In a video interview that we did during the end of December, JOSHUA IRWIN of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series was excited for a film shoot they had scheduled for early January. That shoot was supposed to be this weekend, but three significant members of the cast and crew have each, separately, been diagnosed with COVID-19 this past week, necessitating the delay of the shoot at least until February.
This was a major shoot for their next fan project, “The Needs of the One.” The story deals with a Vulcan crew member going through pon farr, similar to the beginning of the TOS episode episode “Amok Time.” But the similarities end there, as this crew member doesn’t simply accept the ancient traditions of the Vulcan culture where Vulcan females are “promised” to males as children. This episode turns all of that on its ear…or so I’m told.
This isn’t the first time a fan film has needed to delay a shoot due to COVID. Indeed, an earlier release from Avalon, AIR AND DARKNESS, had a COVID delay in late 2020, just as the pandemic seemed to potentially be receding a little (yeah, that didn’t happen).
Interestingly, it isn’t just Avalon that had to cancel a Star Trek-related film shoot this week. On Thursday, production on STAR TREK: PICARD season three had to be suspended when more than 50 members of the production crew (out of a total of 450) returned from the holiday break testing positive for COVID. SIR PATRICK STEWART was, thankfully, not among those reported to be sick. Filming restarted on Friday with COVID-negative replacements.
And it’s not just here in America where COVID is interfering with production. British Earl of CGI, SAMUEL COCKINGS, has already lost three shooting days for TREK SHORTS due to last-minute COVID infections. Sam has tried to make lemons from lemonade, though. During shoots when a single actor has had to cancel because of a positive COVID test or exposure to someone with COVID, Sam used the opportunity to either shoot scenes for alternate films or else write entirely new shorts with the actor or actors who did show up. You can read about one of those incidents in this blog about the origin of the bonus fan film HOURS AT WARP.
Three additional shooting days for Sam were affected by non-COVID illnesses (bloke can’t catch a break!) But because of costs to bring the actors in, travel and lodging, plus having to set up new shoots to replace the impacted ones, Sam no longer has the funds remaining to complete everything he promised donors. So Sam plans to launch an additional crowd-funding campaign. “There will be a LOT of new stuff to show,” Sam told me, “both to reveal what we actually did in 2021 but also all the new things we need help with finishing in 2022 and 2023!”
Unlike Sam, however, the Avalon shoot this weekend was going to involve well almost a dozen people, all of whom needed to clear time in their schedules to travel to WARP 66 Studios and be there for the entire day. The three people with COVID are critical to the shoot—on both sides of the camera—so it’s not possible to film around it. It’ll be sometime in February before everyone is available again.
Obviously, there’s some disappointment among the cast and crew although they all certainly understand that this kind of thing happens…especially nowadays. Nevertheless, Josh provided a little pep talk to Team Avalon, and I have his permission to share it with all of you…
That, my friends, is how to be a showrunner. The job is to keep spirits high, minds focused, energy up, and optimism intact. Sure, it’s just a short pep talk, but it can have a huge effect on morale, especially among volunteers who now need to clear and coordinate schedules all over again and travel—many of them—four to eight hours round trip to be at the rescheduled shoot. If you ever want to make a fan film of your own, Josh is an excellent role model to follow in how to be an effective showrunner.
As a reminder, the current Avalon GoFundMe is still going, as new fan films are actively being worked on. Click below to donate (or to donate again!)…