Seven years. That’s how long DOMINION MEDIA co-showrunner GARY DAVIS has been playing Captain Jason Brousseau, commanding officer of the DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. And in the two years before that, Gary played Commander Brousseau, the ship’s first officer. So that’s NINE years in front of the camera on this long-running fan series.
DAVID “RANDY” WRENN, the other Dominion Media co-showrunner, has played his character, Chief Engineer Stephen Denson, for just as long, himself rising through the ranks to first officer and eventually captain of engineering. But as of September 29, 2023, both men performed those roles as leads for a final time in their swan song episode “IN OUR OWN TIME,” which saw them pass the command baton of the U.S.S. Dominion to Captain Maurine Farrell, played by popular fan film actress of multiple fan series, VICTORIA AVALON.
The episode was another strong offering from the team, with a fun, original, and engaging story and their typical mix of seriousness and humor. Take a look…
I plan to speak more with Victoria Avalon when Dominion‘s next episode premieres. But right now, I’ve decided to focus on Gary and Randy and their decisions to step away from the front of the camera to focus (no pun intended) more of their attention to efforts behind the scenes…
JONATHAN – And so it has finally come to pass, my friends. You are now officially FORMER stars of Dreadnought Dominion, freed up to spend more time on other responsibilities. What are those other responsibilities, and what made you decide at this point in time to make that transition?
GARY – For me, it’s a matter of practicality. As one of the showrunners, we plan for everything: the shoot, the studio time, and a great number of tasks to create the show. I’m responsible for props and costumes, which can be very involved. I’m also the most distant cast member in that I live in Ohio, so travel down to Kingland, GA where we shoot at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS takes up a lot of effort and planning.
With that being said, to have to show up and KNOW my lines to make a product that everyone can be proud of is a monumental task. I IMMENSELY enjoy the former, and the latter is something that I just wing it when I get on set. I don’t learn my lines even though I know the script, what is involved, and what I’m saying in concept. However, with the effort to GET to the studio with all the preparation, I have to learn my lines on the spot. Randy teases me that it’s a “super-power” of mine: to read the line, read it again, say it imperfectly, say it again, then tell the camera to roll. I normally nail it after the third try. It’s a process, then I’m on to the next shot.
So after ten years of this process, and getting older, it was just a matter of time that something had to give. I’d rather be BEHIND the camera, directing, producing, and even running the cameras that are capturing the show, than starring in it.
RANDY – For me, the decision to leave the spotlight was fairly easy. I’m reaching an age where I get tired more easily. Long hours on set with hardly any significant breaks wears me out. So not having to worry about my lines and my costume will help me to not get so tired. Besides, I’ve done the “on camera” thing for a while now. Some of the “new” has worn off. I’m ready.
JONATHAN – That’s fair. After all, you’re not WILLIAM SHATNER…you’re allowed to get tired!
So, Randy, you’re the series writer of most of the Dominion episodes, but I know from previous interviews that you both collaborate on coming up with the general ideas for the stories. How did the two of you decide on what would happen in your final episode as characters?
RANDY – Gary and I have talks every so often about long-range plans. We ask ourselves questions like, “How long do we want to continue doing the shows?” and “How long do we want to continue performing our roles in front of the camera?”
This episode is partially the answer to that second question. We decided it was time to step behind the camera and let younger, better looking, and more talented people take the reins for a while. So we set out to devise a story that would bring an end to our time as Captain Brousseau and Captain Denson.
Of course we still wanted an adventure that would entertain our fans at the same time. I am a big fan of time travel stories. So several Dominion Media episodes feature it. In this case, I was inspired by an episode of Doctor Who in which criminals were punished by sending them to another place in time where they could be someone else’s problem.
Along the way, I took the opportunity to let Denson do some things that he had never had the opportunity to do before. He had never used the transporter on screen, he had never sat in the captain’s seat, and he was never the one to come up with the solution to the problem.
Check, check, and check! I took care of all those.
JONATHAN – How did you decide who was going to be the new captain, as well as the new crew to take over?
GARY – Victoria has always impressed us with her ability to not only KNOW her lines, but know the lines of her co-stars, as well. In addition, she’s just not SAYING her lines, but like a lot of the folks who are now attached to the show, she can ACT!. When I’m playing Captain Brousseau, it’s just Gary Davis saying the lines. Victoria IS Maurine Farrell. I created that character when I was in high school as part of short stories that I wrote before there was so much Star Trek out there. It was my escape, my way of enjoying my passion. Victoria brings that character to life, and it’s amazing to watch.
RANDY – For me, choosing the new captain was obvious. Victoria has a presence on screen that is dripping gravitas. And she is super-talented. She also has been with the team for a long time and had achieved a high rank. It just felt right.
As for the rest of the cast, they have just been accumulating over the years. We are extremely happy with the talent we have on the bridge now and hope the changes are few and far between for a while.
JONATHAN – Speaking of cast members, how and where do you continue to get such a great variety of people to come be in your productions?
RANDY: I was lucky enough to join a filmmaking community here in Charlotte, NC called the CFC (Charlotte Film Community). I highly recommend getting involved with a group like this in your area if possible. There are always people at each meeting representing various aspects of filmmaking who are willing to help you out. Then, once you’ve established some friends, you have access to their friends and their friends‘ friends and, well…you get it.
GARY – I think I’ve said it before: we just GET LUCKY. From folks who literally drop by to watch and be an extra and they just HIT it off with us, to those folks that Randy…lures. Do I wanna use that word? I dunno…ENTICES with the magic words “Star Trek.” He just says we have this show that is Star Trek, and their eyes light up and they tell us, “I’M IN!”
JONATHAN – While the vast majority of your releases have been shot primarily on the sets at Neutral Zone Studios, “In Our Own Time” allowed you guys to get away from the sets for a bit of on-location fun. Where did you go to shoot those exterior scenes?
RANDY – They were in the woods surrounding a home in South Carolina. Our fight coordinator and one of the stars of our Romulan series WARBIRD VALDORE, SERGE USICOV, had shot films there previously.
It was a beautiful location and would have been even prettier had it not poured down rain, restricting our locations.
JONATHAN – Oy.
GARY – We also shot at a Dance Studio in Matthews, NC, practically right in Randy’s backyard. The studio served as the Council Hall for the planet that we were visiting. It was rustic and just fit PERFECTLY with the characters we were showing. Like everything that we see on Dominion Media films, we just find the RIGHT spot to shoot, and the RIGHT people to appear!
JONATHAN – Speaking of Dominion Media, what’s next for you two and team?
RANDY – Gary and I may turn up here and there in brief cameos, but the days of being major, regular characters are over. And I don’t see us adding any new series beyond the three we currently have—Dreadnought Dominion, Warbird Valdore, and PROJECT: RUNABOUT.
No, I take that back. Gary has a couple of ideas for side projects that he could pull off in his basement studio. Maybe I could help edit or something.
GARY – I have a few ideas in the back of my head. We are going to film those ideas in February on a green screen. I HOPE its the successful launch of another spin-off of sorts. STAY TUNED for more details on that!
RANDY – As for stories, I have a couple of ideas rolling around in my head. I don’t see the type of stories we tell changing that much. I hope we continue to do things that not everyone else is doing. I hope we continue to come up with our own characters and unique situations.
Let me be clear, though: there is nothing wrong with doing sequels and prequels to Star Trek episodes. It’s fun to do, and the fans seem to love it! They get lots of views. I won’t rule out ever doing that, but, so far, that has just not been what we’re interested in. We like taking the road less traveled.
Also, I don’t see the nature of the stories changing in any way because the bridge crew of the Dominion and the Valdore are largely female. Nope. These people are capable of the exact same type of adventures.
JONATHAN – Indeed. As Lt. Kevin Riley said in “The Naked Time” from TOS: “Let the women work too. Universal suffrage!” Seriously, though, I think it will make for a very unique and refreshing dynamic. Star Trek fan films have traditionally been dominated by a noticeable majority of male actors and captains…until very recently. Adding a crew with a majority of females, or even just an equal number as the male roles, is definitely a step in an interesting direction!
So for how much longer do you expect you’ll be making fan films?
RANDY – As I hinted at earlier, we have discussed retirement at some point down the line, but we agree that it will be at least another 4 or 5 years, if circumstances allow. And when that happens, it is possible that we will not shut down Dominion Media but just hand the reins to someone else.
JONATHAN – Dominion: The Next Generation!
GARY – Stranger things have happened!