You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES consistently continue to dutifully deliver a steady stream of finessed fan films mostly monthly. (Did you catch all the awesome alliteration in that previous sentence? Hey, a blogger’s gotta keep you on your toes, right?)

Anyway, their latest release comes from the long-running STARSHIP DEIMOS creative group, their 20th completed fan film in six years. “REFUGEE” is an intriguing story and worth viewing…

There’s actually a LOT going on behind the scenes in this little fan production. For more insights and info, here’s Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS…

JONATHAN – This was a very interesting script concept to have a Talosian be the refugee trying to return home. It gave you a lot of opportunities to “quote” snippets of dialog from Star Trek’s original pilot “The Cage.”

RANDY – The original script called for two characters, Arthur Lawrence and Rula Tremaine, who were on the run from the Romulans. Arthur was to be played by CLINTON RIDDLE and Rula was to be played by ROBIN KUNKEL, the director and producer of STARSHIP CALIBORN‘s more recent productions. Robin actually made a pair of classic Star Trek costumes patterned after the ones in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” for herself and Clinton from a few sets of hospital scrubs donated by RAHADYAN TIMOTEO SASTROWARDOYO.

Unfortunately, though, on the day of the shoot, Robin was sick, and with our COVID protocols in place, she was not able to attend. Rula originally was going to be the Talosian refugee, and Arthur was going to be helping her evade the Romulans. So Victoria and I rewrote the script on the fly, and we conflated the two roles into one with Arthur becoming the refugee.

JONATHAN – Speaking of the Romulans, you’ve featured members of that race before, but not for a while. Were these the same costumes you used previously?

RANDY – For the Romulan sequence, I first turned to SARAH TOMPKINS. We had two Romulan costumes in the wardrobe that were completed by SARA HIGGINS for PROJECT: POTEMKIN n in Albany, GA some seven years ago. They’ve been used and modified over the years, but they were in serious need of repair.

Sarah Tompkins is quite a cosplayer and had done some wonderful costumes in Birmingham, as well as portrayed a number of characters in various productions (STARSHIP DEIMOS in particular). I asked Sarah to repair, clean up, and reconstruct the costumes with the idea that she and Alabama actress DENISE PRESCOTT (who played a CMO in STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR) would play a Romulan Commander and Sub-Commander who were pursuing Arthur Lawrence. The costumes came out fantastic.

I then turned to TERRELL MANASCO, who had directed a number of our productions, including STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “SEPULCHRE,” to film the Romulan scene in Alabama. Already in consideration was the relaunch of Starship Tristan, and I asked Terrell to locate and secure a location that we could shoot both the Romulan scene for Deimos and later on the relaunch for Tristan. He found the Townley Community Center near Jasper, Alabama, north of Birmingham. He went in, and the facility worked out quite well for the Second Unit, and in fact was used for the relaunch shoot for Starship Tristan.

Last production note: space-based VFX for “Refugee” were completed by co-executive producer RICK FOXX with the help of his son SKYLER FOXX. Rick has been doing a fine job for us with the VFX, and he also has taken charge of mixing the audio for most of the productions these days. I’m really grateful to all the hard work Rick has done for us over the years, and his contributions are essential to our success.

JONATHAN – Did Rick also do the sequence with the Talosian Magistrate with the scruffy beard?

Dan Reynolds of WARP 66 STUDIOS is a Talosian in need of a shave!

RANDY – To create the Talosian magistrate, I reached out first to ERIC L. WATTS and asked if he could check around and let me know if he knew of someone who could fashion a Talosian headpiece for one of our cast. Eric found someone, but the price was far more than a low-budget production like ours could afford. So I gave it some thought of how to do it more within the lines of our budget, and I turned to DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS and co-showrunner of THE FEDERATION FILES.

Dan had done a number of VFX shots, most notably for Deimos‘ “LEVIATAHN” and “PRIME DIRECTIVE” (the latter of which was also used for QAB’ELTH‘s “HONOR BLADE”). I described how I envisioned the shot: alien planet surface, a Talosian head piece (using a distortion effect over the veins to simulate the pulsing), and someone’s face. Dan took the ball and ran with it, and scored a touchdown. The work is simply fantastic. We did less trickery for the Talosian in the transporter beam shot.

JONATHAN – In addition to the Foxxes and Dan Reynolds, who else is working on your visual effects?

RANDY – You might have noticed that we had a lot more graphics at various stations (both the main viewer and sciences overheads, in particular). STEVE GALLANT put a lot of effort into making those animations truly a part of the bridge set. The frames he used for the Talosian magistrate and for Commodore Walker are terrific. Steve has provided ship and station-specific graphic animations for all our productions as of late, and it’s added a lot to the look of our productions. In coming weeks, Steve will be working on the upcoming bridge footage of the relaunch of the Starship Tristan.

JONATHAN – Is there anyone else you’d like to spotlight?

RANDY – Well, everyone deserves their own spotlight! KEITH HARRIS returned in the role of Commodore C.T. Walker, now stationed at Starbase 11 as part of Starfleet Operations. It was great seeing him in action again. We have two regularly appearing flag officers (Commodore Walker and Admiral Alwine of Starbase 211) these days, and we intend to make the most of them. Keith shot his own footage, did his own wardrobe and makeup, and turned in a terrific performance.

Keith Harris as Commodore C.T. Walker

JONATHAN – And as usual, my final question (which always gets asked because you’ve always got more fan films in the works!): what new releases can fans look forward to seeing soon and not-so-soon?

RANDY – This month, PROJECT: POTEMKIN returns with “CASTAWAY.” We were hoping to release it on November 14th, the twelfth anniversary of the release of “THE OLD GUYS,” our first fan film. If not then, then shortly thereafter.

You’ll catch up eventually. Right now in post production, we have Starship DeimosSIREN’S SONG” in editing, and STARSHIP WEBSTER‘s “EXILED FROM ETERNITY” is next in line for editing. STARSHIP CALIBORNREFLECTOR” has a second shoot coming up in the near future. Starship Tristan has shot the bridge and briefing room scenes for “SEEING IN THE DARK.” Steve Gallant will be editing the bridge scenes. Both Project: Potemkin and I.K.S. QAB’ELTH have scripts in finalization.

Next year, we’re planning on two Starship Deimos, two or three Starship Webster, two or three Starship Caliborn, one Starship Tristan, one I.K.S. Qab’elth, and one Project: Potemkin.

JONATHAN – Wow! I’m gonna need to do a LOT of blogging…