The 13-YEAR mission of STARSHIP ANTYLLUS is nearing its end… (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN, part 1)

What defines a Star Trek fan film? There are so many possible answers to this question! But for me, when you strip away everything else—costumes, sets, lighting, acting, directing, VFX, makeup, music, and all the rest—the one thing that unites ALL Trek fan films is passion, determination, and a deep love for Star Trek. (Well, okay, that’s three things, but you get the idea.)

And when I think of those three qualities, I think of GEORGE KAYAIAN. This is a guy who so desperately wanted to make Star Trek fan films that he built elaborate sets, including a starship bridge, essentially out of cardboard in his parents’ basement! And not only is George one of the most dedicated fan filmmakers ever (he’s been making Star Trek fan films almost non-stop since 1992…more than THREE DECADES!), but he’s also one of the nicest guys in the entire community. And that’s not just my opinion. Fan filmmakers far and wide who have worked with or even just casually interacted with George will all agree that he’s a real sweetheart with a sweet heart.

Back in the 1990s, George would make his fan films with the help of his brother William and also his mom and dad, both of whom appeared in his Star Trek productions for nearly 17 years! After that, George began working with his daughter Anya when she was just a wee bairn on a new Trek fan series: STARSHIP ANTYLLUS…that was 2013. Now, a little over a decade later, the Antyllus saga is nearing an end, as George and Anya are starting to wrap up the last episodes of their third and final season.

You can view all the episodes of Antyllus on this YouTube playlist. Their most recent two releases (episodes twenty-three and twenty-four) were released last November and this past January, respectively. Episode twenty-three, “Despite the Fall,” appears below, and I’ll include a link to episode twenty-four in the conclusion of this 2-part interview. Both are definitely worth checking out to get a feel for this very “grass roots” fan series…

As you can see, George manages to do quite a lot with quite a little, which is at the core of what fan filmmakers do best! With the series drawing to a close, I thought this might be a great time to give George the spotlight once again to learn more about him and his efforts with Antyllus

JONATHAN – Welcome back for Fan Film Factor, George!

GEORGE – Thanks for having me!

JONATHAN – Now, I realize that people can’t hear your accent in a written interview, but they certainly can in your fan films…and it’s pretty unmistakable. Tell the readers where you’re from.

GEORGE – New York City, obviously…or more specifically, Franklin Square out on Long Island, right next to the eastern edge of Queens. So about 45 minutes by train into the city.

JONATHAN – I know it well. I grew up in Manhattan, and my mom was born in Flushing, Queens. I had my New York accent surgically removed before I relocated to Los Angeles back in 1992.

GEORGE – That was the same year I made my first Star Trek fan film. It was called THE REAL McCOY, and it featured my younger self as Captain Kirk, my brother William as the Klingon Commander, and several years later, I inserted some footage of my older self as drunk McCoy…so there are two of me in that short!

Bi-George! George Kayaian in 1992 (left) and then in 2011 in “The Real McCoy”.

JONATHAN – Was that the first time you ever made a film?

GEORGE – No, my first film was in 1978 and was called Star Voyage. My first real huge project was HonorBound, and you can watch all six episodes of that on this playlist. It’s a totally original soap opera I wrote, acted in, and directed. It was a six-year long adventure for me from 1983-89 and had about 100 people in the cast—a sprawling epic!

JONATHAN – Did you go to film school?

GEORGE – No, just taught myself by doing it!

JONATHAN – As I recall, you started producing longer Star Trek fan films starring your mom and dad back in the 1990s, right?

GEORGE – I started work on THE INFINITE CHAIN later in 1992…filming from that point until 2008 with my parents over the three films, with the other two being INCIDENT AT BETA 9 (begun in 2001) and THE FINAL DARKNESS (begun in 2008).

Helen Kayaian (George’s mom) in “The Infinite Chain” back in 1992.

JONATHAN – So your parents appeared in your fan films for nearly TWO DECADES???

GEORGE – My parents knew how important these films were to me, so they gave me their time, love, and support. Mom was the one who introduced me to Star Trek when I was a baby—so she knew this universe well, and loved the idea of playing a role in it. Dad was more reluctant at first, but he always appeared in my movies whenever I asked! He did HonorBound and Murder Will Out as well as my Trek films. Now that he is gone, those films have become even more precious to me, as you can imagine. I have a video interview with Mom where she explains it all!

JONATHAN – Oh, that video is precious! (I just watched it.) She obviously loves her her very much. And speaking of MamaK’s sons, I think your brother William appeared in The Infinite Chain, yes? Was he in any others?

GEORGE – My brother Will rarely appears in front of the camera. He did The Real McCoy but only a quick cameo in my first long fan film. However, he did build all the models that were featured in both films, although Chain did replace everything with CGI later due to limitations on what we could film. However, on my YouTube channel under the title of 1990’s spfx reel, you can see his beautiful model work from that film as it was originally shot. My brother was also the editor on the original version of my Murder Will Out film. He is extremely talented and a filmmaker in his own right.

JONATHAN – The Final Darkness wrapped up in 2009, and then Antyllus started up in 2013. What did you do during that 4-year gap?

GEORGE – My wife and I had a daughter! My wife didn’t want me working on a film while we both had so much to deal taking care of a brand new baby!

JONATHAN – Little did your wife know that you’d be putting your daughter to work as soon as she turned four!

GEORGE – LOL…I know—right?!

JONATHAN – Speaking of Anya, she’s now your Script Continuity Coordinator as well as playing multiple roles in your films including the alien “Sharb” as well as “The Timeless Daughter.” What is it like having your daughter sharing in both your passion for Star Trek and filmmaking?

GEORGE – I really don’t have the words. Her love and enthusiasm for me and the process of creativity makes all the hard work worth doing. She has a keen mind and a true understanding of what it takes to make an episode. Her attention to detail regarding continuity issues and providing line readings for the actors has been invaluable…not to mention that she is a talented actress herself! I’ve been blessed beyond belief having her by my side in this journey. Memories abound that I will always cherish!

JONATHAN – You and your family recently needed to move to a new house, requiring you to dismantle and rebuild your sets over the course of months. What was that experience like?

GEORGE – It was stressful. We had little time to find a new place and to keep my daughter in the same school district. The landlords needed us out immediately, and time was short. It was a close thing, but we found a new place. Unfortunately, it was more than double what we were paying for previously.

The new place allowed no room for the sets. But my mother came to my rescue and said if I could clean out the basement, the space could be available for my series.

JONATHAN – Bless that wonderful woman!

GEORGE – She is a treasure, to be sure, and I can’t thank her enough! Anyway, it was definitely a challenge, taking weeks to clean out the basement area. Then I had to bring over all the material and rebuild the bridge and some other sets. It was a very long and exhaustive process since I’m the sole builder of these things.

JONATHAN – I like to say that George Kayaian’s sets are made out of cardboard. But what specific materials did you use in the construction?

GEORGE – My bridge is comprised of Bainbridge boards, foam boards thick and thin, matte panels (coated and uncoated), electric tape, colored and glossy paper, various small lights and jeweled metal buttons, and package boxes (over a hundred that provide the understructure and support). The walls of the bridge are taped to the existing walls of the basement—except when angled—then a support wall has been constructed.

Home-made bridge in the basement!

JONATHAN – The amount of effort you put into your productions is extraordinary, George! I mean, many fans write their own Star Trek fiction, but only a few muster the time, energy, resources, and often money necessary to actually produce and complete their own fan films…which in your case included building those elaborate home-made sets. What initially inspired you to go beyond being just a Star Trek fan to making grass-roots Star Trek episodes?

GEORGE – The love of the source material. The original series was a cornerstone of my youth and a never-ending topic of entertainment. As a filmmaker and storyteller, it was inevitable that I would play in that sandbox.

JONATHAN – Antyllus is one of the most serialized Star Trek fan series out there, only recently revealing how interconnected all of the episodes have actually
been. Did you always intend on telling one epic story arc?

GEORGE – Yes. The structure of Antyllus is not unlike a book—each episode a chapter. But despite its complexity, it is, in fact, ONE story.

JONATHAN – Speaking of which, you’ve said that Antyllus is made up of “seasons.” What connects and binds a group of episodes into a season?

GEORGE – My intention for each season was to be comprised of ten episodes. There are some episodes that have a part one and two, but I still think of them as a single entity. Each season builds to a major cliffhanger, which will propel the story into its next phase. The connection of everything —the binding factor—remains the same: the journey of Captain Holt Allen (the character I play). The entire story is told through his eyes…or at least revolves around him. And we find out in time why this is so.

JONATHAN – Between your previous fan films and the twenty-four episodes (so far) of Antyllus, you’ve written a staggering amount of Star Trek content over the decades! What influences you when you write your Antyllus episodes?

Come back for Part 2, where George talks a bit more about Antyllus and what’s coming up in the final episodes. We also move beyond Antyllus to discuss a little about the overall fan film community and some of the conflicts have have arisen. And finally, George shares a little about his current health issues and what plans, if any, he has for after Antyllus ends later on this year.

5 thoughts on “The 13-YEAR mission of STARSHIP ANTYLLUS is nearing its end… (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN, part 1)”

  1. I think Starship Antyllus is one of the very best Star Trek fan productions because George understands it’s all in the script. He writes stories that from the very beginning are thought provoking, visits worlds that have a remarkable amount of detail because what he shows suggests so much more and the imagination takes over. I don’t mean that just visually but also in bits of dialogue where what might be a throwaway line in something else evokes an entire alien culture. George’s writing transcends the physical production values, it doesn’t matter what his sets are made from, you are in the world of Starship Antyllus. The actors who play his crew show that same commitment that George does. Every time they appear, it’s like a visit from old and dear friends. George doesn’t write cardboard characters.

    His character, Capt. Holt Allen, isn’t just on a standard hero’s journey to vanquish “the bad guy”, the beauty of the stories being told show deeply considered themes of love, loss and longing. Love in all forms is the main thing that drives Captain Allen. As it does George himself.

  2. Thank you Jonathan Lane and George Kayaian for doing what you good folks do

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