Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!

(I know you wanna see INTERLUDE! Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this web page, then come back to read the full blog entry.)


I was a fan of AXANAR even before the launch of their first Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014. And when PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released that summer, I was ecstatic. There had never been any fan film like this one, and it FELT like the Star Trek I had grown up with…something I couldn’t say about the newest Trek movie releases from Paramount and (later) television releases from CBS.

Later that summer, I jumped at the chance to volunteer to help pack and ship perks to donors (of which I was one, of course), and I got to know ALEC PETERS, DIANA KINGSBURY, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, and a bunch of other folks involved with the production. Heck, I even joined the gang along with RICHARD HATCH (may he rest in peace) at a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach after a convention for an awesome dinner experience.

By 2015, I was writing weekly “Fan Film Friday” blogs for the Axanar website about other Trek fan films…something that led to the creation of Fan Film Factor half a year later. Fan films in general, and Axanar in particular, had quickly become a major part of my life as a Trek fan.

Interlude was born in stages, but I can trace its initial origin back to June of 2017 when I was reading Alec’s new 2-part Axanar script. The legal settlement with CBS and Paramount forced him to trim the full-length movie script down to two 15-minute segments that would be filmed in the same mock documentary style as Prelude.

By this point, the amazing half-completed bridge set was being packed up and moved cross-country from southern California to Georgia, and I was looking forward to seeing how bridge scenes would be incorporated into the “mockumentary” format. But to my shock and horror, there were NO bridge scenes in Alec’s new script…only the same “talking heads” dialog and VFX as there was in Prelude. Huh?

What I didn’t know at the time was that Alec had purposefully left out any bridge scenes because he wasn’t certain whether he’d be able to raise the funds to complete the set. However, not knowing why there weren’t any bridge scenes, I mistakenly assumed Alec just felt like he couldn’t squeeze them in and still tell the story properly. So as a way of demonstrating that it was possible to have bridge scenes, I wrote a new version of the script…what I call my “alt-Axanar” script. Alec won’t be using it (he’s fine with his own version), but someday after the two Axanar sequels are released, I’ll publish it here on the blog just for fun.

A panel from the Axanar comic “Stardate 2245.1”

Skip ahead to 2018, and Axafan TREY McELWAIN began releasing his Axanar Comics short stories. We chatted about taking one of the bridge scenes from my alt-Axanar script and turning it into a short Axanar comic book story. So I “borrowed” Trey’s artist, DANIEL FU, and worked with him to turn the opening sequence of my script into a 7-page comic titled “Stardate 2245.1.” Daniel was still working on it when something amazing happened.

The Ares bridge set was finally finished!

With the help of local volunteers in the Lawrenceville, GA area and funding out of Alec’s pocket, construction on the bridge was completed, consoles painted, panels printed and placed, monitors and screens inserted, digital animations created, and electrical power issues solved.

The bridge was publicly unveiled to fans and donors at the first Axacon in November of 2018. Naturally, I had to be there and take LOTS of pictures. My best photo became iconic (used in all sorts of Axanar media)…

Following an amazing weekend of convention panels with special guests like J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, DAVID GERROLD, and others, I was floating on a cloud with Axamania after flying back to Los Angeles. And that’s when I interviewed JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, two fans who work professionally in the film industry in Arkansas and who had just completed the first of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan films, GHOST SHIP.

After we finished recording our interview, we started geeking out over the new, just-revealed bridge set. Josh and Victoria hadn’t been to Axacon, but Josh had seen the photos. As a professional filmmaker, Josh talked excitedly about all of the ways he might light and shoot that 360-degree set. And so I asked if he’d consider filming an Avalon Universe episode there. He said he’d love to produce something on that amazing bridge, but he didn’t have a script that would justify it.

Then I thought of my alt-Axanar script. There was way too much to film the whole thing, but how about that opening sequence that had been turned into a 7-page comic book? Josh and Victoria needed to see an actual script first, so I took the comic book story—which was an expansion of a short 3-page segment of the original alt-Axanar script—and turned it BACK into a shooting script, just longer than 3 pages this time.

I changed the title to Interlude…much easier to say than “Stardate: 2245.1”! But the new title was also intended to inform viewers of the chronological order of this story in the context of Prelude to Axanar and the two sequels. My story would begin just at the moment that Prelude ended and would lead into the two sequels. Thus, it would serve as an “interlude” between the major fan films.

Josh and Victoria liked what they saw, and in early 2019, they agreed to take on the project as, what I thought at the time, would be co-directors (like the Russo brothers who co-directed Avengers: Endgame). Ultimately, Victoria would be credited as director and Josh as director of photography. But both have been essential to every aspect of development of this fan film.

Victoria Fox and Joshua Irwin

Of course, it takes more than just directors to make a film…something I discovered the moment that Alec told me, “And Jonathan, you get to be executive producer!” And it was at that exact moment that I realized two things: 1) I had no frickin’ idea what an executive producer does, and 2) I had no choice but to learn…and learn fast!

But I also realized something else: since I write a blog about fan films—what an incredible opportunity to share my fan filmmaking journey, my “trek,” with all of my readers. Step-by-step, step-by-misstep, successes and failures, eureka moments and hidden landmines…I would document everything I learned and everything I did in a series of blogs covering the entire development process from inception through crowd-funding, pre-production, production, post-production…right through release.

I’ve already published over SIXTY Interlude blogs…and I’m not finished yet!

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be presenting even more behind-the-scenes looks at things I couldn’t show you folks yet because I didn’t want to give away any spoilers. This will include blogs about the post-production editing process and some awesome footage that sadly had to be left on the cutting room floor. It will also include blogs about the music, sound-mixing, costumes, and even footage taken during actual filming. Yes, you’ll actually get to see how all the magic really happened…a rarity because most times fans don’t film themselves filming fan films.

I do want to say loudly and proudly that Interlude is NOT simply “my” fan film. This is OUR fan film—mine, Victoria’s, Josh’s, and all of the 50 to 60 production crew members: our amazing actors, our 1st assistant director, our VFX and CGI wizards, our amazing composer, our four associate producers (including GLEN WOLFE who made his WARP 66 Studios sickbay set available to us), all the background extras who spent most of the day sitting around waiting for short bursts of activity, costumers, hair and make-up people, sound engineers and mixers, the guys with hammers and drills and paint brushes, the guys making sure that Ares Studio was ready and running smoothly for our two-day shoot in November of 2019, production assistants, grips, even our caterer and on-set medic. Oh, and those hundreds of wonderful, generous donors who believed in us enough to give their money to make the dream possible.

It took a village to create Interlude, and I can’t ever thank everyone enough! Rather than try to list them all here, just sit and watch the credits and know that every name that appears in the scroll is someone who has given me one of the most precious gifts I could ever receive: the realization of my dream of making a Star Trek fan film—and not just any Star Trek fan film but one that all of us can be wonderfully proud of. It was truly one of the most amazing and awesome experiences of my life.

One last thing before I show you our completed fan film. I promised myself that when I published the blog premiering Interlude that I would share the following comment that was posted to Facebook during our original crowd-funding campaign. As you can see, not everyone believed in the dream…

There were other doubters, of course, but I saved this particular screen cap because it so perfectly epitomized the absolute certainty which some people had that this project would NEVER be completed. I looked back at this comment every so often as we made our steady progress on Interlude. Sometimes things went slowly, and occasionally the team faced daunting challenges. But I never once doubted that this project would come to fruition. Although I’m sure he didn’t intend it as such, James Vergon’s snarky Facebook comment contains an important message for all the dreamers out there: don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Ever.

Instead, believe in YOURSELF because that is the first and most fundamental step to turning your dreams into realities.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

And on that happy Willy Wonka note, I am proud to present to all of you, after two long years in the making, the next chapter in the saga of Axanar. Ladies and gentlebeings, I give you: Interlude

And if you still can’t get enough, after Monday night’s premiere, I and members of the cast/crew appeared live on Axanar Confidential to discuss the film. Take a look (and feel free to fast forward the twelve minutes from 15:00-27:00 when we pause silently watch Interlude)…

26 thoughts on “Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!”

  1. Congratulations!!

    Don’t let naysayers and trolls bring you down. I’m glad you saw that as inspiration to fight harder to prove them wrong. Negative people will do what is in their nature, and you’ve shown what is in yours.

  2. I watched Interlude and lauded it on YouTube last night. But I have something more to say.

    While I was thrilled with the quality of every part from sound to acting, I want to say after a night’s reflection that I was most thrilled with the acting.

    I’ve seen fan films that were almost great but held back because the actors were clearly not professionals. In my years of taking acting classes for fun, I’ve learned a bit about what a pro does when it comes to preparing and presenting a character. I’ll praise the Interlude actors with this statement: I did not see the actor but only saw the character and felt the character’s emotions were real and not faked and that, for me, is high praise indeed.

    Further:

    I studiously avoided the comic book because I did not want the drama spoiled. I wanted to go into it not knowing what was going to happen. Because to know what’s going to happen takes away from the essential drama of uncertainty. I’m very glad I did.

    Finally: A request. I’d love to see the outtakes even unedited. The little you wrote makes me very curious and so, how about, “the cutting room floor” blog entry (or entries) about that part of the process with all the outtakes available for us?!

    1. Your command is my wish, Jerry. “The Cutting Room Floor” blog is already written and is being proof-read now with three examples of things that did NOT make it into the final edit and why they didn’t.

      Outtakes, I’m sorry to say, we most likely won’t have. But honestly, there weren’t many “laugh out loud” blooper moments anyway…only takes that weren’t as good as others. That said, I do have the next-best thing to outtakes…something I can guarantee that you’ve never seen from any film or fan film and probably never will again. But that’s gonna have to remain a secret surprise for right now. 🙂

  3. “Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Ever.”
    True dat. They’re still whining and complaining even now that it’s out. Some just for the fact they don’t know how to do anything else.
    You proved them wrong, Jonathan. Way to go!
    And great job to all involved.

  4. I’m sure you’re hearing this a lot, but well done to everyone who worked on this. The following is in no implied order and is nowhere near exhaustive. Warren Hawk was outstanding, get this man more work! Major credit to Victoria Fox for finding him and bringing out so many great performances in this production. Alec Peters may not rate himself too highly as an actor (I think?), but the emotion he bought out in the interview is something to be truly proud of. Incidentally, that was a fine bit of writing too. The whole film is a thing of beauty to behold, Josh Irwin is a wizard. Just as wizard are the special effects, music and audio. All in all, wonderful to watch and so glad I contributed.

    Thank you for sharing the journey too. I loved reading about the development process and look forward to seeing more. The background stories are what really made the experience for me.

    Finally, totally stoked to see my name in the end credits as a Lieutenant – even if my contribution bought you less than a second of screen time. Thanks to all the brilliant people who threw their dollars in to make this happen.

    And I never doubted for a moment that you’d pull this off!

    1. Thanks for believing in me…in us. The mere fact that someone would actually give me their money to make a fan film still boggles my mind. But what an amazing, wonderful journey it has been. And yes, be forewarned: I have not yet begun to blog!!! 🙂

  5. I watched Interlude and loved it. All the work that you and all the creative people involved did to bring this project to completion will be appreciated for years to come. Having read the numerous things you have been writing in the Fan Film Factor demonstrated your commitment to everything about fan films. There are numerous films which I could not have watched or not even known about had I not first read about them in your blogs. Sure the process was a long one but as the old proverb says, All things come to him who waits. Congratulations and thank you.

  6. I enjoyed it very much. Glad to see you realize your dream. Obviously it’s more than the naysayers accomplish beyond derogatory opinions.

  7. I got into a bit of an arm waving exchange, now deleted, on YouTube about the ease of making a small change and the technology involved.

    You might have gone into this before and my memory banks corrupted by age, so if that’s the case remind me. But if you have not…

    Maybe I’m the only one, but perhaps others might be interested in the hardware/software/rendering time etc needed to create Interlude.

    As a retirement project, I help out with video work with the primary workstation the editor uses being an HP Z8 G4. In other words, it’s a big honking expensive box used for serious video work. Because of this, anyone who asserts that a very minor change can be made at the last minute deserves a metaphorical photon torpedo in response.

    Because of this, I have some idea of what kind of time is involved to make one trivial change to a video.

  8. Hi Jerry,

    I appreciate your support. Interlude was edited on Adobe Primere Pro (Creative Cloud). I’m using an iMac that’s a couple of years old. Really the rendering time has less to do with the system itself, and more with the complexity of the project. The visual effects work was done in Adobe After Effects, these two programs talk to each other natively. So each time the encode hits a shot composed in AE, it has to reference the connected AE project. It causes the encode to slow to a crawl. I had 30+ shots like this. Including two shots where I replaced a prop in post.

    Also the film was shot 5.7K Raw on the Panasonic Varicam which has it’s own proprietary format that is about 400Mbps. So big high resolution files! The color space in camera was V-Log, a format that allows for greater dynamic range in tone and color sampling. The raw looks almost black and white when you first see it, and the color grade is created in post. So every shot has to go through this process, which also affects the encode time.

    All in all the encode time mastering for DCI 4K was about 4 hours. Gigabit type internet isn’t available in my neighborhood yet, so the upload time is about an hour and a half to two hours. I hope that answers your question Jerry.

  9. This Fan Film is amazing… thank you, I keep this film in my heart. Greetings from switzerland

  10. Jonathan, really, really great work.
    You’ve managed to capture the essence of both a Star Trek work and also fit very nicely with Axanar works to date. that’s no easy thing- you picked a big challenge with an ‘interlude,’ weaving together narratives and pre-existing conventions.

    Perhaps to my surprise, the touch that I most enjoyed was the sharp shift in tone between the combat scenes and the ‘reflections.’ In particular, Alec showed a more reflective, but still emotionally invested, character when talking about the battle years later. It was well scripted, and, to me, told the story of how a captain needs to act in front of their crew. Away from combat, Garth is a far more frustrated, impatient and perhaps traumatized man. The tie-in with canon was first class.

    My ONE gripe, if anything, is that the cuts during the documentary section were a fraction sharp. That I had to wait until the last 90 seconds of the film to have anything to complaint says it all.

    Well done on making a fan film that displays ingenuity and boundless enthusiasm!

    1. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a blog about dealing with the reviews of your fan film. Some folks loved it, some hated it, and there was everything in between. I’m glad you loved it until the last 90 seconds. 🙂

      1. I’m not saying i didn’t love the last 90 seconds either! I enjoyed your blog about dealing with criticism too- constructive only.

        1. I totally expected criticism, Nadav. Heck, Jarvis Davidson almost always criticizes fan films (not that he’s ever made one himself, of course), so I was pretty much guaranteed at least one bad review there. And he didn’t let me down. Here’s what Jarvis had to say:

          pros: See a D-7 Squadron
          cons: WAY TOO SHORT, Both Federation vessels running like cowards and not shooting back, no shaky camera and the actors doing what they did in TNG along with the shaky camera, it still being a doc style format, and Alec Peter’s face being seen.

          So yeah, that happened. 🙂

          And of course, you hadda know the Axamonitor folks were gonna be harder on Interlude than on any other fan film because of Alec and me, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. It was actually kinda fun watching them trip over each other to give the worst review. Heck, Kate Stark wrote a multi-part review that makes MY overly-long blogs look positively pithy! I gave up reading a few paragraphs in because, frankly, it just doesn’t matter to me what Kate thinks. She (if Kate even is a she) hides behind a fake FB account. It’s easy to arrogantly pontificate if you’re anonymous and hide everything about yourself. It’s like firing while cloaked. So there’s no reason to give Kate or any anonymous critic even a tiny fraction of my attention. If they’re too embarrassed to acknowledge who they really are thereby and open themselves up to true personal criticism, then why give them even a second’s thought, right?

          But in the end, no one can take your self-respect without you giving it to them, so I don’t. I know what I created…what WE created…and as we cross 17.5K views in three and a half days, there’s 1.5K thumbs up and 51 thumbs down (and we all know who those 51 are, don’t we?). So really, any attempt to kill my buzz is only 3% effective…if that. I’ve got 97% approval, and that–combined with my own happiness and personal satisfaction, along with all of the amazing people I got to know and work with and all the good will happening now–is plenty enough to keep me buzzed and flying high!

  11. Congratulations Jonathan. I happened to come across it on YT first, and decided to swing back here to pay my respects.

    TBH I don’t watch many fan films (with the exception of P2/NV, ST Continues and one or two others) but those I have seen never cease to impress me with the makers’ enthusiasm and dedication for a franchise that they love.

    Interlude struck me in the same way, with a fine combination of impressive sets, costumes, lighting, SFX, script and acting. Regrettably I’m not familiar with the Axanar universe so I must admit to a little confusion regarding the lack of exposition about who the characters were and why their ships were under attack, but I guess I’ll have to put that down to my fan film naiveté. And what was presented on the screen was delivered with great professionalism and tradecraft.

    As a songwriter/recording artist/performer I know too well how bouquets, brickbats or indifference inevitably follow an artistic endeavour, especially one that has taken a while to achieve. But we do it because it’s a labour of love, and because we’re contributing to the cultural landscape of our time. And of course, because we love it.

    Congratulations again

    B

    1. You haven’t seen Prelude to Axanar, Boris???

      Dude! What are you waiting for? It’s got more than 5 million views on YouTube and over 98% thumbs up percentage. It’s kinda “required viewing” for fans in the fan film community.

      Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1_8IV8uhA&ab_channel=Axanar

      Take some time and watch it when you have a moment and tell us what you think of both Prelude and also Interlude after you watch the “prequel.”

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