VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN didn’t think it was necessary that I write this blog. “We do this sort of thing all the time,” they told me. “It’s part of our job.” Well, maybe for work where they’re being paid professionally, but this is a FLIPPIN’ FAN FILM. And what they did this weekend meant a lot to me personally, and I want to tell you folks about it.
First though, I need to ask: what is it about INTERLUDE that invites acts of God, fate, or just Murphy? Do you remember last May when the Arkansas River flooded and trapped my composer KEVIN CROXTON on one side for days? Or the stray dog that delayed my GoFundMe rollout? Or the woodpecker trapped in the chimney? If you’ve forgotten, here’s the blog that listed everything that went wrong leading up to the launch of the Interlude crowd-funder.
Knowing our track record, I had a Star Wars-like “bad feeling” in the pit of my stomach when we scheduled the Sickbay shoot at WARP 66 Studios for the second weekend in January. It wasn’t that I was worried about bad weather in Arkansas. It’s a southern state, and at most, it’ll get four or five inches of snow over an entire winter season. And as for tornadoes, while there have been some during the winter months, those mostly come in the springtime there.
No, I was worried about Cleveland.
The fellow who is playing the wounded Admiral Ramirez in Interlude, DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS (read more about him here), lives in Cleveland, OH. And when I booked his flight to Fayetteville, I had visions of a huge Noreaster or Polar Vortex hitting the northeast and upper midwest and grounding his plane. I purposefully looked for connecting flights to Fayetteville through Raleigh, NC rather than Chicago just to try to minimize the risk of winter storms screwing up our January shoot.
Turns out that I should have been more worried about snow and tornadoes in Arkansas…
I don’t know if you folks saw the news this past weekend, but Friday and Saturday brought a massive cold front with a temperature drop of nearly 30 degrees Fahrenheit, spawning a severe mix of thunderstorms, snow, and tornadoes in—you guessed it!—Arkansas (along with six other neighboring states). And if you scroll up this page to look at the Saturday morning precipitation map of the area, you’ll see that some the worst weather of all was right along the route that Victoria, Josh, and David had to drive to get from Fayetteville to WARP 66 Studios.
And it wasn’t just Saturday’s weather that was bad. The severe thunderstorms began hitting Fayetteville on Friday…just as David was flying in during the afternoon. I was so relieved when I got David’s text that he’d landed safely and had been picked up at the airport by Josh. The two of them were off to practice some karate together.
Earlier in the day, Victoria herself was dodging tornadoes looking for make-up supplies for the actors and extras, along with fake blood and other injury materials for David as Ramirez. Victoria is incredibly busy with professional commitments, and she had reserved Friday to prepare for the Saturday shoot. Unfortunately, Friday’s weather turned very bad very quickly. But the show must go on, as they say!
Victoria worked for hours and hours Friday night getting everything ready for the Saturday shoot. The three of them left for the studio at 7:15 am for what MapQuest says should be a little over two hours of driving. But not this time! In addition to wind and thunderstorms, there was snow and ice to deal with, and the gang didn’t arrive until 10:30 am…more than 3 hours later!
Josh says that he didn’t mind the drive. They spent the time talking about movies and karate and all sorts of stuff. And as he reminded me, filmmakers often have to drive long hours to the middle of nowhere, and the weather isn’t always cooperative. Nevertheless, I know what it’s like driving through snow with ice and sleet and slippery roads where you have to keep your speed down (I went to college in rural upstate New York, folks). So when I say I sincerely appreciate them making the trip in these conditions, I really mean it.
Joshua and Victoria told me that they actually had a real blast shooting the Sickbay scene there. GLEN WOLFE apparently did some amazing adjustments to his set to make it look less TOS and more “Cage”-era and even Axanar-era. I haven’t seen what he did yet because everyone was way too busy to take pictures (that would have been my job, but I stayed in California). So we’re ALL gonna have to wait until Interlude comes out to see what Glen did with Sickbay. (Well, I’ll get to see it in the edit first.)
Everyone had stuff to do. Josh was preparing the camera and lights for the shots, and Victoria was doing everyone’s make-up (including her own), getting costumes prepared, and blocking (placing) the extras. Only two extras were able to make it there through the weather, but that’s okay. A doctor and two nurses tending to Ramirez is just fine with me!
As for acting, Josh tells me that Victoria hit it out of the park…as she usually does. Even though Victoria is directing Interlude (and getting a credit for make-up and wardrobe!), she’s also got an important line as the doctor who reports Ramirez’s condition to Garth on the bridge. And of course, she nailed it because Victoria is an awesome actor.
There was only about two and half hours available before everyone had to put away the equipment and rush back to Fayetteville (three and a half hours in the other direction) so David could make his evening plane flight out. Now, you might think that two and a half hours is more than enough time to film a scene that lasts maybe 20 seconds. But there’s multiple takes and multiple angles, and Joshua and Victoria told me that they just barely made it. But they got the footage they needed, it looks fantastic (I can’t wait to see it!), and they loved every minute of the thrill of filmmaking. That’s why they do it.
So what’s left for Interlude? Well, almost everything is “in the can” now, as they say. There’s only one more live shoot scheduled for mid-February at Ares Studios. Josh and Victoria are headed back to Lawrenceville, GA to help out on the next Axanar shoot, where ALEC PETERS will be doing his documentary interview scenes as Garth wearing his “Cage”-era turtleneck tunic. His hair won’t be dyed this time—as it was back in October, November, and December—so he’ll look a little older.
We also need a few lines from “older” Garth for Interlude. So when Alec finishes up his Axanar scenes in front of the green screen, Victoria and Joshua will switch over to Interlude to get Alec doing our shots. There’s also a really short scene of the USS Artemis chief engineer which will feature a really fun cameo. I won’t tell you who will be playing the officer, but trust me, it’ll be a great surprise to people!
In the meantime, Joshua and Victoria and I have been tag-teaming with LEWIS ANDERSON on the visual effects. Folks, I can’t say enough amazing things about my friend’s raw talent as a CGI animator. Look out, TOBIAS RICHTER and SAMUEL COCKINGS, ’cause we’ve got a real winner here on Interlude, too! (Actually, Lewis is using a number of Tobias’ models for our VFX sequences.)
So far, all I’ve seen are just the simplified previs animatics, but even those already look off the charts! We’ve made a few tweaks here and there, added a couple of shots we didn’t initially expect to include but which help to tell the story, and I think things are ready for final rendering on all of the shots.
Josh has beed editing the footage, Victoria will soon be directing our voice-over narrator, and KEVIN CROXTON is waiting in the wings to compose us some (more) incredible music. Interlude is getting there, folks. Thanks for coming along for the ride!