production…along with the director: KELLY REYNOLDS.

You probably haven’t seen the name “Kelly Reynolds” in any other Star Trek fan film before…and that’s because, up until November 24, 2018, that wasn’t her name! Kelly and Dan just got married!

I decided to interview Dan Reynolds about “Galaxy Hopper,” the new bridge set, and finding the love of his life and having her direct his latest fan project. But first, take a look at what they just released…

JONATHAN – First of all, Dan, congratulations to you and Kelly on tying the knot!

DAN – Thank you, Jonathan. We’re really happy.

Kelly and Dan Reynolds…fan film newlyweds!

JONATHAN – So where did you two first meet?

DAN – I met Kelly early on when we were shooting “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.”

JONATHAN – Really??? You found LOVE on the set of a Star Trek fan film…that’s so awesome! So how did Kelly go from being your main squeeze to being your main director?

Kelly Reynolds

DAN – Kelly caught on very quickly about making fan films and understood the importance of organization and the different important roles in front and behind the camera.  She was my assistant early on and took an interest in what we were doing. A Star Trek fan from the beginning, I soon realized she wanted to be helpful in all that made up The Federation Files and getting the episodes from concept to completion. 

Kelly is also a professional book narrator, and the complexity and process of getting an audio book recorded, edited, and submitted—along with her organizational skills—is a great addition to helping to better the process of getting our episodes completed.

Directing is a natural thing for Kelly.  But unlike the typical Hollywood style of direction, every Federation Files episode has been about collaboration.  However, whoever is directing, they have the final say after hearing from everyone.

Kelly’s strength in the director’s role during “Galaxy Hopper” was pointing out little details in continuity and sometimes acting choices either in blocking, responses to a line, or line delivery. She saved me a lot of work in the editing room with her keen suggestions.

JONATHAN – Well, that brings me around to a few questions about you, Dan. First off, what’s your background in fan films?

DAN – I first got involved in Star Trek fan films back in 2014 on the Star Trek: New Voyages episode “Mind-Sifter” as sound engineer.  The following year, I worked as behind-the-scenes producer on “Torment of Destiny,” which has not been released as of this date. The following year, I was asked to come and work as cinematographer to get some pick-up shots for “Torment” so the film could be completed. 

Back in 2014, I had met Glen but never really had a professional relationship with him until “Torment” where he was working on his first screenplay and as producer for his first fan film, “His Name Is Mudd.” His project had been almost a year in production and was stalled. And so I offered to help him get it moving by editing some of his scenes from raw footage that had not yet been touched. 

Dan Reynolds

Because of my years in video production, it was relatively easy to knock out what Glen needed on “Mudd.” I became cinematographer, editor, sound, special effects artist, music arranger, and a myriad of other duties that I found myself tackling. 

Since “Mudd,” Glen and I have produced 3 other episodes, “Walking Bear, Running Wolf”, “Extraction,” and now “Galaxy Hopper.”

Along with these, I’ve helped with sound and cinematography work for Michael L. King on Starship Valiant “Crosses to Bear,” sound and extra for “The Ties That Bind,” and his next release, “Animals.”

JONATHAN – So are you still doing all these different jobs on this latest episode, or have you focused more on just a few specific tasks?

DAN – I’m mostly cinematographer and director of photography during shooting days and then switch hats as the post-production manager—which covers editing, color grading, foley, music arrangement, special CG effects, titling, special visual effects, etc.  What you see in the final episode, I have a large part in.

JONATHAN – In other words, you’re still doing a ton of different jobs!

DAN – Yes.

JONATHAN – So what is the process for you and Glen once he comes up with his story idea? How does that idea turn into a finished fan film?

Dan and Glen with a Bjo Award for “Walking Bear, Running Wolf”

DAN – The process is really quite simple. Glen would come up with a story idea, write the first draft of the script, and consult with me about how I wanted to approach each scene from a cinematic and post-production point of view.  He would orchestrate getting actors by sending out a general casting call for specific parts needed, schedule time when shooting days would happen, and we would work in tandem days of the shoot in whatever capacity that was needed.  

I have to say here that Glen is a magnificent show runner, producer, and manages all phases of pre-production better than anyone I have ever seen. Some fan films that I have had the privilege of being able to witness have never come close to being as efficient as he. 

JONATHAN – Where and how did you find your cast?  Are they fans, actors, friends/family, or a little of all three? 

DAN – Yes, everyone who appears in our films are fans, actors, friends, and family.  My son was in “Extraction,” and my grandson was in “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” and “Extraction.”  Glen’s daughters have been in several of not only our films but also New Voyages and Michael King’s Starship Valiant productions. And of course, my new wife, Kelly, directed “Galaxy Hopper”…so there’s lots of family involved.

Our Facebook group page, The Federation Files Cast and Crew Page, is where all of our support team comes from, and we are adding new people all the time. 

Chris Leffel with R2R9 (far left)

JONATHAN – And where did you get that awesome Star Wars droid?

DAN – The droid is owned my CHRIS LEFFEL. Glen and I met him at VisionCon in Hollister, Missouri easier this year.  He has different R2 units that he builds out of aluminum and other materials and they are fully functional.

JONATHAN – That’s totally cool…I love that droid! Now, let’s shift to shooting locations. I’ve been told that some of this fan film was shot on the TOS sets formerly known as Starbase Studios, now located in Dogpatch in the town of Marble Falls, Arkansas…

DAN – All transporter, corridor, and briefing room shots were filmed earlier this year at the Dogpatch studio.  All shuttle and bridge scenes were shot at my studio where those sets are permanently housed.

JONATHAN – I was just about to mention the new sets at your studio. Thanks for the segue. Now, for those who aren’t aware, Glen Wolfe is still 50% owner of the sets in Dogpatch…which include a full 360-degree TOS bridge.  So why not film the bridge scenes there?  Why build a completely new bridge set?

DAN – Glen and I didn’t want any roadblocks to keep us from continuing our episodes, and I offered a place where we could continue without all the drama.

Dan and Glen take a selfie during bridge set construction.

JONATHAN – Fair enough. I won’t pry further. So how long did it take to finish building this new TOS bridge and shuttlecraft interior set?

DAN – It took a few months to complete the bridge.  The other sets mentioned were completed for “Extraction” last year.

JONATHAN – So you’ve built a partial bridge and a shuttle set.  What other TOS sets are you planning to add/construct?

DAN – Glen and I look at our filmmaking in a different way than what you may think.  Because we are primarily Star Trek TOS driven, we start from whatever story is in front of us to produce.  We definitely need a Constitution class bridge in just about every episode.  So that is a permanent set.  In “Extraction,” we needed a shuttle set.  We built it.  Also in “Extraction,” we needed a Romulan runabout; we built it.  Those are currently still standing and we may use them in the future.

I have several areas both at my Harrison TV station, my home studio, and my other TV station in Mountain Home, Arkansas. If we need a set, we have enough wall flats, plantons, and accessories to build whatever is needed.  
The old thinking was to build a complete sound stage outfitted with every TOS set price imaginable.  We don’t look at it that way.

JONATHAN – Will you and Glen be making these new sets available to other fan productions to use for filming (like Starbase Studios used to do), or are they only for The Federation Files?

DAN – We’re not in that businesses of supplying a place for every fan film maker.  We have purposely steered clear of having a place where it would raise questions about tours, admission, profits, etc.  We are a non-profit production company making Star Trek fan films.

 JONATHAN – Does the new studio have a cool name yet?

DAN – WARP 66 Studios.

JONATHAN – Just like it says on your logo at the end of the credits. Does the name “WARP 66” have any special significance?

DAN – WARP66 is an acronym for Wolfe And Reynolds Productions and the beginning of TOS in 1966.

JONATHAN – Ah, now I get it! I wanted to ask briefly about the footage from Star Trek: Equinox that you used for “Galaxy Hopper.” For readers who don’t know, Equinox was a fan-funded film back in 2015 that was to star JOHN SAVAGE (reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom of the USS Equinox from Star Trek: Voyager) as well as GARY LOCKWOOD (reprising his role of a now-restored, older Gary Mitchell from the TOS episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”). The project ultimately folded after shooting a number of scenes, planning to continue on as an audio series.

So how did you guys come to get access to that “lost” footage?

DAN – I do know that Glen, working on so many fan films, met up with the owner of the material, and he acquired the rights to use the footage of Mitchell and Kopelos.

JONATHAN – And did Glen write the script before or after knowing he would include Gary Mitchell’s cameo?

DAN – Glen had it in mind when he wrote the script. Basically, it seemed to set up the last episodes of Star Trek Continues nicely.

Actor Gary Lockwood reprising his role of Gary Mitchell in the unfinished fan film STAR TREK: EQUINOX.

JONATHAN – I’m assuming that, since the footage was shot before the guidelines that you’re probably grandfathered in for using a Trek guest star?

DAN – Because of the connections with those who wanted Equinox to succeed but didn’t, we feel it’s not a sticking point with CBS in using old and unproduced footage that is available to us. We could have easily used other actors or chosen another script, but paying homage to Star Trek is our goal. Again, this is our hobby, and up to this date, we have self-funded, and profit is not our agenda.

JONATHAN – What are the future plans for The Federation Files?

DAN – Well, our next episode is called, “Equinox.”

JONATHAN – So I’m assuming it will have more “lost” footage from the aborted 2015 fan film?

DAN – Yes. About 50% has been shot, and we plan its completion in early 2019.

JONATHAN – Keeping the assembly line moving…excellent! Anything else in the works?

DAN – I wrote an outline for a story,”Doppelganger,” and Glen wrote the script.  That has been on the back burner until “Equinox” is completed. We expect principle photography will begin early 2019 and be completed mid-2019. We are planning three productions this coming year, and the final episode has not been named yet.

JONATHAN – Well, I can’t wait to see them!

DAN – And we can’t wait to show them.