DOMINION launches new fan series WARBIRD VALDORE and a new Indiegogo! (interview with GARY DAVIS, RANDY WRENN, JOAN SAVAGE, and MICHAEL BEDNAR…part 1)

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION got its start back in 2015 when the first two episodes “Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh” were released. Afterward, the showrunner and lead actor, FRANK PARKER, JR. (playing Commodore Samuel Grissom) departed the series, leaving GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN to take Dominion where no fan series had gone before…onto the bridge (and corridors) of a Federation-class dreadnought starship.

And so they did, producing and releasing an additional FIFTEEN fan films, including a few crossovers with other fan series, over the course of seven years. (You can watch all the episodes of Dreadnough Dominion on this playlist.) But they didn’t stop there. In July of 2021, using a TOS-era runabout set that Gary constructed in his basement, they filmed and premiered the pilot episode of a new Dominion spinoff series called PROJECT: RUNABOUT. And a little over a year later, they released the second episode of that new fan series, “YORKTOWN,” shot both on the runabout set as well as at the U.S.S. Yorktown Naval and Maritime Museum in the Charlestown Harbor in South Carolina.

You might think that simultaneously producing two ongoing fan series would be enough to keep these two guys busy, and you’d be correct! But when has being busy ever stopped them before???

And so, in July of this year, Dominion Media launched its SECOND spinoff fan series: WARBIRD VALDORE. As you might be able to guess from the title, its stories are told from the perspective of a Romulan warbird commander and her crew. This isn’t the first time a fan series has spotlighted the adventures of another spacefaring alien race. POTEMKIN PICTURES’ BATTLECRUISER KUPOK and SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH are both set on Klingon vessels. But this is the first time, to my knowledge, that a Romulan warbird has been been the primary focus of a series.

The new series is filmed in part on sets located at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA and stars JOAN SAVAGE as Romulan Commander Jhu D’Varo, reprising a role she previously played in Dreadnought Dominion. Check out their first episode…

Assuming you just watched it (SPOILER ALERT if you didn’t!), you’ll notice an appearance by MICHAEL BEDNAR, reprising his role of Robert Tacket from STARSHIP FARRAGUT and the upcoming FARRAGUT FORWARD. Now a full captain, Tacket is now in command of the U.S.S. Constitution. His appearance was quite a happy surprise for longtime fans familiar with Farragut (like me!).

Dominion has just launched a new crowd-funder trying to raise $5,000 for their three fan series. If you’d like to donate, click on the link below (I just tossed in $50 myself)…

I was able to assemble Gary, Randy, Joan, and Mike for a group interview to discuss the new Valdore fan series, their involvement, and of course, the campaign…

Gary Davis and Randy Wrenn (left and right), creators of WARBIRD VALDORE

JONATHAN – Where did the idea come from to do a fan series set on board a Romulan warbird?

GARY – It all came from the incredible fan reception we received from Joan Savages’ performance as the Romulan Commander.   We were doing a premiere party on Mac’s World Entertainment for Joan’s second appearance as the Romulan Commander.  The comments were just blowing up about how everyone just loved Joan’s performance and if we can bring her back again and again.

I think I made a comment that we couldn’t bring her back EVERY episode, but what if we just gave her her own production?  It was ENTIRELY off the cuff and in jest, really, but the comments section just went crazy!.  I think it was after the premiere that I mentioned it to Randy about the possibility, and the more we chatted about it, the more and more we wanted to do it!   We then approached Joan, and she was IN!

JONATHAN – Of course she was! So Joan, how did you first come to play the part of a Romulan Commander in Dreadnought Dominion?

JOAN – I was in Florida finishing up my PhD, and I hit a lull where my committee was reviewing my work and I was waiting on some results from my research. Sometimes these periods can last days and sometimes even weeks! And let’s be honest, I was going a bit stir crazy just waiting….and waiting…and more waiting. So I started looking around to volunteer somewhere, and I just happened to KNOW someone, who knew SOMEONE who needed extras for their film production! The next thing I knew, I met a fellow actor on set who knew of someone ELSE looking for extras for THEIR production in Kingsland. Enter: Gary and Randy. 

My friend and I drove up to Georgia, and that’s how I was introduced to G & R and their merry band of misfits. I fit right in…

Joan Savage as Romulan Commander Jhu D’Varo

JONATHAN – How did you go from extra to starring role?

JOAN – Well, I played a dead body, and I guess the way that I lay crumpled grotesquely on the ground during the action scene impressed G & R enough that they promoted me to playing a LIVING human being—maybe not necessarily ‘human’ but definitely living and some sort of bipedal being. S oon I was promoted AGAIN! This time to an actual HUMAN being! I couldn’t believe my luck! I wasn’t a red shirt, and I got to be human! 

Unfortunately, my love of Romulus and all things Romulan got me demoted to a pointy-eared alien when I opened my mouth about how much I loved risky Romulan Ale and tart Osol Twists and that I owned an original Romulan costume from TNG! You’d think I just declared war on their fancy Federation!  Well…maybe I did. But anyway, that’s how I went from corpse extra to Romulan.

JONATHAN – Now, both Dominion and Valdore have the Romulans dressed in TOS-era uniforms, not TNG-era.

GARY – Joan and her friend, DEBBIE DAUBENSPECK, had their own Romulan attire that were more TNG-era.  But we wanted something closer to TOS Romulans, and so I found a seamstress overseas in Bulgaria (of all places!) who made a very sharp looking traditional female Romulan costume.  I ordered two reds, one for each of them, as Commander and Sub-Commander.  Another Dominion alumni, DONNA CHANEY, wanted in on this, and she had the seamstress make her one, as well, but this time in blue for another officer.  Our resident Romulan expert, KEVIN DYE, supplied the costumes for the other male bridge members, and we were on a ROLL!

JONATHAN – What about the uniforms worn by the landing party?

GARY- Yes, the Romulan Ground Special Forces.  We needed a fighting force to go down to a planet and fight the bad guys in this production, the Vancians.   I sourced some tactical wear, and again, Kevin stepped up to make a black version of the traditional gold Romulan helmet and added some patches.  We added visors which really gave them a unique look.  Finally, 3D-printed disruptors courtesy of THOM ARGANTE from the Netherlands, and “…Thar be special forces here!”

JONATHAN – Okay, let’s move onto Randy, who writes most of the scripts for these many, many fan films. What is your “secret-sauce,” so to speak, about writing all these scripts for your productions? 

RANDY – It varies from story to story. Sometimes, as I’m watching a movie or TV show, I try to figure out where the story is going before it gets there.  If I’m right, I can brag about it, but if I’m wrong, I figure, “Well, I was wrong, but now I have an idea for a story of my own.” Other times, some random idea will pop into my head pretty much from nowhere, and I’ll start dreaming up a story to go around it.   And still other times, someone will suggest something like, “What if we beamed aboard an Aircraft Carrier…?” and off I go!

JONATHAN – Do you have a favorite of these three series that you most enjoy writing scripts for?

RANDY – Why don’t you just ask which of my kids I love the most?  LOL.  Just like my kids, I love writing for each of these series, but for different reasons.  Dominion is great fun because there are so many characters, so many sets, so many possibilities.  Runabout presents different challenges.  First, there are so few characters that they have to be flexible.  Each character has multiple responsibilities. Also, we decided early on that the Runabout’s crew of four would be a little less formal than the larger ships.  That allows for some more playful banter and hijinx. Then there’s the fact that not many enemies would be intimidated by such a small ship.

And finally, I enjoy writing for Valdore because it allows me to be a little bit villainous myself.  I have to try to walk a fine line between characters that behave the way we expect villains to behave but, at the same time, make them a little likable… or at least understandable.

Michael Bednar as Captain Robert Tacket of the U.S.S. Constitution

JONATHAN – Seeing Michael Bednar appear as Captain Tacket was an awesome surprise. How did that come about?

GARY – I was formatting this spin-off and knew I’d need a Starfleet ship to come to the rescue of the Romulans.  Originally, I had planned on it being the Dominion, and I’d once again be playing Captain Brousseau. However, I REALLY wanted to focus myself 100% behind the camera for this.  We were filming a Dreadnought Dominion episode, and the idea hit me.  “WOW, what if I asked Micheal Bednar to come back and play Captain Tacket once again on the sets he and his fellow Farraguteers built!?”

VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Maurine Farrell on Dominion, has known Micheal way longer than I. So I went over to her and shared my idea.  She looked at me and only mulled it over for half a second when I asked if I should extend the offer.  If I remember correctly, she responded in the words of Janeway with just, “DO IT!” So, when the shoot was over, I Facebook-messaged Mike, and within less than 24 hours, I got a response, “I’M IN.” 

John Broughton with Michael Bednar

Not only did we get Micheal and a bunch of folks working on the new Farragut Forward, but the MAN himself, JOHN BROUGHTON, signed aboard the project to review the script for the Connie folks, do costumes, and get USS Constitution logos made.   Mike’s costume still fit him from the last time he wore it.  In fact, Mike looked GREAT.   He had lost some weight and was in great shape and brought Captain Tacket to life once again.  John Broughtton made all the costumes for the Constitution crew and was there on set the entire day.  It REALLY was like coming home again for them, and I was so privileged to do that for them.

JONATHAN – So, Michael, how did you react when Gary contacted you to appear as Robert Tacket?

Come back for Part 2, as we chat a bit more with Michael Bednar and the gang, discuss the crowd-funder, and learn what’s in store for all THREE Dominion fan series!