Let face it, most (not all) Star Trek fan films take themselves seriously. And why not? Many are crowd-funded, and most require weeks or months or even years of planning and hard work to complete successfully. So Star Trek fan films have every right to take themselves seriously.
But one fan series in particular, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, has bucked that trend. Granted, over the past half-decade of releasing fan films, not everything from Dominion has been a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek romp. In fact, their first couple of episodes were completely serious, as was the recent “Redemption at Red Medusa.” But mixed in with those offerings were a series of humorous vignettes like “Reality Check” (which broke the 4th wall) and “Technical Difficulties.” Both of these short fan films featured actor JOHN SIMS playing a crewman named Quincy…who turned out to be a member of the Q Continuum. The character is mysterious and compelling—and quite a bit mischievous—all at the same time.
Quincy makes is third and most significant appearance in the latest Dominion vignette, “A Barrel Full of Quincys,” and it’s quite a hoot! John Sims gets to show off his range of celebrity impersonations in a short film with rather impressive production values. Check it out…
I asked John what his impression of the episode was (get it?), and he typed back in a very British accent (he’s actually from Worcester, Massachusetts and currently lives in Florida, but he’s a self-declared Anglophile):
I enjoyed the opportunity that Gary and Randy gave me. They are alright blokes with great sense of humour!
Indeed they are! GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN are the show-runners for the Dominion fan series, and I spoke to Gary recently about what went into creating this latest vignette. Turns out a LOT more work went into crafting this little short film than you’d suspect…!
JONATHAN – So, Gary, what is the “secret origin” of the Quincy vignette?
RANDY – Well, it’s a long story…
We have to go back to when we had to take a break from Dreadnought Dominion without sets to shoot on [during the years before they began filming at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA -Jonathan], so we decided to do voice productions. We called them “Illustrated Audio Productions,” and David R. Wrenn (Randy) created one called “Outlaws.” It focused on the sudden appearance of the repaired USS Constellation in a remote part of the galaxy. The crew of a salvage vessel discover the ship, seemingly abandoned, and take possession. But they soon they find that their lives and the lives of their entire village have been changed forever. Caught up in a violent civil war, they must abandon their beloved village and live aboard the very ship they had salvaged.
A member of the crew that salvages the ship, Quincy, is actually a “Q” in hiding. He saved the Constellation from the Doomsday Machine, repaired it, and brought it across the galaxy to be found by these downtrodden as a social experiment. Randy has done several “Outlaws” productions, and they have the character of Quincy watching and sometimes helping as part of the crew. [You can listen to all of the audio episodes here.]
Fast-forward a few years to when we had use of the sets again in Kingsland, and we came up with the idea for “Reality Check.” We wanted to do a production that focused on the captain jumping in-between realities. To explain that, we brought the character “Quincy” onto Dreadnought Dominion. Since Quincy was having such a good time watching the crew of the commandeered Constellation, he would want to double his fun with a group of Star Fleet officers aboard Dominion.
We asked John Sims, a very old friend of mine who lived in Jacksonville, FL who also did his own Star Trek Fan Film, EXETER TREK, to bring the character of Quincy to life. We asked John to do the role in an English accent. Over two productions, he performed the part with such professionalism, and when he messed up, or just wanted to be entertaining, would break into an impression. He did Carl from “Slingblade,” Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci.
We all loved it when he broke into impressions. The only downside was that NO ONE but the cast and crew would SEE these performances! We felt that John needed to highlight these in a production, and we felt bad that we weren’t using the Quincy character, and John Sims himself, to his full potential.
JONATHAN – So how did the desire to give John a chance to do all of these great impersonations turn into an actual fan film project?
GARY – Most of these stories had been written for some years, and the addition of a “Q” as part of our crew was just for the end scene of “Reality Check” to explain the reality-hopping. Q reveals himself while “breaking the fourth wall” to the audience and snapping his fingers to end the show and bring on the credits.
THAT is when I brought the idea to Randy to write a Quincy-centered story where he gets a visit from the “boss,” Q Prime, to ask him just what the heck he was doing, and WHERE did he make that “other ship” (the Constellation) go. Each station would be manned by a different version of Quincy. The idea checked two boxes: it gave us the venue to highlight John Sim’s incredible voice and impression talents, and also tipped a hat to our Illustrated Audio Production, “Outlaws.”
At first, we were planning on four days for a shoot at the Neutral Zone Studios to film our next full episode. So we asked John if he could come a day early to film this. We then got on the books for FIVE days at the studio and brought only those we needed in to film that day.
John was an absolute delight to work with as he got into character, as well as into a different colored shirt each time. John even grew out his beard for one part, then quickly shaved it for the other parts! We’d film a segment with one of his parts, and if another station was in view, we’d put in a body double, or we’d then have John get into another character and, without moving the camera, film him at that station for split-screen. John made his hair, face, and mannerisms fit each character. TRULY AMAZING! We even managed to get him THREE times on screen at once. The best, however, were the “two-fers” that remind me of the classic Trek “Sulu and Chekov” shots. We did him from two angles for both characters, and I think they came out GREAT.
JONATHAN – Totally! So how long did you spend shooting all of this footage of the various Q/Quincy characters?
GARY – The shoot for “A Barrel Full of Qunicys” took a mere FEW HOURS as John killed each and every performance without a hitch. Captain Brousseau only had ONE line (heheheh), and was off the bridge after casting a “naaaahhh…couldn’t be” glance at another Quincy entering the bridge. The only other part was Randy himself as Q Prime. Randy never ceases to amaze me. He voiced the part as a “placeholder,” looking for another actor. Once we started editing it and putting in the voice effects, I was SOLD. Randy had the part…
JONATHAN – Sounds like it was easy-peasy. Did you run into any challenges along the way?
GARY – The only challenge to this project was in post production when we went to edit John’s exuberant performances! We shot them without benefit of a big monitor to watch the shots and didn’t realize that John often used hand gestures in character and “invaded” the space of his other characters!
Randy rose to the challenge, however, and did a great job of masking those off. We’re not Hollywood-level editors, but I am dang proud of the hours Randy spent allowing Qunicy’s foot to go behind Q-Pesci’s chair, and for De Niro’s hand to gesture over Pesci seated beside him. It’s almost as if we PLANNED for it all ALONG!
JONATHAN – Now I need to watch it all over again and look for that! So it sounds like you’re very happy with the way everything turned out, Gary.
GARY – I was just so honored, overjoyed, and downright pleased with this shoot. From inception to performance to editing, it fell together just as we had envisioned it. Now, if only we can pull this off AGAIN with our NEXT production—“We Are Many”—which we used the NEXT four days to shoot.
JONATHAN – What can you tell us about that upcoming fan film?
GARY – Dreadnought Dominion pulled out all the stops. This next production has drama, romance, loss, aliens (both humanoid…and NOT so humanoid), and beaming down to A STRANGE NEW WORLD that required us to film on a lavish green screen studio at the Golden Isles Collage and Career Academy in Brunswick, GA. The school MADE a green screen studio, floor and walls, JUST for our production to “GO BOLDY” onto an alien landscape that can’t be filmed on Earth.
STAY TUNED for THAT ONE!
JONATHAN – You know we will, Gary!