INTERLUDE update: How do you solve a problem like Ramirez?

The whole reason INTERLUDE exists (will exist) is because ALEC PETERS wanted to explain why Admiral Ramirez won’t be appearing in the Axanar sequels. In reality, actor TONY TODD left the production and declined to play Ramirez again. Actors J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and the late RICHARD HATCH, on the other hand, decided to stick with Alec and see it through.

And while the loss of Richard hit us all very hard, it turned out that losing Tony Todd, even though he is an amazing actor, wasn’t as devastating a set-back for the Axanar script as was the loss of Kharn. In other words, it was fairly easy to write out Ramirez and replace him with a different Starfleet commanding admiral. In Alec’s original draft, Ramirez gets wounded while being escorted back on a convoy from a secret meeting. His injuries are serious enough that he has to sit out the rest of the war, turning over his duties to Admiral Threl of Androria.

My Interlude script took that quick “oh, by the way…” bit of exposition and expanded it into a 10-12 minute fan film (or so I hope!). The only problem is: now I need to show Ramirez!

Granted, he only needs to be wounded, so he won’t have any spoken lines. In the comic book version, it was easy to show him—as the artwork in the panel above illustrates him lying in the Ares sickbay covered in blood. But what about the fan film?

Of course, I could simply take the easy way out and just not show Ramirez in Sickbay at all…and instead have the doctor call up to the bridge, “Captain, Admiral Ramirez is in critical condition down here!” But that would have been such a cop out.

Also, I was kinda looking forward to filming a scene somewhere other than on the Ares Studios bridge set. Granted, it’s a AWESOME set, but I really wanted one or two other locations for the action, as well. Initially, that Sickbay scene was going to be filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA on the TOS sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut. But that offer was rescinded. Fortunately, GLEN WOLFE stepped up and volunteered his WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas for the Sickbay scene.

Now we just needed to find someone to play Admiral Ramirez…!

Actually, that wasn’t all we needed. We also needed something for Ramirez to wear…preferably a spiffy white admiral’s tunic similar to what Tony Todd wore in PRELUDE TO AXANAR

Like most things with my production, there were unforeseen complications…because heaven forbid anything just goes completely smoothly, right???

You see, I’d initially assumed we’d just use the same white admiral’s tunic that Tony wore in Prelude. Alec would still have it, of course, so we’d take it out of his closet, ship it to Arkansas, dress our Ramirez in it, and Bob’s your uncle. Actually, Bob was my uncle (my father’s oldest brother)—but apparently not this time.

According to Alec, after Prelude was filmed, director CHRISTIAN GOSSETT took the white tunic to be dry-cleaned. Unfortunately, he didn’t give them any special instructions, assuming they’d be careful. And they probably were careful…just not careful enough. The gold trim down the center and below the shoulders bled all over the white material. The original tunic would now forever look like it was covered in mud and was no longer usable.

To quote Mork from Ork, “Shazbot!

Now, we did have the option of using this spiffy version of the same tunic created by costumers ANGELA AVINO (creator) and CLAUDE DOZIÈRE (consultant) in Italy…

Claude and Angela have been brought on by Alec to make the admiral’s tunics and the “Cage”-era uniforms for the Axanar sequels, and they made one custom-tailored for STEVE JEPSON (pictured above), who is the face of Admiral Conrad Slater, Ramirez’s predecessor. The only problem was the “custom-tailored” part.

Admiral Marcus Ramirez (like Tony Todd) is a big, beefy guy. Steve is very thin. If we cast aa actor who is the proper shape to be Ramirez, he’d fit into Slater’s tunic about as well as the Incredible Hulk fits into Bruce Banner’s pants. Now, we could “cheat” and have Ramirez’s tunic unzipped and open as he lay on the Sickbay bed, splashing all of the fake blood on just a white T-shirt underneath. But again, that seemed like a cheap cop-out to me.

If possible, I wanted a second admiral’s tunic, properly tailored to a big, beefy body shape. The only problem: it was gonna cost hundred of euros for material, labor, and shipping. All of this for a tunic that’ll be seen on screen for maybe 25 seconds.

After we redid our budget for the “point of no return” lower estimate (where we certainly would NOT be splurging on a new tunic), we calculated that, if the crowd-funder raised over $18.5K, we could afford it. So when it crossed that threshold, we were “go” for a tunic. Now we just needed to find someone to wear it!

Essentially, we needed the four Bs: big, beefy, bald black guy who lives near Fayetteville, Arkansas, and knows how to be an extra in a film. Apparently, this is easier said than done….especially when CBS and Paramount tell you in no uncertain terms that you can’t pay anyone to appear in your fan film.

We’d likely be able to find a big, beefy black guy in Arkansas fairly easily. BUT! There’d be no guarantee that the fellow would be willing to shave his entire head for a non-paying gig where he’s simply lying on an operating table moaning for 25 seconds on camera. Many extras and background actors are hired based on their appearance, which includes hair. If we made them shave it, that could affect their chances of landing another role until it grew back.

So VICTORIA FOX, who is not only co-director but also producer and casting director for Interlude, asked the obvious question: “Do you want to get someone who would likely have hair that we would need to partially hide behind one of the nurses? Or would you prefer someone bald who we can shoot from any angle?”

Given the choice, her co-director, JOSHUA IRWIN, said he would always prefer to have fewer constraints when setting up his shots. And as it turned out, Josh and Victoria both know someone who has all four b’s checked AND has already appeared in multiple Star Trek fan films before…and most of all is willing to work for free.

The only problem: he lives in Cleveland, Ohio. (It’s always sumthin’, ain’t it, folks?)

I certainly wasn’t gonna ask this guy to drive over 900 miles each way just to appear for free in my fan film for 25 seconds. So yeah, this is one of those “unforeseen expenses” that I knew was coming. Fortunately, American Airlines services both Cleveland and Fayetteville’s airports, so I’m planning to use my own frequent flyer miles for his plane ticket. Since Josh and/or Victoria can pick him up in Fayetteville and drive him to and from WARP 66 Studios, my only real expense is a hotel room for the night for him.

So who is this mysterious fellow?

Meet DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS. As I said, he’s no stranger to Star Trek fan films! David got his start in our little niche sub-genre way back in 2011 when he donated to the fan series Starship Farragut and was invited down to Kingsland, GA to appear in their episode “Conspiracy of Innocence” as a gold-shirted helm officer. Here’s some fun photos of him on set…

David was invited back to play a Mirror Universe villain in their next episode, The Crossing,” and will also appear in their series finale “Homecoming,” when it finally premieres someday. Here’s a short interview that he did with the Farragut Films folks back in 2017…

More recently, David agreed to appear as Captain Cuevas of the starship Velocity in scenes shot earlier this year for the eagerly anticipated PACIFIC 201 fan film…

And just a few months ago, David traveled to Arkansas to play a role in the the upcoming Avalon Universe fan film DEMONS, directed by my Interlude compadres Victoria and Josh.

David is a really nice guy, which probably comes from being the only child of an ordained minister mom. A veteran of both the U.S. Army and Air Force (wow!), David currently works for the Nestlé Corporation, along with being a licensed insurance agent since 2004. He is also a second degree black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate, and he actually appeared in a role in the second episode of the fifth season of The Drew Carey Show.

But the most amazing thing about David, I think, is how young he looks. The two Pacific 201 photos above are both from a recent shoot earlier this year. How old do you think David is? The answer appears at the very end of this blog.

David has already proven reliable by quickly getting himself measured for the tunic, visiting a local tailor to fill out this sheet supplied Angela and Claude (which has now been sent off to Italy)…

So anyway, that’s how we solved our Ramirez problem. Sure, a little extra hassle and stress, but that’s what this business is all about (or so I’m beginning to discover!). But things are coming together nicely, folks, and Interlude shoots in just three and a half more weeks…YIKES!!!

And David’s age? Would you believe he’s 65-years-old??? Man, I hope I look that good in a dozen more years!

23 thoughts on “INTERLUDE update: How do you solve a problem like Ramirez?”

  1. Does David work for Nestle’ at the Stouffers frozen Plant in Solon, Ohio? I shop at the plant’s Company Outlet store frequently!

  2. But Jonathan, all you had to do was put some wide gold braid on a regular uniform shirt. Admirals don’t go around every day in their Class-1 dress uniforms, especially during wartime on a transport ship!

    1. I need to be consistent with Slater and Threl. Also, it helps to connect the guy on the med-bed with Ramirez. Dressing him in just a regular tunic could make it seem, to a casual viewer, that it’s just some random crewman who’s been wounded. I want him to instantly read as Ramirez.

  3. Here’s wishing the best for INTERLUDE, it’s cast and crew… let’s make a great Fan Film! 🙂 I wish I lived closer to the action, but someone’s gotta live in the FROZEN TUNDRA that is Wisconsin. 😉 Thank you for joining the “typo king” club, too. 🙂 Looking forward to INTERLUDE! Ad Astra!

    -=Scott=-

    1. I’ve been to your great state in the summer for the EAA Fly-In in Oshkosh. It was 95 in the shade, dude! 🙂

      On the other hand, my best friend’s daughter is at UW in Madison. She was a so. cal gal until her freshman year last year. Now she’s a so cold gal…having just experienced her first arctic winter there last year. And winter is coming again! Good luck, Scott.

  4. So, instead of making your own fan film, you’re still trying to make up for Alec’s mistakes. Nice. Have you looked at uniforms he actually “got from Italy”? The fit is horrible! They look like crap onscreen. Good luck with yours.

    1. Which uniforms are you talking about? Angela and Claude did the “Cage”-era tunics, and those looked AWESOME with a capital AWESOME! And the Four Years War tunics from Los Angeles were also amazing. Are you sure you were watching the right fan film, KS? 🙂

  5. David is one of my favorite guys in fan films. We had a great time with him when he came out to film his scene in Demons. He’s a Karate master, and showed me cool videos of him knocking guys out in Karate tournaments. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again!

  6. “And now you know the rest of the story” -Paul Harvey (for those that are old enough to remember)

    One of the great services that you can and are performing here is to let newcomers know what is involved in all the gritty detail. The specific details will vary, of course, but the general theme of what someone will face when they have budget constraints, personnel constraints, time constraints, Murphy’s Law constraints and general orneriness of the universe constraints is real.

  7. 65!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No I don’t believe it. It’s all lies I tell you!

    Does this make me a detractor? 😉

  8. Jonathan,

    to clarify the confusion about the uniforms and who realized what for the shoot in Axanar TFYW, The tunics of battle in the Ares and Hercules of day 1 and day 2 were produced in the USA. The Cage tunics was
    from day 3 were designed and produced in Italy.

  9. Bald is Beautiful! As a fellow baldy (I lost my hair when I was just five years old), I wish David the very best of luck.

      1. Yeah, five going on six. Alopecia of some sort, we never did get to bottom of exactly what caused it.

        This was the mid-70s, when “Kojak” was hitting UK TV screens, so you can imagine what the other kids called me at school.

  10. Meh, I got over it. Besides, think of all the money I’ve saved in haircuts and shampoo etc. 🙂

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