INTERLUDE Confidential #13 – So when is your fan film coming out?

“So when is INTERLUDE coming out?”

I’m getting this question more and more often these days. Granted, Interlude isn’t the first fan film to announce a release date and then miss that deadline. I join such notable company as AXANAR (of course), PACIFIC 201, THE ROMULAN WAR, STARSHIP FARRAGUT‘s finale “Homecoming,” YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, and the recently-released STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER (which has been in production for five years).

Fans often wonder what takes so long…especially after everything has been filmed (which is the case for each of the fan films I just listed except for Axanar, which still needs to do their Los Angeles “alien” green screen shoot). But once all of the live-action footage is “in the can” (as they say in Hollywood), isn’t everything else relatively EASY? After all, the only things left are deciding which takes to use, putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle into an edit, finishing the VFX, writing some music, adjusting the sound, and…then you’re done, right? Oh, and remember to include the credits.

Well, it’s not quite that easy…

As I explained back in April, post production is actually a pretty complex processin and of itself—or at least it can be. In the case of Interlude, it was because we wanted to do things as carefully as we could, and because VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN got a lot of coverage of each line of dialogue. Editing alone took us from January through April (actually, slightly into May!). And only after we had a “picture lock” could we pass along the edited film to KEVIN CROXTON to write the score.

So confident was I at that point that we were on the cusp of finishing that I edited together this really cool retro trailer (complete with the theme music to Space: 1999 from the 70s) to proudly and excitedly announce a premiere date of July 25, 2020…

Man, did I get THAT one wrong! By mid-July, I had to humbly write this blog admitting that we were not going to make our deadline. And worse, I had no idea when we were going to be finished. I had learned my lesson about making promises about release dates.

So it’s now two and a half months later, and Interlude still isn’t out yet. So what’s going on?

Part of the reason I decided to make a Star Trek fan film was to document EVERY step along the way for my Fan Film Factor readers—from crowd-funding to pre-production to production to post-production. So if there’s a delay, well, Jonathan’s gonna blog about that, too! Here goes…

Actually, we’re really REALLY close to being finished. At this point, only five more things need to be done:

1) LEWIS ANDERSON finally finished rendering the last of the 20-or-so incredible VFX shots he was doing for Interlude. It’s a bunch of shuttlecraft going back and forth across San Francisco Bay outside of Admiral Slater’s office at Starfleet Academy. Josh still has to insert those shuttles in, and then we’re going to carefully place where they fly (shifting them a little left or right, up or down, etc.) But they look amazing!

2) Actor JAMIE RENNELL was kind enough to do a voice-over of U.S.S. Ares Chief Engineer Alexei Leonov for us. And in fact, I included that voice-over in this little snippet I placed online back in July to give everyone a taste of the music that was being written for Interlude

But then most of the people who heard Leonov’s voice thought it was Scotty (or at least a Scottish accent) and not a Russian engineer. So Jamie has agreed to re-record the lines in a more Leonov way. We’re still waiting for that new voice-over.

3) Because I’m being a pain-the-ass perfectionist, Josh Irwin has to painstakingly fix about 12 seconds of sickbay footage FRAME-BY-FRAME. That’s 360 individual frames, and it’s going to take him 12-18 hours! Josh will certainly get into heaven just for doing this while I’m going to need to figure out a way out of purgatory for making him do it. However, I really, REALLY do appreciate his dedication to this project and patience in dealing with the world’s most demanding fan film producer.

4) Kevin is still writing the music (more on this in a moment).

5) MARK EDWARD LEWIS needs to do all of the final sound mixing of the dialog, music, sound effects, and background voices.

And then were home free…done…reached the promised land!

So what’s taking so darned long????

It’s mostly the music. Kevin Croxton simply isn’t done with it yet. But before anyone starts jumping down Kevin’s throat for being too slow, let me assure you that he has been working very, very, VERY hard for the last several months creating a musical score that is beyond my most superlative expectations! You heard a small sample of it above. It all sounds just as good as that…if not better!!!

But music that amazing doesn’t write itself. And when the guidelines say you can’t pay people to work on your fan film, then a producer like me isn’t exactly in a position to crack the riding crop to make the horse run faster. Also, Kevin has had a LOT of other things on his plate, including an elderly family member going in for heart surgery over the summer and new COVID guidelines at his school requiring the development of a completely new musical curriculum for his 4th and 5th graders. Plus, Kevin is producing and directing a separate fan film of his own, starring his students in a James Bond homage…

So Kevin has been burning many candles at many ends, only one of which is my fan film. But that’s not to say that he’s been dragging his feet. Hardly! Right now, as I write this, Kevin has completed about eight minutes of the full twelve minutes of Interlude (including opening and closing credits). And indeed, the music he’s completed so far is the “hard” stuff.

By “hard,” I mean the more dramatic sequences. Interlude is divided into two thematic portions. The first is a dramatic “memory” of Garth’s as he recalls the events of Stardate 2245.1 when the U.S.S. Ares and U.S.S. Artemis were the first two Starfleet vessels to encounter the new Klingon D-7 battlecruisers. The second is a much calmer documentary-style interview segment where both Garth and Slater comment on events that happened as a result of that encounter.

The dramatic stuff is VERY dramatic. There is almost non-stop action punctuated by a “moment” where everything changes and things turn tragic. The emotions are intense throughout the first 6 minutes of the film, and during this time, the music is continuous. This is much more challenging than most fan films, which tend to have only short snippets of music here and there. Six minutes of continuous music is almost unheard of, even in PRELUDE TO AXANAR (which actually also had a LOT of music…but not continuous).

And what adds to the complexity of the music is the fact that the action and suspense shifts to scenes both inside and outside the ships, on two different bridges, and in sickbay. And then, of course, there is the moment when everything shifts, including the mood and pacing. The film “stops” for a moment, takes a deep breath, and then sprints for the finish line. As music goes, this has a HIGH difficulty level interweaving all of those elements—and Kevin nailed it….with live instruments!

So the fact is that steady progress has been made, and we’re nearly ready to have things off to Mark Edward Lewis. The music that Kevin still has left to compose is the “easy” stuff under Garth’s and Slater’s interviews. Then there’s a little tweaking still to do. I don’t know yet what feedback Victoria and Josh will have for the music, but there are two short spots where I’ll be requesting minor changes. But I’ve already talked to Kevin about them, and I don’t think they’ll be too hard to adjust.

So when IS Interlude coming out???

I still honestly don’t know! Kevin could have the rest of the music done in a week…or a month. Mark Edward Lewis should be able to do the sound-mixing fairly quickly and easily, but he lives in Tennessee now, and the remnants of one of the recent hurricanes just flooded his basement where his sound studio used to be to the tune of $40K in repair costs! So really, people, it is totally always something!!! And so I have absolutely, positively learned my lesson about promising a premiere date.

I also have to make sure I don’t step on any other fan filmmakers’ toes. For a while, I was worried that I’d come out on the same day as THE ROMUAN WAR or FIRST FRONTIER. Fortunately, First Frontier came out last month, and The Romulan War comes out this Sunday. But here’s what’s ALSO supposed to come out before the end of this year:

  • ENDOSYMBIOSIS (from Neutral Zone Studios) – Late October
  • WORD’S WOMEN: THE ESCAPE – Early November (tentative)
  • PACIFIC 201 – November 13
  • SQUADRON – Moved from early December to early February
  • THE FEDERATION FILES: “MASK” – December 20
  • YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL – December 25

Plus. we might be seeing the long-awaited STARSHIP VALIANT: ANIMALS and the next AVALON UNIVERSE fan film from my directors Josh and Victoria before the end of the year…along with the next release(s) from POTEMKIN PICTURES and maybe CONSTAR CONTINUES.

With such a crowded schedule for the rest of this year (which is a great thing!), even if Interlude is ready before the end of the year, I might still hold it for January so I can give those other deserving productions a chance to shine…as well as giving Interlude a chance to shine.

Of course, we don’t even have a finished fan film yet. But we’re SUPER-CLOSE! However, I’ve learned my lesson, and until there’s a completed fan film sitting on my hard drive, the answer to the question “So when is Interlude coming out?” is going to have to remain: “Really, really soon.”

14 thoughts on “INTERLUDE Confidential #13 – So when is your fan film coming out?”

  1. As one of the FX guys for the Potemkin Pictures releases, I can sympathize with the post work that has to be done once shooting has wrapped. There’s a lot of work to put all the pieces that have been created together.

    I was the editor of my own group’s Starship Rendezvous: The Inquiry. You have video files (which probably need color correcting), audio files, FX files, music, and everything else that has to get married together just right to tell a good story. Randy has waited on me more than once to get FX done for one of his Potemkin pieces.

    I’m looking forward to seeing your film. The clips you’ve shared look great. But I will wait patiently until you release it. Until then, I recommend Mountain Dew Voltage as a great way to keep your caffeine levels up as you’re editing.

  2. Yes unfortunately films can have many delays for many reasons. I’m not the least bit worried. Greatness cannot be rushed. I’m sure your film is going to be utterly amazing and I appreciate your openess and candor as to what is going on.
    Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to you and your team.
    Lezlie Sawyer

  3. I feel your pain Jonathan. Not just in fan films but in any sort of amateur production it seems one’s worst enemy is unforeseen delays in the face of promised released dates. The last production I worked on was last May 2019, they promised a release party late September / early October, and still no news about how it’s actually doing! Of course, like yours, it’s in the post-production stage where it happened, as always seems to be the case. Part of the problem is how often someone on set says, “we’ll just fix it in post”, but then yes the other part is the money. I’ve since vowed to make sure every crew member can get paid (party for that reason and partly because they deserve it). Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with the same restrictions as you, how do you get around them? Do you just rely on the kindness of volunteers?
    I also want to commend you on making your process visible, both as the goal of your fan film and in making this blog post to keep people updated. It’s this visibility which inspires people and show’s them that they can make great art too.

    1. Not being able to pay somebody isn’t the same as not being able to take them out for free dinners for the rest of their natural lives. 😉

      And yes, there are a lot of people who are willing to volunteer to help someone they like and a project they believe in in exchange for simply covering their expenses (food, gas, transportation, lodging, etc.)

  4. Stepping on toes doesn’t make any sense to me. These aren’t commercial releases where you are competing for people’s money. I don’t think other fan film producers would be upset if you released a fan film near their release date.

    1. I actually spoke of many of them, and the majority say that they appreciate me letting their fan films premiere without another major fan film release in the same week or two. For some creators, like Randy Landers and Vance Major, they don’t necessarily care if there’s other releases “close-by.” But they still appreciate the sentiment.

      Anyway, it’s a silly point to argue about.

    1. Just fine, thanks for asking. 🙂

      Seriously, pretty much everything is paid for at this point and the left-over funds are nearly zero. We budgeted well! I’d hoped there’d be enough left for sushi and tires, but unless it’s the $5 sushi Wednesday special at the supermarket where I shop, I’m basically out of luck.

  5. In my experience, $5 sushi is its own punishment 24 hours later…
    Whilst you are in a holding pattern, i think that a retrospective on the budget would be very interesting. What held you back? If you’d had an extra $500 what would you do differently etc.
    Do you wish you’d gotten that production insurance? Would it have covered Paul’s screen? etc.

    1. No need to do a blog on the budget, Nadav. The last time I wrote anything about what we spent and how we spent it, it resulted in hours of wasted back-and-forths both here and on Facebook with people who considered themselves backseat line producers advising me on everything from shirt selection to, well, production insurance.

      Speaking of which, in the end, production insurance would have cost about $2500 with a $2500 deductible. So replacing Paul’s green screen would have been about the same (total replacement cost = $4700). Since Alec had insurance at the studio for injury, that was covered. We were simply rolling the dice on equipment, most of which was brought along by Josh and Earl and very carefully handled. So in the end, I’m not second-guessing not getting the insurance.

      And if I had an extra $500, well, I simply would have crowd-funded less to replace Paul’s green screen. 🙂

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