Okay, anyone who is still claiming that the CBS fan film guidelines “killed” or “destroyed” or “ruined” Star Trek fan films “forever” needs to be strapped into the Neutral Neutralizer chair and forced to read this blog!
Sure, the 6-figure crowd-funded productions were now a thing of the past, but they were always the exception and not the rule anyway. Most fan projects have traditionally had very humble budgets, and those have continued to live long and prosper. If they weren’t doing so, I doubt I’d be spending so much time writing this darned blog!
Speaking of which, did you know that I’ve published 205(!!!) individual blog entries in 2019? Yep, I just counted! Granted, some have been reviews of Star Trek: Discovery or Short Treks episodes; a good number of blogs were in support of the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE and other fan film crowd-funders; the long-awaited production of AXANAR itself got a lot coverage, as did the Star Trek/Dr. Seuss “mash-up” infringement case; and there were news stories and updates and, sadly, eulogies for ARON EISENBERG, D.C. FONTANA, and RENÉ AUBERJONOIS. And of course, I also continued my series of “The History Of…” features, most recently focusing on the Scottish fan series INTREPID.
But there were also more than TWO DOZEN brand new Star Trek fan film releases that got special coverage here on Fan Film Factor in 2019…plus another FIFTY new CONSTAR CHRONICLES fan films from VANCE MAJOR—and remember that many fan films were two-parts.
And this is by no means even a complete list!!!
There were also a number of releases I didn’t get to yet (hey, I’m just one guy!), including ones from Germany (STAR TREK: EUDERION) and the Czech Republic (STAR TREK: DIPLOMACY), humor vignette series like STAR TREK: IT GUY and the surreal STAR TREK: STUNT DOUBLES…and a whole bunch of smaller efforts from right here in the U.S.A. and around the world. So I’d say we’re well over a HUNDRED new Trek fan films in 2019…
Dead, Jim? Hardly!
So just in case you missed any of my features and/or interviews (both written and audio) covering these many fan releases—of if you’d just like to enjoy something to watch during your down time before heading back to work later this week—here’s what’s been published here on Fan Film Factor for new Trek releases over the past twelve months (click in the title(s) to view the blogs or else just watch the videos below them)…
The fourth fan film release from the Star Trek anthology series The Federation Files was an impressive “crossover” with the Star Wars universe…including a really impressive R2 droid that steals the show. This series is shot at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas, the newest TOS sets available to serve the fan filmmaking community.
A jaw-dropping visual FX spectacular featuring a crossover of ships and characters from Star Trek, Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Halo. And remember to scroll to the bottom of the blog page for an eye-opening video showing the behind-the-scenes tricks the team used to make everything look so awesome!
SAMUEL COCKINGS’ long-awaited CGI time travel extravaganza almost didn’t happen, as CBS decided to step in at the last minute when they discovered footage from the TNG movies being incorporated into a trailer for the hour-long fan film. However, cooler heads prevailed, and although Sam was forced to remove the TNG footage and change the music, he was also ALLOWED to run over the 30-minute run-time limit set by the guidelines. The final result was worth waiting for.
The running gag behind-the-scenes on the fan series Dreadnought Dominion was that, after half a dozen fan films between 2015 and 2018, the great tri-nacelled starship still hadn’t left Spacedock! That finally changed with this 5-minute vignette, which was produced somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but at least the ship got into space! “Technical Difficulties” was also the first-ever Trek fan production to be filmed before a live studio audience (at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA).
JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX took the Star Trek fan film world by storm on Halloween of 2018 with the release of the 2-part GHOST SHIP, a mash-up of Star Trek and The Walking Dead taking place in the parallel “Avalon” Universe. Five months later, they launched the crowd-funding campaign for their third Avalon fan film by releasing their second Avalon film. All three—in terms of acting, directing, editing, and overall quality—are MUST-SEE!
Leading up to the long-anticipated release of mock documentary style fan film THE ROMULAN WAR, show-runner MARK NACCARATO began releasing a series of “enhanced” audio dramas. These were voice-over “logs” from various people recorded during the war and presented on YouTube with photos and animated graphics. But “The Fighting Fourth”—perhaps the best one yet—actually featured a video recording of the main character…plus amazing CGI from the Brilliant Brit himself, SAMUEL COCKINGS.
Southern California-based filmmaker MATTHEW BLACKBURN released his first Star Trek fan film, SURVIVOR, in 2010. Seven years later in the summer of 2017, Matthew released a sequel: SURVIVORS. His third production completes a “trilogy” (of sorts), featuring the same main character in an exciting thriller. Will there be more Survivors? Only time will tell.
POTEMKIN PICTURES releases a plethora of Trek fan films each year from six different production teams (soon to be more!) based across multiple states. “Diplomatic Relations” was the tenth release from the Starship Deimos production team. And this time, for a little change of pace, instead of just getting a short quote or two from show-runner RANDY LANDERS, I interviewed the episode’s writer/director/fight choreographer (and star) LEE DREW.
New Yorker GEORGE KAYAIAN has been making Star Trek fan films for nearly three decades now. But this latest episode of Starship Antyllus marked the debut of his daughter ANYA SHEILA KAYAIAN in front of the camera. Also appearing in a cameo was VANCE MAJOR, playing his fan-favorite character of Erick Minard from Vance’s epic series of fan films.
This fan film almost didn’t happen…but we’re glad it did! A year after releasing his first Star Trek fan film in 2017, the must-see CHANCE ENCOUNTER, GARY O’BRIEN of Great Britain tried to crowd-fund his next project and failed to get even half-way to his $11,000 (£8,700) goal. But a very generous fan bankrolled Gary’s entire production costs, and after a year of hard work and some amazing set construction, Gary released his second MUST-SEE fan film…even better than his first!
Was this documentary on the history of Deep Space Nine truly a Star Trek “fan film”? I believe so! Despite being made by the same professionals who produced the seven-season TV series for Paramount, the Hollywood studios (neither Paramount not CBS) had no interest in bankrolling any kind of retrospective. So Executive Producer IRA STEVEN BEHR reached out to fans and raised $650K on Indiegogo (and even more later on). The project spent nearly two years in production, and fortunately was able to be released to the fans and public before the tragic and untimely passing of two of the DS9 cast, ARON EISENBERG and RENÉ AUBERJONOIS. If you haven’t seen the full documentary yet, it’s only a few dollars to rent on YouTube and 100% worth it!
The 11th release from POTEMKIN PICTURES’ Starship Deimos creative team followed closely on the heels of their 10th release. This time, the episode was filmed entirely on location in Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Alabama. In the blog commentary from RANDY LANDERS, he describes some of the challenges and fun stories from shooting in the great outdoors.
For past couple of years, the short episode vignettes from Dreadnought Dominion had been more tongue-in-cheek. But the 23-minute “Redemption at Red Medusa” was totally serious and pretty exciting. It not only featured a Romulan attack, but it included Romulan characters, a Romulan bridge set, and the first appearance of the Romulan “Stormbird” design outside of trailers for the upcoming The Romulan War fan film (compliments of the Sorcerer of CGI SAMUEL COCKINGS).
As MARK LARGENT continues to work on CGI production for Stalled Trek: “The City on the Edge of Foreclosure” (the first new full-length TOS puppet parody since in 2012’s Stalled Trek: “Amutt Time”), he took the opportunity to release a short and hilarious vignette using the new Blender 3D application. The results look quite promising for what’s to come!
The next release from POTEMKIN PICTURES was the third fan film from the Starship Triton creative team, featuring the character of Commander Janice Rand as a prominent crew member…although played by a new actress. I asked RANDY LANDERS about this casting change (and a few other things) in the accompanying blog interview.
The Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi once famously commented about a dream he had of being a butterfly: “…fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” So replace “butterfly” with “Captain James T. Kirk” and replace “man” with “nerdy Trekkie,” and you have LARRY FLEMING’s surrealistic To Have Boldly Gone. Check it out.
AARON VANDERKLEY, the Australian fan film “wonder from down under,” had already earned quite a sterling reputation after releasing four amazing NX-era Star Trek fan films: NEEDS OF THE MANY, THE DERELICT, GOOD MEN, and THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE. But Aaron saved the best for last, as his fifth and final fan production ties into the other four and caps off a triumphant 4-year run with a true fan film masterpiece.
POTEMKIN PICTURES strikes again with two releases in less than a month: the two-part “Repercussions,” the first new fan film(s) from the Starship Tristan creative team in nearly eight months. Prior to that, the Tristan team had released five episodes in seven months. So I asked RANDY LANDERS in the blog about how scheduling and production/post-production works for the various POTEMKIN teams. I also learned that POTEMKIN PICTURES itself (i.e. Randy and his wife and sets) would soon be moving from Alabama to Kentucky.
One of the “eras” of Star Trek that remains sadly unexplored by the vast majority of fan films is the time period around Star Trek: The Motion Picture when Starfleet uniforms were a combination of pajamas, tennis shirts, and 1970s spa robes in pastel colors and various earth tones. But some of those uniforms (especially the admiral’s tunic) are actually pretty cool…especially when fabricated by accomplished cosplayers like show-runner DAVID CHENG. Take a look at his take on that “meeting” Kirk had with Admiral Nogura in The Human Adventure.
What’s most interesting about “The Heist” is that it’s a direct result of the fan film guidelines. Initially, this episode was simply going to be the B-story of a much grander “Redemption at Red Medusa” fan film, originally written three years prior to the guidelines. When the guidelines later limited the run time of fan films to 30 minutes, show-runners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN pulled the B-story from the “Medusa” script and turned it into its own self-contained fan film.
The Avalon Universe has quickly become a fan-favorite alternate reality to visit, thanks primarily to the skills of co-creators VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN. Their extensive skills as industry professionals are impressively on display in their third and most ambitious offering yet: the 2-part Demons. Get ready for an intense and emotional ride with quality acting, directing, lighting, sound, editing, costumes, make-up, stunts, VFX…the list goes on and on and on!
VANCE MAJOR is a fan filmmaking MACHINE! His Minard saga spanned three dozen different fan films from short vignettes to full episodes of multiple different fan series…including his own. Now Vance is back, this time joined by the 24th century crew of the USS Constar. And in an unprecedented move, Vance released—over a single weekend—69 different fan films! This includes updated versions of 18 of his previous Minard films plus 51 brand new episodes of The Constar Chronicles. Click the image above to go to the main playlist and start your binge-watching experience.
The sixth fan film from POTEMKIN PICTURES’ Battlecruiser Kupok creative team was also a full-on crossover with another POTEMKIN series, Hospital Ship Marie Curie. The Klingon crew, which does not trust humans, must find a way to get past that prejudice in order to obtain the medical aid they need. The episode had some casting challenges to overcome, which RANDY LANDERS discusses in this brief blog interview.
The 13th episode of Starship Antyllus (and the second for the year) tackled the often-controversial topics of faith and God. This makes for a pretty deep and dramatic story. While Star Trek fan films haven’t entirely avoided the subject of religious beliefs, it’s still a rarity. And so, in this blog interview, I asked show-runner GEORGE KAYAIAN about his decision to take on this challenging theme in his latest release.
There are also two other fan films whose blogs are currently being worked on and which will appear over the next few days (the fan films did both come out in 2019!)…
LET OLD WRINKLES COME
First-time fan filmmaker BENNY HALL burst out of the starting gate with a fan project that cost him $50,000 of his own money. Filmed at both Vasquez Rocks Park in Southern California (site of countless Star Trek shoots over the decades) and at Neutral Zone Studios in Georgia (where Star Trek Continues was filmed), Benny brought STC veterans VIC MIGNOGNA, LISA HANSELL, and TIM VITTETOE back to Trek fan films…along with one very convincing (and angry!) mugato!
THE FEDERATION FILES: “THE EQUINOX EFFECT”
The fifth release from the Star Trek anthology fan series The Federation Files presents long-time members of the fan film community with a “gift,” of sorts. Not only does this latest offering tell a story featuring Picard, Data, Janeway, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, M’Ress, Chapel, and Captain Rudy Ransom, but it also includes footage from a half-dozen fan films that haven’t been completed yet, some of which were completely abandoned projects. Now they each get to live on in the form of a self-contained Star Trek fan film that incorporates them all.
THE LOOKING GLASS
And finally, I need to include a fan film that I did not cover here on Fan Film Factor but should have. The Looking Glass was the first release from Neutral Zone Studios itself—not simply filmed there like many other fan films since RAY TESI purchased the TOS sets from VIC VIGNOGNA but actually released as a production of the studio itself. It will apparently be the first of many such fan productions from Neutral Zone Studios.
And remember, folks, this is still only a partial list for 2019! So many more Trek fan films come out each year than I can possibly hope to cover properly. However, if you do want to see all of them (and I do mean ALL) be sure to check out my blog “brother from another mother”—in this case, the “mother” is fan film legend BARBARA READER and her team—the super-complete Star Trek Reviewed. They don’t miss anything!
Have a wonderful 2020, folks. We’ve finally made it through the troublesome teens!